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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Nov. 18, 2022): Eddie Kingston dream match

AEW Rampage (Nov. 18, 2022) emanated from Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The live show featured Eddie Kingston getting his dream match, Athena clobbering a referee, Ricky Starks advancing in the world title eliminator tournament, and much more.

Let’s jump right in with a recap of the show followed by reactions.

Excalibur, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Chris Jericho were on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

World title eliminator tournament quarterfinal: Ricky Starks vs. Lance Archer

Cameras were backstage to catch Archer choking Starks against the steel curtain garage door. Starks shoved Archer over some boxes. Archer mashed Starks back into the steel. The action carried through the fans toward the ring. Archer jumped over the guardrail to smash Starks.

Both men were finally in the ring to officially start the match. The action spilled outside again with Archer chokeslamming Starks on the apron. Starks rallied for a tornado DDT off the ropes. Archer kicked out. The Murderhawk Monster ran the ropes for a crushing shoulder tackle. Starks rolled with the contact to prevent maximum damage. Starks ran the ropes ducking under a clothesline. Starks kept running to land a spear as Archer was lifting his leg for a big boot. Starks didn’t connect clean, so he transitioned for a roll-up to earn the win.

Ricky Starks defeated Lance Archer.

Starks advances to meet Brian Cage in the semifinal matchup on the Full Gear pre-show. After Starks’ success, Cage came out on stage flanked by Prince Nana. Archer struck Starks from behind and chokeslammed him onto the ring steps.

Hype video for Jon Moxley defending the AEW World Championship against MJF at Full Gear. Mox sets the standard in AEW. The champ wasn’t worried about MJF’s threats. Moxley almost lost his family and his life. What’s MJF going to do him in comparison?

Chris Jericho was confident that the ROH World Championship will stay with him. The Blackpool Combat Club egos will have them beating the hell out of each other. Jericho implied that Sammy Guevara’s job was to make sure Le Champion retains. After Jericho exited, Sammy shook his head with other ideas.

FTW Championship: Hook (c) vs. Lee Moriarty

Hook started strong with suplexes. Stokely Hathaway was ringside to help Moriarty gain control. The challenger targeted Hook’s elbow. Hook gained momentum with punches to the body, judo tosses, trips, and a fisherman suplex. Moriarty retaliated for a kimura submission. The referee ruled Hook’s foot was under the ropes and ordered a break. Moriarty went for the Border City Stretch submission to finish, but Hook countered position for back control and the Redrum choke. Moriarty passed out in defeat.

Hook defeated Lee Moriarty.

Jon Silver chuckled at costing Rush his match last week. Jose The Assistant called Silver a clown and sort of challenged Silver to tag team action. Silver assumed 10 would be by his side, but the masked man wasn’t on the same page. 10 left Silver hanging. Rush plans to wipe the stupid smile off Silver’s face and squish him like a cockroach.

Athena vs. Madison Rayne

Rayne didn’t respect Athena’s recent disrespectful treatment of opponents. Rayne had momentum early knocking Athena out of the ring. Rayne gave chase for a cazadora on the floor, however, Athena caught her to swing into the guardrail. As the match progressed, Rayne went for the Cross Rayne finisher. Athena flipped it over into a stunner. The Fallen Goddess exploded with aggression to pound Rayne on the mat. Athena finished with ferocity for a facebreaker variation.

Athena defeated Madison Rayne.

Drama got juicy after the match. Athena kicked Rayne. When referee Aubrey Edwards grabbed Athena, the reaction was a punch to the kisser. Edwards was out cold. Athena applied a crossface on Rayne. That’s when Mercedes Martinez arrived on the scene as a surprise return. Athena backed away.

Best Friends challenged the Factory to 5 versus 5 on the Full Gear pre-show. Rocky Romero stepped up and a spooky video revealed Danhausen in the game. QT Marshall was not scared at all of Danhausen.

House of Black vignette about forbidden knowledge hidden from the devil’s sight.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Eddie Kingston was in the zone of concentration. Ortiz spoke on Kingston’s dream of wrestling Jun Akiyama. They train every day for opportunities like this. Konosuke Takeshita aimed to turn Kingston’s dream into a nightmare. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Konosuke Takeshita & Jun Akiyama vs. Eddie Kingston & Ortiz

Kingston was serious. No clown act. He wanted to start against Akiyama, but Takeshita wasn’t having it. Kingston and Takeshita locked up, and Kingston landed a belly-to-belly suplex. Tag to Ortiz. Kingston pulled a punk move sprinting across the ring for a cheap shot at Akiyama on the apron. When Akiyama tagged in, he repaid the favor on Kingston.

Akiyama and Takeshita isolated Ortiz. Ortiz hit a cutter on Takeshita then tagged Kingston. The Mad King hit moves on Takeshita while eyeing Akiyama. The action carried on building toward an eventual showdown between Kingston and Akiyama to exchange chops.

The match broke down into moves all around. Kingston and Akiyama exchanged exploder suplexes. A jumping knee from Akiyama knocked Kingston out of the ring. Akiyama landed a running knee to Ortiz and finished with an exploder suplex for victory.

Konosuke Takeshita & Jun Akiyama defeated Eddie Kingston & Ortiz.

Post-show update: Kingston called out Tony Khan to demand a singles match with Akiyama. Khan obliged, and part two of the dream match is set for the Full Gear pre-show.

Grade: B-

This episode of Rampage was alright in the ring, but it really excelled in storytelling. The teases, surprises, and angles pumped up the energy.

The main event with Eddie Kingston, Ortiz, Konosuke Takeshita, and Jun Akiyama was laid out well to set up Kingston’s dream duel one-on-one. Instead of just trotting Akiyama out for the bout, AEW built a reason to have the match. Akiyama played a great strategy in mind games not squaring off with Kingston until it was necessary. The exchanges between Kingston and Akiyama left fans salivating for more.

Takeshita looked good carrying the load for his team. He also displayed more personality in the promo and action than he ever has before. Before, Takeshita was just some random Japanese dude with skills in the ring. This time, he’s starting to build a connection. For example, I enjoyed how he wasn’t giving in to Kingston’s demands.

Athena popping Aubrey Edwards made me pop. Assaults on referees in AEW are so uncommon that this stood out as a shocker. Just like with Takeshita, I enjoyed Athena showing more personality in the ring with taunts and mischief. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for a Mercedes Martinez appearance. She was an excellent choice to confront Athena. The OG Badass is one to demand respect. I hope this is a setup for Martinez to defend the ROH women’s title at the upcoming ROH PPV. Athena’s aggression should create an intriguing challenge for Martinez’s toughness.

Hook versus Lee Moriarty was the best bout on the card. The variety of suplexes were nifty. It was nice seeing Hook taken into deep waters. His short matches are explosive fun, but it is time to move beyond that. I’m glad we saw Hook display intestinal fortitude. Moriarty wrestled in way to leave me wanting more. That’s a plus in his case, since he was on the losing end again. Moriarty’s wrestling style makes him unique enough to look beyond his recent high-profile defeats for now.

The brawl between Ricky Starks and Lance Archer was an interesting idea, but it didn’t captivate me fully. It felt like a smart way to protect Archer as a dominating ass-kicker. I think it fell short on Starks’ half. Starks is a performer with energy to pop the crowd. He didn’t get those moments in this match to make it special. The finish was a creative way to sneak out with the win. Starks showed he’s not just a pretty face. He has the acumen to create winning opportunities.

The MVP of the show was Stark’s tailor. I thought for sure his tight fashion pants would rip during the fight. The stitching held tight. That master craftsman deserves a raise.

Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?

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