By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 1)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at Petersen Events Center
Aired live August 13, 2021 on TNT
The opening video aired and the broadcast team of Taz, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry and Excalibur checked in.
McGuire’s Musings: It appears Excalibur will be handling the lead duties on commentary, which isn’t a surprise. A four-man booth feels like it can be crowded, but my mind is open.
1. Kenny Omega vs. Christian Cage for the Impact World Championship. Cage made his entrance first to somewhat of a lukewarm reaction by AEW standards. It appeared Jericho flubbed a little during Omega’s entrance when he sold the importance of the AEW Championship, forgetting for a second that the Impact title was being defended.
The wrestlers stood in separate corners while the crowd chanted “AEW.” Brian Hebner was the ref, representing Impact. The two locked up and Cage backed Omega into a corner before a break. Cage sunk in a side head-lock before hitting a shoulder tackle, taking Omega to the ground. Cage then flipped Omega off.
Omega hit a boot, chop and elbow to take Cage down. Omega went for the One-Winged Angel early, but Cage countered and Omega rolled to the outside. Cage chased Omega, but when the two rolled back into the ring, Kenny landed some boots to take control. Omega hit a back elbow into the corner, forcing Cage out, but Christian rolled back into the ring and dove through the ropes to hit a dropkick. Cage climbed to the top rope and Omega threw him off to the floor. [c]
During the picture-in-picture, Omega kept control, but Cage hit a snap-suplex coming out of the break. Omega lifted Cage to the top, but Cage hit a sunset flip off the top to take Omega down. AEW stars were seen sitting in the front row. Cage straddled Omega on the ropes and landed a thousand punches.
Cage went for the Killswitch, but Omega elbowed his way out and eventually hit a moonsault for a hell of a near-fall. Cage then hit a reverse DDT for another very good near-fall. Cage went for a spear, but Omega landed a knee, a power bomb and a V-Trigger for another “my goodness” near-fall. Omega went for the One-Winged Angel again, but Cage rolled out and eventually hit a spear for a two-count that had the crowd lose their mind.
Omega hit a snap-dragon-suplex to take back control. He then landed another. Omega went for another one, but Cage rolled outside and snapped Omega’s neck on the top rope for a very high frogsplash and another near-fall. Calis then distracted the ref and Omega hit a low-blow. The Young Bucks then came down and threw in a chair. But Cage hit the Killswitch on Omega on the chair for the pinfall win.
Christian Cage defeated Kenny Omega to win the Impact World Championship in 15:25.
After the match, Jurassic Express hit the ring to celebrate while Cage held up both the Impact and TNA world titles. Scott D’Amore then came out to clap for Cage. [c]
McGuire’s Musings: Well, as I was told earlier today, don’t break my arm patting myself on the back, but my guess is Omega drops the AAA title tomorrow night after this loss because I’ve always thought when he drops one title, he’s going to drop them all. Anyway, this was good. It didn’t quite sell me on a rematch at All Out, though. Christian looked so good for having been through all he’s been through and the moment was a genuinely good-feeling moment. And those near falls were some of the best near-falls you’ll see all year.
Back from the break, Mark Henry interviewed Cage backstage. Cage popped a little bit of the bubbly, which got a pop from the crowd. Cage said it will be nearly impossible to beat Omega for the AEW World Championship at All Out. Lucha Express then doused Cage with more of the Bubbly. A Fuego Del Sol/Miro video aired to hype the TNT Championship match.
2. Miro vs. Fuego Del Sol for the TNT Championship. Miro came out to somewhat of a flat reaction. If Sol wins, he gets an AEW contract. Sol hit his tornado DDT before the bell rang and the crowd fired up. Fuego then hit another one to jumpstart the match and Miro rolled outside. Miro just beat the 10-count to keep the match going, but Sol hit another tornado DDT for a close near-fall.
Sol climbed to the top and went for another one, but Miro caught Sol and landed a Samoan Drop. Miro fired up and hit his kick and locked in the Game Over. Fuego Del Sol tapped immediately.
Miro defeated Fuego Del Sol via submission in 2:05 to retain the TNT Championship.
After the match, Miro ripped up the contract before the show went to commercial.
McGuire’s Musings: If you don’t follow Sammy Guevara’s vlog or even BTE, you might not even know much about Fuego Del Sol and the story they have been telling with him trying to land a job in AEW. That said, it was kind of/sort of surprising this was a squash. Fuego Del Sol landed his tornado DDTs and it popped everyone in the building, but once he hit the first two and the match wasn’t over, you had to figure the inevitable was nigh. Maybe a surprise tornado DDT for a win would work, but going back to the well that many times didn’t bode well for him. Is this the last we see of him? I doubt it. But if that’s true, I’m curious to find out how he ends up with a job.
Back from the break, Del Sol was still in the ring. Sammy and Tony Khan made their entrance and Guevara went to the ring with a clipboard saying Del Sol’s like “1-50, but who cares, because these people love you.” The crowd chanted Fuego. Sammy said officially Fuego Del Sol is All Elite and the two embraced. Del Sol seemed genuinely touched.
McGuire’s Musings: Well, that solves that.
After running down the Dynamite card, Darby Allin and Sting were shown in the rafters before cutting to a Darby promo video. Mark Henry then interviewed the competitors in the main event in split-screen format. When Red Velvet spoke, the Pittsburgh crowd booed her. Brit said it doesn’t rain in Britsburg when she’s in town because this is her city and she’s going to walk out of the night “and still” as the AEW Women’s Champion. [c]
3. Britt Baker vs. Red Velvet for the AEW Women’s Championship. Red Velvet made her entrance to a slew of boos. The crowd went nuts for Baker, who has to be one of the three most popular wrestlers on this roster, no matter the gender. The two locked up and Baker went for the Lock Jaw before Velvet went for the Final Slice and neither worked for either wrestler. “Here we go Baker, here we go” chants broke out and any Steelers fan would tell you that’s high praise.
Velvet went to stomp on Baker’s injured arm, but stopped and everyone seemed confused. Velvet eventually worked over the injured arm over the rope in the corner. Baker hit a back elbow to take control, but Velvet hit a nice-looking leg lariat into a moonsault press for a two-count. A picture-in-picture then commenced [c]
During the break, Baker worked over Velvet, eventually stomping her in the corner. Once the commercial ended, Velvet took control, hitting body-blows in the corner. Velvet landed a kick to Baker’s wrist for a two-count. Baker his a singing neck-breaker with a leg-hook and then went into a crucifix into the Lock Jaw. Velvet rolled through for a two-count. Velvet then took off Baker’s cast and Rebel tried to distract before Baker rolled Velvet up for a two-count.
Rebel was ejected and Velvet hit a super-kick and moonsault from the top rope. Baker out of nowhere hit a neck-breaker on Velvet before landing a curb stomp for a two-count. Velvet went to sink in the Lock Jaw on Baker, but Baker countered and couldn’t get it in on Velvet because of her bad arm, but she went the other way and got the submission win.
Britt Baker defeated Red Velvet via submission in 10:34 to retain the AEW Women’s Championship.
Baker picked up Velvet and hit her swinging neck-breaker, but Kris Statlander ran in to stop Baker’s attack. Then Jamie Hayter ran in to stomp down Statlander and Baker curb-stomped Velvet onto the AEW women’s title belt. Hayter and Baker posed to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: Well, I don’t know. The women worked hard and I can’t get it out of my head to stop worrying about the actual status of Baker’s arm. I really liked the story they told without her being able to settle into the Lock Jaw until she changed positions because logic in wrestling is great and also rare these days. Sometimes, I winced at what they did with it, though. The match itself was clunky at times, but I can’t recall a better Red Velvet match I’ve seen. The Hayter return was interesting for what it was, but it felt like a lot of the crowd didn’t know who she was, and therefore the ending to the show was a tiny bit of a letdown. I was certain we’d see Thunder Rosa begin a build to something at All Out, but it was not to be.
In all, I have mixed feelings about this debut episode. Commentary can make or break a show, and I’m not saying this did either, but I will say that it’s hard when you have two active characters (Taz and Jericho) on other programming be involved in this program and it’s tough to tell who’s supposed to be what. Jericho had some funny lines, but is he supposed to be a heel or a babyface? And if he also wasn’t in position to actually challenge for one of the titles defended tonight, it’d be easier to take him seriously. Taz, meanwhile, wants us to think he’s a heel all the time, but … is he? Then, poor Mark Henry was just buried. Anyway, I worry this becomes AEW Dark Extreme, with eventual non-starter matches and programs that don’t get the love they deserve. But that’s down the road. We all know what’s coming next week … right?