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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Jan. 12, 2024): Eddie Kingston earns bragging rights

AEW Rampage (Jan. 12, 2024) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. The Homecoming special featured Eddie Kingston earning bragging rights in champion versus champion, Saraya ruining Ruby Soho’s love life, the Dark Order making Mr. Brodie Lee proud, and more.

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

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

AEW Continental Crown: Eddie Kingston (c) vs. Wheeler Yuta

Yuta gained the edge with his technical wrestling skills to target Kingston’s right arm. Kingston would fire up to deliver a barrage of strikes and suplexes, then Yuta would slow it down again to focus on the damaged limb. Kingston popped a spinning backfist, but Yuta didn’t go down. Kingston’s arm pain prevented full power on his finishing strike. Kingston adjusted for a half-and-half suplex to close with a Northern Lights bomb. Afterward, Kingston nodded to show respect was earned.

Eddie Kingston defeated Wheeler Yuta.

Mark Briscoe was feeling the love teaming with the Hardys. Jeff pointed out how their appearance caused Rampage ratings to beat Collision ratings. Matt thought trios gold could be in their future. The Hardys presented a special necklace to Briscoe as a token of membership into the Brethren.

Swerve Strickland vs. Matt Sydal

Sydal was a crafty veteran in the ring forcing Swerve to stay alert. The mogul had momentum rising down the stretch, but he missed on a flying stomp. Sydal sprang up for a roll-up. Swerve blocked the takedown to counter for a JML driver. Swerve executed his finisher with impressive strength to control Sydal’s body on the lift.

Swerve Strickland defeated Matt Sydal.

Private Party interrupted Top Flight and Action Andretti to issue a tag team challenge. Attitudes were chippy, and the contest was accepted. Andretti wasn’t sweating that scene, but he did stay hydrated anyway.

Queen Aminata vs. Hikaru Shida

Slugfest. Aminata had the power advantage in striking, but Shida’s spirit could not be stopped. Aminata missed on a flying attack. Shida capitalized for a running knee and a falcon arrow slam. Aminata kicked out on the cover, so Shida finished with the Katana strike.

Hikaru Shida defeated Queen Aminata.

Saraya showed Ruby Soho some bad news. She played footage of Cool Hand Ang hugging and kissing Harley Cameron. Soho was heartbroken. Cool Hand strolled in with birthday cake, so Soho smooshed the dessert in his face. Saraya gloated to Ang that she always wins. The ladies exited the scene, and Cool Hand was left alone to argue that the video was misleading. He played the rest of the clip to show he wanted nothing to do with Harley’s kiss.

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

Dark Order vs. Daddy Magic, Cool Hand Ang, & Jake Hager

-1 was in the house. Cool Hand entered with cake still on his face. Silver took a taste, even though, Daddy Magic didn’t shout his catchphrase. -1 played a role in the finish. Hager was steamrolling the competition, so -1 pulled out Hager’s purple hat. He likes this hat! Silver and Reynolds took advantage of the distraction for ping pong offense to pin Hager on a German suplex to jackknife pin.

Dark Order defeated Daddy Magic, Cool Hand Ang, & Jake Hager.

Grade: B-

Solid fights with sizzling story movement for the mid-card.

Eddie Kingston earned bragging rights over the Blackpool Combat Club. In the past six weeks, the king of the underdogs ran the gauntlet with wins over Claudio Castagnoli, Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, and now Wheeler Yuta. You have to wonder if Kingston didn’t take Yuta seriously enough, because this was arguably the match that did the most damage to his body out of the four. Yuta looked fantastic with a strategic game plan and the discipline to follow through on it. I had zero reason to think Yuta would score the victory, however, his focus on damaging Kingston’s right arm was so effective that I wouldn’t have batted an eye at a new champion being crowned. If you throw out all story and past history, fresh eyes would have thought Yuta was the A-side wrestler in this matchup. That’s how strong he battered Kingston. I’m not knocking Kingston here. Rather, this is more a compliment of high praise for Yuta.

Hikaru Shida versus Queen Aminata was an under the radar bout of excitement. On paper, it earned a shrug of the shoulders. In execution, woo wee was it a battle of aggression. They showed intensity in different ways. Aminata was more forceful, while Shida was about fighting spirit. A damn good time for a spicy fight on a Friday night.

Swerve Strickland handled business against a difficult opponent in Matt Sydal, and he did it with style. That setup for the JML Driver was very impressive. This was a good win for Swerve to stay in the conversation aside Hangman Page angling for a shot at Samoa Joe and the AEW World Championship. I like how Swerve and Hangman are putting in work to build winning streaks, even though, the direction strongly points to a three-way PPV bout. I appreciate that AEW isn’t skipping steps to get there.

The main event was a goofball match with a good heart. It was a nice gesture to involve -1 on a tribute show to his father. That Dark Order moment would have made Mr. Brodie Lee proud.

Mark Briscoe and the Hardys fit like a glove. They had me cracking up with all the grunts at the end. Underneath the wackiness are serious competitors. The Hardys’ new attitudes are developing nicely. Seeds are being planted to sprout into egotistical superstars, and it feels like a fresh vibe on a common angle. Consider me intrigued.

Saving the best for last. Saraya’s treachery was a heart-wrencher. You could feel the hurt deep in Ruby Soho’s soul at the apparent sight of Cool Hand Ang’s loose lips. And damn, even Renee Paquette gave him scorn with bleeping curse words. Ang is in the dog house, and I’m eager to see how he climbs out. This story is fun with so much packed in little weekly installments.

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

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