Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (12-10-2021)

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

We’re back with another week of Rampage action, though this one finds itself in a bit of an odd spot.  The next Dynamite is the big Winter is Coming show, and they wrapped up all the major storylines on the Wednesday show, so this is kind of just filling the gap between the two shows.  Sure, Rampage works best when it gets to do its own thing separate from Dynamite, but sandwiched between the Dynamite show and Winter is Coming, can it manage to find enough fun action and compelling narratives to keep from feeling entirely disposable?  Let’s find out!!

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The Lucha Bros Vs. FTR – AEW Tag Title Match

The Lucha Bros are accompanied to the ring by Alex Abrahantes while FTR are accompanied by Tully Blanchard

You’d think this would be a match to save for the big show on Wednesday instead of throwing out on the B-Show; especially since these two teams had a match at Triple-Mania less than a week ago.  Why not let them rest until the Wednesday show and try to put on a barn burner instead of filling a slot that could literally go to anyone else?  Rampage is a good place for random matchups, and it’d be nice if we got some highlights from Triple-Mania or even just a promo to set up this title match!  Well, we’ve got the match that we’ve got, and I guess it was their way of making this Rampage not seem insignificant; so let’s see how it plays out.  It starts off well with the Lucha Bros getting a solid lead on FTR, but the No Flips All Fist guys are hard to keep down no matter what you throw at them!  Penta decides to go for psychological warfare and theatrically takes off his glove which he tosses to Cash who dutifully catches… and then IMMEDIATELY eats a kick to the face!  Rey then tags in and jumps really high in the air for a Cross Body on Cash, but after landing he’s grabbed by Dax and is dropped spine first onto the apron; giving FTR some heat as we head into the commercial.  Rey eventually makes his way to the corner to tag in Penta who hits Sling Blades on both guys before landing the Backstabber on Dax.  Things go back and forth for a bit between Penta and Cash with some very cool reversals thrown in, and soon enough Rey tags back into the match.  He punches Tully Blanchard in the face who thought it was a good idea to get up on the apron and taunt him, and starts to face off both members of FTR just like Penta did because I guess the Heels are allowed to do whatever they want; isn’t that right Ref?  In any case, Dax catches Rey in a Springboard move and drops him with a Slingshot Liger bomb for a two count, and Dax tosses him into the ropes where Cash is waiting to bash him with the belt much like he did in their first meet up.  Rey manages to stop himself and avoid the belt shot just as the ref sees what’s going on, and the two of them yank the belt out of Cash’s hands… which then goes right into Dax’s face!  Oh well!  Guess Rey’s gonna hit him with the Frog Splash and win!  NO WAIT!  Dax is still holding the belt and just lifts it up as Rey comes down; conking him in the face and going for the pin.  Despite seeing little flying birds circle his head after that shot, Rey manages to kick out at two and things just go into overdrive from there!  Rey tries to fight off FTR and goes up top for some sort of move, but he gets caught by both of them and they smash him to the mat with a Big Rig.  They go for the pin but it’s broken up by Penta who comes flying in from the top turnbuckle; wiping everyone out taking a little breather on the floor while the crowd is going wild!  It’s down to a battle of chops as both teams are in the ring and trading blows back and forth until Fenix lands a Cutter on Dax, only to eat a Gory Bomb from Cash.  Penta is back in the ring and Cash does his best to fight him off, but in the end he winds up eating a Fear Factor and the Lucha Bros get the pin to win the match.  I’m still a bit baffled that they gave away a title match (especially one this good) on Rampage, but if you are gonna give it away then why not make it fantastic?  If nothing else, it was WAY better than the one on the PPV!

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Ruby Soho, Anna Jay, and Tay Conti Vs. Nyla Rose, Penelope Ford, and The Bunny – Six-Woman Tag Match

Nyla Rose is accompanied to the ring by Vickie Guerrero

As annoying as it is for Baby Faces to intentionally put themselves in harm’s way prior to a big match, like when Riho fought Jamie Hayter on Dynamite, at least Soho has a few concessions here to make it make sense.  It’s a tag match so someone else could end up taking most of the damage, and Nyla Rose is in the match as well so she’s risking just as much being here.  That, and Soho and Rose are barely in this, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Tay and The Bunny start things off for us with Tay getting a pretty significant lead due to her Judo skills, and she drags her to her corner so the Baby Faces can overwhelm her.  It’s not until she gets a bit of help from Vickie and Penelope that The Bunny gets the upper hand and the Heels start to get some offense.  Ford and Rose land a bunch of moves on Tay in their corner, but The Bunny tags in and doesn’t fare any better now against Tay than she did a few moments ago.  Tay manages to escape and gets the hot tag to Soho who tears apart Ford with a series of kicks before landing a Leg Sweep for a two count.  Rose tags in just as the commercial starts which I guess you could argue is somewhat savvy as they give you the tournament matchup ahead of time but only on the itty-bitty screen, and Soho makes the tag to Anna Jay right as we come back from commercial.  She gets a good start on Rose and manages to bring her down to the mat with a headlock which forces The Bunny to run in with a Superkick, and that’s the point where all heck breaks loose as everyone runs in to land a move and take a bump.  In the chaos, Vickie gives Bunny the brass knuckles and hits Anna Jay in the… shoulder I think?  Tay quickly tackles her and takes her out of the ring, but the damage is done and Nyla lands the Beast Bomb to get the pin and win the match.  I thought this match was going to annoy me a lot more than it did, but they kept the momentum up throughout and the work was entertaining to watch and I certainly hope that the Rose/Soho match down the road is at least as fun as this was!

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Tony is interviewing Sting in the back about the North Carolina show when FTR and Tully run in to attack.  They take care of Darby by throwing him into a steel door, and Tully gets the low blow on Sting.  The implication seems to be another match between Sting and Tully (presumably with a young guy in their corner to do most of the work) which should be… okay I guess?  I mean Tully can do an interference spot or take advantage of a downed opponent, but I don’t know if a proper lock-up is a good idea for him.

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Hook Vs. Fuego Del Sol

Well, this was a pleasant surprise!  Hook’s been an integral part of Team Taz for months now and has developed a sizable fan base despite never actually having a match.  Perhaps they thought he was too green when he first debuted or maybe they had the foresight to see this guy blow up just from being at ringside, but regardless of that, the day has come for him to step inside the ring and show us what he can do!  Now Fuego’s job is clearly to bump around until Hook looks like a superstar, but Hook definitely has some skills here with a very fast and scrappy fighting style.  He doesn’t try anything too fancy or high-flying, but he does have agility and a whole lot of presence.  The guys’ snot-nosed demeanor carries over from his ringside appearances as he sneers at Fuego and gets in the ref’s face several times; all without losing control of the match or letting his emotions get the better of him.  Fuego’s only moment of offense is a Drop Kick and a few shots in the corner which isn’t MUCH of a test of Hook’s selling ability, and he goes for a Tornado DDT that Hook powers out of to throw Fuego to the mat.  Hook follows with a big lariat that sends Fuego spinning through the air and a Belly to Belly Suplex that knocks the wind out of him.  In case you were unsure of Hook’s Heel cred, he starts bashing Fuego over the head while he’s down and also tries ripping off the dude’s mask before finally giving him the mercy kill with a submission that he taps out to immediately.  Hook doesn’t let go immediately of course because he’s a jerk, but it’s probably better than taking any more of those head shots.  It was a very solid dispute for Hook that definitely got the audience to pop!  Hopefully, he has the skill to work a longer match with a bit more back and forth, but the charisma is definitely there!

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Adam Cole Vs. Wheeler Yuta

Cole is accompanied to the ring by The Young Bucks and Bobby Fish while Yuta is accompanied to the ring by Best Friends, Orange Cassidy, and Rocky Romero

Wheeler Yuta is probably gonna need to win a match one of these days, but it’s not going to be tonight as this is about everything else except the action in the ring.  Now that’s not to say that Yuta’s incompetent, but Cole could have ended this a lot earlier if he wasn’t intent on mocking Cassidy and the Best Friends throughout the match.   Taking the time out to point and laugh or do the Lousy Kicks does give Yuta a few openings to make a comeback, but nothing really sticks as Cole overpowers him pretty easily.  The best shot he has is when he goes for a big Top Rope Splash after hitting a Suplex, but Cole manages to get the knees up which leaves Yuta writhing on the mat.  Cole hits the nearly unconscious Yuta with the Boom Knee Strike and gets the pin to win the match; all the while staring at Orange Cassidy.  As soon as the bell rings, Bobby Fish attacks Trent and the other Heels start attacking the Baby Faces.  The Heels get the upper hand and the Bucks hold up Cassidy again for the Panama Sunrise from Cole.  This time though, it’s a fake-out as he jumps down and simply kicks Cassidy in the oranges!  Not done yet, the Heels hit a BTE Trigger on Trent, and they all revel in their own wickedness as the episode comes to an end.

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Taken in isolation, most of the matches are pretty good and entertaining to watch, but I don’t think this was the best-constructed episode of Rampage I’ve seen.  The main event was okay, but the crowd was much more into the Hook match right before it, and while the Tag Title Match was one of the best the Lucha Bros have had since winning the belts, it felt thrown together and didn’t have a solid build-up to make it feel significant.  These aren’t deal-breaking issues for Rampage which is designed to be much more self-contained and not always about pushing the biggest storylines, but it still could have found a better way to balance everything.

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