The SmarK Rant for AEW Rampage – 12.31.21
“New Year’s Smash Part 2”
What better to close out 2021 than some AEW?
Taped from Jacksonville, FL, during a time when Betty White was still alive. She got an offer from 2022, and decided to decline. RIP.
Your hosts are Excalibur, Ricky Starks & Tony Schiavone
Darby Allin v. Anthony Bowens
Caster’s rap, summing up Darby’s relationship with Sting as a “daddy kink”, is classy as ever. They trade headlocks while Tony remembers all the way back in 1985 when he was first on TBS, and will return next week. Bowens wants a test of strength and Darby reverses into a Majastral cradle for two off that, as Bowens retreats to the floor from some advice from Caster. That advice: “Better get 5 or 6 booster shots while we’re in Florida.” Darby chases Bowens to the floor and stops to flip off Caster, but Bowens takes Darby to the apron and runs him into the post in a sick bump. Back in, Bowens gets two while Tony relates to Darby’s arm injury by describing his tennis elbow run-ins from the past. Yeah, that’s rough. They slug it outand Darby gets a pair of cradles for two, but Bowens blasts him with a superkick for two. They fight to the top rope and Darby slugs him down and tries to finish, but Bowens crotches him and brings him down with a draping DDT for two, stupidly putting his feet on the top rope and getting caught. They fight to the apron again and Darby puts Bowens’ hand on top of the ringpost and stomps on it, while Sting takes out Max Caster outside. Bowens drops Darby on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and decides to mouth off to Sting, but Darby hits a Code Red for two and Bowens bails to the floor again. So Darby takes out both Acclaimed with a tope and then finishes Bowens with the coffin drop at 11:00. Man, Bowens has quietly been having some really solid singles matches lately. ***1/4 This brings out Andrade to provide distraction while Bowens hits Sting with the boombox and then Caster lays out Darby with the chain. I smell a tag team match on Dynamite, just to load up the TBS debut even more.
Meanwhile, Taz breaks down the technique of HOOK. As if they couldn’t make him look any more deadly.
Street Fight: Penelope Ford & The Bunny v. Tay Conti & Anna Jay
Tay has special tiny cutoff shorts for this occasion, so the heels might as well surrender now. The Dark Order immediately knocks out Bunny with her own brass knuckles and set up the table on the floor, but Ford boots Tay down and puts her on the table to set up a moonsault that goes horribly wrong, with Ford smashing her knees into Tay’s face and the table failing to break. I AM THE TABLE. Ford breaks a bottle on Tay’s head for good measure, and thankfully THAT breaks, and meanwhile Bunny is busted open pretty good. So the heels set up a pair of chairs and a table in the ring while Tay is also bleeding outside, but Anna suplexes Bunny on the chairs, bending her back in half on the bump. Good thing she’s flexible I guess. Bunny runs Jay into a chair to come back and tries a DDT onto the chair, but Jay reverses to her own and Bunny’s head bounces off the open chair for two. Oddly during the PIP break, they take ANOTHER break and we lose the match for a couple of minutes on Fite. Back with Bunny dumping a bag of thumbtacks in the ring, but Jay fights her off and gets a superplex on the thumbtacks for two. Tay tries to save with a chair, but Ford SWEEPS THE LEG and stomps the chair onto her stomach and Tay is also busted open. And she hits a Gotch piledriver off the apron and through the table, which thankfully breaks this time. Tay seems pretty messed up from that moonsault still. Bunny loads up the brass knuckles, but slips in the tacks, and Anna Jay finishes with a barbed wire chokehold at 10:44. If you like the violence porn, this was for you. For example, I got a drunken New Year’s text from my friend afterwards asking if it was appropriate for him to want to rub one out after watching it. He also enjoyed ECW. Anyway, it wasn’t good in any real sense of the word but it was a spectacle for sure. I’m gonna hedge my bets and just say it was ***.
TNT title: Cody Rhodes v. Ethan Page
They head to the apron right away and Cody beats on him out there while the crowd gives him the Cena treatment, but that allows Page to escape a Crossroads and hit Cody with a flying shoulder off the apron. Ethan runs him into the post and hits him with chops on the floor, where they hurt more, and back in where Cody clips the leg to take over again. Cody wraps him up in a Washington Football Team deathlock and the crowd continues being unsure of their feelings towards Cody, but Page rolls him up for two. Cody pulls off Page’s kneepad and throws it to the crowd and Starks is HORRIFIED. “NO! Do you know how much kneepads cost!?” Cody goes to work on the nearly naked knee and applies a kneebar, but Page makes the ropes. This allows Cody a chance to stop and do some pushups, and a front suplex gets two. Cody with the STUMP PULLER, channeling his inner Doink, but Page fights out of that. Page with a suplex of his own and he bowls Cody over with a shoulder tackle and makes a babyface comeback with forearms and a clothesline. Page with a DDT for two, which was dedicated to Arn apparently. Cody gets dumped and Scorpio gets some cheapshots, but Dustin saves and brawls with Scorpio to get rid of him. Back in the ring, Cody with the Crossroads for two. Next up, Cody savagely pulls off Page’s knee brace like a monster, leaving his knee naked and unbraced. They fight to the top and Page reverses him to a Bulldog powerslam off the top, for two. They slug it out with Page getting the “yay” reaction, and then trade high kicks before Cody escapes the Ego’s Edge and hits a Cody Cutter for two. Cody with the figure-four, but Ethan reverses and Cody has to make the ropes. Page rolls him up for two and follows with Iconoclasm, but Cody reverses the Edge into a Crossroads, twice, and a Tiger Driver to finish at 14:18. Oh man one of these days he’s gonna do that Pedigree and the arena is gonna RIOT. A great main event to end 2021. ***3/4
Two pretty great wrestling shows in a row for Rampage, I’d say. Although I’m sure the street fight is gonna be divisive. But that’s what comments sections are for!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!