03rd Jan2022

‘AEW: Rampage – New Years Smash’ Review (Dec 31st 2021)

by Phil Wheat

Welcome to this review of AEW: Rampage special New Years Smash programming, which emanates from the home of AEW, Dailys Place in Jacksonville, Florida. We’ve got Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and Ricky Starks on commentary so… Let’s get right into the action!

Match #1: Darby Allin def. The Acclaimed’s Anthony Bowens

The following is courtesy of allelitewrestling.com:

Bowens and Darby had a stare down, sizing each other up. Darby locked on a side headlock and dodged a chop block from Bowens. Bowens used a back heel trip on Darby, but Darby used leverage to get up and then cradle Bowens for a near fall. Bowens punished Darby with knife edge chops and then stomped him in the corner turnbuckles. Darby ran off the ropes and dropkicked Bowens. Caster jumped onto the apron. Darby flipped him off, but the distraction was enough for Bowens. Darby ran toward Bowens but Bowens sent Darby hurling into the ring post. Bowens mounted Darby and hammered down with ground and pound offense. Darby attempted the Coffin Splash but Bowens countered with a waist lock. Darby grabbed Bowens’ ankle and cradled Bowens for a near fall. Bowens blasted Darby with a beautiful combo on offense and then a lateral press for the two-count. Darby nailed Bowens with a big right hand to the jaw, sending Bowens crashing off the turnbuckle. Bowens fought back with a DDT off the ropes, landing The Arrival on Darby Allin! Darby jammed Bowens’ hand into the ring post and then stomped on it. Darby was about to go for a tope suicida but Max jumped onto the ring apron, forcing Darby to stall. Sting got involved, pulling Max down and dispensing of his disruption. Bowens bounced back, rammed Darby’s shoulder into the barricade, and then pancaked Darby on the edge of the ring apron. Bowens entered the ring but the tide changed as Darby caught Bowens off guard with the Code Red for a near fall! Darby Allin, like he was shot out of a cannon, hurled himself at The Acclaimed on the outside the ring, taking both members out on the arena floor! Darby Allin pulled Bowens back in and finished him off with the Coffin Drop for the victory!

My Score: 2.5 out of 5

Match #2: Street Fight – Anna Jay & Tay Conti def. Penelope Ford & The Bunny

The following is courtesy of allelitewrestling.com:

Tay wiped out Penelope with a trash can! Anna Jay nailed The Bunny with brass knucks. Anna Jay and Tay Conti pulled a table out from underneath the ring and set it up. Penelope Ford flung Anna face-first into the ring post! Ford hit a pump kick on Tay and placed her on the table. Penelope hit the moonsault knee drop on Tay onto the table! Penelope pulled a glass bottle out from under the ring and then smashed it on Tay’s head. The Bunny was busted wide open from when Anna Jay stormed her with the brass knucks. Penelope picked up her partner and reassured her, “You still look beautiful.” The Bunny and Penelope Ford pulled another table out from beneath the ring! Tay Conti staggered to her feet and blood was pouring out of her forehead from when she got smacked with the bottle. The Bunny and Ford propped the table against the turnbuckles, and then placed metal folding chairs in front of it. Anna Jay suplexed The Bunny down onto the steel chairs! Anna Jay attempted to apply the Queen Slayer on The Bunny, but The Bunny pushed herself backwards, driving Anna Jay straight through the table! Outside the ring, Penelope rocked Anna Jay onto a ladder with a stunner! The Bunny pulled out a black canvass bag and poured thumbtacks all over the ring! Anna Jay superplexed The Bunny off the turnbuckles and down onto the thumbtacks! Anna Jay attempted to pin The Bunny but Penelope Ford broke up the ref’s count. Penelope Ford caught an elbow in the face from Tay! Tay Conti nearly impaled Penelope Ford with a stuffed piledriver off the ring apron and down through a table! The Bunny pulled out the brass knucks but lost her footing, slipping on the thumbtacks that were spread across the canvass. Anna Jay wrapped barbed wire around her own arm! Anna Jay locked on the Queen Slayer, with the barbed wire around her wrist, and The Bunny was forced to tap out!

My Score: 4.5 out of 5

Match #3: Cody Rhodes def. Ethan Page

The following is courtesy of allelitewrestling.com:

Cody came out of the gate with a body shot and scoop slam to Ethan Page. Cody used a headlock takedown. Dan Lambert grabbed Cody’s boot and Ethan Page connected with a blind shot on Cody. Cody fired back with a standing dropkick. He pursued Ethan Page out onto the ring apron. Cody was looking for the Cross Rhodes on the ring apron but Ethan Page slithered out. Page jumped at Cody with a flying shoulder tackle. “All Ego” Ethan Page rammed Cody’s shoulder into the steel ring post! Page chopped at Cody’s chest. Page tried for a suplex but Cody escaped and hit Page with a chop block. Cody worked over Page’s leg with an Indian Death Lock! Page got out of the hold but Cody went right back to work on Page’s leg. He pulled the knee pad off Ethan Page, dismantling and wrenching Page’s leg with a dragon screw. Cody charged at Page, but Page sprung off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Page took Cody off his feet with a lariat and then a back body drop! Page landed a DDT on Cody Rhodes for a near fall. Outside the ring, Scorpio Sky began to stomp on Cody! “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes ran down to ringside and evened up the odds, brawling with Scorpio Sky. Page was distracted looking at Scorpio Sky and Dustin. Cody seized the opportunity and hit the Cross Rhodes on Ethan Page for a (very) near fall! Dustin and Scorpio Sky were still brawling up the arena steps. Cody teared away at Ethan Page’s knee brace, exposing Page’s knee. Cody propped Page onto the top turnbuckle. Cody jumped up onto the top rope but Page stopped him with a body shot. Ethan Page avalanche powerslammed Cody off the top turnbuckle for a two-count! Page was clutching his left kneecap, trying to fight through the pain. They both got back to their feet and traded punches and forearms. Page attempted the Ego’s Edge but Cody countered with the Cody Cutter! Cody applied the figure four leg lock in the center of the ring. Page reversed it, but Cody was able to force the rope break. Cody lured Page into the corner and then Cody waffled Page with a massive right forearm! Page grabbed Cody by the wrists and yanked him off the top turnbuckle onto the mat! Page tried again for the Ego’s Edge but Cody countered with the Cross Rhodes! Cody hung on and planted Page with an additional Cross Rhodes! Cody double underhooked Page and then spiked him with the Tiger Driver ‘98! Cody covered Page and pinned him, retaining the TNT Championship.

My Score: 2 out of 5

Final Verdict: 4/5

Well that was interesting… The women REALLY stole the show here, literally and figuratively. If you’d have asked me prior to this episode whether that match would’ve delivered I would have said yes, but this, THIS was a tremendous battle between four women who – it seemed – knew that their long-running feud needed a blow off. A BIG blow off; and they went for it… In a match that was easily the best match in all FOUR women’s AEW careers to date. It totally overshadowed the main event which felt very much like an afterthought post-street fight. In fact the main event was a complete letdown if I’m honest. I get the game Cody Rhodes is playing with the audience but it has, in the short amount of time he’s been teasing “will he, won’t he?” to the audience, got tiresome. VERY tiresome. I was rooting for Ethan Page the entire match… I do hope that this third TNT title win was at the demand on TBS/TNT to promote the Go Big Show thats restarting. If not, this was a very poor booking decision and has, unfortunately (and in my opinion of course) sullied all the good work that has gone into giving the TNT title any prestige.

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