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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (July 28, 2023): Hikaru Shida slays the beast

AEW Rampage (July 28, 2023) emanated from MVP Arena in Albany, NY. The show featured Hikaru Shida slaying the Native Beast, hosses winning the tag team battle royal, future title shots being granted, and more.

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

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

Tag Team Eliminator Battle Royale

The winner earns a shot at the AEW World Tag Team Championship. Both members must be eliminated for a team to be officially out. Participants included Daddy Magic & Cool Hand Ang, Hardys, Butcher & Blade, Isiah Kassidy & Ethan Page, Luther & Serpentico, Jay Lethal & Satnam Singh, Christopher Daniels & Matt Sydal, and Brian Cage & Big Bill Morrissey.

Luther had the honor of being booted off the apron by Bill for the first elimination. Singh had a cool elimination by catching Brother Zay springboarding through the air to dump over the ropes. Singh was a little careless with Kassidy’s leg as he got tangled up.

Hardy Party battling Lethal and Singh was the only storyline feud of the match. With Lethal in danger on the apron, Sonjay Dutt distracted Page. All Ego punched Dutt in the kisser, but that allowed Singh to dump him over the top. The Hardys shoved Singh ramming into Lethal to knock him off the apron for an elimination. Page and Lethal brawled to the back.

Later in the match, Singh blocked a Twist of Fate to throw Matt Hardy out. Jeff Hardy struck with a stunner on the giant. Cage and Bill recognized the threat Singh presented, so they joined in with clotheslines to help eliminate Singh.

Butcher and Blade promptly focused on eliminating Jeff. The final four came down to Cage, Bill, Butcher, and Blade. The showdown erupted with physicality. Both teams went for the divide and conquer strategy, but the partner would make the save to prevent elimination. Cage and Bill gained the upper hand for a lariat powerbomb combo on Blade to send him packing.

Butcher fought the odds like it was the last meatchop on the market. He rocked strong, but it was only a matter of time before the numbers advantage triumphed. An assisted chokeslam and a lariat softened Butcher enough to be dumped over the ropes.

Brian Cage & Big Bill Morrissey win the Tag Team Eliminator Battle Royale.

The Kingdom felt in their soul that they did right by ROH. After seeing Tony Khan’s passion for ROH history, they knew the promotion was in good hands. Matt Taven and Mike Bennett want to carry ROH into the future.

Komander vs. Kip Sabian

Speed versus intelligence. That’s not to say Komander wrestled unintelligently, just that much of Sabian’s offense was created by forcing his opponent to make mistakes. Sabian’s best shot at winning came on a slingshot suplex after Penelope Ford raked the luchador’s eyes. Komander kicked out on the cover and rallied for a dope springboard Mexican Destroyer. Komander walked the ropes for a shooting star press to earn the win.

Komander defeated Kip Sabian.

Hype package for Jungle Boy facing off with Jerry Lynn next week on Dynamite. Footage had Lynn training on the mat.

Matt Taven & Mike Bennett vs. Hayden Backlund & Myung-Jae Lee

Squash win via Proton Pack.

Matt Taven & Mike Bennett defeated Hayden Backlund & Myung-Jae Lee.

The Dark Order brought out their merciless side when fighting The Righteous and Stu Grayson at Death Before Dishonor. They will not be disrespected anymore. It is time to rebuild the group.

Hype package for FTR versus MJF & Adam Cole with the AEW World Tag Team Championship on the line at Collision.

Mark Henry ushered in a video package hyping the main event. Nyla Rose is standing in the way of Hikaru Shida earning a women’s title shot. Enough talk. Mark Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Nyla Rose vs. Hikaru Shida

The Native Beast attacked before the opening bell. Shida fought back, but Rose caught her to violently swing into the barricade.

Shida rallied with strikes and a heavyweight suplex.

Rose rose up to goozle Shida off the ropes for a chokeslam. Shida countered a powerbomb for a rana and a Falcon Arrow slam. Near falls added to the drama.

For the climax, Shida knocked Rose down on the turnbuckles and capitalized with an avalanche Falcon Arrow. 1, 2, Marina Shafir placed Rose’s foot on the ropes for the break. Behind the referee’s back, Shafir tried to wallop Shida with a kendo stick, but Shida snatched it away to clobber Shafir.

Rose pounced for a powerbomb, however, Shida escaped and sliced the Katana spinning knee strike for victory.

Hikaru Shida defeated Nyla Rose.

The Outcasts had been watching this match on a monitor backstage. They arrived on stage afterward to sarcastically applaud Shida as the winner. Commentary announced that Tony Khan booked Shida versus Toni Storm for the AEW Women’s World Championship next week on Dynamite.

Grade: B-

Solid action in the ring. Even though there was awkward execution on occasion, it was still fun nonetheless. Stakes were in play as well to add meaning to the episode.

Hikaru Shida versus Nyla Rose was an entertaining battle. It was a classic contest of passionate babyface battling the powerhouse heel. Shida slayed the beast in impressive fashion, specifically that cool avalanche Falcon Arrow. AEW has done a decent job of building Shida with quality wins recently to gain momentum prior to her women’s title shot. I don’t think Toni Storm is losing, but that is more outside reflection viewing the future landscape with Jamie Hayter eventually returning. Based on what has been presented on screen, Shida has a great shot at victory to become a two-time champion.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love battle royals. To no one’s surprise, I enjoyed the Tag Team Eliminator Battle Royale. The flow was crisp, there were brief alliances of circumstance, and the finish was clean. I appreciate that giants were respected like giants. If there is one match where large men should shine, it is a battle royal.

The final four was an unexpected choice in a good way. The legend of Butcher and Blade is rising by firing up on Brian Cage and Big Bill Morrissey. It’s not often that Butcher and Blade are the smaller men, but that was the case when fighting the Big Machine. I wonder if it is time to consider realigning the mercenaries more toward fan favorite tweeners. The way they kick ass does connect with the crowd, and they have earned respect from their work over the years in AEW. Plus, they cut awesome old school promos. News flash, slick!

As for Cage and Bill, heck yeah. They have an entertaining power style due to their massive size. No matter who holds the tag titles, it will be a fun matchup against these challengers.

Komander and Kip Sabian put on an interesting contest. Komander thrilled on the finish with the destroyer and shooting star press. That destroyer came out of nowhere with explosiveness. I was impressed with Sabian’s tactics. It felt more like a real sportsman compared to his weird box gimmick. That was Komander’s first victory in AEW, and it came unexpectedly in my view. I assumed Sabian would prevail to boost momentum on the road to All In in London. This is the kind of upset that is good for Rampage. It was a quality mid-card bout that keeps viewers on their toes.

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

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