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AEW Rampage & Battle of the Belts VI recap (Apr. 7, 2023): JAS swerve

AEW’s Friday night (Apr. 7, 2023) programming emanated from Ryan Center in Kingston, RI. A double-header of Rampage and Battle of the Belts VI was on the docket. The live special featured JAS swerving on the Acclaimed, Swerve Strickland merging with new friends, four title fights, and more.

Let’s run it down from start to finish.

Excalibur, Jim Ross, and Tony Schiavone were on commentary. Dasha Gonzalez handled ring announcer duties.


FTW Championship: Hook retained against Ethan Page. For context, this bout was contested under FTW rules, which Page demanded Wednesday night after Dynamite. Page emphasized that he did not tap out. FTW rules are falls count anywhere, no DQ. The last FTW rules match was Taz versus Sabu in 1999.

The match opened as a brawl. Hook and Page rumbled through the crowd. Matt Hardy and Isiah Kassidy were watching backstage rooting for Hook. The big spots started with a powerslam from Page through the timekeeper table.

The next spot started with Page swinging a chair. Hook dodged, and the chair bounced back to hit Page in the head. Hook took advantage for a Twist of Fate onto a second chair.

The finish came when Page lifted Hook for an Ego’s Edge through a table. Hook countered for the Redrum choke. This time, Page tapped out. Hook added a little extra punishment after the match with a T-bone suplex through a table in the corner.

QTV joked about the Lucha Bros for the ROH tag title match against QT Marshall & Will Hobbs. QT won’t be caught dead doing flippy crap. Harley Cameron told QT to break a leg. He quipped, “Who am I? Dante Martin?” The QTV crew yucked it up as Aaron Solo spritzed breath spray into everyone’s mouth.

Daddy Magic, Cool Hand Ang, & The Acclaimed defeated LSG, Bobby Orlando, & The Infantry. Jake Hager and Billy Gunn were ringside for the squash. Mic Drop was the winning move by Max Caster. The Acclaimed were scissor-teases during the match declining to give Daddy Magic and Cool Hand a taste.

Swerve! (No, not Swerve Strickland.) Story swerve.

The winners celebrated together. When Billy went to hug Hager, the JAS enforcer slammed Daddy Ass. Matt Menard and Angelo Parker beat up the Acclaimed.

Moving on to the next scene, Swerve Strickland announced a merger of Mogul Affiliates with... Find out later in the night.

Darby Allin defeated Lee Moriarty. Jungle Boy and Sammy Guevara were backstage observing the match. Big Bill Morrissey was ringside for physical interference and distractions. Moriarty controlled much of the contest. Allin rallied for a Code Red to Moriarty, suicide dive to Bill, then a Coffin Drop to Moriarty for victory.

After the match, Swerve came out on stage to offer a handshake to Allin. Brian Cage ran out to pummel Allin and reveal the merger was with Prince Nana and the Embassy.

RJ City mediated a meeting between Jade Cargill and Taya Valkyrie over the Jaded/Road to Valhalla maneuver. Taya pointed out how the move has been used for decades by legends. La Wera Loca also mentioned how Jade hasn’t been in the business long enough to claim sole rights. Jade was not pleased. Arguing intensified in volume, and the scene concluded without solving anything.

Hype package for the Rampage main event. Julia Hart has three rules for Anna Jay. Don’t touch the hat. There will be a lesson in agony. The House always wins. Jay has a fat ass and a bad attitude. She will choke out that spooky bitch. Mark Henry appeared on screen for his signature line, “It’s time for the main event!”

Julia Hart defeated Anna Jay. The bout started as a physical fight on the outside. Jay swung Hart into the barricade. Inside the ring, Jay was focused on using the Queen Slayer submission. Hart fought from behind with counter escapes. In the end, Jay cinched the choke tight, but Hart was able to get to the ropes to cause both of them to fall out of the ring. Jay reentered waiting for a count-out. Hart threw a chair into the ring. When the referee retrieved the foreign object, Hart spit BLACK MIST into Jay’s face as a paralyzing agent. Hart scored an inside cradle for victory.

Hart’s celebration was cut short by Orange Cassidy’s music to kick off the next hour. Hart stared daggers at OC.

Battle of the Belts VI

AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy retained against Dralistico. Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor brawled with Rush and Perro Peligroso up the ramp to the back. Jose The Assistant remained ringside to interfere. Cassidy’s lazy mind games frustrated Dralistico, but the luchador was able to find his groove for several near falls. Dralistico applied La Mistica whirling armbar, but Cassidy’s awareness was bright to scurry toward the ropes for the break. Dralistico countered Beach Break into a Mexican Destroyer and followed with a corkscrew kick. Cassidy kicked out on the cover, then he rolled out of the ring. Jose was plotting, so Cassidy met him with a superman punch. Inside the ring, Cassidy countered a spinning GTS variation for a roll-up. When Dralistico kicked out, Cassidy exploded up to his feet for the superman punch to win. Cassidy sold an injury to his right hand in the aftermath.

Afterward, the House of Black was on the big screen. They aren’t done with Cassidy. Buddy Matthews stepped up to request a shot at the international title.

Mark Briscoe lost to Samoa Joe in an ROH TV title bout, but he still has a lot of fight left. Jay Lethal entered. He has known Briscoe for over 20 years, so why not work together? Briscoe flashed a grin and shook Lethal’s hand. All of a sudden, Sonjay Dutt, Jeff Jarrett, and Satnam Singh walked in celebrating the arrangement. Briscoe was agreeing to work with Lethal, not the rest of those finks. To be continued.

TBS Championship: Jade Cargill retained against Billie Starkz. The challenger entered at the ripe young age of 18. She was wrestling on national television during her high school spring break. Check out this good promo from before the show of Starkz explaining that it is time to prove she is a wrestler and not a kid anymore.

Mark Sterling and Leila Grey were ringside. Starkz wasn’t taking any guff. She slapped Jade across the face. The champ wasn’t playing that. She muscled Starkz around the ring, bent her over the knee, and spanked those cheeks.

Starkz rallied by escaping Jaded several times. The challenger hit a flatliner, but the champ got her knees up to block the senton bomb. Starkz countered out of Jaded again, then she promptly ran into a pump kick. Jade finished with Jaded to improve her record to 55-0.

After the match, Taya came down to mix it up with Jade. La Wera Loca went for Road to Valhalla, however, Jade escaped to safety.

Alex Marvez visited the Elite locker room. All the major players were missing. Brandon Cutler and Michael Nakazawa were the only ones left. They are going stand up to the Blackpool Combat Club bullies.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. QT Marshall justified his confidence in winning the ROH tag titles, since the Lucha Bros could not beat Will Hobbs in singles action. Fenix and Pentagon plan to cancel QTV. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Bobby Cruise was ring announcer and Caprice Coleman joined commentary for the ROH bout.

ROH World Tag Team Championship: Lucha Bros retained against QT Marshall & Will Hobbs. Aaron Solo, Harley Cameron, and Alex Abrahantes were ringside. The challengers isolated Pentagon. Hot tag to Fenix using his fancy feet to run wild. The match broke down into moves all around. The Lucha Bros double-teamed Hobbs. Fenix stood on Penta’s shoulder in the corner for a super fly splash. Penta hit QT with a Mexican Destroyer to clear the way for the pin. 1, 2, Hobbs kicked out.

Hobbs powered up with clotheslines then took a breather by tagging in QT. The QTV crew caused a distraction for Solo to spray liquid in Fenix’s eyes. QT went for a pin with his feet on the ropes. Fenix kicked out. Hobbs powerbombed Penta on the apron. QT went for the Dirt Sheet Driver, however, Fenix countered in the air for a hurricanrana pin to win.

Grade: B-

This two-hour block of wrestling was weak on paper. Obvious results and little sizzle. The show actually turned out alright. The matches were average by AEW standards, which means maximum effort for entertaining action. I don’t think any bouts reached that special level. AEW added some story wrinkles to make the evening more exciting. The comedy brought chuckles to keep the show feeling light.

Hook looked good in what may have been his most complex match to date in his AEW career. There was a lot going on, and he kept his composure to shine bright. Ethan Page is a great hand at heel work. He can play the crowd against him and takes a beating well.

The JAS swerve was my favorite part of the night. It was totally unexpected. Better than that though was Daddy Magic and Cool Hand showing some brains. The Acclaimed were getting too obvious with their disrespect. Yeah, Matt Menard and Angelo Parker are on the goofy side as heels, however, they would have looked like incompetent morons to keep this charade going any longer. This attack elevates them above run-of-the-mill goons.

Darby Allin earned a quality win by showing feisty spirit. Despite victory, I think Allin is on the bottom of the Four Pillars pecking order right now (when considering the matches during this current storyline) in the chase to a title shot. Lee Moriarty is a tough nut to crack, but he doesn’t have much success in AEW yet. Moriarty controlled much of that bout. Allin needs another strong win to improve his standing. If Allin can beat Swerve Strickland on Dynamite, then now we’re talking. That would be impressive.

Speaking of Swerve, I applaud whoever plotted this story. It sure seems like a pivot from Parker Boudreaux and Trench, and that is a smart move. If that is indeed the case, then good job on rectifying the situation. The Embassy is a huge upgrade. I’m going to be dreaming of Brian Cage versus Keith Lee tonight. Hoss fight!

Anna Jay and Julia Hart had a very entertaining match. The mat work was not smooth at all. Everything else was a blast. The early physicality grabbed my attention. The finish put a smile on my face. I love mist in professional wrestling. I appreciate that they set it up creatively. One question remains. What’s the holdup on ‘Fat ass, Bad attitude’ t-shirts?

Dralistico had a good outing to showcase his skills. To this point, he’s sort of been another random luchador in the mix. He stood out with cool moves and strategic counters competing against Orange Cassidy. As a viewer of CMLL, I appreciate Cassidy selling urgency to escape from La Mistica armbar. That was the primary finisher for the Mistico character, which Dralistico used to portray. It keeps that move feeling special in the canon of the Forbidden Door universe. I liked the quick House of Black pay-off flowing from Cassidy intruding in Hart. It was a little reward for anyone paying attention to the details.

Jade Cargill versus Billie Starkz played out as it should. AEW often allows unknown talent (Starkz is known to hardcore fans, not so much in the larger picture) to perform on an equal level against established superstars. Starkz had some moments here, but Jade was never in deep trouble. That was the right call. Jade is 55-0 and built up like a force of domination. She treated Starkz like a child. Spanking the ass made me laugh. Starkz performed well enough to open eyes on her future.

I can’t wait for Brandon Cutler & Michael Nakazawa versus Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli on Dynamite. That is going to be hilarious. I have to give credit to Cutler and Nak standing their ground, but a man has got to know his limitations.

The ROH tag title main event was nice enough. The Lucha Bros strut their lucha libre skills. Will Hobbs powerhoused with great authority. QT Marshall did his job as a butthead that the fans want to see lose.

Share your thoughts about Rampage and Battle of the Belts VI. How do you rate each show? What were your favorite moments?

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