AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
It’s another night of AEW action during a week that pretty much all people dread. Sure, the Holidays can be fun and all that, but this is a stressful time for a lot of people, including me, so fitting in my usual output has been a challenge. I’m still going to do it, but I think Rampage is going to go by a lot faster than usual if you catch my drift. Is this a fun boost to get us ready for the final week of rushing and shopping, or is it less a reprieve and more of a grim specter of things to come? Let’s find out!!
The Young Bucks, Adam Cole, and Bobby Fish Vs. Best Friends, Orange Cassidy, and Rocky Romero – Eight-Man Tag Match
The Young Bucks are accompanied to the ring by Brandon Cutler while Best Friends are accompanied by Wheeler Yuta
The Young Bucks and Best Friends feud continues unabated, and while it does feel like we’re spinning our wheels, it’s never a bad idea to get these two groups in the ring as often as possible. The matchups certainly haven’t gotten stale yet, and it even manages to make an Eight-Man Tag Match not feel overly excessive or drawn out. The Best Friends get a lot of offense in early on as Cassidy and Cole stare at each other from opposite corners, but when the opportunity arises for them to meet in the ring, Cole keeps to himself and lets the Bucks deal with Cassidy. The Heels eventually take control of the match with some sly beatings outside the ring, but The Best Friends didn’t call themselves that for nothing and take several opportunists to save Cassidy from being pinned. Cassidy eventually fights back and gets the hot tag to Trent who runs wild over everyone; fighting the Bucks and Cole by himself, giving Bobby Fish a spear on the outside, and even hitting Brandon Cutler with a Backdrop. It’s good to see Trent back in action again and he looks pretty good, but it doesn’t last forever as the Heels isolate him in the ring and take turns utterly destroying him! He’s yanked off the turnbuckle by Nick and lands neck first on the top rope, he eats Brain Busters and Superkicks from the Super Clique, and he even gets hit by a Diving Headbutt from Fish! Even with all that, Trent manages to kick out at two, so the only logical thing is to take the guy coming back from spinal surgery and give him an AVALANCHE FALCON ARROW! This should have been the end of the match, if not the death of Mr. Trent, had Cassidy not run in to break up the pin, and that’s when the match devolves into the usual Eight-Man shtick where everyone runs in to hit a big move until it’s just the legal men alone in the ring. After a spectacular flurry of moves that ends with Cassidy hitting a Springboard Flip to everyone on the floor below, Trent manages to land the Crunchy on Bobby Fish to get the pin and win the match! It was a pretty fun opening bout! Perhaps there was a bit too much chaos in the second half as no one is even trying to follow the rules, but even with that, it managed to stay comprehensible and kept everyone looking strong! The feud will surely continue from here, but with matches like this, it’s clear they haven’t run out of things to do just yet!
Dan Lambert is in the ring with Men of the Year, and it’s been long enough since we’ve seen him that Dan feels fresh, but his promo ends up being a bit too whiny for my taste. He spends way too long talking about Tony Khan’s business practices instead of how awesome the Men of the Year are, and it doesn’t start picking up until he lays into Cody Rhodes; including making fun of his reality show! Cody has heard enough and goes to the ring with a mixed reaction from the crowd as you’d expect, and he threatens to cut a promo of his before deciding to instead attack Men of the Year. They overwhelm him naturally since it’s two on one, but then Dustin comes in and kicks some butt! His mistake though is that he starts yelling at Lambert instead of keeping the pressure on Men of the year, and so he ends up getting overwhelmed as well. With two Baby Faces now cowed to the might of Men of the Year, it’s up to none other than Sammy Guevara to run out and make the save; including a spot where he hits a Springboard Cutter on Scorpio Sky! The Heels bail and head to the back while Cody and Sammy stare meaningfully at each other as they have a match scheduled next week. It took a bit too long to get going, but the promo eventually found its groove and ended up being a good deal of fun!
Tay Conti Vs. Penelope Ford – Submission Match
Conti is accompanied to the ring by Anna Jay while Ford is accompanied by The Bunny
Submissions are good for a lot of things and they are a great ingredient to add to a match, but focusing on them alone can feel like a gimmick and it takes an exceptionally skilled wrestler in that specific area of expertise to pull off something like this. While a guy like Bryan Danielson could certainly make it work, the same can’t be said for Tay and Ford who are not BAD in this match but feel hampered by the stipulation. It comes off like any other match they would have only they lock in a bunch more submission moves instead of their flashier stuff which isn’t nearly as interesting to see. No Tay-K-O from Conti, but she does try a Triangle Choke a few times! At least we get a Stunner from Ford at one point, but for the most part, it’s just back and forth submissions with a few punches thrown in between them. There is one pretty interesting spot where they’re both on the apron, though the execution felt a bit clunky. Tay flips over to try and yank Ford off the corner (almost like she was gonna try a Powerbomb), but Ford’s arm stays wrapped around Tay’s neck and so she just jumps on her back and locks in a Dragon Sleeper. Tay escapes, but this is where Ford hits the stunner and follows up with a submission on the ground. Tay eventually makes it to the ropes and Ford goes for a Cazadora, but Tay drops down into a choke and Ford taps out immediately. It wasn’t a particularly great match, but there is something about it that gets it an extra star from me, and that’s the post-match beat down! As you’d expect, the Heels try to attack Conti, but Anna Jay is right there with a folding chair and chases them off. Yes, for once the Baby Face had effective backup to fight off the obvious Heels when they did an obvious Heel thing! Imagine that!
The Lucha Bros, Proud N Powerful, and Eddie Kingston Vs. The Acclaimed, 2.0, and Daniel Garcia – Ten Man Tag Match
Lucha Bros are accompanied to the ring by Alex Abrahantes
So if the Eight Man tag match wasn’t enough for you, we’re now up to TEN dudes in the ring for this one, and despite everyone involved being someone I like, I think this match ends up feeling overstuffed and under-baked. The Baby Faces have an overwhelming lead for the first half of this with the Lucha Bros and Proud N Powerful showing off some impressive moves and it just reminds me that they never did do the feud between them, did they? It’s frankly a match I’d like to see more than this one, but perhaps I’m being a bit hard. As I said, the work is very good and it’s not like the Heels don’t EVENTUALLY get a chance to shine, but it all feels too chaotic and built from individual spots instead of telling a complete storyline. It’s not until the end that something of a plot begins to emerge as everyone attacks everyone until it’s just Garcia and Kingston in the ring. Almost as soon as it’s a one-on-one bout, Garcia gets the Roll-Up and Kingston stays down for barely a three-count; one that’s so close that the crowd didn’t realize he lost until the music started to play. Naturally, the Heels gang up on Kingston and he ends up eating a Boom Box to the face from Anthony Bowens; all while his team is wiped out on the floor. I guess they exhausted themselves kicking as much butt as they did, but not to worry, Eddie! As soon as he takes that shot to the head, Jurassic Express’s music hits, and Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Christian Cage run in from behind and clean house. Couldn’t have come in just ten seconds earlier I suppose, but more important than Kingston’s skull is the prospect of a Jurassic Express/Lucha Bros match as the two have a stare-down in the middle of the ring while Kingston chases 2.0 and Garcia up the ramp as the episode comes to an end!
Perhaps the season is getting to me, but this didn’t really rise above the level of “good” for me. I’ve never been a fan of tag matches with more than six people, and this had two of them as well as an awkward Submissions match. Sure, the opener was great despite how many people were in the ring, but the main event kind of fizzled for me; especially with the out of nowhere finish on Kingston. I guess I don’t mind him losing to Garcia since that guy is a genuine up-and-coming star, but I’m not a big fan of Kingston coming off as an afterthought in the very last minute of the show. The next week of shows is probably gonna be even harder to find time for, but I will do my best to keep up with it! Who knows? Maybe Sammy and Cody going all out will be the inspiration I need to finally finish all this gift wrapping!