Friday's edition of AEW Rampage will feature the promotional in-ring debut of Shane "Swerve" Strickland as he takes on Tony Nese.
Released by WWE last November, Strickland signed his deal at Sunday's Revolution. In a backstage segment Wednesday, Nese (his former WWE rostermate) challenged him for the match.
Following Wednesday's events, Darby Allin will face Marq Quen of the new Andrade El Idolo-led faction. After turning on Matt Hardy, Allin, Sting and the debuting Jeff Hardy came out to make the save. AEW head Tony Khan said the Hardys will be on tonight's show.
Rampage will also see Keith Lee return for another outing as he takes on QT Marshall. Marshall offered Lee The Factory's help, but got enraged as Lee turned it down.
In a grudge match, Mercedes Martinez will go head-to-head with Jamie Hayter and new TNT Champion Scorpio Sky will speak after winning the title last Wednesday and ahead of his first title defense against Wardlow this Wednesday.
Excalibur, Taz and Ricky Starks were on commentary.
Darby Allin (w/Sting) defeated Marq Quen (w/ Isaiah Kassidy) (11:52)
The first minute of the match played in a small corner of the screen while they replayed the big angle featuring Jeff Hardy’s debut from Dynamite Wednesday. The story of the match was Allin having bad ribs from Sunday, and Quen worked them over when he was in control. Allin worked a side headlock for a bit, and Quen countered with a hammerlock. Allin escaped the hammerlock by sending Quen to the floor. On the floor, Kassidy and Sting distracted the competitors, and Quen got the advantage by sending Allin into the ring steps.
Back in the ring, Quen continued working over Allin's ribs by suplexing him into the ring ropes. Quen whipped Allin into the turnbuckles chest-first (the old Bret Hart bump, and of course Allin went into the turnbuckles at full speed). Quen locked in an abdominal stretch, but Allin was able to counter with a hip toss. Quen tried to set up Allin for a suplex out of the ring, but Allin countered by snapping Quen’s arm against the ropes.
Back from a split screen ad break, Quen countered a sunset flip from Allin with a flip into a double kneedrop on Allin’s chest. Quen hit a flipping DDT that started out with him in position to give Allin a Hangman’s neckbreaker. Allin countered a delayed suplex attempt from Quen into a Scorpion Death Drop, and both guys were down.
Allin went to the top for the Coffin Drop, but Kassidy distracted him. Sting took care of Kassidy, but Quen pushed Allin off the top to the floor. Allin followed that up with a 450 Splash to the floor! Quen rolled back into the ring while the ref counted, but Allin also beat the referee’s count. Quen covered Allin for two. Quen went to the top for a shooting star press, but Allin moved and snatched Quen up in a Fujiwara armbar. Quen quickly tapped out. Started out slow but got pretty good by the end.
Post match, the new AFO (not the AHFO anymore!) stalked their way to the ring, but The Hardy Boys (in their circa 2000s Hardy Boys gear) came out to run interference. (Taz: "Hey! I know that song!") Andrade's crew left through the crowd.
– In the back, Dan Lambert cuts a promo about Larry Zbyszko and Bruno Sammartino in relation to Wardlow and MJF. Scorpio Sky has ditched the extra TNT Title belt, and he promised Wardlow would be just another victim of the streak in San Antonio.
–A promo from the House of Black.
Jamie Hayter (w/ Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. and Rebel) defeated Mercedes Martinez (8:38 aired)
After some action on the mat, Hayter charged Martinez in the corner and ate a big boot. Martinez followed up with a stiff clothesline. And just as things were getting interesting, the show took a commercial break.
Back from break, Martinez hit Hayter with her own version of the Three Amigos, but using a trio of double underhook suplex. Hayter came back with an inverted backbreaker for two. Hayter laid in a solid forearm on a charging Martinez.
Martinez came back by suplexing Hayter into the buckles. Martinez hit the spider German suplex from the top. But while the Rebel distracted the ref, Martinez pulled herself up and into an attack from Baker, who pounded Martinez with forearms. Hayter then threw a stiff lariat and got the pinfall on Martinez.
After the match, Britt and her crew set up Martinez for a curb stomp onto the Women’s title belt, but Thunder Rosa ran in with a chair to make the save.
- Hikaru Shida cut a promo on Serena Deeb. Shida wants revenge on Deeb. Deeb can go for Shida's knee again, but Shida will "cut [her] head off!" That's aggressive.
Keith Lee defeated QT Marshall (w/ Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto) (4:03)
Powerhouse Hobbs watched the match from the commentary position with Taz and Starks. Marshall started mouthing off to Lee and walked into a headbutt. Lee manhandled Marshall, who countered with an eye rack and mocked the way Lee “conducts” the crowd chants. Lee hit Marshall with a double chop, then tossed Marshall across the ring with the corner to corner biel.
Marshall snapped Lee’s neck across the top rope and hit a top rope dropkick for a one count. Lee floored Marshall with a lariat, then went for the Big Bang Catastrophe. Comoroto grabbed Lee’s foot to distract Lee. Marshall went for the Diamond Cutter, but Lee shrugged Marshall off and hit the Big Bang Catasphoe for the win. At four minutes, this felt too long.
After the match, Solo jumped Lee and that went really badly for him. Comoroto ran in and did a little better (now there’s a match I’d like to see), but Lee hit him with a pop-up powerbomb. Comoroto went to the floor and Lee tossed Solo onto Marshall and Comoroto on the floor.
But, after fending off the D-squad assault, Powerhouse Hobbs and Ricky Starks run in and take Lee out for real. Hobbs hit Lee with a bodyblock, Starks flew in with a clothesline, and Hobbs took Lee down with a spinebuster.
Main Event Promo Time: Tony Nese requested this match with Strickland because he's the "Premiere Athlete." Nese hasn’t been defeated all year! Swerve Strickland is used to beating Nese on Friday nights, so why not do it again in “Swerve’s House.” “It’s time for the main event!”
On Dynamite Wednesday:
- Bryan Danielson & Jon Moxley (w/ William Regal) vs. Wheeler Yuta and Chuck Taylor (w/ Orange Cassidy & Danhausen)
- Adam Page & Jurassic Express vs. Adam Cole & reDRagon
- Thunder Rosa vs. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D for the AEW Women’s Championship in a Steel Cage.
- Wardlow vs. Scorpio Sky for the TNT Championship
Swerve Strickland defeated Tony Nese (12:59)
Swerve took control early on with a wristlock, which Nese escaped after dropping to the floor. Nese got his own wristlock, but Strickland countered by using the ropes to flip out of the hold and take Nese down. Nese tried some brawling, but Strickland countered with a head-scissors and a seated dropkick. Nese tried to low-bridge Strickland, but Swerve landed on his feet on the floor. Nese tried to take the fight to the floor, but Strickland caught him with a boot from the apron. Nese used the ring skirt to tie up Strickland, then caught him with a dropkick as the show went to a break.
Things really picked up after the break. Nese worked over Strickland with a body scissors. Strickland punched his way out of that, and the match quickly turned into a slugfest. Swerve went for some crazy flipping move, but Nese just cut him off with a solid right hand. Nese missed a springboard moonsault. Swerve connected with an elbow off the middle ropes to the back of Nese’s head. Swerve followed up with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker then smoothly transitioned into a deadlift brainbuster. Strickland went to the top, but Nese cut him off with an uppercut. Nese hit a juicebox for a near fall.
Strickland went for a sunset flip, but Nese rolled through and caught Strickland with a kick. Nese followed up with a 450 splash for a near fall. Nese went for a pumphandle slam, but Strickland countered into a tombstone position. Nese slid out of the move onto the apron, but Strickland took him out with a kick, then hit a stomp out onto the floor. Back in the ring, Strickland hit a stomp, then came off the top with a double stomp to get the pinfall.
I wasn't into this lineup when it was released and was prepared to make a bunch of comparisons to Dark, but this turned out to be a sneaky good episode of Rampage. Unspectacular, but solid.