It’s Friday night and you know what that means? No, not to jump Across the Spider-Verse or be with family for a Fast X ride (although those are two good films to see for the summer). It’s AEW Rampage, and it’s a special night of champions where wrestlers are putting up their titles from various promotions.  Yes, it would be nice if All Elite Wrestling would put up their titles on this night, but given the wrestlers and titles involved, I am ecstatic to see how this show shakes up.

We come to you from the Viejas Arena in San Diego. Excalibur (rocking a nice San Diego Padres-themed mask), Tony Schiavone, and Jim Ross have the call as we head to the First Match of the night is a triple-threat match for the…

Courtesy of AEW

AAA Mega Championship: El Hijo del Vikingo(c) vs. Komander vs. Dralistico (with Jose the Assistant)

This is a lucharific match opener with chants of “Lucha Libre” echoing in the arena.  Dralistico takes out both Komander and Vikingo, and the La Faccion Ingobernable member is anything but tranquilo to his competitors.  He nails a springboard senton to Komander and Dralistico gets a two count and then follows with a rope-assisted double stomp to the ring apron but Vikingo comes back and wipes both men out with a top rope moonsault.  The champ follows with a somersault huracanrana from the corner, then a twisting Phoenix splash to cover Dralistico but Komander breaks the count.  Komander gets sent out and Dralistico and Vikingo swing for the fences, and a corkscrew kick hits flush on the mask.  Vikingo covers Dralistico to get a two count.  During Picture in Picture, Dralistico takes it to the champ and then he and Jose set up a table at ringside.  He sends Komander back in and lands a thrust kick to him in the corner. He goes again and misses the mark as Komander gets a (badly executed) huracanrana, and then goes to Vikingo with a dropkick that sends him out, and he follows with his patented top rope corkscrew splash to pick up the split on both men.

He gets Dralistico in and nails a top rope 450 splash, but Vikingo comes back with a double foot stomp followed by a springboard corkscrew reverse huracanrana, and then a 630 senton splash to Komander on the table outside the ring.

Dralistico takes as Vikingo is clutching his back after that high-risk maneuver.  Back in the ring, he attempts to set up a powerbomb but Vikingo reverses it to a huracanrana in a pin to gain victory.

Your Winner via Pinfall, And Still AAA Mega Campeon:  Hijo Del Vikingo

Lexy Nair is backstage with Sanjay Dutt, Jay Lethal, Satnam Singh, Jeff and Karen Jarrett talking about the repercussions from Double or Nothing, and how referee Aubrey Edwards has been a thorn in their side, even though Karen used Jeff’s guitar to lay her out flat.  Before too much can be said, Mark Briscoe has had it and explains to Jeff that after a confab with Tony Khan, next week he and Karen will be in a match against him and Edwards.  As Karen talks down to Edwards, she starts choking her until everyone tries to pull them apart.

I mean, really.  Just like a Karen to start trouble, right?

But let’s get to the next match, which is for the…

Courtesy of AEW

NJPW Television Championship: Zack Sabre Jr.(c) vs. Action Andretti

This is a case contrast of Andretti’s high-flying acrobatics will be put to the test versus Sabre’s technical submission acumen.  At the onset, Sabre keeps Andretti grounded with wrist control scientific wrestling, but Andretti escapes with a springboard dropkick and a springboard corkscrew splash to cover for a two count.  He also nails a Huracanrana that sends the champ outside for a breather and Andretti follows with a tope suicida to drive Sabre into the barricade.

He sends him back into the ring and Sabre bends Andretti back the wrong way using the top rope as a fulcrum and almost takes his arm out of his socket.  Sabre keeps his focus on providing more damage to that target, and he gets a body scissors to bring Andretti down to the ground and then locks in an armbar.  At one point he switches to a body scissors with a Kimura, but Andretti powers through and reverses to suplex.  He clutches his arm and lands a springboard enzugiri that connects but still gets a two count.  Sabre goes back to the arm, but Andretti stops the attack as he props Sabre on the top rope.  He goes up for another high-risk attack, but Sabre sends him down. Andretti leaps back with an enzugiri that gets some hangtime and then follows up with a huracanrana and gets another two count.  He picks him up in a reverse fireman’s carry, but Sabre counters with a sleeper to escape. Andretti recovers with a superkick and reverse huracanrana, followed by a running dropkick and then capped off by a split-legged moonsault for another two count.  He tries a flying clothesline, but Sabre catches him midair and twists his limb in an armbar, then follows with a very painful-looking Rings of Saturn, and Andretti finally taps out to the pain.

Your Winner via Pinfall, and Still NJPW Television Champion:  Zack Sabre, Jr.

and we turn now to women’s action, and this match is for the…

Courtesy of AEW

NJPW Strong Women’s Championship: Willow Nightingale(c) vs. Emi Sakura

Excalibur notes that Nightingale won the newly created title against Mercedes Mone, who injured her ankle during that match is is on the shelf.  Apparently, there are reports that Mone was going to win the title and appear as part of the upcoming Forbidden Door pay-per-view, but those plans have been scrapped and that is a subject for another day.  For the here and now, this is a case of Her Highness facing the Babe With the Power.  Both women are equally powerful in their own right, but Nightingale manages to get the upper hand with the shoulder tackle followed by a suplex.  The fans chant for “Wil-low” as she unloads the clip with machine gun chops that would make Kenta Kobashi proud.    On the outside of the ring, Nightingale gets the Highness into position but Sakura rakes her eyes.  She follows with a running crossbody that sends her crashing on the outside when she flings Nightingale hard into the barricade as she drops another running crossbody again.

During Picture in Picture, Sakura keeps up the offense and the champ looks to be in trouble. Nightingale tries to start a comeback but she locks her in a dragon sleeper.  Sakura then proceeds with head butts and then…

Ads (Dear Lord, why even have Picture in Picture if this nonsense persists?  Someone explain it to me, please, because I cannot find a good answer.)

Nightingale has turned the tables on Sakura during the ads (DOUBLE SIGHHHHH!) and she connects with a splash in the corner followed by a dropkick that gets a two count.  Sakura retaliates with Smash Mouth (a inverted facelock to a DDT), then a crossbody in the corner, followed by a twisting Vader Bomb that allows her the cover for another two count.  Nightingale comes back and gets a splash, but only gets a count of two.  She swings with a lariat that misses, but Sakura connects and both women go down to the mat.  Sakura gets up and delivers the Ice Driver but can’t put Nightingale away.  As she winds up for chops, Nightingale comes back with The Pounce and then a cannonball but Sakura kicks out at two.  Finally, Nightingale takes down her straps and nails the lariat and then delivers the Babe with the Power Bomb to put Sakura away for good.

Your Winner via Pinfall, and Still NJPW Strong Women’s Champion:  Willow Nightingale


We now go to the Main Event and this is for the…

Courtesy of AEW

Ring Of Honor PURE Championship: Katsuyori Shibata(c) vs. Lee Moriarty

This match is to be contested under the ROH Pure rules, which are as follows:

  1. Each wrestler has three rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls.
  2. After a wrestler exhausts his rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by his opponent are considered legal.
  3. No closed-fist punches to the face are permitted.
  4. Open-handed slaps or chops to the face are permitted.
  5. Punches to the rest of the body are allowed, excluding low blows.
  6. The first use of a closed fist to the face receives a warning.
  7. The second use of a closed fist to the face results in disqualification.
  8. The title can change hands via disqualification and count-out.
  9. Outside interference will result in automatic termination from the roster for the wrestler that interferes.
  10. If a title match reaches its time limit without a winner being declared, the winner is decided by a panel of three judges (in this case, Christopher Daniels, BJ Whitmer, and Jerry Lynn)

As the Code of Honor is adhered to, this is a very technical start to the match as Shibata tries to get a quick submission win.  Moriarty quickly reaches the ropes and gets the first rope break.  As Shibata goes to attack again, Moriarty elbows out and kicks him in the corner.  He whips Shibata to the ropes and dropkicks him in the knees.  During Picture in Picture, Moriarty goes for a leg submission, but Shibata manages to fight out.  He continues to attack Shibata’s knees and works him down to a pin but Moriarty can’t put him away.  Shibata manages to trip up Taiga Style and goes for a Figure Four (Woo!) leglock and now Moriarty writhes in pain.  He reaches for the bottom rope and gets a second rope break, and he has one left before it’s used up.

Shibata continues to fire with forearms to his head, but Moriarty reverses with knees in the corner and then follows into a suplex with a bridge for a close two count.  He uses the ridge of his hand to strike at Shibata’s neck, but he manages to get a knee to Moriarty’s midsection, and then a boot in the corner followed by a basement dropkick.  He nails a float-over suplex for a two count, and as Shibata goes for another submission Moriarty grabs the rope for the third and final break, so now he has no chances left.  As Shibata goes for the kill with a wristlock, Moriarty reverses to lock the Border City Stretch.  Shibata reverses to a pin attempt and Moriarty releases the hold.  Moriarty fires up but one shot by Shibata leads to a sleeper hold to drive him to the mat, and he sets up Taiga Style for the PK Finisher and now covers for the one, two, and three.

Your Winner via Pinfall, and Still ROH PURE Champion: Katsuyori Shibata

After the match, Daniel Garcia comes out and stares down the PURE champion, as Shibata holds the belt aloft as the show fades to black.


Final Thoughts:

Yeah, not a lot of title changes (or AEW titles, either), but this show was still fun to watch.  Solid matches all around with tons of energy.  I may have soured on Moriarty in the past, but it was due to how he was booked and this is one of those nights I will not complain about that fact.  He looked impressive against Shibata, and he needs more matches like that instead of tag matches, to be honest.

I guess we have one more week of this, so see ya in seven for the (last?) Rampage!