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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Mar. 25, 2022): Dustin Rhodes scores surprise upset

AEW Rampage (Mar. 25, 2022) emanated from H-E-B Center in Austin, TX. The show featured Dustin Rhodes scoring a surprise upset over the #1 ranked wrestler, Adam Cole stealing more gold, and Ricky Starks retaining the FTW Championship against Swerve Strickland.

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

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

Lance Archer vs. Dustin Rhodes

Archer entered with one of Rhodes’ students over his shoulder while Dan Lambert cheered on the Murderhawk Monster. Rhodes saved his pupil, and the fisticuffs began.

Rhodes missed a flipping senton off the apron crashing to the floor. Archer dominated after that. Rhodes rallied with clotheslines, but Archer put him down again with a belly-to-belly slam. Rhodes came back for a bulldog and Cross Rhodes. Archer refused to stay down. The Murderhawk Monster took control for a suplex, full nelson slam, and chokeslam. Archer had ripped off a turnbuckle pad earlier, and that played a role in the finish. Archer aimed to end it with a Blackout, but Rhodes escaped and suckered Archer into colliding with the exposed steel. Rhodes scored a surprise win.

Dustin Rhodes defeated Lance Archer.

Archer was incensed and took out his frustration on Rhodes by slamming his skull into the ring steps and chokeslamming him through the timekeeper table.

Jay Lethal plans on going back to the drawing board. His only losses have been to the cheating Adam Cole and Ricky Starks. There has to be a better way, so Lethal has some thinking to do.

Fuego del Sol thanked the fans for believing in him, then he called out the House of Black. They arrived and teed off on the underdog. Brody King crushed the masked man with a Gonzo bomb. Dark Order ran out for the save. Evil Uno led the charge for a staredown with the House of Black. Malakai Black cooled the aggression to wait for another day. Dark Order tended to the fallen Fuego.

Scorpio Sky closed the open challenge door for the TNT title. Anyone that wants a shot has to build up their record and earn it.

5 & 10 vs. reDRagon

Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish tenderized 5 until 10 cleaned house on a hot tag. reDRagon neutralized the powerhouse by attacking the leg. Hot tag to 5 to run wild with offense. O’Reilly hooked a guillotine choke to 5 on the mat. 10 spinebustered Fish on top of the pile for the break. O’Reilly pulled 10’s mask around backward, then reDRagon pummeled him with their high low kick combo. They finished 5 with a kick to brainbuster combo for Fish to pick up the winning pin.

reDRagon defeated 5 & 10.

As reDRagon picked on 5 after the bell, Jurassic Express and Christian Cage ran out. Adam Cole came down to snatch the tag titles as Jurassic Express was occupied. reDRagon celebrated with their fool’s gold.

Nyla Rose mentioned fans whining about disrespecting Thunder Rosa on Dynamite. That was the point. She will disrespect Thunder again by taking the women’s title. Thunder vowed to kick Nyla’s ass.

Jericho honored Nyla Rose with the Sports Entertainer of the Week honor.

Nyla Rose vs. Madi Wrenkowski

The Native Beast trucked Wrenkowski before the bell. A running senton and Beast Bomb sealed the deal.

Nyla Rose defeated Madi Wrenkowski.

QT Marshall presented his special Certificate of Accomplishment to Hook. The cold-hearted, handsome devil smashed Aaron Solo into the glass frame. Upon exit, Hook passed Danhausen. The demon tried to curse Hook, but he no-sold it and walked away.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Ricky Starks has no problem with newcomers in AEW. He has a problem with their sense of entitlement. Swerve Strickland claimed that it is not about earning or deserving. It is about taking, and he will be taking Rampage. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

FTW Championship: Ricky Starks (c) vs. Swerve Strickland

Powerhouse Hobbs was ringside. Starks and Swerve went back and forth with takedowns and poses. Starks hit the first powerful move on a Doctor Bomb. Swerve hit the flashiest move with a shooting star press off the apron.

Back in the ring, Swerve landed the flying double stomp. 1, 2, Starks kicked out. The champion was dazed, but he managed to counter a half nelson into a roll-up. When Swerve tumbled out of the ring, Starks charged for a suicide dive. Swerve saw it coming and knocked Starks silly again. As the referee checked on Starks, Hobbs smashed Swerve. That led to the Roshambo for Starks to win.

Ricky Starks defeated Swerve Strickland.

In the aftermath, Keith Lee beat up Starks’ personal entourage of stylists. Lee and Swerve fought with Team Taz as the show went off the air.

Rampage opened with a surprise result. I did not anticipate Dustin Rhodes beating Lance Archer. Thumbs up for unpredictability. I don’t mind seeing the Murderhawk Monster take this loss, because Rhodes is a savvy veteran who earned the sneaky win. Archer re-established his physical dominance after the match, so he still looks like a badass wrecking machine. Hopefully this will give Archer something to do on screen other than squash chumps and lose to champions.

The main event was a jammer. That was one of Ricky Starks’ best matches in AEW. There was a lot of offensive variety between Starks and Swerve Strickland. They did mat work, tactical striking, and flashy pizzazz. The finish was a bit of a bummer in that Will Hobbs interfered. I would have liked to see Starks win more on his own accord to build him up as a genuine threat. He came with fire in his promo, fire in his aura, fire in the ring, and fire in his loins. It was a peak at potential future greatness.

reDRagon looked sharp in victory. That was the prefect type of match for them to boost their status. They showed technical prowess, tag team tactics, and intelligent rule bending. I came away very impressed with their efforts. 5 and 10 shined in defeat with exciting rallies. Adam Cole stealing the tag titles was funny. I’ve been down on him re-matching Hangman Page, but I have to give credit to AEW for building the desire to see Hangman whoop his ass again.

Of all the promos on the show, Jay Lethal stood out the most. It’s about time someone addresses how cheaters face no consequences and actually benefit with rewards. I’m intrigued to see what Lethal comes up with as a solution. I’m a little bummed that Scorpio Sky took away the open challenge, because that was an interesting element to quickly produce high-profile fights. His logic was sound though. Sky made up for it by giving us the Sky Vinci Code line.

Grade: B+

The opener and main event were hot action. The middle of the show was a little slower with story building. The finish was energetic. This is Rampage, yeah.

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

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