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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Apr. 29, 2022): Samoa Joe strong as ever

AEW Rampage (Apr. 29, 2022) emanated from the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, PA. The show featured Samoa Joe defending the ROH TV title against Trent, Darby Allin versus Swerve Strickland in a dandy, as well as brickhouse power from Jade Cargill and Keith Lee.

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.

Owen Hart tournament qualifier: Darby Allin vs. Swerve Strickland

Sting was ringside. Athletic mat work from both men to start. Allin scored the first big move with an over-the-top stunner on the floor. Allin followed with a suicide dive, but Swerve countered for a jumping knee strike. Allin was knocked cold. Swerve worked his game for a bit, then Allin came back with leg submissions. Swerve escaped by rolling to an upright position to lift Allin for a suplex. Swerve missed a flying double stomp, and Allin pounced for a Code Red. Allin went for a Coffin Drop, but Swerve put his knees up. Swerve connected on his jumping kick finisher. 1, 2, Allin was close enough to the ropes to grab for a break. Swerve kept on the pressure with a suplex off the apron down to the floor.

Ricky Starks decided to leave commentary to trifle in Swerve’s affairs. Sting cut him off at the pass. Starks retreated, but the distraction was already achieved. As Swerve turned toward Allin, he was trapped in a tricky pin. Allin took the win and advances to the tournament.

Darby Allin defeated Swerve Strickland.

Shawn Spears added that MJF’s pal is 7 feet tall with Pinnacle potential. Wardlow will be slaughtered on Dynamite.

Chris Jericho granted himself the honor of Sports Entertainer of the Week for the fireball wizardry at Eddie Kingston on Dynamite. Santana came over to smack down Jericho until security separated them. Later, it was announced Jericho versus Santana next week.

Jade Cargill, Red Velvet, & Kiera Hogan vs. Skye Blue, Trish Adora, & Willow Nightingale

The Baddies found their groove to take care of business in a quick match. Jade powered a pump kick to Adora. As the TBS champ chickenwinged Adora, Velvet speared Blue, and Hogan dropkicked Nightingale to clear the path for a marching Jaded finisher.

Jade Cargill, Red Velvet, & Kiera Hogan defeated Skye Blue, Trish Adora, & Willow Nightingale.

Allin didn’t want to win like that. He offered Swerve a redo. Swerve was cool, since it wasn’t Allin’s fault. Ricky Starks’ meddling adds more fire to his feud with Team Taz.

Keith Lee vs. Colten Gunn

Austin Gunn was ringside. Lee powerfully mauled Colten. The Ass Boy was able to score rudimentary offense after his brother physically interfered. Lee took a bit of punishment, but he was never in danger. In the end, Colten tried a Fameasser, but Lee escaped. Colten then escaped a power move from Lee. The dance continued for Lee to counter the Colt 45 into a fireman’s carry powerslam to win.

Keith Lee defeated Colten Gunn.

Jeff Hardy will wrestle Bobby Fish in an Owen Hart qualifier. Jeff imagined the dream match possibilities against Darby Allin and Samoa Joe in the tournament. Bobby Fish spoke with the Undisputed Elite by his side. Adam Cole guaranteed one of their crew will win. Fish claimed Jeff Hardly’s days are numbered.

Danhausen stomped to the ring calling out Hook to be decimated, eviscerated, and annihilated. Hook stepped to the demon’s face. Mark Sterling interrupted as a ruse for Tony Nese to attack from behind. Hook tossed Sterling. Nese raked Hook’s eyes, but Hook came back for a high-collar suplex. Danhausen cursed the intruders, unknowingly backed by the threat of Hook. When Danhausen tried to make peace, Hook shoved him out of the way.

Even though Colten Gunn took his first pinfall loss, Austin Gunn still viewed it positively by going toe-to-toe with Limitless. The Gunns can do it all, wrestle and rap. The Acclaimed popped in to propose a union together. They offered to scissor the Ass Boys, but the Gunns exited to consult with papa Billy.

Mercedes Martinez is not a fluke as the ROH women’s interim champion. The OG Badass will become the true champ when she beats Deonna Purrazzo on Dynamite.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Samoa Joe warned that Trent will pass out before he walks out of the building. Trent wasn’t scared. Chuck Taylor hyped his friend as the new champ. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

ROH World Television Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Trent

Ian Riccaboni joined commentary and Bobby Cruise was ring announcer as familiar ROH faces. Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor were ringside. Code of Honor handshake to start.

Joe blasted Trent early. Trent dodged a suicide dive then rallied for a sliding knee and a springboard moonsault. Joe shed off a tornado DDT to get back on track pounding Trent with vicious chops. Trent created space for a flying crossbody to the outside. Trent picked up steam for a suplex and tornado DDT.

Joe powered up for a powerbomb then transitioned to an STF submission. Trent reached the ropes with his foot for the break. Joe taunted his opponent with slaps, so Trent fired back with a slap of his own. Joe retaliated with a hefty clothesline. On a musclebuster pickup, Trent escaped for a roll-up. A dropkick sent Joe into the corner. Trent charged forward, but Joe was waiting with a uranage slam at the ready. Joe finished with a rear naked choke to retain gold.

Samoa Joe defeated Trent.

Afterward, the Code of Honor handshake was shared. Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, and Satnam Singh crashed the party. Orange Cassidy blocked the giant’s path with his shin kick routine. A skirmish broke out with the Best Friends. Lethal rushed the ring to engage in fisticuffs with Joe to close the show.

The aura of Samoa Joe is as strong as ever. At 43 years of age with a rugged career and recent injury issues, Joe still exudes the dominating presence that made him a star. His matches are a little less athletic than his younger days, but that doesn’t matter. Joe sticks to his strengths to put on an awesome show each time he has been in an AEW ring. Trent proved his value, even though, he lost. That man always puts in 100%.

Darby Allin versus Swerve Strickland was a joy to watch. Their familiarity led to cool counters with creativity. It was the type of match that left me wanting round two, three, four, and more. They sort of set the seeds where this could develop into a long-winding feud over time, at least in terms of sporting competition. The ending to the bout was a little weak with Ricky Starks trying to butt in. Sure, it made sense, but it wasn’t satisfying. If they want the Owen Hart tournament to be excellent, the majority of wins have to be fair and square. Don’t fall into the trap of protecting wrestlers in defeat with crappy finishes. The best way is to have a badass match leaving the fans wanting to see more.

Swerve is so smooth in his movement. He reminded me of a character from Sonic the Hedgehog. The normal way to get down from the apron is a simple hop to the floor. Not for Swerve, no no no. The man did a front roll along the apron placing his feet on the ground. It was pure style. He also did a backward leap lifting himself onto the turnbuckles. Swerve and John Morrison need to have a parkour showdown.

Closing with quick thoughts. Chris Jericho deserves Sports Entertainer of the Week next week for how he gave himself the honor this week. Commentary mentioned that Red Velvet’s new attitude came about after feeling disrespected by fans booing her. That explanation works for me why she joined the Baddies. Jade Cargill’s marching Jaded and Keith Lee’s fireman’s carry powerslam were both awesome. The Hookhausen segment was executed perfectly for a comic setup to a serious match. I’m very interested to see Hook have a full bout against Tony Nese.

Grade: B

The opener and closer were exciting. The middle was a lot of fluff that did its job to advance stories.

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

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