Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (01-14-2022)

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

Another week, another episode of Rampage to put the cherry on top of the Dynamite Sundae!  We’re still a little bit behind here, but that just means more AEW for me to watch!  Let’s get started!!

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Trent Beretta Vs. Adam Cole

Trent is accompanied to the ring by Best Friends while Cole is accompanied by Young Bucks, Red Dragon, and Britt Baker

Oh hey!  It looks like Trent finally figured out what his last name is!  I guess we can put that mystery to bed, but now he has a new problem to solve which is how he’s gonna beat Adam Cole; especially given his impressive winning streak and the half dozen people around the ring backing him up?  First thing I noticed in this match is that Adam Cole is really good at what he does because you rarely, if ever, see him as a small guy despite being shorter and less cut than most of his peers.  His charm, swagger, and fantastic wrestling skills make it impossible to see him as anything but a top star, but this match did a great job of somehow making Cole the one fighting form underneath.  Similarly, Trent has a darn good physique and a decent amount of size to him, but it rarely comes off as intimidating given the goofy gimmick of the Best Friends.  Here though, Trent is a beast and he is tearing Cole apart in the opening minutes of this match.  Cole is no slouch and is keeping pace with the guy due to his skills as a wrestler and by focusing on Trent’s vulnerable neck, but for most of this match it plays out like it’s his to lose.  This is mostly due to Cole going for the Panama Sunrise after every brief hope spot he gets and each time it gets reversed by Trent; either by throwing Cole off which sends him soaring in the air, or by turning it into a devastating move like the Saito Suplex.  The most sustained offense that Cole manages to get is after landing a terrifying Avalanche Brain Buster on Trent as the action gets pretty even between the two after such a devastating move.  Lots of big moves back and forth with Trent hitting a Pile Drive on the Apron and Cole continuing to focus on the neck with a Back Breaker and a Canadian Destroyer, but Trent eventually manages to reverse another Panama Sunrise attempt into a Strong Zero which should be enough to win the match.  He goes for the pin, but Nick Jackson puts Cole’s boot on the ropes; an act that creates total chaos as everyone outside of the ring starts brawling.  Adam Cole hits a low blow on Trent while Ref Remsberg is distracted, and this allows Cole to hit the Boom Knee Strike to the back of Trent’s head and his very sore neck.  Cole goes for the cover and gets the pin to win the match to the consternation of Best Friends and the delight of all the factions on Cole’s side of the ring!  This is the kind of match that I love to see on Rampage; perhaps a little light on stakes, but more than enough fantastic back and forth action to get the crowd going and to pump us up for the rest of the show!  The only thing I was not a fan of was the putting so much emphasis on Trent’s recently repaired neck throughout the match.  I get that we all know about Trent’s surgery and that wrestling is supposed to only LOOK like it hurts, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am at Trent taking moves like that.  It’s like whenever Danielson takes a bunch of headshots; I know wrestling is staged, but that’s still not a reason to start tempting fate.

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Shawn Spears Vs. Andrew Everett

Spears is accompanied to the ring by Wardlow

Everett goes for a Springboard, but Spears catches him in midair and hits the C4.  That’s it.  That’s the whole match.  Fair enough I suppose since that’s how Wardlow’s matches have gone and they need to show Spears as at least somewhat threatening ahead of his match with CM Punk.  More to the point though, it’s an excuse for him to grab the mic after the match so that he can take shots at Punk and call himself the Best In The World to the dismay of the crowd.  The crowd then starts chanting for Wardlow so Spears takes a shot at him as well by calling him a one-move-wonder which is PROBABLY not the smartest thing to say when the dude is standing right behind you.  Spears is very good at his particular niche which is a punk bully; a guy who can in fact act like a shark in a small enough pond, but is just as likely to get eaten if he starts to believe his own hype.  That probably means he’s never gonna be a top-tier guy unless he finds a particularly compelling feud, but he fills his role very well and I thought this was a great segment.

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The Acclaimed have written a dis track about Sting and Darby Allin, and we get the privilege of watching their homemade music video where they got some dude to play Fake Sting (no, not Jeff Farmer) while Bowens is dressed up like Darby Allin.  It’s not a bad dis track, but there’s one bad attempt at a gay joke in the video that wasn’t needed.  I don’t know, with Caster’s track record I suppose we should be glad that they didn’t go even further with it, but I’m always expecting him to go off at any moment and make an ass of himself once again.

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Kris Statlander, Layla Hirsch, and Red Velvet Vs. Nyla Rose, Penelope Ford, and The Bunny

Rose is accompanied to the ring by Vickie Guerrero

Hirsch’s descent to the dark side continues as she and Statlander are forced to team up against these Heels.  Oh, and I guess Red Velvet is there too.  Hirsch starts the match by insisting on fighting alone while the Heels are working together, and Statlander tags herself in after Hirsch takes a significant beating from Rose.  Off to a great start for the Baby Faces, but Statlander does manage to hold her own against The Bunny and even hits a Power Slam for a two count.  The Baby Faces start working like a well-oiled machine as they tag in and out to hit tandem moves on The Bunny, but when it’s Hirsch’s turn to tag someone in, she balks which allows The Bunny to escape.  Velvet is forced to tag herself in to clean up this mess which turns out to be a bad idea as The Bunny has tagged who just barrels right over Velvet and the Heels get the heat during the commercial.  Velvet eventually makes her way to her corner by rolling away from a Senton, and gets the hot tag to Statlander who runs wild on the heels.  Ford eats a God Buster and a Spider Crab, but Vickie causes a distraction that allows The Bunny to kick Statlander in the face and break up the submission hold.  She then tags in and goes for Down The Rabbit Hole, but Statlander is not about to lose this momentum and escapes to hit the Blue Thunder Bomb.  With the end of the match in sight, Statlander sets up for something… but Hirsch tags herself in.  They argue about this which allows The Bunny to hit them from behind and then immediately roll up Hirsch for the three count.  Naturally, the Heels gloat all the way up the ramp while Hirsch and Statlander stare daggers into one another.  I really liked this match and the work was very solid from everyone involved, but I was not thrilled with the ending.  Having someone immediately get rolled up due to a minor bit of drama is completely played out and I wish that they’d do something else like a finishing move instead of just a roll-up pin whenever that happens.

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Before the commentators go over the card for the next Dynamite, Ricky Starks takes over and starts complaining about Jay Lethal’s interference in the Hobbs match; tactfully leaving out the fact that the interference was to stop Ricky from interfering.  Jay Lethal comes out and throws a few jabs at Ricky before challenging him for the FTW title which Ricky is all for but Taz seems a bit more hesitant.  I wouldn’t worry about it, Taz.  Even if Ricky loses, just send Hook out and he’ll win it back!

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Jurassic Express Vs. The Dark Order (John Silver & Alex Reynolds)

Jurassic Express is accompanied to the ring by Christian Cage while the Dark Order is accompanied by Evil Uno and Anna Jay

The Dark Order has been MIA since Danielson’s beat down, and absence has only made the heart grow fonder.  Reynolds and Silver are two of the most fun guys to watch in the ring, and putting them up against Jurassic Express turns out to be a perfect match because this was an AWESOME fight!  There’s a lot going on and all of it was good, so we won’t be doing a play-by-play, but there are a few things worth highlighting.  First off, they don’t save Luchasaurus until the end which has been an ongoing issue I’ve had with the team.  It makes the match way too predictable when you keep Luchasaurus from tagging in until at least two-thirds of the way through the match, so thankfully he gets in early and kicks some butt.  That said, he and Jungle Boy have this tandem moved they called a Stalling Senton and I’m not sure what the point of it is as Jungle Boy just jumps over Luchasaurus to hit Reynolds on the mat.  Speaking of whom, Reynolds is really coming into his own and while he may not have the instant and overwhelming charm of John Silver, he gets a lot of love from the crowd and looked great here; especially working together with Silver.  At one point, Silver gets a hot tag and runs wild on Jungle Boy before hitting Luchasaurus with a Senton from the apron.  Jungle Boy tries to take him out with a Suicide Dive, but Silver catches him and holds him in the air so Reynolds can hit one of his own!  It was a well-executed bit of teamwork and led to The Dark Order getting the heat during the commercial.  On the subject of teamwork, there is one spot that for me went a little bit TOO far into being goofy, but was impressive nonetheless.  Reynolds goes up on the turnbuckle and Jungle Boy meets him there.  Silver tries to rip Jungle Boy off, but then Luchasaurus comes to put in the Electric Chair and move him away so Jungle Boy can get a Superplex.  Silver does not take this lying down (or sitting up as the case may be), and bashes Luchasaurus over the head a few times until he stumbles forward and Silver can grab Jungle Boy by the waist.  With the three dudes locked together, Silver leans back for the German that sends Jungle Boy to the mat as well as Reynolds who was being held by him.  A little contrived, especially the Luchasaurus part of it, but it still got a huge pop from the crowd!  Everyone starts hitting moves and Silver and Reynolds hit that awesome combo on Jungle Boy (Elbow, Enziguri, Stunner, German, Jackknife) and get a two count so close that I’m not entirely sure Jungle Boy didn’t actually stay down for three!  It’s hard to tell if the ref was holding back at the last moment, but in any case, the match continued as Jungle Boy recovers and fights off Silver and Reynolds.  Jungle Boy hits the big lariat on Reynolds and hits a Hurricanrana on Silver that sends him flying from the apron onto Evil Uno, and Luchasaurus smashes Reynold’s face into the mat with some sort of leg move I’ve never seen before.  Jungle Boy hits the Canadian Destroyer for a two count, and so he and Luchasaurus hit the Thoracic Express to get the pin and win the match!  An excellent match to end the show on and the Jurassic Express stand tall in the ring as the episode comes to an end!

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The Dynamite before this was a pretty good episode, but Rampage still packs more bang for your buck as far as I’m concerned.  There wasn’t a single bad match on this show, and the main event was one of the best I’ve seen in the last few weeks!  Hopefully, this means that if Dynamite keeps getting better, then Rampage is gonna have to put on even MORE spectacular shows just to keep proving it’s the best!

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