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    Sunday, August 15, 2021

    The Rampage Report (8/13/21): This Could Be The New Biggest Hour of Wrestling

    Christian Cage

    Welcome, everyone—it's ya boy Ro, and with a new wrestling TV show comes a new review column. This is the Rampage Report, obviously covering the brand-spankin'-new AEW Rampage that airs every Saturday morning (Manila time). Let's not waste any time, shall we? Let's get to it!

    An hour well spent

    So I know what a lot of you are thinking: it's another hour to add to the already heavy major league wrestling (not to be confused with Major League Wrestling) diet of WWE and AEW. It's actually a good and pleasant surprise, however, that Rampage ended up being just an hour long, instead of the expected and usual two-hour wrestling program. 

    If you've been following my reviews for a while, you might know that one hour is my preferred format for TV wrestling. That's because 45 or so minutes of TV time forces companies to keep it tight and focus on the more important things—mostly good wrestling. That's exactly what AEW quickly established on the first episode of Rampage: 90% solid wrestling from some of their best guys, and 10% of the necessary non-wrestling storytelling. I'm hoping this continues to be the format of the show.

    So what does that mean? It means that instead of being the SmackDown to Dynamite's RAW, it's actually more of the old NXT before it went two hours on the USA Network. Hardcore fans know that old NXT focused on the in-ring action, and I daresay that this is exactly what I wanted when AEW launched Dynamite before it was clear that it was just going to be a better RAW. Because of this, Rampage feels like a great starting point for those who want to but have not yet dipped their toes into the AEW waters; one hour is a much easier watch than two.

    World title #5

    The very first match of Rampage is already a historic one, with Christian Cage winning the Impact World Championship from Kenny Omega.

    This entire feud between Christian and Kenny Omega feels rushed because of Hangman Page's relatively sudden disappearance (because he's going to be a dad) but Christian quickly reminded everyone why he was chosen to be a main eventer in TNA and a two-time World Heavyweight Champion in WWE. Captain Charisma looked like every bit the ring general against Kenny, even after a seven-year layoff, scouting all of the champ's offense and creating the opportunity to win.

    People might complain about how Christian did it by hitting the Killswitch on Kenny with the help of a set-up steel chair, and I normally would when stuff like this happens in WWE, but they did a really good job of portraying Christian as the crafty veteran who was only turning Kenny's trick around on him. Christian had to win, anyway, in a manner that didn't diminish Kenny, because they need this to pick up steam with a few weeks left until All Out on September 5.

    Don't worry, Kenny fans, this is only the first shot to make the rivalry look competitive. Your boy's still going to retain the AEW World Championship at the PPV, because he's still got a date with Hangman Page. It's just a good thing that Christian gets to be the face of a company again in the process.

    Sunfire burning bright

    So you got an hour to fill, right? It's only natural that the second match is a short affair, but wow did they make this second segment a feel-good moment.

    Talk about hitting two birds with one stone here. First, Miro gets to look like AEW's Brock Lesnar, which is only a good thing when you've got a monster with a ton of upside like him. The Lesnar booking is exactly what he needs to bury that forgettable initial run as Kip Sabian's best man.

    Second, well, Fuego del Sol gets a contract! This is AEW rewarding someone who got over on their own, and you love to see it. You may not think much of Fuego del Sol as a wrestler—mostly because he's been booked as enhancement talent—but as long as you can get the crowd to react positively to you, you have something, and it's only right for the company to recognize that something. Congratulations to Fuego del Sol for proving himself enough to become downright undeniable.

    Winning in Brittsburgh

    The first Rampage main event is for the AEW Women's Championship between Britt Baker and Red Velvet. Solid match, all things considered—the super athletic Red Velvet's got a good future ahead of her in AEW, and I'd like the company to give her steady reps for her to live up to her potential.

    Here's my thing, though: can they just acknowledge that Britt Baker is over as fuck? It's not just because they're in her hometown of Pittsburgh; I've seen many crowds cheer Britt. It's gotten to the point that the people Britt faces get booed. At this point, they should stop with the Rebel shenanigans and just have Britt wrestle a straight-up mean style; there's no need to have her try to be the heel. Lean into the Stone Cold heat she's getting and make some money.

    This is exacerbated by the fact that Britt needs new backup in Jamie Hayter to help her do some dirty work. Stop it. Britt doesn't need any more backup.

    Rampage 8/13/21 Report: As you can probably already guess, the first hour of Rampage was almost perfect. It's a much better watch than Dynamite, if you don't have time for both. A

    Little rampages

    • I'm hoping this four-man commentary table isn't the norm for the show moving forward. I thought the whole idea was to launch Mark Henry as a color commentator? I barely heard him after the Kenny/Christian match. Taz and Jericho together is not a good combo; I'd rather have only one of them with Mizark and Excalibur.
    • That said, I kind of dig Mark as the friendly backstage interviewer who's close with all the wrestlers.
    • Christian Cage becomes a world champion again after 10 years, and that's already a bigger accomplishment in his shorter comeback than Edge has done. A championship win with a smaller team is still a championship.
    • "What kind of a luchador comes from Mobile, Alabama?"

    Photo from AEW


    Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor-in-Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast. He gets by in this hard-knock life through working in advertising. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, and he likes taking your wrestling questions over on his Curiouscat account. 

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    Item Reviewed: The Rampage Report (8/13/21): This Could Be The New Biggest Hour of Wrestling Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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