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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Dec. 31, 2021): Street fight fireworks

AEW Rampage (Dec. 31, 2021) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The New Year’s Eve show featured Tay Conti & Anna Jay bringing violence against Bunny & Penelope Ford in an awesome street fight, Cody Rhodes putting the TNT Championship on the line versus Ethan Page, and a new adversary eyeing Darby Allin.

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

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

Darby Allin vs. Anthony Bowens

It’s Sting! Sorry, that never gets old. The Icon was ringside to support his little buddy. Max Caster rapped about Allin being a little prick like the COVID booster shot, Allin’s tattoos and daddy kink, Sting’s low sex drive, and putting them away like Ghislaine Maxwell.

Allin’s speed gave Bowens fits. Bowens relied on his muscle and sneaky tactics to slow Allin down. He took charge by whipping Allin into the ring post to damage the elbow. Bowens also knocked Allin off the turnbuckles to pounce for a DDT out of the corner. He went for a blatant cheat with feet on the ropes to pin, which referee Bryce Remsburg easily noticed.

Caster also played a role to stifle Allin. Caster paid the price when he hopped onto the apron to block a suicide dive. Sting yanked him down and smashed him into the guardrail. Allin picked up steam for a Code Red in the ring, a suicide shoulder tackle to the Acclaimed on the outside, then a Coffin Drop to win.

Darby Allin defeated Anthony Bowens.

After the match, Andrade sauntered on stage to applaud Allin’s efforts. Boom! The Acclaimed attacked like sore losers. Bowens bashed Sting in the head with a boombox, and Caster socked Allin in the face with a chain.

Taz analyzed the arsenal of maneuvers from Hook in Technique by Taz. Be sure to watch, because those breakdowns are always so cool.

Street Fight: Bunny & Penelope Ford vs. Tay Conti & Anna Jay

Buckle up for a badass bout of brutality. Tables, ladders, chairs, trashcans, brass knuckles, thumbtacks, and more were in play. Right at the start, Jay blocked a brass knuckles punch with a chair. She snatched the foreign object to clock Bunny.

The action was full of crazy moments. Ford hit a moonsault onto Conti on a table, but the wood didn’t break. Ford shattered a beer bottle over Conti’s head.

Jay suplexed Bunny onto open chairs. After Bunny poured out the sack of thumbtacks, it backfired when Jay landed a superplex onto the tiny daggers of death. Ford was able to make the save to break the pinfall. The tide turned for TayJay when Conti planted Ford through a table on a Gotch piledriver off the apron.

Bunny had the brass knuckles in hand, but she slipped on tacks. Jay wrapped a piece of barbed wire around her arm to apply the Queen Slayer choke. Bunny tapped out in defeat.

Tay Conti & Anna Jay defeated Bunny & Penelope Ford.

Hype for Hangman Page defending the AEW World Championship against Bryan Danielson as Dynamite moves to TBS in the new year. Bryan felt he controlled a large percentage of the 60-minute draw. With judges for the rematch, he won’t have to change his strategy. Hangman was frustrated that time ran out, because he was seconds away from winning. For the rematch, Hangman plans to beat Danielson as fast as possible.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. He wondered why Dan Lambert made it personal with Cody Rhodes. Lambert spouted off about Cody making it personal by stealing opportunities. Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky have balls big enough to say something about it. Arn Anderson spoke up with a jeepers creepers noise. He’ll be ringside to prevent any funny business. Arn warned them that Cody is ready to kick butt. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

TNT Championship: Cody Rhodes (c) vs. Ethan Page

Cody opened aggressively with slams and tosses. Lambert grabbed Cody’s boot so Page could take control. Arn did the same to Page to help Cody regain the advantage. Cody’s strategy was to focus on attacking the knee. Page relied on high impact maneuvers, such as a DDT and a super powerslam.

A small serving of shenanigans took place when Scorpio Sky put the boots to Cody on the floor. Dustin Rhodes ran out to beat off Sky. Back in the ring, Cody pounced for a Cross Rhodes, but Page kicked out on the cover. The two opponents engaged in spirited fisticuffs. Cody came out on top with a springboard cutter. He went back to the knee for a figure-four with Flair flair. Woo!

Down the stretch, Page looked to be setting up a piledriver, however, Cody countered for a Cross Rhodes. A second Cross Rhodes paved the way for a tiger driver ‘98 for Cody to win and retain the TNT title.

Cody Rhodes defeated Ethan Page.

The show closed with Arn pulling his finger glock on Lambert.

Fireworks, fireworks, fireworks...

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I want fireworks. Thankfully, Tay Conti, Anna Jay, Bunny, and Penelope Ford delivered in a badass street fight. Tony Schiavone perfectly summed up the insanity by shouting, “Holy, hell!” That match was bonkers. If you want a wrestling clinic, you won’t get that here. If you want a crazy spectacle of sports entertainment, then you should be delighted. They delivered violence and blood with a satisfying finish. I appreciate that the ladies weren’t playing around. Given the history of the feud, the level of ferocious intensity was appropriate.

Out of the four, I’d say the standout was Ford. I mean they all rose to the occasion as bloody punishment was served cold. Ford was just a touch above the rest, in my opinion. She went full speed ahead with aggression to show a prickly side of her game.

Cody Rhodes and Ethan Page were in a tough position following the street fight. Also, add in the preoccupation of getting ready for the new year and fireworks at midnight. The action was fine with a pretty simple story, especially for a Cody match. After all that work on the knee, I would have liked to see Cody finish with a leg submission. I’ll happily accept the tiger driver ‘98 though. That move looks super cool.

Back to the topic of targeting the knee, I thought it was interesting how Cody removed Page’s pad and brace on purpose. I’ve felt that the recent Arn angle hasn’t really produced much difference in Cody’s behavior, but this one started to feel as if Cody was making it personal. He had good reason as well after how Dan Lambert, Page, and Scorpio Sky insulted his wife and blindsided his brother on Dynamite. In the end, Cody stuck with the usual finishing flurry to secure victory instead of getting downright dirty.

If you were curious about crowd reaction to Cody, the cheers were mixed for and against. Boos were very vocal at certain moments, such as the referee raising Cody’s hand in victory and doing pushups in the middle of the match.

Darby Allin and Anthony Bowens had an energetic opener. The contest played out with an interesting flow of Bowens trying to neutralize Allin’s tremendous quickness. Bowens’ DDT was brutal, and Allin hit his signature spots to pop the crowd. The aftermath provided a reason for Sting’s next tag team match. The Acclaimed’s insults are just words, but the cheapshot violence makes it personal. Sting and Allin should be out for blood, and I can’t wait. Also, Allin versus Andrade? Yes, please. Serve it hot with a cherry on top.

Taz always does such a great good with Technique by Taz. I could watch those segments on loop and not get bored. I hope the next edition breaks down Hook’s ability to withstand piledrivers with ease. I also hope, “The cold-hearted, handsome devil named Hook,” is officially listed on Hook’s driver’s license.

Grade: A-

Rampage rocked with an exciting new rival for Darby Allin, a crazy street fight that surpassed expectations, and a championship bout to round out the evening. It was a good appetizer to bring in the new year. Now, let’s go watch those fireworks!

We’ll close with an AEW merch sale for the new year.

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

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