By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 18)
Taped December 8, 2021 in Elmont, New York at UBS Arena
Aired December 10, 2021 on TNT
The opening video aired and the commentary team of Excalibur and Taz checked in after the introductions for the first match, which happened to be the tag title match, concluded.
1. Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix vs. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler for the AEW Tag Titles. Harwood and Fenix began the match and worked some mat wrestling. Harwood tried to pin Fenix, but only got a one-count. Harwood worked a wrist-lock. Fenix eventually took on both FTR members and tagged in Penta.
Fenix hit a splash and Penta got a two-count out of it. FTR rolled to the outside to settle things down. Wheeler then tagged in. Penta went to do his dramatic glove removal, but Wheeler attacked him. The idea didn’t work well, though, as Penta landed a super-kick. Penta worked some kicks and chops. Harwood tagged in, but things broke down and Harwood slammed Fenix on the apron before rolling him inside the ring for a two-count.
Harwood kept control and Tully and Wheeler choked Fenix. Wheeler tagged in and hit an assisted leg drop for a two-count. Harwood tagged back in and sunk in a chin-lock. Fenix almost got the tag, but Harwood leveled Fenix. Harwood went to the top, but Fenix cut him off before the first PIP commenced [c].
Back from the break, FTR was double-teaming Fenix, but Fenix ultimately got the hot tag to Penta, who landed a bunch of sling-blades. Wheeler went for a powerslam, but Penta rolled through for a good near-fall. Penta landed a Made In Japan for a two-count. Fenix tagged in, but Tully got on the apron for a distraction. Tully went to hit Fenix, but Fenix blocked it and punched Tully. With both FTR members in the ring, Fenix worked over both guys before Harwood caught him and landed a slingshot Liger Bomb for a two-count.
Wheeler went to hit Fenix with a belt, but the referee caught him and as a result, Fenix hit Harwood with the belt. Fenix did the Eddie Guerrero dance and went for a frog splash, but Harwood hit Fenix with the belt and that got Harwood and very close near-fall. Wheeler tagged in, but Fenix was eventually the victim of a Big Rig. FTR went for the cover, but Penta broke it up and the four were out in the middle of the ring.
Penta dragged Fenix to the corner to make a tag and the four had a standoff in the middle of the ring. FTR hit some punches, but the Lucha Bros hit back. Fenix went for a cutter on Wheeler, but Wheeler caught him and then went for a Glory Bomb on Penta, but Penta countered and went for the Fear Factor, but Wheeler countered. Before long, Penta and Fenix hit a tandem Fear Factor for the win.
Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix defeated “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler via pinfall to retain the AEW Tag Titles in 13:57.
McGuire’s Musings: Once this kicked into full gear, it proved to be as good as advertised, but that didn’t happen until about the eighth or ninth minute. Still, these guys worked awfully hard and they all work so well together that I’d love to see them run this back, even if it feels like the program might be over. The clash of styles works in such an intriguing way between these two teams that it’s a treat each time they enter a ring together. Tully taking a punch was kind of a surprise, but it does make me wonder if that means we’ll get that one more match as a means to avenge the Tully bump. Time shall tell.
2. Ruby Soho, Tay Conti, and Anna Jay vs. Nyla Rose, Penelope Ford, and The Bunny. The heels did not get a broadcast entrance. Rose and Conti began the match with Rose overpowering Conti. The Bunny tagged in and jawed at Conti, but Conti fired up and went for a slam. Jay tagged in and Soho tagged in and Conti tagged in, all within about 20 seconds. Conti ultimately landed a pump-kick and a two-count.
Conti hit the ropes and there seemed to be a miscue between Conti and Vickie Guerrero because the latter was supposed to grab the former’s leg. Ford tagged in and hit some kicks for a two-count on Conti. Rose tagged in and The Bunny followed suit quickly. The Bunny stomped on Conti’s hand. The Bunny went for something like a clothesline, but Conti countered and the two women were out in the middle of the ring. Conti got the hot tag to Soho. Soho landed some boots and kicks to Ford, who also tagged in. Soho landed a leg-sweep for a two-count. Excalibur threw to another PIP [c].
Back from break, Jay received the hot tag and landed a bunch of strikes on Rose. Jay went for a sunset flip, Rose countered, but Jay then landed a crossbody before working a chin-lock. The Bunny ran in and broke it up. Things broke down and all six women were down. The Bunny then grabbed the brass knuckles and hit Jay with them. Rose picked up Jay and hit the Beast Bomb for the win.
Nyla Rose, Penelope Ford, and The Bunny defeated Ruby Soho, Tay Conti, and Anna Jay via pinfall in 10:19.
The show cut to Tony Schiavone interviewing Sting. Before Sting could say anything, FTR attacked Sting. A brawl between the four (including Darby Allin) ensued. Tully hit a nut-shot to Sting, which took Sting down. The show went to commercial.
McGuire’s Musings: The women’s match was rough. Jay is a weird one in the sense that sometimes you see her and you think, “she’s really improved so much,” and sometimes you see her and think, “oh man, maybe she has a longer way to go than I thought.” Conti and The Bunny had a rough outing here as well, but enough whining. I have to think this sets up Soho winning her tournament match, perhaps with the help of some of her friends. Also, where’s Ford been? It seems like they heat her up for a few weeks every other month and then she kind of fades away. As for the Sting/Darby/FTR angle … I guess this answers the question of who FTR moves on to, and I’m not really complaining. You know they’ll protect the hell out of Sting, which is good, but in some ways, it’s a nothing-happening program because I can’t imagine Sting and Darby going for the tag titles.
3. Hook vs. Fuego Del Sol. Hook made his entrance first, and man does the audience love them some Hook. Fuego’s entrance was not televised. The two locked up and Hook went for a go-behind to trip Fuego. Hook went for a slam and Fuego made it to the ropes for a break. Hook sunk in a freestyle bow-and-arrow. After Fuego worked his way out, Hook landed a chop followed up with a few body shots. Hook eventually landed a gut-wrench suplex and the crowd roared.
Fuego took control and went for the Tornado DDT, but Hook caught him and slammed him before hitting a lariat. Hook landed a suplex and sunk in what could be called a Taz-Mission, which they are now calling the Red Rum. Fuego tapped out.
Hook defeated Fuego Del Sol via submission in 3:20.
Excalibur ran down the card for the Winter Is Coming edition of Dynamite. Mark Henry then began the split-screen interview. Adam Cole and The Young Bucks made fun of Rocky Romero and Trent. Trent started to respond, but Orange Cassidy cut in and told The Elite they should be worried about Yuta. Henry said it’s time for the main event.
McGuire’s Musings: A good debut for Hook. The crowd was hot for him, which helped, and it didn’t hurt that the hook (pun fully intended) of his dad being in the commentary booth was in full effect. I kind of feel bad for Fuego, who a few months ago was actually the one getting the Hook response as he played the underdog striving for a contract. But such is the world of pro wrestling. I want to know if Hook can go into deeper waters, i.e., let’s see an eight to 10 minute match and really formulate what we think. For now, though, this was a lot of fun and Hook has a strong future ahead of him in wrestling if he wants it.
4. Adam Cole vs. Wheeler Yuta. The match began with Cole getting the better of Yuta complete with a super-kick, a whip into the corner and a pose. Cole worked over Yuta in a corner, but when Yuta went for a splash, Cole moved. Cole landed a snap-suplex. Cole mocked Cassidy by doing Cassidy’s weak kicks. Yuta rolled Cole up a couple times for two-counts, but Cole then landed a pump-kick to take back control.
Cole lifted Yuta and landed a neck-breaker. Cole threw Yuta to the outside. While Yuta was outside, Cole jawed at Cassidy. Cassidy stared Cole down. Yuta climbed to the apron and tried to get back on track, but Cole kicked Yuta to keep control. Cole went for the Panama Sunrise, but Yuta countered into a pin and landed a two-count. Yuta then hit a crossbody from the top-rope.
Yuta got in a furry of offense that climaxed with an elbow off the top rope and a two-count. Yuta went for a German Suplex, but Cole countered. That didn’t matter, however, because Yuta came back and landed the German Suplex for a two-count. Yuta went to the top rope, but Cole caught him and climbed to the top. Cole went for a super-plex, but Yuta punched his way out of it. Yuta landed an Olympic Slam for a two-count. Yuta went to the top and tried for a dive, but Cole got his knees up and hit The Boom for the win.
Adam Cole defeated Wheeler Yuta via pinfall in 7:10.
After the match, both factions faced off in the ring. The heels got the best of Best Friends with Cole focusing on Cassidy. Cole teased the Panama Sunrise on Cassidy, but instead kicked Cassidy in the junk. Cole and the Bucks hit a BTE Trigger on Trent to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: I was kind of hoping they’d give Yuta some more offense, but this was ostensibly an elongated squash. From the looks of it, the point was to set up something between Cole and Cassidy, and that could be fun, but I’m not so sure if I support feeding Yuta to the wolves to get there. Romero, for instance, is a veteran who could take a convincing loss and not really lose much. Yuta, meanwhile, is still getting his feet under him in AEW. The post-match made me recall the endings to a lot of Rampages, which, when you think about it, is kind of unconventional because the show often closes with the heels having the upper hand.
Anyway, in all, the show was at its best in the first 20 minutes during the tag title match. Why you wouldn’t have that – a title match – main event the program is beyond me. I mean, was Adam Cole beating the hell out of Wheeler Yuta and Best Friends getting their asses kicked that much more important than a title match? Especially of that caliber? I say no, but that’s just me. Still, the Hook debut was fun, so that counts for something. I’ll be by soon with more to say in my audio review for members.