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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Jan. 20, 2023): Rookie beats JAS again

AEW Rampage (Jan. 20, 2023) emanated from Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA. The show featured Action Andretti besting the JAS once again, Eddie Kingston going rogue, a JungleHook reunion, and much more.

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

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

Jungle Boy vs. Ethan Page

Stokely Hathaway, Matt Hardy, and Isiah Kassidy were ringside to support the Firm. Even though Hardy and Zay were not keen on going after JB, Page was still able to use them as trifling distractions to take control. Page’s coolest spot was a Iconoclasm slam off the turnbuckles into a powerslam.

In the end, Jungle Boy had a friend. After suffering the Twist of Fate, JB placed his foot on the ropes to break the pinfall then rolled out of the ring. Page ordered Hardy to force Jungle Boy back into the ring. Hit Hook’s music. El Diablo Guapo stood on stage observing the scene. JB went for a roll-up, but Page grabbed the ropes to block and sit on top. Page grabbed Hardy’s ponytail as leverage. Hardy was still focused on Hook, and he swatted Page away without realizing the situation in the ring. That knocked Page off-balance, and Jungle Boy reversed the roll-up to win.

Jungle Boy defeated Ethan Page.

Afterward, Hathaway was pissed and blamed Hardy for the loss. Page did as well, but Hardy claimed it was an accident. Page wanted Hardy to prove his loyalty to the Firm, so he proposed a tag bout for next week. Page & Hardy versus JungleHook.

Eddie Kingston temper tantrum

Tony Schaivone conducted an in-ring interview with Ortiz in regard to the drama with Eddie Kingston. Ortiz was disappointed in Kingston feeding into the House of Black’s mind games, but there was one thing in particular that didn’t sit right. Ortiz spoke about how Kingston was going to smash Julia Hart with a chair. Ortiz called out Kingston to handle things face to face.

Kingston arrived with a chair in hand. He was a little upset that Ortiz wanted this conversation in front of the world rather than privately backstage. Ortiz spoke about how hitting women is a line they don’t cross in their world. Ortiz brought up their mentor, Homicide. He felt Homicide would call Kingston a coward and fake tough guy. Kingston reacted by hitting Ortiz with the chair.

Darby Allin was on cloud nine after winning the TNT Championship from Samoa Joe in Seattle. That was the best moment of his life. Allin has been searching for that high ever since. That’s why he will be defending the title week after week until the wheels fall off. Allin has old scores to settle and challenged the House of Black. He already beat Malakai Black and Brody King. Allin wants Buddy Matthews next.

Willie Mack vs. Brian Cage

Prince Nana was ringside. Mack scored offense early, then Cage turned the tide to throw Mack around inside the ring and outside the ring. Mack rallied for a Sky High sitout spinebuster. Cage persevered to duck a roundhouse kick and counter for a jumping knee strike. Cage added a powerbomb before finishing Mack with the Drill Claw.

Brian Cage defeated Willie Mack.

Jade Cargill & Leila Grey vs. Jaida Vanity & Jordyn Vanity

The Vanity sisters were no match for the Baddies. Grey hit a facebuster and went for the pin. Jade called her off to tag in and finish with Jaded. Jade’s record improved to 49-0.

Jade Cargill & Leila Grey defeated Jaida Vanity & Jordyn Vanity.

Hype package for the main event. Action Andretti can’t get JAS off his back ever since beating Chris Jericho. Daniel Garcia plans to humble his opponent. Mark Henry closed with his signature line, “It’s time for the main event!”

Daniel Garcia vs. Action Andretti

Sammy Guevara hugged Garcia then joined Jericho on commentary. Garcia wore his new leather pants, which were gifted by Sammy. His fashionable sports entertainer gear didn’t appear to have any effect on the outcome.

Action brought the action early. Garcia baited Andretti to ram into the ring steps. Garcia tenderized his prey. Andretti sprang back with a split-legged moonsault.

Down the stretch, Gracia executed a pumphandle swinging slam. Kick out by Andretti, so Garcia called for Sammy to help. Le Sex Gods believed that Garcia could handle the load alone. Gracia went for a sharpshooter, but Andretti countered for a roll-up. Garcia broke free and chopped Andretti in the throat. When Garcia charged into the corner, he was met with a back elbow. Andretti pounced for a springboard corkscrew attack and finished with a running shooting star press to stun Garcia for the three-count.

Action Andretti defeated Daniel Garcia.

Action Andretti lived up to his name in the main event with fast action. The winning streak continues for the rookie as his star rises higher. Daniel Garcia did his job well as a proper foil. His sports entertainer training is coming along nicely. There are two things to point out. Andretti needs to tighten up hitting the mark on his aerial feats. That corkscrew move at the end looked like a kick rather than a crossbody. I’m not sure if that was the intention. Either way, there were a few other moves where Andretti didn’t land with full impact. I didn’t like how Garcia called out for help from Sammy Guevara. Garcia is supposed to be a killer, and here he was stumped on how to proceed. I wonder if his leather pants were too tight to properly sit down on the sharpshooter. That would be a believable excuse as a sports entertainer.

Jungle Boy versus Ethan Page was a basic match. There were so many bodies ringside pushing different stories that it overshadowed the the contest itself. The result didn’t make either party look good or bad. It was what it was in service to pushing round two of JungleHook against the Firm. One bright spot was Jungle Boy feeling sexy like Fabio. I don’t know why he posed in that manner, but it sure did make me laugh in a positive way.

Eddie Kingston hitting Ortiz was an interesting twist. This story has my full attention. I’m curious what the end game for Kingston will be. He could revert back to madness or he could fight through the trouble to find the light. Kingston is a complicated man. No one understands him but his woman. That’s why I’m not so certain this is a firm heel turn. One thing is for sure, I really want to see Ortiz wrestle Kingston now.

Brian Cage and Willie Mack had a fun match. It doesn’t compare to their epic confrontations in Lucha Underground, but that’s to be expected considering the time and place. Nice to see Mack get national TV exposure again. Receiving a full entrance makes me wonder if Mack is on the short list to be All Elite.

Jade Cargill’s 49th win was anticlimactic. No struggle, no degree of difficulty. For that reason, I don’t think she is in any danger of losing her next match. Get ready to pop the champagne for 50-0.

Darby Allin had a strong promo establishing his current motivation. It’s little things like that which add extra intrigue. We know Allin won’t have a long reign. It’s only a matter of time before, as he said, the wheels fall off. The longer Allin goes with open challenges, the higher the possibility that anyone could be the next TNT champion.

Grade: B-

A functional episode of Rampage. The wrestling action was decent, and the Kingston story was explosive. This show scratched that Friday night itch.

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

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