Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (12-31-2021) – New Year’s Smash

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

Yes, we are still WOEFULLY behind here, but I’ll catch up on everything soon enough!  Where the last Dynamite (at least the one I saw) was the final one on TNT, Rampage isn’t going anywhere is just gonna keep trucking along on that network to give us quick and easy wrestling action to balance out the more plot-heavy shenanigans on Dynamite!  Is this another week of Rampage picking up the slack from Dynamite, or will we start to see the cracks in their formula, and perhaps they should try to shake things up as well?  Let’s find out!!

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Darby Allin Vs. Anthony Bowens

Allin is accompanied to the ring by Sting while Bowens is accompanied by Max Caster

Caster I can take or leave, but I really like Anthony Bowens and I kind of wish they’d give him a bigger push.  Now obviously AEW is pretty tightly packed so not everyone gets a real shot at the spotlight, but Bowens has got something special and I’d like to see him become a powerhouse; not unlike Wardlow, Hobbs, and Brian Cage.  Tonight is not his night to win since he’s up against Darby, but he does put on a decent performance here.  Darby gets an early lead that leaves Bowens frustrated and anxious, but that’s why Heels have guys on the outside to run distractions as Max Caster eats a punch from Darby which gives Bowens JUST enough time to land a punch of his own and toss Darby into the ring post.  This starts the heat segment which comes to an end when Darby escapes a Vertical Suplex, but the fight is much more even as Bowens lands a few moves on Darby that are mostly there to show off how much damage Darby is willing to inflict on himself.  Caster tries to run a few more distractions, but Sting finally gets up off his butt and takes care of him which allows Darby to land a Code Red followed by a Suicide Dive.  He throws Bowens back into the ring, hits the Coffin Drop, and gets the pin to win the match.  It would have been a fine match on its own, but then they do a post-match angle which kind of sours it a bit for me.  Andrade El Idolo’s music hits and he starts walking out.  He does nothing at all, but this is enough for Darby and Sting to gob at him for several seconds, so OF COURSE The Acclaimed sucker punch them and gang up on Darby!  It’s not like AEW doesn’t know how to book Baby Faces as the feud between Hangman Adam Page and Daniel Bryan has been pretty solid, but too often they rely on old tropes about foolish Baby Faces and it gets old pretty quickly.

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Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (12-10-2021)

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!!

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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!

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Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (11-12-2021)

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

We’re back with more Rampage action, and I can finally say that this is THE final show before the Full Gear PPV!  For weeks everything has been inching ever closer to the big event and no matter what happened there was always a LITTLE bit more time to line everything up.  The Dynamite Show did about as well a job of that as you could ask for, but even so, this is their last chance to tie up any loose ends that may still be dangling!  Does this last leg of the current story arc get us where we need to go, or are they looking towards the future and what happens after the big show?  Let’s find out!!

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Jungle Boy Vs. Bobby Fish

Jungle Boy’s new scraggly facial hair must be giving him a serious confidence boost because the bell rings and he drops Fish to the mat under a hellacious rainfall of fists!  He then pushes him to the corner and lands a bunch of forearms before trying some fancy moves on the ropes, but this is where his hubris gets the best of him as Fish YANKS him down and Jungle Boy tumbles his way to the floor!  This error on Jungle Boy’s part gives Fish the advantage for a good chunk of the match, and even when Jungle Boy tries his fancy moves and manages to land the Springboard Arm Drag, he can’t quite get out from under Bobby Fish’s assault; culminating in a brawl on the apron where Bobby drops down and kicks Jungle Boy’s legs out from under him so that he tumbles once again to the floor.  Fish stays in control for the commercial break, but Jungle Boy eventually manages to fight back with some strikes and a low Drop Kick that’s followed by a Lariat that drops Fish to the mat.  Not to be outdone, Fish straight-up football tackles Jungle Boy and pushes him clear across the ring into the corner, and follows that up with a Back Drop for a two count!  Still, Jungle Boy has some momentum again and things go back and forth with Jungle Boy getting a German Suplex into a bridge as well as a Roll-Up for near falls, while Fish gives him an Exploder into the ropes before working over the shoulder.  These kicks to the shoulder however end up being Fish’s undoing as Jungle Boy catches him mid-kick and transitions into the Snare Trap.  Fish does his best to keep him from locking it in, but after a few elbows to the head by Jungle Boy, he’s no longer able to fight back and passes out almost as soon as Jungle Boy fully locks in the move.  It’s not over yet however as Adam Cole runs down and attacks Jungle Boy with Fish getting back up to help in the assault.  Fish holds Jungle Boy in place while Cole gets some chairs, and they start threatening the con-chair-to when Christian Cage and Luchasaurus run down to make the save.  Adam Cole runs away but Fish is caught, and instead of running to save his buddy, Cole just stays on the ramp while Cage lands the Kill Switch on Fish.  It wasn’t the most exciting match from either guy, and the ending felt a bit rushed, but it was a solid match and a fun opener to the show.  The one thing I didn’t like is how Cole left Fish to get attacked at the end as I really want them to push this reformed Undisputed Era angle a bit longer before finding cracks in the façade, and something like this wouldn’t have happened for several weeks at least.  Besides, isn’t the ultimate goal to turn Cole Baby Face!?  Let him stick up for his friend; it wouldn’t have hurt the story!

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Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (10-15-2021)

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

My week-long vacation from all things wrestling has come to an end, and I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things!  Fortunately, they’re starting us off easy with a straightforward episode of Rampage followed by a Saturday Night Dynamite which should be a lot of fun!  Is this the perfect appetizer before digging back into AEW wrestling goodness, or are they just filling us up with bread?  Let’s find out!!

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CM Punk Vs. Matt Sydal

The only story we got leading up to this is that Lio Rush SOMEHOW got Tony Khan to approve this match as I guess some sort of test or perhaps as a power play on Matt Sydal, but none of that plays into this and the whole thing comes off as more of an exhibition more than anything else; especially after the mutual respect they have for each other is established by the handshake that starts the match.  It’s a pretty straightforward technical wrestling match since there aren’t that many high spots or flashy moves, but between the holds, tests of strengths, and submissions, they do throw in a few flips, twists, and impressive feats of coordination to spice things up.  Sydal gets the upper hand with some creative submissions and leaping strikes, but Punk has the strength advantage and manages to land a few Body Slams to knock the wind out of him.  The crowd then starts demanding a third one and Punk goes for it, but Sydal reverses into an Arm Drag followed by a Sliding Kick to turn things in his favor.  He flips over Punk and transitions from a Cross Face into some sort of Superman Pin that gets him a two count and he presses the advantage further with a bunch of leg kicks and a Back Arch on Punk’s knee which he continues to work over throughout the match.  All this damage they are doing to each other is not enough to put either away and it’s clear that someone’s either gonna have to land a finisher or a REALLY painful move to bring this to an end.  Punk does manage to land that third Body Slam on Sydal which he does on the apron and he throws Sydal back into the ring to land a Slingshot Senton, but even this isn’t enough and only gets a two count for Punk.  Intent on getting the GTS but not sure that Sydal is properly softened up for it, he instead hangs him in the Tree of Woe to land a few kicks.  However, the big Drop Kick (which is pretty much the only thing you can do with a Tree of Woe) is avoided by Sydal and his AMAZING ab muscles, and he manages to pull himself up onto the turnbuckle.  The two of them trade blows up there for a bit before landing simultaneous punches that send them both tumbling off the apron and to the floor.  If that wasn’t enough to make Punk start questioning his choices in life, Sydal continuing to work the knee over with a few more submissions might seal the deal, but he manages to escape with an Anaconda Vice that is broken up when Sydal makes it to the ropes.  Punk wants to put this thing away before Sydal can cause any more damage so he goes for the Pepsi Twist AND the GTS only for Sydal to dodge both of them and land a big kick to the head.  With Punk reeling from that, Sydal finally manages to land his finisher the Lightening Spiral and goes for the pin… BUT PUNK KICKS OUT!  The one thing both guys were going for was not enough to put Punk away and Sydal now has to get desperate if he wants to win the match.  He goes to the top rope but Punk rolls away, so instead he jumps at him to pull him down for the Crucifix pin.  Probably not the best move to go for however as Punk manages to catch him and he’s in JUST the right position for the GTS which Punk lands and gets the pin to win the match.  It was pretty good for what it was.  Perhaps a little bit plain by AEW standards, but a perfectly fine way to open the show and I’m glad that Punk isn’t trying to put on five star matches week in and week out.  They’re already gonna have enough trouble keeping Danielson from doing that and risk burning himself out, so they don’t need Punk doing it too!

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Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-18-2021) – Friday Night Dynamite

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

We’re back with the final episode of Friday Night Dynamite as they have one more show on Saturday before returning to their usual Wednesday night timeslot.  It’s been an interesting few weeks to say the least with some great action but also one of the worst episodes they’ve had in some time.  Can they finish their time in this new timeslot with a bang, or are they just not gonna be able to get their groove back until they return to their familiar night?  Let’s find out!!

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Jake Hager Vs. Wardlow – Mixed Martial Arts Match

Considering that they have to set up the octagon and that I HIGHLY doubt a match like this would work as a main event, it makes sense that they’d do the MMA match right off the bat.  Personally, I’m not much of a fan of this kind of fighting.  Sure there are some good matches out there if you search YouTube for a bit, but I am not going to be able to judge this based on any legitimate mixed martial arts merits and only on whether I found it entertaining in some way.  That said, even someone as inexperienced as me can tell this is nowhere close to a shoot match considering they don’t have judges which means it has to end with one person beating the other.  Also they didn’t bother hiring an MMA ref and just have Aubrey out there.  I mean I GUESS she could be trained as an MMA ref, but I’ve certainly never heard of her doing that and the lack of known MMA professionals involved in this outside of Hager just makes it seem like a big game which I’m sure will annoy the MMA fans before the match even starts.  Once it DOES start… I don’t know; I guess it was alright.  If nothing else, I think they managed to find a decent balance between an actual fight and WRESTLING THEATER as it doesn’t feel TOO absurd as an MMA match, but it also feels like a highlight reel.  It starts off small with the two being extremely defensive and throwing out the occasional jab, but eventually Hager manages to take Wardlow down for a few shots which he doesn’t sell all that much.  In fact, by the end of the round Wardlow’s power completely overtakes Hager and spends the last two minutes punching him on the ground or against the wall.  Second match continues where the first left off with Wardlow maintaining an advantage, but Hager gets into the groove of things and his MMA training proves to be more than Wardlow can overcome and he eventually passes out from a Triangle Choke.  Of course there’s some brawling afterwards as Shawn Spears goes after Hager and MJF comes out of nowhere to attack Dean Malenko who ALSO came out of nowhere, but then Sammy comes out to chase everyone away and to ensure that this feud will be continuing for the indefinite future.  I couldn’t possibly tell you if this was a GOOD MMA match, but it was at least brisk enough that I never got bored in it.  Hopefully this does whatever it needed to for AEW, though I wouldn’t be too heartbroken if they don’t do this kind of match again.

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