A Ring of Honor Pure Championship match headlines tonight's live AEW Rampage episode.
Pure Champion Katsuyori Shibata will defend against former title holder Wheeler Yuta in a rematch from Supercard of Honor in March of this year.
Shibata defeated Yuta to win the Pure title at Supercard of Honor on March 31, kicking off his title reign. Yuta never received a rematch, but has since scored one tag team victory over Shibata in a Yuta & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Shibata & Eddie Kingston bout at the All Out pay-per-view on September 3.
Yuta defeated Daniel Garcia for the Pure title at last December's Final Battle pay-per-view and defended the title four times before dropping it to Shibata.
Shibata has made seven successful title defenses, with his most recent coming against Trent Beretta in a match that aired on this week's Ring of Honor TV episode.
Rampage tonight kicks off a three-hour block of AEW programming from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as Collision airs in its regular time slot immediately following Rampage.
Tony Schiavone, Kevin Kelly, & Nigel McGuinness were on the call this week as FTW Champion Hook made his entrance.
Hook defeated Rocky Romero
According to Cagematch, Hook has only had 43 matches in his career. Getting reps like this will be essential for his growth as a wrestler. You could see him and Romero working through the match as it was happening, but things like that will go away as Hook becomes more comfortable in-ring. Meanwhile, it’s always good to see Rocky Romero.
This match was announced on social media after Romero made a challenge for AEW to give him their youngest and brightest stars. After an opening exchange, Romero chopped Hook to escape a series of arm wringers. The men traded chops until Hook hit an El Camero suplex. They crossed each other until Hook dropped Romero with a lariat. Hook hit a German suplex that sent Romero rolling to the apron.
Hook went for a suplex on the apron, but Romero hit a rising knee before landing a suplex of his own on the apron. Romero hit a double stomp to Hook on the floor as we went to commercial. Romero hit the Forever Clotheslines as we came back from the break, but Hook caught Romero and threw him into the corner with an Exploder suplex.
Hook fired up until Romero sent Hook onto the apron, where Romero hit a springboard dropkick for a nearfall. Romero hit a running Sliced Bread for a nearfall as the crowd chanted for Hook. Hook hit an STO to take Romero down. Romero recovered and went for a traditional Sliced Bread, but Hook countered it into the Redrum to score the win.
We got a video package for the Katsuyori Shibata vs. Wheeler Yuta Rampage main event tonight.
Kris Statlander defeated Diamante
After an opening exchange, Diamante took down Statlander with a headscissors. Statlander countered a corner charge into a powerslam for a nearfall. Mercedes Martinez, Diamante’s tag team partner, made her way to the stage. Statlander hit a running knee into the corner as Martinez came closer to the ring.
Diamante hit a charging Statlander with an overhead suplex as we came back from a break. Diamante hit a facebuster for a nearfall. Statlander pulled Diamante into position for Saturday Night Fever, but Diamante rolled it into a flash pin for a nearfall. After a pinning predicament, Diamante hit an Asai DDT for a nearfall. Statlander hit a charging Diamante with a rolling lariat for the win, but she was jumped after the bell by Martinez. Willow Nightingale made the save for Statlander.
Daniel Garcia spoke earlier in the night to AEW cameras. He was happy to drive into the show tonight, a drive he made multiple times during his time on the independent scene. He admitted his confidence was low after several high-profile losses, but he was ready to prove that he wasn’t a loser.
The Kingdom defeated Duke Davis & Danny Jones
Mike Bennett spoke on their entrance about Roderick Strong getting hurt by Action Andretti last week on Rampage, but his being Neck Strong kept him from being more hurt. Taven talked trash on MJF before saying that they wanted their ROH Tag Team Titles back. This was a quick match, as Bennett took out Davis on the ramp with a piledriver. In the ring, Taven hit the Climax before hitting the Aurora Borealis frog splash for the win.
ROH Pure Title Match – Wheeler Yuta defeated Katsuyori Shibata to win the title
A solid match, on the better end of Shibata’s output after his return. It’s interesting that they chose this time to change the title with Final Battle coming up soon, but the Hook/Yuta issue has been simmering for a while now. Yuta as a sneering bully is a good direction for him, and the Hook match will get some interest for, I assume, Final Battle.
The judges for this match were Christopher Daniels, Jimmy Jacobs, and Jerry Lynn.
After the opening exchanges, Shibata held onto the ropes on an Irish whip and caught Yuta in a bow-and-arrow hold. He held onto Yuta’s legs and locked on a deathlock before returning to the bow-and-arrow. Yuta flipped into a pin cover to escape, but Shibata transitioned into a kneebar to force Yuta to the ropes for his first rope break. Yuta punched Shibata in the face, earning a warning from the referee.
Yuta chopped Shibata going into and coming out of the break, but Shibata fired up and rocked Yuta with elbows and chops. Shibata drove Yuta down in the corner with chops before hitting a hesitation dropkick. Shibata hit a half-hatch suplex for a nearfall. Shibata caught Yuta in an ankle lock, before transitioning into an STF, reminiscent of Masahiro Chono. Yuta used his second rope break to escape.
Shibata locked on the sleeper hold, but Yuta forced Shibata to the floor and hit a dive to the floor. Yuta sent Shibata into the barricade, but Shibata fired out and booted Yuta against the guardrail. Yuta avoided the Penalty Kick and rolled Shibata up for a nearfall. Yuta rolled up Shibata and put his feet on the ropes for a nearfall. Yuta shoved Shibata into the referee before hitting Shibata with a low blow. Yuta dropped Shibata with a DDT before locking on the Seatbelt pin to score the win and the title.
After the match, Yuta mockingly offered his hand for the Code of Honor, but kicked Shibata low again and dropped him with a DDT. Hook made his way to the ring to run off Yuta.