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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Mar. 18, 2022): Keith Lee still Limitless

AEW Rampage (Mar. 18, 2022) emanated from Freeman Coliseum on San Antonio, TX. The show featured Keith Lee striking up a friendship of convenience and Darby Allin in a car crash of a fight.

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

Excalibur, Taz, Ricky Starks, and Chris Jericho were on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

Darby Allin vs. Butcher

Sting, Blade, and Bunny were ringside. Allin kicked off the action with a speedy assault, but Butcher regained balance to maul the smaller man. Allin worked up an appetite to bite Butcher’s sausage fingers. That angered Butcher, so he swung Allin around by the neck in retaliation.

Butcher worked the cloverleaf submission. Allin tried to escape, but Butcher kept the grip tight for a powerbomb then back to the cloverleaf. Allin eventually reached the ropes for the break. The fight spilled outside with Butcher swinging Allin into the guardrail and ring steps.

Allin turned the tide with his quickness. He dodged a charging Butcher to create a collision into the ring steps. Allin popped up for a Code Red on the floor. He followed with a Coffin Drop to the outside. Butcher was down as Allin won by count-out.

Darby Allin defeated Butcher.

Afterward, the AFO attacked Allin and Sting. The Hardys ran out for the save. Matt Hardy challenged Andrade to a Texas Tornado 8-man for Dynamite. Andrade had to think about it, but it was later announced as official.

Scorpio Sky continues to make history as TNT champ. Dan Lambert chimed in as co-champ to put over Paige VanZant. She looks better, fights better, and prints more money than the federal reserve. Jump on board the Paige train or get run over.

Leyla Hirsch vs. Red Velvet

Hirsch charged up the ramp to fight before the bell. Velvet had the upper hand for a suplex onto the hard surface. In the ring, Velvet landed double knees and a standing moonsault. Hirsch took charge to rough up her opponent. As Hirsch talked trash, Velvet smacked a backhand slap. Back to bashing for Hirsch.

Velvet rallied with kicks and bulldogs. Hirsch caught a spinning kick for a suplex bonanza. She went for the armbar, but Velvet locked her fingers to prevent extension. The dancer was able to place her lithe lower limb on the rope for a break. Hirsch went for her trademark turnbuckle tool to use as a foreign object. Kris Statlander arrived from behind to snatch the piece of steel. Velvet capitalized with a corkscrew kick for victory.

Red Velvet defeated Leyla Hirsch.

QT Marshall is proud of Hook as his prized student. He invited Hook to the ring next week to receive the inaugural QT Marshall Certificate of Accomplishment.

House of Black vs. Bear Country & Fuego del Sol

House of Black wrecked shop. Fuego scored a rally, but it didn’t last long. Buddy Matthews clobbered him. Brody King and Malakai Black connected on a suicide dive and moonsault on the outside to take out Bear Country. Matthews finished with a pumphandle spinning Samoan Drop maneuver.

House of Black defeated Bear Country & Fuego del Sol.

Penta Oscuro feels alive in the darkness. Death Triangle is inevitable. Cero miedo.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Max Caster has lots of money and lots of mouth to back up his bravado. He plans to back that ass up for Keith Lee to kiss. Lee has a painful lesson to teach his opponent. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Keith Lee vs. Max Caster

Caster’s rap included references to Ted Cruz, Razor Ramon, Pete Davidson, and the Alamo.

Lee utilized a brickhouse offense with a jumping jack flash leapfrog. Will Hobbs made his presence known on stage. That allowed Caster a moment to attack with a knee to knock Lee out of the ring. Lee still ran roughshod over Caster on the outside. As Lee chased Caster to re-enter the ring, Anthony Bowens created a distraction for Caster to land a dropkick and finally put Lee down on the mat. Caster focused on keeping the behemoth down.

Down the stretch, Lee powered up for a huge shoulder block. Caster fired back with kicks. He tried for a fireman’s carry lift, and that proved to be a pivotal mistake. Lee was too much weight for Caster to handle. Lee erupted for strikes and seized Caster for a fireman’s carry powerslam to win.

Keith Lee defeated Max Caster.

After the match, Hobbs ran in for fisticuffs. Ricky Starks quickly joined his Team Taz cohort. The Acclaimed added in with their boombox. Swerve Strickland came on the scene with a chair. The bad guys retreated, and the good guys shared a handshake.

Keith Lee is still Limitless in AEW. He is living up to his nickname with limitless potential. This story with Team Taz and Swerve Strickland is keeping him on point until he is unleashed for bigger things. Being a brickhouse in the ring has been his bread and butter so far. He’s mighty-mighty, just letting it all hang out. I can’t wait to see Lee smash meat with Will Hobbs. That should be hoss heaven.

Darby Allin and Butcher put on a very entertaining fight. It was a badass slobberknocker in their own way. Butcher dished out cool power moves, and Allin played crash dummy. The count-out was surprising for a finish. I can’t remember any other TV matches in AEW resulting in a count-out. That’s what made it stick out positively. Allin and Butcher also executed it well. A Code Red and a Coffin Drop are enough to keep any man down, and that made the count-out believable. Since it didn’t finish via pinfall, the door is open for a rematch down the line. The physicality was riveting, so I wouldn’t mind another round.

The intensity from Red Velvet and Leyla Hirsch made that match interesting. Hirsch thrived using her legit skills, while Velvet played the comeback kid. Hirsch was rotten enough in attitude that she set up a rooting interest in seeing Velvet prevail. Commentary put over Kris Statlander as having a new look, but I didn’t notice much of a difference. She wore some sort of chaps outfit. Does that make her a space cowboy? That’s more fitting than calling her a gangster of love or Maurice.

The House of Black made the most of their minutes with a variety of cool ass-kicking techniques. Each member had a turn showing strong skills in dismantling their opponents. It achieved the goal of keeping them fresh on our minds.

Grade: B

AEW did the best they could with a late-night airing this week. The first two matches maintained the fire and energy Rampage is known for. The final two matches were effective showcases for the winners. Add in a Hardys appearance and a budding friendship between Swerve and Limitless to keep the story elements intriguing.

Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

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