AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES 12/17: Lambert misses, Garcia gets an important win, TBS Championship tournaments thrives with promo, more

BY HITEN DAVE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

PHOTO CREDIT: AEW

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

Orange Cassidy, Chucky T, Trent Baretta, and Rocky Romero defeated Adam Cole, the Young Bucks, and Bobby Fish: HIT

You had Orange Cassidy. You had the Young Bucks. You had referee Rick Knox. Most of you know what to expect. I enjoyed it, but from the pocket shenanigans in the first half to the spot bonanza in the second half, this probably wasn’t the match for some of AEW’s biggest detractors.

I thought Trent shined the most in this match. His new look is badass, and him picking up the win for his team suggests that perhaps instead of a heel turn, he’s just developing a new dimension to his character. I can get behind that; you can still have the infamous mom-in-minivan spots after brutal matches, as the street fight with Santana and Ortiz showed. However, given his newfound confidence, perhaps he ought to get rid of the question mark at the end of his name. It’s very dissonant with the current character. I’m also curious to see if this lights a fire in Chucky T as well.

Special shoutout to Excalibur for explaining, on more than one occasion, the history between Rocky Romero’s and Trent? Now I am no longer confused about who he is and why he is hanging out with Best Friends. Better late than never. Now please explain to me who Wheeler Yuta is and I’ll stop complaining about this faction.

Dan Lambert, Men of the Year, Cody Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, and Sammy Guevara Segment: MISS

Let’s first examine how this came to be. After Full Gear, we got a strong indication that Lambert wasn’t done with the Inner Circle, and that the feud was continuing. After that, it suddenly narrowed down to simply Ethan Page wanting another TNT title shot. Tonight, they were upset that Cody cut in line to get a championship match.

Anyway, I actually thought Lambert spoke the truth when he said Cody is undeserving of a TNT title shot right now. He lost it decisively earlier this year, and suffered two major singles losses recently. I actually found myself agreeing with Lambert’s criticisms of Cody, and maybe crowd felt the same. When Cody’s music hit, the reaction was largely negative and apathetic, with only faint traces of cheers. There was even a “Heel Cody = Ratings” sign displayed prominently to the hard camera when he entered the ring.

Cody and Lambert kept snatching the microphone from each other until Cody just decided to go after Men of the Year. They ganged up on Cody for a bit until Dustin Rhodes ran out for the save (to a better reaction than his brother), only to himself get beaten down. Sammy Guevara then ran in and cleaned house on the heels. It was probably a smart move to not let Cody talk here, but it made for a silly segment overall.

Where is this leading? I think Men of the Year will either screw Cody out of winning the TNT title next week, or attack him after the match. This will transition them into a feud with Cody, in the hopes that Cody will get cheered again. How long can they keep trying to put Cody in the “best case scenario” to remain a babyface?

TBS Championship Tournament Promo Package: HIT

Each semi-finalist got some speaking time. Well done all around. I thought Nyla Rose and Ruby Soho came across the strongest.

Tay Conti defeated Penelope Ford in a Submission Match: HIT

Some day, probably a couple of years from now, we are likely to get a lengthy submission match involving Tay Conti that will be truly memorable. Her MMA background will give her a lot of credibility in this regard. However, tonight was not the night for a mat classic. Both Tay Conti and Penelope Ford are still developing, and AEW needs to try and mask their weaknesses as best as possible.

The build to this match was simple: babyface wants a submission match so that the heel’s weapon of choice, the brass knucks, don’t risk costing her a victory. Conti went right after Ford even before the bell, which makes sense considering how many times she has been left laying by the Ford. While there were a couple of slow transitions, I thought it was a good back-and-forth exchange with both women trying different submissions until the woman with the most credibility in this genre won out. The match was just long enough to fit the experience level of both athletes, but watch out a PPV classic involving these two in the future.

Owen Hart Cup Announcement: CAN’T WAIT

They touted the Owen Hart Cup tournament, scheduled to take place in May, 2022. There will be both a men’s and women’s tournament, and Martha Hart will be present to award the cup to the winners. I’m really excited for this!

Main Event Interview: MISS

Another week, another waste of a main event interview. This has gotten to the point where the best talkers in the company are simply mocking the routine of the interview. I personally don’t mind the formula, but you have to encourage your babyfaces to take it a bit more seriously. Find something to say. Think of any potential new viewers and remind them why this fight is important. However, it’s not entirely the talent’s fault either. When you keep throwing underwhelming feuds into the Rampage main event, the wrestlers simply won’t have much to say and will either goof around or mock the whole thing.

Also, how does Eddie Kingston know Santana and Ortiz? Why are they teaming with him, especially when he was hesitant to get Jericho’s help? And how do the Lucha Brothers and the Acclaimed fit into either team? It’s a bad move to just plug in your AEW tag team champions as generic babyface partners in a feud they have nothing to do with.

The Lucha Brothers, Santana and Ortiz, and Eddie Kingston defeated 2.0, the Acclaimed, and Daniel Garcia: MILD HIT

Good, entertaining contest which kept the Texas crowd engaged throughout. I personally couldn’t care much for it because I already had my multi-man fill earlier, and I still don’t appreciate how the tag champions were randomly shoehorned into this like any other generic babyface team. The need to have more dignity than that. The match also wasn’t very long either side of the commercial, so it was difficult to stay invested in.

Garcia scored the upset pinfall on Eddie Kingston. If AEW is going to continue to feature him on television, it is important that he accrue some television wins, so I’m not against this.

Post-Match Beatdown on Kingston + Jurassic Express Save: HIT

This went down exactly as the heading suggests. They did a tease with Jungle Boy handing the AEW tag titles back to the Lucha Brothers. I think Jurassic Express are overdue for a tag title run of their own. Curious how Christian Cage fits into this as well.

Commentary: MINOR HIT

Well, the two-man booth didn’t last long.

Overall Show: HIT

This was a good show. You may want to check out the opener for Trent’s character development, and the submission match for just a small preview of the greatness we will someday get from the AEW women’s division. The Cody Rhodes segment with Lambert is also worth a watch, even if just for the cringe.


CATCH-UP: 12/17 AEW RAMPAGE TV REPORT: Cole & Bucks vs. Best Friends, Dan Lambert returns, Cody development, Tay Conti vs. Penelope Ford, 10-man tag

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