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3 Big Takeaways from AEW Rampage - March 31, 2023

On a weekend that's set to be jam-packed with pro wrestling action, AEW Rampage threw in an hour of fun and fury on Friday for their faithful following

AEW Rampage seemed like a bit of an afterthought this week, and honestly, that was through no fault of the show itself. With the incredible hype going on surrounding Ring of Honor, as well as the huge festivities of WrestleMania weekend, it's easy to see how this late Friday night show could go unwatched.

Especially considering that the WWE Hall of Fame ceremonies were airing while this taped episode was being aired on TBS.

So admittedly, this was a strange week for the show. And no one could blame Tony Khan & Company if they just threw this one away, knowing that it's going be a surefire loser when the ratings come out anyway. Even AEW's arduous critics would probably tell them it would be fine if they just shit-canned this one.

But alas, that's not the way things went down, and despite getting killed in terms of viewership, they held their own. Despite long odds, this leftover program turned out to be pretty entertaining.

Rampage often receives the label that it's merely just a filler added to the franchise (i.e. a waste of time). This show wasn't like that at all, and it actually came through on several levels. AEW is advancing toward the most pivotal part of its yearly schedule - May to September - and Rampage helped to nudge it along. Having said that here are three things to take away from this week's episode:

#1 - What path is Sammy Guevara headed down next?

The Spanish God has been firmly aligned with Chris Jericho since basically the inception of the promotion. Sure, they had a bit of separation for a while, but Guevara is basically known as a protege for Y2J.

However, if recent events are any indication, the former TNT Champion may have his eyes on a much bigger prize. One that has nothing to do with his mentor or his membership in The Jericho Appreciation Society.

Recently, with all four of AEW's pillars in the ring at the same time on Dynamite, Guevara made his intentions known that he wants to be World Champion. That means an eventual showdown with MJF, which would further accentuate the promotion's slow shift toward a major youth movement. After four years of developing Guevara and Friedman, along with Jungle Boy and Darby Allin, the group are now reliable names at the top of the card.

Guevara got the win over another promising star Konosuke Takeshita, as he could be angling for an upcoming program in the main event. Whether that's as a member of the JAS remains to be seen, although a full-fledged babyface turn will be in order if Sammy is going to go to the next level. That might be easier said than done, considering there is a genuine dislike for him and his wife among some of the AEW faithful.

#2 -Taya Valkyrie continues to look strong and is on a collision course with Jade Cargill

To say that La Wera Loca makes the All Elite Wrestling Women's Division exponentially stronger just with her presence is obvious. She's got star power, sex appeal, in-ring skills, and a ton of experience. It doesn't hurt that she's also known as a locker room leader, and she helps add to that veteran mix in the back. Stars like her and Saraya can be guiding lights for the young ladies of AEW if all things fall into place.

Speaking of young talents, perhaps the best of them all, Jade Cargill is none too happy with Valkyrie's presence. They both use the same type of finishing move, which hasn't been lost on the reigning TBS Champion. Jade and her attorney Mark Sterling have issued a cease-and-desist warning against Taya for using the maneuver, which Wera Loca has happily ignored.

It was more of the same on Friday. Valkyrie used her version of the finisher, The Road to Valhalla, to finish off Marina Shafir, while Cargill and her representative watched. Then, when they sent legal assistant Tootie (up-and-coming St. Louis wrestling star Tootie Lynn) to serve Taya with documents, she gave her one for good measure, too. Jade was furious, selling the fact that these two will be in the ring to settle it all soon.

#3 - Juice Robinson in the AEW Rampage main event seems just about right

The night capped off with international megastar Juice Robinson taking on the electric young star Action Andretti, continuing the short program that they have been developing. He got the win and he's expected to start a program with Ricky Starks that will culminate at Forbidden Door in early June.

With all due respect to Juice, this is another example of just about any established star walking into the company and being allowed to close the show. Despite the fact that the Bullet Club star is in a short-term angle for now, it doesn't mean he's part of the long-term plan. Chances are, he isn't.

All Elite Wrestling will never get the mileage they need out of Rampage if they continue to treat it as more of a showcase showdown and less of an advancement of their storylines. Bringing in major names may be considered 'premium', but it's not productive. At least not in terms of the promotion's character development.

This is time that should be better spent as future stars match or perhaps a weekly TNT title defense. But just plugging in random names is like playing pro wrestling potluck with premium programming.



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