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‘AEW RAMPAGE’ 08.13.2021 Recap + Review – DEBUT EPISODE, 3 Championship Matches

VENUE: Petersen Events Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
COMMENTATORS: Excalibur, Taz, Mark Henry, & Chris Jericho

AEW Rampage makes its TNT debut with three, count ‘em, THREE championship matches, one of which also acts as a preview to an upcoming All Out match. Layers, like onions. 

CHAMPIONS

  • AEW WORLD CHAMPION: Kenny Omega
  • AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPION: Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.
  • AEW TNT CHAMPION: Miro
  • AEW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)

LINEUP

  • Kenny Omega [c] vs. Christian Cage for the IMPACT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (***3/4)
  • Miro [c] vs. Fuego del Sol for the AEW TNT CHAMPIONSHIP (***)
  • Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. [c] vs. Red Velvet for the AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (***1/2)

*****

Kenny Omega [c] [w/ Don Callis] vs. Christian Cage for the IMPACT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Cage is the current #1 contender to the AEW World Championship and slated to face Omega at All Out in September; ahead of that title match Cage looks to unseat Omega as Impact (and by proxy TNA) World Champion, a title that despite his time in the company all those years back he never held (his time at the top of TNA came at the tail end of its association with the NWA). 

Bell rings and Pittsburgh is ON FIRE, loud as f*ck and spinning their goofy Steelers towels. Cage grabs a side headlock, bringing Omega to one knee as the dueling chants continue to be DEAFENING. Goddamn. Omega breaks out, Cage flips him off and they reset. Omega whacks Cage with a chop and brings him to his knees with a forearm to the shoulderblades. Cage reverses a whip, Omega slides under a clothesline and connects with a chop, both men go for their finishers but get countered and Omega quickly escapes the ring to get some advice from the Invisible Hand. Omega and Cage trade chops, Omega connects with a flying back elbow in the corner and tosses Cage to the floor. Omega misses a baseball slide, Cage dropkicks him off the apron and into the barricade. Callis distracts Cage, Omega shoves him off the buckles and to the floor as the action goes picture-in-picture. Omega slows it down, connecting with a Muta-style elbow and a lazy cover for a two-count. Cage tries to fight back, Omega stops it with a clubbing blow and gives himself a round of applause. 

Show goes back to full screen, Omega continues working Cage’s neck and spine over, throwing in a deep eye rake for giggles. Cage blocks a superplex attempt and plants him with a sunset bomb. Cage lays into Omega with countalong corner punches and hits a flying European uppercut for the 1…2…not yet. Cage signals for the Killswitch, Omega counters with a back elbow and a rolling senton followed by a moonsault for the 1…2…Cage kicks out. Cage escapes a Future Shock and connects with an inverted DDT for the 1…2…Omega kicks out. Cage charges, Omega belts him with a knee strikes followed by a power bomb into a V-Trigger for the 1…2…CAGE KICKS OUT. Cage goes for a sunset flip, Omega rolls through but misses a V-Trigger and Cage hits a SPEAR for the 1…2…OMEGA KICKS OUT! Omega battles back with a pair of snap Dragon Suplexes (soo-plays), Cage rolls to the apron and drops Omega throat-first across the top rope, then follows up with a FROG SPLASH for the 1…2…OMEGA KICKS OUT. Callis distracts the ref, Omega connects with a low-blow and calls for The Young Bucks who slide in a chair. Omega goes for the One-Winged Angel, Cage escapes and hits the KILLSWITCH ON THE CHAIR for the 1…2…3! Whoa!

Christian Cage defeated Kenny Omega [c] via pinfall to win the IMPACT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (15:27)

  • JON’S THOUGHTS: Holy sh*t I didn’t think they would have Omega drop the Impact World Title before Bound For Glory in October. A legitimate surprise end to a banger of an opening contest. I was not very sold on Omega/Christian as a World Title match before but now I’ve got some hopes going into All Out (provided it still happens and blah blah). Christian Cage isn’t an Impact original per se but he’s close enough I guess. Helluva match, best Impact World Title match since Swann/Bey last year. That’s gotta give Christian a BIG mental edge going into All Out. (***3/4)

Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus run out to celebrate with their friend and new Impact World Champion (and also to give him potential cover from an Elite sneak attack). Callis gets so mad that he THROWS HIS PINK SCARF so you know sh*t is real. Impact executive Scott D’Amore joins in on the celebration, excited to be rid of Omega and Callis for…now. I assume not for good.

-After a commercial break Mark Henry gets some words with the victorious Christian Cage, flanked by Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and oddly enough Orange Cassidy who just hangs out in the back watching the promo. Cage puts Omega over as one of the toughest guys he’s ever faced and winning the AEW World Title is going to be near-impossible but he’s proven that it can be done. 

-VIDEO: Fuego del Sol talks about how much his upcoming match means to him, Miro is not concerned with the challenge.

Miro [c] vs. Fuego Del Sol for the AEW TNT CHAMPIONSHIP

If Fuego Del Sol can defeat Miro, he not only wins the TNT Championship but he’ll get a full-time AEW contract. Oof that’s a very TALL order.

Fuego surprises Miro with a tornado DDT before the bell, rocking the TNT Champ. Bell rings and Fuego hits a second tornado DDT, sending Miro out to the floor. Fuego will get the contract if he wins the match by any means so he tries for a countout but Miro beats the count, Fuego hits a THIRD tornado DDT for the 1…2…MIRO KICKS OUT. Fuego comes off the top, Miro catches and plants him with a BULGARIAN DROP. Miro drops Fuego with a pump kick then locks in GAME OVER for the submission victory.

Miro [c] defeated Fuego Del Sol via submission to retain the AEW TNT CHAMPIONSHIP (1:58)

  • JON’S THOUGHTS: Miro is an absolute KILLER but goddamn the first minute or so of the match he had me believing that Fuego was going to pull off the upset. Match didn’t go as long as the hype video that preceded it but had all of the drama and excitement of something much longer. Awesome. (***)

Miro grabs Fuego’s AEW contract and rips it in half, pouring salt on the wound of his opponent. SO GOOD.

-After the commercial break Fuego Del Sol comes to, the crowd giving him a polite round of applause. Sammy Guevara and AEW President Tony Khan come out. Khan gives Guevara a mic and a clipboard before heading to the back, Guevara tells Fuego that he might have lost but sometimes there’s victory in defeat. Guevara tells Fuego that he’s All Elite and the best friends (not those Best Friends) embrace. Nice moment.

-Darby Allin and Sting are shown watching the show in the stands. Show then cuts to Allin calling out the “Best in the World” a few weeks back, leading into a hype video for next week’s Rampage, subtitled “The First Dance”. Oh man if AEW doesn’t deliver CM Punk they are f*cked.

Mark Henry interviews Britt Baker and Red Velvet ahead of their main event match. Henry asks Velvet why she rained on Baker’s parade on Dynamite, Velvet reminds everyone that Baker has attacked her in the past and vows to ruin her night again in front of her hometown. Baker says Velvet didn’t ruin her moment and will retain the championship in her city because it’s her night.

Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. [c] [w/ Rebel] vs. Red Velvet for the AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Baker is coming into this one both as the babyface, given that this her hometown, and a BROKEN FREAKIN’ WRIST. Velvet counters the Lockjaw, Baker counters the Final Slice and they reset. Baker brings Velvet to the canvas with a snapmare, Velvet slides out of a chinlock and grabs a wristlock. Baker counters into a wristlock takedown into a lateral press for a near-fall, Velvet rolls her up for a two-count. Velvet takes Baker to the canvas but hesitates stomping on her already broken wrist. Velvet and Baker ducks clotheslines, Velvet connects with a leg lariat followed by a standing moonsault for the 1…2…Baker kicks out and the action goes picture-in-picture for ARBY’S COMMERCIALS and sh*t. Velvet lights Baker up with jabs to the ribs, Baker brings her to the canvas and rolls her up with a bridge for the 1…2…Velvet kicks out, Baker transitions into a straitjacket chinlock of sorts and turns it into a lateral press for the 1…2…not yet. 

Show returns to full screen as Velvet goes back on the offensive, connecting with body blows. Baker ducks a spin kick, Velvet connects with an armbreaker on the BROKEN WRIST for the 1…2…kickout. Baker rolls Velvet up with a crucifix for the 1…2…Velvet kicks out, Baker tries to go for the Lockjaw but hesitates and Velvet turns it into a rollup for the 1…2…not yet. Velvet rips off Baker’s cast and glove, Rebel climbs the apron and gets hit with the cast. Baker rolls a distracted Velvet up for the 1…2…Velvet kicks out and the referee bans Rebel from the ringside area. Velvet drops Baker with a superkick followed by a top-rope moonsault for the 1…2…BAKER KICKS OUT. Baker drops Velvet into a backbreaker-like knee out of a vertical suplex for the 1…2…Velvet kicks out, Baker drives her into the canvas with a curb stomp for the 1…2…Velvet kicks out again! Velvet tries for a Lockjaw, Baker gets to the ropes but Velvet kicks away, Baker COUNTERS and goes for the Lockjaw but Velvet repeatedly slams the injured wrist; Baker refuses to let go however and counters again, using her good arm to get the Lockjaw for the submission win.

Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. [c] defeated Red Velvet via submission to retain the AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (10:35)

  • JON’S THOUGHTS: MOLTEN-HOT hometown crowd for Britt Baker, making her the de facto babyface of the contest (if she isn’t already a face at this point already). Good match here, Velvet trying to weaken Baker by going after the broken wrist, loved Baker pulling out the win anyway with her good arm. (***1/4)

Baker attacks Velvet after the match, Kris Statlander makes the save but gets attacked by the returning Jamie Hayter who is now aligned with the doctor.

  • JON’S THOUGHTS: Hayter looks COMPLETELY different now, and I don’t think the crowd even knew who she was as she got no reaction really. Good on her though, Hayter made the most of quarantine. Odd to end the show with Baker trying to do heel stuff and the crowd absolutely not wanting to go along with it.

*****

FINAL THOUGHTS

The first episode of AEW Rampage was great, with all three matches kicking ass making for one of the easiest watches in wrestling TV memory. Maybe all wrestling TV should be capped at an hour, huh? Christian Cage getting the win and the Impact World Championship in the first match was legitimately surprising and I’m still shocked that happened but damn what a way to start your new B-show. After years of WWE starting new shows and quickly giving up on them I’m VERY nervous about AEW Rampage maintaining its status as a show with high caliber talent but here’s hoping Khan & company are smarter than that. Also maybe switch Jericho’s coffee out for decaf before next week’s show.

  • FAVORITE MATCH: Kenny Omega vs. Christian Cage
  • FAVORITE MOMENT: Fuego Del Sol is #AllElite. I’m not super familiar with him but he seemed legitimately emotional at getting the contract, and having his best friend Sammy Guevara come out and do it was cool. Good on ‘em.

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