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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Sep. 9, 2022): Claudio shooting sharp

AEW Rampage (Sep. 9, 2022) emanated from Keybank Center in Buffalo, NY. The show featured marquee bouts with Claudio Castagnoli defending the ROH World Championship against Dax Harwood and Sammy Guevara fighting Darby Allin to advance in the AEW world title tournament.

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

Excalibur, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Chris Jericho were on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

Grand Slam Tournament of Champions wildcard: Sammy Guevara vs. Darby Allin

Winner advances to wrestle Jon Moxley in the semifinals next week on Dynamite. Tay Melo was ringside to support her husband. Mat work to start with Allin gaining the upper hand. Sammy had the advantage on their feet and executed a superplex. Sammy rolled through upon impact for a second suplex. He maintained control for a third suplex, but Allin countered to send them over the ropes without losing the grip. Allin suplexed Sammy on the floor.

Allin went for a suicide dive, but Tay blocked the way. Allin hesitated then shot forth anyway. Sammy was waiting to counter for a cutter on the floor. Later, Allin successfully connected on a suicide dive when Sammy spent too much time kissing his wife.

Down the stretch, Sammy hit a double springboard cutter. Allin kicked out, so Sammy went for a Coffin Drop. Allin moved, then shenanigans ensued. Anna Jay ran down to distract the referee. Tay grabbed Allin’s foot, and Sammy struck a low blow. Sammy powerbombed Allin onto a skateboard then finished with the GTH knee strike for victory.

Sammy Guevara defeated Darby Allin.

Samoa Joe was in the ring for a promo feeling good about his return. He owes the fans much more violence in the near future. The ROH TV champ is open for business. Mark Sterling interrupted yapping his mouth to set up Josh Woods for a title shot. Joe accepted for an immediate match, but Sterling stalled to wait for next week.

Miro was annoyed at his God sneaking out the devil (Malakai Black) before he could snuff him out. He is heartbroken that there was no master plan. Miro is flawless. Give him gold now.

Madison Rayne vs. Serena Deeb

Coach versus professor in a meeting of the minds. Rayne was a step ahead early to frustrate Deeb, so the professor turned up the aggression to gain an edge. Rayne rallied, however, Deeb was too slick by escaping a front chancery to transition to the Serenity Lock knee submission to win.

Serena Deeb defeated Madison Rayne.

Jade Cargill is not surprised she whooped Athena’s ass. It was another day in the neighborhood. The TBS champ is giving out work, so come apply. That notion implied that she’s looking for title challengers.

Will Hobbs knows the world loves to doubt him, so he showed the world by planting Ricky Starks six feet deep. Time for Hobbs put his star power on display.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. William Regal knows how brilliant Dax Harwood can be, but he will be facing an ultimate competitor. Claudio Castagnoli respects Harwood’s ability, however, it won’t be enough to win the ROH world title. Harwood knows he is an underdog. Wrestling is how he feeds his family, and he will become champ for that reason. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

ROH World Championship: Claudio Castagnoli (c) vs. Dax Harwood

Caprice Coleman on commentary and Bobby Cruise for introductions provided the ROH vibe. William Regal was ringside for this contest. Claudio and Harwood rumbled close to twenty minutes. It was evenly matched with control shifting quickly throughout. Claudio was able to use his ring surroundings to deliver more rugged blows wearing down Harwood.

Both men hit signature moves during the contest, such as a flying headbutt from Harwood, a piledriver from Harwood, uppercuts from Claudio, a brainbuster from Harwood, a slingshot Liger bomb from Harwood, and a giant swing from Claudio.

The finish came down to a duel of Sharpshooters. Claudio locked the submission tight. Harwood inched toward the ropes, so Claudio transitioned for a different submission. Harwood was able to counter for a Sharpshooter of his own. Claudio was in serious pain, but he managed to break free. Claudio turned the tide by exploding with vicious hammer elbows. The softened Harwood up for another Sharpshooter. The challenger tapped out.

Claudio Castagnoli defeated Dax Harwood.

Claudio Castagnoli was shooting sharp with the Sharpshooter. That man just carries himself like a champion. When the chips were down, he turned up the fury to smash his way to victory. The match was full of smooth counters, escapes, and transitions. Claudio and Dax Harwood were executing second and third level dance steps to put on a show. For example, it wasn’t just escape the Neutralizer then hit a piledriver. They added a back and forth exchange with a tumble and a twist. Great stuff all around.

Sammy Guevara versus Darby Allin was creative and cool throughout with dynamite action. There were a lot of mini stories with the story, such as Tay blocking the suicide dive and Allin stealing Sammy’s wedding ring. The finish was probably played out with so much interference, but it managed to offer a surprise result in my eyes. I thought for sure Allin was going to win as the bigger star advancing in the tournament. I can believe in the possibility of an upset in Allin against Jon Moxley. Not so much for Sammy versus Mox. Sammy poured on the pain in the end to make me think this battle isn’t over. Whoever had Sting fighting Sammy Hager on their bingo card could be in line for a payday.

There were two little things standing out to provide extra enjoyment in that match. First was Tay Melo’s expressive reactions. Second was Chris Jericho’s line about the possibility of Tay’s kisses being like Popeye’s spinach for Sammy. Tay and Jericho should win the Sports Entertainer of the Week award.

For the women’s bout, I would have liked to see some previous interactions to build for the occasion. There was a ready-made story with coach versus professor. AEW even added a nifty tagline in meeting of the minds. Without any extra zest added beforehand, the match was flat coming out of nowhere. Maybe this will be the beginning of a feud with Madison Rayne handpicking a student to wrestle Serena Deeb in the near future.

The promos were intriguing by creating questions of what’s next. Samoa Joe got his answer right away. His title defense against Josh Woods should be exciting action. Jade Cargill will probably defend against mid-carders for a little while until the next serious threat to her throne emerges. I’m curious to see who pops up on both accounts. I hope Will Hobbs didn’t just deliver empty words. I’d like to see what he can do with a push from AEW. Picking up a few quality wins would help cement his status. The biggest mystery is Miro. He wants gold, but I don’t foresee any title changes occurring soon.

Grade: B+

The two feature bouts rocked hard in the ring. Promos were strong with an interesting mix of talent. The missing ingredient from making the show special was the lack of building any reason to believe Dax Harwood had a chance at victory.

Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?

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