Welcome to the AEW Rampage review for Oct. 22nd, 2021. It’s already been a pretty good week for fans of wrestling – well, for those of us who couldn’t care less about some old fart burying a top-class athlete in the Saudi Desert just to satisfy his ego and his bank account – and with a top-notch MLW Fusion ALPHA already under our belts, it was time for AEW Rampage to step up and prove why it’s the best hour you can spend sitting in front of your telly, without having to have the curtains closed and the doors locked. But enough about my hobbies, let’s lace up our boots and head to the ring to see if AEW Rampage could live up to the hype?
AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament First Round Match: Orange Cassidy vs. Powerhouse Hobbs
We kicked off this week’s AEW Rampage with the AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament First Round Match between Orange Cassidy and Powerhouse Hobbs. And if you think I’m writing AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament First Round Match every time I review AEW, you’ve got another thing coming, Grevas. Right from the off it was obvious that The Orange One was at a massive disadvantage due to the fact that a certain Mr. Matt Hardy had leg-dropped him through a table and seriously messed up his ribs. It also didn’t help Cassidy’s cause that he was in there with Powerhouse Hobbs who was even angrier than usual. This is because Cassidy knocked his ass out just over a year ago and pinned him in around 10 seconds, and Hobbs was out for vengeance.
With Big Money Matt watching on from ringside, Powerhouse Hobbs lived up to his name and lay a whupping on Orange Cassidy that is probably illegal in about 43 States. It was obvious that Hobbs was going to be focusing on Cassidy’s injury and he almost had him straight away after he ducked The Orange Punch and hit him with a Spinebuster so brutal that it shifted a few tectonic plates. Cassidy managed to kick out, but it set the tone for the remainder of the match. Hobbs attacked the wounded Cassidy and no matter what he tried, it didn’t look like the latter would ever get a foothold in the match.
Then the finish happened and I died a little inside.
Look, I get it. I understand that they have to keep Powerhouse Hobbs strong, but this just felt like a cop-out. And it didn’t really make any sense. Hobbs was fully in control of the match and while he had Cassidy trapped against the turnbuckle, he laid in a beating but didn’t stop when the ref warned him to. Now, normally this would be an automatic disqualification, but the ref reprimanded him instead which led to Hobbs snapping, picking the ref up, and then getting in his face. When his partner in crime, Hook, jumped up onto the apron to calm him down he realized he might be about to get the DQ, so he did. Then the ref shoved him, he shoved the ref, and Cassidy grabbed him in The Mouse Trap for the 1-2-3.
The fact is there is no logical reason why Hobbs did this. It was as good as over and he would’ve walked away with the win if he’d just managed to control his temper. I get that he was mad about being embarrassed in their last meeting, but it’s almost as if they’d booked themselves into a corner and couldn’t figure out how to get the result they wanted without damaging someone they have big plans for. It didn’t ruin the bout for me – far from it as it was an excellent encounter – but if they had planned for Orange Cassidy to go over, why not keep the two separated until later in the tournament?
Here’s hoping that it was just a one-off and that we don’t get a repeat performance when The Murderhawk takes on Eddie Kingston.
Winner and Advancing To Round Two: Orange Cassidy
Next, we had an in-ring interview with one-half of the AEW World Tag-Team Champions, Penta El Zero Miedo. Except we didn’t. Not really. Penta came to the ring to talk to Tony Schiavone about FTR beating himself and Rey Fenix for the AAA Tag Team Titles – which they’d held for two years – but before he could speak, he noticed two “fans” – a couple of stagehands – wearing the green masks that Dax and Cash had worn when they “cheated” their way to victory. Instead of ignoring them, he went and tore the offending items off the “fans” heads, and then was bum-rushed from behind by the dastardly duo. Eventually, PAC made the save, but this whole segment just seemed like filler to me. It didn’t add anything new to this feud. It’s no surprise that the villains behaved like bastards here, so who was this for?
Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D vs. Anna Jay
It’s safe to say that I haven’t been kind towards AEW Women’s Divison in the past. In fact, I wasn’t sure if it would ever attain the level that it aspired to, and was convinced that it would always just be an afterthought in a world of dream matches and Young Bucks. However, that’s why pencils have erasers and the AEW Women’s Divison is, currently, the best in the world. And leading that charge is the sensational Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D.
It’s no exaggeration to say that she is on a completely different level at the moment. She’s a bad guy that everyone cheers, not because it’s cool to cheer the bad guy but because she really is that damn good. Her match with Anna Jay – no slouch herself in between the ropes – had all the hallmarks that show just why Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. is nearly everyone’s favorite wrestler. And for those few of you that are still holding out, just watch it and you’ll see why.
She’s a true student of the art and can meet any competitor on their level. Whether they want to mat wrestle, fly high, or just go toe to toe, she has the tools in her locker to hang with anyone. And her ring awareness is second to none. She always knows where the camera is and plays to it beautifully. It can be a subtle wink to the audience when she hits a great move, a look of disgust as the ref only counts two, or making sure that we all get an eyeful of her finishing move, she plays to you, the viewer at home, and makes you feel as if you’re right there in the middle of the action with her.
Both the good doctor and Anna Jay really put on a show on this week’s AEW Rampage, with Jay taking it to Baker and seemingly confounding the World Champion at every step, only for Dr. Britt to pull off the win – without outside interference, no matter what they were trying to sell you on commentary – with a superkick followed by the Lockjaw. It was a hard-fought victory and one that won’t damage Anna Jay at all. She more than held her own and looked a sinch to pick up the win herself – and this being a non-title match, that’s what I fully expected – but, unfortunately, just fell short.
Winner: Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D
There was the obligatory beatdown after the match, as Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D returned to the prone figure of Anna Jay in the middle of the ring and slapped on the Lockjaw once again. Fortunately for Anna Jay, Tay Conti rushed to her aid and cleaned house, posing with the belt after to show she’s coming for Baker. There have only been four AEW Women’s World Champions in the company’s two-year history. This is partly down to the fact that Hikaru Shida held the thing for over a year, but also because it doesn’t look as if AEW wants to treat their titles like hot potatoes. Do I think that Tay Conti will become AEW Women’s World Champion? Yes. Do I think it will be AEW: Full Gear, which would be the logical choice for their face-off? No.
PAC vs. Andrade El Idolo
This f*cking match was off the chain. That right there could be my full review of PAC vs. Andrade El Idolo and I’m pretty sure it tells you all you need to know about what happened between the two, but we’ve got ad space to sell, so I better elaborate somewhat. This fight proved to me that not only does Vince McMahon not watch what his competitors are doing, he’s is so far removed from what a huge untapped chunk of wrestling fans want that until he jacks it all in the WWE will always be a place for casual fans and children alike. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being a casual fan – or a child for that matter – but this wasn’t Sports Entertainment, this was a f*cking war.
As soon as the bell hit, PAC dropped Andrade with the most vicious snap suplex I have ever seen, and after Andrade had rolled to the floor to get his breath, he followed him by flying over the top rope and smashing Andrade into the ground. It was glorious. This was the fight. This was how it went throughout its near 20 minutes run time. both men put everything on the line to put on a battle that broke my five-star rating system, let alone Dave Meltzer’s.
Which it probably didn’t. Wouldn’t have been NJPW enough for him.
Anyone, all snide comments aside, this wasn’t just the best match on AEW Rampage so far, it is the best match I’ve seen all year, and considering some of the world-class performances that have been on offer from all companies outside of Stamford that should be enough reason for you to go seek it out if you haven’t already.
Need a little more convincing? Alright, how about this. We got a clean finish! These kinds of matches never have a clean finish unless it’s on a PPV – and then they can still fall foul of shenanigans – but PAC pinned Andrade 1-2-3 in the middle of the ring to get the victory. Admittedly, the second the ref’s hand had hit the final count the lights in the arena went out, and when they came back up Malakai Black was in the ring and he and Andrade laid a hurting on PAC – only for Cody Rhodes to return to save the day – but they could’ve easily not had the three count and just done the light thing and had it end in a DQ. Yet, they refrained from doing so as it would’ve ruined the aesthetics of the greatest match – so far – of 2021.
Neil’s Final Thoughts.
Once again, AEW Rampage proved why it is the best one-hour show going at the moment. There’s no need for it to be any longer, they get in, get the job done, get out, and leave you wanting more. And that’s all you can ask from your wrestling. The urge to consume more of it. You don’t get a chance to go for a piss-break, you don’t find yourself lagging and scrolling through your phone as you wait for something better to come along. It’s full-throttle from the first second and there’s no fat that needs trimming. You can’t tell a multi-billion dollar company how to run their business – and you sure as hell can’t tell Vince McMahon about making money – but I do feel that if the WWE were to cut RAW by an hour and allow their performers to perform, rather than Sports Entertain, then they’d go a long way to bringing back to the fold those of us who’ve gotten sick of it’s bloated, 1970s rock-band, self-indulgence.
Let’s face it, The Damned were always cooler than Yes and AEW is the punk rock injection that wrestling so desperately needed.