By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 26)
Taped February 2, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois at Wintrust Arena
Aired February 4, 2022 on TNT
Excalibur introduced the broadcast team of him, Chris Jericho, Ricky Starks and Taz. Adam Cole’s music hit and Cole walked to the ring by himself with Evil Uno already in the ring.
1. Adam Cole vs. Evil Uno. Cole gave Uno a book to begin the match. Cole showed a bunch of aggression, attacking Uno in a corner. Cole hit a backstabber. Cole went for a kick, but Uno caught him and threw Cole’s leg to the ref, who held it and Uno struck Cole.
Uno hit a series of chops and punches. Coming out of a corner, Uno hit a boot before heading to the top and attempting a Senton, but Cole got the knees up. Cole landed a high knee and a kick that dropped Uno to the mat. Cole hit another kick. Cole took down his knee pad and hit The Boom. That was enough for the win.
Adam Cole defeated Evil Uno via pinfall in 2:29.
After the match, Cole took a microphone and called out Frankie Kazarian, Jungle Boy, Anthony Greene, John Silver, Wheeler Yuta, Orange Cassidy and others, saying they were all involved in his undefeated singles run in AEW. Cole said his record says he’s undefeated because the Lights Out match didn’t count toward his record. Cole said he’s a new Adam Cole that takes what he wants and he said he wants respect. Cole said people seem to forget who the hell he is. Cole said he’s one of the best pro wrestlers on the planet and he has been for years. Cole said he has won world championship after world championship for years.
Cole said at the end of the day, Adam Cole always ends up becoming The Guy. He said Adam Cole always ends up running the show. Cole said everyone at the end of the day craves certainty and there’s one thing that is certain: He will become the AEW world heavyweight champion. Cole threw down the mic to end the segment.
The show cut to a Jade Cargill promo. Mark Sterling chimed in and explained that Cargill is 26-0. Sterling said she’ll soon become 27-0. Cargill made a mockery of everyone calling her green. She ended things by saying TBS is “That Bitch Show.” Sammy Guevara then made his entrance.
2. Sammy Guevara vs. Isiah Kassidy for the TNT Championship. Kassidy did not get a televised entrance. Guevara came out with both TNT belts. The two locked up and Kassidy hit a chop that Guevara didn’t sell. Kassidy eventually landed a dropkick and posed, but Guevara slapped Kassidy. The two brawled a little before Kassidy hit Guevara’s ribs, which were taped. Guevara hit a dropkick of his own and posed. With Kassidy on the outside, Guevara landed a dive onto Kassidy. Eventually, Matt Hardy interfered, slamming Guevara onto the apron. The first PIP began [c].
McGuire’s Musings: Whew. A lot packed into the first 15 minutes this week. It was interesting to see what essentially amounted to Rampage’s first male squash with Cole over Uno. Poor Evil Uno, by the way. This was obviously a vehicle for Cole to get his heat back, which he did by working the match more aggressively and then cutting that fiery promo after it. All roads seem to point to Page retaining on Dynamite and heading to Revolution to face Cole. But that’s pure speculation. Also I understand what Cargill is doing, but “That Bitch Show” could mean so many different things, and not a lot of them are necessarily flattering for Rampage or AEW, but I digress.
Back from the break, Sammy tried to lift Kassidy, but he couldn’t because of his injured ribs. Sammy then climbed to the top, but was distracted by Andrade’s music, which hit. Andrade eventually came out, but Guevara wouldn’t stop looking at him, so someone’s been watching WWE lately. As a result, Kassidy took control and got a good near fall after a series of offense. With Guevara on the outside, Kassidy hit a tope suicida and then a Senton on Guevara, who was back in the ring. That got Kassidy a two-count.
Guevara snuck in a back-slide for a two-count and the two then traded kicks. Guevara hopped up for a springboard cutter and hit it, but that only got him a two-count. Guevara finally lifted Kassidy and hit the GTH. After selling his injury, Guevara covered Kassidy and got the win.
Sammy Guevara defeated Isiah Kassidy via pinfall in 9:17 to retain the TNT Championship.
After the match, Andrade entered the ring with Matt Hardy. Darby Allin’s music hit and Darby ran to the ring. Andrade offered Darby a contract, but Darby aligned with Guevara. Darby eyed up the TNT title. Excalibur threw it to a QT Marshall segment. Marshall said he was sick and tired of hearing about Hook. Marshall said he’s sending one of his prized students to face Hook next week.
McGuire’s Musings: That was a good match. Kassidy is sneaky-good, and he doesn’t get a lot of singles in-ring time, not to mention he can be overlooked being in that 5,048-person faction he’s in. But he held his own and while I thought it was impossible that Guevara would drop his belt(s), they had me on a couple of those near-falls. Darby vs. Sammy should be a lot of fun, if that’s the way they’re going. They’ve already had really good matches and I’d love to see another chapter in that story. I don’t know who QT Marshall is sending to face Hook next week, but unless it’s the ghost of Dusty Rhodes, I can’t imagine being surprised and I can’t imagine Hook losing. But we’ll see.
Back from the break, Kris Statlander spoke backstage, calling out Layla Hirsch. It ended ended quickly when Hirsch leveled Statlander with a chair. Mercedes Martinez then made her entrance.
3. Thunder Rosa vs. Mercedes Martinez. Rosa started the match with a shotgun dropkick. Rosa worked over Martinez’s back with elbows and more. Outside the ring, Rose threw Martinez into the barricade. Rosa landed a suplex on Martinez on the outside and rolled Martinez back into the ring. Rosa kept control with strikes across Martinez’s chest. Martinez finally got a hold of things with a spine-buster and Excalibur threw it to the second PIP of the night [c].
Back form the break, Martinez hit an Avalanche Death Valley Driver from the second rope and that led to a two-count. Martinez lifted Rosa again, but Rosa rolled out and hit a knee strike. Rosa suplexed Martinez in a weird way. The action spilled outside, where Rosa threw Martinez into the ring steps. Martinez found a lead pipe and clocked Rosa with it, ending the match in a DQ.
Thunder Rosa defeated Mercedes Martinez via disqualification in 7:45.
Excalibur threw to a package on Serena Deeb. Tony Schiavone, backstage, interviewed Martinez. Brit Baker confronted Martinez, saying that wasn’t what they discussed. Martinez said she did her job and she took Thunder Rosa out. Baker said Martinez needs to finish the job and if she doesn’t, she’ll make sure her time in AEW is “shorter than her time at her last job.”
McGuire’s Musings: Booo. Jericho went to immediate great pains to explain to everybody that DQ finishes never happen in AEW, and he was right. But it did here, and it did for one of the more intriguing women matchups the company has put together in a little bit at least. I wanted to see a clean finish. To be fair, the Baker/Martinez story adds another wrinkle, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the whole, “I’m paying you to beat someone I don’t like up” wrestling trope that happens every now and then. It’s too … corny? Unbelievable? Movie-ish? I don’t know. Pick any of those and you wouldn’t be wrong. I hope they run the match back sooner than later.
Back from break, we jumped to the main event split-screen segment featuring Mark Henry that I guess everybody likes? Lethal said he’s ending the night as the FTW World Champion. Starks said he’s the last of a dying breed. Lethal asked what will happen tonight if he loses the FTW title, which he said will happen tonight. Henry then said it’s time for the main event. Excalibur announced that the Face of the Revolution ladder match will return at Revolution. He ran down the card for Dynamite, which included a big announcement from Tony Khan. Jay Lethal made his entrance.
4. Ricky Starks vs. Jay Lethal for the FTW Championship. The crowd had dueling chants before the two tied up to begin the match. Lethal hit a shoulder-block that took Starks down. It happened again. Lethal went to strut, but Starks slapped Lethal, which fired things up and the two brawled. Lethal tried to lift Starks, but Starks countered and hit an elbow and knee. Lethal tripped Starks to the outside and hit a tope suicida. Lethal did it again, but Powerhouse Hobbs confronted Lethal. Starks regained control with a clothesline as the final PIP began [c].
Back from the break, Starks was working a headlock on Lethal. Starks went for a DDT, but Lethal countered into a hell of a clothesline. Lethal went for a back-slide, but Starks got out at one. Lethal landed a back-breaker before putting Starks on his head for a two-count. Starks went for a power-bomb and after some back-and-forth landed it. That got Starks a two-count. On their knees, the two traded punches and slaps.
On their feet, the two traded slaps and chops. Lethal stopped it with a kick and an enziguri. Hobbs jumped onto the apron, but Lethal kicked him off it. Lethal jumped at Hobbs through the ropes, but Hobbs moved. Dante Martin appeared and took out Hobbs. Back in the ring Lethal hit a cutter, but didn’t go for the cover. Lethal went for the Lethal Injection, but Starks countered to hit his finisher, which was wild, and that was it.
Ricky Starks defeated Jay Lethal via pinfall in 12:50 to retain the FTW Championship.
The show closed with Starks and Hobbs backing up the runway.
McGuire’s Musings: That was very good and I thought we had a chance of seeing Lethal pull out the victory, which would open the door to some interesting stories moving forward, but it was not to be. And, in hindsight, I think that’s the right call. Maybe someone not on Team Taz will someday win the FTW Title, but it probably shouldn’t be a guy who’s only had a handful of matches on AEW TV. These two work really well together, though, and I’d be happy to see a rematch someday (though not right away). We also can’t overstate how fantastic that finish was and make no mistake that the hype for Ricky Starks is real. I thought this, in particular, was one of his better outings in AEW and I’m almost about to start a movement for him to move out of the FTW picture, if only because it will most likely always be a mid card position and he could use a push to the next level. But that’s just me.
In all, this was a good episode of Rampage and one that never seemed to slow down. A lot of interviews, packages and just stuff – but not any announcement or news from Tony Khan, which seems to be a habit anymore with him and that company. My guess is they want to pass the announcement of the ladder match at Revolution as the big news, but anyone paying attention on The Twitter Machine all day knows that it was built to be more than that. More so, if the announcement/news was merely that he was going to make an announcement on Wednesday … well, that just plan sucks, now doesn’t it? Either way, I’ll have more to say on my audio review for Dot Net members.