AEW Rampage (Aug. 5, 2022) emanated from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI. The show featured Jon Moxley brawling with Mance Warner, Madison Rayne in line for a title shot, and Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland rumbling in a tag team street fight.
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.
AEW Interim World Championship Eliminator: Jon Moxley (c) vs. Mance Warner
If Warner wins, then he earns a title shot. Warner is here for a fight. Blackpool Combat Club coach William Regal was on commentary. Excalibur questioned if it was smart for Moxley to wrestle so close to his title defense against Chris Jericho next week on Dynamite. Regal shot back that Moxley is a proud fighting champion.
Moxley out first. Warner came out second and urged Mox to meet him on the ramp to fight. Moxley obliged for brawling fisticuffs on the floor. Mox suplexed Warner onto an open chair.
Later, Warner printed a receipt to suplex Moxley onto an open chair.
More brawling set up Moxley aiming for a piledriver on the ring steps. Warner countered for a DDT onto the steel. Warner picked up a chair with bad intentions, so Moxley punched the seat into Warner’s face. Both men were bleeding at this point.
Moxley shifted to a higher gear for a suicide dive, superplex, and hammering elbows. Warner blocked the elbows to come back for a running knee. Moxley ate the contact and kept trucking forward for a double wristlock. He transitioned to stomping Warner’s head in. Mox hit a piledriver and went back to more head stomping.
The champ cinched in a standing bulldog choke for victory as Warner passed out.
Jon Moxley defeated Mance Warner.
QT Marshall offered the services of The Factory to protect Ricky Starks from Will Hobbs. Starks told QT to kiss his ass and bumped through QT on the way out. Anthony Ogogo took exception, but QT calmed him down.
Konosuke Takeshita vs. Ryan Nemeth
Takeshita handled business despite interference from Peter Avalon. Nemeth was too busy swiveling his hips that Takeshita escaped a neckbreaker to pounce for a Blue Thunder Bomb. A running knee strike sealed the deal.
Konosuke Takeshita defeated Ryan Nemeth.
Afterwards, Avalon attacked, but Takeshita quickly disposed of Pretty Peter with a running knee.
The Best Friends were in the training room tending to Orange Cassidy’s sore knee. Not being in the singles or tag team top 5 made them realize that they are better than a trio. The Best Friends crew decided to chase the new AEW Trios Championship. On the hoorah hand gesture, doctor Danhausen stuck in his hand too.
Madison Rayne vs. Leila Gray
Rayne had momentum early in her AEW in-ring debut with waistlocks, backslides, and arm drags. Stokely Hathaway stomped on the ring steps as a distraction for Gray to bump Rayne off the apron. Gray followed with a suplex on the floor. The Baddie recruit worked on grinding Rayne to maintain control. The former Knockouts champion rallied with a northern lights suplex. Gray escaped a ripcord setup to counter for a side slam. Haymakers were exchanged back and forth. Rayne scored a sliding lariat to finish with the Cross Rayne rolling cutter.
Madison Rayne defeated Leila Gray.
In the aftermath, Jade Cargill announced an open challenge for the TBS Championship on Dynamite. She encouraged Rayne to accept, so she could beat that ass. Kiera Hogan went for an ambush. Rayne turned the tables for a rolling cutter. Jade versus Rayne in a TBS title bout was later made official for next week.
Hype promo package for Lucha Bros versus Los Ingobernables on Dynamite. Put up or shut up. Time to fight. Lucha rules. Catchphrases all around.
Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Mark Sterling hyped up Tony Nese and Josh Woods. Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee felt it as a foolish choice to arrange a street fight. Nese and Woods stepped to the wrong people. They will become nothing more than a footnote on the champs’ path to defending against a properly ranked tag team. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”
Friday Night Street Fight: Tony Nese & Josh Woods vs. Swerve Strickland & Keith Lee
The AEW World Tag Team Championship was not on the line. Mark Sterling was ringside as a pest throughout. Brawl to start with Nese throwing protein powder in Lee’s face. As Nese yucked it up, Swerve kicked the bottle up in Nese’s face. Swerve chucked a toolbox into the ring steps narrowly missing Nese. Nese used that object to bash Lee. That was pretty much the end of the cheekiness. The rest of the match was mostly serious action.
Highlights include Woods executing a twisting brainbuster to Swerve into the ring steps.
Nese and Woods hit a double DDT to Lee onto a chair. As they piled on top for a pin, Swerve took flight for a 450 splash to make the save.
Nese and Woods set up Swerve on a table, but Lee roughhoused those fools outside the ring. Sterling saw his chance for a flying attack onto Swerve. After Smart Mark climbed the corner, Lee shoved him off crashing through the table.
Woods attempted a German suplex to Lee off the apron through tables, however, Lee used his strength to grab the ropes as defense. Nese superkicked Lee free, and Woods slammed the big man through the wood.
That set up the finish between Nese and Swerve. Nese stacked up a pile of plunder only for Swerve to drop his body onto the objects. Swerve seized the moment for a flying double stomp for victory.
Swerve Strickland & Keith Lee defeated Tony Nese & Josh Woods.
Goodness gracious, Jon Moxley is a buzzsaw of violence. Mance Warner wanted a fight, and a fight he was given. That was a straight up donnybrook of entertainment. The action delivered, but it was their slobberknocking personalities that won me over. Eagerness to throw blows and defiant middle fingers in the face of pain set the mood for Moxley to turn up the heat in the end. He wrecked Warner so hard that I’m super pumped for his title fight against Chris Jericho Dynamite. Jericho was strong on Wednesday, and Moxley was strong on Friday. Both men are peaking at the right time to create an extra layer of anticipation. For as quick as the build has been, AEW is hitting all the right notes for a mega match feel.
AEW often presents fresh faces against stars on equal footing, and the star hits a special move in the end for victory. It feels like the star escapes with a win against a wrestler who we may not see again on TV for a while. When I mentioned how I would prefer a more emphatic finish for the star in those scenarios, Moxley versus Warner is what I’m talking about. They went toe to toe making Warner look tough in the process, then Mox elevated his game to crush the competition. Warner was impressive, and Moxley was even more impressive. Win, win.
Damn, that Friday Night Street Fight main event was way better than I was expecting. I went in thinking it would be a showcase for Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee, however, Tony Nese and Josh Woods stepped up their physicality as competitive threats. Even Mark Sterling added positively to the experience. He can be cartoonish, but he does well enticing emotion to get his ass kicked. And when that happens, Sterling takes a hard thump to produce instant gratification for the viewers.
The German suplex table spot was awesome. They did well with the tease by Woods to build anticipation for the move. I thought Lee would counter out to take control, and that added a pleasant element of surprise that the heels actually achieved success on the maneuver. It was a true holy shit moment.
I’m all aboard for Madison Rayne to challenge Jade Cargill for the TBS Championship. It’s about capitalizing on the hot buzz from Rayne’s arrival. Her stock may never be higher in AEW, especially if she will be more focused on her backstage role as a coach. AEW might as well give the rub to Cargill. Jade’s feud with Athena is dangerously close to getting stale due to not pulling the trigger on booking that matchup yet as a title fight. At this point, I assume AEW is saving it for the All Out PPV. Jade versus Rayne can help extend the shelf-life of Jade versus Athena as AEW stalls until All Out.
Quick thoughts to close. The possibility of Ricky Starks versus Anthony Ogogo has intrigued me. Nick Comoroto had a look with his candy man lollipop, white hat, blue jump suit, and greasy chest. Konosuke Takeshita built quality momentum heading into the ROH World Championship match against Claudio Castagnoli at Battle of the Belts III on Saturday night. Commentary did their best with hyperbolic praise to build the hype for that bout.
Solid show exceeding expectations. The action was rowdy for the opener and main event. Anticipation was built towards payoffs at Battle of the Belts III and Dynamite.
Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?