By Don Murphy, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@DonThePredictor)
AEW Rampage (Episode 131)
Taped February 7, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona at Footprint Center
Aired February 9, 2024 on TNT
The Rampage opening aired and pyro shot off from the stage. Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and Matt Menard checked in on commentary. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer…
1. Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, and Roderick Strong (w/Adam Cole, Wardlow) vs. Orange Cassidy, Rocky Romero, and Trent Beretta. Taven and Bennett brawled with Beretta and Romero on the ramp to start. Cassidy chased Strong from the ring and dropkicked Taven and Bennett. The bell finally rang and Bennett squared off with Beretta. Bennett gained the early advantage but Beretta fought back with punches and chops. Beretta hit a double knee strike. Romero tagged in and went to work on the arm. Bennett slammed Romero and tagged out to Taven.
Taven hit a dropkick on Romero but Beretta came in and he and Romero hit Taven with a double dropkick. Beretta and Romero double teamed Taven. Beretta covered Taven for a near fall. Beretta whipped Taven into the ropes but Strong helped Taven hang on. Beretta ran in and Taven met him with a boot to the head. Strong tagged in and was met with two German suplexes. Beretta hit a back elbow and then attempted to jump off the second rope but was caught in a back breaker. Taven tagged in and he and Bennett took turns on offense.
Taven missed a splash and Beretta hit Bennett with a German suplex. Cassidy tagged in and hit Taven with a cross body and hit Bennett with a Stun Dog Millionaire. Cassidy DDTs Taven and stares down Strong. Bennett hits Cassidy with a spine buster but Romero comes in and attacks Bennett. Strong kicks Romero and Beretta hits strong with a Tornado DDT. Taven hits a jumping kick on Beretta and a spin kick on Cassidy. Taven misses a moonsault and Cassidy hits a superkick. Taven returns the favor as the show goes to its first picture-in-picture break. [C]
Cassidy attempts a superplex on Bennett but it’s broken up by Taven. Bennett hits a low blow on Cassidy. Taven and Bennett perform a spike piledriver on Cassidy. Taven and Bennett turn to Beretta. Romero dives onto Taven and Bennett on the outside and hit a Sliced Bread on Taven in the ring. Romero hit clotheslines in the corner on Taven and Bennett. Strong intercepted him with a high knee and hit his Heartache back breaker finished. Taven covered Romero for the win.
Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, and Roderick Strong defeated Orange Cassidy, Rocky Romero, and Trent Beretta in about 10:00.
After the match, the heels dropped Romero back-fist onto two chairs that were set up in the ring…
Don’s Take: The expected outcome given that AEW is trying, albeit slowly, to make Adam Cole and friends a main event faction. Under normal circumstances, this would tip the fans off that Cassidy would get revenge on Strong at Revolution. In this case, I’m expecting the company to double down and put the title on Strong so that all active members have gold.
A video recapped the Hangman Adam Page vs. Swerve Strickland from this past Wednesday’s Dynamite… [C]
2. Matthew Jackson and Nicholas Jackson vs. Mondo Rox and Robbie Lit. The Bucks wore the same bloody outfits that they wore on Dynamite. Matthew immediately attacked Lit. Nicholas hit a blockbuster on Lit who landed over Matthew’s knees. Nicholas kept his hat on during the match. Rox tagged in. The Bucks continued on offense and hit Rox with the EVP Trigger for the win.
Matthew Jackson and Nicholas Jackson defeated Mondo Rox and Robbie Lit in about 2:30.
After the match, Nicholas grabbed the mic and said he was tired of the disrespect from the fans and asked the fans to call them by their God-given names. Matthew said his brother was a hothead and congratulated the new AEW Tag Team Champions, Sting and Darby Allin. He said they would make great champions but unfortunately, the Jacksons received an email from Doc Sampson and learned that both Sting and Allin were injured. Matthew wished them a speedy recovery but said that their goal was to get back their titles. He added that some might complain because they’re EVPs but they promised to climb the ladder before getting a title shot. Matthew announced that they would once again be in tag team action on Dynamite…
Don’s Take: As someone who grew up in the golden era of tag team wrestling in the mid-80’s, I’ve never been a fan of the Young Bucks’ “spot after spot” style, especially since they never really had characters. I like the company’s decision to play into some of the things that make the Bucks unpopular and leverage them as part of their characters. They’re likely going to end up with the AEW Tag Team Championship at Revolution and for the first time in a while, I look forward to see where they are going from a storyline standpoint.
A video package hyped Orange Cassidy defending the AEW International Championship against Tomohiro Ishii on Saturday’s Collision.
3. Matt Sydal vs. Mistico (w/Esfinge, Star Jr.). The wrestlers shook hands and engaged in some basic chain wrestling. The two took turns taking each other down until Mistico dove onto Sydal on the floor. In the ring Sydal hit a spinning heel kick and applied a bow and arrow submission. Sydal hit a standing moonsault for a near fall as the show went to a picture-in-picture break. [C]
After the break, Mistico hit Sydal with a cross body for a near fall. Sydal hit a knee strike followed by an Air Crash for a near fall. The two exchanged blows until Sydal hit Mistico with a jumping kick. Mistico missed a moonsault from the top rope but hit a snap powerslam. Mistico hit a Spanish Fly off the top rope for the win.
Mistico defeated Matt Sydal in about 9:00.
After the match, Star Jr. gloated to Matt Menard at ringside…
Don’s Take: I can’t say this CMLL vs. AEW storyline is doing much for me, but as I said last week, I’m happy that they’re at least trying to tell a story. As usual, the company fails to introduce the individual characters and just assumes we either know who they are or that we’ll “Google it.” To me, until proven otherwise, they’re mostly all guys in masks with no distinguishing features.
Renee Paquette interviewed Brian Cage and Prince Nana. Cage talked about Hook attacking him with a steel chair but now is nowhere to be found. Nana said he knows what it’s like to be hit with a chair while Cage said it wasn’t all that impressive that Hook beat two guys last week. Cage issued an open challenge for any two wrestlers to meet him for a match on this Saturday’s Collision. [C]
4. Willow Nightingale and Kris Statlander (w/Stokely Hathaway) vs. Saraya and Ruby Soho (w/Harley Cameron). Hathaway joined the commentary team. Statlander squared off with Saraya to start. Statlander dropkicked Saraya and back suplexed her.
Excalibur announced the following matches for Collision: Toni Storm vs. Queen Aminata; Deonna Purrazzo vs. Kiera Hogan; Orange Cassidy vs. Tomohiro Ishii for the AEW International Title; Star Jr. and Esfinge vs. Jon Moxley and Claudio Castagnoli; and an Adam Copeland promo.
Nightingale traded blows with Soho. Nightingale hit a Russian leg sweep into a submission hold. Statlander hit a Fisherman’s suplex for a near fall. The babyfaces continued the attack on Soho. Nightingale hit a splash for a near fall. Nightingale climbed to the second rope but Cameron distracted her while Saraya knocked her off the ropes. The show went to its final picture-in-picture break. [C]
Coming out of commercial, Nightingale hot tagged Statlander. Statlander cleaned house on the heels. Statlander hit a power slam on Soho for a near fall. The heels double teamed Statlander and hit her with a knee strike for a near fall that was broken up by Nightingale. All four wrestlers battled in the ring. Saraya hit Soho by mistake and the two argued. Nightingale hit them with a double clothesline and Statlander covered Saraya for a near fall.
Statlander hit a roundhouse kick and a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. Saraya and Statlander traded blows. Statlander missed a knee in the corner. Saraya went to tag Soho who dropped off the apron. Cameron attemped to stop Soho and Soho dropped her. Nightingale hit a distracted Saraya with a power bomb for the win.
Willow Nightingale and Kris Statlander defeated Saraya and Ruby Soho in about 11:00.
After the match, as the babyfaces celebrated, Skye Blue stared at them from the aisle way. The lights went out and when they came back on, Julia Hart had joined her. Hart and Blue stared at Nightingale and Statlander as the show went off the air.
Don’s Take: If you read my comments last week, they still hold true. Not every storyline requires a long drawn-out build. It’s clear that both teams are headed for a breakup and I’m hoping they get to it sooner rather than later. I will assume that Nightingale and Soho will be the babyfaces when all is said and done. It will be important to build credible opponents, heel or babyface, for Mercedes Mone when she debuts. I expect her to be a babyface out of the gate, but eventually, I’d love to see the heel character from NXT evolve to face. This is when it would be important to have good babyfaces for her to work with.
Another solid edition of Rampage. It’s a throwaway show but I feel that are trying little things here and there to at least give the appearance that they care and I appreciate it.
The next few weeks should be interesting schedule-wise, given the NBA All-Star Weekend and March Madness. I believe Rampage airs at 7 p.m. ET next week, so I’ll be able to get this out a bit earlier. Then we’ll just need to play things by ear. Until then!