Reviews

The John Report: AEW Rampage 08/13/21 Review

Welcome to the first-ever AEW Rampage review here on TJRWrestling. It’s the debut episode of AEW’s Friday night 10pm ET one-hour show. They were in the same building as Dynamite this past Wednesday. Rampage will be live some weeks, taped others and I think the one hour is going to fly by. Next week’s show will be live from Chicago’s United Center with some big expectations. We’ll get to that in the review.

This is AEW Rampage from Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

The AEW Rampage video aired to welcome us to the show. The pyro went off to the show. Excalibur delivered the line: “It’s Friday and you know what that means.” Excalibur was at the announce table with Mark Henry, Taz and Chris Jericho. Yes, there are four announcers. That’s too many people on commentary, but that’s AEW. They went over the lineup.

Christian Cage made his entrance for the opening match with a record of 8-0 in AEW so far. Cage challenges Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship at All Out on September 5 and he is also facing Omega on this show. Kenny Omega entered with a 20-2 AEW singles record. Omega brought out his titles including the AEW World Title, the two titles representing the Impact World Title and then the AAA Mega Championship as well. Omega had manager Don Callis with him as well. Impact Wrestling referee Brian Hebner held up both Impact World Titles to begin the match.

Analysis: It’s a matchup between two talented Canadians and as a Canadian myself, that’s pretty cool to see. I first saw Christian wrestling in person about 25 years ago before he was in WWE. There is a big age difference since Christian is 47 years old while Omega is 37 years old, but both of them are great athletes.

Impact Wrestling World Championship: Kenny Omega (w/Don Callis) vs. Christian Cage

It was a slow start to the match with Christian hitting a shoulder tackle. Christian “shot” Kenny with a finger and then gave him a middle finger. They did a sequence where they were going for their signature moves, but they both avoided them and Omega bailed to the floor to regroup with Callis. Omega with chops, then a running backsplash against the turnbuckle and Christian avoided a diving attack. Christian with a running dropkick while Omega was on the apron to send him into the barricade. Christian went up top, Callis was distracted a bit and Omega shoved Christian off the top to the floor. They went to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

Omega was in control with chops. Omega set up for a suplex, but Christian came back with a suplex of his own. Omega got back in control with some eye-gouging against the turnbuckle. Jericho didn’t care if it was illegal because Omega knows what he is doing. They battled on the turnbuckle with Christian hitting a sunset flip Powerbomb leading to both guys being out in the ring for a few moments. Christian punched Omega repeatedly against the turnbuckle, well past the ten count. Christian with an uppercut punch followed by an elbow smash off the middle turnbuckle. Omega had with a rolling senton and a moonsault off the middle rope for two. Christian countered a suplex into a reverse DDT for a two count. Christian charged, Omega got a knee up to block, Omega with a Powerbomb and a V-Trigger knee for two. Good nearfall. Christian held onto the ropes to block a move, Omega with a V-Trigger attempt, Christian moved and Omega hit the turnbuckle. Christian hit a Spear for a two count with the fans popping big for that nearfall. Omega with a Snapdragon Suplex and then he hit a second one in a row. Omega charged, Christian to the apron and Christian snapped the neck against the top rope. Christian went up top and hit a Frog Splash for a two count. That was close with the fans getting into it while Jericho was screaming on commentary. Callis went on the apron to distract the referee, so Omega did an uppercut low blow punch on Christian. The Young Bucks showed up to slide a chair to Omega. Omega teased a One Winged Angel on the chair, but Christian countered that and Christian hit the Killswitch onto the chair for the pinfall win! This went 16 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Christian Cage

Analysis: ***3/4 A very good match with a big finish for the title change. Omega rarely loses, so while I thought it was possible, I didn’t know how it was going to happen. The finish was creative since Omega tried to cheat, but Christian managed to avoid it and Christian ended up cheating (with the referee not looking) to get the win. The last ten minutes were excellent with a lot of nearfalls for both guys with moves that weren’t finishers, but the fans bought into them for sure. Christian kept finding ways to avoid the deadly One Winged Angel and then one final counter led to the Killswitch onto the chair to win. It’s a rare loss for Omega as well while Christian remains undefeated in singles matches in AEW.

Christian Cage celebrated with the two Impact World Titles. Post match, Christian was joined by his buddies Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus. They showed replays of the key spots in the match. Omega was selling on the floor. Impact Wrestling’s Executive Vice President Scott D’Amore went down to the ring to hug Christian as well. Christian celebrated some more leading to a break.

Analysis: It is a bit strange that an AEW wrestler beat another AEW wrestler for the Impact World Title on an AEW TV show, but that’s pro wrestling in 2021. To me, it makes Impact Wrestling look inferior although I’m sure they think they are benefitting from being on AEW TV. Maybe it would have been better for an Impact guy to beat Omega. I think in this case, the story will be that Christian has Kenny’s number and maybe people will think Christian will beat Kenny again at All Out, but I doubt that. Hopefully Hangman Page is the guy to beat Omega for the AEW World Title perhaps at Full Gear in November.

(Commercial)

Christian Cage was backstage with Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus and Orange Cassidy was standing in the background. Mark Henry was there to interview his buddy Christian. Christian said that he loves Mark and he’s so glad he’s there. Christian said that he’s going to start with the Impact World Title and he is one of the most talented guys he’s ever been in the ring with. Christian said that Kenny knows he can beat him and it’s going to happen at All Out. Mark told Christian he was so happy for him. That was it.

Analysis: Good promo from Christian Cage showing confidence.

There was a video about Fuego del Sol saying he belongs in All Elite Wrestling.

Fuego del Sol made his entrance. He’s a skinny masked wrestler that is not under AEW contract even though he appears on AEW shows. His AEW record is 1-39. Yes, that’s what it said on the screen. If Fuego wins then he gets the TNT Title and a full-time contract in AEW. Miro made his entrance as the dominant TNT Champion looking serious as usual. Miro is 12-0 in singles matches in AEW.

TNT Championship: Miro vs. Fuego del Sol

Fuego charged leading to a Tornado DDT, but the referee didn’t start the match yet. Fuego went up top and hit a Tornado DDT leading to Miro bumping to the floor. Miro got back before the ten count. Fuego hit another Tornado DDT while walking up against the turnbuckle leading to a two count. Fuego jumped off the top, Miro caught him on his shoulders and Miro hit a Samoan Drop that Jericho called a Bulgarian Drop. Miro hit the impressive superkick. Miro yelled “Game Over” and locked in his submission bridging back. Fuego tapped out quickly to give Miro the win after two minutes.

Winner by submission: Miro

Analysis: *3/4 It was very entertaining for a short match due to Fuego’s three DDTs that rocked Miro leading to a two count. Then it really was game over with Miro locking in the submission for the win. I don’t think anybody really thought that Fuego was going to win, but at least for a few moments it was possible and that’s what matters. It was fun to watch.

Post match, Miro got Fuego’s AEW contract and ripped it up. The fans booed that.

(Commercial)

Fuego del Sol was in the ring with Jericho saying he has “no chance” of being in AEW. That led to the Inner Circle’s Sammy Guevara showing up on the stage with AEW President/GM Tony Khan. Jericho noted that Sammy was Fuego’s best friend. I don’t watch Sammy’s weekly vlog, but I know enough to know that Fuego is on it a lot. Tony Khan handed Sammy a microphone and a contract, then hugged him and went to the back.

Sammy said that Fuego lost, but sometimes there’s victory in defeat. Sammy said that you’ve been coming here for the past year, you’re like 1-50, but who cares because these people love you. The fans cheered. Sammy said that a lot of guys back there love him too. Sammy said that Tony Khan thought it was right, since he is Sammy’s best friend, to say officially that Fuego del Sol is All Elite. Sammy handed his friend a contract and they hugged. Big pop for that.

Analysis: Congrats to Fuego del Sol for getting an AEW contract. Even though his record is now 1-40, apparently that’s good enough to get a contract on a show with a lot of wrestlers. It’s just weird how AEW is a company where wins/losses are supposed to matter a lot, yet a guy that’s 1-40 gets a contract? Sure. It definitely was the right call to have Sammy be the one to hand Fuego the contract. I’m not going to say I was emotionally invested in this that much, but on social media, I could tell a lot of people like Fuego, so good for him getting a contract.

This Wednesday on AEW Dynamite in Houston:

* AEW Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks defend their titles vs. Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus)

* Shawn Spears vs. Sammy Guevara with Sammy having some big announcement.

* MJF vs. Chris Jericho

* Darby Allin & Sting vs. 2.0 in Sting’s first match on TNT in 20 years.

Analysis: That’s a strong lineup for next week. I would love to see Jurassic Express win the Tag Team Titles, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

They showed Sting and Darby Allin hanging out in the rafters.

There was a video about next week’s Rampage at the United Center. They showed Darby Allin’s promo mentioning the “best in the world” and the video hyped up next week’s Rampage as “The First Dance” in Chicago.

Analysis: That’s the expected AEW debut of CM Punk. I’m probably going to review that one live.

There was a split-screen interview with AEW Women’s Champion Britt Baker and Red Velvet with Mark Henry conducting the interview. Red Velvet said that she will ruin Baker’s night again for the second time in her hometown. Baker said that this is her night, her main event and her city. Baker said she has a broken wrist, but she is still going to be the AEW Women’s Champion Dr. Britt Baker…DMD.

Analysis: A quick chat to set up the main event.

(Commercial)

Red Velvet made her entrance with a 15-2 record in AEW in 2021. Velvet was booed even though she’s a face because they are in Pittsburgh. Big ovation for Britt Baker wearing some familiar black, gold and white colors representing the home teams in her hometown of Pittsburgh. Britt is 12-1 in singles matches in 2021. There was a huge pop for Baker along with a pyro display. The fans had the Terrible Towels that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had for decades. Britt was joined by her friend Rebel, not Reba. Britt’s mom, dad and brother were at ringside.

AEW Women’s Championship: Dr. Britt Baker DMD (w/Rebel) vs. Red Velvet

They locked up going for armbars with the announcers pointing out that Baker had a black brace on her right wrist. Velvet did a takedown using the right arm, but then she didn’t stomp on the right arm. Baker charged, Velvet moved and Baker hit her right arm against the top turnbuckle. Velvet missed a punch, Baker hit a back elbow and Velvet hit an impressive leg lariat. Velvet hit a standing moonsault press for two. They went to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

The show returned with about six minutes left with Velvet hitting a neckbreaker. Velvet blocked a clothesline on the right arm and Velvet hit a double knee attack on the right arm. They showed alien girl Kris Statlander watching at ringside. I assume she’s against Baker at All Out. Baker hit a swinging neckbreaker. Baker did a sloppy takedown into a pin attempt, then she pulled back for the Lockjaw submission and Velvet countered for a two count. Velvet took off the brace on the right arm that Baker had on the right wrist. Jericho called it a cast, which is a stretch. Velvet knocked Rebel off the apron and Baker got a rollup for two. Rebel was ejected, Baker wasn’t happy about it and Velvet hit a superkick. Velvet went up top and hit a moonsault for a two count. The crowd barely reacted to that as a nearfall. Baker with a cradle suplex into the knee, which is an Adam Cole (her boyfriend) move. Baker with a Curb Stomp for a two count. Velvet got a takedown into her own version of the Lockjaw submission, but Baker got out of it. Baker went for the Lockjaw submission, Velvet got out of it and Baker flipped over to the other side so she stuck her left hand in Velvet’s mouth. Velvet tapped out to give Baker the submission win after 11 minutes.

Winner by submission: Dr. Britt Baker DMD

Analysis: **1/2 It was just an average match with Baker getting the win as expected. The dynamics of the match were weird because Baker’s a heel that was getting cheered, but I give Velvet for acting a bit heelish by going after Britt’s injured right arm a lot. Some more nearfalls would have been nice to see. The only nearfall for Velvet was that moonsault, but nobody really bought it. The left-handed Lockjaw submission didn’t look as good as the right hand version, but Britt was selling the right hand injury, so that’s why. Anyway, Baker continues her title reign.

Baker celebrated with the AEW Women’s Title as Britt’s mom, dad and brother were shown at ringside. Post match, Baker delivered another swinging neckbreaker on Velvet. Kris Statlander went into the ring and punched Baker, which drew boos. That led to a woman showing up to knock down Statlander. The announcers said it was Jamie Hayter, who punched Statlander and stomped on Velvet. They said she was gone for like two years and changed her look. Baker hit a Curb Stomp on Velvet on the title. Baker celebrated with Hayter by her side. Baker continued to celebrate. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: I don’t remember much about Jamie Hayter, but it gives Baker another ally in addition to Rebel. I don’t think it was a smart move to have Statlander in that spot and get booed by the crowd because they want her to be one of the top faces in the women’s division. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier I expect it to be Baker vs. Statlander at AEW All Out, so it should be made official soon.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Christian Cage
  2. Kenny Omega
  3. Dr. Britt Baker

 

The Scoreboard

This Week: 7.25 out of 10

 

Final Thoughts

It’s a one-hour show that went by really fast because of all the action. The opening match was outstanding with Christian Cage beating Kenny Omega to become Impact World Champion in an AEW ring. Strange, but as I said that’s wrestling in 2021. The second match was fun while it lasted and had the cool moment with Fuego del Sol getting the AEW contract after the match. I thought the Baker/Velvet match was just average, but the crowd supporting Baker so much certainly helped to make it feel like a big deal.

Overall, I liked the debut of Rampage. If you want to nitpick then I could say that visually they should do more to make it visually different than Dynamite. Maybe use different colors (like Raw is red, Smackdown is blue) or different entrances, but I guess AEW wants them to be similar. It’s not a major thing to me. I’m just saying that’s something they can consider. Even though it was a four-man announce team, Mark Henry wasn’t on commentary for the whole show, so it was more of a three-man team.

Next week’s Rampage from Chicago’s United Center is a big one that I’ll probably check out and review live. I’m looking forward to it as a CM Punk fan, so I want to see him back in pro wrestling. If it’s not him then they certainly worked a lot of people thinking it was him.

The next AEW pay-per-view is All Out on Sunday, September 5. Here’s what we know so far.

AEW World Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Christian Cage

Andrade El Idolo vs. Pac

Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Rams. You can contact me using any of the methods below.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

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