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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (June 16, 2023): New god of pro wrestling

AEW Rampage (June 16, 2023) emanated from Capital One Arena in Washington DC. The episode featured Konosuke Takeshita rising hard under the guidance of Don Callis, Aubrey Edwards roughing up Karen Jarrett, Taya Valkyrie leaning into a new attitude, and more.

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

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

Best Friends & Rocky Romero vs. Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, & Kyle Fletcher

Chaos and United Empire battled fast and furious throughout the match. Chaos thought they cleaned house for a break to hug. Not so fast, my friend. Cobb muscled up for a double slam on the Best Friends.

The match broke down into wild strikes. Romero thought he had the edge for sliced bread on Ospreay, but Fletcher swooped in to intercept Romero for a piledriver. Ospreay clobbered Romero with the Hidden Blade to win.

Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, & Kyle Fletcher defeated Best Friends & Rocky Romero.

Taya Valkyire vs. Trish Adora

Taya leaned heel with a larger ego and a bigger attitude. Adora fired up for an offensive flurry, but her momentum was cut in half by a spear from Taya. La Wera Loca won on a curb stomp.

Taya Valkyire defeated Trish Adora.

The Hardys accepted the challenge from the Gunns for Dynamite. They view the Gunns as a stepping stone to becoming tag champs.

Jay Lethal, Jeff Jarrett, & Karen Jarrett vs. Mark Briscoe, Papa Briscoe, & Aubrey Edwards

Sonjay Dutt and Satnam Singh were ringside for the mixed trios bout. This match was all about the special attractions. Mark, Lethal, and Jeff did the grunt work giving it the semblance of a match. Papa Briscoe scored some clotheslines and shoulder tackles to pop the crowd. The peak moment was Edwards putting hands on Karen. Early on, Aubrey was chomping at the bit. Whenever Karen was forced into the ring, she swiftly bailed and ran away to tag out. They eventually collided with Edwards tussling for top position to flail fists.

The finish erupted when Karen grabbed a guitar. Edwards snatched it away. As Edwards wound back, Lethal stepped in front to block the path. He taunted Edwards to swing. The referee was inadvertently distracted by the giant, and Edwards kabonged Lethal on the head. Karen tried for the Stroke, but Edwards countered for the figure-four to submit her nemesis.

Mark Briscoe, Papa Briscoe, & Aubrey Edwards defeated Jay Lethal, Jeff Jarrett, & Karen Jarrett.

Kris Statlander interrupted Taya Valkyrie, so La Wera Loca explained her sour attitude toward the TBS champ. Statlander claimed it wasn’t her fault for answering the open challenge. Taya shot back that she did all the work to soften Jade Cargill, and Statlander cheated Taya out of her spot. Statlander offered an open challenge for next week for Taya to put up or shut up.

Mark Henry interviewed Don Callis and Konosuke Takeshita for the main event. Callis spoke highly of his pupil. Takeshita is not just better than Kenny Omega. He is better than El Santo, Perro Aguayo, and Ultimo Dragon. Bandido had beaten lots of luchadores, but he has never beaten El Hijo de Don Callis. Enough talk. Mark Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Bandido vs. Konsuke Takeshita

Takeshita entered with new screen art of a glorious painting. Takeshita was a centaur being ridden by Callis holding a bow and arrow. Magnificent.

Callis started on commentary, but he went ringside when Takeshita was stymied early. The action was good, then it really picked up a notch with a top turnbuckle lariat from Takeshita knocking Bandido down to the mat. Takeshita was arrogant on the cover, so Bandido kicked out.

Bandido came up to stun Takeshita with a GTS variation. Takeshita stumbled to the ropes. Bandido pounced the 21-plex, but Takeshita flipped out. Takeshita executed a rolling German suplex, but Bandido flipped out.

The slick counters continued until Takeshita stunned Bandido with a jumping knee strike. The Japanese phenom clobbered Bandido in the back of the head then charged to connect on a running knee strike for the win.

Konosuke Takeshita defeated Bandido.

Grade: B

Rampage was an entertaining hour of television with a variety of styles in the ring, clever finishes, and strong character work.

Konosuke Takeshita versus Bandido was excellent. The high-octane sequences were awesome. Both wrestlers looked like stars in the ring. Even though Takeshita and Bandido rarely speak English on television, they still showed personality by trash-talking to each other in their respective languages. I appreciate that Takeshita won clean. AEW is trying to build him up on the level of Kenny Omega. To do that, Takeshita needs to prevail over the competition on his own accord. That’s the way to set up an epic clash worthy of believing Takeshita can become the new god of professional wrestling. Each stellar win increases the anticipation for the final showdown.

The Briscoe mixed tag bout is love or hate. You’ll either love it as ridiculous fun or hate it for being ridiculous. I thought it was a hoot. I don’t really care about seeing Aubrey Edwards as a character, but I can’t deny that a smile was on my face when she submitted Karen Jarrett. That shows how effective the Jarretts are as heels. Edwards, Karen, and Papa Briscoe did well in their roles. It was kept simple to allow them to shine in charismatic spots.

Taya Valkyrie oozed presence in her performance. The match was short, and it wasn’t really the point of her time. It was more about redefining Taya as a character on the bad side. She cranked up the personality. To borrow a phrase from Bryan Danielson, Taya made Statlander look like an amateur on the mic. Amateur! That’s not so much a shot at Stalander but rather high praise for Taya. The young wrestlers in the locker room need to study Taya for promo tips and character work.

The trios match had sweet moves across the board. It was a peppy opener with energetic spots to grab attention at the late night time slot. The combo finish with Kyle Fletcher and Will Ospreay was so cool as a teamwork counter. Plus, it had the element of surprise.

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

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