Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (10-29-2021)

AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

Spooky scary wrestling; it only happens once a year!  Well… twice a year I guess since AEW has two shows now, and honestly I’m grateful for it because if this tribute to the best holiday of the year is even half as good as the Dynamite show, then we are in for a GHOULISHLY good time!  Is this a FANG-tastic collection of COFF-FUN matches to make you SCREAM, or is this a foul beast that was better left in its tomb?  Hey, would you rather me get these all out now or parcel them out through all of November?  Let’s find out!!

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Daniel Bryan Vs. Eddie Kingston – AEW World Title Tournament Semi-Final

Danielson and Kingston both had rather disappointing opening matches in this tournament, but with the semi-finals underway they both have a chance to redeem themselves, and boy do they ever!  It doesn’t start off very intense as Danielson seems to be worried about engaging in any sort of brawl with Kingston and so is biding his time to land some flashier moves while Kingston is ready to brawl but isn’t about to walk into a trap.  Danielson finally gets his chance by running the ropes and landing a Flying Clothesline on Eddie that sends him to the corner before landing a kick to his face, and Kingston rolls to throw a chair around in frustration before getting back in the ring with Danielson.  With the momentum in his favor, Danielson starts taking some of Kingston’s shots which he sells like bowling bowls to the chest, but taking those hits gets him close enough to Kingston to REALLY start doing some damage.  He works over Kingston’s left arm which should help dampen those powerful strikes, and Kingston can’t do much against his submissions until Danielson tries to throw him into the ropes and he eats a knee instead.  Things keep getting nastier and more brutal as the match progresses which favors Kingston whose strikes are leaving some DISTRESSINGLY red marks all over Danielson’s skin.  He’s gonna have to do more than just tank Kingston’s moves if he wants to win, but he seems too tired to go back to his original strategy.  Fortunately, he gets a lucky break as Kingston charges and Danielson pulls down the ropes and sends him to the floor, but when Danielson tries to press the advantage, Kingston DESTROYS him on the outside with an Elbow Strike and a Suplex.  Now Kingston may fight light a brute but he’s also a shrewd competitor and allows the ref to start the count instead of trying to attack Danielson more which is a sound strategy considering Danielson’s state, but he just BARELY gets in at the nine count.  After a few more moves from Kingston, he puts Danielson on the turnbuckle for a Superplex, but Danielson fights him off which should give him a bit of breathing room… except that all it means is that Kingston can bash him across the chest from a standing position on the floor; something that I’m sure his deeply red chest isn’t thankful for.  Kingston tries to get up again, but Danielson escapes from underneath instead of fighting him off and gets behind him to land an Avalanche Belly to Back Suplex!  The two start trading blows on the mat and Danielson gets a few of his Yes Kicks in before transitioning to a series of Arm Bars as he tries to force Kingston to submit.  Out of NOWHERE though, Kingston lands a DDT and the two start trading blows on the mat.  They eventually get up and the two continue to just beat the crap out of each other until they both just collapse which causes the crowd to go WILD!  This is intense, exciting, and despite Danielson’s very red chest, it doesn’t look like anyone is taking serious bumps or risking injury without losing a single ounce of its brutality!  It’s time to wrap things up however, so Kingston makes his way over to Danielson, but it’s a trap as Danielson locks in the Triangle Choke.  Kingston punches wildly and even throws him the bird, but it’s not enough to escape the hold and Kingston passes out; giving Danielson the win and advancing him to the finals of the tournament!  Danielson has had some pretty amazing matches since he arrived, but that was something special!  The crowd loved it, I loved it, and it’s going to be a hard one to follow!

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CM Punk is being interviewed by Tony in the back, but they hear an unholy commotion as Kingston is ENRAGED that the ref made a call in his match.  This isn’t the first time this has happened as he had the same issue when Ref Remsberg called for the bell in his first match against Moxley which eventually led to the rematch as well as one of the best promos in AEW history.  He eventually makes his way to where the interview is and he just starts RANTING at CM Punk who is not amused before being dragged away by the agents.  I mean after what we just saw with Danielson and Kingston, I’m all for a Kingston/Punk match!

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Dante Martin Vs. Matt Sydal

Dante is accompanied to the ring by Lio Rush

AEW is saying this is the third time these two have met in the ring and I had to look it up to be sure.  It does turn out to be true, but the fact is that one of them was on Dark and another was back in June; well before Dante Martin’s recent surge in popularity and his alliance with Lio Rush.  Rush by the way, clearly wants this match to put a wedge between Dante and Sydal, but Sydal is doing everything he can to make sure that’s not the case; insisting that they shake hands before they start fighting.  Whether or not that spirit of sportsmanship lasts through the end of the match is yet to be seen, but what we CAN clearly see is that both are great when it comes to high-flying moves!  Shocking revelation, I know, but Dante does get a lot of chances to shine with the sheer breadth of his skill set while Sydal remains strong throughout and his experience is keeping him competitive.  Dante gets a Moonsault from the ropes to the floor that wipes out Sydal, but Sydal turns things around with a kick to the thigh followed by a Cobra Clutch and a Russian Leg Sweep.  He transitions from that into a move that I don’t THINK is a One-Legged Boston Crab but works over the same part of the leg, and Dante eventually gets the ropes.  However, this is echoing their first encounter where Sydal went for the leg to try and ground him, and sure enough, the assault continues with a Bow and Arrow stretch on Dante who doesn’t have much of a response to these submissions.  Sydal has phenomenal high-flying skills, but he’s also a pretty well-rounded fighter so Dante’s singular focus and inexperience are holding him back in this match.  Dante has one thing that’s helping him out though and that’s his heart because there are several occasions in this where Sydal is working him over but he just punches his way out of it to try and regain his momentum.  It never really sticks as Sydal manages to work around his high-flying skills, but even so Sydal is still not able to put this kid away and each time he seems to be doing better!  Dante gets a VERY cool Sunset Flip for a two count on Sydal which gives him some momentum and he lands a Hurricanrana.  He then lands a Double Stomp BY JUMPING FROM THE MAT which means he jumped VERY high, and Sydal is out on his back.  Dante tries to climb up to the turnbuckle, but his injured leg is making it hard and gives Sydal enough time to get up and meet him there and lands a Hurricanrana that throws him off the corner.  Sydal is ready to finish things so he lands a Roundhouse Kick and goes for the Lightning Spiral, but Dante avoids it and lands a… 360 Stunner?  I don’t know what that was but it involved a front flip and gave him enough time to get to the ropes and land a Double  Springboard Moonsault on Sydal that is enough to put him away and win the match.  I don’t know if Martin should have won this particular match as Sydal did A LOT of right things throughout, so him losing after that Moonsault felt a bit out of nowhere, but this was still a great match!  It managed to be different enough from the opener to not fall completely under its shadow and is just more evidence that Dante is going to become a big star!  Lio Rush on the other hand, I guess it’s too early to say since he hasn’t done anything yet, but he still feels like a third wheel in all of this and I don’t know how it’s gonna work out once Dante’s brother comes back from his injury.

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Britt Baker Vs. Abadon – Trick Or Treat Match

Baker is accompanied to the ring by Rebel (Not Reba) and Jamie Hayter

Abadon is AMAZING and I will hear nothing to the contrary!  I love the sheer commitment she has to the role with the extraordinary hair, the extensive makeup (INCLUDING FAKE BLOOD), and she embodies her role with an unwavering passion that can sometimes come off as downright silly.  Heck, her interview with Mark Henry before the show consisted of her puking up blood and that’s it!  Where else are you going to see someone like Abadon on televised wrestling!?  As for the match itself, it’s pretty solid.  We get a commercial break RIGHT at the start so it takes a bit to get some momentum going, but Baker gets an early lead over Abadon after throwing her into a chair that was wedged into one of the ring corners during the commercial.  Baker is taking full advantage of this No DQ match by having Hayter and Rebel (Not Reba) straight-up hold Abadon down for her at points, but it’s not enough to overcome such a monstrous foe!  Abadon drags Baker to the apron next to a table set up on the floor, but Baker fights back and manages to land a Neck Breaker onto the table.  However, the table doesn’t break so the both of them just kinda bounce off of it before landing on the floor which was kind of funny to see.  What was even FUNNIER though is that Baker IMMEDIATELY tries to Suplex Abadon through it to get it to break… and it still doesn’t!  That was pretty amazing to see but it ultimately backfired for Baker as Abadon is the first one to get back up.   She tosses Baker into the ring and grabs a bag from under the ring full of thumbtacks and spreads them across the ring; something Baker is VERY unhappy to see!  Baker tries to rush Abadon and toss her into the tacks with a Back Heel Trip, and the two struggle for a bit before Abadon finally gets the Choke Slam and goes for the pin… but Baker kicks out at two!  Despite how impressive that was as a show of tenacity, it’s still not a great sign of things to come so Hayter gives Baker a chair and she throws it right in Abadon’s face!  She then unfolds the chair and puts her head in it before landing a Stomp which she thinks is enough to finish Abadon… but nope!  Abadon screams and THROWS that chair across the ring to the horror of Baker who responds with a Superkick to daze her so that she can put a handful of tacks in her mouth and then gives her ANOTHER Super Kick.  Baker goes for the Lock Jaw, but after seeing Abadon’s horrifying maw, she thinks better of it and Abadon uses this momentary hesitation to start biting Baker’s hand!  Jamie Hayter has to give Abadon a Double Sledgehammer just to get her to let go, and Rebel tries to distract her on the apron so that Baker can recover.  Abadon spits tacks into Rebel’s face to her absolute horror, but this allows Baker to come up from behind and roll her up for the pin to win the match.  I’m disappointed that Abadon didn’t win, but this was a GREAT goofy horror match to see and the episode ends with Abadon looking utterly furious as Baker and crew scramble their way back up the ramp and perhaps thinking twice about messing with such a brutal competitor!

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This was an AWESOME collection of matches that went by at a solid pace, and while I didn’t like the finishes to all of them, they definitely had everything I want to see in these kinds of fights!  Good storylines, fast and frenetic action, an arc to the match where things develop and change over time, and no one getting seriously hurt!  The main event is probably going to be the most controversial one since it’s full of goofy Halloween stuff involving one of the champions, but when done right that kind of match can be fantastically executed and fun to watch, and while this had its rocky moments I thought it was the perfect way to send the audience home happy and in the holiday spirit!  Halloween has already passed by the time I’m writing this so we’ll be back to business as usual soon enough, but as a once a year tribute to excess and cornball spookiness, I thought it was a great time and can’t wait for next October!

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