By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Rampage (Episode 16)
Taped November 24, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois at Wintrust Arena
Aired November 26, 2021 on TNT
The Rampage opening video aired and then pyro shot off on the stage… The broadcast team of Excalibur, Chris Jericho, Taz, and Ricky Starks checked in and then entrances for the opening match took place…
1. Adam Cole and Bobby Fish vs. Orange Cassidy and Wheeler Yuta. Chuck Taylor and Kris Statlander walked onto the stage with Cassidy and Yuta during their entrances, but they headed backstage rather than accompany them to ringside. Early in the match, Cassidy did the big buildup for putting his hands in his pockets, but Cole stopped him a few times.
Cole put Cassidy in a Full Nelson. Cassidy tried and couldn’t get his hands in his pockets. He stomped the foot of Cole and took him down, then gave a smiling thumbs up while looking into the camera. Yuta checked in and got some offense on Cole, who came back heading into a picture-in-picture commercial break. [C]
Yuta was isolated, but he eventually put both opponents down with a missile dropkick and then tagged out. Cassidy took his time entering the ring. Jericho said it was a “lukewarm tag” rather than a hot tag. Funny. Cassidy put his hands in his pockets and did the light kicks routine, then worked over both opponents until they ended up at ringside.
Cassidy performed a suicide dive on Cole while Yuta leapt from the top rope onto Fish on the floor. Yuta checked in again and performed a top rope splash on Cole for a near fall. Cassidy performed Stun Dog Millionaire on Cole. Yuta immediately hit him with a German suplex. Cassidy performed a sunset flip. Cole was pinned, but Fish broke it up.
Later in the match, Cole sent Cassidy into the ring steps on the floor. In the ring, Fish hit Yuta with an avalanche falcon arrow and then pinned him…
Adam Cole and Bobby Fish beat Orange Cassidy and Wheeler Yuta in 12:55.
Powell’s POV: A solid match that will drive Cassidy haters insane. They’ll live. Anyway, the right team went over, and the outcome felt predicable because Yuta felt like the weak link. By the way, I’m filling in for Colin McGuire this week. He had some lame ass excuse about traveling to see his family during the holiday weekend. Excuses, excuses. Anyway, Colin will be back with his usual Rampage coverage next week.
Backstage, Tony Schiavone interviewed Tony Nese, who said he’s been sitting at ringside to scout talent. He said he couldn’t think of a better way to make his TNT debut than to become the TNT Champion. He said he was unimpressed by what he’s seen from the TNT Champion.
TNT Champion Sammy Guevara entered the picture and took issue with Nese’s comments. Nese questioned if Guveara could take criticism. Guevara said he could take criticism, but not coming from a guy who hasn’t done shit since he arrived in AEW.
Nese brought up the open challenge and made his challenge. Guevara accepted and they shook hands. Nese pulled Guevara in and dropped him with a forearm to the head. Nese knelt on Guevara and told him that the only reason he has the TNT Title is that guys like him weren’t available sooner… [C]
An FTR video package aired. Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler made their pitch for a best of three falls match against Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix…
As entrances for the next match took place, Excalibur said Guevara vs. Nese for the TNT Championship would take place on next week’s Rampage…
2. AEW Women’s Champion Britt Baker (Rebel, Jamie Hayter) vs. Riho in a Black Friday Deal match. Hayter followed a ways behind Baker and Rebel, and declined to enter the ring with them prior to the match. Jericho explained that if Riho won the match, she would earn a future shot at the AEW Women’s Championship.
Early in the match, Baker distracted the referee while Rebel and Hayter roughed up Riho from the floor. A short time later, Riho came back with a couple dropkicks. Baker rolled to the floor. Riho went up top and dove onto Baker and Rebel on the floor. Baker returned to the ring and regained offensive control heading into a break. [C]
Baker was still on the offensive coming out of the break. Excalibur noted that Baker had never beaten Riho in a singles match. Baker suplexed Riho in the corner and then set up for an Air Raid Crash, but Riho avoided it and then performed a wicked suplex of her own for a near fall.
Riho went for a top rope double stomp, but Baker avoided it. Baker hit a ripcord elbow and then performed the Air Raid Crash for a near fall. Riho battled back with a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count, then performed a top rope double stomp for a near fall. Riho went for a running knee that Baker avoided. Baker set up for a neckbreaker, but Riho countered into a pin and got the three count…
Riho defeated Britt Baker in 11:10 in a non-title match to earn a future shot at the AEW Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A nice match with a crowd pleasing finish. Baker doesn’t lose often, so this packed a punch. Excalibur mentioned during the match that Baker has never beaten Riho in a singles match, so I assume that will be a big part of the hype for their title match.
Footage aired from Dynamite of Andrade El Idolo performing a hammerlock DDT on Cody Rhodes on the exposed floor. Excalibur announced Andrade vs. Cody in an Atlanta Street Fight, Ruby Soho vs. Kris Statlander in the final quarterfinal match in the TBS Title tournament, Bryan Danielson vs. Alan “5” Angels, Billy Gunn and Colten Gunn vs. Darby Allin and Sting for Wednesday’s AEW Dynamite.
The broadcast team also announced Sammy Guevara vs. Tony Nese for the TNT Championship, and Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix vs. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler in a best of three falls match for the AEW Tag Titles for next week’s AEW Rampage…
Mark Henry hosted the pre main event interview segment with Eddie Kingston on one side of the screen while Daniel Garcia was on the other with “2point0” Matt Lee and Jeff Parker. Lee said he hoped Garcia didn’t eat too much turkey because he would get a taste of Red Death. Garcia said it was another Friday in a sold out arena for his main event. He said he would embarrass Kingston.
Kingston laughed and said they threw coffee in his face and attacked him, and now Garcia is acting like a tough man. Kingston told them to shut up because talk is cheap. Henry delivered the “It’s time for the main event” line… [C]
Ring announcer Justin Roberts stood in the ring and introduced the main event entrances…
3. Eddie Kingston vs. Daniel Garcia (w/Matt Lee, Jeff Parker). Garcia took an early powder and was applauded by Lee and Parker. He quickly returned to the ring and was roughed up by Kingston, who ended up stoping him in the corner until Lee and Parker pulled him to ringside. Kingston followed and roughed up Lee and Parker, but Garcia attacked Kingston once he returned to the ring. Kingston regained offensive control heading into a PIP break. [C]
Garcia targeted the left arm of Kingston. Excalibur said that they were watching Garcia dismantle Kingston. Garcia threw a series of kicks to Kingston’s head before releasing his arm. Kingston sold a knee injury when Garcia tried to whip him into the corner. Garcia went after Kingston, who suplexed him. Kingston stood up and sold the knee.
Garcia blocked a suplex and threw more elbows to the head of Kingston, then rolled him into a kneebar. Kingston grabbed the ropes to break the hold, which Jericho said was similar to a reverse figure four. Garcia went for a pin, but Kingston powered him up and powerbombed him before falling into the corner and selling the bad knee.
Garcia put Kingston in a heel hook. Kingston reached for the ropes, but Garcia pulled him away and threw a series of punches. Kingston rallied with a nasty suplex. Excalibur said that when your chin touches your chest on a suplex like that a wrestler knows that things have gone horribly wrong. Starks chimed in and said he knows.
Garcia battled back and tried to power up Kingston, who blocked it. Garcia dropped a knee on the back of Kingston’s head. They traded strikes. Garcia got the better of it with kicks. Garcia tried to power up Kingston again, but Kingston suplexed him. When Garcia stood up, Kingston dropped him with a spinning back fist.
Eddie Kingston defeated Daniel Garcia in 15:00.
After the match, Lee and Parker attacked Kingston. Chris Jericho complained about it on commentary and then stood up and removed his headset. Jericho ran to the ring and cleared Parker and Lee. Jericho played to the crowd to get them to wake up and it worked. Excalibur delivered final hype for the Dynamite matches to close the show…
Powell’s POV: Kingston gave Garcia a lot of offense, but I just never bought into the possibility of Garcia winning the match without getting help from Lee and Parker. I’d really like to see AEW give Garcia a meaningful win soon to give him a credibility boost if they are going to keep putting him him in Rampage main events. He’s a talented guy and the broadcast team is good about singing his praises, but they need to give viewers a reason to believe that he’s actually a threat to beat some of the bigger names he works with.
Overall, a solid show with three fairly predictable match results. But no complaints about the predictability in this case, as all three match outcomes were logical. I was writing in general terms regarding Garcia needing a meaningful win rather than suggesting that it should have come at the expense of Kingston in this match. I assume that Jericho saving Kingston is leading to the two of them teaming up. I’m curious to see if it works out or if they will self destruct and the plan is for this to lead to a match between the two. I will have more to say about this episode in my AEW Rampage audio review coming up later tonight.