By Don Murphy, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@DonThePredictor)
AEW Rampage (Episode 121)
Taped November 29, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Target Center
Aired December 1, 2023 on TNT
The Rampage opening aired and pyro shot off from the stage. Excalibur and Tony Schiavone were on commentary….
1. Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta, Danhausen, and Hook vs. Evil Uno, Alex Reynolds, Matt Menard, and Angelo Parker (w/Jake Hager). The heel team was already in the ring while the babyfaces received a televised entrance. The heels attacked the babyfaces to start the match. After clearing the babyfaces from the ring, Evil Uno squared off with Danhausen. Uno missed a charge in the corner allowing Danhusen to get the better of him and Reynolds before tagging out to Hook.
This brought both teams into the ring and a brawl ensued. The babyfaces threw the heels together and hit simultaneous suplexes before hugging. Tony called the hug a “great moment.” Hook hit body blows on Parker before being overtaken by Menard. Individual members from both teams took turns entering the ring without making tags and hitting a series of moves on each other. At the end of the sequence, Hook was left in the ring after suplexing Evil Uno.
ROH Pure Champion Wheeler Yuta came out and joined the commentary team. This distracted Hook and the heels took over on offense as the show went to its first picture-in-picture break. [C]
Hook clotheslined Menard and made the hot tag to Beretta, who took over on Evil Uno before hitting two German suplexes on Reynolds. Uno attempted to kick Beretta but missed and hit Reynolds. Beretta hit a single arm German suplex on Uno. Reynolds kicked Beretta out of the corner but took a backdrop suplex. Cassidy tagged in and hit a series a kicks on both Dark Order members before taking them both down with a dropkick. Cassidy followed up with a Stun Dog Millionaire on Uno. Uno followed up with a big boot and his Something Evil takedown for a near fall that was broken up by Reynolds.
Reynolds hit Cassidy with a boot to the face and perched him on the top rope. Beretta entered and hit a release German suplex on Reynolds from the top rope. Danhausen tagged in and put a curse on Menard before pulling Hager’s hat out of his tights. Hager entered the ring and charged at Danhausen for a clothesline but Danhausen ducked and Hager flew over the top rope.
Menard held Danhausen and Parker took back Hager’s hat. Hook grabbed Parker in his Redrum finisher while Danhausen rolled up Menard for the win.
Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta, Danhausen, and Hook defeated Evil Uno, Alex Reynolds, Matt Menard, and Angelo Parker in about 10:00.
Don’s Take: This was undercard comedy at its best, which is fine in small doses. As I’ve said, Orange Cassidy’s first run with the International Title won me over. So far, I feel like his second run has defined him down into the kind of match we saw here. Like I said, this is fine in small doses, but hopefully this doesn’t become the norm. And if AEW wants to make a match with no rules – fine but having everyone ignore the basic rules of a tag team match is just lazy.
Renee Paquette interviewed Saraya, Ruby Soho, and Anna Jay on the backstage set. Saraya spoke about how happy she was to team with Jay and how pretty she was. Soho tried to interject, and Saraya called her “Liza Minelli” and told her to stop talking. Angelo Parker came in a flirted with Soho. He offered to join them at ringside but Jay she didn’t want any of them there, especially him. This drew applause from Saraya as we went back to the ring…
Tony Schiavone interviewed Sting and Ric Flair in the ring. Tony mentioned Sting’s last match in Greensboro, North Carolina on March 3, 2024 and his 24-0 winning streak. Sting took the microphone and howled. Sting mentioned that he and Flair wrestled on the first and last WCW Monday Nitro in Minnesota. He also said they wrestled a big match that he couldn’t name due to copyright laws. I assume he meant War Games. He mentioned great matches with Lex Luger and Bam Bam Bigelow. He thanked the fans, Tony Khan, Tony Schiavone and Ric Flair.
Flair added from 1972 until today he’s still alive and that’s saying a lot. He said he had a lot of fun but there were three or four people that would always be special in his life – Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Sting who he claims to have wrestled at least 1,500 times. He said the word “icon” didn’t do Sting justice. He said he was so excited to share this final ride with Sting and that it doesn’t happen in real life. He added that since 1988, they’ve stayed open and honest with each other and called Sting the man.
Flair said they were gonna stay all night and then a little longer and then dance all night and dance a little longer. He said he couldn’t tell the fans where they were going to be like the old days but they were going “AEW Strong.” Tony plugged Revolution and said tickets go on sale in two weeks… [C]
Don’s Take: I’m wondering if this promo was edited in any way. Just kidding as we’re likely all familiar with Flair’s invitation to a subset of female fans in the crowd. Good on AEW for not airing it, but the greater concern is that it seems like a good portion of the talent don’t respect Tony Khan as a leader and go into business for themselves. Hopefully, his experience with CM Punk has taught him a few things about being a leader first and a nice guy second. As a quick aside, if you’ve never seen the first Sting-Flair match, go seek it out from the first NWA Clash of the Champions show.
Renee Paquette interviewed Kris Statlander, Hikaru Shida and Skye Blue on the backstage set. Paquette noted that both Statlander and Shida had lost their titles at Full Gear and asked if their upcoming match with Saraya, Anna Jay and Ruby Soho would help rebuild their momentum. Statlander said it was frustrating to lose a title without being pinned and looked at Blue. Blue said that Statlander had plenty of opportunities and the two argued. Shida said she was angry too and suggested they take their anger out on their opponents.
2. Powerhouse Hobbs, Konosuke Takeshita, and Kyle Fletcher (w/Don Callis) vs. Jah-C, Renny D, and Kit Sackett. This was a complete squash with the Callis Family hitting a tandem finisher on all three opponents with Hobbs covering for the pin.
Powerhouse Hobbs, Konosuke Takeshita, and Kyle Fletcher defeated Jah-C, Renny D, and Kit Sackett in about 1:00.
After the match, Callis took the mic and mentioned Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega. He said when you put two of the greatest wrestlers together in a tag team, you get one of the most dominant teams of all time. He said he knows wins and losses matter in AEW, but in the Don Callis Family, the only thing that matters is winning. No matter what kind of match, the Family will continue to dominate until there’s nowhere left for Jericho and Omega to hide.
Don’s Take: A nice showcase win and strong mic work from Callis as usual.
A backstage promo was aired from “earlier today” with Prince Nana, Brian Case and the “Work Horsemen” Anthony Henry and JD Drake. Nana talked about how the “Gates of Agony” are dominating Japan and said that he hired the Work Horsemen for tonight. He noted that if they win, they may be candidates to join the Mogul Embassy.
3. Anna Jay, Ruby Soho, and Saraya vs. Hikaru Shida, Skye Blue, and Kris Statlander. Statlander started out with Anna Jay. Shida and Statlander doubled up on Jay and Shida covered her for a near fall. Blue tagged in and continued the offense. Blue and Statlander took turns blind tagging each other in. Shida then blind tagged herself in.
Shida squared off with Saraya and kicked her in the head and followed by a torture rack. Shida suplexed Soho onto Saraya and covered Saraya for a near fall. Blue tagged in but was kicked from the outside by Soho giving the heels the advantage. The show went to a picture-in-picture break. [C]
After the break, Statlander was cleaning house and covered Soho for a near fall that was broken up by Jay. Jay dragged Soho to the corner and tagged herself in. Saraya hit Statlander with a knee stroke and Jay covered her for a near fall. Jay went for her choke out submission but Statlander caught her with a back suplex. Soho took Statlander down but Blue superkicked her. Saraya superkicked Blue but Shida caught Saraya with a jumping knee.
Jay hit Statlander with a flatliner and held her for a superkick by Soho. Statlander pulled Jay into the blow and Soho ended up hitting Jay with the superkick. Statlander took down Soho and tagged in Blue who hit her Code Blue finisher for the win.
Hikaru Shida, Skye Blue, and Kris Statlander defeated Anna Jay, Ruby Soho and Saraya in about 8:00.
After the match, Shida attempted to celebrate while Blue and Statlander glared at each other. Soho and Jay shoved each other on the floor as Saraya led Soho away scolding her.
Don’s Take: Fine for what it was but neither storyline is doing much for me.
A recap aired of the Continental Classic Gold League matches that aired this past week on Dynamite, while previewing the Blue League matches that will take place on Collision.
4. Penta El Zero Miedo, El Hijo del Vikingo, and Komander (w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. Brian Cage and “The WorkHorsemen” Anthony Henry and JD Drake (w/Prince Nana). Komander started off with Cage who used speed for some brief offense before Cage caught him in a throwaway suplex.
Penta took over on offense on Cage before Cage tagged out to Henry. In addition to hyping the Collision matches, Excalibur announced the following Continental Classic Gold League matches for Dynamite: Mark Briscoe vs. Swerve Strickland, Jon Moxley vs. Rush and Jay White vs. Jay Lethal. He also announced that Toni Storm will defend the AEW Women’s Championship against Skye Blue and Christian Cage will defend the TNT Championship against Adam Copeland.
El Vikingo kept the momentum over Henry until he tagged out to Drake. Drake no sold some chops and took Vikingo down with a chop of his own followed by a throwaway suplex, Vikingo rallied and drove Drake from the ring. Komander and Penta took Henry and Cage down with superkicks while Komander dropkicked Cage to the outside. The babyfaces dove onto the heels but Drake caught Vikingo and clotheslined him. The show went to its final picture-in-picture break. [C]
After the break, Penta was cleaning house taking out all three heels. Komander tagged in and dropkicked Drake. He then launched Henry into Vikingo who met him with a dropkick. Komander dropkicked Drake in the corner. Penta superkicked Cage and Vikingo double stomped him to the back while Komander held him. Penta hit a flying double stomp to Cage for a near fall.
Cage countered with a knee strike. Komander dove at Cage but Cage shoulder blocked him in mid air. Cage threw Komander into Drake who powerbombed him. Drake catapulted Komander into a superkick by Henry. Henry hit a double stomp on Komander for a near fall that was broken up by Vikingo. Drake ejects Vikingo but is superkicked by Penta. Cage took down Penta and Vikingo took down Page. Henry piledrove Vikingo. Penta took down Henry but was driven down by Drake. Komander hits a back heel kick on Drake.
Henry goes to kick Komander but misses and hits Cage. Cage hits Henry with a lariat and shoves Drake before walking out. Penta hits an underhook “Fear Factor” on Henry while Komander and Vikingo each hit their finishers on Henry for the win.
Penta El Zero Miedo, El Hijo del Vikingo, and Komander defeated Brian Cage and “The Work Horsemen” Anthony Henry and JD Drake in about 10:00.
Don’s Take: A fine main event, but again, I feel like the babyfaces are spinning their wheels in these meaningless spotfests and a potential babyface run by Drake and Henry against the Mogul Embassy does nothing for me. There’s a lot of talent here that just isn’t being presented in a meaningful way.
A good show this week, but more of the same as the focus is clearly on the main shows and the Continental Classic. There’s a bit of a holiday break coming up and I think Rampage is on a break for about a week. Hopefully, they can find a way to revamp it in the new year. I’m traveling for work next week so Jason Powell will have you covered for the December 8 episode. I look forward to checking in again on December 15. Until then!