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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Nov. 25, 2022): Despicable heel turn

AEW Rampage (Nov. 25, 2022) emanated from Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL. The Black Friday afternoon show featured 10 turning heel on the Dark Order, Claudio Castagnoli risking his pro wrestler status for a shot at the ROH World Championship, FTR defending the ROH tag titles against Top Flight, and much more.

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

Excalibur, Jim Ross, and Tony Schiavone were on commentary. Ian Riccaboni joined the team for the ROH tag title bout. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

ROH World Tag Team Championship: FTR (c) vs. Top Flight

Top Flight used their speed to frustrate FTR. The champs were often fighting defensively. FTR relied on ruggedness to create opportunities. Dax Harwood crushed a slingshot powerbomb on Dante Martin, then Cash Wheeler flew in for a splash. Darius Martin bulldozed the pile to break the pin. Top Flight quickly rebounded for a DDT from Darius to Harwood, then Dante landed a flying splash. Wheeler tackled Darius onto the pile to break the pin.

The match broke down into moves all around. Standing Spanish fly from Darius to Wheeler, brainbuster from Harwood to Darius, then Dante went for a series of roll-ups on Harwood. With Darius still down on the outside, Dante played cat and mouse jumping over FTR like a Gummi Bear drinking Gummiberry Juice. FTR eventually caught him for a Big Rig to win.

FTR defeated Top Flight.

Afterward, the Gunns came out on stage with a huge bag of popcorn to get the attention of FTR.

Will Hobbs narrated the Book of Hobbs will cruising the streets of Oakland in his ride. Just like everyone has taken everything that has meant something to him, he will be taking everything that means something to you.

Chris Jericho was flanked by the Jericho Appreciation Society in full to gloat about the Ocho. Claudio Castagnoli interrupted requesting another title shot. Access denied by Le Champion. Daddy Magic interjected with an idea. Claudio used to be a fantastic sports entertainer, and he would make an excellent addition to the JAS. That suggestion made Jericho’s nipples hard. If Claudio loses, then he joins JAS. Claudio accepted the terms. While Claudio believes he would be a tremendous asset to JAS, he thinks he is an even better professional wrestler. That championship bout will main event the ROH Final Battle PPV on December 10.

Toni Storm was solemn in reflection about her Full Gear loss. She is proud of Jamie Hayter, but she couldn’t look at herself in the mirror if winning like that through cheating. Storm broke her face losing the women’s championship, and she’ll break her face again if that’s what it takes to get it back.

Darby Allin vs. Anthony Henry

Sting and JD Drake were ringside. Allin and Henry had deep familiarity through matches on the indies. Henry used that to his advantage for timely counters to Allin’s signature offense to gain the upper hand. Henry also had Drake on the outside for physical assistance. After Drake popped Allin with an uppercut, Sting stalked Drake down for a heavy clothesline and tossed him into the barricade.

Henry hit a superplex and rolled through on the mat for a second suplex. Allin countered for a Scorpion Death Drop. Allin finished with the Coffin Drop to win.

Darby Allin defeated Anthony Henry.

Athena was suspended for punching referee Aubrey Edwards. The Fallen Goddess sassed back about the punishment and deadpanned a sorry apology. Athena turned her attention to Mercedes Martinez. It’s about time she showed up. When will Martinez defend the ROH Women’s World Championship? Athena is game.

Hikaru Shida vs. Queen Aminata

Bunny and Penelope Ford entered on stage prior to the opening bell. Aminata took advantage of the distraction to attack. Shida quickly recovered for a Falcon Arrow slam and Katana knee strike for victory. Bunny and Ford exited once Shida won.

Hikaru Shida defeated Queen Aminata.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. 10 was missing and the Dark Order didn’t know where he was. No matter, the pestering from Los Ingobernables ends tonight. News flash, slick. Blade is ready to kick ass. Butcher chimed in that the Dark Order are invited to an ass kicking party. Rush is tired of the chatter. He’s ready to fight. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Dax Harwood was appreciative of stepping in the ring with the best wrestlers in singles action this year. He called his shot for one more challenge. Harwood versus Bryan Danielson was booked for Dynamite.

Rush, Butcher, & Blade vs. John Silver, Alex Reynolds, & 10

Bunny and Jose The Assistant were ringside. 10 was nowhere to be seen. The Dark Order wrestled at a disadvantage, but they didn’t back down. Unfortunately, the numbers game was too much. Whenever the Dark Order picked up steam, Los Ingobernables worked smart to regain control.

All of a sudden, Evil Uno and -1 came out on stage waving 10 in to sprint toward the ring. The masked man stepped to Rush. It appeared that words were exchanged. Rush lifted his fist in the air Ingobernables style, then 10 turned around to clothesline Silver. Boos rained down.

Evil Uno rushed to the ring, but Butcher and Blade held him back. Rush hit the Bull’s Horns running dropkick in the corner to pin Silver for victory.

Rush, Butcher, & Blade defeated John Silver, Alex Reynolds, & 10.

The aftermath was despicable. Rush sent Reynolds into a discus lariat from 10. Same for Evil Uno. Rush and 10 double chokeslammed Reynolds off the apron through a table. -1 was on stage in disbelief. 10 walked up, removed his mask, threw it down at -1’s feet, and laughed at the child’s tears.

News flash, slick. (I love that line from Blade.) 10 is now officially a heel. And a runaway derelict, scud bottom vagrant. He’ll fit in perfectly with Los Ingobernables.

The effectiveness of the heel turn is hard for me to judge. I’ve never really cared much about the Dark Order, except for when Hangman Page was involved. They definitely deserve a spot in AEW for quality roster depth. It’s just that I was never invested in rooting for their success. When 10 turned, I did not experience an emotional reaction.

That said, I recognize that all the elements were in place. The drama of 10 missing, the elation when he arrived, then the swerve turn of a bastard. 10 cemented his decision by pummeling the crew after the match. There was no hesitation about his choice. 10 was all in on joining Rush. If there was any doubt, 10 laid that to rest by tormenting -1. That connection is well known in AEW lore. Mr. Brodie Lee handpicked 10 for the Dark Order, and 10 became -1’s favorite wrestler. This was the equivalent of spitting in -1’s eye and taking a dump on his father’s grave. For any fans that deeply love the Dark Order, I could imagine this turn of events as genuinely troubling.

The Gunns had the right attitude about FTR versus Top Flight, even if the Ass Boys were being sarcastic. Grab the popcorn and enjoy the action. The athleticism and creativity from Top Flight always amazes. FTR handled the meat and potatoes with heaping spoonfuls of gravy. FTR took this match to showcase Top Flight as the future of the tag team division. Mission accomplished. Top Flight shined in defeat.

It’s Sting! His involvement in the Darby Allin match was good fun. The match itself highlights the common conundrum of AEW. The action was solid. The issue is that Henry is a relative unknown, and he took Allin to the limit. The story about past history in indie matchups makes sense, but it needs to be referenced in a hype package. Explaining that angle on commentary isn’t good enough to get invested into the match. AEW has done this same scenario several times over the years and has yet to nail the perfect blend. It is often the difference between adequate content and great content.

I’m mixed on the ROH World Championship stipulation. The PPV match is going to be good, so that’s a positive. The stipulation feels hokey, although, it does fit in the sports entertainment realm and also justifies Claudio getting another shot without deserving it. The stipulation gains steam by playing into the idea of Blackpool Combat Club’s uncertain future after William Regal crossed Jon Moxley in favor of MJF. That leaves Claudio’s future in AEW a mystery. Joining the JAS could very well be the next step in his career. If that happens, then I hope Claudio embraces it to be the sports entertainer he was born to be. I’m not interested in any servant/slave stuff doing deeds against his will to test his allegiance.

As for Claudio being the one to ultimately dethrone Jericho, that choice feels underwhelming due to JAS versus BCC fatigue. Jericho may be running out of ROH champion opponents, so this would wrap up the story in a neat little package. However, I’m loving the Ocho tale and want to see it continue as long as possible.

The best part of that promo segment was Jericho’s nipples getting hard at Daddy Magic’s suggestion. That has to be the ultimate compliment for Daddy Magic. You can tell by the reaction from the other JAS members.

Thumbs up for the Book of Hobbs vignette. I enjoy these types of outside scenes adding flavor to the broadcast, not to mention personality to the wrestlers. I think this was intended as a general message, but Hobbs could still have Wardlow and Samoa Joe in mind. When mentioning a higher being, it made me wonder about Miro. If Miro comes back to clash with Hobbs, that would be a glorious hoss fight.

For the women’s division, the scenes with Toni Storm and Athena were good to keep them on screen and advance their motives. Shida took care of business, and it’s nice to see a potential feud arise against Bunny and Penelope Ford. More activity for the division is always a plus.

Grade: B-

Typical Rampage quality. This particular episode had a bit more story development than usual. The grade can swing high or low hinging on how personally invested the viewer was in the tale being told with the 10 heel turn.

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

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