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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Jan. 14, 2022): A champion & his dinosaur

AEW Rampage (Jan. 14, 2022) emanated from the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. The show featured Jurassic Express defending the tag titles against the Dark Order, Shawn Spears with a message for CM Punk, and Adam Cole besting the Best Friends once again.

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

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

Adam Cole vs. Trent

Ringside attendees were numerous with Dr. Britt Baker DMD, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, Brandon Cutler, Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, Kris Statlander, and Wheeler Yuta all present.

Trent muscled Cole early until Cole gained control by attacking Trent’s recently repaired neck. Cole went for a Panama Sunrise onto the floor, but Trent countered for a back body drop. Trent charged ahead for a spear. He crashed into the guardrail when Cole moved out of the way.

Trent gained momentum after scoring a German suplex, tornado DDT, and a super brainbuster. The game moved into countering big moves with big moves. Trent tried to finish with Strong Zero, however, Cole countered for a Canadian Destroyer.

When Cole tried for a Panama Sunrise, Trent countered into Strong Zero. Cole was able to reach the rope with his foot to break the three-count. Nick Jackson caused a referee distraction, so fisticuffs broke out in all directions with so many wrestlers ringside.

Cole took advantage for a low-blow and running knee to win.

Adam Cole defeated Trent.

Hype video for Thunder Rosa against Mercedes Martinez. Thunder was rightfully peeved about Martinez costing her a chance to advance in the TBS Championship tournament. Martinez vowed to make it a war next time they see each other.

Shawn Spears vs. Andrew Everett

Spears quickly caught Everett off a springboard to counter into a DVD for squash victory.

Shawn Spears defeated Andrew Everett.

Spears proceeded to cut a promo about his upcoming bout against CM Punk. The Chairman doesn’t play within the lines. He will hurt Punk. Spears is not a one-move wonder like Wardlow. He has 20 years of experience to become the sharpest wrestler today. Spears is going to expose the idea that Punk can’t hang with the best anymore after seven years away from the ring.

The Acclaimed came strong with this diss track music video for Sting and Darby Allin. The theme was two grown men going through a goth phase.

Kris Statlander, Red Velvet, & Leyla Hirsch vs. Nyla Rose, Penelope Ford, & Bunny

Statlander was in the ring to start, but Hirsch tagged herself in. A short while later Statlander returned the favor to tag herself in. When Hirsch had control, she refused to tag in Statlander.

The match progressed with the alien cleaning house for a spider crab on Ford. Vickie Guerrero distracted referee Rick Knox so Bunny could kick Statlander to break the hold. Statlander regained momentum for a spinning blue thunder bomb. As she crouched waiting to pounce, Hirsch tagged herself in. While the teammates argued, Bunny shoved Hirsch into Statlander then rolled up Hirsch for the win.

Nyla Rose, Penelope Ford, & Bunny defeated Kris Statlander, Red Velvet, & Leyla Hirsch.

Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page, and Dan Lambert sarcastically congratulated Sammy Guevara for winning the interim TNT Championship. Page took credit for Cody Rhodes’ absence due to the butt whopping he dished out in their recent match. Sky demanded the winner of the title unification.

Ricky Starks wanted answers why Jay Lethal stuck his nose in Team Taz business. Lethal came out to explain his actions. He was sick to his stomach how Team Taz treated Dante Martin. Lethal then disparaged Starks and the FTW title. Since Starks values that belt so highly, Lethal wants to take it from him.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. John Silver and Alex Reynolds showed they were ready for the huge opportunity by playing the Dark Order song on kazoo. Christian Cage flipped that idea into complimenting himself. If Christian can turn an ordinary object into an iconic item, then imagine what he can do with the talent of Jurassic Express as tag champs. Jurassic Express are going to show the Dark Order that there are levels to the game. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

AEW World Tag Team Championship: Jurassic Express (c) vs. John Silver & Alex Reynolds

Christian Cage and Evil Uno were ringside for support.

Silver went wild early for a cannonball off the apron onto Luchasaurus. Jungle Boy attempted a suicide dive, but Silver countered for a delayed suplex lift. Reynolds came in hot for a teamwork suicide dive suplex combo.

As the match continued, Dark Order had control setting up a Doomsday maneuver. Jungle Boy escaped off Silver’s shoulders and knocked Reynolds off balance on the turnbuckles. They fought each other for position as Luchasaurus came in underneath for a Tower of Doom superplex train.

The contest broke down into a free-for-all striking exchange. The Dark Order had the edge for Silver to German suplex JB. Reynolds came over the top for a jackknife pin. Jungle Boy kicked out on the cover.

Jungle Boy rallied with a lariat and hit a hurricanrana to send Silver crashing onto Uno. JB came back for a stepping stool destroyer using Luchasaurus’ back to launch into the air. Reynolds showed intestinal fortitude to kick out. Jurassic Express finished Reynolds with a teamwork cutter. Jungle Boy nailed Silver with a suicide dive to make sure the pin was safe.

Jurassic Express defeated John Silver & Alex Reynolds.

The main event tag team title bout was popping. Jurassic Express and the Dark Order both lit the ring on fire with a hectic pace of excitement. I never believed Dark Order would win, but this turned out to be the type of quality performance to help them to be taken as serious threats in the future. Thumbs up for Luchasaurus picking up the winning pin. That shows him of equal importance in the partnership with Jungle Boy. He has always torn the house down on hot tag moments, and this bout was no different. It’s nice to see Luchasaurus be rewarded for that effort.

Adam Cole and Trent provided a solid opener. It kept my attention throughout with the hefty moves and tricky counters. After so much effort to put on an intriguing chess match, the finish was kind of boring with Cole bending the rules for victory. The contest predictably broke down into a fracas. AEW should have just booked a lumberjack match with so many people ringside anyway.

Shawn Spears picked up a quick win. His flashdance entrance was longer the match. Spears’ interactions with Wardlow made it worthwhile. Handing the chair over to Wardlow for safekeeping earned a chuckle. Insulting Wardlow’s talent is more fuel for the fire when he finally erupts. It is clear that MJF and Spears respect Wardlow’s power, but they certainly don’t respect the man.

The women’s trios contest was all about advancing the tension between Leyla Hirsch and Kris Statlander. It was amusing how they bickered but worked seamlessly with Red Velvet for teamwork combos. One missing ingredient in this story is a reason to care that friends are fussing. Commentary tells us that Hirsch and Statlander are pals, but that has never been established well enough on screen to create an emotional investment for viewers. One super cool part of the bout was Statlander’s nifty transition into the spider crab. Statlander hooked Ford in a Gory Special position then dipped under as Ford showed off her flexibility by being bent in half.

Grade: B

Solid outing for Rampage. The action was enjoyable. Promos were sassy. The undercard finishes weren’t all that riveting though.

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

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