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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Aug. 25, 2023): Hikaru Shida punches Britt Baker

AEW Rampage (Aug. 25, 2023) emanated from Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY. The Fyter Fest special featured Hikaru Shida punching Britt Baker in a fiery women’s tag team main event, QT Marshall making Latin America proud, Orange Cassidy defending gold, and more in the go-home to All In.

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

The show opened with a graphic to honor Windham Rotunda.

Excalibur and Tony Schiavone were on commentary. Dasha Gonzalez handled ring announcer duties.

AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy (c) vs. Aaron Solo

Harley Cameron sang Solo’s entrance.

Cassidy clowned his opponent by being one step quicker and one step smarter. Interference from Harley helped Solo gain control. Cassidy rallied ready for the superman punch, but Harley sang a freestyle on the mic as a distraction.

Solo executed his heavy duty moves and even hit Cassidy with Harley’s boot. That wasn’t enough to keep the champ down. Cassidy stormed back with a superman punch and Beach Break for victory.

Orange Cassidy defeated Aaron Solo.

QT Marshall sat down with Jim Ross to put over the value of the AAA Latin American Championship. He oozed a rudo attitude. QT was annoyed that AEW takes him for granted as a star, and it was AAA who offered championship opportunities. QT plans to defend that title with honor to demand the respect he deserves. QT has passion, heart, and determination to be the best.

AAA Latin American Championship: QT Marshall (c) vs. Gravity

QT was accompanied by Johnny TV, who sat in on commentary. The champ wore trunks with the colors of the Mexican flag. He cut a condescending promo in Spanish, and Gravity replied in English. Gravity heard enough sass, then he slapped QT across the face. The match was underway.

The flow of the match was Gravity using quickness to hit lucha libre moves, but QT had the power advantage to catch his opponent for hard slams. For example, QT countered a hurricanrana into a powerbomb on the apron.

Gravity gave QT fits at times. He borrowed his brother’s move to hit a 21-Plex on QT. I imagine Bandido would be smiling.

In the end, QT went to his bread and butter for a cutter. He closed with the Dirt Sheet Driver to retain the title.

QT Marshall defeated Gravity.

The Dark Order is working for themselves now. They miss violence and anger. Evil Uno, Alex Reynolds, and John Silver plan to rebuild the group with like-minded people.

Luchasaurus vs. Ren Jones

The champ was without the TNT title belt, since Christian was backstage keeping it safe. Luchasaurus did the monster mash to dominate his opponent with a chokeslam and lariat to the back of the head.

Luchasaurus defeated Ren Jones.

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

Saraya & Toni Storm vs. Hikaru Shida & Dr. Britt Baker DMD

Ruby Soho was ringside as a pest. Kris Statlander ran out to carry Soho to the back.

The Outcasts isolated Baker. Hot tag to Shida. The champ suplexed Saraya onto Storm.

The Outcasts regained control on Baker to execute a tandem powerbomb. Shida shoved Storm onto the pile to break the cover. Kicks were unleashed all around, and all four competitors were down. Upon rising, fisticuffs ensued. Shida planted Saraya on a Falcon Arrow slam, and Baker added a swinging neckbreaker. Storm made the save on the pin, despite Shida trying to hold her back.

When Baker went for the Lockjaw submission, Saraya grabbed the referee’s leg as protection. Shida saved Baker from being sprayed in the face by Storm, but Storm made Shida pay to blind her with paint. Baker nailed a thrust kick on Storm, and the foreign object flew into the air.

When Baker checked on her partner, Shida unloaded a punch to the dentist. Shida couldn’t see and assumed it was the Outcasts. Saraya benefit from the miscommunication for a cradle DDT to win.

Saraya & Toni Storm defeated Hikaru Shida & Dr. Britt Baker DMD.

Afterward, the Outcasts both wanted to hold the women’s title belt. Jealousy flared but quickly simmered as they shared the moment. Baker didn’t seem bothered by the errant strike from Shida. It looked like Baker understood it was an honest mistake. She tended to Shida handing over the Shining Samurai’s kendo stick.

Grade: B-

Typical Rampage fare. Solid action for a Friday evening with perhaps not the most riveting matchmaking. The main event was worthy for a go-home PPV hype to All In.

The women’s main event was a basic tag match, then it exploded into glorious chaos for the final minutes. Hikaru Shida, Dr. Britt Baker DMD, Saraya, and Toni Storm demonstrated tight teamwork as partners and strong chemistry as opponents. The wrinkle on the spray paint finish was interesting. As much as I rag on Baker not coming across as a genuine babyface, she proved me wrong on this evening with her concern for Shida after the match. I also like how tension was teased by the Outcasts over the championship, but cooler heads prevailed. That sets up intrigue for the All In bout, because you know personal desire for glory will trump friendship in the heat of the battle. I’d say this match was a success in terms of preview style contests, because it left me wanting more for the PPV.

Shout out to Kris Statlander’s spot appearance. I’m loving her character evolution doing hoss feats, like carrying Ruby Soho to the back and squatting Renee Paquette a few weeks ago.

QT Marshall may have finally found his winning gimmick in AEW with the AAA Latin American Championship. Acting as a snobbish representative of Latin America is cheesy in a good way. He’ll get to strut his stuff by competing against smaller luchadores to be portrayed as a bully in the ring. It is a perfect act to hone on Rampage. Gravity was great in this match with creative and flashy offense. It was the type of performance to sit up and take notice, if you haven’t already.

Orange Cassidy versus Aaron Solo was fine for its intent. The issue was lack of pre-booking to warm up this match. There was no reason to care, other than the very slight chance Cassidy could lose. The takeaway from the match was observing the dynamo known as Harley Cameron. The action was driven around her presence. She was even the target of Cassidy’s shin kick routine.

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

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