AEW Rampage and Battle of the Belts Preview for April 7, 2023
A huge announcement was promised on Wednesday night and did AEW CEO Tony Khan deliver when he told the world about ALL IN: LONDON taking place on August 27th from Wembley Stadium in the United Kingdom! That alone would've made DYNAMITE a tremendous night, but factor in the multitude of championship matches, including the crowning of FTR as new AEW World Tag Team Champions, and Wednesday was a very special night indeed! Oh yes, and Maxwell Jacob Friedman celebrated himself, only to have his self-congratulatory moment ruined by “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry!
The excitement continues this Friday night in Kingston, RI with a double-dose of AEW action from RAMPAGE and BATTLE OF THE BELTS VI with the night kicking off at 10pm ET/9pm CT on TNT! Between the two shows, we've got four championship matches for the AEW faithful, including a FTW Championship rematch between HOOK and Ethan Page, young Billie Starkz getting the opportunity of a lifetime facing TBS Champion Jade Cargill, Orange Cassidy giving LFI's Dralistico an AEW International Championship bout, and The Lucha Brothers putting the ROH World Tag Team Championship on the line against TNT Champion Powerhouse Hobbs and QT Marshall!
EIGHT MAN MAYHEM...
The J.A.S (Angelo Parker & Matt Menard) and The Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens & Max Caster) unite!
Angelo Parker and Matt Menard have been in pursuit of The Acclaimed for quite a few weeks now, trying to bring them into The Jericho Appreciation Society by any means necessary, and after lavishing Max, Anthony, and Billy with a night on the town in St. Louis, the four men will unite this Friday night in Rhode Island for an 8-Man Tag!
Can they co-exist as a unit to achieve success against whomever may be standing across the ring from them in Kingston, RI or will they implode? Be there live at the Ryan Center, or watch it unfold on TNT this Friday night!
FTW CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
HOOK(c) vs. “All Ego” Ethan Page
***FTW Rules: Falls Count Anywhere, Anything Goes***
“All Ego” Ethan Page had to have been willfully wearing blinders all these weeks thinking Matt Hardy was his best friend, as if one man essentially indentured to another would claim friendship to the one holding them down.
That has been the case ever since Stokely Hathaway and The Firm acquired Matt Hardy and Private Party's contract from LFI months ago. The Firm, primarily Ethan, have used and abused Hardy, Quen, and Kassidy, and yet somewhere along the line, Page became convinced that he and Hardy were the closest of friends.
He actually trusted Matt to handle the contract with HOOK for that FTW Championship Match last Wednesday, he actually believed that Hardy was his best friend despite Matt having no choice in the matter given the contract beholding him to The Firm. So obviously the question isn't why Matt hit Ethan in the head with the FTW Championship title belt to cost him the match, but how Matt would benefit from costing the man holding the leash a title fight?
With cryptic tweets like that, it seems we will all find out soon enough how Matt Hardy benefited from screwing over Ethan Page, but if nothing else, it did result in Ethan getting a second chance at the FTW Championship this Friday night, a third opportunity to be the one to end HOOK's undefeated run after their Troy, OH HOUSE RULES fight and this last Wednesday's FTW Championship clash.
So can “All Ego” pull it off or will HOOK continue his streak, and just what role will Matt Hardy play in his FTW Rules Championship match?
Jade Cargill and Taya Valkyrie
Jade Cargill has issues with Taya Valkyrie, but they are ones of her own making, not that Jade could possibly have anticipated the multi-time champion arriving in AEW with sights set on her and the TBS Championship.
Now Taya has made a strong case for a title bid with her matches to date in AEW, not to mention the resume she carries with her into All Elite Wrestling, but what Jade has taken the strongest issue with is the fact the two women have the same signature maneuver. Call it Jaded or call it Ride of The Valkyries, the move is the same, and somehow that is what infuriates the undefeated TBS Champion the most.
She's tried to sic “Smart” Mark Sterling on Taya, attempting to enforce legal ramifications for the use of a wrestling move, as if it's possible to own a punch or kick or slam, but with that failing to make any headway, the two women will have a face-to-face about their future this Friday night on RAMPAGE!
Anna JayA.S. vs. Julia Hart
Shockingly, Julia Hart and Anna Jay have not only never collided inside an AEW ring before, they've never locked horns in any fashion. The closest they've come to battle was that AEW World Trios Championship match a couple weeks back when The House of Black defended against The J.A.S. and The Elite, and both women were at ringside.
As evidenced by the comments from Anna above, that's all it really took to catapult this match into existence and put two AEW originals into battle with one another. Now as a solo competitor, Hart has seen victory on 31 occasions and won 20 consecutive matches, and yet only been in a title situation one time, back on January 28, 2022 before that win streak even began, and she failed in a challenge agianst Jade Cargill for the TBS Championship.
As for Anna Jay A.S., she's 25-14 in singles competitions, challenged Jade Cargill twice for the TBS Championship, fought Hikaru Shida one time over the AEW Women's World Championship, and was a participant in the TBS Championship Tournament as well. The J.A.S member has been in bloody, violent Street Fights, and been tested like few others in the Women's Division. Not to take away from Hart's impressive win streak, but Anna Jay A.S. has experienced things inside (and outside) the ring that Julia Hart hasn't. She's bled, been brutalized by foes and in turn brutalized them back, and it's honed her into a rather vicious wrestling machine.
That being said, what Hart has experienced inside The House of Black is not something to which the public is privy. Whatever The House has dug up in this woman who once served as cheerleader to Brian Pillman Jr and Griff Garrison, however they did it, it also something Anna Jay A.S. cannot relate to, nor should she ever have to. There is darkness there, a scary darkness, one that has turned Julia Hart into, as Excalibur called her, The Black Hart of The House, and that is what Anna will have to stare down on RAMPAGE.
It's an intriguing situation, two women who were once on the side of the angels, now at each other's throats while both dance with the devils of AEW. This may be a question of which women's darkness looms larger in Rhode Island...
Darby Allin vs. Lee Moriarty
Darby Allin, along with Sammy Guevara and “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry, has made his intentions for MJF's AEW World Championship quite public, and just like the other two potential challengers, it's now time for Darby to make his case inside the squared circle. It's not enough to rely on his status as a former 2-Time TNT Champion, or the fact that he's the most successful TNT Champion in AEW to date, nor is it enough to have Sting as a friend and mentor, or to simply be a fan favorite combatant. For Darby to prove he's deserving of a championship fight with Maxwell Jacob Friedman, he needs to put wins in the win column, and that push toward championship contention will start this Friday night in Rhode Island!
Darby will certainly have his work cut out for him though as standing across the ring will be The Firm's Lee Moriarty. Moriarty is one of the best young all-around competitors on the AEW roster, so skilled at so many aspects of the pro wrestling game, but he hasn't really picked up the right wins to make a big push towards the top of the heap. He's challenged for the FTW Championship, the All-Atlantic Championship, the ROH World Championship, and even fought Jon Moxley in an AEW World Championship Eliminator bout, but success in those situations has yet to come his way. The talent is clearly there, he's one of the men Bryan Danielson name dropped as a prospect pre-BCC, he just needs to find the best way to tap into it and parlay it into success. Perhaps The Firm will prove to be that way, perhaps Moriarty will discover in time that it was not, but should he derail Darby's championship aspirations at jump street, it will be a feather in Lee's cap, and hopefully the kind of win that puts him on the championship map.
SWERVE'S GOT SOMETHING TO SAY...
Swerve Strickland and his Mogul Affiliates have been threw a great deal as of late. Both Trench and Parker Boudreaux were put out of action, his rivalry with Keith Lee hasn't seen an ending, and now he stands alone in AEW for the first time in quite some time. But apparently Swerve's got something to share with the world and he will do so this Friday night on RAMPAGE. What that message may be, what exactly it will consist of, that is quite the unknown but all of us will find out soon enough!
BATTLE OF THE BELTS VI
TBS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
Jade Cargill(c) vs. Billie Starkz
With the threat of Taya Valkyrie looming, Jade Cargill will step into the ring Friday night, less than an hour after her sit-down with Taya, to face the challenge of young Billie Starkz! Starkz, just a few months removed from her 18th birthday, first entered into the AEW landscape on the 12/27/22 edition of DARK in a bout with Red Velvet, and has since undertaken a murderer's row of AEW competition. To date Starkz has faced Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D, taken on a rematch with Red, and been in there with both Emi Sakura and Toni Storm, and while a win has eluded the young woman, the experience has been invaluable.
And that could be said about her entire four year career thus far, having first began training at 13 years old, Billie has already done quite a lot for such a young combatant, and all before she's even finished high school. She's fought with Skye Blue, with former ROH Women's World Champions Rok-C and Deonna Purazzo, with Willow Nightingale, and Maki Itoh. She's had no problem throwing down with male competitors when the situation calls, and she even made her first trip to Japan for Toyko Joshi Pro where Starkz fought Yuka Sakazaki for the Princess of Princess Title.
Suffice to say, she's experienced a great deal of wrestling at such a young age, and that experience has made her a threat inside the squared circle. Jade Cargill may be seeing nothing more than an 18-year old kid coming after he TBS Championship, but the reality is that Billie Starkz garnered more in-ring experience in her first year of wrestling than Jade has in her entire two years as a competitor, and that Billie has experienced far more of the wrestling world at large than the TBS Champion.
Jade's biggest flaw has become her overconfidence, a thing born out of going undefeated for two straight years and doing so against some of the best wrestlers in the world, and that's perhaps why she only sees the D.O.B next to Billie's name rather than the resume that comes with it. That could be the downfall of the TBS Champion this Friday at BOTB VI, going down immediately after the conclusion of RAMPAGE! Will we see the end of the streak and the crowning of a new TBS Champion?
AEW INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
Orange Cassidy(c) vs. Dralistico
While he's been making waves on Ring of Honor programming, LFI's Dralistico is still a relatively fresh face to All Elite Wrestling, having competed in just one singles match on 12/26 edition of DARK: ELEVATION and being part of the LFI trio during the Three Kings Battle Royale on the 12/23 edition of RAMPAGE.
But that doesn't matter to Orange Cassidy; as the defending AEW International Champion, “Freshly Squeezed” has proven the hardest working man in All Elite Wrestling since he defeated “The Bastard” PAC, successfully defending his crown on 16 occasions, thus making him the most successful champion in the Men's Division to date. In fact, the only won who surpasses Orange's statistics would be Jade Cargill and her 20 TBS Championship defenses since January 5th of last year. Suffice to say “Freshly Squeezed” has done it faster, hitting that mark in under 180 days, but eventually the pace he's been keeping has to take its toll.
He hasn't had a week off without a match since February; 2/6, 2/10, 2/15, 2/22, 2/28, 3/1 twice, 3/5, 3/8, 3/15, 3/18, 3/22, 3/29, as well as just two days ago on 4/5 in a World Trios Championship match, and that's not including the assault on 3/31's RAMPAGE perpetrated by Buddy Matthews. The AEW International Champion has been through the ringer, facing one top opponent after another, and somehow coming out victorious every single time. One's body can only take so much, it's just a question of when it will give out, so will the high-flying Lucha stylings of Dralistico be the ticket to dethroning OC?
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
The Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero Miedo & Rey Fenix)(c)
TNT Champion Powerhouse Hobbs & QT Marshall
What a way to have your first outing as a team, and for Powerhouse Hobbs to have his first match under the auspices of ROH! In their first match as a team, QT Marshall and TNT Champion Powerhouse Hobbs will challenge ROH World Tag Team Champions The Lucha Brothers in their first title defense! Penta and Fenix claimed the vacant titles at SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023 in the Reach For The Sky Ladder Match, topping four other teams to achieve that goal, and just a week later they will make their first defense!
QT, despite making his ROH debut in May 2012 and competing in multiple #1 Contender matches for the ROH World Title, World Tag Titles, and World TV Title, has never even challenged for a ROH Championship much less earned one as his own. So this too is a first-time opportunity for the man once self-referred to in ROH as “God's Gift to Pro Wrestling”, and a chance to ruin the nascent ROH run of The Lucha Brothers. As for Hobbs, as the reigning TNT Champion, he's got a lot riding on this situation as a taking a fall to Penta or Fenix could put either of them right back into contention for the TNT Championship. Powerhouse has already defeated them both in singles matches, but can he do the same in tag with QT as his partner? Or will The Lucha Brothers begin their era of honor with dominance and reign long as the ROH World Tag Team Champions?
Friday night is jam-packed with a double shot of AEW competition with both RAMPAGE and BATTLE OF THE BELTS VI coming your way from Kingston, RI! The fights get underway at 10pm ET/9pm CT on TNT, with four championship matches on tap including a FTW Championship rematch from DYNAMITE, TBS Champion Jade Cargill in action, Orange Cassidy putting the AEW International Championship on the line, and The Lucha Brothers defending the ROH World Tag Team Championship! Plus Darby Allin, Taya Valkyrie, Lee Moriarty, The Acclaimed, The J.A.S., and more!