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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Sep. 16, 2022): Samoa Joe retains gold

AEW Rampage (Sep. 16, 2022) emanated from MVP Arena in Albany, NY. The show featured Samoa Joe defending the ROH World Television Championship, Darby Allin dueling with Matt Hardy, and lots of build for Grand Slam.

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

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

Matt Hardy vs. Darby Allin

Respect to start. The action got a little chippy with both men needing this important win. Allin rammed Hardy into the ring steps. When Hardy looked dazed, Allin didn’t hesitate to launch for a flipping senton on the apron. Hardy moved away, and Allin crashed hard. Hardy may have been playing possum to an extent. Hardy went on the attack not holding back to powerbomb Allin into the ring post. Hardy worked the lower back.

Allin rallied by countering a suplex for a Scorpion Death Drop. Both men were down. Allin rose first to climb the turnbuckles. Hardy snatched him up for a crucifix powerbomb. Allin kicked out. Hardy climbed the turnbuckles for a moonsault, but Allin evaded impact. Allin pounced for a Code Red. 1, 2, kick out by Hardy. Allin kept on the pressure for the Last Supper pin to win. Respect to finish.

Darby Allin defeated Matt Hardy.

After Allin exited, the lights went out. Brody King and Julia Hart were in the ring. King flattened Hardy with a clothesline, then he called out Allin and Sting. Even though they cut off the head of the snake, the House of Black is not finished with this feud. King challenged them to a tag match with Buddy Matthews as his partner. King made a physical statement by choking Hardy on the apron. Hart knocked out Hardy’s feet for the hanging sleeper spot. As Allin and Sting advanced, King retreated in the darkness. The match was made for next week.

Eddie Kingston and Sammy Guevara will get in on next week. Kingston doesn’t respect Sammy. When he looks in Sammy’s eyes, he sees a rotten human being. It makes Kingston sick. I think Kingston may have been looking in the mirror instead of at Sammy.

Claudio Castagnoli put over the ROH World Championship, Blackpool Combat Club, Wheeler Yuta learning lessons in defeat, and teammates Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson competing for the AEW World Championship. Chris Jericho interrupted to challenge Claudio. Jericho is a seven-time world champ, and he wants to go for the ocho (eight). Challenge accepted for next week.

Jade Cargill flapped her yap about running out of competition to challenge for the TBS Championship. Diamante stepped up for next week, but she won’t be coming alone. Diamante is bringing the OG Baddie. I assumed that was a clear reference for Mercedes Martinez, but AEW seems to be playing it up as a surprise.

Penelope Ford vs. Willow Nightingale

Kip Sabian was seated ringside holding his box head. Willow was often one step ahead in the early going. Ford put on the brakes to dodge a running shoulder block from Willow. Ford went to work controlling the bout with a dropkick, knee drop, handspring back elbow, and licking Willow’s face. Willow rallied for a high boot and crushing spinebuster. Ford used a backward bridge to duck a clothesline then sprang up for a cutter. That move earned her Chris Jericho’s Sports Entertainer of the Week honors. Ford missed a flying attack and was blasted into the ropes by Willow’s shoulder block.

Ford took control in the end with a pump kick and bridging Indian deathlock submission for victory.

Penelope Ford defeated Willow Nightingale.

Hangman Page apologized to the Dark Order for costing them the trios title match. The Dark Order brushed that aside as the past to focus on the future. They are all entered in a golden ticket battle royal next week to earn a world title shot. Jose The Assistant and Rush walked in continuing the AFO sales pitch to 10. Andrade wants to make 10 a star. Rush was hot-headed with words for Hangman. That cowboy will never ride the white bull. Rush is going to break Hangman’s face.

Ethan Page vs. Danhausen

Stokely Hathaway was ringside. Page aggressively pummeled his opponent to win the squash via crucifix bomb.

Ethan Page defeated Danhausen.

Ricky Starks is coming for Will Hobbs. QT Marshall threw Starks off the trail, but now Starks’ full attention is toward Hobbs. That rematch will be next week.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Josh Woods’ style was influenced by Samoa Joe, and he plans to bring the fight to the champ. Joe will make it clear and concise in understanding who is better. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

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

Ian Riccaboni joined commentary and Bobby Cruise did intros for the ROH feel. Mark Sterling and Tony Nese were ringside to support the challenger. Woods had the technical skill advantage, but Joe possessed the veteran savvy advantage. Joe muddied up the fight by getting Woods to exchange punches. Joe peppered jabs unanswered, but Woods was able to block a headbutt. The tide shifted when Nese physically interfered to damage Joe’s arm. Woods went to work on the tender limb. Joe grabbed a sleeper, but Woods dropped his hips for a counter suplex.

Joe came back with strikes, an atomic drop, big boot, and jumping senton. He hoisted Woods onto the turnbuckles for a musclebuster, but Nese and Sterling caused distractions. Woods tried a surprise roll-up. Joe kicked out, so Woods exploded with a powerful knee strike. He followed with a fireman’s carry knee strike. 1, 2, Joe kicked out.

Woods went for the same maneuver again. This time Joe escaped. Woods charged toward the corner into an uranage from Joe. Musclebuster! Win.

Samoa Joe defeated Josh Woods.

Afterward, Nese and Woods attacked Joe. Wardlow arrived on the scene. Nese and Woods bailed, but Joe was able to grab Sterling’s foot to prevent escape. He handed the lawyer over to Wardlow for a powerbomb. The crowd went wild. Nese robbed them of joy by pulling Sterling to safety. Wardlow and Joe teased tension as alpha hosses then showed respect as champions. Wardlow & Joe versus Nese & Woods was booked for next week.

Samoa Joe and Josh Woods put on a quality main event for the situation. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching Samoa Joe wrestle. He exudes the aura of badassery. Woods performed well in his highest profile contest to date in AEW. I knew he has the skills from his ROH days, and it was just a matter of time before AEW let him loose in the ring. This bout was only a taste of Woods’ wrestling ability. He is capable of a lot more. I believe Woods can be right alongside the rising group of Wheeler Yuta and Daniel Garcia as AEW’s shooters.

Darby Allin and Matt Hardy had a feisty fight in the opener. The action really sold the importance of earning the win on this evening. Allin couldn’t afford losing two high-profile matches in a row, and Hardy needed success to prove he’s ready for bigger things. Allin won, as he should have. Hardy wrestled well here. He moves stiff, like Kramer wearing tight jeans, but he can still execute the signature moves to pop the crowd. Allin’s Code Red was nicely done as a convincing false finish. They totally had me on that one.

Quick thoughts to finish. The promo session to set up Claudio Castagnoli versus Chris Jericho was simple and effective. If AEW is going to keep rolling out fresh meat for Claudio, then this is the way to do it. Their résumés sell the fight, so it was just a matter of giving us a little something to build emotion. And that they did. I’m pumped for that one. Willow Nightingale continues to shine with a magnetic personality, and Penelope Ford is on the right track with improvement each time out. The idea of Hangman Page versus Rush sounds delightful. Samoa Joe versus Wardlow would give me chills of anticipation if that gets booked soon.

Grade: B

Solid broadcast. Hot matches to open and close. The rest did nicely to fill out the Grand Slam card.

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

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