The final stop before Saturday's AEW Full Gear has arrived with Friday's AEW Rampage from Newark, New Jersey.
In the night's featured match, Eddie Kingston & Ortiz will take on Jun Akiyama & Konosuke Takeshita. Akiyama, a Japanese wrestling legend, will be making his AEW debut and has been a dream opponent of Kingston's.
In the final opening round match of the World title eliminator tournament, Ricky Starks will face Lance Archer. The match was supposed to happen over a week ago, but Starks was legitimately injured and unable to wrestle. The winner faces Brian Cage on Saturday's Full Gear Zero Hour pre-show.
FTW Champion Hook will look to remain undefeated as he defends against Lee Moriarty in the latter's first shot at the gold.
Athena will take on Madison Rayne in hopes of extending her ten-match win streak. She has taken more of an aggressive approach since a controversial Dark: Elevation win over Jody Threat.
Live from Newark, New Jersey, it’s Dynam… Rampage, JR. It’s RAMPAGE.
Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Chris Jericho and Excalibur were on commentary.
The show immediatley cut to the back, where Starks and Lance Archer were already brawling. Archer gave Starks the old “lawn dart” spot into a loading bay door. They brawled from the backstage area into the crowd. Starks hit Archer with one of those old aluminum trash cans that’s only in an arena for two wrestlers to hit each other with. Starks was in a New Jersey Devils jersey to endear himself to the crowd. Archer and Starks brawled up and down the stairs through the crowd. Starks came off the stairs with an axehandle onto Archer. After five minutes of brawling they finally made it into the ring.
Ricky Starks defeated Lance Archer to advance in the First Round of the World Title Eliminator Tournament (5:20, not including all the pre match brawling)
And shortly after they finally got in the ring, Starks clothesline Archer to the outside. Starks followed Archer out and got chokeslammed on the ring apron, and the show went to a split screen break.
After the break, Starks fought out of a blackout attempt and came off the middle rope with a shoulder tackle. Archer countered a torando DDT and killed Starks with a lariat. Starks countered Archer’s short-arm clothesline with a tornado DDT for a near fall. Starks went for a roshambeaux, but Archer backdropped Starks. Archer went for the pounce, but Starks avoided it and hit a spear into a roll up and held Archer down for the three count.
After the match, Brian Cage and Prince Nana came out and distracted Starks. Archer attacked Starks and chokeslammed him on the ring steps.
– A brief clip of the Full Gear Countdown show featuring Jon Moxley and MJF aired.
– Earlier today, Tony Schiavone interviewed Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara. Jericho predicted that Castagnoli and Danielson would turn on each other during the match Saturday, and the ROH World title would stay in the JAS, specifically with him. Jericho walked away, and once he was out of earshot Guevara said “We'll see about that.”
Hook defeated Lee Moriarty (w/ Stokely Hathaway) to retain the FTW Championship (8:37 through commercials)
Hook’s theme is a banger.
Hook took Moriarty down with a northern lights suplex and stretch him with an STF. Moriarty escaped and Hook caught him with a gutwrench suplex. Moriarty caught Hook with a pump kick after Hathaway jumped on the apron to distract the FTW Champion.
After a long commercial, Hook caught Moriarty with a clothesline and worked him over with body shots. Hook buried an knee in Moriarty’s gut, tossed him with a judo throw and hit a fisherman’s suplex. Moriarty caught Hook and sent him headfirst into a turnbuckle, then came off the top with a kneedrop to the back of Hook’s neck for a near fall. Moriarty went for a kimura, but Hook’s foot was under the ropes to force the break. Moriarty locked in the Border City Stretch, but Hook reversed it into the Redrum and Moriarty was choked out. Hook record improved to 16-0 with this victory.
– Brief recap of the Rush/Bandido match from last Friday led to a confrontation between Rush & Jose The Assistant and Dark Order members 10 and John Silver. 10 walked off when Silver suggested they team up to face Rush and Jose, and Rush promised he’d beat John Silver next week.
Athena defeated Madison Rayne (2:47)
Athena has been roughing up the local talent on the YouTube shows, and Rayne was there to stand up for them. Athena dropkicked Rayne from behind. Rayne came back with a spear from the middle ropes. The fight went to the floor and Athena swung Rayne into the ring barricade. Back in the ring, Athena went for a suplex, but Rayne countered it with a cutter of some sort which even had the four commentators confused. Rayne made her comeback (such as it was) at half-speed to crickets from the crowd. Athena hit a flip stunner and a sliding forearm, then finished off Rayne by dropping her on her knees out of an overhead backbreaker.
After the match, Athena dropped referee Aubrey Edwards with a forearm, which got Athena huge heel heat from the crowd. She then locked Rayne in a crossface. ROH World Champion Mercedes Martinez chased off Athena. I don't know if we need to build up the next ROH pay-per-view on the go-home show for the next AEW pay-per-view.
– Renee Paquette interviewed The Factory and the Best Friends (with Rocky Romero), setting up a 5-on-5 match for tomorrow night. The fifth man on the Best Friends' team is supposed to be a “mystery” (that is definitely Danhausen). This match will be part of "Zero Hour," the Full Gear preshow.
– Another House of Black vignette. They beat up their sparring partners. This wasn't particularly spooky.
– When Excalibur ran down the card for Full Gear, the graphic for the Elite’s return match got a huge pop from the live crowd.
Jun Akiyama & Konosuke Takeshita defeated Eddie Kingston & Ortiz (12:15)
Akiyama and Takeshite represented the DDT promotion in Japan. Akiyama is Eddie Kingston’s dream opponent, and Tony Khan likes making dreams come true so here we are. Excalibur proved himself invaluable again by running down all of Akiyama’s credentials.
Takeshita started out with Kingston. They exchanged side headlocks, and Kingston hit Takeshita with a hard chop and a belly to belly suplex. Kingston caught Akiyama with a cheap shot while Ortiz worked with Takeshita. Akiyama got the tag and caught Kingston with a cheapshot while he was on the apron. Akiyama drove Ortiz into the mat with a piledriver. Takeshita and Akiyama double-teamed Ortiz for a near fall.
During the split screen break, Akiyama and Takeshita got the heat on Ortiz. Ortiz caught Takeshita out of the corner with a stunner and tagged in Kingston. He worked over Takeshita. Kingston and Ortiz suplexed Takeshita four times for a near fall.
Back from the break, Ortiz got a northern lights suplex with a bridge on Takeshita for a near fall. Kingston hit a DDT for a near fall. Kingston and Akiyama kept eyeing each other up and down. Kingston and Takeshita exchanged chops and strikes, and Takeshita hit a flying lariat on Kingston. Ortiz and Akiyama tagged in and Akiyama caught Ortiz with a pair of boots and a running knee. Akiyama went for an exploder suplex on Ortiz (the move Akiyama pioneered, according to Excalibur), but Kingston broke it up with a hard chop. Kingston chopped away at Akiyama, who came back with a clothesline. Oritz hit a spinning powerslam on Takeshita, who came back with a blue thunder bomb. Kingston caught Takeshita with a backdrop driver and everyone was down.
Akiyama paired off with Kingston and they exchanged exploder suplexes. Kingston hit a enziguri but Akiyama sent Kingston to the floor with a knee. Akiyama hit ORtiz in the corner with a knee, then caught him with an exploder (Ortiz looked like he landed on his head) and got the pinfall. Akiyama and Kingston were never legally in the ring with each other, and maybe worked with each other for a minute.
After the show, Kingston v. Akiyama was made official for Zero Hour.
There have been six live (or liveish) Rampages since the beginning of October and Madison Rayne has wrestled in four of them.
Not really a very strong go home show for Full Gear, but if people stuck around for it, the countdown show that followed was great.