By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 17)
Taped December 1, 2021 in Duluth, Georgia at Gas South Arena
Aired December 3, 2021 on TNT
The commentary team of Excalibur, Ricky Starks and Taz checked in. Tony Nese’s music hit and Nese made his way to the ring for the opening bout.
1. Sammy Guevara vs. Tony Nese for the TNT Championship. Guevara began the match by attacking Nese with forearms and chops. Nese fought back with kicks of his own, eventually hitting a back elbow. Nese jawed at the crowd and when he turned his attention back to the ring, Guevara capitalized and took control with an eventual dropkick.
Guevara landed a corkscrew tope suicida on Nese, who was on the outside. Guevara threw Nese into the ring steps. Guevara worked over Nese with chops, throwing Nese into the barricade. Back in the ring, Guevara went to the top rope, but Nese swept out Guevara’s legs and was draped over the turnbuckle. Nese picked up Guevara and hit a gut-buster for a two-count.
Nese hit some punches to Guevara’s ribs before landing a moonsault press for a two-count. Nese threw Guevara into the corner a handful of times. Nese landed a back-spin-kick for a two-count. Nese worked a body-lock. Excalibur then threw to the first picture-in-picture [c].
Back from break, Nese was working a side head-lock. Guevara hit a back-drop, but Nese took control back with a single-leg crab. Before long, Guevara fired up and hit a series of clotheslines. Guevara landed a double springboard cutter, which was enough to get him a two-count. Guevara went for the GTH, but Nese countered back into a single-leg crab.
Guevara rolled up Nese to try and take control. Eventually, Guevara hit a standing Spanish Fly and got a two-count. Guevara toyed with Nese and clotheslined him to the outside. Guevara hit a beautiful springboard moonsault from the top rope. Guevara rolled Nese into the ring and went for a springboard, but Nese stopped him and took control. Nese landed a 450 splash for a good near-fall.
Nese slapped Guevara around. Guevara fired up and hit a series of elbows. Nese hit a powerbomb and went for the Running Nese, but Guevara caught him and hit the GTH for the win.
Sammy Guevara defeated Tony Nese via pinfall in 12:55.
Backstage, Christian Cage, Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy cut a promo. Cage said his guys were the No. 1 contenders for the tag team titles. Cage said opportunities don’t come around every day, and they need to scout the tag match later in the show. Cage said he’s confident in his guys.
McGuire’s Musings: One of the better Rampage matches in recent memory and I’m confused as to why they would open the show with this rather than save it for the main event. Nese got a lot of offense here, and looked better in these 13 minutes than he did throughout any of his last 13 months in WWE. Guevara continues to shine as the TNT champ and I’m interested to see where he goes from this reign whenever it ends (though I hope it isn’t soon). Nese is off to a good start in AEW and I can only hope he gets another wrinkle to his character beyond “very fit guy.”
2. Jade Cargill vs. Janai Kai. Thunder Rosa sat in on commentary. Kai went for a head-lock, but Cargill slammed her, hit Jaded and that was it.
Jade Cargill defeated Janai Kai in 34 seconds.
After the match, Cargill attacked Kai and Rosa ran to the ring for the save. The two then fought while referees tried to separate them. Backstage, The Young Bucks and Adam Cole cut a promo. Cole said Orange Cassidy is the laughing stock of AEW. The Bucks said they were going to return to tag-team action on Dynamite to face the best the Best Friends got.
McGuire’s Musings: I was damn excited to see Janai Kai on national television, and was optimistic they’d give her more than a minute, but I suppose they needed time for the Rosa/Cargill brawl afterward. I’m still convinced Cargill gets to the finals and loses, though I do think it’d be questionable to keep giving Rosa loses. We’ll see. The Bucks not being specific about their opponents on Wednesday sure is curious, considering the Chaos tie-in with Best Friends now. Again, we’ll see.
Back from break, a video recapping Chris Jericho getting attacked aired. Eddie Kingston then cut a promo, saying 2.0 are going to learn something sooner than later. A video package aired recapping the Danielson/Dark Order saga. The commentary team ran down the Dynamite card and threw to the Mark Henry split-screen interview for the main event. Pac said he’s good to go, despite his eye patch. Penta chimed in. Dax said tonight was supposed to be FTR’s night and Fenix didn’t show up. The teams then started talking over each over. Henry broke up the argument and said it’s time for the main event.
3. Penta El Zero Miedo and Pac vs. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler. Penta and Wheeler began the match. Wheeler worked a wrist-lock, but Penta countered into a spinning toe-hold. After a few comedy spots, Penta kicked Wheeler and tagged in Pac. The two hit stereo dropkicks. Wheeler rolled to the outside. Harwood tagged in, but was eventually slammed by Pac. Harwood hit an elbow to take Pac to the mat.
Penta tagged in and hit a dropkick to Harwood’s groin. FTR came back and worked a series of tag moves. Wheeler hit some kicks and tagged in Harwood, who came in and hit a kick and snap suplex before tagging in Wheeler for an assisted leg drop. That got Wheeler a two-count. Pac tagged in and worked over Harwood. Pac went for a springboard move but slipped, presumably due to the eye patch, and FTR took control as the final commercial break began [c].
Back from the break, Wheeler was working over Pac, but Pac rolled Wheeler to the outside. Harwood tagged in and had Pac by the leg, but Pac kicked his way out. While the referee was distracted, FTR hit a combination elbow drop and Harwood got a two-count. Harwood placed Pac on the top rope and went for a super-plex, but Pac punched his way out of it. Pac landed a shotgun dropkick from the top rope. Pac eventually got the hot tag to Penta.
Penta came in and chopped both FTR members. Penta went to the top and hit a splash on Wheeler for a two-count. Penta hit a back-stabber on Wheeler for a two-count. Penta went for a Feat Factor, but Wheeler hit a power-slam. Harwood landed a leg-drop from the top for a two-count. FTR attempted a sunset flip tandem move, but that turned into Penta landing a corkscrew Code Red for a two-count. Pac went for a splash, but Harwood rolled through and pinned Pac for a two count. Harwood landed a tiger-driver for a 2.9 count.
Tully tried to interfere, but it backfired. Pac clotheslined Harwood to the outside. Pac climbed to the top and hit a double moonsault, taking out both FTR members. Malakai Black ran down and spit in Pac’s eye, which was enough to get Harwood pinned.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler defeated Penta El Zero Miedo and Pac via pinfall in 18:19.
After the match, Black attacked Pac’s eyes. There was blood on Black’s hand. The show closed with Black holding his hand in the air.
McGuire’s Musings: This was a very good tag-team match. So much so that it kind of even surprised me. Not to take anything away from anyone involved, because these four guys are some of the best in the world and FTR is obviously one of the top three teams on the planet currently. I love that they got the time they deserved and I love the story they told here, with Pac’s bad eye and FTR adhering to traditional heel tactics, which ran counter to the ways Pac and Penta work. Removing Penta’s mask after the match was a nice touch, though I could have done without the extension of the Black involvement.
This was one of the best episodes of Rampage in weeks. The opener and the main event are most definitely worth your time. I was skeptical about the placing of the lineup after how good the opening match was, but after seeing the main event, it made more sense. This sets up a great match for TripleMania while furthering the story between the Lucha Bros and FTR, considering how the Lucha Bros didn’t technically take the loss here. Cheers to Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey. Be well, friends.