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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Oct. 22, 2021): Fight forever

AEW Rampage (Oct. 22, 2021) emanated from the James L. Knight Center in Miami, FL. The show featured the opening match of the World Title Eliminator Tournament between Orange Cassidy and Will Hobbs, a grudge match with Anna Jay against Dr. Britt Baker DMD, the main event with round 2 from Andrade and PAC, and wild closing antics from Cody Rhodes.

Let’s jump right in with a recap of the show followed by reactions.

Excalibur, Chris Jericho, Taz, and Ricky Starks were on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

World Title Eliminator Tournament First Round: Orange Cassidy vs. Will Hobbs

Matt Hardy was in the front row, but he had no effect on the match.

Cassidy came in with his ribs taped due to lingering pain from the Casino Ladder Match. In a callback to their first encounter last year, Hobbs ducked a Superman punch and countered with a huge spinebuster.

Hobbs smashed Cassidy’s ribs into the guardrail and stretched him around the ring post. Two sidewalk slams later and Hobbs was in complete control powerhousing Cassidy. OC took the air for a flying crossbody, however, Hobbs caught him for a Torture Rack. Cassidy kneed and punched his way out of the hold.

As the match progressed, Hobbs caught a Superman punch to smash OC into the corner. Powerhouse was persistent about squishing Cassidy against the turnbuckles. So much so that referee Bryce Remsburg put on his big boy pants trying to enforce a five-count for the corner break. Hobbs would back up then pound forward again. Remsburg had enough and threatened disqualification. Hobbs lifted the little man across the ring. As the two were bickering, Cassidy sprang a mouse trap pin to win. Remsburg ran away as soon as he counted three.

Orange Cassidy defeated Will Hobbs to advance to the semifinals of the World Title Eliminator Tournament.

Pentagon was in the ring for an interview. Fenix was still out after being hit in the head with a championship belt in their AAA tag title loss to FTR. Alex Abrahantes noticed a pair of Super Ranas ringside. Pentagon went to investigate and unmasked two jabrones. Boom! FTR attacked from behind. They held Abrahantes up to get coldcocked by Tully Blanchard. FTR posed with both pairs of tag titles. PAC ran in for the save, so FTR hightailed it out of the ring.

Grudge Match: Anna Jay vs. Dr. Britt Baker DMD

Jay worked hard strikes and submissions early. Baker worked counter maneuvers trying to gain momentum. Baker rallied with a slingblade and a twisting neckbreaker. Jay roared back to counter an Irish whip into a DDT. Jay locked in the Queen Slayer choke. Baker frantically tried to escape and eventually reached the ropes. Baker turned the tide by pulling Jay’s neck down across the ropes. Baker then blitzed for a thrust kick and Lockjaw submission finisher.

Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeated Anna Jay.

Afterward, Baker went back for more Lockjaw satisfaction. Tay Conti ran out for the save to kick Baker in the head. Conti held up the AEW Women’s World Championship signifying she wants a shot.

The TBS Championship tournament bracket was revealed. The action begins on Saturday night Dynamite.

Tony Schiavone interviewed the main event participants. Due to previous chicanery between Andrade and PAC, there will be no cohorts allowed ringside. Andrade was confident in victory with a reminder that he has friends around the world. PAC aimed to serve revenge for Death Triangle. Schiavone tried to mimic Mark Henry’s line about it being time for the main event, but he didn’t deliver the same natural enthusiasm. Instead, Schiavone should have just yelled, “It’s Sting!” That would have fired me up even if Sting was nowhere to be seen.

Andrade El Idolo vs. PAC

The main event had roughly twenty minutes to work. PAC started with fire for kicks, a snap German suplex, and a twisting tope to the outside.

Andrade slowed down the Bastard by knocking him off the turnbuckles. Andrade took flight himself for a sweet springboard corkscrew crossbody down to the floor.

Andrade tried to grind down PAC and also added flash with the Three Amigos suplex train. Andrade got fancy again for a slingshot maneuver, but he crashed and burned to tumble to the floor. PAC went on the attack leaping off the apron for a hurricanrana into a chair.

PAC followed with a moonsault and a slingshot spike cutter. PAC rushed for a Brutalizer submission, however, Andrade was aware enough to reach the ropes before PAC locked in tight.

Andrade was back on the prowl with a smooth backbreaker transition to a standing elbow drop on the apron.

Andrade’s next move was a slingshot DDT onto the apron. PAC returned fire to set up a super brainbuster.

Both men were on their knees exchanging slaps, punches, and elbows. PAC exploded for a thrust kick and a reverse rana. After trading roll-ups, Andrade landed a boot to the midsection. He went for a hammerlock, but PAC dropped down for an inside cradle to win.

PAC defeated Andrade El Idolo.

Immediately after the pinfall, the lights went out. Lights on and Malakai Black was in the ring to spit GREEN MIST into PAC’s face. Commentary alluded to Andrade and Black being pals.

All of a sudden, Arn Anderson walked down the ramp for a fast draw with his finger gun. Pew, pew, pew. Cody Rhodes entered from behind running wild on Black and Andrade. Cody lifted a chair to work the crowd into a frenzy. He was too slow to swing, and Black escaped. Cody and Black will be able to settle their beef in the trilogy match on Saturday night Dynamite.

What a rocking main event. I could watch Andrade and PAC fight forever. Bring on the rubber match!

Andrade and PAC mixed it up enough to provide a different match than their first go-around. It was intense from the start and escalated into badassery. A lot of the apron moves were outstanding. I’m always a sucker for digging deep on back and forth fisticuffs, such as their slap session. The cradle finish was a nifty touch to extend the feud. Andrade would obviously want to prove he is better, and PAC is the type of fellow to prefer a more emphatic ending.

I’m not sure what to make of the post-match shenanigans, but I will say that they were awesome. Even if it was as simple as ham-fisting Cody Rhodes into the scene to hype his match with Malakai Black, it sold me hard. If there is actually a developing association between Andrade and Black, then that is even better. There is intrigue to be had with that potential pairing. They have my attention in further exploration. Plus, GREEN MIST! That is on my short list for an automatic pop.

Good showcase for Will Hobbs, but the finish was terrible. Bryce Remsburg should be sanctioned for impersonating a tough guy. AEW’s referees are soft, and now he grows a spine? Remsburg has been shown to be pals with Orange Cassidy. AEW must conduct a full investigation into any favoritism at play from Remsburg. The finish also reeked of weak booking trying to protect the loser. Why put Hobbs in the match if you don’t want him taking a quality loss? That’s my initial reaction. I do have to add that perhaps this is the beginning of a new chapter for Hobbs, so I’ll give AEW some slack. They have generally shown not to do things for no reason.

As for Cassidy, that match did him no favors. He got his butt kicked then took advantage of overzealous officiating. That was not the type of performance to convince me Cassidy is world title material. Keep in mind, he still has the injured ribs to deal with. I’ll be crossing my fingers that this leads to Jon Moxley squeezing Cassidy in half. AEW could work in an excuse for a rematch down the line when Cassidy gets healthy.

The women’s match was okay. The action spots were fine. It’s when they started complicated mat rolling where it looked like fish out of water at times. Tay Conti is currently ranked #1, so that combined with the story that unfolded should put her in line as Britt Baker’s challenger at the Full Gear PPV on November 13.

Grade: B

This episode of Rampage was carried by the main event and post-match shenanigans. The rest of the show was underwhelming.

Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

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