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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Aug. 11, 2023): Darby Allin raged against The Machine

AEW Rampage (Aug. 11, 2023) emanated from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. The show featured Darby Allin raging against The Machine, Orange Cassidy canceling Johnny TV, Saraya cheating with the Outcasts, and 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.

Darby Allin vs. Brian Cage

Allin exploded with fury at the sound of the opening bell to stun Cage with a dropkick. Cage swoled up into a brick wall as Allin ricocheted off him on a suicide dive. Cage demonstrated his tremendous strength for a marching suplex up the ring steps to toss Allin into the ring.

Cage continued to muscle Allin, so Allin resorted to biting Cage to give him rabies and sap his power. It took while for Allin’s cooties to kick in. In the meantime, Allin was on Cage’s back for a sleeper. Cage couldn’t fling Allin off, so he ran across the floor to crash through the timekeeper table forcing Allin to take the brunt of impact. That tactic worked, and Cage was free to smash again.

The match progressed, and Allin rallied for a tornado Scorpion Death Drop, a flying double stomp, and an over-the-top stunner. Cage caught Allin’s next move to counter for a double powerbomb.

Allin was sneaky for the next sequence. He used his own belt to sweep Cage off his feet, out of vision from referee Rick Knox. Allin followed for a Coffin Drop on the apron.

Allin was quicker back in the ring to score a Code Red. Cage kicked out. When Allin climbed the turnbuckles, Prince Nana caused a distraction, and Cage knocked Allin down. The Machine hit an F5, but he made a soft cover. Cage’s next idea was working for a super move on the turnbuckles. Allin countered into an avalanche crucifix bomb. Cage kicked out still holding Allin in a fireman’s carry position. When he went for another F5, Allin countered for a roll-up to win.

After the match, Luchasaurus immediately attacked to slam Allin to the mat. Christian Cage looked on from backstage with soft soap opera lighting.

Darby Allin defeated Brian Cage.

Dr. Britt Baker DMD considers Bunny a friend, but she will gladly rain on her parade to earn a spot on the women’s world title fight at All In. Baker was already imagining 80,000 fans in Wembley stadium chanting ‘DMD’ as she wins the championship.

Eddie Kingston provided an update for AEW fans. Competing in the NJPW G1 Climax tournament is the most challenging thing of his career. When that wraps up, he’ll be back to defend the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship with pride in AEW.

AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy (c) vs. Johnny TV

Harley Cameron sang Johnny to the ring. He was flanked by QT Marshall and Aaron Solo for the match.

Cassidy played his tricks to start, so Johnny took a powder to regroup and hatch a plan. Harley distracted referee Bryce Remsburg, while Marshall and Solo entered the ring to surround OC. Cassidy calmly backed away and turned Remsburg around to see the intruders. The ref promptly ejected the QTV crew.

In the same scene, Wheeler Yuta popped in ringside to encroach on Cassidy’s space. The ref spied Yuta and ordered him to vacate the premises. Yuta obliged, but the damage was done as Johnny took advantage of the distraction. Yuta moseyed over to commentary, while Johnny pounded OC with athletic offense. Cassidy rallied in the end for a diving DDT, a tornado DDT, and a superman punch to win.

Orange Cassidy defeated Johnny TV.

Right after the match, the Blackpool Combat Club surrounded the ring, but they laid back to allow Yuta to challenge Cassidy for next week. Yuta wants to take the only thing that matters to OC. The champ agreed to defend the international title.

AEW hyped the history of the ROH World Tag Team Championship in a classy video package.

Aussie Open vs. Outrunners

The current ROH tag champs ran roughshod to finish the squash with a clothesline sandwich and the Coriolis teamwork slam.

Aussie Open defeated Outrunners.

Afterward, Aussie Open accepted the challenge from MJF and Adam Cole to defend the ROH tag titles on the All In pre-show.

Jeff Jarrett announced an AEW sponsorship for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre video game. In honor of the deal, Jarrett will compete against Jeff Hardy in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre Deathmatch on Dynamite.

Mark Henry ushered in a video package hyping the main event to qualify for the women’s world championship four-way at All In. Enough talk. Mark Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Saraya vs. Skye Blue

The Outcasts were ringside to give Saraya a helping hand. The match began with back and forth tussling, but Blue was a step quicker to win most exchanges. That’s when the Outcasts did their thing for Saraya to take control. Blue rallied by taking out Toni Storm and Ruby Soho. A thrust kick led to the Code Blue, however, the Outcasts were too smart for that situation. Storm distracted referee Paul Turner to completely ignore Blue’s pinfall, then Soho sprayed paint into Blue’s face. Saraya pounced for a cradle DDT on victory.

Saraya defeated Skye Blue.

Grade: B

Strong first half losing steam in the second half. The execution of the main event cheating finish is a tired act. The show also offered plenty of news on the road to All In.

Darby Allin versus Brian Cage was the gem of the show. It felt like a video game fight as a fun car crash of action. Intensity elevated the game. Both showed creativity to set up spots. Cage unleashed his power to get out of predicaments, and Allin used his hobo skills to trip up his opponent. I would not be shocked if Allin used that same belt strategy to score sandwiches in his lean times. In hindsight, I wish AEW didn’t set up Allin’s TNT title match so far in advance, because it makes it clear he won’t be losing singles matches in the meantime. The finish against Cage would have been even niftier if the result wasn’t such a given.

Saraya and Skye Blue had a decent match, however, the finish was whack. I’m so tired of the same booking for cheating wins from the Outcasts. It’s not just an Outcasts thing. AEW has a long history of abusing the numbers game to ruin finishes. To make it worse, this one didn’t have value for Saraya. She should have won clean to build momentum for the women’s world title match. Now, Saraya looks like a loser instead of a legit challenger.

Quick thoughts on the rest. Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi. Orange Cassidy and Johnny TV had a solid match. It never reached a level of making me believe Johnny could win, but the action was still enjoyable. Something about Britt Baker’s promos as a babyface rub me the wrong way. She often comes across as arrogant, much like Adam Cole’s babyface promos before palling with MJF. I suppose it could also be seen as typical babyface bravado, but there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. I like the move to focus on Eddie Kingston’s NJPW Strong title. It gives him purpose rather than butting into people’s business over hurt feelings. Hmm, it was odd to see AEW erase Colt Cabana from CM Punk’s history by not mentioning Boom Boom as his ROH tag title partner. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, because it was written smoothly in a way that didn’t warrant naming Colt. It is even funnier when taken out of context to say Punk won the titles himself. That’s just having fun with a c-o-n-spiracy though.

I’m going to close with this GIF of the Outrunners, because I can. Synchronized muscle flexing should be an Olympic sport.

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

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