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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Dec. 2, 2022): House of Chaos

AEW Rampage (Dec. 2, 2022) emanated from Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, IN. The show featured the House of Black causing chaos, Orange Cassidy defending the AEW All-Atlantic Championship in a lumberjack match, several intriguing challenges, and much more.

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

Excalibur, Jim Ross, and Tony Schiavone were on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

Darby Allin vs. Cole Karter

It’s Sting! Sting joined Allin’s entrance but left him solo for the bout. This was Allin’s revenge match for when Karter role-played as Fake Sting to attack Allin during Jeff Jarrett’s debut. Nick Comoroto tried to rumble before the bell, so Allin cracked him with a baseball bat.

Allin attacked Karter for a suicide dive. Karter gained momentum by shoving Allin off the turnbuckles down to the floor. A powerbomb on the apron led to an extended period of control for Karter. Allin fired up for strikes and hit a Code Red. Karter came back with a Falcon Arrow superplex. Karter missed a 450 splash, and Allin took advantage for victory. He executed a hammerlock Scorpion Death Drop then followed with a Coffin Drop.

Darby Allin defeated Cole Karter.

Keith Lee was interrupted by Shane Taylor. The former ROH TV champion questioned Lee’s loyalty. Taylor claimed that Lee has a history of leaving pals behind. There’s Swerve Strickland, JD Griffey, and Taylor himself. They used to be a tag team in ROH until Lee exited. Taylor proposed a tag bout for the ROH Final Battle PPV on December 10. Taylor & Griffey versus Lee & a partner. Swerve walked in with a big smile. Lee walked away annoyed that he has to rely on Swerve.

Dark Order was shocked that 10 joined Los Ingobernables. Their emotional wounds will heal, however, they viewed 10’s treatment to -1 as the biggest mistake of his life.

Renee introduced The Acclaimed down to the ring for a promo session. Max Caster’s rap referenced Balenciaga, the soccer World Cup, and Jeff Jarrett.

The Acclaimed called out FTR. The Gunn sons answered, and they were interrupted by Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett. FTR finally arrived to walk through the jabrones and step in the ring with the Acclaimed. Handshakes were made for an AEW tag title bout on Dynamite.

Bunny spent six months rehabbing her neck while watching others get opportunities she deserves. That’s why she meddled with Hikaru Shida last week. Shida wants to settle beef in the ring and offered Bunny a title shot for the Regina Di Wave Championship. That match will take place next week on Rampage.

Private Party vs. Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett

Matt Hardy, Sonjay Dutt, and Satnam Singh were ringside. The bad guys provided distractions for Lethal and Jarrett to cheat and isolate Isiah Kassidy. Hot tag to Marq Quen running wild. Private Party hit their Silly String maneuver on Lethal. Quen went to finish on a 450 splash, but he missed the mark. Referee Aubrey Edwards was focused on removing Kassidy from the ring and completely missed Quen rolling up Lethal for a pinfall. Jarrett made the illegal save and teamed with Lethal for a Stroke Lethal Injection combo for victory.

Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett defeated Private Party.

Saraya had goosebumps thinking about her Full Gear match. She never thought that she would return to the ring to wrestle again. Saraya was proud of Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Jamie Hayter for their efforts on the show. Make no mistake though. Saraya is coming for the AEW Women’s World Championship.

Athena vs. Dani Mo

Athena blasted Mo with a forearm blow and a suplex train. On the cover, Athena pulled Mo up off the mat. As Athena bullied the referee, Mo scooped a roll-up. Athena kicked out, then Mo walloped a roundhouse kick. Athena shrugged it off and proceeded to pound her opponent. Athena executed an Eat Defeat variation for victory.

Athena defeated Dani Mo.

Afterward, Athena added assault to injury. She suplexed Mo over the ropes down to the floor and rammed her into the guardrail and ring steps. Athena ran throw the group of officials to smash Mo’s head into the ring steps. The Fallen Goddess called out for Mercedes Martinez to stop her.

Juice Robinson challenged Samoa Joe for the ROH TV title at Final Battle. Juice needs to prove himself. To be a star on TV, he needs gold around his waist. Juice plans to dethrone the king of TV.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. QT Marshall requested a lumberjack match due to House of Black attacking last week. QT wants no shenanigans in his first championship opportunity. Best Friends and Danhausen were dressed like lumberjacks and held axes in their hands. Orange Cassidy asked if they were allowed to bring axes to the ring. Henry said no. Enough talk. Cassidy wasn’t done talking. Henry didn’t care. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Darby Allin settled a few personal scores, so now he is focused on winning back the TNT Championship. Allin challenged Samoa Joe for Dynamite. Since Joe’s requirement was for Wardlow to be banned from ringside, Allin added Sting’s name to that list. Allin wants it to be just him and Joe. Joe will have to bury Allin, because he’s not leaving without the title.

AEW All-Atlantic Championship: Orange Cassidy (c) vs. QT Marshall

The list of lumberjacks included Josh Woods, Tony Nese, Mark Sterling, Luther, Air Daivari, Brandon Cutler, Ortiz, Serpentico, Matt Hardy, Isiah Kassidy, Ethan Page, Lee Johnson, Aaron Solo, Trent, Chuck Taylor, Danhausen, and a few others. The Best Friends and Danhausen entered with the axes until referees ran out to confiscate the choppers. One moment to note involving lumberjacks was Page ordering Hardy to attack Cassidy on the floor. Hardy declined and softly assisted Cassidy back into the ring. Page shouted at Hardy to leave for disobeying orders, but Page forced Kassidy to stick around.

Business picked up when QT wanted to piledriver Cassidy on the apron. Danhausen hopped up to curse QT. OC countered for a Beach Break on the apron, then he launched for a springboard cannonball onto lumberjacks below. As Cassidy climbed the corner, Penelope Ford came out as a distraction for Kip Sabian to push Cassidy into a cutter from QT. 1, 2, Cassidy kicked out. Cassidy rallied to finish with a superman punch and Beach Break for victory.

Orange Cassidy defeated QT Marshall.

Afterward, Cassidy attacked Sabian for a suicide dive headbutt. The lumberjacks brawled amongst themselves. Lights out. Red lights on. House of Black kicked ass. Buddy Matthews and Brody King were going to terminate Ortiz, but Malakai Black made a point to crush Serpentico instead.

Bonus footage: House of Black continued to kick ass. King powerbombed Cutler through a table. Black explained that it was nothing personal. The bigger problem was the people Cutler associates himself with.

Grade: C

No, that is not a typo. For all the haters of my AEW grades, pop the champagne corks for dropping into C territory.

Cole Karter is a D-tier star, and QT Marshall is a C-tier star. They competed against Darby Allin and Orange Cassidy, who are both A-tier stars. That’s not exactly riveting competition, especially for feature bouts on the same show. Athena had a squash match. That accounts for three of the four contests. Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett versus Private Party was actually competitive matchmaking. Unfortunately, the finish to that tag bout was pure crap. That is the main reason for the lower grade on this episode.

To recap, referee Aubrey Edwards made a show of officiating power to focus on removing Isiah Kassidy from the ring, then she immediately turns around to watch Jeff Jarrett illegally assist Jay Lethal on a double-team finish to Marq Quen. And she did nothing about it. Edwards even made the three-count without reservation. Whatever the booking plan was for this match, the execution was trash. Details like that are insulting to our intelligence. Officiating for tag team matches in AEW is already bad enough, but that was blatantly terrible and ripe for ridicule.

No, that C grade doesn’t mean this episode of Rampage was bad. There was still plenty to enjoy and be excited about.

Athena was the star of the show in my view. Her aggressive attitude inside the ring ratchets up my eagerness to maximum levels for her title fight with Mercedes Martinez at Final Battle. She is single-handedly building it up as my most anticipated contest for the PPV. Of course, it helps that Martinez’s reputation is an OG badass. She won’t be taking no guff from the Fallen Goddess. I just hope they keep that same fire when finally throwing down in sanctioned combat, because it has potential to be truly awesome.

The House of Black’s beatdown will be the most memorable aspect of this episode. It was pure chaos. They have an aura of legitimacy that stands far above anyone that was on screen at that time. The message to Brandon Cutler was interesting to make clear they are coming for the Elite. I hope that doesn’t make an obvious foreshadow that the House of Black will be chasing the Elite for the trios titles. The Elite still have most likely four more matches in the best-of-7 series with Death Triangle. It would be a major story error if those contests become an irrelevant placeholder for Elite versus House of Black.

The lumberjack title bout main event was cheeky for what it was. Was it overbooked? Yes. Was it wild fun? Yes. Nobody believed QT had a chance, so AEW did the right thing to work for maximum entertainment. Whether that was achieved or not is debatable. I had a good time with the lumberjack shenanigans. Best Friends and Danhausen bringing axes was worth a chuckle. The Kip Sabian spot didn’t enthuse me, because Cassidy has been a fighting champion to anyone who asks. Cassidy changed my mind positively on a potential feud when he attacked Sabian with aggression. Cassidy has worked his slacker gimmick so well that it becomes eye-popping when he brings intensity like that. I’m not a fan of Cassidy as a wrestler, but I can’t lie in this particular scenario when I say that I want to see more. That’s assuming he keeps the same aggression toward Sabian.

Also, the banter between Cassidy and Mark Henry is always amusing. That’s becoming a reason to pull for Cassidy to appear in the Rampage main event.

Allin’s fired-up barrage of strikes to execute the Code Red pumped me up. I like how Allin added a hammerlock to the Scorpion Death Drop. That’s a little touch to make the move his own and keep honor for Sting. Karter pulled out an impressive move in his own by rotating in the air for the Falcon Arrow superplex.

One more thought about the tag team bout. I was hoping Jarrett would hit Matt Hardy with the guitar just to see the reaction from Ethan Page. I can imagine Page shitting himself with tremendous laughter.

AEW jerked me up and down with the surprise appearance of Shane Taylor. ROH viewers know he is badass. The idea of Taylor versus Lee had me salivating for a hoss fight supreme as a PPV attraction. So, what does AEW do? They pulled the rug out for a TV angle tag match on PPV. Shiiiiit.

Quick thoughts to finish. The Acclaimed versus FTR in tag title combat is interesting matchmaking for Dynamite. I genuinely have no clue who will win. That is rare in AEW. Same for Allin versus Samoa Joe for the TNT Championship. That match is going to be awesome. Whatever the outcome, I’m interested in seeing Allin rumble with Wardlow too. I like that Hikaru Shida is defending the Regina Di Wave Championship against Bunny. Does that title mean anything in AEW? No. That doesn’t matter. It’s about elevating the spirit of competition. You better believe winning a championship matters to Bunny. Saraya continues to unintentionally come across as egotistic. Who cares if she is proud of rivals Dr. Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter? Certainly not them. I mean they probably care in real life, but this promo shouldn’t be blurring those lines. Saraya did not look like championship material at Full Gear. I hope AEW doesn’t force-feed her to the top if she can’t yet back it up in the ring.

Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?

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