By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 76)
Taped January 18, 2023 in Fresno, California at Save Mart Center
Aired January 20, 2023 on TNT
Jim Ross welcomed everyone in and he was joined by Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and Chris Jericho. Ego was already in the ring and Perry stood on the middle rope until Page jumpstarted with an attempted Ego’s Edge.
1. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry vs. Ethan Page. The action spilled outside quickly, and on the outside was where Matt Hardy and Private Party resided. Perry and Page got back into the ring and Page went for his finisher again, but Perry countered and took control. The action went back to the outside, where Page took back control and celebrated with his crew. Page rolled Perry back inside and worked Perry’s shoulder. Page clotheslined Perry over the top rope and we went back out to ringside, where the two traded chops and Page ran Perry’s head into the ring post. Page chopped Perry and rolled Perry into the ring. Page lifted Perry to slam him and then posed as we went to PIP [c].
Back from break, Perry came back with a big lariat. Page tried to come back with a back-body drop and then hit a pretty power-slam for a two-count. Hardy mocked Page from the outside and Page went for a Twist of Fate, but Perry fought his way out of it. Perry then pounded on Page, but Page came back by actually landing the Twist of Fate, but Perry got a foot on the rope for a break. With Perry on the outside, Hook’s music hit and out, he came. Page tried to roll up Perry, but Perry countered and got the roll up for the win.
“Jungle Boy Jack Perry defeated Ethan Page via pinfall in 10:10.
After the match, Stokely Hathaway came into the ring with a mic and chewed out Hardy. Page said Hardy cost him the match. Page said that wasn’t how it was supposed to go and Hardy owes Page. Page called out Hook and Perry to go against Hardy and Page on Dynamite. Hathaway then said Hardy was on timeout.
McGuire’s Musings: To be clear, the finish included Page trying to hold onto Hardy’s ponytail to try and roll up Perry, but Hardy brushed him off, and that led to the loss. Either way, this was a fine match, but there wasn’t much to it. A lot of Ego’s Edge attempts and a lot of outside work and a lot of offense from Page (which is good, because I’m all for more shine on All Ego). But clearly this was just a vehicle to set up the tag match on Wednesday. My only worry is we are turning JungleHook into a regular team because I think both Hook and Perry are better served as singles wrestlers. Maybe Wednesday really will be the finale?
Back from break, Schiavone was in the ring with Ortiz. Ortiz said Kingston has completely lost it and he’s fed into all the House of Black mind games. Ortiz said Kingston was gonna hit Julia with a chair last week, that’s not right, and Ortiz called out Kingston, who came to the ring with a chair. Ortiz asked Kingston what was up. Ortiz continued to call Kingston out for almost hitting a woman last week. Ortiz said Homicide would say Kingston is a coward and as a result, Kingston hit Ortiz a bunch with a chair and that was the end of the segment.
2. Brian Cage vs. Willie Mack. Both guys got a televised entrance and to that, I say, great for Willie Mack. Cage worked Mack’s arm, but Mack countered and ultimately landed a Samoan Drop into a nip-up, into a dance, and into a missed standing moonsault. From there, Cage hit a German Suplex and Cage posed a little. Cage worked over Mack with chops and kicks. Cage hit a running knee and posed. Action went to the apron, where Mack was slammed onto the ring apron and we got the next PIP [c].
McGuire’s Musings: Well. One, I’m not sure people want to boo Eddie Kingston. And two, I’m not so sure that we need to label Kingston a potential woman-hitter in a story because that’s just not a good-taste wrestling angle to me. Perhaps I’m a prude.
When we got back from break, Mack landed a powerbomb for a good near-fall. Cage came back to slam Mack, but we ended up with another great near-fall. The two traded missed roundhouse kicks, but then Cage hit a powerbomb and rolled that into his for the win.
Brian Cage defeated Willie Mack via pinfall in 9:11.
3. Jade Cargill and Leila Grey vs. Jaida Vanity and Jordyn Vanity. Grey and one of the twins began the match. Grey hit a jumping shoulder-tackle and the other twin tagged in. Cargill then tagged in and Jericho didn’t know how to differentiate the twins. Cargill got a tiny bit of offense before Grey came back into the ring. Grey hit a face-buster and was going to get the pin, but Cargill insisted she tag in and hit Jaded for the win.
Jade Cargill and Leila Grey defeated Jaida Vanity and Jordyn Vanity via pinfall in 3:18.
McGuire’s Musings: I was one of the few who watched the Cage/Mack match from Dark or Dark: Elevation or whatever a vlog or whatever else turned up on AEW YouTube talent stuff, and I loved it. This match was just as good, if not better. Mack and Cage have been working together for a minute and a half and they didn’t disappoint (for more on that, ask fellow staffer John Moore, who’s seen those two work together out west for ages). Cage look great and Mack, after that, might need to be All Elite? Sorry. I’m biased. Meanwhile, the women’s match was the squash it should have been. Who does Jade get for win 50? It’s gotta be at Revolution, right?
Back from break, we got the Mark Henry segment, but for the second week in a row, it was a pre-tape. From there, we got the rundown of the card for Dynamite.
4. Action Andretti vs. Daniel Garcia. Sammy Guevara sat in on commentary. The problem here is the tag match they announced for this coming Wednesday was the tag match they teased on Wednesday … until Garcia said he’d take Andretti out to avoid the tag match. But … . Anyway, Garcia jumpstarted the match by stomping on Andretti. Before long, Action took control and hit a Tornado for a two-count. Andretti landed a tope on Garcia, who was on the outside, but Andretti got greedy and went for a dropkick, but Garcia countered and ran Andretti into the steps before the final break [c].
When we returned from commercial, Garcia stayed on top with some kicks to Andretti’s face. Andretti fired up and landed some lariats and a neck-breaker. Andretti went to the top, but Garcia rolled to the outside, where Andretti landed a moonsault that didn’t land. Back in the ring, Andretti went for a pin, but Garcia kicked out. Andretti jumped at Garcia, but Garcia dropped him. The two traded moves until Andretti hit a neck-breaker for a good near-fall. Andretti went for a splash, but Garcia hit a wild palm-thrust for another good near-fall. After a little bit, Andretti hit the running shooting-star press for the win.
Action Andretti defeated Daniel Garcia via pinfall in 10:37.
After the match, Andretti posed on the ropes to end the show.
McGuire’s Musings: The outcome wasn’t really in doubt, because we are in full storytelling mode on Andretti, but something about it doesn’t work for me. I guess I’m curious to see how this tag match ends on Wednesday, but I’d care a lot more if this thing didn’t feel so contrived. In some ways, this match was indicative of why Rampage has its issues: Sure, we move stories along, and sure, the wrestling isn’t bad, but nothing about it moves anyone to say, “Oh, yeah, we have to see that because without seeing it, we won’t know what’s going on in AEW.” The story developments are inconsequential for at least one of two reasons. One: It’s predictable. Two: It’s irrelevant to the overriding tale. Bah. Maybe I’m grumpy. I’ll have more to say in my audio review.