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!
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!!
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!
AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another week of AEW action and drama as the Winter is Coming special is only one week away! Last year we saw the title change hands on the Winter is Coming show, and this year we have Danielson and Hangman in the main event! Could there be another upset in the making? Well, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out, but we’ve got a lot more in store for that show that this episode needs to set up! Is this the perfect Dynamite to get everyone invested in the big show next week? Let’s find out!!
The episode starts on a rather odd note that somewhat encapsulates the entire show. MJF’s music hits and the hometown crowd is excited to see him… but then CM Punk comes out. I mean hey, CM Punk is great and all, and I’m sure the crowd wanted to see him, but he tricked them into thinking MJF was coming out, and this also means they don’t get to see him come out to Cult of Personality! For probably the first time since he got to AEW, CM Punk is getting booed by the Long Island crowd, and while he seems to be fine with it, going so far as to antagonize them and begging them to boo louder, it’s not a great start to a promo that is kind of all over the place. I still don’t know what this whole Britt Baker thing is and I don’t think the crowd gets it either, and then he starts talking about nineties basketball which is starting to wear on the crowds’ patience. Eventually, he throws down the gauntlet and even says he’s willing to face MJF tonight, but the guy never comes out and Punk goes to the back as Cult of Personality FINALLY plays. Not a great start to the show as we didn’t even get a brawl between Punk and one of MJF’s stooges, but I guess we were saving the guy for what comes next which is…
Dynamite Diamond Battle Royale
The last two in the ring will have a match on next week’s show for the Dynamite Diamond Ring
Since MJF is the hometown boy, he’s the only one who gets an entrance while everyone else is already in the ring like jobbers. He also gets a full entrance video with a narration done by a guy who sounds a lot like Barry Scott who used to do TNA promos. The guy starts listing off all of MJF’s high school accomplishments as he’s walking on a high school football field, which is funny because that’s what you expect sad losers in their forties to do. In any case, here’s who we’ve got for this match!
MJF, Wardlow, Lio Rush, Dante Martin, Ricky Starks, Will Hobbs, Matt Hardy, Frankie Kazarian, Jay Lethal, Matt Sydal, Lee Johnson, and Lee Moriarty. Also, Shawn Spears is outside the ring with an MJF branded folding chair.
Now the best way to do a Battle Royal is to not just focus on who’s going to come out on top but to seed future matches and expand on existing feuds. Sure, you can throw a few guys in there just to get tossed out like Lee Moriarty who felt the wrath of a rampaging Wardlow, but then you’ve got Team Taz in there with their newly added member Dante Martin. They’re working together to try and ensure that someone in Team Taz gets into the match (much like how Wardlow is protecting MJF), and they have to go through all people that Dante has burned along the way. The first one out is Matt Sydal who gets tossed by Will Hobbs, and while I THINK that one was unintentional (it looked like he was trying to grip the middle rope to hold on, and the announcers don’t even acknowledge his elimination), it was bound to happen at some point and it’s always good to make Hobbs look strong! We’ve got Matt Hardy who gets some brass knuckles from The Bunny that he uses to bash Jay Lethal and toss him out, but then he gets eliminated by Dante Martin right after; thinning the herd further of non-Team Taz members. Wardlow is not liking this and so he goes to confront Will Hobbs where they trade shoulder tackles for a bit until Wardlow gets the upper hand and sends Hobbs to the apron. Wardlow can’t finish him off, but then Lio Rush comes in with a Running Senton looking thing and eliminates Hobbs. Things settle down for a bit as we go to commercial with the only thing of note being MJF who takes cheap shots on Dante before running back to the corner protected by Wardlow. I bring this up because it’s another example of the show not quite gelling with the crowd as THEY are popping for it but the announcers spend half the match chiding MJF like a bunch of pearl-clutching moralizers. I guess you can’t let the storylines and tone be entirely dictated by how one specific crowd is reacting, but the commentary just had me rolling my eyes throughout. Things start to pick back up when Lio goes after MJF but faces the wrath of Wardlow instead. With a well-timed Drop Kick from Dante Martin, Wardlow is on the ropes and Lio along with Lee Johnson try to throw him over. Seeing an opportunity, MJF lifts ALL THREE of them over the ropes; eliminating Rush and Johnson but also taking out his bodyguard. Oh, and Kazarian charges after MJF only to go sailing over the ropes. Thanks for coming, buddy! MJF’s feeling pretty good about himself having just eliminated four guys… but then he realizes he’s all alone in the ring with Ricky Starks and Dante Martin. The two members of Team Taz approach MJF with the utmost of menace… AND THEN DANTE DUMPS RICKY STARKS! That’s right! Dante has betrayed Team Taz in some sort of long con to get this match against MJF at next week’s show; something that MJF finds quite amusing as he raises Dante’s hand before walking out. That’s when Ricky starts to beat up on Dante and MJF takes a moment to consider helping the little punk. He hems and haws before finally rushing to the ring to confront Ricky… and then starts to beat up Dante because MJF is a jerk and you better not forget it! The only one to come down and make the save for Dante is CM Punk who chases off MJF and confronts Ricky. Dante gets up and lands a Drop Kick that sends Ricky right into CM Punk for a GTS which knocks Ricky out cold and surely sends a chill down MJF’s spine! I want to be a little bit annoyed by the commentary team and guys like Kazarian and Jay Lethal were brought in to do absolutely nothing, but the good parts of the Battle Royale were REALLY good, and the ending was a fantastic swerve that was perhaps the best ending for this! I would have liked to see Dante have at least one match under the Team Taz banner, but this will no doubt lead to some serious fallout in the next few weeks and I can’t wait to see it!
AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
It’s the last Dynamite before Full Gear and AEW’s last chance to sell to us on their main show! We of course have Rampage the night before, but with two hours of TV time, this is the show that will get the most done and tie up the most loose-ends! Is it a satisfying Go Home show to give Full Gear the hype it needs, or are we just fumbling our way through this until we get to the other side and can start fresh? Let’s find out!!
Bryan Danielson Vs. Rocky Romero
Romero is accompanied to the ring by Best Friends and Orange Cassidy
Before we get into any of this, I want it to be clear that I’ve never seen a Rocky Romero fight and I have no idea what Chaos is; nor do I fully understand what Orange Cassidy’s role in it is. I’m glad that AEW is working well with a bunch of companies and that we get Forbidden Door matches like this every once in a while, but I’m a guy who covers this show pretty consistently and even I felt a bit out of the loop on this. Perhaps I’m overstating the case, but AEW already has a problem with their YouTube shows intermingling with Dynamite and Rampage, and adding New Japan stuff to that mix isn’t the best idea unless they REALLY take the time to go into it. In any case, this is pretty much just a warm-up match for Danielson to get ready for his fight against Miro at the PPV, and unlike the Omega match that opened on the last Dynamite, I think this did a solid job of building him up and getting fans excited to see what happens on the big show. For the most part, it’s a submission battle as both go back and forth trying to get some leverage with Romero focusing almost exclusively on the arm. He proves to be a wily competitor as Danielson has some big moves to show off and gets some serious damage in, but there’s always the threat that Romero will grab the arm out of nowhere and try to break it such as when Danielson lands an Elbow Drop on the dude’s leg and ends up having to scramble his way to the ropes as Rocky locks in the Cross Arm Breaker. At one point Danielson is tossed through the ropes and ends up face to face with Cassidy who puts his hands in his pockets; effectively distracting Danielson as Romero charges from the ring and lands a Suicide Dive. This gives Rocky an opening for a few good moves and to crush Danielson’s arm some more, but they both end up pretty worn down by German Suplexes, Hurricanrana, and a whole lot of punches and kicks in the middle of the ring. Eventually, the two start trading submissions and Romero gets the full extension of the Cross Arm Breaker, but he doesn’t get him to tap as Danielson forces Romero to break up his hold by pinning his shoulders and getting a two-count. Danielson is still in this manages to stop a Sliced Bread attempt in its tracks which leaves Rocky on the ground, and he eats a bunch of stomps from Danielson who goes in for the LaBelle Lock. He can’t quite get the move on as Romero is fighting back, but he swiftly switches tactics and locks in the Tequila Sunrise which is finally enough to get Romero to tap out. It was an old-school bout between two guys who know how to work that kind of match, and while it was perhaps a BIT too competitive for Danielson who’s going into a big match on the PPV; it still worked better than the Omega match. Romero is a guest of the show and guests are usually portrayed to be VERY tough, and the stakes in Danielson’s match aren’t as high as in Omega’s. Frankly, I’m about as interested in seeing Danielson go up against Cassidy as I would Omega or Hangman Adam Page, so I think I might be pulling just a LITTLE bit more for Miro to win the tournament at Full Gear!