AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Aug. 19, 2022): Best Friends built for trios

AEW Rampage (Aug. 19, 2022) emanated from Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, WV. The show featured Claudio Castagnoli issuing an open challenge with an interesting answer, two title matches, and the Best Friends proving they are built for the trios tournament.

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

Excalibur, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Chris Jericho were on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

Claudio Castagnoli issued an open challenge for the ROH World Championship next week. Dustin Rhodes stepped on stage to answer. He promised to give Claudio the best Dustin Rhodes of his life. Claudio recognized the burning desire to be a world champion and accepted the match.

Ortiz and Ruby Soho have unfinished business with Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti. They have wanted to get their hands on them for months.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: Swerve Strickland & Keith Lee (c) vs. Private Party

Isiah Kassidy stepped to Keith Lee, so Limitless tossed him across the ring. Kassidy landed on his feet though. He fired up a few speedy attacks, but Lee powered him down. Tag to Swerve. Kassidy matched Swerve’s slickness on the exchanges to land a slingshot tornillo to the outside. Private Party controlled Swerve. Hot tag to Lee to steamroll through the competition. Lee crushed Marq Quen with a huge shoulder tackle. Tag to Swerve for a kick to the back of the head. Quen wouldn’t quit, so Swerve finished with a JML driver.

Swerve Strickland & Keith Lee defeated Private Party.

Afterwards, it was clear that Private Party earned Lee’s respect with their effort on this evening.

QT Marshall and the Factory were lounging to play cards and dominoes. Will Hobbs stomped in to toss their table. Hobbs was upset about the Factory failing to take care of Ricky Starks. For Hobbs, word is bond. QT calmed his troops then promised to get the job done.

FTW Championship: Hook (c) vs. Zack Clayton

Clayton ran his mouth during his entrance about being an entertainment superstar. Once the bell rang, Hook ducked a clothesline to secure a Redrum choke for victory.

Hook defeated Zack Clayton.

Backstage, Daddy Magic and Cool Hand were impressed by Hook’s performance. Daddy Magic asked if that tough guy wants a taste. Cool Hand put over the FTW title as rich in pro wrestling history, then he wondered what if the belt was held by a sports entertainer.

Billy Gunn warned his sons that their attack on him was the wrong time on the wrong person. He’s going to spank their asses as a lesson. Billy is bringing friends with him. Everyone loves the Acclaimed.

Footage aired of Andrade’s attack on Dragon Lee at the end of Dynamite. Andrade and Rush tore the luchador’s mask to pieces. Los Ingobernables blamed Dragon Lee for the loss. Nick Jackson entered the ring for the save.

Since Hook won his match so quickly, a standby bout was included on the program.

Buddy Matthews vs. Serpentico

Julia Hart was ringside. Matthews mauled Serptentico in quick fashion. The masked man leaped for a flying hurricanrana, but Matthews caught him to counter for a powerbomb into the corner. Matthews finished with a pumphandle maneuver of death.

Buddy Matthews defeated Serpentico.

After the match, Miro’s horns blared. He came out on stage holding Malakai Black’s skull mask. Commentary wondered if Black took a beating. Miro rushed the ring to smash Matthews. A thrust kick knocked Matthews out of the ring.

Dr. Britt Baker DMD, Jamie Hayter, and Rebel were leaving since they had no role for them All Out PPV. Baker once again tried to plant seeds of dissension between Thunder Rosa and Toni Storm. Baker will be watching and waiting for the winner.

Penelope Ford vs. Athena

Athena was clever in ducking and dodging, but Ford eventually controlled the pace with aggression. Ford also had a nifty Matrix backward bridge into a stunner. Athena seized victory in the end by dropkicking Ford into the barricade then taking flight for a diving stunner.

Athena defeated Penelope Ford.

In the immediate aftermath, Kiera Hogan and Leila Gray ambushed Athena. Jade Cargill was on stage with a sledgehammer to smash Athena’s wing gear. Athena tried to fight free, but Jade hit her with the hammer in the midsection. Athena was down on the mat with Jade standing tall.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Ari Daivari believed this trios tournament bout would be a walk in the park as the Trustbusters advance. The Best Friends shot back that these new belts were made for them as a real trio. Enough talk. Orange Cassidy interrupted Henry for stealing his line. Henry argued that it’s his line, and Cassidy acquiesced. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

AEW World Trios Championship tournament quarterfinals: Trustbusters vs. Best Friends

Sonny Kiss was ringside. Best Friends handled Ari Daivari and Slim J early with strong moves. It was a different story when Parker Boudreaux was in the ring. Boudreaux smashed with ease. Trustbusters isolated Trent. Hot tag to Orange Cassidy cleaning house of Daivari and Slim J. OC called in Boudreaux. OC got goozled and smashed. Best Friends rallied on Boudreaux for a double clothesline and triple dropkick.

The Trustbusters were close to victory on a frog splash from Daivari to Cassidy, but Best Friends broke up the cover. The good guys worked to dispose of the menacing threat called Boudreaux. Trent speared Boudreaux into the guardrail. Cassidy followed with a Superman punch. They dumped Boudreaux over the railing.

Kiss interfered on Cassidy. Slim J hits a diving reverse DDT. Cassidy kicked out on the pinfall. Danhausen popped up out of nowhere from behind the barricade to curse the Trustbusters. That distraction earned a double chokeslam to Slim J. Cassidy connected on a Superman punch to Daivari on the apron. Best Friends finished Slim J with a pyramid formation elevated splash.

Best Friends defeated Trustbusters.

The Best Friends were right. They are built for trios action. Using Orange Cassidy’s hijinks in small doses for Trent and Chuck Taylor to carry the physical load is quite entertaining. That saves Cassidy’s explosiveness for the role of swing momentum. Their pyramid splash maneuver was great to finish. I’ll generally pass on Cassidy as a solo act, but I can get behind cheering for the Best Friends as a trio. Their teamwork attacks have good rhythm and creativity to put on enjoyable matches.

To the back of the line with the Trustbusters. The past few weeks of exposure have done enough to make me curious how they evolve. Parker Boudreaux did well for his power smashes. Unleash him in hoss fights!

The AEW tag title bout had cool moves for a big reaction. Keith Lee’s power was explosive to be the star of the match. Private Party never really had their moment to make me believe they could win, but they did win respect from Lee. That seems to be the stamp of approval for Private Party to join the good side again.

Hook was Hook. The match was so short that we didn’t learn anything new. Hopefully Cool Hand or Daddy Magic will be a step up in difficulty. With Hook’s quick win, I like how AEW leaned into real sports with the standby match. Buddy Matthews destroyed Serpentico and was able to show off as a reminder of his skills. Too bad for Matthews that Miro ran roughshod over him. Miro in singles matches against the House of Black is going to be fantastic.

Penelope Ford looked good in her first serious test back from injury. The finishing flow felt quick in a story sense within the match. Athena was down, then boom. Two moves and the win. Granted, they were high-impact moves. Jade Cargill hammered home that this feud is about to get down and dirty.

Dustin Rhodes answering Claudio Castagnoli’s open challenge was a great way to use Rhodes as a special attraction. It popped as my favorite moment of the show. It was a completely unexpected surprise. The quick promo exchange sold me. Fighting spirit will be off the charts. Claudio verbally offering an open challenge is also a much better way to book his opponents rather than handing golden opportunities to wrestlers on televised losing streaks.

Grade: B

The promos were very enjoyable, especially the surprise of Dustin Rhodes. That’s making the most of the open challenge gimmick. The matches were lacking this week. The sizzle was popping with a variety of cool moves, but the steak was subpar. Not much to say about two squashes. The tag team title bout and the women’s bout never hit that second gear of competitiveness. The main event trios bout was the best of the bunch.

Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

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