AEW's Ricky Starks Defeats Swerve Strickland to Retain FTW Championship on Rampage

The main event of tonight's AEW Rampage was for the FTW Championship, pitting FTW Champion Ricky Starks against Swerve Strickland, who was in his second match since joining All Elite Wrestling. Starks and Strickland had a war of words before heading to the ring. They exchanged holds for a minute and then evaded each other until Starks got the better of the exchange and showboated a bit, which Strickland was amused by. Strickland then returned the favor with some stylish maneuvers, a dropkick, and some taunting of his own.

Strickland stomped on Starks and went for a pin, but Starks kicked out. Starks got a kick in and drew some blood from Strickland's lip, and then kicked him and slammed him face-first into the turnbuckle.

Starks never misses a chance to showboat and he did just that before stomping on Strickland again, which he followed up with a slam and a pin attempt, but Strickland kicked out. Strickland threw Starks into the corner turnbuckle and then delivered some knees to Starks before kicking his arm hard, causing Starks to roll out to ringside to catch his breath.

Strickland didn't let him stay there for long, grabbing his hair and pulling him up to the apron. They exchanged kicks and punches, and then Starks kicked out Strickland's leg to knock him down hard to the floor. Starks then slammed into Strickland with his knees and then rolled him back into the ring. He covered him but Strickland kicked out.

They traded punches again and then Starks hit Strickland with a Powerbomb before going up top. Starks leaped towards Strickland but he moved out of the way and the moonsault didn't connect, hurting Starks' leg in the process. He went for a pin but Strickland kicked out, and then Starks locked in a hold to put pressure on Strickland's abdomen and rib cage. Strickland fought out of it by shoving Starks into the turnbuckle, and then Strickland landed on his feet after Starks lifted him and he hit Starks with huge clotheslines and uppercuts before hitting an elbow in the back of the head from the top rope.

Strickland dodged Starks again and then brought down Starks face-first onto the mat before going for the pin, but Starks kicked out. Strickland dodged Starks after an attempt at a move up top but might have hurt his knee, and then Starks went for a move but Strickland fought out of it. Strickland then got out of another move attempt from Starks and kicked him in the face and followed it up with a Punt Kick and a Shooting Star Press from the ring to the floor.

Strickland went up top and planted Starks but somehow he kicked out of the pin. Then Strickland went for a move but Starks rolled through it and almost had the pin but Strickland kicked out. Strickland then rolled Starks up again but he kicked out. Starks went for a dive but Strickland punched him in the face only to have Powerhouse Hobbs jump in and slam into Strickland. The referee didn't see it and so Starks pinned Strickland and retained his FTW Championship.

But then Keith Lee threw Starks' entourage through their celebratory banner and met Starks up front, and Strickland was back on his feet to join the attack. Lee then fought with Hobbs and Strickland with Starks until referees came out to split them up and restore order.

What did you think of the match? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things wrestling with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!