Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (01-21-2022)

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

We’re back with more Rampage action, and this is the final episode of AEW before the Beach Break event!  The event that already happened because I’m still catchup up on things, so let’s not waste any more time and get right to it!

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Jon Moxley Vs. Ethan Page

Page is accompanied to the ring by Scorpio Sky

This is Moxley’s first match since returning on Wednesday’s show, and Ethan Page is a good opponent for him.  The two share similar brutish styles, but ALL EGO Ethan Page definitely allows for a lot of flair and spectacle in a way that Moxley is diametrically opposed to.  Page will toss Moxley around and put on a goofy grin while doing it, while Moxley will just grab the dude’s face and start biting it.  That said, for all of Moxley’s ferocity he does fall a bit short when it comes to strategy here as Page tries to work the knee throughout the match, and the commercial break starts when Moxley charges at him and he dodges so that Moxley goes face-first into the post and tumbles down to the floor.  I’ll give him credit for being a tough dude, but you can do that WHILE ALSO not hurting yourself as much as you hurt your opponent.  Things eventually settle into a back and forth routine as Moxley starts to focus and hits some solid moves, but he can’t quite nail the Paradigm Shift and ends up eating big moves from Page whenever he tries it.  A Brain Buster followed by a Single Leg Crab looks to move things in Page’s favor, but a Low Bridge and a Suicide Dive from Moxley keep him from taking over entirely.  Page hits back with an Avalanche Powerslam from the middle rope and goes to make the pin, but Moxley catches him and hits a series of elbows and knees right to Page’s face.  With Page reeling from this assault, Moxley locks in the Bulldog Choke which knocks out Page and gives Moxley the win.  But that’s not all!  On his way out of the arena, Moxley runs into none other than Bryan Danielson who gives him a sideways glance before stepping out of his way!  I’m sure that match is going to blow everyone away whenever they get around to it, but this was a fun and perfectly satisfying way to bring Moxley back into the fold.  Despite bringing back one of AEW’s biggest starts, it wasn’t bigger or longer than it needed to be; a lesson that they could stand to take to heart a little more often.

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Trent Beretta Vs. Nick Jackson

Trent is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy While Nick is accompanied to the ring by Matt Jackson and Brandon Cutler

Where the opener knew how to keep from overstaying its welcome, I feel like this one pushed it a little too far and went on a bit too long.  Then again, there’s nearly a decade worth of history here as Trent and the Young Bucks had a lot of matches over at New Japan, which AEW helpful shows us a bit of footage from, so for a certain segment of the audience who was into all this stuff before AEW existed, this is probably a much more involving and match.  For me, I just felt the length a bit towards the end as The Bucks can sometimes overemphasize spots and big moves over pacing and storytelling.  When they get the latter right they are downright masters, such as the title match they had with the Lucha Bros, but here I think they needed some added angle to make it a classic match instead of a pretty good one.  The match is your typical Big Man Vs High Flyer affair with Trent’s size and strength allowing him to power through Nick’s offense, but Nick’s athleticism and creativity make it hard for Trent to really get any momentum.  He manages to hold his own but it’s not until an attempted Senton from Nick (Trent gets his knees up) that he gets a proper advantage.  A Big Lariat, a German Suplex, and a Running Knee only manage to get him a two count, but he’s far from over as he hits a Spear on Nick Jackson outside the ring and throws him back in to hit a Back Drop Driver followed by a Swinging DDT.  It’s not until Nick puts the ref between him and Trent that he gets a reprieve from the butt whopping, and the two start trading big moves back and forth.  Trent gets a Half and Half Suplex and a Pile Driver while Nick gets a Canadian Destroyer and a 450 splash; clearly putting this match in Nick’s favor as Trent is looking more exhausted than him.  Except it’s a swerve!  Nick goes for a Superkick and Trent dodges it and hits a Strong Zero to get the pin and win the match!  That was actually a pretty unexpected ending given how often the Bucks are protected, but Trent was definitely due for a win given how many losses he’s had since coming back from injury.  Even if this opening salvo felt a bit drawn out, I’m definitely excited to see where this feud goes and can only imagine the tag matches that will ensue!

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Hook Vs. Serpentico

Serpentico has this thing during his entrance where he shoots streamers out of his fingertips which I always found utterly delightful, but is a bit of a mess to clean up.  I’m guessing that’s why he usually the first entrance so he can wrap it all up before the other guy gets there, and they end up making that storyline as Serpentico does his finger-streamer thing after Hook is already in the ring and proceeds to get his butt kicked while all this paper is still attached to him.  The ref just calls for the bell despite Serpentico clearly in no condition to fight as he looks like he just escaped a giant spider web, and it only takes a minute or two of unholy beatings before Hook locks in the Redrum and forces Serpentico to tap.  QT Marshall then comes out as the voice of reason and tells Hook he’s a punk for attacking a guy before the bell rings, which… yeah, absolutely.  That was a total coward move there, buddy.  Unfazed by this truth bomb, however, Hook just picks up QT and tosses him onto the ramp.  I don’t like that the ref was unconcerned that Serpentico was clearly being blindsided and I’m a little bit resentful that QT is the one they sent out to call Hook on his nonsense.  I would have had someone with an ounce of legitimacy call him out for his unsportsmanlike conduct, like perhaps Paul Wight, Mark Henry, or even Christian Cage, and they could have built a program around Hook being afraid to take on a real challenge.  Instead, they send out QT to get stooged once again, and while Hook is still a fun guy to watch, I feel like we missed a pretty big opportunity here.

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Jade Cargill Vs. Anna Jay – TBS Title Match

Cargill is accompanied to the ring by Mark Sterling while Jay is accompanied by John Silver

I’m probably more forgiving than a lot of people when it comes to Jade Cargill, but even I know that it’s not going to be easy for someone with her experience level to make this a memorable title run.  Even with all the gifts she has and the talent she’s shown, the expectations when it comes to holding a belt are not to be taken on lightly, and an underwhelming run at the start of the TBS title could knock it permanently down to Mid Card status.  Thankfully she seems to be off to a decent start with the help of Anna Jay as they put on a decent title defense.  Cargill’s size is her greatest asset and she uses it to bully Anna throughout the match, but Jade gives her plenty of opportunities to strike back with a vengeance.  There’s one point in the match where she takes the time to start comparing arm muscles with John Silver, and she does it for so long that Anna Jay has enough time to recover and build up a head of steam by running around the ring until she smashes Cargill in the face with a forearm!  Anna presses the offensive with a choke from the apron that Jade breaks up with a Guillotine, but the move definitely had an effect on her as Anna lays in a flurry of attacks in the corner and ends with a Flatliner that sends Jade to the mat.  Sterling tries to get up on the apron to distract Anna Jay, but John Silver hits him with a Suplex, and Anna manages to get a two count with a Backslide.  Jade manages to shake all this off however and hits a Pump Kick that sends Anna reeling.  Cargill sets up for the Jaded, but Anna rolls out and locks in the Queen Slayer submission which unfortunately doesn’t do as advertised as Jade powers through it and stands up despite Anna hanging off her back.  The two fight back and forth with Anna continuing to try the Queen Slayer to knock her out, but Jade eventually lands a One Arm Powerbomb and she finally gets the Jaded to get the pin and retain the title.  Not a bad showing from either one of them with Jade continuing to look like an unstoppable force, and the episode comes to an end with her and Mark Sterling celebrating their victory in the middle of the ring.

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Usually, the Rampage show is the more action-packed and exciting of the week, but the strange volatility between great action and baffling storylines in the previous Dynamite ends up giving it a bit of an edge over this which feels like the much safer show.  The action was solid from all involved, but nothing was as engaging for me as the Mixed Tag Match.  Conversely, despite the Hook angle being kind of frustrating, it’s still better than what they did with Shawn Spears, The Varsity Blondes, and Frankie Kazarian.  I’m sure it’ll be back to normal by next week with Dynamite being the normal show and Rampage being the wild one, but it’s kind of interesting to see that usual formula reversed for once.

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