Reviews

The John Report: AEW Rampage “New Year’s Smash” 12/31/21 Review

aew rampage dec 31

Happy New Year. It is New Year’s Day morning as I write this review of AEW Rampage that aired on New Year’s Eve.

This is AEW Rampage from the Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida. It was taped on Wednesday night after Dynamite took place. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

It’s Friday night and you know what that means. The commentary team this week was Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and the FTW Champion that rarely wrestles, Ricky Starks. I miss Taz and the yeller Chris Jericho.

Darby Allin (w/Sting) vs. Anthony Bowens (w/Max Caster)

The match started with Allin avoiding a chop block by Bowens. Allin got a cradle for two, so Bowens regrouped on the floor. Bowens with chops and kicks while Allin was against the turnbuckle. Allin with a dropkick that sent Bowens out of the ring. Caster with a distraction, Bowens hit Allin with a forearm and Bowens whipped Allin into the ring post. They went to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

When Bowens tried a suplex, Allin hit a knee to the head. Bowens blocked a corner splash, Allin went for a couple of pin attempts that got two counts. They exchanged strikes, Bowens with some hard chops and a superkick leading to both guys going down to sell for a bit. Bowens set up Allin on the top turnbuckle, Allin punched Bowens down and Allin went up top, so Bowens tripped him leading to Allin being crotched on the top. Owens with an impressive DDT off the ropes. They were fighting by the turnbuckle, Allin pulled Bowens’ arm/shoulder into the ring post and then Allin stood on the hand against the ring post. Caster on the apron, so Sting pulled him down and whipped Max into the barricade. Bowens sent Allin into the barricade followed by Bowens sending Allin into the ring apron. Back in the ring, Allin hit a Code Red for a two count. Allin hit a suicide dive onto both guys. Back in the ring, Allin went up top and hit a Coffin Drop back splash for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Darby Allin

Analysis: ***1/4 Good match. I continue to be impressed by Bowens whether in singles or tags while Allin is well established as a guy willing to put his body on the line to put on an entertaining match. No surprise by the result since Allin is a pushed singles wrestler while Bowens is a tag team guy.

Post match, Andrade El Idolo appeared with Jose the suit guy. Allin was looking at Andrade, so Bowens hit Allin with the boombox to the head. Caster had a chain wrapped around his right hand and punched Allin (while Bowens held Allin) to knock out Darby.

Analysis: That should lead to Sting/Allin beating The Acclaimed in a tag team match soon while Darby can feud with Andrade in the long term.

(Commercial)

There was a Technique by Taz video about Hook, who is Taz’s son. Taz talked about some of the suplexes that Hook has done during matches. Taz also talked about the Redrum submission by Hook with Taz saying that Hook is something of a phenomenon, so keep an eye on Hook.

The Bunny and Penelope Ford entered for a tag team Street Fight. Their opponents Anna Jay and Tay Conti got a decent pop.

Analysis: Tay Conti is now dating Sammy Guevara with the couple sharing this New Year’s photo. Sammy was engaged to a woman not in wrestling a few months ago, that ended and people speculated he was with Conti since they were such close friends. Those rumors appear to be true. Good for them. Hope it works out. The Bunny is married to The Blade, Penelope Ford is married to Kip Sabian and Anna Jay is dating Jungle Boy, so all four women are with AEW wrestlers.

The Bunny & Penelope Ford vs. Tay Conti & Anna Jay

Conti threw a trash can at Ford. Bunny tried to use the brass knuckles, but Jey blocked the punches with a chair and then Jay punched Bunny with the brass knuckles. Ford and Jay grabbed a table from under the ring that they set up on the floor. Ford sent Jaye into ring post while Ford hit a pump kick Conti. Ford put Conti on the table, Ford went up top and jumped off with a moonsault with her knee hitting Conti in the face. Yes, that’s a bit of a botch there since Ford’s body should be landing on Conti, but at least the knee connected. Ford brought in a glass bottle and hit Conti in the head with the bottle. Ford checked on Bunny, who was bleeding on the floor. Bunny and Ford got a table from under the ring that had a design on it. Conti was bleeding as well. I don’t know if the women did blade jobs or used capsules or something else. Ford and Bunny set up chairs/tables in the ring. Jay suplexed Bunny onto some chairs that were open in a seated position.

(Commercial)

The match continued with Jay jumping on Bunny’s back going for a sleeper, but Bunny fell back into the table for a two count. They didn’t break the table in the middle, but they broke enough of it. Conti pulled out a ladder on the floor, so Ford hit a Cutter on the ladder. The Bunny brought a bag into the ring and poured out the thumbtacks in the ring. They went fighting by the turnbuckle with Jay hitting a superplex onto Bunny onto the thumbtacks in the ring. The fans chanted “holy shit” as Jay covered with Ford breaking up the pin. Ford stomped on Conti while a chair was on Conti’s body. Conti with an elbow to the face while on the apron. Conti gave Ford a Cradle Piledriver off the apron through a table on the floor! Holy shit, that was great. They did it safely too. Bunny and Jay were back in the ring, Bunny tripped over the thumbtacks in the ring, Jay had barbed wire on her right arm and choked out Bunny with the Queenslayer (sleeper) submission with Bunny tapping out. It went 11 minutes.

Winners by submission: Tay Conti & Anna Jay

Analysis: ***1/2 A physical match with some creative spots throughout the match. Some of the gimmicky things felt like too much, but I understand wanting to use weapons to put over how personal this rivalry had become. It’s rare to see a women’s tag team Street Fight with two women bleeding for most of the match. I liked the ending with Jay using a barb wire around the arm to choke out Bunny to make it look even more vicious. These ladies took some big bumps in this match too. Respect for them.

Anna Jay and Tay Conti celebrated the win. I think that’s the end of this rivalry.

A video aired about “Hangman” Adam Page defending the AEW World Title against Bryan Danielson this coming Wednesday on Dynamite (the first Dynamite on TBS in the US). It’s a rematch of their 60-minute classic from a few weeks ago.

This Wednesday on AEW Dynamite:

* AEW Championship: “Hangman” Adam Page (c) vs. Bryan Danielson

* TBS Title Tournament Finals: Jade Cargill vs. Ruby Soho

* Malakai Black vs. Brian Pillman Jr.

* MJF in action

* AEW Tag Team Championships: Lucha Brothers (c) vs. Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus

Analysis: That’s a great lineup.

Next Friday on AEW Rampage:

* No DQ, No Rules, No Holds Barred: Daniel Garcia & 2.0 vs. Eddie Kingston, Santana & Ortiz

Saturday, January 8 on AEW Battle of the Belts

* AEW Women’s Championship: Britt Baker (c) vs. Riho

There was a main event split-screen promo with Mark Henry talking to Cody Rhodes and Ethan Page. Dan Lambert said that his guys have the balls to say something about the inner workings of AEW. Arn Anderson told Lambert he sees things the way they are. Anderson knows they are a really tight group. Arn said that he puts a stop to things when they start. Cody and Ethan didn’t even speak as Mark said: “It’s time for the main event.” That is next.

(Commercial)

Ethan Page made his entrance with Scorpio Sky and Dan Lambert. Cody Rhodes entered as the three-time TNT Champion with Arn Anderson by his side. Cody was booed while wearing his “Heel, Babyface, Winner” shirt with a box checked for Winner. I can’t imagine wearing a shirt like that in public, but I’m sure a dozen or so people bought it.

TNT Championship: Cody Rhodes (w/Arn Anderson) vs. Ethan Page (w/Scorpio Sky & Dan Lambert)

Cody with a powerslam followed by a side headlock takeover. Lambert grabbed Cody’s boot, so Ethan came back with a suplex. Anderson grabbed Ethan’s foot, which led to Cody hitting a dropkick. The fans chanted “Let’s go Cody/Cody sucks” at Cody. Ethan knocked Cody off the apron and then Ethan hit a shoulder tackle off the apron onto Cody on the floor. Ethan whipped Cody into the ring post. Back in the ring, Cody avoided a suplex and Cody hit a chop block to the back of the left knee. Cody had Ethan trapped in a leg submission leading to a break.

(Commercial)

The match continued with Ethan hitting a running shoulder tackle while selling his left leg injury. Ethan ran the ropes leading to a clothesline followed by a back body drop. Ethan stared at Anderson and hit a DDT for a two count. Ethan distracted the referee, so Sky stomped on Cody on the floor and then Dustin Rhodes showed up to brawl with Sky. They left to the backstage area. Cody capitalized on that distraction to hit Cross Roads on Ethan for a two count. Cody pulled off the knee brace that Ethan had on and then set up Ethan on the top rope. Cody went for a move off the top, Ethan caught him with an elbow to the gut and then Ethan hit a powerslam off the top rope for a two count. Fans were chanting “this is awesome” for them. Cody and Ethan got into a slugfest with Cody hitting an uppercut, then they each hit kicks to the head and Cody did a springboard Cody Cutter for a two count. Cody applied the Figure Four Leglock, but Ethan turned it and Cody got to the ropes to break. Cody went for a move teasing a Pedigree again, but Ethan countered it for two. Cody with a cross arm slam off the middle ropes. Ethan set up for a move, Cody pulled on the knee and hit the Cross Roads. Cody hit Cross Roads a second time. Cody with a kick to the gut leading to the Tiger Driver 98 for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Cody Rhodes

Analysis: ***3/4 A great match with a story that saw Ethan working with the left knee injury and Cody targeting the injury throughout the match. Every time it looked like Ethan was going to get the advantage, Cody kept going after the left knee because it was weak and Cody managed to get the win shortly after that. This is also put over Ethan a bit because it took a lot to beat him with two Cross Roads moves in a row followed by a Tiger Driver 98 to beat Ethan. It’s not like people watching this thought that Ethan was going to win. I just thought they did a nice job of telling a story within the match and built up to the finish well. Ethan is one of my favorite guys in AEW because he’s a local guy to me growing up about an hour from me. Nice job by Cody throughout the match.

Cody celebrated with the TNT Title while the announcers shilled what was coming up on Dynamite. End show.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Cody Rhodes
  2. Ethan Page
  3. Tay Conti/Anna Jay and The Bunny/Penelope Ford

 

The Scoreboard

This Week: 7.75 out of 10

Last Week: 6.75

 

Final Thoughts

A show with three matches that all got over ten minutes and were very good. Easy to watch this show as usual. The women’s Street Fight seemed to be a feud ender for them. The opening match should lead to another match between tag teams and then the main event was a decisive win for Cody as the TNT Champion.

Bring on Dynamite on Wednesday with Hangman Page vs. Bryan Danielson again.

Thanks for reading. You can contact me using any of the methods below.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport