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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (July 14, 2023): Lance Archer & Jake Roberts in a murdering mood

AEW Rampage (July 14, 2023) emanated from SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The show featured Lance Archer in a murdering mood with an eye on the AEW International Championship, Toni Storm picking a fight with Taya Valkyrie, the Dark Order getting serious, Willow Nightingale shocking Athena in the Owen Hart tournament, and much more.

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.

Dustin Rhodes & Keith Lee vs. Daddy Magic & Cool Hand Ang

Hot tag to Lee running wild. He even tossed Dustin onto the JAS duo. Daddy Magic and Cool Hand came back for a double DDT on Lee. Dustin made the save on the pinfall. Cool Hand went for a stepping stool attack off Daddy Magic’s back, but Lee caught Ang in the air to slam down on Daddy Magic.

Lee finished Cool Hand with a fireman’s carry powerslam.

Dustin Rhodes & Keith Lee defeated Daddy Magic & Cool Hand Ang.

QTV was excited about Harley Cameron’s rap song surging up the charts. Johnny TV sent video from his pool at Slamtown Manor to diss the Acclaimed for being burned by Harley’s hot fire lyrics. Johnny and QTV want a trios match against the the Acclaimed and Daddy Ass next week. Also of note, QT Marshall claimed to smooth things over with Will Hobbs. He will fix everything.

Taya Valkyrie vs. Izzy McQueen

Spear, curb stomp, win. Easy peasy for La Wera Loca.

Taya Valkyrie defeated Izzy McQueen.

Afterward, Toni Storm and Saraya came out to insult Taya as a loser. Taya pointed out that they never wrestled each other, so she proposed they fight for the first time in an AEW Women’s World Championship match at Battle of the Belts. Storm accepted without fear.

Hook dined at an outdoor cafe. He’s done chasing Jungle Boy. Hook offered an FTW title match next week.

Trent Beretta vs. Lance Archer

Chuck Taylor and Jake “The Snake” Roberts were ringside. Roberts blasted Trent with a short-arm clothesline on the floor.

Archer aggressively menaced his opponent. Trent resorted to craftiness to create opportunities for offense. Trent almost scored the win with a half-and-half suplex to a running knee to a piledriver sequence. Archer kicked out on the cover. Trent went high risk by climbing the turnbuckles. Archer sprang up for a running knee to set up a Blackout crucifix bomb out of the corner. The Murderhawk Monster wanted to dish out more pain, so he added a hefty lariat before pinning Trent for the win.

Lance Archer defeated Trent Beretta.

After the match, Archer manhandled Chuck too. Archer called out Orange Cassidy for the AEW International Championship. If OC doesn’t answer, then Trent and Chuck will die at the hands of the Murderhawk Monster. Cassidy arrived, and Archer goozled him. Roberts cautioned Archer not to hurt OC yet. Wait for Battle of the Belts. They took Cassidy’s championship. If he wants it back, then he can come get it on Saturday night.

Ethan Page and Hardy Party aim to show Jeff Jarrett’s crew that actions have consequences. All of them will be in the Royal Rampage next week. Hardy Party want to eliminate every member in Jarrett’s group.

Konosuke Takeshita vs. Mentallo

Don Callis explained that Mentallo is a childhood friend of Kenny Omega and his first training partner. Callis wanted Takeshita to make an example out of his opponent. Takeshita showed a vicious edge. Mentallo scored some offense with a bridging German suplex, but he was no match for the Japanese phenom. Takeshita executed a delayed vertical superplex. He kept on the pressure for a cradle back-to-belly piledriver and finished with a flying senton.

Konosuke Takeshita defeated Mentallo.

The Dark Order doesn’t regret turning their backs on Hangman Page. He deserved it for abandoning them. While they helped Hangman’s career flourish, they became weak in the ring. The Dark Order is now resurrected as lions. It is time to rebuild.

Mark Henry ushered in a video package hyping the final match. Enough talk. Mark Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Owen Hart women’s tournament semifinal: Athena vs. Willow Nightingale

Athena focused on damaging Willow’s knee. Willow battled through adversity for a big pounce, clotheslines, and a spinebuster. Athena kicked out to continue the fight. The match progressed with physicality back and forth. Willow scored a Death Valley Driver. Athena kicked out again. Willow pulled her straps down and fired up, but Athena went low for a chop block. When Athena lifted Willow over her shoulder, Willow escaped to stack on top of Athena for a roll-up win.

Willow Nightingale defeated Athena.

Willow advances to the Owen Hart women’s tournament final on Collision to face Ruby Soho, who was scouting the match backstage on a monitor.

Grade: B-

This was an adequate episode of Rampage overall. It satisfied the itch for Friday night action, but nothing stood out as special. The show did have meaning to set up a number of future title matches.

Lance Archer demonstrated how it’s done to build himself instantly as a credible title contender. Trent is tough to beat, and Archer dismantled him. Trent survived long enough to make it a good match, but Archer put a beating on him throughout. Archer made me believe the title could change hands regardless of Orange Cassidy’s story of attrition through title defenses. I’m still not betting against Cassidy, because he finds a way to win. However, I would not bat an eye at Archer holding gold very soon. I’m genuinely looking forward to that contest, since it is even odds for who will triumph.

Three cheers for Willow Nightingale. I enjoyed the aggression from both participants. That was a slick way to beat Athena, and it was definitely an upset for the rising star to knock off the ROH women’s champion. Next time they meet might be with gold on the line. Don’t be surprised if that rematch takes place at the Death Before Dishonor PPV on July 21. Willow versus Ruby Soho is another match that I can see going either way. Both could use the win to cement their status in the pecking order.

Quick thoughts on the rest. Dustin Rhodes and Keith Lee are gelling nicely to become a fun tag team. They fill the role of a mid-card squad that can believably present a threat to beat the champs. Taya Valkyrie and the Outcasts exchanged amusing banter, especially with Saraya as the parrot on Toni Storm’s shoulder. It was weird though that Taya had been trending heel and here she was the babyface. As cool as AEW tries to present Hook, he looked like a goober in his scene. Carrying the FTW title belt with him in normal daily life while partaking in a casual meal was goofy. Dark Order’s promo was solid to reset their motivation. AEW did a good job showing us the steps in this story rather than just telling us.

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

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