Rampage recap & reactions: FTR loses again

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AEW Rampage (Apr. 28, 2023) emanated from FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, FL. The Friday afternoon episode featured Jay Lethal’s crew outsmarting FTR, Bullet Club Gold on the winning path, three squash matches, and more.

Let’s jump right in with a recap of the show followed by reactions.

Excalibur, Jim Ross, and Tony Schiavone were on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

Juice Robinson & Jay White vs. Shawn Spears & Ricky Starks

The babyfaces sprinted to the ring for fisticuffs. Bullet Club Gold managed to isolate Spears. Hot tag to Starks. Absolute hit a superplex, and Spears followed for a flying splash. Starks clobbered Juice on the outside. White knocked Starks off the apron. Starks tweaked his ankle on the landing. Spears went for his Death Valley Driver finisher, but White countered for the Blade Runner to win. Starks was still down on the outside unable to make the save on the pin. Afterward, the fighting continued with Juice escaping from the ring as Starks charged for a spear.

Juice Robinson & Jay White defeated Shawn Spears & Ricky Starks.

The Hardys were concerned that Isiah Kassidy was missing. The Firm answered on the screen with Big Bill Morrissey goozling Kassidy on top of an industrial shelf structure. Instead of waiting for the fight date on the Hardy Compound, Ethan Page demanded that it take place Friday. If Matt Hardy agrees, then the Firm will let Kassidy go. Matt panicked and gave in to the demands. Morrissey let Kassidy go alright. The 7-footer chokeslammed him from high above down to the floor.

Dustin Rhodes & Keith Lee vs. Brady Pierce & Charlie James

Squash. Lee was a powerhouse hoss. Rhodes requested that Lee toss him onto their opponents as an offensive maneuver. Lee obliged. Limitless took the pin on a powerbomb. Afterward, Swerve Strickland and the full Embassy group were on stage for a long-distance staredown.

Dustin Rhodes & Keith Lee defeated Brady Pierce & Charlie James.

Sammy Guevara was questioned if he will be on the same page with MJF after the world champ ditched him. Tay Melo interrupted to talk sense to her husband. Little Sammy would not be proud of him selling out his childhood dream for money.

Anna Jay vs. Ashley D’Amboise

Extended squash. Jay beat up D’Amboise through the commercial break. Once back on air in full screen, she finished the job with the Queen Slayer choke. Lights out, lights on. Julia Hart attacked. Jay gained the upper hand to stretch Hart around the ring post.

Anna Jay defeated Ashley D’Amboise.

The Outcasts weren’t worried about tough talk from Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Jamie Hayter, because they don’t walk the walk. The Outcasts, on the other hand, back up their threats. All three were wearing a t-shirt with the image of Baker’s black eye as proof. Saraya wrestles Willow Nightingale on Dynamite. The Outcasts will show Willow why AEW is their house.

The Acclaimed & Bully Gunn vs. Ryzin, Cameron Stewart, & an unnamed jabroni

One more squash. Ryzin was angered during Max Caster’s rap, so he charged up the ramp. Caster easily tossed him aside. In the ring, Anthony Bowens superkicked the unnamed individual. Stewart was ready to be scissored, but Daddy Ass clotheslined him instead. Fameasser and the Mic Drop combo finished Stewart.

The Acclaimed & Bully Gunn won.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Jay Lethal plans to burst FTR’s bubble by beating Cash Wheeler. FTR can’t hold a candle to them. Lethal and Jeff Jarrett are looking to be the next AEW tag team champions. Cash expects them to cheat, so he called in Mark Briscoe to make sure no funny business happens. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Kenny Omega versus Jon Moxley inside a steel cage was announced for the May 10 edition of Dynamite.

Jay Lethal vs. Cash Wheeler

Mark Briscoe was introduced as the special enforcer. Jeff Jarrett, Sonjay Dutt, Satnam Singh, and Dax Harwood were all ringside. Briscoe was not very effective in his duty. Jarrett distracted him so Dutt could shove Wheeler off the turnbuckles down to the floor. Trickery occurred again for the finish. Wheeler caught the Lethal Injection to counter for a Gory neckbreaker. 1, 2, Dutt entered the ring, and the referee stopped his count. Briscoe hopped onto the apron to argue with Dutt. Lethal shoved Wheeler into Briscoe, then he pounced for the Lethal Injection cutter to win.

Jay Lethal defeated Cash Wheeler.

Grade: C+

The grade can only be so high with three squashes in a one-hour show. The triple session of non-competitive matches diminished my energy for the main event. On the plus side, lots of little story bits added interest. The opener and closer had solid action.

FTR loses again. First, Dax Harwood went down to Jeff Jarrett on Dynamite, and now Cash Wheeler felt the sting of defeat to Jay Lethal on Rampage. This is a basic story to set up a clash for the tag team titles. It’s just a matter of going through the steps until the blow-off. FTR was protected by commentary speaking how the duo operates better as a tag team than in singles action. And there was all that cheating. Tension was added after the match between Mark Briscoe and Wheeler arguing about the collision. There is zero chance AEW turns Briscoe heel, so expect those issues to be resolved with Briscoe saving the day when the championship contest finally occurs. The story as a whole is fine to keep all these popular names occupied, but it needs something explosive to reach a special level. The match itself was similar to Harwood versus Jarrett with the competitive counters. I liked the leap frog to monkey flip sequence from Wheeler. The classics never get old.

Quick thoughts on the rest of the show. “Switchblade” Jay White is paying off as Bullet Club Gold. He turned the tide for victory. AEW is doing well toward building for White versus Ricky Starks. I’m excited to see it, and it’s not obvious how the result will unfold. The Hardys segment was amusing and also cheesy. Ethan Page’s villainous wordplay was a delight, Matt Hardy hammed it too hard for overacting, and the chokeslam execution was not smooth. We could hear the sound of Isiah Kassidy landing on a crash pad before being shown his body on the floor. AEW should have figured a way to eliminate that noise in editing.

Squash-a-palooza was a bit much. There were fun moments, but it was not engaging entertainment. The tag team of Keith Lee and Dustin Rhodes is winning me over. I chuckle at how Rhodes is eager to be used as a battering ram. Anna Jay fighting with Julia Hart has my attention. The funniest moment of the show was the Outcasts wearing the black eye t-shirt.

Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?


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