By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 22)
Taped January 5, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey at Prudential Center
Aired January 7, 2022 on TNT
The commentary team of Excalibur, Taz, Chris Jericho and Ricky Starks checked in. Adam Cole’s music hit and Cole made his entrance almost immediately…
1. Adam Cole vs. Jake Atlas. Jake Atlas’s entrance actually came after Cole’s and Atlas got a hell of an ovation. The two locked up and traded wrist-locks. Atlas got the better of the exchange with a side head-lock take-down. Back on their feet, Cole hit a hell of an elbow. Atlas went for a dropkick, but Cole stopped and they had an awfully fun sequence that ended with both guys going for a super-kick, but pulling back.
Atlas hit a bunch of chops, elbows and kicks. Atlas climbed to the top, but Cole pushed him to the outside. Cole ran Atlas into the pole and posed. Back in the ring, Cole worked over Atlas with kicks and strikes. Atlas worked his way back with a vicious rolling elbow, but Cole landed a back-stabber after Atlas came at him off the middle rope. The first PIP commenced [c].
Back from the break, Atlas landed a baseball kick and a tope suicida on Cole, who was outside the ring. Atlas went for a cover after hitting a shotgun dropkick and got a two-count. Cole ultimately hit a pump kick for a two-count. Cole went for a super-kick, but Atlas countered with a short clothesline. Cole then fought back and hit a brain-buster on his knee. Atlas hit a high boot, which turned into a version of a suplex for a good near-fall.
Atlas tried a springboard move, but the injury to his leg that you may have read about if you read the spoilers happened. Cole went for the Panama Sunrise, but Atlas couldn’t get him up, so Cole sunk in the weakest-ever leg submission and Atlas tapped out.
Adam Cole defeated Tony Atlas via submission in 9:38.
After the match, Cole cut a tiny promo on Atlas, but Orange Cassidy and Best Friends came out. Cassidy had a chain and ran Cole off…
Dustin Rhodes then announced that Cody Rhodes can’t compete due to medical protocols on Saturday night. As a result, Dustin is going to step in to face Sammy Guevara at Battle Of The Belts…
McGuire’s Musings: This was a really, really good match. It exceeded expectations and I hope Atlas’s injury isn’t enough to keep him out for long because he looked happier, better, and more crisp here than he did during his entire WWE run. I’d really like to see these two run it back because Atlas was a new man (seems like we say that far too much with all these people who go from one company to the other, don’t we?). The Cody development is a tough break, but here’s hoping for the best for him and his growing family.
Back from break, Tony Schiavone was backstage interviewing Andrade El Idolo. Andrade called Darby Allin a little kid and asked why he worked for Sting. Andrade asked Sting to name his price for the little kid (Darby)… Hook’s music hit and here we go.
2. Hook vs. Aaron Solo (w/QT Marshall). Hook began with a suplex after the two felt each other out. Hook worked a quarter-nelson on Solo, who made it to the ropes for a break. Solo found himself in the corner and Hook landed a series of punches. QT Marshall grabbed and distracted Hook and Solo took advantage. Hook fought back and worked a ground octopus. Hook hit a suplex, but Solo went for a big kick. Hook caught Solo and hit a Taz-plex. Hook hit a bunch of forearms, sunk in the Red Rum and Solo tapped out.
Hook defeated Aaron Solo via submission in 3:20.
After the match Marshall came into the ring and confronted Hook. Hook caught Marshall and landed another Taz-plex on Marshall before walking away…
The commentary team checked in. Ricky Starks said he is going to defend the FTW title against Matt Sydal at Battle Of The Belts. Starks said he chose Sydal because he’s coming at Dante Martin… A view package on last week’s women’s match aired…
McGuire’s Musings: Another good outing for Hook. What can you say? If he doesn’t have everything, he has a lot of it. The post-match with Marshall was a fun moment. My only hope is that doesn’t mean Hook moves on to Marshall, but that’s just my irrational QT Marshall bias. Introducing the Taz-plex in the way they did was a nice touch, because you have to think this kind of/sort of gives Hook more than one finisher now. Ricky Starks vs. Matt Sydal has a chance to be the sneaky match of the night at Battle of the Belts.
3. Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter vs. Riho and Ruby Soho. The four jump-started the match and brawled. Once the bell rang, Soho and Hayter fought before Riho and Soho double-teamed Hayter. Baker tagged in, but Soho suplexed Baker before kicking Baker in the chin. Riho then tagged in and the two baby-faces double-teamed Baker. Before long, Rebel interfered and Baker took control. A PIP then began [c].
Back from break, Soho fired up and both Baker and Soho tagged out. Riho worked over Hayter and went for a pin, but Baker broke it up. Riho took down Hayter and got a two-count. Riho went to the top rope, but Baker pushed Riho off. The heels worked over combo moves on Riho. Before long, Riho rolled up Hayter and got the pinfall.
Riho and Ruby Soho defeated Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter via pinfall in 8:08.
Backstage, Dan Lambert cut a promo explaining that Dustin vs. Sammy will be for the interim TNT Title. Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky made the case for Scorpio being in the match. Scorpio pointed out that he hasn’t lost a singles match in more than 300 days…
Excalibur ran down the cards for Battle of the Belts and next week’s Dynamite…
The Mark Henry spot began, but Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz walked out the frame and bless their hearts for it. Soon enough, Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz showed up in the heels frame and a brawl began.
McGuire’s Musings: I really liked the tag match. There were some really neat moments with double-team moves – so much so that it kind of makes me want to see more AEW women’s tag matches. A couple of those things were awfully innovative and awfully unexpected. Good on everyone involved. I still don’t think Riho takes the title off Britt on Saturday, and because of as much, this outcome wasn’t in doubt, but it was a fun match nonetheless. I can’t say an interim TNT Title does much for me, but it does make me wonder what is actually going on with Cody. The “medical” angle isn’t an angle … is it?
3. Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz vs. Daniel Garcia, Matt Lee, and Jeff Parker in a No Holds Barred match. Coming back from commercial, this match was already very much in progress and all the wrestlers were everywhere. Eventually, inside the ring, Kingston hit Garcia in the head with a garbage can. Kingston put Garcia’s head into the can and kicked it. Outside the ring, Parker kicked Ortiz while Kingston bit Garcia. The baby-faces landed stereo suplexes on the heels onto trash cans outside the ring. The teams continued to brawl as the final PIP began [c].
Back from break, Santana and Ortiz worked over 2.0 in the ring. Garcia ran in and tried to roll up Garcia. Before long, Lee threw powder into Santana and Ortiz’s face and got a two-count. Lee landed a DDT on Ortiz and Garcia grabbed the ring bell. 2.0 held Kingston and Garcia hit Kingston in the head with the bell. Garcia covered Kingston for a hell of a near-fall.
Outside the ring, the three heels triple-suplexed Kingston onto the ring-keeper’s table. Garcia leapt at Santana, but Santana hit Garcia with a chair. Santana took out the rest of everybody with a chair. Garcia kicked Santana and went in the ring to kick Ortiz. Ortiz and Garcia traded forearms and chops, New Japan style. Santana ran in and quickly, 2.0 and Santana and Ortiz brawled until Santana and Ortiz landed a series of double-team moves for the win.
Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz defeated Daniel Garcia, Matt Lee, and Jeff Parker in a No Holds Barred match via pinfall in 12:10.
After the win, Garcia attacked Santana and Ortiz. Kingston came back into the ring and the heels taped him to the ring. Chris Jericho ran to the ring and cleared it to make the save. The show ended with Jericho pumping up the crowd…
McGuire’s Musings: This was even more chaotic than I anticipated. The teams worked hard and there were a lot of gimmicks. I’m almost a bit surprised there wasn’t color. Either way, this probably won’t be the end of the Kingston/Garcia program because … well, we ended the whole thing with Kingston taped to the ropes. Still, it was great to see Santana and Ortiz get a win because I’m all for seeing them get more wins. 2.0 have might be The Team That Does The Jobs, but they do it well. And they held up their end here, too.
As far as the episode, this was one of the better ones in recent memory for me. The Cole vs. Atlas match was very good until the unfortunate moment happened with Atlas. The women’s tag match was also a lot of fun and Hook is … well … Hook. The main event did its job, too, in terms of brawling. I’m still confused as to why AEW would introduce an interim TNT title if there isn’t something either seriously wrong with Cody, or if this all isn’t a work. If there is something seriously wrong, I truly hope everything turns out OK. If there isn’t, and this whole thing is part of a story … not sure how I feel about that quite yet. But Godspeed. I’ll have more to say on my weekly Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review.