AEW Rampage Preview for May 6, 2022
AEW returned to Baltimore on Wednesday for the first time since Full Gear 2019, and brought Dynamite to the UMBC campus with it! Mercedes Martinez became the Undisputed ROH Women's World Champion in the main event, AEW World Champion Hangman Page had some strong words for his Double or Nothing 2022 challenger CM Punk, MJF brought an absolute force to face Wardlow in W. Morrissey, and Jeff Hardy qualified for the Owen Hart!
Ricky Starks also agreed defend his FTW Title against AEW World Tag Team Champion Jungle Boy, Chris Jericho used the numbers game to beat Santana, and AEW Women's World Champion Thunder Rosa called out Serena Deeb while Rey Fenix and Dante Martin blew the minds of AEW fans everywhere!
This Friday, Rampage comes your way a bit earlier than usual at 5:30pm EDT/4:30 CDT on TNT, and on AEWPlus.com for our international audience! Prior to Friday afternoon, make a point to visit the official AEW YouTube channel to catch up on all the Dynamite highlights, plus the latest episodes of Dark: Elevation, AEW Dark, Road To, and Control Center with Tony Schiavone!
Jay Lethal vs. Konosuke Takeshita
It wasn't that long ago that Jay Lethal told the world that something had to change; despite repeatedly showing the world just how good an in-ring talent he is, Lethal kept losing. Even though it was to foes like Ricky Starks, Adam Cole, and Jon Moxley, and even though some of those loses were far from clean, just looking strong in the ring was not enough for the man.
Nor should it be, Jay should want to win each and every match he's involved in, and not just take comfort in the knowledge his opponent had to cheat to win. Unfortunately the lesson Lethal took from those experiences wasn't to work harder and keep fighting the good fight, it was “if you can't beat them, join them”, and it all began at ROH's Supercard of Honor 2022 event when he and Sonjay Dutt attacked ROH World Champion Jonathan Gresham.
Since then Lethal, Dutt, and their giant ally Satnam Singh have taken every opportunity to make the lives of everyone miserable. Whether it be ROH World TV Champion Samoa Joe, The Best Friends, Gresham, anyone who has been in their path has suffered. Now it is Konosuke Takeshita who will step into the ring with Lethal and risk the wrath of this triumvirate! In his first AEW main event, this highly-decorated ten year veteran of the DDT Pro Wrestling promotion in Japan looks to show the rest of the world the skills that brought him 18 DDT title reigns over the last decade. Takeshita has already impressed in his bouts with former ROH World TV Champion Rhett Titus on this week's Dark: Elevation and last week's bout with Brandon Cutler, and now he gets to do it on TNT!
There is one other man with a vested interest in this fight, someone who will likely be watching on a nearby monitor or from the other side of the curtains just waiting for an excuse, and that is Samoa Joe:
Win or lose, Jay Lethal has a lot of crimes to answer for over the past month, and eventually Satnam Singh won't be there to save Jay's hide from punishment. Will Friday night be that night? Can Takeshita help put Lethal in check? Will Samoa Joe be waiting in the wings for his opportunity at revenge? Tune into TNT at 5:30pm EDT to watch the action!
OWEN HART FOUNDATION WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT QUALIFIER...
Riho vs. Yuka Sakazaki
On Friday night, as part of the Qualifying Matches for the Women's Owen Hart Foundation Tournament, two women are making their returns to All Elite Wrestling! Riho, the first-ever AEW Women's World Champion, has been out of action recovering from a broken collarbone since January's Battle of the Belts championship challenge against Dr. Britt Baker, and Rampage will mark her first match back anywhere since that night in North Carolina. Coincidentally, the Bojangles Coliseum on 8/2/21 was also the last place Riho's opponent competed for AEW!
That night on Dark: Elevation Yuka defeated Dani Jordyn in a singles match before returning to Japan where she competes regularly for the Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling promotion. Currently reigning as one-half of the Princess Tag Team Champions with Magical Sugar Rabbits partner Mizuki, there's a bit of history between these two women both in AEW and in Japan as well. Prior to AEW's founding, the two women battled over those Princess Tag Titles during each of Yuka's prior two reigns, and in that first championship fight, it was actually Yuka's current partner Mizuki who teamed with Riho!
As far as AEW goes, Yuka Sakazaki and Riho go back to the very first days of the company's existence, to the very first event under the All Elite banner, Double or Nothing 2019. That night the two women were on opposite sides of a Six Woman Tag, Riho with Hikaru Shida and Ryo Mizunami while Yuka teamed with Aja Kong and Emi Sakura, and it was Riho's team who picked up the victory.
The two women met again a month later at Fyter Fest 2019, this time as part of a Three Way Match that included “The Native Beast” Nyla Rose, and once again it was Riho who got her hand raised, this time after pinning Rose. Riho would again be the victor in a mixed tag in Taiwan for the OWE promotion that included Kenny Omega and Michael Nakazawa, and it would be the last time the women faced as foes, leaving the former AEW Women's World Champion with a 4-2 record against Yuka. The next, and last, time they shared a ring would actually be as partners on the March 3, 2020 edition of Dark in a losing tag opposite Dr. Britt Baker and Penelope Ford. That night in Chicago would prove to be the last AEW saw Yuka Sakazaki for a year, while Riho would remain for another couple weeks, until COVID pandemic travel restrictions kept them away. It wasn't until the February 2021Women's World Title Eliminator Tournament that the two women returned to the fold, albeit in Yuka's case via matches recorded in Japan.
Riho would remain as part of the locker room essentially until the injury forced her return to Japan, while Yuka was only able to return for one month last July where she picked up a quartet of victories before returning home. “The Magical Girl” has experienced some great successes during her time away like the current 200+ day Princess Tag Title reign, and participated in some wild matches like a 20-on-1 Handicap Match and a Five Way Falls Count Anywhere match. Sakazaki has never stopped fighting since AEW fans last saw her, while Riho is just itching to get back to competition after four months away from the ring. Add in the fact that this first ever one-on-one meeting is for a highly coveted spot in the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament, and it's got all the makings of an absolute top shelf contest!
HOOK vs. JD Drake
There is a reason JD Drake has been known as “The Blue Collar Badass” over the course of his career, and it's something AEW fans have only gotten a taste of since his debut against Eddie Kingston in February 2021. It's come out in that fight with Darby Allin over the TNT Title and in singles bouts with Rocky Romero, Jungle Boy, and others, but his affiliation with The Wingmen didn't always bring out the side of JD Drake that made him a feared foe outside of AEW.
It wasn't until the arrival of Anthony Henry, Drake's Workhorsemen partner, that the badass side of JD really came to the forefront. Together they were the first people to step up to the challenge of Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley, they fought The Best Friends and The Varsity Blonds in tag bouts, and now Drake has to bring that same attitude to bear against the red hot HOOK this Friday evening! “The Cold Hearted Handsome Devil” rolls into Baltimore an unbeaten man with seven victories under his belt, with no signs of even being in jeopardy with his prior foes. Between his genetic predilection for suplexes, his nasty Redrum submission, and the general attitude he carries to the ring, HOOK has the fans in the palm of his hand the minute Action Bronson's The Chairman's Intent hits, but he's also captured the attention of one Danhausen over the last several weeks.
Where that will lead is anyone's guess at this point, especially given the wildly unpredictable nature of Danhausen, but one thing for certain is some very nice, very evil eyes will be on the fight between JD Drake and the Cold Hearted HOOK!
OWEN HART TOURNEY PREVIEW...
Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D & Jamie Hayter vs. Ruby Soho & Toni Storm
The Owen Hart Foundation Tournament has created some very intriguing potential match-ups as we head towards its kick-off in Long Island next Wednesday (Buy Tickets) night. Thus far on the Women's side of the coin Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, Ruby Soho, Toni Storm, Hikaru Shida, and Red Velvet have qualified, either Riho or Yuka Sakazaki will join the field on Friday, and presumably the last spot will be filled just as the Men's Tournament is, with a Joker Card taking the final slot.
With that first round, one thing fans are already guaranteed to experience is a Quarter-Final match-up between Jamie Hayter and Toni Storm, and before things officially get underway, the faithful will also get this tag team bout between four of the qualifying entrants! Toni Storm and Ruby Soho have only ever shared a ring once in their careers, and that was merely as two of thirty other women occupying the same space early last year. She's never been inside the squared circle with Britt, and just one time back in 2018 did Toni and Hayter fight as part of a Three Way for the UK's Pro Wrestling EVE promotion.
Now as for Ruby Soho, while the history between her and Team Britt here in All Elite Wrestling has been quite well documented. Soho won the Women's Casino Battle Royale at All Out 2021 to earn a shot at Baker's AEW Women's World Title, she pinned Rebel in a Six Woman tag to defeat Team Britt prior to their title fight, and it was only because of Hayter and Rebel that Soho even lost her championship challenge at Dynamite: Grand Slam last year. There was never a rematch for Soho, the closest she got was a tag team victory over Baker and Hayter back in January with Riho as her partner, but now with this tag match, with the Owen Hart Tournament, Soho has a chance for revenge on those who screwed her over last year, and Storm has an opportunity to get a little advantage before her collision with Jamie Hayter.
It's a first time teaming for Ruby and Toni, but Team Britt is 0-2 on the year as a pair with Ruby partial responsible for one of those L's. Which duo will win out on Rampage?
Rampage starts at 5:30 EDT/4:30pm CDT on TNT this Friday, and AEWPlus.com for international audiences! RIHO and Yuka Sakazaki return to AEW for an Owen Hart Foundation Tournament Qualifier, four of the women who have already qualified will battle in tag team action, HOOK is coming to fight, and Jay Lethal will meet Konosuke Takeshita in the main event! The best place to get ready for the fights is the official AEW YouTube channel for Dynamite highlights, as well as the latest episodes of Dark: Elevation, AEW Dark, Road To, and the latest Control Center with Tony Schiavone!