AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another week of concentrated AEW goodness as they are still running shows on Friday and Saturday instead of the usual Wednesday and Friday. DARN YOU HOCKEY FOR MAKING MY WEEK SLIGHTLY MORE INCONVENIENT! In any case, does AEW still put on a great show even if it’s now leading with Rampage instead of Dynamite? Let’s find out!!
Orange Cassidy Vs. Powerhouse Hobbs – AEW World Title Tournament Match
Cassidy is accompanied to the ring by Chuck Taylor while Hobbs is accompanied by Hook
As great as Hobbs is, you’d expect this match to handily end in Cassidy’s favor, but there are two things that make this interesting. First, Cassidy is having issues with his ribs due to the Leg Drop that Matt Hardy gave him through a table during the ladder match, so Hobbs has something to target. Second, Hobbs is proving himself to be a VERY smart wrestler who can definitely rely on his size most of the time but can out strategize his opponent when the need arises, and arise it does because Hobbs is reading Cassidy like a book and anticipating all of his signature moves. Cassidy starts the match going for an Orange Punch, but Hobbs scouts it, dodges it, and lands one of his HELLACIOUS Spine Busters to get things going and he gets the heat for quite a while on Cassidy; including one spot where Cassidy is thrown into the rope and tries to land a Swinging DDT, but Hobbs catches him and lays him out with a giant clothesline. Cassidy finally starts to fight back when he gets a few shots in while on the apron before going for the Cross Body off the top rope, but once again Hobbs’ power comes into play as he catches him and puts him in the Torture Rack. It seems hopeless for Orange Cassidy who can’t get a move in edgewise, whether it’s another attempt at a Swinging DDT or another shot at the Orange Punch that Hobbs dodges once again drives him into the turnbuckle. It’s all great stuff from Hobbs even if it’s a bit TOO one-sided for my taste, but here’s where things start to get odd. Hobbs is continually pressing him in the corner and Ref Remsberg has to remind him over and over to break the hold before the five count. This is SO irritating to Hobbs that he ACTUALLY picks up Remsberg so they can talk in the other corner. Hook gets on the apron to calm Hobbs down which ends up working as Hobbs takes a deep breath and is ready to continue the match properly. These shenanigans however have given Cassidy enough time to get back up and roll him up in the Mouse Trap to get the pin and win the match. Hobbs is out of the tournament which is a shame because this was a REALLY good match that did a lot to show how great of a wrestler he is! I don’t always like it when Cassidy spends most of the match eating offense, but Hobbs knowing Cassidy’s moves and countering them at every turn was a fantastic strategy for him to use in this match. Ultimately though it seems to have been SUCH a good strategy that they wrote themselves into a corner and had to settle for ref shenanigans to get themselves out of it which is disappointing, but this once again affirms that Powerhouse Hobbs is an indispensable talent at AEW and as always I can’t wait to see even more of him!
Tony is trying to interview Pentagon El Zero M in the ring (Fenix is out due to injury from the belt shot in their last match), but it all goes sideways when he sees two dudes in the crowd with Super Frog masks that send him into a rage and he goes out there to rip them off their heads! It’s not the heads of FTR that he finds underneath, but they had to have been working for them as FTR IMMEDIATELY pop up behind Penta and bash him over the head with their AAA Tag Title belts. They continue their attack and even hold up Penta and Fenix’s AEW Tag Title belts before Pac runs in to chase them away which I guess is fine enough as a way to keep the feud hot, but it also feels like a filler segment; just something there to fill time more than anything else.
Britt Baker Vs. Anna Jay
Baker is accompanied to the ring by Rebel (Not Reba) and Jamie Hayter
For whatever reason, they keep describing this as a grudge match as I only recall them interacting that one time on last week’s Dynamite which I don’t think rises to the level of a “grudge”. Still, Anna Jay is a solid wrestler in the division and someone they could easily elevate to champ status at some point, so having her go up against Baker is a good call even if Baker DESPERATELY needs to take some time off to let her wrist heal. I mean isn’t that the whole reason she got Jamie Hayter in the first place; to be her muscle? Despite this Baker gets an early lead and goes for the Lock Jaw right away. Anna escapes pretty easily and starts going for her OWN finishing submission the Queen Slayer to show Baker that she’s not to be underestimated and to set up some tension as to who will land their finisher first! Anna gets some decent offense in with some kicks to the face, an Arm Drag, and a Flatliner, but her attempt at the Koji Clutch is rebuffed by Baker who throws her into the turnbuckle and gets the heat for the commercial. A Sling Blade and Twisting Neck Breaker get her a two count and she puts on the glove to signal that she will try the Lock Jaw once again. The ostentatious display proves to be one of hubris however as Anna Jay has enough in the tank to land a DDT and a Drop Kick for a two count before Baker can even get her on the ground for the Lock Jaw. In fact, it’s Anna who gets her finisher in first as they trade a bunch of Crucifix pins before Anna is in the right position for the Queen Slayer! Well if Jamie Hayter isn’t getting paid to fight Baker’s battles then she IS there to cheat for her and she causes a distraction that allows Baker to escape the hold. Still, if I was Baker I’d probably ask for my money back as Anna simply knocks Hayter off the apron and puts her in the Queen Slayer before she can really take advantage of the distraction! She’s on her own now so Baker drags herself to the corner and kicks off the turnbuckle to try and break the hold, but Jay keeps it in and she has to make it to the ropes to break it up. Anna makes a fatal mistake as she goes after Baker in the ropes and gets her head snapped on the middle rope by Baker who follows up with a Thrust Kick and finally puts her in the Lock Jaw; forcing Anna Jay to tap and winning the match for Baker! Baker of course celebrates for a moment before she puts her in the Lock Jaw again despite the match being over, and Tay Conti has to run in to chase her off. It wasn’t a perfect match as I think some of Anna Jay’s moves lacked impact (the Drop Kick looked more like a gentle tap), but for a Britt Baker match where she’s still dealing with an injured wrist, it was a pretty solid match between these two. Whether you can describe it as a “grudge” match is another story, but these two put on a decent showing to keep Baker in the spotlight as we continue to seek a proper challenger for her title.
Pac Vs. Andrade El Idolo
The first match against these two was an AMAZING spectacle and was exactly what Andrade needed to remind everyone why they wanted him there in the first place. Until then, he spent most of his time hanging around the back doing promos or having matches that were fine but not up the level we expected from him. We haven’t exactly fixed the first problem as he was only in one other match since his first encounter with Pac, but he’s clearly putting in the work to be seen as a top guy and this match is another great example of that! None of this is to undersell Pac however who is just as good and starts this match off right with a Thrust Kick, a German Suplex that sends Andrade out of the ring, and a Suicide Dive to cap it all off; all within the first few seconds of the match! He does get a bit overconfident however as he throws Andrade in the ring and gets on the turnbuckle for the Black Arrow which is FAR too long a move to pull off this early in the match, and sure enough, Andrade gets up quickly and knocks him off the corner. Andrade goes for a Double Knee Strike into the corner, but Pac rolls away and starts landing kicks to his leg before capping it off with a Drop Kick to the head. Andrade is taking a lot of hits from Pac, but he’s still at a hundred percent so he’s not giving up an inch to Pac, so he slows things down for a minute with a headlock to try and formulate a strategy. This ends up being an unwise move as Andrade manages to escape and throws him into the corner. Pac tries to avoid a kick by jumping to the apron, but Andrade still manages to land the kick so Pac stumbles to the floor and Andrade lands a Tornado dive from the top rope. He starts getting the heat during the commercial, but like Andrade, Pac is not giving an inch despite how much offense he’s eating which includes a Three Amigos that gets Andrade a two count. In one of the nastiest bumps of the night, Pac ends up draped over the middle rope and Andrade goes for a Slingshot Drop Kick, but Pac rolls away back to the center of the ring and Andrade kicks thin air; landing on his back on the apron and tumbling to the floor. If that wasn’t bad enough, Pac lands a Hurricanrana from the apron and THEN follows it up with a Moonsault from the top rope to the floor! Pac throws Andrade into the ring and once again goes up for the Black Arrow which he might actually pull off this time given how much damage he’s inflicted on Pac so far, but once again Andrade manages to get back up and runs to the corner to knock him off. Pac is ready this time though and hops down to the apron to land a kick to the head which he follows up with a Springboard Cutter for a two count! Pac fails to lock in the Brutalizer after that which sends the fight to the apron where they start to slug it out. Andrade gets the better of it and lands a Reverse DDT on the apron followed by a Springboard DDT that sends them both tumbling to the floor again, but Andrade is not about to lose his advantage and drags Pac back into the ring. It’s now Andrade’s turn to go to the top rope and, of course, Pac jumps up and shoves him so that he lands crotch first on the turnbuckle anchor which gives Pac MORE than enough time to meet him up that and land an Avalanche Brain Buster; an absolutely TERRIFYING movie that SOMEHOW only gets a two count! At this point the two just lose it; they trade blows back and forth, go a million miles a minute, and hit a bunch of big moves until Pac just BARELY gest the three count with a roll up to win the match! As soon as the bell rings the lights go out… AND MALAKAI BLACK IS IN THE RING! He stands there for a moment as he assesses the situation before blowing mist into Pac’s face which clearly indicates that he’s now got an alliance with Andrade who is more than happy to accept the help and is holding Pac while Black gets a chair. It looks bad for Pac, but fortunately he has friends who will come to his aid! Any minute now! No? Pentagon is busy? Okay, well I guess we’ll have to settle for Arn Anderson who comes out and taunts Andrade and Black so that CODY RHODES CAN COME FROM BEHIND AND ATTACKS THEM BOTH! They have a great brawl, Cody manages to send them both packing, and the episode ends with the crowd actually cheering for him in anticipation of his next match against Malaki Black!
It’s perhaps not the MOST exciting show they’ve ever done, but it’s everything I want out of an episode of Rampage and had one HECK of a main event! I wouldn’t have ended the Cassidy match the way they did, but it certainly gave Will Hobbs a lot of shine, and the women’s match was The promos for the Cody/Black angle have been very odd and somewhat off-putting, but with the big angle at the end I’m definitely interested to see where it’s all going now! Wrestling is still great, even if I’ve got a busy schedule to try and fit it all in, and this episode was an excellent reminder of that!