By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 20)
Taped December 22, 2021 in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum
Aired December 25, 2021 on TNT
The commentary team of Taz, Excalibur, and Ricky Starks checked in. Isiah Kassidy was already in the ring while Jungle Boy got his televised entrance. Jungle Boy was taped up on his ribs and his quad.
1. Jungle Boy (w/Christian Cage, Luchasaurus) vs. Isiah Kassidy (w/Matt Hardy, Marq Quen, Jora Johl). Kassidy took control early and hit some chops as well as a series of stomps in a corner. Jungle Boy eventually fought back and landed the springboard arm-drag before hitting a dropkick and a nip up, which received a cheer from the crowd. After exchanging a series of moves, Kassidy hit a cutter on Jungle Boy over the top rope. Kassidy then hit a corkscrew press onto Jungle Boy, who was outside the ring.
Back in the ring, Kassidy hit a senton, which got him a one-count. Jungle Boy fought back with chops, but Kassidy kept control with a strike of his own. While the referee was turned around, Matt Hardy landed a hard fist to Jungle Boy’s face. Jungle Boy went for a sunset flip, but Kassidy rolled through and hit a drop-kick to Jungle Boy’s face. The first PIP then commenced [c].
Back from break, Jungle Boy took out Kassidy’s leg and Jungle Boy hit a lariat before landing a Fisherman Falcon Arrow for a two-count. Jungle Boy lifted Kassidy, but Kassidy fought back and landed a Poison-Rana for a two-count. Kassidy ran at Jungle Boy, but Jungle Boy landed a belly-to-belly into the corner before hitting a German Suplex for a two-count.
Jungle Boy threw Kassidy outside and hit a Tope Suicida. As Jungle Boy tried to get back into the ring, Quen tried to interfere, but Christian attacked him. Luchasaurus took care of the rest of the Hardy Family Office. Jungle Boy then locked in the Snare Trap and Kassidy tapped out.
Jungle Boy defeated Isiah Kassidy via submission in 8:55.
After the match, the commentary team recapped MJF vs. Dante Martin from AEW Dynamite… [C]
McGuire’s Musings: The match was good for what it was. Actually, on second thought, it was nice to see Isiah Kassidy get some singles work, as I tend to believe he has a strong upside. The outcome wasn’t really in doubt, but I wonder what these injuries are supposed to be when it comes to Jungle Boy. He has half his body wrapped up and, if we’re being honest, he could use a strong win streak to kick him into where a lot of people think he should be. The story appears to be these injuries will cause a hurdle for him, but I don’t quite understand why they can’t just book him to win because he’s a good wrestler. I digress. Hook is next. People are happy.
A Miro video package aired. Miro said he has started to heal himself. He said he will return with no flaws and will become champion to show “your lack of power over me”…
2. Hook vs. Bear Bronson. Bronson did not get a televised entrance. Bronson worked a wrist-lock, but Hook countered with one of his own. Hook took Bronson down, but Bronson got to the ropes for a break. Bronson lifted Hook, but Hook fought back with a series of punches. Bronson then landed a series of punches to Hook. Hook fought back and worked a sugar-hold, but Bronson made it to the ropes for a break. Tony Nese was shown watching the match from the crowd.
Bronson landed a strike and then raked the eyes. Bronson hit Hook with a slam, but Hook popped right up. Hook landed a hard clothesline. Hook hit a Northern Lights suplex. Hook hit a suplex and then landed a series of strikes before sinking in the Red Rum for the win.
Hook defeated Bear Bronson via submission in 3:06.
McGuire’s Musings: This was what it should be, but Hook, in my mind at least, looked better here than he did the first time out, if only because of Bronson’s size. The tease between Hook and Tony Nese is interesting as we know Nese can go and he’d be a great dancing partner for Hook as Hook continues to mature in the ring. Even so, Hook still has all the goods. It’s so much fun watching how the crowds get behind him and he never really disappoints with his in-ring work as long as they keep it under five minutes. My guess is Nese will want to go longer than that, though, so to deep water, we go.
Back from the break, Eddie Kingston cut a promo on Daniel Garcia. A Daniel Garcia video aired opposite. Kingston said he was bringing Santana and Ortiz for a six-man tag match against Garcia and 2point0 next week…
3. Leyla Hirsch vs. Kris Statlander. Neither wrestler received a televised entrance. Statlander got control early, but Hirsch took Statlander down and then landed a dropkick in the corner on Statlander. Hirsch was on the apron and Statlander attacked, but Hirsch drove her shoulder into Statlander’s stomach. Statlander hit a snap-suplex and a vertical suplex for a two-count.
Statlander worked a submission, but Hirsch rolled out of it. Hirsch then landed a dropkick to Statlander, who was on her knees. Hirsch rolled through on an attempted slam and got a two-count. That turned into an arm-bar from Hirsch onto Statlander. Statlander powered up, however, and placed Hirsch on the top rope. Hirsch, in return, sunk in an arm-bar over the top rope. After that, Hirsch hit a moonsault for a two-count. Hirsch landed a knee strike for a two-count.
Hirsch slapped Statlander, but Statlander fired up and hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a good near-fall. Statlander put Hirsch on her shoulders, but Hirsch snuck out of it for a German Suplex and a two-count. Hirsch ran at Statlander, but Statlander caught her with a slap and a boot. Statlander hit a reverse body-slam and that turned into a Spider-Crab. Hirsch then tapped out.
Kris Statlander defeated Leyla Hirsch via submission in 6:22.
After the match, Statlander extender her hand for a handshake, but Hirsch slapped it away and left the ring…
Excalibur then threw to the split-screen main event interview with Mark Henry. Arn Anderson said it wasn’t about Henry; it was about the champ. Anderson told Guevara he doesn’t want to get in a fight with someone who’s pissed off. Guevara said he’s pissed, too. Guevara said this will be a bigger match for Cody than it is for him. Henry then said it’s time for the main event…
McGuire’s Musings: I’m happy the women got more time than at least one men’s match this week. It’s a Christmas miracle. I’ll confess: I’m a big fan of Hirsch’s work and I’ve been confused as to why we don’t see more of her on one of the two big AEW TV shows. I just think she has so much to offer, not just with her in-ring skills, but also her size, which is unique in that women’s division. Statlander winning wasn’t surprising, but it sounds like they are setting her up to get a title shot soon. I liked the post-match Hirsch angle. Give her a little more edge and kickstart something. She deserves it.
Cody Rhodes made his entrance to boos and was accompanied onto the stage by Arn Anderson, Brock Anderson, and Lee Johnson. Brock and Johnson headed backstage while Cody and Arn headed to the ring. Sammy Guevara made his entrance. Ring announcer Justin Roberts delivered in-ring introductions and introduced David Crockett and said he would present the title to the winner…
4. Sammy Guevara vs. Cody Rhodes (w/Arn Anderson) for the TNT Championship. Guevara ran at Cody and hit a dropkick when the bell rang and then went for the GTH, but Cody avoided it. Guevara clotheslined Cody over the top rope. Guevara posed in the ring and Cody walked into the crowd. Cody consulted with Arn on the outside before rolling back into the ring. The crowd chanted “Cody sucks!”
Cody worked a side head-locked. Guevara worked out and hit a snap-powerslam. Cody landed a springboard cutter. Guevara threw Cody to the outside and rammed Cody into the steps. Guevara landed a chop and went to the apron. Guevara went for a shooting-star press, but Cody moved and Guevara landed on his feet. Cody threw Guevara back into the ring. Cody worked a short-arm scissors in the middle of the ring. The final PIP then took hold [c].
Back from break, Cody suplexed Guevara. Cody went for a moonsault press and missed. Guevara landed a series of strikes. Guevara went to the top did his double-springboard cutter for a two-count. Guevara hit a Cross-Rhoades on Cody, but Cody rolled outside. Guevara then landed a double-springboard 450 onto Cody. Guevara jumped at Cody, but Cody caught him and threw Guevara into the crowd.
Cody rolled Guevara back into the ring. Cody landed a Disaster Kick. Cody pounded his chest like Sting. Cody went for his finisher, but Guevara rolled him up for a two-count. Cody then hit the CrossRhodes for a two-count. Cody tried to lift Guevara, but Guevara wouldn’t get up. Cody placed Guevara on the top rope. Cody went for the reverse suplex but Guevara caught him and landed the GTH for a hell of a near-fall. Guevara went to the top and tried the 630, but Cody got the knees up and hit two straight CrossRhodes. Cody then hit the Tiger Driver 98 and that got him the win.
Cody defeated Sammy Guevara via pinfall in 15:09 to win the TNT Championship.
After the match, Brandi Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, and the rest of Cody’s stable came out to celebrate with him. David Crockett presented Cody with the title belt to close the show…
McGuire’s Musings: Wow, I liked this a lot. This has to be one of the best Cody matches in AEW history (he has a few, but I’d put this in the top five). I love – and I mean LOVE – that AEW is leaning into the Cody heel developments because he worked like a heel here and it worked really well. Also, it was a lot of fun to see Guevara pull out all of Cody’s spots to try and get the better of the guy who beat him on Dynamite’s first-ever episode. I love the title change. I love what this sets up between Cody and Guevara somewhere down the line. I loved all of it.
In all, this was pretty much a Christmas episode of a pro wrestling program (surprise!) right up until that last match, which got the time it deserved and told a really great story in the meantime. This injects something into the Cody drama and it also puts Guevara in chase mode, if they want to do that. If not, I’m awfully interested to see where Cody goes from here. Actually, for that matter, I’m also interested to see where Guevara goes from here. Good booking, friends. This was good booking. And to all a good night.