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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Mar. 4, 2022): Championships before bros

AEW Rampage (Mar. 4, 2022) emanated from the Addition Financial Arena in Orlando, FL. The show featured Sammy Guevara defending the TNT Championship against Darby Allin and Andrade, the debut of Erick Redbeard, news of Paige VanZant signing, and the return of Hikaru Shida.

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.

Every match on the card had a no interference rule. Violators would be hit with fines and sanctions.

TNT Championship: Sammy Guevara (c) vs. Darby Allin vs. Andrade

Andrade taunted Sammy and Darby then strategically exited the ring. The idea was for Sammy and Darby to fight each other, but they didn’t take the bait. Both men still went after Andrade. That partnership ended quickly when Allin went for a pin after Code Red to Andrade. Sammy broke it up, and the fight became every man for himself.

Highlights were aplenty. As Sammy was setting up a superplex to Darby, Andrade went underneath to hit a powerbomb superplex.

Andrade continued his pizzazz. He went for a moonsault onto both bodies, but they moved out of the way. Andrade landed on his feet and didn’t miss a beat for a standing moonsault onto the champ.

For the third moment of excellence from El Idolo, he rolled up Sammy then transitioned into a powerful single-arm slam maneuver.

Down the stretch, the action was hectic. Allin hit an over-the-top stunner to Andrade. Sammy plucked Andrade for a GTH. Allin shoved Sammy out of the ring to hit the Coffin Drop onto Andrade. 1, 2, Sammy crashed onto the pile with a flying senton for the break. The champ quickly pinned Andrade to retain the TNT title.

Sammy Guevara defeated Darby Allin and Andrade.

After the match, Sammy offered a handshake to Allin since they will be trios teammates for the Revolution PPV. Allin was distraught at coming so close to victory but failing to win gold. He declined the gesture of sportsmanship and exited as a sad boy.

PAC, Pentagon, and Alex Abrahantes wanted to go 3-on-3 with the House of Black. The bad guys accepted the offer for a staredown on the apron. Abrahantes clarified that he wouldn’t be the third. This wasn’t a setup for the return of Fenix. No, no, no. It was a setup for the debut of Erick Redbeard to assist Death Triangle. Redbeard wrecked shop on security and clotheslined Brody King out of the ring. These stables will get it on for the PPV pre-show.

Dan Lambert scored a TNT title shot for Scorpio Sky on Dynamite. He also mentioned that Paige VanZant will be signing an AEW contract Sunday at Revolution.

Keith Lee vs. JD Drake

HOSS FIGHT! Drake had his moments with a dropkick, running cannonball into the corner, and moonsault. However, this was Lee’s match to shine. He hossed it up with chops and shoulder tackles. Lee showed his strength by catching the heavy load flying through the air to counter for a fireman’s carry slam to win.

Keith Lee defeated JD Drake.

Afterward, the Wingmen ran in to attack. Lee dispatched of them easily. He powerbombed Cezar Bononi and hurled Peter Avalon out of the ring. Ricky Starks and Will Hobbs moseyed down the ramp. Orange Cassidy stuck his nose in their business to hype the Face of the Revolution ladder match.

CM Punk cut a backstage promo from after his beatdown by MJF on Dynamite. Punk’s face was still covered in blood. Being in this much pain makes him feel alive. MJF will find out that Punk is the master. Punk will become a monster to fight the monsters of the world.

Mark Sterling mentioned a ‘no contact’ clause for Jade Cargill prior to the PPV. Anna Jay created a distraction for Tay Conti to ambush Jade with a pump kick.

Serena Deeb vs. Leila Grey

Grey rolled out of the ring stalling for time in the 5-minute challenge. This tactic angered Deeb. Once the professor got her hands on her opponent, she made short work. A neckbreaker in the ropes led to a front choke to win in 58 seconds.

Serena Deeb defeated Leila Grey.

Afterward, Deeb inflicted more pain with the Serenity Lock submission. Hikaru Shida’s music hit for her glorious return. Shida went wild swinging her kendo stick. Deeb took several hits on the knee before escaping to safety.

Eddie Kingston didn’t want to talk anymore about Chris Jericho. The time is near to fight. Kingston plans to embarrass Le Champion. For now though, Kingston had his eye on pie.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Ethan Page and Christian Cage both debuted at Revolution last year. One was touted as Hall of Fame worthy. Page will prove he is that man. Christian said Page’s day will come, but it won’t be on this night. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Face of the Revolution qualifier: Ethan Page vs. Christian Cage

Page took control early by thumbing Christian in the eye then shoving him off the apron into the guardrail. Christian used trickery to get back in the game. He crawled under the ring and came out the other side for a sneaky roll-up. The action progressed with the top highlight of Page flexing his bicep on a delayed vertical suplex.

The finish revolved around escapes and counters. After a diving headbutt from Christian, Page stopped a spear by running through for a shoulder tackle. Christian escaped a piledriver to hit a spear. Page escaped a Killswitch to lift for the Ego’s Edge. Christian escaped Page’s finisher to hit him with the Killswitch to win.

Christian Cage defeated Ethan Page.

In the aftermath, Jurassic Express celebrated with Christian. The Young Bucks and reDRagon came down to eye the tag titles. Kyle O’Reilly and Matt Jackson both lunged forward to snatch the belts. They danced up a storm with the stolen goods, then things got testy between the Elite squads. Luchasaurus reached down to take back his gold, and Jungle Boy leaped for a flying attack onto the pile below as the show closed.

The TNT title opener was popping. I’d give Andrade the nod as star of the match. Sammy Guevara and Darby Allin teamed up against him, and El Idolo still controlled the flow with cool moves. Guevara and Allin did their part with flashy attacks as well. The finish was pretty definitive for Sammy’s victory. As far as I’m concerned, this triangle story is over for Andrande and Allin in terms of future business with the champ.

The post-match scene was odd with Allin being too frustrated to shake Guevara’s hand. Bros come before many things in life, but apparently not championships. And while Allin and Guevara aren’t tight bros, they do have a mutual respect that led to being on the same trios team for the PPV. It will be interesting to see if Allin lashes out at all, especially if there is accidental contact from Sammy.

The main event between Christian Cage and Ethan Page was solid. They worked well with counters to keep viewers guessing. The post-match mingling was goofy in a fun way. AEW successfully squeezed in all those big names into the closing scene to hype the PPV.

Last week, I mentioned Serena Deeb’s squash matches becoming stale. This week, AEW mixed up the formula to make it interesting. Leila Grey tried to survive instead of thrive, and Deeb beat her brains in for it. That was a good twist to keep my attention. It only got better in the aftermath with the surprise return of Hikaru Shida. Her appearance was a neat treat. Shida displayed unhinged intensity to fire up this feud once again. She also looked cool wearing red as the color of rage.

Quick thoughts to close. Erick Redbeard was a nifty surprise that truly came unexpectedly. Credit to AEW for the shock factor of his arrival. I’m all for stocking up AEW’s hoss division. Keith Lee’s double overhead chops are wiggity wiggity whack. They don’t look painful at all. On the plus side, JD Drake was a good choice to deliver hoss fight action. HOSS FIGHT! Ricky Starks’ deep voice impersonation of Keith Lee will always make me laugh. I like the addition of Paige VanZant. She possesses a captivating vibe as a heel. I’m looking forward to seeing how AEW uses her. CM Punk’s super passionate promo tied a nice bow on their feud heading into the dog collar showdown. If you are only watching the highlights, that quick promo is worth your time.

Grade: A-

Even though Rampage had two filler matches, AEW delivered a surprise debut, surprise news of a signing, and a surprise return to make up for it. Energy was high for the go-home to Revolution.

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