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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Feb. 4, 2022): Absolute FTW

AEW Rampage (Feb. 4, 2022) emanated from the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL. The show featured Ricky Starks defending the FTW title with pride, Sammy Guevara overcoming the odds in a TNT Championship bout, and Thunder Rosa going to war against Mercedes Martinez with an interesting twist.

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

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

Adam Cole vs. Evil Uno

Cole was aggressive, and Uno did not back down. Cole’s path to victory began when he put his knees up on Uno’s flying senton. Cole followed with a high knee, low super kicks, then lowered the boom for victory on a running knee.

Adam Cole defeated Evil Uno.

Afterward, Cole cut a promo about his undefeated record. The Lights Out loss to Orange Cassidy was unsanctioned and didn’t count. Cole is unleashing his ruthless side demanding respect. People forget he’s the best wrestler on the planet. No matter where he goes, he always ends up running the show. Cole is certain that he will become AEW world champion.

Jade Cargill is 26-0. For those calling her green, she’s green like money. Jade is ready for whoever is next.

TNT Championship: Sammy Guevara (c) vs. Isiah Kassidy

Matt Hardy and Marq Quen were ringside. They paid dividends with distractions and a Side Effect on the apron. The impact of that maneuver allowed Kassidy to take control by targeting Guevara’s taped ribs. When Guevara rallied, Andrade’s music hit. El Idolo walked to the ring to observe his AHFO product.

The action progressed back and forth with a few tight pinfalls. Guevara’s ribs were bothering him. So much so that he couldn’t execute the GTH. He eventually turned the tide with a springboard moonsault to Quen then a double springboard cutter to Kassidy. Sammy gutted out a GTH fireman’s carry knee strike to retain the TNT title.

Sammy Guevara defeated Isiah Kassidy.

In the aftermath, the AHFO surrounded Sammy in the ring. Darby Allin ran in for the save. Andrade and Hardy backed down. Allin and Guevara shared a glance of respect, then Darby eyed the TNT title on Sammy’s shoulder.

QT Marshall is tired of hearing about Hook. He will be sending his prized student for Hook. That person’s name was later revealed to be Blake Li.

Kris Statlander noticed Leyla Hirsch’s amateur attitude to match her amateur wrestling. It is time to act like a professional. Whack! Hirsch hit Statlander in the back with a chair. Hirsch followed with a knee strike into the chair to the alien’s face. Red Velvet ran in to check on Statlander.

Mercedes Martinez vs. Thunder Rosa

Thunder Rosa was all business with a barrage of strikes to start. Martinez fired back with a spinebuster. When the OG Badass cinched in a dragon sleeper, Thunder kneed her way out then flipped over for a reverse DDT.

Martinez was back on the attack with a delayed vertical suplex and a swinging neckbreaker off the ropes. Thunder’s rally was cut short by a super DVD from Martinez. The action went outside for a brawl. Martinez reached under the ring to pick up a lead pipe and smash Thunder in the head. The referee called for a disqualification.

Thunder Rosa defeated Mercedes Martinez.

Serena Deeb had a spirit animal vignette. The wolf inside will always chase, thrive, rise, and feed. Keep running. She’s faster.

Mercedes Martinez spoke with Tony Schiavone backstage. She did what she said she would do. That is to take out Thunder Rosa by any means necessary. Dr. Britt Baker DMD entered the scene with Jamie Hayter and Reba by her side. Baker dropped the bombshell that she was the person behind bringing in Martinez to attack Thunder Rosa. Baker was not satisfied that Martinez took the loss. She better finish the job.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Jay Lethal planned to knock Ricky Starks’ ego down a peg by leaving as FTW champion. Starks claimed he is cut from a different cloth and the last of a dying breed. There is a reason why he is called Absolute. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

FTW Championship: Ricky Starks (c) vs. Jay Lethal

Will Hobbs was ringside wearing a fur coat. Lethal had momentum early on two consecutive suicide dives. Hobbs stepped in to block the path of a third. That allowed Starks recovery time so he could slyly slide under the turnbuckles then fire back with a clothesline.

The flow saw counters setting up hefty moves. For example, Starks grabbed the ropes to escape and set up a Liger bomb. Down the stretch, Hobbs distracted Lethal when he was on a roll. Lethal retaliated with a suicide dive, but Hobbs blocked it to spike Lethal down into the floor. Dante Martin ran in from out of nowhere to launch for a springboard flying attack onto Hobbs.

Back in the ring, Lethal pounced for a cutter. He tried to finish with the Lethal Injection, but Starks still had enough wits to break away. The two men rolled with counters. Lethal sprang up for a Lethal Injection to finish. Starks was ready and waiting. He caught Lethal for a Roshambo to win.

Ricky Starks defeated Jay Lethal.

It’s official. Ricky Starks is Absolute. He proved that with a rugged win over Jay Lethal. There were exciting shenanigans with Will Hobbs and Dante Martin, but the match reset long enough for Starks to prove the victory was no fluke. The counter win was a splendid finish. The match was an effective way to elevate Starks. By possessing the FTW title, he can work his way through the ranks notching important wins and cementing his status.

Thunder Rosa and Mercedes Martinez went to war on each other. The bout was full of fisticuffs, neat counters, and super moves. At first the finish was disappointing, but it all made sense a little later when Dr. Britt Baker revealed her scheme. That turned this match into a solid building block toward a rematch. The action and unsavory conclusion left me wanting more with a desire to see Thunder Rosa get revenge.

What’s better than one Wardlow? Two Wardlows. With Wardlow taking his sweet time turning rogue on MJF, AEW is planting seeds toward giving us Wardlow versus Wardlow in the form of Mercedes Martinez versus Jamie Hayter. Seeing them step up face to face made my blood hot for a hoss fight. This could actually turn into a riveting story for Baker’s next PPV opponent. Baker is going to learn that the OG Badass doesn’t take any crap, and Martinez has the credibility to kick her butt.

The TNT title bout had all kinds of cool moves. Flips were popping. It told an interesting story of confidence versus arrogance. Sammy Guevara has been through the wars to develop confidence, while Isiah Kassidy shows flashes of arrogance to admire his work without getting the job done in the end. Kassidy hasn’t been successful enough yet to realize what it takes to win consistently. Until he reaches that next level, I’ll continue enjoying his absurd body positions when taking bumps. On the finish, Kassidy was comically folded over into a ball for the pin.

Side note for Sammy, I don’t think holding two TNT title belts is a cool look. It comes off a little goofy considering the rushed circumstances for the introduction of an interim championship. There’s no prestige to that backup belt.

Put me in the camp that doesn’t understand the overwhelming appeal of Adam Cole, baybay. I tried to keep an open mind and give him the benefit of the doubt in AEW. My impression thus far is that he is above average but not exceptional. That becomes a problem when he starts talking about being the best wrestler on the planet. Undersized wrestlers need to have a specialty to create an advantage. For example, Rey Mysterio is a master at the lucha libre style with blazing speed, Bryan Danielson has technical prowess on the genius level, and Jonathan Gresham is a wizard of Pure wrestling. I can buy into them using their skills to even the playing field against larger opponents. With Cole, he’s got nothing like that.

That said, I do appreciate AEW trying to give Cole an edge going forward. It shows awareness to strengthen Cole’s character. Perhaps that can be the turning point to launch his AEW career into stardom.

Grade: B+

Great intensity all show long. Each match felt like a fight. As exciting as the action was, I don’t think it ever reached that supreme level of greatness. The promos offered a nice mix of character development, advancing feuds, and planting seeds for future fights.

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

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