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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Apr. 8, 2022): Young blood earns respect

AEW Rampage (Apr. 8, 2022) emanated from Agganis Arena in Boston, MA. The show featured Bryan Danielson getting violent with Trent Beretta, Wheeler Yuta fighting to earn Jon Moxley’s respect, and a tease for a new manager/client relationship.

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

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

Bryan Danielson vs. Trent Beretta

Both men went back and forth with suplex offense. When the action spilled outside, Trent caught a suicide dice for a Saito suplex on the floor. Beretta charged forward crashing head first into the ring steps when Danielson dodged. The American Dragon focused his attack on Trent’s neck after that.

Trent rallied with suplexes, but Danielson regained control for a shoulder capture cradle suplex. Trent kicked out, so Danielson transitioned to a dragon sleeper. Trent reached the ropes for the break. Danielson unleashed knees to the head. Trent was down but not out. He sidestepped a running knee and countered for a swinging DDT out of the corner. Fisticuffs erupted with Trent exploding for a half-and-half suplex then a heavy lariat.

After Danielson kicked out on the cover, Trent unloaded a salvo of strikes. The best friend made a vital mistake that led to his demise. Instead of continuing the onslaught, Trent turned his back to run the ropes. Danielson popped up to give chase for a running knee. Danielson followed up with a Gotch piledriver then kicked Trent’s head in. A wrenching neck crank earned the submission victory.

Bryan Danielson defeated Trent Beretta.

Lexy Nair attempted to interview Hook, but he focused on eating chips without speaking. When Hook tossed his chips into the trash, Danhausen popped up for another curse. No dice. Hook walked away unaffected. Danhausen reached down into the trash to retrieve Hook’s chips. He munched in an effort to absorb Hook’s power source.

Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti interrupted a promo from Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page, and Dan Lambert. Sammy wants his match or else he’ll keep doing naughty deeds to Lambert.

Chris Jericho honored QT Marshall as the Sports Entertainer of the Week. Le Champion appreciates Marshall’s leadership to the Nightmare Factory and choices of cologne and cars.

Swerve Strickland vs. QT Marshall

Referee Stephon Smith ejected Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto early after they tried to distract Swerve. It was a quick trigger considering they weren’t even close enough to Swerve for physical interaction. QT pounded Swerve setting up the fiery comeback. Swerve escaped a cutter and rallied with a flatliner. A running back heel kick sealed the deal.

Swerve Strickland defeated QT Marshall.

Afterward, Ricky Starks issued a tag team challenge to Swerve and Keith Lee. It was made official for Dynamite next week in Starks’ hometown of New Orleans.

Marina Shafir received the highlight package treatment in advance of her showdown with Jade Cargill for the TBS Championship.

Commentary announced Minoru Suzuki will defend the ROH TV Championship against Samoa Joe next week on Dynamite.

Owen Hart tournament qualifier: Willow Nightingale vs. Red Velvet

Willow had control but missed a moonsault. Velvet used quick attacks and a running double knees to set up her spinning kick finisher. Willows surprisingly kicked out, and the match raged on. Velvet ran into a spinebuster. Willow maintained momentum for a cannonball into the corner. Velvet escaped a suplex to run the ropes for a spinning kick. That shot kept Willow down this time.

Red Velvet defeated Willow Nightingale.

Tony Nese wants what he deserves as a hot free agent signing. Mark Sterling stepped in to offer proper legal representation. Sterling and Nese exited to chat.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Wheeler Yuta was not scared of Jon Moxley. He will earn respect. Moxley was only concerned about spilling guts to find out what Yuta is made of. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Wheeler Yuta vs. Jon Moxley

Yuta attacked through the air before the opening bell. He brawled with Moxley into the fan section and back to the ring. Once the bout officially began, Moxley was quick to dominate with a German suplex. Moxley stomped Yuta’s head into the ring steps. That resulted in a crimson mask blinding Yuta’s vision for the rest of the contest.

Moxley kept dishing out pain, and Yuta absorbed it all. Yuta fought with a no-quit attitude and rallied for a flying crossbody crashing onto Moxley through the timekeeper table.

Yuta dug deep for a pair of German suplexes, then he did the unthinkable. Yuta kicked Moxley’s head in.

Yuta went high-risk to connect on a flying splash. Mox kicked out, so Yuta transitioned to a crossface submission. Mox escaped then unloaded a lariat. Yuta returned fire. As he leaped into the air, Moxley booted him in the gut. Paradigm Shift. 1, 2, kick out by Yuta?!?!

Moxley sought to finish with a bulldog choke, but Yuta refused to submit. Mox released the grip to bash some more knees into Yuta’s head. Mox charged for a knee strike. Yuta ducked to roll-up Mox and lock in a bulldog choke of his own. Mox was able to rise up and counter with repeated elbows. A running knee led to a second Paradigm Shift. 1, 2, kick out. Moxley finally finished Yuta by choking him unconscious.

Jon Moxley defeated Wheeler Yuta.

Afterward, William Regal and Danielson entered the ring. Tension was teased. Regal extended his hand, and Yuta accepted. Moxley told Yuta that the real work begins.

Fantastic story for the main event. The first half felt like an exercise in seeing how much punishment Wheeler Yuta could take, then it went to an awesome next gear when he kicked Jon Moxley’s head in. That made me sit up and take notice. Nobody kicks Mox’s head in and lives to tell about. Well, Yuta is still here, and he’s badder than ever. There were a few times when I genuinely questioned if we could be seeing a huge upset. That wasn’t meant to be on this evening, and there’s no shame in that for Yuta. He showed guts and earned what he truly wanted, a spot to be mentored by William Regal. This evening will be a career-defining moment for Yuta.

In the finish, I thought kicking out of the second Paradigm Shift was a little much. You don’t want to paint Yuta as unpinnable. Moxley set it up strong with vicious blows knocking Yuta close to unconsciousness. Plus, there was the excessive blood loss. Losing at that moment would have been just as effective in telling Yuta’s story as being choked out.

Yuta has been using moves from Danielson and Moxley that he learned through experience, so I am very interested to see how he develops into his own identity. Now, it is time for him to pick up some wins going forward for the next stage of his career.

Bryan Danielson and Trent Beretta had a technical slobberknocker. Neither man held back. They produced a rip-snorting effort to fire up the Rampage opener. In the end, Trent couldn’t back up his bravado from Dynamite. He was a tough man to beat, however, Danielson was on a higher level. Best Friends and Yuta might have unfinished business. As far as Danielson and Moxley go, they are above and beyond the Best Friends. Time to feed fresh meat to Regal’s star pupils.

My interest in Hook is waning when he has scenes looking like a 15 year old hunched over in a hoodie eating chips. The skit was amusing, but I don’t think it added much to the broadcast other than putting two hot commodities on screen in a throwaway scene. This isn’t doing anything to excite me for a future match.

The less said about the Sammy Guevara segment, the better. That was not interesting at all. This feud is veering toward stink town. I do want to see the Paige VanZant mixed tag bout. After that, I wouldn’t care if they moved on without giving us Sammy versus Scorpio Sky.

Mark Sterling expanding his footprint in the marketplace is smart thinking. His days might be numbered representing Jade Cargill, so he is wise to recruit new clients just in case. Tony Nese is a man deserving of better use. For all we know, Sterling could be propositioning Nese on MJF’s behalf. The Pinnacle won’t last much longer, and MJF needs pals to carry out his mischief.

I like Red Velvet’s work, but this would have been a neat opportunity for an upset victory. The crowd was popping for Willow Nightingale. I’ve seen Willow matches in ROH, MLW, and now AEW. Fans seem to gravitate toward her every single time. As for the match, Willow’s early kick out was a good way to extend the contest. It made Willow look strong, provided doubt about the end result, and allowed both women more time for cool moves. It’s a good thing the match went a little longer, because I was completely thrown for a loop when commentary announced Minoru Suzuki versus Samoa Joe for next week. I had to do a double take and rewind to make sure I heard correctly. I was too busy salivating about Suzuki and Joe that I could barely pay attention to the first half of the women’s bout.

Grade: B+

This episode was carried by the main event. The rest of the show was a decent affair, but Moxley versus Yuta was on a different level of storytelling.

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

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