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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Jan. 7, 2022): Bad blood violence

AEW Rampage (Jan. 7, 2022) emanated from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The show featured Eddie Kingston, Santana, & Ortiz bringing bad blood violence to Daniel Garcia & 2point0, Jake Atlas looking like a star against Adam Cole, Riho besting Dr. Britt Baker in a tag team duel, and Hook in action.

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. Jake Atlas

Mat work early with an athletic dance of counters.

Atlas took the first major impact when Cole shoved him off the turnbuckles crashing down to the floor. Atlas scored the rallies while Cole cut him down with counters on a backstabber and brainbuster over the knee. As Cole sized up his opponent to bring the boom on a running knee, Atlas anticipated the attack and came hard with a big boot. Sitdown powerbomb by Atlas for the pin. Cole stayed alive.

Atlas tried to keep the momentum flowing with a springboard, but Cole popped him with a thrust kick. Atlas injured his knee on the landing. Cole tried for Panama Sunrise, however, Atlas just collapsed to the mat. Cole took it home with a soft knee bar to earn the submission win in what appeared to be an audible to finish the match with the injured Atlas.

Adam Cole defeated Jake Atlas.

Afterward, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly joined Cole in the ring with plans to serve out another beating to Atlas. Orange Cassidy came down with a chain wrapped around his fist. He was flanked by Chuck Taylor and Wheeler Yuta to send the mean men scurrying.

Breaking news that Cody Rhodes is not cleared to compete to defend the TNT Championship against Sammy Guevara at Battle of the Belts on Saturday, January 8. Dustin Rhodes will be stepping in as a replacement with an interim title on the line.

Tony Schiavone questioned why Andrade distracted Sting and Darby Allin last week. El Idolo responded with confusion about why Allin works for Sting. Andrade is in need of more assistants, so he requested that Sting name his price to buy Allin’s services.

Hook vs. Aaron Solo

Hook hit a suplex right away and maintained pressure with strikes. QT Marshall was ringside and grabbed Hook’s foot as a distraction for Solo to capitalize. Hook came back with a Russian leg sweep into an octopus submission. He caught a high kick to counter with a shoulder capture suplex.

Hook tenderized Solo for the Redrum Tazmission in victory.

Hook defeated Aaron Solo.

After the match, QT had angry words for Hook. QT tried a cheapshot when Hook turned his back, but Hook planted QT on the mat with a head and arm suplex.

Ricky Starks was peeved about the FTW title not being represented on Battle of the Belts, so he announced a title defense against Matt Sydal for the show. He chose Sydal to prove a point to Dante Martin. Dante needed three matches to beat Sydal. Starks will do it in one.

Bunny and Penelope Ford had to spill blood to snuff out the goodness in Tay Conti and Anna Jay. That’s how villains are made. The bad girls did what they set out to do, which is to make sure nobody forgets their names.

Ruby Soho & Riho vs. Dr. Britt Baker DMD & Jamie Hayter

Soho and Riho worked quick tags to pound Hayter. Reba provided interference to turn the tide, so Baker and Hayter could isolate Soho. The Runaway used a Saito suplex to create space for the hot tag to Riho. Riho ran wild with a 619 and DDT to Hayter, but Baker helped her partner with double team attacks to slow down Riho. In the end, Riho escaped a vertical suplex from Hayter to score a roll-up win.

Ruby Soho & Riho defeated Dr. Britt Baker DMD & Jamie Hayter.

Baker shoved Hayter after the loss.

Dan Lambert voiced his frustration that Dustin was chosen over Scorpio Sky. Sky wanted to be crowned TNT champion immediately without a match. He was confident in his ability to beat both Dustin and Sammy in the same night.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. 2point0 and Daniel Garcia wondered how many times they have to embarrass Eddie Kingston. As they were cutting the promo, Kingston took Santana and Ortiz exiting the split-screen to enter on 2point0’s side taking the fisticuffs to their opponents. Henry noted with a smile, “Well, it looks like fight’s already started. He closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

No DQ, No Rules, No Holds Barred: Eddie Kingston, Santana, & Ortiz versus Daniel Garcia & 2point0

The action spilled out from backstage onto the entrance ramp. Kingston picked a trashcan to batter Garcia early. Ortiz used a madball to took care of Matt Lee, and Santana suplexed Jeff Parker on the floor. Kingston was mauling the smaller Garcia, so Garcia gouged the eyes to gain an advantage. The bad guys took control with chairshots. Santana rallied back with a piledriver to Parker onto a chair.

A few wrestling moves actually broke out with an exploder suplex from Kingston and a frog splash from Santana. Parker broke up the pin on Garcia. Lee dirtied up the fight once more by throwing powder into Santana’s eyes. He followed with a DDT. Ortiz made the save on the pinfall.

Garcia brought in a ring bell to smash Kingston in the head. 1, 2, dramatic kick out!

Kingston was taken out for good with a triple suplex through the timekeeper table.

Ortiz and Garcia were in the ring throwing blows. Santana and Ortiz put down Garcia on a teamwork facebuster. Parker ran in and paid the price. He was leveled with a big boot from Santana, an enzuiguri from Ortiz, and a discus lariat from Santana for the three-count.

Eddie Kingston, Santana, & Ortiz defeated Daniel Garcia & 2point0.

After the bout, Garcia continued the fight. He duct taped Kingston to the ropes setting up something more sinister. Chris Jericho saw enough and ran in for the save. Garcia and 2point0 dipped out. Kingston looked steamed, but he always looks steamed. That made it tough to tell if he was annoyed again by Jericho’s presence.

The main event between Eddie Kingston, Santana, & Ortiz and Daniel Garcia & 2point0 lived up to the no DQ, no rules, no holds barred stipulation. They did a good job of keeping the action fresh for a different flavor from recent street fights in AEW. It was nice to see Santana & Ortiz take the winning pin to restore their position as power players. Kingston has plenty of time to settle his beef with Garcia, so it wasn’t necessary for him to be involved in the finish.

I’m enjoying Garcia emerging as a cerebral fighter compared to Kingston’s rage and fury. The pre-match promo did very well to show the differences between the two. I was out on the feud when Garcia originally lost the singles bout to Kingston, but their hard work has brought me back around to digging the direction. I’m still holding out hope that Garcia emerges victorious in the end to build a new star.

That was my first time watching Jake Atlas, and I was impressed. Adam Cole treated him like a quality competitor, and that helped put Atlas over as a wrestler to keep an eye on. Atlas was athletic with interesting ways to counter holds, explosive with fiery flurries of offense, and intelligent by having answers for Cole’s routine moves. It’s a shame that Atlas went down with a knee injury. On the plus side, it sounds like he won’t be out of action for long.

As for Orange Cassidy’s appearance, I’m a bit tired of seeing this feud with Cole, but the steel chain did pique my interest for what could come in the future.

Dustin Rhodes is an interesting choice to replace Cody Rhodes. I like the idea of well-aged veterans stepping in for a shot at glory on short notice, so I’m curious to watch the matchup. Having an interim belt feels a little cheap though, especially if Cody is only out for a short period. With that prize on the line, I think I’d actually prefer Dustin winning to force another match against his brother. Neither man would want that fight, but it would have to be done due to the championship implications. That’s a story I wouldn’t mind seeing.

Closing with quick thoughts on the rest. The women’s tag bout had entertaining teamwork maneuvers. The drama afterward makes me hope Jamie Hayter explodes on Dr. Britt Baker DMD sooner than later. Hook is doing well to showcase his style with a wide arsenal of attacks. Andrade thinking he can buy Darby Allin is a hilarious idea. If Sting gets physically involved, it makes me wonder if this could be the story to finally bring in Ric Flair as Andrade’s manager. Flair and Sting sharing the ring one more time would be amusing in a nostalgic sense.

Grade: B+

Rampage is becoming ol’ reliable to get a fix for Friday night fisticuffs. The lower card matches were engaging, and the main event packed a wallop with violence.

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

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