3 Big Takeaways from AEW Rampage - Feb 3, 2023
Another edition of AEW Rampage provided an hour of hard-hitting entertainment, including a Trios Title match, a big win for Swerve Strickland, and more intrigue in the Women's Division
AEW Rampage was brought to us from Dayton, Ohio, this week, and provided plenty of follow-up to a solid episode of Dynamite. In recent weeks, the two shows have provided a great 1-2 punch in the storytelling leading up to the big Revolution event on March 5.
Of course, Tony Khan & Company have been pushing toward the ultimate showdown between World Champion MJF and The American Dragon Bryan Danielson, but this program shifted more on the undercard. Normally, that may turn the fan base off at times, but this show certainly held its own. At the same time, it gave a spotlight to some talents who we haven't seen in a while.
Week in and week out at RealRasslin, we have pointed out the steady turnaround in AEW's booking in recent weeks. That continued again to start off February, and it appears that the sun has gotten brighter since the clouds of All Out 2022 have dissipated. The CM Punk debacle is in the rearview mirror now, and the company is getting back to basics.
With that being said, here's a look at three big things that stood out about this week's episode of Aew Rampage.
#1- A Trios Championship match kicked off AEW Rampage with more fireworks than the fourth of July
To say that this match was a high-octane spot fest might be a bit of an understatement, but damn it, it was a lot of fun to watch. Things rarely slowed down in this one, as the six men involved kept the pace up to a fever pace. Even veteran Matt Hardy seemed to have a spring in his often slowed-down step.
The carnage eventually led to the usual 'This is awesome' chants from the AEW audience, and the teams certainly deserved it. Again, there was little organization to this affair, but plenty of explosiveness. Following a great batch of teamwork, the Elite wrapped up the win and another successful championship defense.
Even though Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks may not have the same cache they had when they departed New Japan to sign with Khan's fledgling company in 2019, they're still an important part of All Elite Wrestling. They may no longer be the crown jewels of the franchise, but they really don't have to be anymore. These types of matches may be better suited for the EVPs, as they focus on other aspects of the organization.
#2 - Who exactly IS Swerve Strickland?
Swerve has been playing a heel role on AEW television, but he's generally well-liked by the fans. The crowd always chants out his slogan when his theme song plays, and they don't really boo him, even when he's engaging in nefarious tactics.
His alignment with a couple of unknown 'stars' in a bad attempt to form a heel clique is destined to be a failure. Neither of the other two men has a bit of skill or charisma, and standing next to Strickland just illuminates that. Parker Boudreauz especially stands out, considering he was once considered by some as the next coming of Brock Lesnar. That's a laughable comparison at this point.
Strickland took on the underrated Brian Pillman Jr. in a very good match that definitely kept the middle part of the show flowing. It would be nice to see more of Pillman in the singles ranks going forward. He had a great showing here, before falling to Swerve and the tactics of his minions. They continued the attack after the bell until The Natural Dustin Rhodes made the save.
Strickland can be effective as a heel, but it sure seems like a round peg in a square hole. With his eccentric and interesting personality, it would be easy to see him seducing the AEW audience into loving his every move. His future probably lies as a babyface, after he goes through this initial run as a villain.
#3 - There's a 'Bitch's Brew' bubbling in the AEW Women's Division
Dark and evil forces are swirling in when it comes to the ladies side of the ledger. In an almost ominous way, Saraya and Toni Storm are now branding their opponents with an 'L' after their victories. It's eerily reminiscent of when another invading faction forced its way into power.
While whatever AEW has on the horizon for the women's division won't reach the meteoric heights of the nWo, it has been adding a lot of interest. Many fans and observers have the females' section of the programming stale. But with Saraya and Storm leading a warring faction within All Elite Wrestling, that all seems likely to change.
The highlight in the history of the division was probably the title reign of Britt Baker, but that's long in the past. There has been a lot going on between then and now, but nothing especially noteworthy. Save for the rise of Jade Cargill, there hasn't been a lot to talk about.
But now, the proposition of AEW originals battling WWE invaders could really be the jolt they needed. Baker seems to be the captain of the 'home team', while Saraya is the leader of the dark side. Meanwhile, Ruby Soho is caught in the middle. (I guess if this was the nWo scenario that would make her... Sting?)
It's added a lot of intrigue to the women's division. It should be fun to see how this thing all plays out, and if it all comes down to Ruby making a decision about whose side she's on.