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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Dec. 1, 2023): Brian Cage bails on team in main event

AEW Rampage (Dec. 1, 2023) emanated from Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. The show featured Brian Cage bailing on his team in the main event, Danhausen with curses and purple hats, Kris Statlander ironing out her differences with Skye Blue, and more.

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

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

Daddy Magic, Cool Hand Ang, Evil Uno, & Alex Reynolds vs. Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta, Danhausen, & Hook

Wheeler Yuta made a fashionably late appearance to join commentary. He conveniently arrived to create a distraction as Hook was running wild with suplexes.

On the closing sequence, Danhausen cursed Daddy Magic and pulled out the infamous purple hat. Jake Hager was ringside. He likes that hat. Hager was enraged and entered the fray. Danhausen ducked a clothesline, and Hager tumbled over the ropes.

Cool Hand grabbed the hat, so Hook grabbed Ang for a Redrum submission. Danhausen rolled up Daddy Magic for the win.

Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta, Danhausen, & Hook defeated Daddy Magic, Cool Hand Ang, Evil Uno, & Alex Reynolds.

Saraya complimented Anna Jay as her trios partner while putting Ruby Soho on timeout. Cool Hand Ang entered the scene ready to support Anna, but she banned the boys from ringside. Anna didn’t want their bumbling help. Cool Hand squeezed a little flirt to Soho. Saraya broke it up.

It’s Sting! The Icon was joined by Ric Flair for an in-ring interview. Schiavone pointed out how Sting wrestled Flair in Minneapolis for the first episode of Nitro in WCW on TNT. Sting also wrestled Flair in the final episode of Nitro on TNT. Flair put over his respect for Sting. He is honored to go along for the ride to Sting’s last match at Revolution on March 3, 2024.

Kris Statlander argued with Skye Blue about losing the TNT Championship. Hikaru Shida stepped in to act as team captain. She encouraged Statlander and Blue to channel their anger into beating their opponents.

Callis Family vs. Jah-C, Kit Sackett, & Renny D

Will Hobbs made mincemeat of the competition with spinebusters aplenty. Konosuke Takeshita and Kyle Fletcher joined in for a triple finisher buffet. Hobbs earned the pinfall. Afterward, Don Callis threatened the extinction of Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho.

Callis Family defeated Jah-C, Kit Sackett, & Renny D.

Prince Nana made a proposal to the Workhorsemen. He needs partners for Brian Cage, and he’ll pay them well. If JD Drake and Anthony Henry win, then they could have a bright future with the Mogul Embassy.

Anna Jay, Saraya, & Ruby Soho vs. Hikaru Shida, Skye Blue, & Kris Statlander

The babyfaces were off to a rocky start when Statlander and Blue exchanged blind tags with a serving of petty attitude. Shida tagged herself in as the adult of the team. The Shining Samurai suplexed Soho onto Saraya.

The match progressed with miscommunication from the heels. Anna was holding Statlander for Soho to attack. Statlander strong-armed Anna into the line of fire for Soho’s superkick. Statlander planted Soho on an electric chair front slam to set up Blue for the Code Blue to win. Afterward, Statlander extended a hand of peace, and Blue accepted the shake.

Hikaru Shida, Skye Blue, & Kris Statlander defeated Anna Jay, Saraya, & Ruby Soho.

Enough talk. It’s time for the main event!

Brian Cage & The Workhorsemen vs. Pentagon Jr., Komander, & Hijo del Vikingo

Crank up the highlight reel. The luchadores displayed amazing teamwork on a dropkick sequence. Pentagon launched Henry into the air for Vikingo to hit the target on a flying dropkick, then Penta bent over as a stepping stool for Komander to float through the air on a corner dropkick to Drake.

The bad guys utilized nifty teamwork of their own when Cage executed a monkey flip sending Komander into a powerbomb from Drake. Henry added a flying stomp.

In the end, Henry accidentally hit Cage on an enziguri when Komander ducked. The Machine responded with an intentional discus lariat for his teammate. At the urging of Prince Nana, Cage bailed on the match. Be sure to watch the clip to see Vikingo’s crazy flying slam on Cage.

The luchadores had smooth sailing from there to destroy Henry. Pentagon crunched a package piledriver, Komander landed a rope-walking shooting star press, and Vikingo closed with a 630 senton.

Pentagon Jr., Komander, & Hijo del Vikingo defeated Brian Cage & The Workhorsemen.

Grade: C+

The Rampage lineup wasn’t much to look at on paper. It felt like cramming wrestlers together for large tag matches. The show lacked any feeling of importance across the board. There were just enough storyline tidbits to create a minimum level of intrigue. The action was fine at its usual level for AEW. They could craft together a heck of a highlight reel for the episode with lots of wild moves.

The luchadores rocked the main event. Credit to their dance partners as well. The overall teamwork sequences were outstanding excitement. This was a strong showcase to build momentum for Pentagon, Komander, and Hijo del Vikingo as a trio. Recalling on Dynamite, Penta and pals challenged Top Flight and Action Andretti. After this performance, I can’t wait for that trios tilt to light the ring on fire with hot moves. It could be a de facto contender match for the ROH World Six-Man Championship. I assume that’s the direction, since Brian Cage was involved without his partners. The Gates of Agony are busy in the NJPW World Tag League.

Cage’s outburst was hilarious to blindside an unsuspecting Anthony Henry. I also enjoyed the little details for the finish. Penta held on to Henry’s feet to prevent escape as Komander took his time setting up the shooting star press. The logic flows smoother that way as opposed to a singles opponent laying down for an eternity. Also, Komander took out JD Drake on a suicide dive to clear the path for Vikingo’s 630 senton finisher. It was those touches that made the luchador squad appear like a well-oiled machine.

The character dynamics in the women’s bout were interesting. It was funny seeing Hikaru Shida act as the professional while Kris Statlander and Skye Blue were sniping at each other. The post-match handshake makes me curious if that is the end of their beef. I was actually getting invested with desire to see them duke it out one-on-one. There is still room to squeeze that in, and the ladies can hug after punching their anger away. That’s how Chris Jericho handles family feuds. His friendships usually blow up, but Statlander and Blue are more pure as babyfaces.

I appreciate that the women’s bout was the focus in itself without the love story this week. I do enjoy the sizzle between Ruby Soho and Cool Hand Ang, however, it was overshadowing matches to a detriment in recent weeks. Compare how last week’s three-way played out where Blue won, and it didn’t even register as important due to all eyes on Soho and Cool Hand. For this match on Rampage, there was character develop within the flow of the action, and the result still mattered.

The closing shot for the women was excellent camerawork. They caught the babyface handshake in the background, while the foreground contained the heels bickering. It was a perfect juxtaposition of character behavior.

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

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