By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 25)
Taped January 26, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio at Wolstein Center
Aired January 28, 2022 on TNT
The commentary team of Excalibur, Taz, Ricky Starks and Chris Jericho checked in quickly before Jon Moxley’s music hit. Moxley came out of the crowd. Bowens was accompanied by Max Caster, who had an insulting, but tasteful diss track waiting for Moxley.
1. Jon Moxley vs. Anthony Bowens. Moxley attacked both members of The Acclaimed to start the match and kept control against Bowens. The action spilled outside and Moxley threw Bowens into the barricade. Ref Aubrey tried to tell Moxley to get back in the ring, Moxley apologized and raised her hand for a pop. Bowens and Moxley fought through the crowd.
Eventually, the action got back to the ring and Bowens had the upper hand with some right hands and kicks. Bowens worked over Moxley’s arm before landing a Russian Leg Sweep for a two-count. Bowens went for a suplex, but Moxley fought out with some knees and hit a release suplex to take control. Moxley went to run the ropes, but Caster grabbed Moxley’s foot. That was enough for Bowens to land a neck-breaker, which resulted in a pair of two-counts. The first PIP began [c].
Back from the break, Moxley was raking Bowens’s back while the two were perched on the middle rope. Bowens fought out, though, and landed a super-plex from the top rope for a two-count. Bowens jawed at the crowd and posed before climbing to the middle rope. Bowens went for something, but Moxley caught him and tried a Paradigm Shift, but Bowens got out of it and found his way outside. Moxley responded with a dive through the ropes onto Caster.
Bowens landed a spinning draping DDT for a two-count. With the two on their feet, both guys exchanged blows. Moxley hit a stiff palm strike and pile-driver for a two-count. Bowens went for a sunset flip, but Moxley kicked out. Bowens hit a knee for a two-count. Bowens landed a Claim To Fame for a two-count. Moxley asked Bowens to hit him while flipping off Caster and Bowens obliged. Bowens picked up the boombox, but Ref Aubrey took it away. Bowens tried to hit Bowens with a chain, but Moxley ducked. Caster ran in, but Moxley threw him out. Moxley landed a King Kong Lairat and then the Paradigm Shift for the win.
Jon Moxley defeated Anthony Bowens via pinfall in 12:03.
After the match, Bryan Danielson was shown watching Moxley on a TV in the back. Danielson smiled at the camera. Excalibur ran down the card for the night before throwing to commercial.
McGuire’s Musings: I was obviously not here for last week’s Rampage, so this is the first time I’ve seen Moxley on television after losing all that weight. In some ways, he looks great. In others, I’m like … damn. That’s a lot of weight. Anyway, this was good and more competitive than I thought it would be. That makes sense, of course, considering how long Moxley was out, and if they are telling the story that he’s trying to get his feet back under him, this is a great way to do it. Speaking of which, Bowens has looked real good in his last few singles outings on cable TV. He’s not getting wins, but it feels like he might start getting them soon. This was a good effort from everyone involved.
Back from break, a Ruby Soho vs. Nyla Rose video aired. We then cut to Andrade, who walked into an empty room with Darby Allin in it. Darby was laughing, but Andrade tried to give him a speech convincing him to sign a contract. Darby said he’s lived in cars and money doesn’t mean a lot to him. Darby said Andrade can’t buy his dignity. Darby tried to leave, but Andrade stopped him, so Darby pulled out a bat. Andrade said he needed to talk to Darby’s boss and left the room.
2. FTR vs. Lee Johnson and Brock Anderson. Nobody’s entrance was televised. Johnson and Wheeler started the match and it wasn’t long before Anderson tagged in. Harwood tagged in after Wheeler slowed things down. Harwood and Anderson exchanged attempted head-locks and scissors before everything stopped. The two locked up and Anderson took Harwood down, tagged in Johnson and hit a double back-body-drop. Johnson completed dives on both FTR members, who were on the outside of the ring on opposite sides of the ring. Johnson landed a cross-body-block onto Harwood back inside the ring. The second PIP began [c].
Back from break, FTR had control, but Johnson hit a neck-breaker. It didn’t matter because Wheeler tagged in, but Johnson ultimately wiggled through and got the hot tag to Anderson. Anderson worked over Wheeler and the sequence ended with a gut-wrench suplex. Wheeler and Anderson traded roll-ups for two-counts. Johnson tagged in and Johnson landed a kick and a spinning frog-splash for a two-count that only ended because Wheeler got his foot on the rope. Anderson went outside the ring and confronted Tully. Tully backed into Arn. Arn decked Tully. Inside the ring, Johnson hit a lateral press for a two-count. Johnson tried to pick up Wheeler, but Harwood tagged in and FTR hit the spike pile-driver for the win.
FTR defeated Lee Johnson and Brock Anderson via pinfall in 10:11.
A video chronicling the feud between Thunder Rosa and Mercedes Martinez aired. Martinez said she will face Rosa on next week’s Rampage. We then went to commercial.
McGuire’s Musings: The Arn/Tully interaction was unneeded. Forced, even. I’m not sure why anyone would want to sign off on that, but I digress. The match was good – better than I thought it would be and way, way more competitive than I thought it would be. There were even a few moments where I briefly thought Johnson and Anderson would get the upset (maybe because FTR has that much real life respect for Arn?). Brock looks better each time I see him and FTR continues to prove that they’re probably the best tag-team in the world. They can work so many different styles so quickly, and sometimes even in the same match. These two teams provided a welcome surprise. And I say that with all the respect in the world.
3. Jade Cargill vs. Julia Hart for the TBS Title. The two locked up to begin the match. Cargill hit a shoulder-block and posed. Hart tried to jump at Cargill, but Cargill caught her and landed a spinning back-breaker. Cargill covered Hart but got up at one to taunt her. Cargill then did some push-ups and sit-ups. Hart rolled Cargill up for a one-count. Hart went for a clothesline, but Cargill didn’t sell it. Hart hit some kicks and a hand-spring splash, but Cargill lifted Hart. Hart counrtered into a roll-up for a two-count. Cargill hit a pump-kick, her finisher and that was the end.
Jade Cargill defeated Julia Hart via pinfall to retain the TBS Title in 2:25.
We cut to the split-screen main-event bit with Mark Henry. Matt Hardy spoke for Private Party, saying they beat Jurassic Express on the final Dynamite on TNT. Christian Cage chimed in on behalf of Jurassic Express. Christian said Private Party aren’t on Jurassic Express’s level. Jungle Boy mentioned how Private Party keeps saying they’re going to pound his ass. Oh. Henry proclaimed it was time for the main event. Excalibur ran down the Dynamite card for Wednesday as well as a few things for next week’s Rampage. The entrances for the main event took place.
McGuire’s Musings: On paper, Jade Cargill and Julia Hart doesn’t sound like a match that’s going to necessarily be launched into the history books as one of the best to ever take place in women’s wrestling. But you know what? I’m really starting to like the way AEW has booked Cargill, now complete with a 26-0 record. Go up and down the AEW women’s roster and tell me there’s someone on it that feels like someone who would be a natural fit to give Cargill her first loss. You can’t. Sure, it’s the Goldberg trick, and yeah, it’s a pro wrestling trope as old as time. But I like it here. And Cargill sells it very well. The match itself was pretty much nothing, but that’s what it should have been. I want to see what’s next for both of them because Hart seems like she’s been a minute away from turning into something much more interesting for a little while now.
4. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus vs. Private Party for the AEW Tag Titles. Private Party jump-started the match and hit the Jin & Juice on Jungle Boy, but Jungle Boy kicked out after two-and-a-half. Private Party went for stereo splashes on Jungle Boy, but Jungle Boy moved. Eventually, Jungle Boy tagged in Luchasaurus and Private Party left the ring. Outside the ring, Luchasaurus threw The Blade. Hardy got involved with a chair as the ref’s back was turned, giving the heels the advantage. The final PIP began [c].
Back from the beat, the action was outside and Luchasaurus was selling for the HFO. Kassidy held Luchasaurus’s leg to prevent him from getting the hot tag. Ultimately, both Private Party members held onto a leg apiece to stop Luchasaurus, but Luchasaurus persevered and tagged in Jungle Boy. Jungle clotheslined Kassidy to the outside and Jungle Boy hit a series of splashes onto Private Party on the outside.
Back inside the ring, Kassidy regained control with an enziguri, which got him a two-count. Kassidy went to the top, but Jungle Boy cut him off. Before long, all four men were in the ring and Jungle Boy landed some type of splash that was an inch away from breaking Jungle Boy’s neck. Jungle Boy only got a two-count out of it. Private Party went for the Silly String on Luchasaurus, who received it and rolled out of the ring. Jungle Boy jumped into action with the Snare Trap, but Quen landed a shooting star press to break everything up. Quen tagged in and Private Party went for Gin & Juice, but, that was countered into the Thurassic Express for the win.
Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus defeated Private Party via pinfall to retain the AEW Tag Titles in 10:52.
After the match, the Gunn Club (or Ass Boys) attacked Jurassic Express because the Ass Gunn Club are now the No. 1 contenders for the tag titles. The Gunn Ass Club Boys posed to end the show.
McGuire’s Musings: It was hard to believe Private Party was going to win, not just because they are part of the Hardy Family Office (which never seems to win a match, ever), but also because we are so early into the reign of Jurassic Express, it just wouldn’t make much sense. The writing had to be on the wall when Private Party started the damn thing with a Gin & Juice and it still wasn’t enough to get the surprise victory. It was like when Fuego Del Sol hit a few Tornado DDTs on Miro and then proceeded to get his ass kicked for the next six minutes. Anyway, this was fine as an AEW tag-team match. Some chaos. Interesting, visually dangerous moves. Outside-the-ring action. If you dig that, you’ll dig this.
As for the entire episode, this was good. Outside of last week (because I can’t speak to it), this was one of the better episodes in recent memory, even if that statement only comes as a result of having few expectations for this week’s card. I’m enjoying the Jade Cargill dominance more and more each week. Brock Anderson and Lee Johnson have something solid on their hands. Jon Moxley is a treat to see, and … well … Jungle Boy’s entrance music is fun? I’ll have more to say on my members’ only audio review.