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AEW Rampage & Battle of the Belts IV recap: Blackpool Combat Club steals show

AEW’s Friday night (Oct. 7, 2022) programming emanated from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, DC. They held a double-header of Rampage and Battle of the Belts IV back to back. The special featured the Blackpool Combat Club stealing the show and four title fights.

Let’s run it down from start to finish.


Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, & Wheeler Yuta defeated Rush & Private Party. William Regal joined commentary. Jose The Assistant was ringside. Stokely Hathaway, W. Morrissey, and Lee Moriarty were in the front row watching. Hathaway chowed down on cake. He appears to be stealing Brad Pitt’s gimmick of eating food on screen.

The AFO gained early momentum on a stepping stool leap to the outside from Isiah Kassidy onto Claudio and a 450 splash from Marq Quen onto Yuta on the entrance ramp. Rush squandered the opportunity by wasting time with his signature Ingobernables taunts. Hot tag from Moxley to Claudio. The Swiss superman executed an airplane spin giant swing to both members of Private Party at the same time. Outstanding!

Claudio went for the Ricola Bomb, but Rush made the save with a headbutt. The match broke down into chaos from there. Mox hit a cutter on Rush, Private Party blasted a double kick to Mox, Yuta landed a flying crossbody to Quen, Claudio executed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Kassidy, and Yuta closed the sequence with a flying splash. 1, 2, Rush made the save with a stiff kick to the face. Moxley fired up for a suicide dive onto Rush. Claudio saved Yuta from the Silly String move. Claudio countered Kassidy for a huge lifting pop-up uppercut. Yuta slammed Quen and slapped on a bicep slicer submission for victory.

High-octane opener with lots of cool moves. Claudio’s airplane spin giant swing was heavenly. The Blackpool Combat Club worked fluid as a trio. Claudio and Yuta specifically shared strong tag team chemistry. This could be a developing duo to pay off that ROH staredown with FTR months ago. I think Claudio and Yuta could be a very formidable pair if AEW builds them up without a rush job. Private Party were impressive in this bout with their increased aggression. They’ve been soft on the finesse side for most of their AEW career, so this trait could be what helps them improve to the next level of success. Rush and Moxley were their usual badass selves hammering blows to make the fans frothy.

Tony Nese & Josh Woods defeated Varsity Blonds. Mark Sterling was ringside. Arn Anderson was shown observing on the backstage monitor. The Athletic Angels made quick work of their opponents to win on a teamwork Olympic slam neckbreaker. Woods pinned Griff Garrison for victory.

Afterward, Sterling informed the world that he trademarked the term Varsity. The Varsity Blonds can’t use their name anymore. Sterling mentioned his groin on fire with pain from National Scissoring Day. The Acclaimed interrupted with Max Caster rapping about stomping Sterling in the nuts. The bad guys exited, and the good guys scissored.

That segment was a functional way to set up a future tag title match between the Acclaimed and the Athletic Angels. The real takeaway is Anderson scouting Pillman and Garrison. AEW needs more Arn on screen, and this could be the start of something interesting. Arn has been managing Pillman on the indies from time to time when tagging with Brock Anderson. Too bad that might leave Garrison out in the cold. He could join up with Christian Cage and tag with Luchasaurus as Jungle Boy’s doppelganger.

Eddie Kingston issued a mocking apology about losing control against Sammy Guevara. He jerked it up by being rude to production staff just doing their jobs. Kingston also complained about MJF getting more screen time than him.

I wouldn’t mind seeing a short feud between MJF and Kingston, but it depends on how quickly AEW pulls the trigger on MJF’s world title shot. Fussing with the Mad King on mic would be an entertaining way to pass the time before cashing in. Hopefully a clean win by MJF would humble Kingston a little.

Anna Jay & Tay Melo defeated Madison Rayne & Skye Blue. Sports entertainers versus pro wrestlers on a smaller scale. The match broke down into moves all around. Tay hit a Gotch piledriver on Blue, Rayne hit a crucifix bomb on Tay, Anna hit a Gory slam on Rayne. All four were down. JAS rebounded first to finish with teamwork. Tay landed a knee strike to Blue and bashed Rayne off the apron. Anna secured victory via Queen Slayer choke on Blue.

Nice action in the women’s bout. Anna and Tay share shining charisma together. I’d like to see some sort of story evolve from this, but I’m not sure what.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Mr. Brodie Lee is responsible for putting the Dark Order together and giving them confidence. They will honor him by beating Death Triangle for the trios titles. PAC cut them off to chime in. Respect to Lee, but nobody can stop Death Triangle. They will remind the world why they are champs. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Swerve Strickland intends on severely hurting Billy Gunn in their match next week. Time eventually comes for us all. Swerve is the clock ticking for Daddy Ass.

AEW World Trios Championship: Death Triangle retained against Dark Order. PAC, Fenix, and Pentagon were the champions, while Alex Reynolds, John Silver, and 10 were the challengers. The pace picked up for the finish. Dark Order connected on the Pendulum Bomb to Fenix, but the masked man kicked out on the pin. Dark Order ran wild on Penta and 10 clobbered a discus lariat, but PAC made the save on the cover.

Jose The Assistant entered the scene with paperwork to recruit 10. That served as a distraction for Rush to hand the ring bell hammer to PAC in an ‘enemy of my enemy’ kind of way. PAC shrugged then walloped Reynolds in the noggin. Fenix took out Silver and 10 with a flying attack on the ramp. PAC finished with the Brutalizer submission on Reynolds.

This was a lengthy bout that picked up in the final five minutes. The action was okay in the first half of the contest, however, it wasn’t engaging for whatever reason. Drama picked up with two near falls for the Dark Order. Those were executed well enough for me to believe new champions could be crowned. From a sports standpoint, the closing shenanigans were a let down. From a character standpoint, color me intrigued. There was a lot going on. AFO sabotaged the Dark Order in an effort to poach 10. PAC was a true bastard accepting the easy way out. The body language between PAC and Rush was amusing. The message was conveyed clearly without words. This could prove to be a good setup for Dark Order to dethrone Death Triangle down the line.

Battle of the Belts IV

AEW All-Atlantic Championship: PAC retained against Trent. PAC pulled double duty in back-to-back matches. Trent overwhelmed him early with a spear on the floor. Trent went on a run for a German suplex, half-and-half suplex, and tornado DDT. PAC kicked out and hunkered in the corner. Trent pulled PAC into the air for a wicked piledriver. 1, 2, PAC kicked out.

The action went outside again, and PAC executed a brainbuster off the ramp through a table on the floor.

PAC went for the Black Arrow, but Trent got his knees up. Trent tried to capitalize with a spear, however, PAC blocked the impact with his knee. The next wild move came from Trent on a half-and-half superplex. PAC kicked out again.

Trent sized up for Strong Zero. On the lift, PAC countered for a Brutalizer submission to the standing Trent. The challenger slumped to the mat then dramatically reached the ropes with his foot for the break.

PAC grabbed the ring bell hammer and hid it from view from the referee. Trent lifted PAC for a suplex, and that’s when PAC rung Trent’s bell. PAC made the cover to escape with victory. Afterward, Orange Cassidy stormed the ring for payback.

The high spots of this match were really cool. The piledrivers, superplexes, table brainbusters, and Brutalizer forced audible reactions. The cheating finish gets a shrug. No need to protect Trent, but I suppose it served the greater story at large.

Chris Jericho revealed that the Lionheart will be coming to Toronto on Dynamite to defend the ROH World Championship against Bryan Danielson. Yes! I’m sold even more on that match. Love the Lionheart. About Daniel Garcia, JAS understands the need for a young man to carve his own path alone, but it is time to come home. They aren’t mad at Garcia, just disappointed. Hopefully he learned his lesson eating humble pie.

Claudio Castagnoli is waiting for the winner of the ROH world title bout no matter who wins.

TBS Championship: Jade Cargill retained against Willow Nightingale. The Baddies were ringside. Willow rumbled early with high energy and cleared out the Baddies on a suicide dive. Willow tried to get cute with a cazadora on the floor, but Jade caught her to counter for a slam into the ring steps. Jade styled by ragdolling Willow around the ring. Willow rallied for a tijeras takeover, running cannonball in the corner, and flying dropkick. Jade kicked out at 1. Willow went for a doctor bomb. Jade escaped. Willow dodged a pump kick and went for a tijeras again. Jade countered that into a hard slam on the mat. Jade seized the moment to execute Jaded for victory.

After the match, Vickie Guerrero opened her yapper shouting at Jade. That was a ruse for Nyla Rose to run in and steal the TBS belt.

Fun match for what it was. Jade continued her signature aura for win number 39. Willow provided a rooting interest with her plucky underdog spirit. I appreciate the post-match chicanery to build toward Jade and Nyla. That is a hoss fight I want to see, and now AEW is adding a layer of personality to elevate anticipation for the contest.

Matt Hardy was annoyed at Ethan Page and Stokely Hathway sticking their nose in his business with Private Party. He threatened to delete Page and Hathaway.

Hook ripped the Trustbusters envelope in pieces without opening it.

Hikaru Shida is back for blood to get revenge on Dr. Britt Baker DMD. Shida teams with Toni Storm to wrestle Baker and Jamie Hayter next week.

ROH World Tag Team Championship: FTR retained against Gates of Agony. Kaun and Toa Liona were accompanied by Prince Nana. The Gunn sons were front row in Top Guys costumes mocking FTR. Bobby Cruise handled ring announcer duty. He was in a neckbrace selling the Jericho beatdown. That visual caught me so off-guard that I cracked up hard with laughter.

Gates of Agony were bruisers bullying FTR around the ring. Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler relied on technical savvy to create opportunities. They were able to hit a spike piledriver on Kaun, but Liona pulled Harwood off the cover. FTR tried to put down Liona on a Big Rig, however, the Samoan was too sturdy to lift in a controlled manner. FTR managed to connect on the move when Liona ran the ropes and jumped into the air. The match continued with Prince Nana distracting the referee to miss a roll-up from Harwood. Dax shoved Kaun into Nana then used a backslide for victory.

Afterward, Gates of Agony attacked FTR. Brian Cage joined in on the beatdown. Wardlow ran out for the save, but the numbers got him. Samoa Joe was the difference-maker in the end to clear the ring.

Good showcase for the Gates of Agony to demonstrate their brand of roughhousing. It was interesting to see FTR try to solve the puzzle being overwhelmed with physicality. The aftermath makes me wonder about the end game here. First, it’s 4-on-3. Will the Embassy bring in someone cool to even the odds? Second, the Embassy feels too far below FTR, Wardlow, and Joe to provide any real drama in future matches. The babyfaces are peak stars. Cage can pass on that level, but Gates of Agony haven’t been established yet.

Grade: B-

Same grade for each show in the double-header. The Blackpool Combat Club trios opener was hot fire. That earned match of the night from me. The rest of the contests had cool moments scattered throughout, but it lacked sizzle. There was nothing special about this evening.

The Battle of the Belts IV card was really watered down this time. The skill level was fine in the ring. It’s the steps to build up drama beforehand that were lacking. Willow had like a 1% chance of victory, and Gates of Agony had less than that. That’s not good enough to produce a compelling sensation in the moment. I don’t think there needs to be title changes for the sake of title changes at Battle for the Belts, however, there does need to a reason to believe it is possible.

Closing on a positive, there were numerous low-key silly moments for genuine chuckles. Claudio Castagnoli and Wheeler Yuta botching their victory handshake, Daddy Magic mulling over the idea of Chris Jericho as Daniel Garcia’s older brother, Nyla Rose sprinting away with the TBS title, Hikaru Shida shaking her fist in anger, and Bobby Cruise’s neckbrace just to name a few. Those instances added panache to the broadcast.

Share your thoughts about Rampage and Battle of the Belts IV. How do you rate each show? What were your favorite moments?

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