AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES 1/14: Baker adds to Cole’s aura, main event misses due to Dark Order comedy, more

BY HITEN DAVE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Adam Cole (photo credit Wade Keller © 2020)

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

Adam Cole defeated Trent Beretta: HIT

From the entrance alone, Adam Cole felt more like a top tier star than he has since his AEW debut. The company of Britt Baker, the Young Bucks, and Red Dragon really added to his aura.

The match was solid. The only weak point was the brawl before the finish, which felt a little contrived. Trent Beretta is a much more compelling personality since his return than any other member of Best Friends. The AEW graphics department also removed the question mark from his first name, but Justin Roberts clearly hasn’t received the memo yet.

Britt Baker’s mannerisms at ringside were entertaining, but I don’t know about having the Women’s World Champion escorting her husband to the ring when he’s really just in a mid card feud. I’d be okay with it if it’s just a one-time thing before the mixed tag match, otherwise I’d like to see Adam Cole come out with her during her matches as well.

Thunder Rosa and Mercedes Martinez video package: NARROW MISS

I like that AEW is starting to do more of these. However, this one was a bit tonally off. While it makes sense for Thunder Rosa to be angry at Mercedes Martinez for screwing her out of the TBS championship, I don’t understand why Martinez is expressing the same level hatred right back at Rosa. It’s not like Rosa has done anything really bad to her yet, or that they have a past grudge. I think “smug” might have been a better emotion for the heel to display in this context.

Shawn Spears defeated Andrew Everett: IT HAPPENED

A one-minute squash against a local talent with supposedly “17 years of experience.” I like AEW talking up their enhancement talent more than other companies; it’s a good thing to do. And I suppose Spears needs a victory to have some credibility against Punk.

Post-Match Promo: MISS

This was a miss for me, I’m sorry. AEW can’t possibly expect us to buy into Spears as a logical next challenger after Wardlow. He was defined down since his PPV confrontation with Dustin Rhodes, and AEW hasn’t done a good job (on television) of building him back up at all. A one-off squash followed by a promo that began with meta commentary about his lack of push doesn’t help his case. Put him in some television singles feuds to build up his “complex” chairman character, then maybe you’ll have something.

The only good thing about this promo was Wardlow’s look of contempt in the background while Spears talked, as well as the passive-aggressive digs Spears took at him, such as “one-move wonder.”

The Acclaimed Rap: HIT

I enjoyed this “battle rap” on Sting and Darby, if you can call it that. I didn’t understand half the jokes, but it’s entertaining to see this variety of presentation and production energy put into showcasing AEW’s wrestler’s talents.

The Bunny, Penelope Ford, and Nyla Rose defeated Kris Statlander, Red Velvet, and Leyla Hirsch: HIT

The tension between Kris Statlander and Leyla Hirsch is something we’ve been able to follow easily via television, and that’s a good thing. It started on Rampage, continued into Dark, and we were shown highlights of all relevant Dark happenings on television. While the acting is a little weak, I think we should be thankful for getting another women’s midcard rivalry that we’re actually able to follow on TV. That’s an important first step.

As far as the match itself goes, it was good action. Difficult to judge these with a lengthy commercial break in the middle. Good to see Nyla Rose continue to be featured on TV instead of disappearing for months after a major loss. I also envy Penelope Ford’s flexibility. Simply amazing. If her ring psychology gets better, she can be a very effective submission wrestler one day.

Men of the Year Video Promo: HIT

Like last week, this was a good promo reminding us of Scorpio Sky’s credibility to challenge for the TNT title. The post-produced sound effects added a lot to the delivery, and Lambert being quiet for a change was a nice change of pace. I’m actually glad Sky is willing to let Guevara and Rhodes “figure out” the messy title situation for the moment, as that isn’t something that he should get his hands dirty with.

Jay Lethal/Team Taz Segment: HIT

This was good. Starks cut a nice promo calling out Lethal for interrupting Hook’s match last week, and Lethal presented himself as a dignified babyface challenger for the FTW championship. I hope AEW explains Lethal’s background a little more in the weeks ahead.

It must be weird being a member of the live crowd during these Team Taz bits as they can’t hear Starks or Taz. Would it hurt to have a microphone at the announce table?

Main Event Interview: MISS

Yes, I laughed at the kazoo, but John Silver continues to heavily underplay the seriousness of any match he is in. It felt like he was challenging Jurassic Express to a game of paint ball. I get that his comedy is part of his charm, and I love a lot of what he does, but there are moments where he goes out of his way to do little things that make the whole occasion feel like a complete joke. You get the sense that his life will be perfectly fine even if he loses his championship match tonight. So why should we care about his title pursuits at all? Why should need to take 15 minutes out of my Friday evening to watch this match. I’m sure the match will be entertaining, but there’s no shortage of entertaining, athletic contests in AEW right now.

Jurassic Express defeated John Silver and Alex Reynolds to retain the AEW Tag Team Championships: HIT

As anyone would expect, this this was a good, athletic contest to close out the show. I’m not going to lie and say I was at all emotionally invested in the outcome of this match. However, had plenty of story advancement this week on AEW television, so I think a nice spot fest isn’t a bad way to close out the week.

Commentary: HIT

A better-than-average week for the four-man booth. They added to the show at times.

Overall Show: MILD HIT

Like last week, a good show. A good mix of story advancement and ring action.


CATCH-UP: 1/14 AEW RAMPAGE TV RESULTS: Moynahan’s report on Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus vs. Silver & Reynolds for the AEW Tag Titles, Cole vs. Barretta, Statlander & Velvet & Hirsh vs. Bunny & Ford & Rose

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