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Weekend Exit Survey: AEW Rampage is better live

AEW TBS Champion, Jade Cargill on AEW Rampage

While the best thing this weekend was certainly the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills game on Sunday night, there was plenty of solid wrestling as well. There was the usual three SmackDown, Rampage and Strong. I also held out to see if FTR were going to show up to wrestle the Briscoes on the GCW show at the Hammerstein Ballroom, which they did not. 

  • What was my favorite match of the weekend?

If you ignore the absolutely rotten finish, one that made not a lick of sense, the Usos vs Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens was a banger. The stipulation stated that if Owens and Rollins had won, the Usos would be banned from ringside. If the Usos had won, Rollins would lose his Universal title match against Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble. My mind was boggled when Reigns interfered to give Rollins and Owens the DQ win. Meaning that the Usos are now banned from ringside at the Rumble. WWE makes millions of dollars while simultaneously making zero sense. 

The match itself was so fun. We got some glimpses of the babyface (and superior) version of Seth Rollins in his excellent hot tag. The direction has to be Owens turning on Rollins to complete the turn and keep Owens as the savage heel. Then you can give Rollins the big singles win at WrestleMania to set him up for challenging Big E (this is me predicting E leaves ‘Mania with a belt).

 I just don’t get why WWE didn’t want to Usos to lose clean here. This is a promotion that is notorious for not protecting it’s tag team champions, and they don’t want them to drop a fall to the #1 contender for the top belt in the company?

Jon Moxley vs Ethan Page deserves an honorable mention, but this was another situation where the superstar (Moxley) should’ve murked the competition. Page isn’t a guy who should be murked, so put someone like Tony Nese in there who is fine losing to a former world champion in four minutes. 

  • What did I do to deserve these InZayn segments?

I can appreciate how much effort Sami Zayn puts into these, but the material is absolutely awful. Does anyone go to a wrestling event to watch this shit? I immediately felt dread for any wrestling fan who took a non-fan-friend to this show in Nashville, or a fan watching with a significant other on the couch that had to sit through what felt like an hour of Sami Zayn pretending to shock himself with a cattle prod. This was awful. 

One of the reasons I fell in love with New Japan Pro-Wrestling is because the whole show is just match, match, match, match, match. There’s no segment thought up by a writer who isn’t a wrestling fan that kills the crowd. People watch wrestling to watch wrestlers wrestle, or talk their shit to each other. UFC literally presents pro-wrestling better than World Wrestling Entertainment presents pro-wrestling. 

  • Should Rampage be live every week?

There’s certainly a case to be made. The live show vs taped show debate is a very minor issue in the grand scheme of the Rampage problem, but the live atmosphere is just way better. The taped shows feel very canned and less organic. They also add a lot of fake crowd noise in the taped shows which you wouldn’t think is necessary with the All Elite fanbase. 

There’s also the commentary issue. Chris Jericho absolutely doesn’t need to be there. Neither does Ricky Starks but he isn’t counterproductive to the show like Jericho is. 

  • Which match from the New Japan Strong Seattle tapings am I most looking forward to?

This isn’t me burying this week’s edition of Strong. It was a fine episode, but the reports from the tapings just done in Seattle I can’t help but look ahead. 

There’s Brody King vs, future IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Yuya Uemura, that sounds incredible. They had Fred Rosser vs. Gabriel Kidd and Josh Barnett vs. Ren Narita, the latter from all reports seems extremely to my taste. There was Clark Connors vs. TJP, always great bell-to-bell, and Connors is my favorite guy on the NJoA roster. The big one for me is the battle of the Jays: Jay Lethal vs. Jay White. Lethal answered the ”US of Jay Open Challenge” and apparently had an awesome match. White had one of the best Strong matches of the year against Robbie Eagles in 2021 and has been awesome on every show he’s been on. Lethal is about to feud with Ricky Starks on AEW but it’s cool to see him doing NJPW stuff as well.

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