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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Jan. 19, 2024): Darby Allin & Jeff Hardy in daredevil fight

AEW Rampage (Jan. 19, 2024) emanated from North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, SC. The show featured Darby Allin battling Jeff Hardy in a daredevil fight, Chris Jericho back on the winning track, and more.

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

Excalibur and Ian Riccaboni were on commentary. Also at the desk were Don Callis and Daddy Magic splitting time. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

Chris Jericho vs. Matt Sydal

Callis was on commentary. Any time Jericho approached within ten feet, Callis scurried away to safety. Jericho wasn’t even intentionally trying to put hands on his enemy. He was focused on the match. Callis would return when the coast was clear.

Sydal brought his best to test Jericho. El Ocho intercepted a flying attack into a Codebreaker. Sydal had tricks up his sleeve too getting knees up on a Lionsault. Sydal was close to victory on a Lightning Spiral slam, however, Jericho went to a higher gear for a super hurricanrana and a Judas Effect to win.

Chris Jericho defeated Matt Sydal.

After the match, Konosuke Takeshita blasted Jericho from behind on stage. Officials broke up the skirmish. Takeshita unloaded a cheap shot punch on Christoper Daniels, who was just trying to do his job to restore order.

Pentagon vs. Anthony Henry

Pentagon hit a nifty spinning Death Valley Driver. Later in the match, Henry answered for a pop-up DVD. The Workhorseman had momentum until he missed on a flying stomp. Penta sent him crashing into the corner on a belly-to-belly suplex. The luchador finished with the Fear Factor package piledriver.

Pentagon defeated Anthony Henry.

Saraya and Ruby Soho passed through Renee Paquette’s scene. Ruby was annoyed that Saraya brought floozy Harley Cameron into the Outcasts. When Harley popped in, Ruby shoved her against the wall. She wanted to know why Harley plied her feminine wiles on Cool Hand Ang last week. Saraya made the kibosh motion on spilling the beans, so Harley blamed the idea on Anna Jay. Ruby exited with Harley to confront Anna. Renee glared with judgemental eyes at Saraya.

Kris Statlander vs. Queen Aminata

Stokely Hathaway was actually in Statlander’s corner as official manager. Commentary explained that Willow Nightingale was unexpectedly absent due to travel issues. Even though Stokely didn’t play a role in the outcome, Statlander appeared annoyed at his presence.

Aminata brought the physicality, and Statlander swung back with the same intensity. The closing sequence was rowdy. Aminata locked in a submission, but Statlander rolled over to lift the queen into position for a piledriver. Aminata rolled through to escape, then Statlander crushed a discus lariat.

Aminata dodged a running knee, and Statlander collided into the corner. Statlander regained control on a powerslam and closed out the win with a fisherman’s falcon arrow.

Kris Statlander defeated Queen Aminata.

The Jarretts were absent for the team meeting. Jay Lethal was not in the mood. Sonjay Dutt suggested kicking Karen Jarrett out of the group. Satnam Singh thought she was a true leader and voted to kick out Jeff Jarrett. Lethal was losing patience and considered moving forward solo.

Renee caught up with Statlander and Hathaway. Willow Nightingale stumbled into the arena late. She claimed that her flight ticket was canceled and insinuated Stokely was behind it. Arguing ensued. Statlander calmed the situation by saying ‘we’ would figure it out. Stokely was excited at that phrasing including him in the family. He took it as a sign of making progress with his recruitment of Statlander.

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

Darby Allin vs. Jeff Hardy

Hardy offered a knuckle bump to start. When Allin moved in to reciprocate, Hardy slapped the taste from Allin’s mouth. Allin responded by dropkicking Hardy out of the ring. He followed with a swan dive to the outside.

The match was a spotfest with vicious impact. Allin landed an avalanche Code Red. Hardy delivered a hanging neckbreaker from the turnbuckles onto the apron. Ouch!

Allin and Hardy also missed on big moves. Allin crashed on the ramp when Hardy dodged a suicide dive. Hardy crashed through a table when Allin moved away from the swanton.

After the table bump, Allin went for the win on a Coffin Drop inside the ring, but Hardy put his knees up to block. Hardy went for the Twist of Fate, however, Allin countered for a jackknife pin to win.

Darby Allin defeated Jeff Hardy.

Afterward, Allin held out his knuckles for a bump of respect. Hardy left him hanging and bailed from the ring.

Grade: B+

This episode of Rampage didn’t look like much on paper, however, the action over-delivered. The main event was bonkers.

Darby Allin and Jeff Hardy put on a daredevil fight, and I couldn’t look away. It had a vibe like watching a late night movie hosted by Joe Bob Briggs. The start was a jolt of electricity to set the tone. As Daddy Magic pointed out, it’s funny how the moves were wild, then the finish was a simple wrestling move. Hardy’s new attitude has my attention to see where it leads. Whenever Hardy decides to retire, another round with Allin feels fitting as his last singles match. It really is like looking in a mirror when seeing these two compete against one another.

And yes, the often mentioned criticism of AEW trotting out cool matchups without build does apply here. With how Hardy was acting rude, I’m hoping this match can transition to set up Sting & Allin versus the Hardys. If that does indeed happen, at least it will provide a little storytelling stemming out from the events on this evening to show a bigger plan was in motion.

Kris Statlander and Queen Aminata engaged in a hammering clash. It was interesting to see the contest play out with similar styles of rangy athleticism. Statlander’s power moves always pump me up. That discus lariat was a whirlwind of force. Aminata impressed once again as a relative newcomer to AEW television. It’s kind of neat to see her development as a hidden gem in this new year. The association of Stokely Hathaway was an amusing side story. I like how AEW is developing this tale without it overshadowing matches.

Chris Jericho and Matt Sydal put on a dandy as veterans. Sydal’s speed is still explosive to show he can be a challenge for anyone on any given night. Jericho played out the story from their promo that scheduled this contest. He hit spicy signature moves, worked out pent-up aggression, and got back in the winner’s lane. It was a solid victory to remind the world of his skills.

Don Callis’ chicken antics on commentary were funny. That reaction along with the post-match fracas kept the feud on the front burner. Konosuke Takeshita’s punch to Christopher Daniels better produce a singles match. It’s little things like that which stir the pot to add sizzle to future contests. I didn’t have any desire to see Takeshita versus Daniels before, and now I do.

Pentagon and Anthony Henry had a cool match for the time they were given. Henry is an underrated talent. This was good use of his talents rather than booking a meaningless squash. Henry flashed his skills to leave me wanting more, but the point was clear that Pentagon is on a higher level.

The backstage scenes were perfect condiments to compliment the flavor of the show overall. Ruby Soho’s drama was a quick chapter but told so much. The body language from all involved makes this scene so rewatchable.

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

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