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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Aug. 13, 2021): Christian takes Kenny Omega’s gold

AEW Rampage (Aug. 13, 2021) emanated from Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, PA. The debut show featured Christian Cage surprising Kenny Omega to win the Impact World Championship, Miro crushing in a TNT title defense, and Dr. Britt Baker DMD retaining the AEW Women’s Championship in front of her hometown people.

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

Excalibur, Taz, Mark Henry, and Chris Jericho formed a four-man booth on commentary. Dasha Gonzalez handled ring announcer duties.

Impact World Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Christian Cage

Kenny Omega donned all four of his championship titles (AEW, Impact, TNA, AAA). Don Callis was by his side. In a nice touch of Forbidden Door continuity, AEW brought in Impact senior official Brian Hebner to oversee the sanctioned Impact world title match.

The combatants engaged in cocky trash-talk. Christian won the initial lockup by using a shoulder block to knock Omega down to the mat. Christian rubbed it in with a middle finger salute. Omega gained an advantage with chops. He went for a One Winged Angel to end it quickly, but Christian escaped forward to counter with Killswitch setup. Omega escaped and exited the ring to regroup.

The tide turned Omega’s way with benefit of a distraction from Callis. Christian was on the turnbuckles and lost focus to gab at Callis. Omega took advantage by shoving Christian down to the floor for a hard fall. Omega picked Christian apart after that.

The match was about ten minutes in when the first heavy move occurred. Christian fired up to execute a sunset flip powerbomb off the turnbuckles. He fired away with punches in the corner. Christian went for the Killswitch, however, Omega used back elbows to get free.

The champion took control with a rolling fireman’s carry slam followed by a moonsault. He continued with a cross-legged pickup, but Christian escaped to counter with an inverted DDT. Christian charged for a spear only to be met with a big knee from Omega. Christian survived a powerbomb and V-Trigger to kick out on the pinfall.

Christian escaped a One Winged Angel to counter with a sunset flip. Omega rolled through to attack with a V-Trigger. Christian sensed it coming, so he ducked. Omega’s knee collided with the turnbuckle. Christian capitalized with a spear. That wasn’t enough to keep Omega down.

Omega found his second wind to explode for a pair of snap dragon suplexes. Christian rolled under the ropes to prevent a V-Trigger. Christian snapped Omega’s neck on the ropes to set up a frog splash. 1, 2, Omega kicked out.

Callis caused a referee distraction for Omega to low-blow Christian. The Young Bucks ran to the ring to slid a chair to their pal. The champ went for One Winged Angel onto the chair, however, Christian countered into the Killswitch onto the steel seat. The referee finally put his eyes on the action to count three. Christian is the new Impact World Champion.

Christian Cage defeated Kenny Omega to win the Impact World Championship.

Christian celebrated with Jurassic Express backstage. Orange Cassidy was lounging in the corner. Henry conducted the post-match interview. Christian put over Omega as one of the toughest men he’s ever wrestled. Now, Omega knows Christian can beat him. The same result will happen at All Out on September 5 with the AEW World Championship on the line.

A video packaged hyped Fuego del Sol’s opportunity to earn an AEW contract by defeating Miro.

TNT Championship: Miro (c) vs. Fuego del Sol

Fuego del Sol attacked before the bell to stun Miro with a tornado DDT. The referee halted the action to make sure Miro was coherent enough to continue. Ding, ding, ding. Fuego came in hot with a flying tornado DDT. Miro had the natural instinct to roll out of the ring. God’s favorite champion barely beat the ten count to return to the ring. Fuego pounced once again for a tornado DDT. Miro kicked out on the cover. Fuego went to the well once to often. On a flying tornado DDT attempt, Miro caught him for a Samoan drop. A thrust kick and the Game Over submission finished the match.

Miro defeated Fuego del Sol to retain the TNT Championship.

Miro ripped Fuego’s contract into shreds. A short while later, Tony Khan handed a clipboard to Sammy Guevara on stage. Sammy informed his friend that he would receive the contract after all. Fuego is finally All Elite.

Darby Allin and Sting watched the show from the rafters. Allin was wearing his vixen nail gloves. AEW promoted “Best in the World” for Rampage next week.

Henry conducted a promo session between Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Red Velvet. Velvet can’t wait to stir Baker’s ass and ruin the hometown moment. Baker told Velvet to stir that shit somewhere else. It is her main event, her people, and her city. The result will be Baker still as champ.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Dr. Britt Baker DMD (c) vs. Red Velvet

Red Velvet went for her finisher on the initial lockup, but Britt Baker escaped. Velvet utilized a wristlock takedown. She chose not to stomp on Baker’s broken wrist. Baker ran the ropes into a jumping boot to the face from Velvet. The challenger followed with a standing moonsault.

Baker gained control on the mat. She executed a curb stomp and a butterfly suplex. Reba got in on the action by choking Velvet with a towel and a crutch. Baker continued with a swinging neckbreaker and the Lockjaw submission. Velvet countered into a stack pin before Baker could insert her fingers. Velvet decided to go to work on the champ’s injured wrist by removing the brace. Reba provided a distraction for a roll-up. After Velvet kicked out, Reba was overzealous with her assistance and earned an ejection from the referee.

Velvet was on a roll with a superkick and a moonsault. The champ kicked out at two. Baker countered a suplex into a backbreaker across her knee. Velvet survived a curb stomp to continue the fight. The challenger tried to use the champion’s own finisher against her. Velvet cinched in the Lockjaw submission. As Baker inched toward the ropes, Velvet pushed off with her foot. That motion allowed Baker to reverse position working for her own Lockjaw. Velvet smashed the injured wrist in an effort to break free. Baker transitioned to the other side for a left-handed Lockjaw. Velvet was forced to tap out.

Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeated Red Velvet to retain the AEW Women’s World Championship.

Afterward, Baker sent a statement with more violence toward Velvet on a swinging neckbreaker. She wound up for a curb stomp onto the title belt, but Kris Statlander made the save. All of a sudden, a mystery person ran into the ring to smash Statlander. It turned out to be Jaime Hayter as Baker’s new enforcer. With Statlander out of the picture, Baker went forth with the curb stomp to Velvet.

Rampage had a big fight feel all night long. It was like Friday Night Fights. Rampage had a good formula of fight, quick promo, fight, quick promo, fight. All three title bouts were important in their own way. Everything was centered around the show. There was no unrelated filler. This should be a winning format as long as the matches have heat.

Christian Cage pulled off the shocker of becoming Impact World Champion. I realized there were reasons that Christian could win, but it was still quite a surprise actually seeing it happen. In a bubble of the moment, I like it. The match demonstrated interesting strategy for Christian to outwork then outsmart Kenny Omega. The Killswitch onto the chair was a convincing maneuver to hand Omega his first singles loss in a very long time.

In the big picture scheme, I don’t like it very much. It drives another nail into killing the momentum of the Hangman Page story. He should have been the first person to dethrone Omega. If others can beat Omega, then it diminishes the value of Hangman’s presumed future win. The Impact roster was shafted by having an outsider defeat Omega. Nobody in the Impact Zone gets the star-making rub of taking down Omega. As for building toward the All Out rematch on September 5, this was a good contest, but it didn’t light my fire to be chomping at the bit for part two.

The TNT title bout had an interesting flow with Fuego trying for the surprise win. It felt more like a showcase for Fuego than Miro. I would have preferred Miro hit a few more power moves to drive home his dominance before closing it out. With hindsight, Fuego scoring so much offense made sense as a strong impression for the contract.

On a personal level, congratulations to Fuego for becoming All Elite. Make that money and live the dream. From a story perspective, who gives a shit? There has been zero build for this on Dynamite. Fuego has done nothing on TV, where it matters most. He’s not even special as a luchador. In my view, Fuego didn’t deserve to be rewarded on this evening after his dishonorable snake-in-the-grass sneak attack to Miro. Not to mention the contract made the initial stipulation worthless. On the plus side, it made Fuego feel important. If there is actually a plan in place for him, then this will be a good jumping point.

The main event had good emotion and interesting strategy. The quality of the action was a bit sloppy. The hard truth is that Britt Baker does not yet possess championship level in-ring skills. Her superior character work has provided cover to this point. Nevertheless, Baker gets the job done in an entertaining manner. For the future, I’m curious how Baker will adapt her game plan now that the blueprint has been set by Red Velvet to attack the injured wrist. Baker was still able to win on this evening, however, a more experienced challenger should be ready for Baker’s schemes. Of course, this is only a temporary wrinkle until Baker heals, so it might not even be an issue in her next title defense.

Grade: B+

Engaging action, a shocking title change, and a surprise reveal made for a memorable debut episode of Rampage.

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

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