Swerve Strickland will go for his first taste of gold in AEW on Friday's Rampage as he takes on FTW Champion Ricky Starks in a title match.
Strickland has been by Keith Lee's side in recent weeks as Lee has been feuding with both Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs. This will be Starks' first defense of the title since early-February.
Following their assault on AEW World Champion Hangman Page during Wednesday's Dynamite, reDRagon will be in action against Page's friends in the Dark Order, Alan "5" Angels and 10.
Hook will return to Rampage, but instead of competing in a match, he will be given the official QT Marshall Certificate of Accomplishment for defeating him on the Revolution Buy-In Show last month.
In other action, Lance Archer will face hometown favorite Dustin Rhodes while Nyla Rose will be in action.
The show will also feature news on qualifying matches for the Owen Hart Cup tournament in addition to a tease of a new competitor for the women's division.
Taped in Austin, Texas.
Excalibur, Taz and Chris Jericho were on commentary.
Well, at least I don’t have to worry about the Empire Strikes Back running 48 minutes past its scheduled end time.
Dustin Rhodes defeated Lance Archer (w/ Dan Lambert) (9:31)
This is a rematch from the inaugural TNT Championship tournament back in 2020 (the Georgia Covid tapings before AEW found a permanent home in Jacksonville). Archer came to the ring beating up one of Rhodes’ wrestling students, and Dustin ran in to make the save. Rhodes was tremendously over. Lambert also tried to interfere before the match and nearly got powerbombed by Rhodes.
After all the prematch shenanigans, the match finally got in the ring, then went right back to the floor. Rhodes missed a cannonball on the floor and Archer took control. Back in the ring, Rhodes was bleeding from the ear. Archer raked away at Rhodes face before the show went to a split screen ad break.
Back from the break, Rhodes was making a comeback but then ate a boot from Archer. Archer bit Rhodes finger. Rhodes came back with a pair of clotheslines. Rhodes went for a powerslam, but Archer countered with a belly to belly suplex. This is very deliberately paced. Archer missed a charge in the corner and Rhodes mounted the corner for 13 punches and a bionic elbow.
Rhodes went for the running bulldog, Archer countered but Rhodes came back with a bulldog off the middle rope. Rhodes hit the Cross Rhodes for two. Yeah that move isn’t gonna work around here anymore buddy. Archer came back with a vertical suplex. Archer hit a full nelson slam for a one count. Chokeslam got Archer a near fall. Archer set up the Blackout slam, but Rhodes slid out and fell to the mat.
Archer spotted an exposed turnbuckle. He went to send Rhodes into the exposed buckle, but Rhodes dropped down and sent Archer into the exposed turnbuckle hook headfirst. Rhodes hit a quick jacknife cover to get the pin. So-so match.
After the match, Archer attacked Rhodes on the floor and sent him headfirst into the steps, bloodying him good. Other members of the Rhodes Wrestling Academy tried to save Dustin, but Archer destroyed them. Archer put Rhodes through the ringside table to end the segment.
– Lexi Nair interviewed a disappointed Jay Lethal. Lethal has two blemishes on his record, but the guys that beat him (Ricky Starks and Adam Cole) had to cheat to do it. He also lost to Sammy Guevara on his debut but that doesn't seem to be bothering him so much. Lethal has some thinking to do. “There has to be a better way.” Feels like it’s indicating a gimmick change or a heel turn.
– Fuego Del Sol is getting promo time because I guess I fell asleep and woke up watching Dark. Oh no, it’s still Rampage. Anyway he cut a promo thanking the fans for their support. The lights go out, and then three spotlights reveal the members of the House of Black.
Buddy Matthews launched Del Sol into a knee strike from Malakai Black, and then Brody King destroyed Del Sol with a Fire Thunder Driver. As the House of Black left, the were confronted in the aisle by Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, John Silver and Alex Reynolds of the Dark Order. Dark Order versus House of Black is coming soon.
– Dan Lambert and the Men of the Year cut a promo with Lexi Nair. Lambert is still wearing the co-TNT Championship belt despite Wednesday’s revelations from Sammy Guevara. Lambert declares that the TNT Title is no longer subject to “open challenges” and if someone wants a title shot, they’re going to have to show they’ve earned it.
Scorpio Sky was an afterthought in his own promo again, but he does say the open door challenge for the TNT title is now "closed." I don't think this makes Scorpio Sky a more interesting TNT Champion.
reDRagon defeated Dark Order’s Alan “5” Angels and “10” (6:00 aired)
Angles and O’Reilly started the match. 10 got the tag and overpowered O’Reilly. FIsh tried to help, but 10 came off the middle rope with a double shoulder tackle, taking down both men as the show went to break.
Angles got the hot tag from 10 and hit both members of reDRagon with a top drop cross body. Angles hit O'Reilly with a leg lariat and Fish with an enziguri. Angles hita Northern Lights suplex on O'Reilly, but he countered into a guillotine. 10 broke that up by spinebustering Fish onto O’Reilly. reDRagon came back by twisting 10’s mask around his face, then hitting him with the High Low. reDRagon followed up with Chasing the Dragon on Angels and Fish got the pin.
After the match, Fish and O’Reilly continued the beating, and the Jurassic Express ran into to make the save. While this was going on, Adam Cole ran in and stole the tag title belts.After the match, Fish and O’Reilly continued the beating, and the Jurassic Express ran into to make the save. While this was going on, Adam Cole ran in and stole the tag title belts.
– Promo from Nyla Rose and Thunder Rosa.
Nyla Rose (w/ Vicki Guerrero) defeated Madi Wrenkowski (0:36)
Before the match, Jericho gave Nyla Rose Jericho's "Sports Entertainer of the Week" award for her run-in on Thunder Rosa this week.
Rose hit a pounce on Wrenkowski, then a senton bomb. The commenators pointed out that Wrenkowski is a trainee of Thunder Rosa. Beast bomb quickly ended this match for Nyla Rose.
Hook Certificate of Accomplishment Award
QT Marshall and Aaron Solo were out to give Hook an award for beating Marshall at Revolution. Hook came out and threw Solo into the framed award and just left to Marshall’s dismay and shock.
Danhausen came out and cursed Hook, but Hook walked past him. Commentary played up that Hook is impervious to curses.
– Main Event Promo: Ricky Starks was fantastic, telling Swerve that he was “evicted from his last house.” And he’s not happy with new guys coming in and feeling entitled. Swerve is gonna make Austin, “Who’s House?” "Swerve's House!" And with that, IT’S TIME FOR THE MAIN EVENT.
Dynamite on Wednesday:
- The Bunny will take on a new member of the AEW Women’s roster who will be signed this Wednesday in an Owen Hart Cup qualifying match.
- Darby Allin (w/ Sting) v. Andrade El Idolo
- FTR v. The Gunn Club (w/ Billy Gunn)
Rampage on Friday:
- House of Black v. Fuego Del Sol, Evil Uno & Stu Grayson
Also, Tony Khan will make more Dynamite and Rampage announcements on social media this week.
Ricky Starks defeated Swerve Strickland (11:25) to retain the FTW Championship
Starks took Strickland down to the mat early and worked a front facelock. Strickland countered with an arm ringer, but Starks broke free and took Strickland down with a fantastic deep arm drag. Starks hit his signature taunt. Another lockup, and Strickland took Starks down with a tieris and hit a spectacular dropkick. Swerve walked into a boot in the corner, then Starks sent him headfirst into the middle turnbuck off a charge, and the show took its last split-screen break.
Back from a split screen break, Starks missed a moonsault, but hit a tornado DDT for a near fall. Starks “entourage” was at the commentary table to cheer on Starks. These are new geeks who had a banner supporting Starks. Taz said they were "the barber, the nutritionist and the cobbler." Starks went for a back suplex, but Swerve hit a knee strike and a pair of running clotheslines, then an elbow to the back of Starks head from the middle rope. Swerve with a leaping flat liner for a near fall. How was Strickland not a bigger deal in NXT/WWE?
Swerve went for a half and half suplex, but Starks countered and had a double underhook. Stickland countered a go-behind and sent Starks to the floor, then came off the apron with a running shooting star press. Back in the ring, Strickland hit a double stomp (that was actually more like a sit out splash), but Starks kicked out a two. Starks countered a suplex attempt with a roll up for two. Starks sent Strickland to the floor, and Powerhouse Hobbs came out of nowhere with a bodyblock into Strickland. Hobbs threw Strickland back in the ring, and Starks hit the roshambeaux to get the pin. Fantastic match.
After the match, Starks' entourage held up their banner to celebrate Starks’ victory. Keith Lee came to crash the party, sending one of the members of Starks' entourage tthrough the banner and then taking out the other two. Lee, Strickland, Starks and Hobbs got in a huge brawl that had to be separated by the gaggle of officials as the show went off the air. Hot angle to close the show, and the crowd was very much behing Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland.
Swerve Strickland is fantastic. You can probably pencil in Team Taz against Strickland and Lee for the main event of Rampage next week.