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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (June 23, 2023): Jungle Boy’s bad attitude

AEW Rampage (June 23, 2023) emanated from Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL. The episode featured Jungle Boy with a bad attitude, John Morrison returning with new friends, MJF picking Adam Cole’s PPV opponent, and more two nights away from the Forbidden Door PPV.

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

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

Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor, Rocky Romero, & Yoh vs. Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher, & Swerve Strickland

Fast-paced 8-man tag action. Chaos focused on setting up a group hug to give the people what they want. United Empire and Swerve focused on winning. They took out Trent, Chuck, and Romero to isolate Yoh. Cobb bull rushed the smaller opponent into the corner. Ospreay and Fletcher added strikes to send Yoh into Cobb’s Tour of the Islands swinging slam. Ospreay went for the cover, but Yoh kicked out. Ospreay finished with the Hidden Blade elbow strike.

Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher, & Swerve Strickland defeated Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor, Rocky Romero, & Yoh.

Toni Storm was confident in victory over Willow Nightingale at Forbidden Door. There are reasons why Willow’s NJPW title wasn’t up for grabs as well. She would lose it anyway. Plus, the AEW women’s championship is the only one that matters.

Adam Cole’s in-ring promo was interrupted by MJF. Maxwell sarcastically thanked Cole for giving him the confidence to accept the match against Hiroshi Tanahashi at Forbidden Door. MJF knows how much Cole loves the spirit of competition, so he spoke to Tony Khan to set up a PPV match for Cole. Boom! “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and Royce Isaacs attacked Cole from behind. Lawlor will be Cole’s opponent. MJF was very slow to save his partner.

The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn vs. random dudes

The nameless opponents tried to attack before the bell, but the Acclaimed and Daddy Ass handled them with ease. A scissor party started the match. Max Caster and Anthony Bowens hit the Mic Drop combo to win the squash.

The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn were victorious.

After the match, QTV’s Harley Cameron came out trying to join the Acclaimed as a musical act. They didn’t like her singing, so she rapped instead. They didn’t like that either. QT Marshall and Aaron Solo entered the ring. They had enough of the disrespect toward Harley. Bam! John Morrison attacked the Acclaimed and Daddy Ass from behind. Johnny TV joined forces with QT.

Swerve will wrestle Tanahashi on Collision. Swerve’s plan is to cut the line to an AEW world title shot by beating Tanahashi.

Owen Hart tournament quarterfinal: Skye Blue vs. Anna Jay

Daddy Magic and Cool Hand Ang were ringside providing distractions for Anna. Blue overcame the nonsense to win. Blue punched Cool Hand on the apron, but Anna snatched her neck for the Queen Slayer choke over the ropes. Blue dropped down pulling Anna’s throat into the ropes. Blue rallied with offense, and Anna returned fire for the Queen Slayer again. Blue rolled forward sending Anna’s head colliding into the bottom turnbuckles. Blue pounced for the Code Blue to earn victory in her hometown. Blue advances to the semifinals to face the winner of Dr. Britt Baker DMD versus Ruby Soho.

Skye Blue defeated Anna Jay.

CM Punk and pals had tough talk for the Bullet Club Gold and the Gunn Club prior to their 8-man tag on Collision.

Mark Henry ushered in a video package hyping the main event. Jungle Boy doesn’t know a lot about Douki, but he’ll figure it out in the ring. Douki responded that JB will have to beat him to get through to the NJPW title match against Sanada. Enough talk. Mark Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Douki vs. Jungle Boy

Douki is part of the Just 5 Guys faction, which is led by Sanada. Douki was accompanied by Yoshinobu Kanemaru. Commentary made a big point to question why Hook wasn’t with Jungle Boy for this match. They pushed it real hard as something viewers should find important.

Jungle Boy had a tougher time than he expected against Douki. Frustration showed, and JB took shortcuts, like grabbing the hair. He also gave the stink-eye to the referee after Douki kicked out of a tiger driver. Jungle Boy upped his aggression to pull out the timekeeper table. The fight had been competitively clean to that point and didn’t warrant this escalation. That tactic backfired on JB when Douki landed a flying senton through the table.

The fans started rallying behind Douki after that cool move. There was even a smattering of boos voiced at Jungle Boy as he took control down the stretch. JB hit a poison rana and a running forearm to the back of the head. Instead of using the Snare Trap submission, Jungle Boy sent a statement to Sanada by using the NJPW champ’s finisher to win via dragon sleeper. JB was slow to let go after the win. Once Jungle Boy’s music played, the cheers began again.

Jungle Boy defeated Douki.

Sanada came out after the match for a face-off to close the show.

Grade: B

Solid action all night long with a handful of twists. The women’s tournament match was the only important contest with stakes. The 8-man and main event were showcases for NJPW talent making them look like stars.

The Jungle Boy situation was weird. AEW often takes the subtle (or slow) approach telling long stories. In this case, it feels like they are hammering us over the head with Jungle Boy’s increased aggression. It’s getting to the point that a heel turn would be too obvious. I was never one to believe JB would turn on Hook, but who knows what happens now after Hook no-showed. Does Jungle Boy snap after a loss at Forbidden Door? Does Hook join Sanada to make it Just 6 Guys? Intrigue is rising in the possibilities.

If Jungle Boy will be sporting a bad attitude moving forward, then I hope that means he can appear on screen with Anna Jay. FABA! Wait, did I just give AEW a reason to put Jungle Boy in the Jericho Appreciation Society? Sorry, I may have gone too far.

Douki had a breakout performance in his AEW debut. That was the first time I’ve seen him wrestle, and I was impressed. Commentary did well explaining his lucha libre strong style blend. As a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme, I liked how Douki used the splits to set up offense. That was a unique trait.

Skye Blue is on a roll. That’s another enjoyable match from her. The finish was a smart way to counter the Queen Slayer choke. In the 8-man opener, Yoh stood out as a newcomer to AEW. His fighting spirit shined.

Let’s hear it for the surprises. Johnny TV is in the house. I never would have expected him joining QTV, but I’ll keep an open mind to see where this goes. Morrison was a creative force behind the Dirt Sheet, after all. Perhaps he can work his magic on QT’s crew. I wonder if Taya Valkyrie will come along for the ride. Johnny is using her initials.

The MJF segment brought the chuckles. His banter was back to normal MJF entertainment levels rebounding from his Daffy Duck moment on Dynamite. The introduction of “Filthy” Tom Lawlor popped for me. I’m familiar with his work in MLW but not so much in NJPW Strong. I’m looking forward to seeing what Lawlor brings to the PPV stage. This will be his biggest professional wrestling match to date in terms of exposure to North American viewership.

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

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