The first AEW Rampage of 2022 featured a tag team No Holds Barred main event match.
It’s Friday and you know what that means. The commentary team was Excalibur, Taz, FTW Champion Ricky Starks and the yeller Chris Jericho was back.
Adam Cole entered with a 6-0 singles record to be the top-ranked singles wrestler in AEW. Tony Khan does weekly tweets defending his booking of Cole because he has booked him to lose four tag team matches, so Tony does tweets to make people forget that. Cole’s overall record is 10-4 in AEW. Jake Atlas was making his AEW TV debut after winning a Youtube match and then getting signed after that.
Analysis: Both guys were in NXT last year and several years before that. Now they are in AEW after Atlas was released by WWE while Cole left WWE as a free agent. I like Jake. WWE should have kept him.
Adam Cole vs. Jake Atlas
Atlas with a side headlock, Cole put his legs around Jake’s head and Atlas showed off his athleticism to get out of it. Cole held onto the ropes to avoid a dropkick. They each avoided kicks, then teased superkicks and the fans cheered each guy not connecting on moves. Atlas avoided a dropkick followed by Jake hitting a dropkick on his own. Atlas worked over Cole with punches, then a jumping kick and when Atlas was on the middle rope, Cole sent him over the top to the floor. Cole sent Atlas into the ring post. Back in the ring, Atlas hit an elbow to the face, then he went for a move off the middle rope and Cole hit a backstabber. They went to a 90-second picture in picture break.
Atlas hit a running hurricanrana, then Atlas hit a dropkick between the ropes to the floor. Atlas hit a suicide dive on the floor. Atlas followed up with a springboard shotgun dropkick for two. Cole with a pump kick and the Ushigoroshi slam off the shoulders onto the knee for a two count. Cole with a kick, no sell by Atlas leading to his own kick and an Atlas clothesline. Cole with a brainbuster where he drove Jake’s head into the knee. Atlas back up, with a high running boot to the face and then a Blue Thunder Bomb style slam for a two count. Atlas went for a springboard attack, but Cole hit him with a superkick and Atlas grabbed his left knee. The referee checked on Atlas, who looked to be legit hurt. Cole tried for the Panama Sunrise move off the ropes, but Atlas couldn’t move, so Cole applied a light kneebar and Atlas tapped out after ten minutes.
Winner by submission: Adam Cole
Analysis: ***1/4 The bigger name gets the win in a competitive match that was pretty good as expected by talented guys like Cole and Atlas. The knee injury by Atlas hurt the end a bit, but they managed to get finish off the match fine. Some of the offense from Atlas shows that he is a talented guy with a mix of power, technical and aerial moves. Cole protected his opponent on the finish by applying a very light kneebar submission. You could he didn’t apply much pressure at all since Atlas was legit hurt.
Jake Atlas tweeted that his knee is going to be fine. It looks like he escaped a major injury. That’s great.
— 𝗝𝗔𝗞𝗘 𝗔𝗧𝗟𝗔𝗦 (@JakeAtlasReal) January 8, 2022
Adam Cole was joined in the ring by Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish. Cole told Atlas that in about one minute, he has earned another ass whipping. Orange Cassidy made his entrance with a chain while he was joined by Chuck Taylor and Wheeler Yuta. The heels left the ring, so the faces stayed in the ring and didn’t follow because that’s pro wrestling.
Excalibur did a voiceover commentary saying that Cody Rhodes wasn’t medically cleared to compete for Battle of the Belts on Saturday, so Dustin Rhodes will now face Sammy Guevara for the Interim TNT Championship.
A promo aired from Dustin Rhodes talking about how his brother Cody Rhodes can’t compete due to medical protocol. Dustin said opportunity has knocked for him. Sammy Guevara said he doesn’t give a shit or whether it’s an interim title because he’s walking out with gold.
Analysis: I don’t know why they need to have an interim TNT Title. Is it just because it’s called Battle of the Belts on Saturday? If Cody is missing due to COVID then he likely has it or is a close contact, so he might miss only a week of TV. Do they really need an interim champion when a guy misses only one week? I find that to be a strange decision.
They showed some highlights from Dynamite on Wednesday.
Andrade El Idolo and Jose were interviewed by Tony Schiavone. Andrade asked why does this little boy Darby Allin work for Sting? Tony said they are just friends. Andrade said he needs a new assistant, so he wanted “Mr. Sting” to name his price for the little kid (Darby).
The fans popped for Hook making his entrance with a 2-0 record. Aaron Solo has a record of 13-25 so I think the result is pretty obvious here.
Hook vs. Aaron Solo (w/QT Marshall)
Jericho said he loved everything about Hook and that “Hook-a-mania is running wild.” Hook wit ha back body drop. Hook tripped up Solo followed by a half nelson submission attempt, but Solo got to the bottom rope. Hook with punches, then a headbutt, Marshall grabbed Hook’s foot and Solo got in some cheap shot punches. Hook came back with a legsweep into a submission pulling back on the arm, but Solo countered out of it. Hook with a gutwrench suplex. Solo with a jawbreaker, Hook captured Solo and hit a Tazplex across the ring. Hook with forearms to the face followed by the Redrum submission. It went about three minutes.
Winner by submission: Hook
Analysis: *1/2 A dominant win by Hook as usual. The fans love the guy.
Post match, Marshall got his Hook’s face to yell at him. Hook tried to leave, but Marshall grabbed him. Marshall went for a clothesline, Hook ducked and hit a head/arm suplex. The yeller Jericho was yelling about Hook being undefeated in AEW so far.
Ricky Starks did a promo on commentary saying he will defend his FTW Championship at Battle of the Belts on Saturday night against Matt Sydal. Starks said he’s sending a message to Dante Martin, who faced Sydal several times last year.
Analysis: Ricky’s last singles match on TV was Rampage in early October, so three months between televised title defenses. The FTW Title is not booked well at all.
There was a promo between The Bunny/Penelope Ford and Tay Conti/Anna Jay commenting on their tag team match last week.
Ruby Soho made her entrance with a 10-3 record. Riho entered as Ruby’s partner and she challenges Britt Baker at Battle of the Belts on Saturday night because she beat Britt in a non-title match over a month ago. Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D., the AEW Women’s Champion, made her entrance with Jamie Hayter and Rebel.
Dr. Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter vs. Riho & Ruby Soho
They did some weak fighting before the match with Ruby getting a knee on Hayter and then the bell rang. Riho and Ruby worked together for some tag teams including Riho sending Ruby shoulder-first into Hayter. Baker tagged in with some kicks on Ruby, who came back with a suplex and a kick. Riho tagged in, Ruby had Riho on her back and fell down onto Baker for a two count. Rebel caused a distraction, Baker with a knee and a suplex while Hayter snuck into the ring with a knee strike for two.
The match returned with Ruby hitting a Saito Suplex and Riho tagged in against Hayter. Riho with a dropkick, then Riho sent Hayter into the ropes and a 619 kick for a two count with Baker making a save. Riho did a move where she kicked off Baker and hit a DDT on Hayter for two. Riho up top, Baker shoved her (the referee does nothing about cheating or going into the ring), Baker in illegally with a forearm, Hayter with a backbreaker and Baker with a superkick along with Hayter hitting an STO trip for two with Riho making the save. Baker in illegally again, Hayter punched Baker when Riho moved and Riho got a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! with her body on top for the pinfall win after seven minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Riho & Ruby Soho
Analysis: **1/2 A decent tag team match here to give Riho momentum going into her title match. This followed a common AEW booking trend because any time Baker is in a tag match with Hayter, it’s usually going to lead to Hayter losing the match while Baker is protected.
Riho celebrated with Ruby Soho. Baker shoved Hayter because Britt was frustrated about the loss.
There was a backstage promo with Dan Lambert, Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page with Lambert complaining about Dustin Rhodes getting a TNT Title match now. Ethan said if logic applied then a top five wrestler like Scorpio Sky would be in the title match. Sky said he should be given the title immediately, he hasn’t been pinned in 221 days, he hasn’t lost a singles match in over 300 days and he can beat both guys on the same night if he has to. Ethan said that they will be watching very closely.
Analysis: What they said makes perfect sense because Sky is in the top five rankings that are supposed to matter while Dustin Rhodes is not. AEW doesn’t even know how to use their own rankings properly except when it fits a storyline. It’s weird.
AEW Battle of the Belts on Saturday (that’s tonight):
* Dustin Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara for the Interim TNT Championship.
* Britt Baker defends the AEW Women’s Championship vs. Riho.
* Ricky Starks defends the FTW Championship vs. Matt Sydal.
Analysis: Weak lineup. When I heard of Battle of the Belts I thought they’d have every title in AEW on the line over two hours. Nope. Not even close to that. Dynamite had more title matches and will end up as the much better show.
This Wednesday on AEW Dynamite:
* CM Punk vs. Wardlow.
* Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Dante Martin.
* Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb.
Mark Henry tried to conduct the main event interview. The 2.0 and Daniel Garcia guys were talking trash about Eddie Kingston, so Kingston, Santana and Ortiz left their interview area so they could go after their opponents. Mark said that the fight has already started, so it’s time for the main event.
No Holds Barred Match: Eddie Kingston, Santana & Ortiz vs. Daniel Garcia, Matt Lee & Jeff Parker
The match started during the break with Kingston whipping Garcia into the barricade. Kingston hit Garcia with a trash can to the head. Kingston stomped on a trash can on Garcia’s leg. Ortiz and Santana were fighting on the floor with the 2.0 guys. Parker hit a boot to the face of Santana and Ortiz hit a suplex on Lee. Parker sent Santana into the barricade. Lee sent Ortiz over the barricade. Santana/Ortiz with a double suplex on Parker while Kingston suplexed Garcia on a trash can. They went to a picture of picture break.
The show came back with about seven minutes left. Ortiz sent Santana towards Parker with Santana hitting a Cutter. Ortiz and Santana with a double flatliner on Lee. Garcia got a rollup on Ortiz, but Ortiz came back with a leg lariat. Kingston with an Exploder Suplex on Garcia and Santana jumped off the top with a Frog Splash for two. Lee with some powder to the face of Santana (Fuji dust!) and a DDT for two with Ortiz making the save. Lee with a DDT on Ortiz. Garcia brought the ring bell into the ring and Ortiz tried to save Kingston, but Garcia kicked him away. Garcia hit Kingston with the ring bell for just two. The trio of Garcia and 2.0 suplexed Kingston through a table. Ortiz with a trash can shot to the back of Lee and then Garcia hit Ortiz with a low blow. Santana got back into it with two chairs to Garcia, a chair to Parker’s back and Santana with a chair to the back of Lee a well. Garcia wit ha kick to Santana. Ortiz and Garcia exchanged strikes in the ring, Santana back in and a sitout facebuster. Parker saved Garcia, but then Santana and Ortiz each hit kicks followed by Santana hitting a discus lariat on Parker for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Eddie Kingston, Santana & Ortiz
Analysis: *** It was fine for a brawl. It was just above average for that kind of match. I don’t mind these kinds of matches in AEW since the regular tag team matches ignore rules so much, but maybe they can cut back a bit since the women had a similar tag last week. More nearfalls would have been nice although that one after Garcia hit Kingston with the ring bell was really good. No surprise that the faces won because the 2.0 guys usually lose their TV matches so that’s what we got here. Since Kingston didn’t beat Garcia, they might still be going to that as a singles match. I’d like to see Santana & Ortiz get a substantial push this year because they are tremendously underutilized right now.
There were still a couple of minutes left so Lee hit multiple low blows and Garcia got in some cheap kicks on the opponents while they were down. Garcia taped Kingston’s arm against the ropes. Chris Jericho threw down the headset and he ran down to the ring. When Jericho got into the ring, Garcia and 2.0 escaped because three guys are scared of a dude in his 50s. That’s what heels do. Kingston easily freed himself from the tape. The heels went up the ramp while Jericho was in the ring with the faces. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: That adds to what I mentioned earlier when I said it seems like they’re building to Kingston vs. Garcia as a singles match. It should be soon.
Three Stars of the Show
- Adam Cole
- Santana, Ortiz & Eddie Kingston
This Week: 6.75 out of 10
Last Week: 7.75
It was an average show this week. Some weeks they do three matches, but this week it was four. I liked the opener with Adam Cole having a great match as well while Jake Atlas impressed me. The fans continue to love Hook, so AEW should keep featuring him. The women’s tag was just average and then the main event was decent for a brawling style match although they didn’t use a lot of weapons. That was a bit of a surprise.
Battle of the Belts is tonight (Saturday), so the busy week continues for AEW.
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