Due a double booking, one of the key matches on Friday's live AEW Rampage has evolved into a title eliminator match.
AEW World Champion Jon Moxley will face Matt Menard of the Jericho Appreciation Society in non-title action where if Menard wins, he earns a future title shot.
Menard & Angelo Parker were originally set to face Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta, but Yuta will be working for NJPW on their Friday pay-per-view instead.
TNT Champion Wardlow will defend his title against The Kingdom's Matt Taven in Taven's AEW in-ring debut. During The Kingdom's debut on Rampage two weeks ago, Wardlow & Samoa Joe ran out to assist FTR from a post-match attack, leading to this match.
In singles action, Tay Melo will take on Madison Rayne. This is Melo's first singles match since March's Revolution when she lost to TBS Champion Jade Cargill. Rayne has been tagging with Skye Blue recently and the pair lost to Melo and Anna Jay AS earlier this month.
Live from Uncasville, CT.
Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, and Jim Ross were on commentary.
Jon Moxley defeated Matt Menard (w/ Angelo Parker) in an AEW World Title Eliminator (8:05)
During this match, it’s announced that Mike Tyson will be doing commentary during Rampage next Friday from Atlantic City.
Moxley is the hardest working man in AEW. Curiously, William Regal did not join the commentary team.
Parker tried to distract Moxley, which backfired and led to Moxley beating on Menard outside of the ring. Back in the ring, Menard got control by putting the boots to Moxley. Moxley went for a figure-four, but Menard kicked Moxley out of the ring, where Parker hit him behind the referee’s back. Menard crotched Moxley against the ring post as the show went to a split-screen break.
After the break, Moxley gave Menard ten punches in the corner, which Menard countered with a powerbomb. Menard then transitioned into a Boston Crab. Moxley broke the hold with a rope break and cut down Menard with a cutter. Moxley followed up with forearms and the King Kong Lariat. Moxley delivered a superplex for a near fall, then went to an ankle lock. Menard kicked free and went for a sunset flip, but Moxley came back with a sliding knee strike. He started stomping about Menard’s head an shoulders, but Parker run in and got a cutter for his troubles. Menard hit a DDT for a near fall, then tried to kick Moxley’s head in (the Bryan Danielson arm trap stomps to the head). That didn’t work, and Moxley pulled him into a rear naked choke for the quick tap out.
– Stokley Hathway and Lee Moriarty cut Moxley’s celebration short. Hathaway challenged Moxley on Moriarty’s behalf, with a video playing highlights of Moriarty in AEW. Moxley accepted for Dynamite on Wednesday.
– Yes! The AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament is back! And the first man announced for the tournament is Dante Martin. Thank goodness, it's been over a month since AEW's last tournament. The tournament will wrap up at Full Gear, and the winner gets the annual title shot at Winter is Coming.
– Jade Cargill worked out and screamed about Nyla Rose stealing her belt and eating chips.
“Limitless” Keith Lee defeated Serpentico (0:14)
Serpentico is at an 8 inch, 173 pound disadvantage. And before I could even finish typing that, Lee dropped Serpentico with a sit out powerbomb and pinned him.
After the match, Tony Schiavone tried to interview Keith Lee but were interrupted by The Acclaimed. No rap tonight, because they haven't seen or heard from Billy Gunn all day, and they want answers from Lee. As Lee defended himself, Swerve Strickland appeared on the big screen. Strickland is (apparently) an amateur horror director, and he's got Billy Gunn tied up in a chair. Strickland pulled out some pliars and (according to Excalibur) used them to attack Billy Gunn's hands. The Acclaimed ran off to find Billy Gunn. That was a thing.
After the segment, the commentators made it clear that Lee was not involved with Strickland's attack on Gunn.
– The Jericho Appreciation Society basically redid the promo from Wednesday's Dynamite that no one could hear because of all the audio issues.
Tay Melo (w/ Sammy Guevara) defeated Madison Rayne (9:23)
Rayne went for a Greco-Roman knuckle lock, but Melo countered into a sunset flip for a near fall. Melo went for a cross arm breaker, but Rayne countered with a cradle. Rayne tripped up Melo for a near fall. Melo got Rayne up on the top rope and gave her essentially a backbreaker against the top turnbuckle, but in pretty much the safest way possible. The match got no reaction from the crowd as they headed to another split-screen break.
Back from break, Rayne countered a suplex attempt with a DDT to polite applause from the crowd. Rayne hit a backbreaker for a near fall. She charged into a book from Melo, who tried to go to the top. Rayne caught her with some forearms, then took Melo down with a super cutter for a near fall. Rayne went for a cazadora, but Melo countered into a face-first slam for a near fall. Melo tried a Gotch style piledriver, but Rayne backdropped out of it and hit a sliding lariat for a near fall. They exchanged forearms in the corner, until Melo finally had enough of this match, and hit a knee strike and the Tay-KO for the pinfall. This was a chore to sit through.
– Lexi Nair interviewed Ethan Page backstage. The beating The Firm gave MJF will allegedly keep him off TV next week. But that’s no favor to Jon Moxley, since Page has entered himself into the AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament.
– Announced for Dynamite next week, Marina Shafir v. Jade Cargill for the TBS Championship. Why is Shafir wrestling Cargill for the belt her friend Rose stole? Also announced for Rampage on Friday is the All-Atlantic City Dream Match, where the champion can defend against anyone of his choosing. Orange Cassiddy (the current All Atlantic Champion) also defending the title on Wednesday.
Wardlow v. “The Trend” Matt Taven (w/ Maria & Mike Bennett) for the TNT Championship (8:59)
Taven said he wanted to be the “Taven Network Television” champion in the pre-match interview.
Taven hit a nice looking dropkick early. Wardlow came back and tossed Taven to the floor, then rammed him into the ringpost and sent him headfirst into the ringside barrier. Bennett took a shot at Wardlow, which didn’t stop him. Wardlow went after Mike Bennett, but Maria put herself in between them. This distraction allowed Taven to hit a beautiful dive over the ropes onto Wardlow to get control. Bennett threw Wardlow into the steps, and back in the ring Taven hit a splash onto Wardlow’s knees.
During the split-screen break, Taven worked on Wardlow’s knees.
After the break, Taven hit a running knee for a near fall. Wardlow came back with an F-10 (I guess it's twice as good as the F-5), but Taven hit an enziguri. Taven ran into a swinging lariat from Wardlow. Wardlow hit a overhead belly to belly suplex and a spinebuster. Maria distracted Wardlow when he went for the powerbomb and Taven hit a double leg takedown into a jacknife cover. Wardlow bridged up out of that and hit the first powerbomb. Wardlow followed up with four more acts of the powerbomb symphony for the pinfall. This was a good showing for Taven.
After the match, Bennett attacked Wardlow, but Samoa Joe ran in and made the save. After Joe sent the Kingdom packing, Powerhouse Hobbs made his entrance. This was just a distraction for the Embassy to attack Joe and Wardlow from behind. Powerhouse Hobbs has joined Prince Nana’s Embassy (and reunited with Brian Cage), joining in on the beatdown of Wardlow and Joe. Cage held up the ROH TV title and Hobbs held up the TNT title to end the show.
Some pretty big annoucements to set the stage for the next few weeks of Rampage and Dynamite. With two weeks to go until Full Gear, Rampage will likely get some of those tournament matches (I'd imagine, like with the trios title tournament and Owen Hart tournament, Rampage will get the last semi-final match).
Moxley and Wardlow's matches were fine, but the women's match was boring and I'm not a fan of goofy horror skits in wrestling, so the Strickland/Gunn thing didn't land at all with me.