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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Dec. 17, 2021): Kingston gets hoodwinked

AEW Rampage (Dec. 17, 2021) emanated from the Curtis Culwell Center in Dallas, TX. The show featured Trent on the comeback path, Tay Conti displaying her submission prowess, and Eddie Kingston getting hoodwinked in the main event.

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

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

Young Bucks, Adam Cole, & Bobby Fish vs. Orange Cassidy, Trent, Chuck Taylor, & Rocky Romero

Cassidy styled and profiled strutting along the top rope.

Cole had enough of Cassidy playing to the crowd, so he smashed OC to a pulp. The Elite took control with a triple powerbomb to Trent onto the apron edge and a triple superkick to Cassidy. The Best Friends got one up on the SuperKliq when Trent and Chuck pulled the Bucks out of the ring. That allowed Cassidy to steal a smooch on Cole’s cheek.

Trent rocked with the hot tag moment for a running senton on the apron, a spear on the floor, and a diving splash back in the ring. Trent hit teamwork finishers with his Roppongi Vice partner then with his Best Friends partner. The Elite stayed alive to carry on the fight.

Fish connected an a super falcon arrow slam to Trent. Cassidy made the save to break the pinfall. The match broke down into signature moves. Trent came out on top by ducking a headkick from Fish to sink him on a Strong Zero piledriver for victory.

Orange Cassidy, Trent, Chuck Taylor, & Rocky Romero defeated Young Bucks, Adam Cole, & Bobby Fish.

Dan Lambert returned to AEW with Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page by his side. He criticized Tony Khan as a conman gifting title shots to his pals. Lambert was especially steamed about Cody Rhodes receiving a TNT title shot. Cody’s elaborate entrance cut off Lambert’s ranting. They took turns snatching the microphone from each other’s hand as if they were in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Cody resorted to violence by cheap-shotting Page with a kick to the gut. The numbers game quickly put the boots to Cody. Dustin Rhodes ran in for the save. The numbers game got him too. Sammy Guevara ran out to clean house with a springboard cutter to Sky and a clothesline to Page.

Hype package for the TBS Championship tournament final four.

Submission match: Tay Conti vs. Penelope Ford

The only way to win this bout was by submission. Anna Jay and Bunny were both ringside. Conti sprinted to the ring to take the fight to Ford. Conti was the one controlling the pace as the ladies traded submissions back and forth throughout the bout. Ford connected on a handspring cutter. Conti fired back with a pump kick. Ford answered with a back heel kick. Conti countered a cazadora position into a gogoplata choke variation to submit Ford.

Tay Conti defeated Penelope Ford.

Immediately afterward, Bunny cold-cocked Conti with a brass knuckles punch. Jay had a chair in hand, so the bad girls retreated.

The Owen Hart memorial tournament will begin in May with the finals at the Double or Nothing PPV. There will be a tournament for men and one for women as well.

News dump of future matches. Wednesday night Dynamite includes Orange Cassidy versus Adam Cole, Malakai Black versus Griff Garrison, Nyla Rose versus Ruby Soho in the TBS tournament, MJF & FTR versus CM Punk & Darby Allin & Sting, as well as a Christmas party with Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Tony Schiavone. Saturday night Rampage includes Hook versus Bear Bronson and Sammy Guevara versus Cody Rhodes for the TNT Championship. Battle of the Belts on January 8 includes Baker versus Riho for the women’s belt.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. He wondered what the endgame was for Daniel Garcia and 2point0 attacking Eddie Kingston. 2point0 gave Kingston a taste. Now, they will give Kingston the whole thing. Kingston lost his patience as the bad guys flapped their gums. He walked off then came back, and they were still talking. Kingston was ready to beat some ass. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz, Fenix, & Pentagon vs. Daniel Garcia, 2point0, & The Acclaimed

Max Caster’s rap was cut short when Kingston’s crew brought the ruckus before the opening bell. During the in-ring action, Fenix went for a nifty corkscrew frog splash. He overshot to only make contact with his knee, but the aerial part was still pretty cool. Kingston was intent on putting hands on Garcia. In their first exchange, Kingston landed one strike, then 2point0 pulled Kingston out of the ring. The match broke down into signature moves all around. Kingston and Garcia were standing face-to-face once again. Kingston unloaded a flurry of strikes then exploded for a spinning backfist. Garcia ducked the death blow to score a roll-up. He grabbed the tights to secure victory.

Daniel Garcia, 2point0, & The Acclaimed defeated Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz, Fenix, & Pentagon.

Afterward, 2point0 and Garcia kept on the pressure by stomping Kingston. Anthony Bowens bashed Kingston in the head with a boombox. Jurassic Express and Christian Cage stuck their nose into this business to clean house on the bad guys. Jungle Boy picked up the tag titles to hand to the Lucha Bros. Even though tension was in the air, the Lucha Bros shook hands with Jurassic Express. Meanwhile, Kingston chased Garcia and 2pount0 up the ramp.

Extra large tag matches in AEW more or less follow the same formula. Showcase flashy skills to pop the crowd, tag team isolation tactics, hot tag leading to a flurry of signature moves from everyone, then down to the finish. That’s pretty much how the 8-man and 10-man bouts played out. The wrestlers delivered as you would expect. There’s not much to say about the show in that regard.

AEW did well making noise with the finishes. Trent showed he is back in top form by pinning Fish for victory. That should be good enough to build Best Friends versus Young Bucks for the near future.

Daniel Garcia shocked the world by pinning Eddie Kingston. I did not anticipate that coming at all. The result was a much-needed boost to the aura of Garcia. Getting in that win column was desperately needed to elevate him from high-class loser status. Sure, Garcia grabbed the trunks, but it was savvy instincts that put him in the position to succeed. Now, AEW has my curiosity in this feud. I want to see if Garcia can build momentum to pin Kingston again.

Tay Conti flashed great intensity fitting for her feud with Penelope Ford. Conti’s technical skills proved to be too much for Ford to handle. Bunny provided delight with the brass knuckles punch. I love brass knuckles in professional wrestling. I think I say that every time Blade or Bunny utilize that foreign object. If AEW ever gave us the ultimate showdown between black mist and brass knuckles, I might explode with jubilation.

Cody Rhodes and Jurassic Express had odd intrusions. Cody had reason to appear, since Dan Lambert trashed his name. Once in the ring, comical slapstick took over. It was amusing yet weird. One thing I am excited for is the potential for Cody teaming with Dustin. Cody has staked his claim pretty hard as a singles wrestler, but I would love to see him genuinely chase tag team gold with Dustin. With Jurassic Express, that felt shoehorned to remind us they want the tag titles. A match against the Lucha Bros sells itself, so this extra drama was awkward.

Grade: B-

Rampage was a bit bloated with two extra large tag matches on the menu. Credit for the interesting finishes and the change of pace with the women’s stipulation.

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

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