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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Apr. 14, 2023): Hot feud gets hotter

AEW Rampage (Apr. 14, 2023) emanated from UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena is Milwaukee, WI. The episode featured the feud between Jade Cargill and Taya Valkyrie continuing to get hotter, Jungle Boy beating MJF’s former best friend, Aussie Open defending the IWGP tag titles, big news from FTR, and more.

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

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

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (c) vs. Best Friends

Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher used fluid teamwork to take control and isolate Trent Beretta. Chuck Taylor turned the tide as the base with Trent on his shoulders for a superplex to Fletcher.

Best Friends went high-risk again with Trent flying for a Doomsday Device knee strike. Davis helped Fletcher hit a spinning piledriver on Chuck to regain momentum. Trent was planted on a piledriver from Davis. Chuck became the meat in a lariat sandwich, then Aussie Open finished with their Corealis maneuver.

Aussie Open defeated Best Friends.

Mark Briscoe wasn’t happy about Jay Lethal tricking him. Sonjay Dutt tried to smooth things over by presenting his crew as relatable. Briscoe and Lethal go way back as friends. Satnam Singh grew up on a farm. Jeff Jarrett is a country boy. Dutt added Briscoe’s mug to their team t-shirt. Briscoe still wasn’t happy with the situation.

FTR announced that they re-signed for four more years in AEW. Once that contract is up, then their time in the ring is over. FTR tried to figure out why the fans supported them. The answer was a redemption story. FTR is going to repay all the fans by giving everything they have until the wheels fall off in an effort to become the greatest tag team of all-time.

Jeff Hardy feels amazing to be back in AEW. He allowed his own personal heaven to collapse, and now he’s crawling out of his own personal hell. Matt Hardy stated that the match against the Firm will take place on the Hardy Compound. It will be Matt, Jeff, Isiah Kassidy, and Hook against Ethan Page, Big Bill Morrissey, Lee Moriarty, and Stokely Hathaway. A win by the good guys means that Matt and Private Party will be contractually free from the Firm. Matt will render his opponents obsolete. Delete! Delete! Delete!

Wardlow is going to write his own book by winning the TNT Championship from Will Hobbs next week on Dynamite. Hobbs plans to destroy Wardlow like Wardlow destroyed his car.

Mark Briscoe, Jay Lethal, Jeff Jarrett, & Satnam Singh vs. Angelico, Luther, Serpentico, & Man Scout

Sonjay Dutt was ringside. The bad guys attacked before the bell. Briscoe wasn’t keen on fighting that way and did not appreciate Jarrett’s subsequent cheating tactics. Not that their team needed any tricks to win. Singh took over in the squash by military pressing Serpentico out of the ring onto Angelico and Luther. A chokeslam to Man Scout set up a froggy bow by Briscoe to win. Briscoe wasn’t interested in celebrating with his team.

Mark Briscoe, Jay Lethal, Jeff Jarrett, & Satnam Singh defeated Angelico, Luther, Serpentico, & Man Scout.

Taya Valkyrie vs. Emi Sakura

Physical contest. Taya had the strength advantage, as demonstrated by muscling out of a full nelson. When Taya worked for the Road to Valhalla early, Jade Cargill and Leila Grey came down to the ring. Sakura took advantage of the distraction to smash Taya into the ring steps. Sakura controlled the pace. Chops sent Taya back into the ropes, then she exploded for a spear. Road to Valhalla ended the match.

Taya Valkyrie defeated Emi Sakura.

Afterward, Grey ate a Road to Valhalla as well. Jade entered the ring for fisticuffs. Grey saved the TBS champ from Road to Valhalla. Taya was booted with a pump kick and planted with Jaded.

Jose The Assistant issued a challenge to Hijo Del Vikingo on behalf of Dralistico. That AAA Mega Championship match will take place next week on Rampage.

Daddy Magic, Cool Hand Ang, and Jake Hager rapped a song to show how easy it is. The Acclaimed came out for a rebuttal, but they decided to fight instead. Daddy Ass brought out real scissors to clip Daddy Magic’s nipples. Thankfully, JAS pulled Daddy Magic and his nipples to safety. The Acclaimed challenged JAS to a trios match next week on Dynamite.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Jungle Boy was prepared for any opponent in this match. His goal is to get one step closer to a shot at MJF and the AEW World Championship. Shawn Spears clarified that he wasn’t here to do MJF’s bidding. Spears had the same objective in chasing the world title. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara were backstage observing the main event.

Jungle Boy vs. Shawn Spears

This was a cat and mouse style of match, except the mouse quickly learned from the cat to use his own moves against him. Spears was the aggressor, but Jungle Boy wouldn’t fall for the same tricks twice. JB often had a counter at the ready. For example, Spears was on the outside and lured JB into an attack. A short while later, Jungle Boy did the same to Spears. In another instance, Spears hit a superplex. When he went for a second superplex, JB countered for a flying crossbody. In the end, Jungle Boy countered for victory. Spears had momentum off a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. As he went for the magistral cradle, JB scored top position to earn the three-count. Respect was shared on a handshake after the match.

Jungle Boy defeated Shawn Spears.

Grade: B

Rampage was a solid evening of action in the ring. There was a chaotic tag team affair, a slugfest in the women’s division, and a cerebral chess match in the main event. All were different styles, and all were fun to watch. The promo elements were rambunctious and entertaining.

The showdown between Jade Cargill and Taya Valkyrie was electric. Hot damn! The hot feud got hotter. AEW keeps teasing Taya hitting the Road to Valhalla, and it will blow the roof off once it actually happens. AEW has built this simple story so well that there would be close to zero pushback if they pulled the trigger on Taya ending Jade’s undefeated streak and title reign. I say close to zero, because, well, there is always pushback to some degree on the internet.

The match for Taya and Emi Sakura was rugged. I’m glad this contest had time to cook, because they delivered. The character interactions elevated the enjoyment. Sakura slapped Taya. When Taya slapped back, Sakura had a look of shock on her face that Taya had the audacity to treat the queen that way. Another instance was Taya getting fire in her eyes to muscle out of a full nelson.

Jungle Boy and Shawn Spears put on a nifty contest. It was an interesting story in execution with how the veteran was outmaneuvered by the young gun. JB was absorbing lessons in real time like a sponge. It should also be noted that Spears fought clean, and he should be considered redeemed into babyface status.

Aussie Open versus Best Friends had the allure of championship gold. Aussie Open demonstrated cool teamwork chemistry. Best Friends never quite got over the hump in making me believe a title change could be possible, but they certainly tried hard.

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

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