AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
If I had a rough time trying to catch up with a show happening on Wednesday, I was for darn sure gonna take my time getting around to the episode that literally aired on Christmas Day. By their own choice, by the way! They moved the show to air on that day instead of their usual timeslot; perhaps so that the subtitle is that much more accurate. Still, while Rampage may have the harder to catch time slot this week, the shorter length and the snappier matches make it a bit more ideal to fit into a tough schedule where Dynamite feels like something you have to schedule around. Is this another fun way to spend a Saturday night, even if it’s perhaps the worst night of the year for it? Let’s find out!!
Jungle Boy Vs. Isiah Kassidy
Jungle Boy is accompanied to the ring by Luchasaurus and Christian Cage while Kassidy is accompanied to the ring by Hardy Family Office
Remember when Private Party were wearing slacks and collared shirts? Thankfully Kassidy is back in his original ring gear and it didn’t do anything to diminish the integrity of Hardy Family Office! Now if they could start winning some tag matches again, maybe we’ll have the Private Party that was one of the highlights of early AEW! Remember MJF talking about the pillars of this company? Yeah, Private Party used to be one of them but they’ve been stuck with HFO for so long that it feels like we’ve all kind of forgotten that. Thankfully this match does quite a bit to remind us of how good Kassidy is as he puts up a pretty good fight against Jungle Boy. With a little help from Quen and Hardy on the outside, Kassidy is able to maintain a solid lead for the first half and through the commercial break, but he’s far from idle in the match as he hits a Springboard Cutter on Jungle Boy that drops him from the apron to the floor and follows up with a spinning dive over the ropes. He also manages to reverse a Sunset Flip from Jungle Boy into a Drop Kick to his face which is the start of the heat during the commercial, but once we return it’s time for Jungle Boy to make his comeback. A series of Elbow Strikes give him some space so he can finally knock Kassidy to the ground with a big lariat, and he follows up with a Falcon Arrow for a two count. Kassidy gets a two count as well with a Poisonrana, but Jungle Boy turns things around quickly with a German into a bridge for another two count of his own. He makes sure to hold onto the waist lock and tries to go for another German, but Kassidy grabs the ropes to try and break the hold which turns out to be a bad idea as Jungle Boy instead dumps him over to the floor below before following up with a Suicide Dive. In a last-ditch effort to save his partner, Quen tries to grab Jungle Boy on his way back to the ring so Cage starts to beat his butt all the way to the back while Luchasaurus Choke Slams Jora Joel. Not sure why since he wasn’t actually doing anything, but I guess it was a diversionary tactic on HFO’s part as Hardy immediately grabs Luchasaurus and goes for the Twist of Fate. Luchasaurus is too strong however and shoves Matt Hardy into the charging Christian Cage who knocks the wind out of him with a spear! With the kerfuffle outside brought to an end, Jungle Boy goes for another Sunset Flip and Kassidy once again escapes. When he goes for another kick, however, Jungle Boy dodges and grabs the leg. Kassidy tries to scramble to the ropes, but it’s too late and Jungle Boy locks in the Snare Trap which forces Kassidy to tap. This was a pretty good opener! I like seeing Private Party as at least somewhat effective again, and honestly, I’d love to see them go up against The Lucha Bros for the title at some point!
We get another Miro Promo in the Phantom Zone where he starts throwing vague threats at whoever will listen while making angry faces at the camera. Like with the earlier incarnation of his Redeemer Gimmick, he’s managed to find a really good angle and puts on some great promos; I just question why he’s so cagey about showing up in matches! The PPV was weeks ago, and yet we haven’t seen Miro in the ring since then. Hopefully, this is a sign that we’ll see more of him in the near future, but only time will tell.
Hook Vs. Bear Bronson
Hook may still be fighting undercard guys, but at least this one is larger than Fuego! Bear manages to use his size to get a small lead early on, but Hook powers through it with lots of strikes and submissions that break Bronson down piece by piece. Out of desperation, Bronson starts jabbing at Hook’s eyes and manages to land a Pile Driver, but hook no-sells it and it’s played like Bear just saw the Undertake do his Deadman sit-up. A running lariat and a few suplexes from Hook leave Bronson as putty in his hands, and he starts hitting him with those big overhead strikes before locking in the Red Rum submission to win the match. This was a very good match for Hook, but what was more surprising is that it was an impressive showing from Bear Bronson. I’ve never liked Bear Country, but the guy proved to be a true worker as his technique looked solid and his selling for Hook was top-notch!
Kris Statlander Vs. Leyla Hirsch
Statlander is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy
As much as I like these two as wrestlers, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of it; especially since it’s the extra fourth match on a show that usually sticks to three. Turns out I should have had a little more faith in them because this turned out to be quite the match! Hirsch is a powerhouse, but so is Statlander who has the added benefit of her sheer size, so Statlander is able to power through Hirsch’s initial flurry of offense and even starts posing like she’s Jade Cargill! In response, Hirsch manages to drive her to the corner and uses the ropes to add some much-needed momentum to her kicks and strikes which finally gets her some momentum against her much larger opponent… until Statlander hits a Power Slam that knocks the wind out her, and she follows up with a Delayed Vertical Suplex to get a two count. Hirsch is in rough shape after that, but she still has her ace in the hole which is her amateur wrestling skills; all of which are impressive to see including one spot where she has Statlander’s arm in an Arm Bar while hanging over the ropes. The Arm Bar leaves Statlander stumbling and Hirsch manages to land a Knee Strike for a two count. Surprisingly though, for someone who has been pushed as a Baby Face, Hirsch straight up slaps Statlander in the face instead of pressing the offensive which proves to be a poor idea s it gives Statlander an opening as well as a reason to kick things into overdrive! A Roundhouse Kick and a Blue Thunder Bomb get her a two count, and while Hirsch is able to reverse an Electric Chair into a German, Statlander quickly follows that with a Back Elbow and a High Boot to knock her to the mat. Statlander then hits a Reverse Body Slam that she transitions into a Spider Crab submission, and Hirsch is forced to tap out which gives Statlander the win. As I said, this was a great match and is one of the best that I’ve seen from either of them! Hirsch looked better overall so I kind of wish that she won, but this does look to be the start of something as Hirsch not only did that slap during the match but then refuses to shake Statlander’s hand after it’s over.
Sammy Guevara Vs. Cody Rhodes – TNT Title Match
Cody is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson
It’s interesting that AEW Dynamite started with a Cody/Sammy match, and yet nothing really came about from it. As far as I can recall, they haven’t met in a match since then. It definitely seems like they are trying to make up for lost time as they waste no time kicking things into high gear; quite literally as Sammy hits a dropkick as soon as the match beings. The opening few minutes skew quite heavily in Sammy’s favor as he goes after Cody with an astonishing amount of gusto. Eventually, Cody is sent out of the ring and paces around the arena to collect himself while Sammy poses in the ring; all while the crowd chants Cody Sucks. It’s pretty clear which direction the crowd is going, but Cody is not about to give Sammy an easy victory as he gets back in the ring and they go back and forth for a while; lots of good moves, but no real momentum either way. Sammy starts to get the lead again after tossing Cody out of the ring for a second time, but he gets a bit cocky and goes for a Shooting Star Press that Cody easily avoids. With Sammy vulnerable, he smashes his arm into the railing before throwing him back in the ring and locking in a Short Arm Scissors submission to keep the heat up during the commercial. After a Delayed Vertical Suplex that is sure to leave Sammy groggy, Cody goes up top for a Moonsault but ends up making the same mistake as Sammy did; crashing and burning on the mat as Sammy quickly got out of the way. It’s once again Sammy’s turn to control the match as he hits a bunch of big moves; including a Cross Rhodes on Cody that he couldn’t capitalize on as Cody rolled out of the ring before Sammy could go for a pin. Not deterred, Sammy hits a Double Springboard 450 Splash to Cody on the floor. He then goes for a Hurricanrana, but Cody catches him and throws him into the crowd which is the start of Cody regaining control once again. He tosses him back in the ring and hits the Disaster Kick. It takes a bit of doing on Cody’s part but he finally lands a Cross Rhodes of his own that only gets a two count, but leaves Sammy exhausted. It’s anyone’s match at this point and Cody is ready to end it, so he puts Sammy on the top turnbuckle only for him to escape. Cody tries to tackle him from the middle rope, but Sammy catches him on his shoulders and hits the GTH for a one… two… NOPE! Cody kicks out! Not about to give up this momentum, Sammy goes up for the 630 Splash, and once again the high-flying moves turn out to be a bad idea as Cody gets the knees up! Cody hits not one but TWO Cross Rhodes on the already exhausted Guevara, and caps it off with a Tiger Driver 98! He goes for the pin, he gets a one… a two… AND A THREE! Cody gets the pin to win the match and regain the title to a very mixed reaction from the crowd! The boos are loud, but there are definitely cheers in there as well, and the episode comes to an end as the Nightmare Family comes out to celebrate with Cody!
I was rather nonplussed by the Wednesday show, but once again I come around after seeing Rampage which was leaner, meaner, and had some great wrestling throughout! Perhaps we’ve been overloaded with the top-card stuff which is starting to feel repetitive (Bucks matches, Hangman speeches, and Danielson dad jokes), so an episode that focuses more on the mid-card feels refreshing and gives us some interesting inroads to future storylines; not the least of which is the surprise ending to the TNT Title match! I’m sure I’m not the only one who was surprised that Sammy’s run was as short as it was, but I don’t think it hurts him in any way; rather having him chase Cody and the TNT belt sounds like a great storyline to me! Hopefully, they go all-in on the decisions made in this episode and that Dynamite can focus on these new storylines, especially since the next episode is kind of a holding pattern as we wait for Hangman/Danielson part 2, but even if they don’t get to it right away, it’s great that Rampage is doing so much to push to the undercard and is quickly becoming my favorite of the two shows!