By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 28)
Taped February 16, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee at Nashville Municipal Auditorium
Aired February 18, 2022 on TNT
The commentary team of Excalibur, Taz, Ricky Starks and Chris Jericho was announced. Excalibur noted how Rampage is kicking off the NBA all-star weekend. Adam Cole’s music hit and the crowd went nuts.
1. Adam Cole vs. 10. The crowd chanted “10” to begin the match and 10 threw Cole to the ground. Cole attempted a shoulder block, but it didn’t work, so 10 tried one of his own and that did work. 10 cornered Cole and landed a series of elbow strikes before hitting a German Suplex. 10 climbed on top of the middle rope to hit some punches, but Cole snuck out and kicked 10’s leg. Cole then worked over 10’s leg on the ring post.
Back on their feet, Cole hit some elbows and hit a neck-breaker. Cole went to lift 10, but 10 blocked it and landed a long delayed vertical suplex. That got 10 a two-count. Cole got up and kicked 10’s leg again before throwing him outside, where he slammed 10’s leg onto the ring steps. Cole mocked 10. The two found themselves back in the ring and Cole wrapped 10’s leg around the ropes, but 10 fought back. 10 went to run at Cole, but couldn’t because of his leg. As a result, Cole landed a pump-kick and Excalibur threw to the first PIP of the night [c].
ack from the break, 10 fired up and hit a slam on Cole. 10 went for a full-nelson, but Cole countered with an enziguri and a back-stabber for a two-count. Cole went for the Panama Sunrise, but 10 countered with a back-drop. 10 eventually hit a tough discuss lariat for a two-count. Cole ran at 10 and hit a leg lariat before going for the Panama Sunrise again, but 10 countered again with a spear, this time getting another two-count.
10 went for a full-nelson, but Cole rolled 10 up for a two-count. Cole went for a kick, but 10 sunk in the full-nelson, finally. Cole distracted Ref Aubrey and hit a low-blow. Cole hit a couple super-kicks and then landed the Boom for the victory.
Adam Cole defeated 10 via pinfall in 9:52.
After the match, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly met Cole at the top of the ramp. A video on CM Punk vs. MJF at Revolution aired.
McGuire’s Musings: After the day Shawn Spears has had, stirring up a few things on The Twitter, it was quite the thing to hear a crowd chant “10!” a bunch of times. I digress. This was good. AEW did a good job of quickly mildly heating up 10 over the last couple weeks to make this match feel more competitive than it would have, say, six months ago. And 10 looked good, too. He’s been in the gym, you can tell, and he’s transformed nicely into a sort of powerhouse. Cole, meanwhile, can’t really have a bad match with anyone. Or if he did, it’d be awfully hard to accomplish such a feat. As far as openers go, this was solid.
2. Dante Martin vs. Powerhouse Hobbs in a qualifier for the Face of the Revolution ladder match. Hobbs jump-started the match by attacking Martin in the corner. Martin came back at Hobbs with a leap, but Hobbs caught him with a choke. Martin came back with a pair of dropkicks. With Hobbs on the outside, Martin went for a springboard move, but Hobbs caught him. Eventually, Hobbs punched Martin out of the ring.
Outside the ring, Hobbs threw Martin into a guardrail that came complete with a sign from a fan that said “Hobbs understands Steiner math.” Hobbs threw Martin back into the ring in an impressive spot. Hobbs threw Martin across the ring, which appears to be the calling card for those who have qualified for the ladder match. Excalibur threw to the second PIP of the night [c].
Back from the break, Hobbs had Martin in a bear hug. Martin tried to fight back, which included a hard uppercut, but Hobbs cut him off and got a two-count. Hobbs sank his knee pad and went for a knee drop, but Martin moved. Martin landed a springboard uppercut for a two-count. Hobbs rolled to the outside and Martin hit a tornado off the top rope. Back in the ring. Martin went to the top rope and landed an insanely high dropkick for a two-count. Martin went to follow up, but Hobbs landed a spine-buster, which was enough for the win.
Powerhouse Hobbs defeated Dante Martin via pinfall to earn a spot in the Face of the Revolution ladder match in 9:29.
The show cut to an interview with Jade Cargill backstage. Cargill asked who was next before she was cut off by Matt Hardy and The Bunny. Cargill said she walks, talks and smells like money. Mark Sterling essentially accepted the challenge for Cargill. Serena Deeb then made her entrance for her five-minute rookie challenge.
3. Serena Deeb vs. Angelica Risk. Deeb pointed to the screen and the clock once the bell rang. Deeb grabbed a hammer-lock before grounding Risk. Deeb turned her back to Risk, so Risk tried for a full-nelson, but Deeb quickly countered that and ground her boot into Risk’s face. Deeb went for a cover, but pulled Risk up with about three-and-a-half minutes left in the challenge. Deeb toyed with Risk. Risk tried to fight back, but Deeb caught her with a powerbomb. Deeb sunk in the Serenity Lock for the win.
Serena Deeb defeated Angelica risk via submission in 2:03.
Excalibur hyped the main event and threw to a commercial break.
McGuire’s Musings: You know how hard it is to type “Serena Deeb” and constantly have auto-correct make it “Serena Deep” during a live review? Anyway, backing up a minute, it appears AEW is going to go with the meathead/gun show version of the Revolution ladder match and I like it. It’s unexpected and fun and kind of fresh. The finish for Hobbs/Martin felt a little off if only because it came out of nowhere — and we didn’t get a can’t-miss moment from Martin, which we have been accustomed to assume we’ll get — but the match was fine nonetheless. Hobbs looked every bit the powerhouse he is. Now to the Deeb challenge. It appeals to this viewed because I tend to like those kind of gimmicks and I’ve been a big fan of Deeb for a while now. It’s so fun to see her get as much shine as she’s been getting.
Back from break, the Mark Henry split-screen interview segment began. Jay White said the entire wrestling world is talking about him. White said some people are familiar with him and some have been living under a rock, but Trent is familiar with him. White said he is there to get rid of Trent and remind everyone it’s still White’s era. Trent responded by welcoming White to AEW, through the Forbidden Door. Trent said he’s slamming the door in White’s “pervert” face and that ended the segment. Excalibur then ran down the card for Dynamite. We’re getting Sammy vs. Andrade for the TNT title on next week’s Rampage and Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa, along with Adam Cole vs. Adam Page will take place at Revolution.
4. Jay White vs. Trent Beretta. White stepped onto the apron once the bell rang. The two locked up and White got the best of Trent with a chop and some boots. White sunk in a head-lock, but then hit the ropes for Trent to land a back elbow, taking White down. Trent hit a chop on White in every corner. White rolled to the apron and pulled Trent outside, ramming Trent on the apron and guardrail. Trent then threw White into a guardrail. Trent hit a clothesline, taking White down and throwing White back into the ring. White suplexed Trent over the top rope, out of the ring, with Trent’s back hitting the apron in a wild spot. The final PIP began [c].
Back from the break, White had control and kicked Trent in the side. Trent tried to fight back, but White cut him off. Trent threw White into the corner to even the odds and White rolled to the outside. Trent went for a moonsault on White on the outside and Trent got awfully high for it, but White didn’t really catch him. Trent rolled White back into the ring. Trent went for a Tornado DDT, but White countered into a flat-liner. White hit a deadlift German Suplex for a two-count.
White ran at Trent, but Trent caught him and hit that Tornado DDT. Jericho went off on the fact that Orange Cassidy was at ringside. Trent hit a series of elbows. Trent ran toward White and landed a dropkick to White’s head. White rolled outside, where Trent went for a spear, but White got a knee up. White suplexed Trent onto a chair and then rolled Trent back into the ring.
In the ring, White slammed Trent for a two-count. White landed a loud chop, but Trent hit a back-drop for a comeback. Trent landed a half-and-half and a knee strike for a very close near-fall. Trent went for his finisher, but White fought his way out. On their feet, the two traded elbows. White ultimately dropped Trent to his knees, but Trent caught a lariat and hit a pile-driver for another good near-fall. Trent lifted White for his finisher, but White got out of it and hit the Bladerunner for the win.
Jay White defeated Trent Beretta via pinfall in 15:10.
White posed over Trent and Cassidy appeared unhappy. White laughed at Cassidy and left the ring. Cassidy took off his glasses to stare down White. White talked to the camera before walking up the ramp to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: This was fun for me, speaking selfishly, as someone who covers NJPW Strong for this website because White worked a faster pace here than he typically does on Strong (which makes sense), and he also gave his opponent a lot more than he typically does on Strong (which makes sense, too). I’m really happy these guys got the time they deserved, too, because going 15 minutes on Rampage isn’t something you see every week. Trent continues to look better than he’s ever looked since coming back from injury and I keep waiting for some movement up the card that seems inevitable. White, meanwhile, is the Bullet Club leader/badass that knows exactly who he is and is very, very good at it. It might sound simple, but this was a quality main event.
Overall, this was a good episode of Rampage. It lands squarely in the middle of some of AEW’s better ones and some of AEW’s not-so-better ones. The main event is worth your time if you’re familiar with any of Trent and Switchblade’s NJPW history, and that opening match saw 10 step up in ways we haven’t seen him step up before. There are worse ways to spend the beginning of a Friday night (and please, Tony Khan, can we make the 7 p.m. start time a real thing someday? Asking for a friend). I’ll have more to say in my members’ only audio review.