AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
I was pretty nonplussed by the Thanksgiving Show which is a shame since it had the potential to be a lot more interesting than it was, but I knew that Rampage had a match I was VERY much looking forward to its main event which would hopefully make up for whatever shortcomings were in the Dynamite show. With Eddie Kingston and Daniel Garcia in the main event as well as two other very cool matches lined up, does this turn out to be the TRUE holiday episode of AEW; therefore proving once and for all that Black Friday is better than Thanksgiving!? Let’s find out!!
Wheeler Yuta & Orange Cassidy Vs. Adam Cole & Bobby Fish
I’m pretty sure Wheeler Yuta hasn’t won a match on AEW TV since joining the company, but then again Fish has had MAYBE two wins since he showed up, so perhaps this is a much more even match than I would first assume it to be. Yuta does manage to put up a decent fight against fish and manages to tag in Cassidy while in control of his opponent, so hopefully he can pull off an upset here! Cassidy goes for a very casual Lateral Press on Fish which only gets a one count, but it is enough for him to scamper to his corner and tag in Cole. Now Cassidy is known for a lot of shtick, but the hands in the pockets has to be the one that he gets the most mileage of as a good minute or so of this match is dedicated to his efforts to do it and Cole’s desperation to stop him! First, he just implores him to stop and then does his ADAM COLE BABY thing which got a pop from the crowd, but Cassidy is unimpressed and goes for the pockets once more. Cole gets physical this time and tries to block him which allows Cassidy to flip him over. He goes for the pockets again, but Cole grabs him with a waist lock! Cassidy still goes the pockets, but this only makes things for as Cole transitions to a Full Nelson. Undeterred, Cassidy keeps going for the pockets, and when he realizes that he can’t quite get it, he flips Cole over again and gives the half-hearted thumbs up. Point having been made, Cassidy tags in Yuta and they have some fun tandem moves which end with Yuta landing a Standing Senton and getting a two count on Cole. That was a lot of fun to see and it’s nice to see Yuta do well for himself, but Fish manages to be quite good at distractions and keeps Yuta busy long enough for Cole to rip him off the turnbuckle. He drags Yuta to the corner and he and Fish get the heat on Yuta during the commercial, but by the time we come back, both Yuta and Fish are down and trying to get to their corners. Fish makes it to his corner for the tag and he and Cole keep Yuta from tagging in Orange for a while longer, but eventually, Yuta escapes and lands a Double Drop Kick from the Middle rope which was enough to keep Cole and Fish down for Yuta to get the hot tag to Cassidy; and yes, he FINALLY gets his hands in his pockets. Not only that, but he does the Lousy Kicks on both Fish and Cole before landing both a Double Drop Kick and a Double Hurricanrana! The Baby Faces continue to dominate in this match and land a very cool combo where Cassidy hits the Stundog Millionaire that sends Cole into Yuta who hits a German Suplex, but when Cassidy goes for the Jack Knife pin it’s broken up by Fish who gains control of this match. A lot of stuff happens from here, almost all of it very well executed and a lot of fun to see, but it eventually boils down to Yuta trying desperately to put Fish away and deciding that the best option is to land a splash from the top rope. As soon as he’s up there though, Cole shakes the ropes and Yuta slumps forward, and while Cassidy does his best to take care of Cole afterward, the damage is done and Fish lands an Avalanche Falcon Arrow on the defenseless Yuta which is more than enough to get the pin and win the match. This was a really good match between two teams that are always fun to watch! Sure it k0ind of devolved into nonsense as people were running in and out of the ring with reckless abandon, but that’s all too common at AEW and we probably shouldn’t hold it against individual matches. Yuta in particular looked GREAT here, and while I understand why he had to take the loss, I really hope he gets a few wins on TV soon.
Tony Nese is being interviewed in the back who has been All Elite for a few weeks now, but he’s been mostly sitting on the sidelines and doing Dark Matches. After taking his time and observing the competition, especially Sammy Guevara’s matches, he is ready to make his TV debut in a challenge for the TNT Title! Sammy was apparently nearby for whatever reason and is annoyed by this braggart, so he accepts the challenge and starts to walk away which is when Tony gives him a forearm to the back of the head. Seriously, Sammy! You weren’t a Heel THAT long ago; you should know better!
Britt Baker Vs. Riho – Black Friday Deal Match
Baker is accompanied to the ring by Rebel (Not Reba) and Jamie Hayter
Stipulation: If Riho wins this match, she gets a title shot
Not sure what about this is a BLACK FRIDAY DEAL MATCH as it’s not DQ or any of the usual stipulations attached to nonsensical names like this, so perhaps it’s because it’s a great deal for Riho who gets to skip over everyone else in the division if she wins. Well whatever the reason is, it’s an outcome that Baker certainly doesn’t want to see so she starts with a few quick pin attempts and tries to transition into the Lockjaw within the first few minutes of the match. Riho is able to make it to the ropes, but Baker’s not about to give her any breathing room as she distracts the ref while Hayter and Rebel (Not Reba) get a few shots in. This allows Baker to work her over for a bit, but Riho is not to be underestimated and lands a few Drop Kicks that sends Baker rolling out of the ring before following up with a Cross Body from the top rope to the floor that takes out both Baker and Rebel (Not Reba). The momentum she gets from this proves to be shorted lived however as a Running Elbow strike is caught by Baker who throws her face-first into the middle turnbuckle to regain control just as the commercial starts. Baker is not about to give Riho another chance like that again and is still tearing her apart when we return from break. Even moments where Riho fights back with a flurry of strikes that is swiftly stymied by a Sling Blade from Baker that gets her a two count. A Head Scissors from Riho followed by a Running Knee Strike seems to be setting up a comeback, but she’s not able to follow up with a Suplex as Baker’s superior strength allows her to reverse it and Send Riho into the Turnbuckle. It turns into a series of big moves as neither one can definitely put the other away. Riho escapes an Air Raid Crash, Baker rolls out of a Stomp from the top ropes, even when Riho starts to hit moves like a Northern Light Suplex into a bridge, Baker still kicks out at two which means that someone’s gonna have to try something different. That moment comes when Baker dodges a Running Knee from Riho and goes for a Fisherman’s Suplex, but then Riho escapes and instead of trying another big move, she simply trips her and rolls her up. This surprise pin attempt proves to be JUST enough for Riho to get the three count and win the match; escaping up the ramp as fast as she can to avoid Baker’s cronies and to live to fight another day which will be for the AEW Women’s Title! I guess I should have expected Riho to win this as there’s not much of a point to have a non-title match with a star like her if it wasn’t to build up to the next match, but Baker’s been pretty well protected so far and this is probably the first time she’s been pinned since winning the belt. Hopefully, they cut a promo or two before the match itself, but either way, I’m quite interested to see what happens next!
Eddie Kingston Vs. Daniel Garcia
Garcia is accompanied to the ring by 2.0
Kingston is probably the most popular guy at this company who wasn’t already a star when he got here. Sure, you can argue some of the guys who were at New Japan weren’t big stars when they got here, but Kingston came right out of the Indie Scene and became a household name within a year, so kudos to him for connecting so well with the audience, and Kudos to AEW for giving him a main event match! Kingston being Kingston, he goes in without any pomp and circumstance; no fancy moves, no chain wrestling, just goes at him and starts gabbing body parts! Garcia can’t quite handle such a straightforward technique and so has a hard time getting a word in edgewise, so he rolls out to consult with his buddies in 2.0. Still, even with the pep talk, he’s afraid to close the distance between him and Kingston, and when he finally musters up the nerve to lock up which is a BAD idea as Kingston starts DESTROYING him with strikes and kicks. It’s so brutal that 2.0 have to drag Garcia out of the ring to keep him from getting murdered which doesn’t sit well with Kingston, so he follows them and proceeds to murder 2.0. This gives Garcia an opening to land a kick to the gut and he can FINALLY get some offense in, and he manages to put up a pretty good fight! That is until Kingston pokes him in the eyes and they both take a break in their respective corners. At this point it turns into a much more even fight as Garcia is still fighting from underneath but it’s clear this won’t be a squash match and that Kingston is gonna have to work to come out on top here. It doesn’t help that Kingston wrecks his knee on a top rope Knee Strike, but this gives Garcia a new strategy which is to make precision strikes to Kingston’s less than sturdy parts to stifle his offensive capabilities. He starts with a chop to the throat and works over his ears during the commercial break which, along with his knee issues, makes him practically immobile. This still doesn’t quite fix the problem of Kingston utterly DESTROYING Garcia if he dares to come within arm’s reach of him, but it’s definitely a start! Working the knee is definitely the way to go, so when Kingston tries to get a Suplex, Garcia escapes and rolls Kingston up into a Knee Bar. Kingston gets the ropes pretty quickly but Garcia just gets up and puts him in the Ankle Lock to apply more pressure. Instead of sticking with that though, Garcia tries to push for a pinfall finish and tries to put him in a Jack Knife Pin, but Kinston rolls out and lifts Garcia into a Powerbomb; once again proving that his strength and grit are not yet diminished by Garcia’s offense. This goes back and forth for a bit as Garcia tries to pick Kingston apart piece by piece while Kingston gets big moves but can’t follow up on them due to his knee, and it eventually devolves into a striking match as both start smacking the crap out of each other! An Enziguri from Kingston followed by a Running Clothesline from Garcia leaves them both in bad shape, but Kingston makes one last Hail Mary with his Spinning Back Fist. Garcia sees it coming and dodges it, but he makes a critical error which is that Eddie… has TWO fists! Garcia ducks the first one but the other one is coming right around and He lands right on Garcia’s face which knocks him out and Kingston gets the pin to win the match! 2.0 aren’t particularly happy about this though and they start attacking Kingston after the bell rings. This gets the ire of Jericho who leaves the announce booth and runs down to send the duo and Garcia packing right as the episode comes to an end.
This was definitely more to my taste than Dynamite was as I enjoyed all three matches which all had satisfying finishes. Even the main event where Kingston did a lot more selling than I expected him to, it makes sense for the character and the way the match was progressing for him to struggle that way and it helps to elevate Garcia who, once again, is one of the most interesting starts AEW has right now. Seriously, just put him in a match every week and I’ll start forgetting to complain about anything else on the show!