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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Sept. 8, 2023): Samoa Joe one step closer to MJF

AEW Rampage (Sept. 8, 2023) emanated from Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, IN. The show featured Samoa Joe taking one step closer to MJF after competing in the Grand Slam World Title Eliminator Tournament, Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara making an arrangement to fight, 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.

Grand Slam World Title Eliminator Tournament quarterfinal: Jay Lethal vs. Pentagon

The Jarrett brigade was in full force ringside to support Lethal. It was only a matter of time before they interfered. Satnam Singh caught Pentagon on a slingshot plancha to ram into the ring post. Karen tied Penta’s mask to the ropes. Referee Stephon Smith caught them for a mass ejection.

Penta was the aggressor in the match, while Lethal tried to slow down the pace and chip away at his opponent. One trick Lethal used was to untie the back of Penta’s mask. That tactic paid off later when he pulled the mask off the luchador’s head. As the ref handed back the mask, Lethal went for the guitar. Alex Abrahantes grabbed the musical instrument to prevent its use as a foreign object. Penta recovered his wits and countered a handspring cutter into a backstabber. Penta used the armsnapper and package piledriver to win.

Pentagon defeated Jay Lethal.

Sammy Guevara and Chris Jericho addressed their bubbling issues of turmoil. Both were wearing thin on each other and wanted to throw punches. Jericho suggested a match at Grand Slam to get the bad juju out of their system. Sammy agreed with handshakes, hugs, and cheesing smiles. All is well for now.

Taya Valkyrie, Anna Jay, & Bunny vs. Hikaru Shida, Skye Blue, & Dr. Britt Baker DMD

Penelope Ford was ringside for the bad girls, but she didn’t play a role in the match. The closing sequence erupted into moves all around. Bunny shoved Baker colliding into Shida, then Bunny walloped Baker with a rising knee strike. Baker kicked out on the cover and swiftly transitioned to the Lockjaw submission. After the match, Shida was frustrated with Baker hitting her accidentally again. Baker wanted to celebrate the win. Shida shared a fist-pound, but she exited alone in a sour mood.

Hikaru Shida, Skye Blue, & Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeated Taya Valkyrie, Anna Jay, & Bunny.

Hype package for Hook. It feels good to have the FTW title back where it belongs in New York City. That sounds like a hint that Hook will be at Grand Slam.

Daddy Magic & Cool Hand Ang vs. Young Bucks

The Young Bucks styled and profiled early. Jake Hager helped his pals isolate Matt Jackson. Hot tag to Nick Jackson running wild. A superkick party took out Daddy, Cool, and Hager. They finished with a BTE Trigger for Nick to pin Daddy Magic.

Young Bucks defeated Daddy Magic & Cool Hand Ang.

Santana explained that there are forks in the road with decisions to be made. There are easy paths to make you comfortable, and there are challenging paths to make you grow. He learned that you can’t expect everyone to have the same passion and drive. Santana is moving forward alone. He is here to be the guy in AEW.

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

Grand Slam World Title Eliminator Tournament quarterfinal: Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe

Joe was a moose in the ring knuckling up with Hardy. Joe’s patented sidestep came on a running crossbody. Hardy rallied, but Joe countered a Twist of Fate into the Coquina Clutch choke to win.

Samoa Joe defeated Jeff Hardy.

Grade: B

Decent matches, but nothing really caught on to feel special. At least there were high stakes with the tournament to add value and interest. The promo pieces rounded out the show in a positive way.

The Grand Slam World Title Eliminator Tournament matches played out with results as expected. Samoa Joe handled Jeff Hardy. That match never reached second gear. Joe didn’t have much trouble at all. Pentagon bested Jay Lethal without much trouble either. Lethal made it tight at times, but there was never any doubt that Penta would advance. The guitar spot at the end didn’t make much sense. Thinking it through, the referee was right there helping Penta with his mask, so Lethal would have had to cheat in direct sight of the official. That would have been a disqualification to flush Lethal’s world title hopes.

The Young Bucks hit their signature spots to make the fans happy. The women’s trios bout was the standard style of multi-person matches in AEW. Drama is percolating between Hikaru Shida and Dr. Britt Baker DMD. I have to side with Baker on this issue. The contact was clearly accidental, as it was last time and also when Shida hit Baker before that. I don’t know why Shida is so upset when she’s the primo babyface. We need Scoopz Marvez on the case with answers.

The bright spots of this episode were the promos from Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, and Santana. Jericho and Sammy settled it like brothers, then they chummed it up in a hilarious manner. I like that setup for the match. The motivation was explained clearly, and there is potential for more layers to the story. What if Jericho loses and has to admit that Sammy is the better man? Would Jericho resort to cheating to make sure that doesn’t happen?

As for Santana, he is hyping up his singles run. His vignettes have been food for thought to build a connection. I can’t help but wonder if AEW was leaning into rumors about discord with Ortiz. When Santana explained how not everyone has the same passion, the image cut to a calm Ortiz with a rowdy Santana. Whether those rumors are true or not, it sure feels like that’s now fact in the AEW story universe.

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

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