Can AEW Save Arnold Furious. Part 1: AEW Rampage 11.2.22
Hi. I stopped watching wrestling during lockdown citing Speaking Out and a general distaste for professional wrestling in general. I tried watching a bit of the Royal Rumble recently, mainly because the Rumble match itself isn’t really wrestling. It’s just entrances and booking. The thought of actually sitting through a three-hour wrestling show doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest right now. But maybe a weekly episodic show involving people I know and like will be the answer. AEW feels like it caters to fans like me who’ve grown tired of the WWE and don’t see an alternative after WWE pillaged the once verdant Indies scene. A lot of the talent plundered by WWE during their attempts to kill every aspect of the business outside of their own have landed in AEW.
February 11, 2022
We’re in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Hosts are Excalibur, Taz, Ricky Starks and Chris Jericho. That seems like an overblown number of people doing commentary. I feel an ideal desk is at the most three people. A PBP man, an expect for analysis and maybe, if I’m feeling frisky, a guy to make jokes.
Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice
This is not an ideal start for me because this is a feud, I’ve seen played out a hundred times over in New Japan. Apparently, they’ve not faced each other before in AEW so it’s NEW TO THEM. I like that AEW have gone straight into a match. If you’ve not got a lot of time to play with you need to go right into the business. Both these tag teams can be good but more often than not they get in each other’s way with cutesy bullshit. I get that they’re trying for a hot start here but I hate this. The Bucks are at their worst when they’re doing a bunch of nonsense double team stuff. The stupid handheld stuff ahead of the moonsault to the floor. What’s the point?
Orange Cassidy hides under the ring, for reasons, and Danhausen comes out and curses the Bucks. Considering these two teams have wrestled each other so many times it’s staggering how bad this is. Most tag team wrestling nowadays is just a bunch of shit cobbled together. It’s sad to see such good workers not give a shit and just do a bunch of high spots to pop the crowd. There are a few saving graces like Rocky countering a double team to score a near fall while the other Jackson was outside the ring looking for the Meltzer Driver so he couldn’t break the pin. BTE Trigger puts Rocky away. This was a hot mess. Everyone involved should know better. *½
Post-Match: Brandon Cutler mixes it up with Orange Cassidy. The Bucks superkick Orange and in comes Jay White to lay out Trent. So, you’ve signed Jay White eh? What do you even do with him? New Japan had him work exhausting borderline unwatchable 40 minute matches. So, not that. I’ve not liked him since he was a young lion. Sometimes just doing basic stuff works.
Backstage: Bryan Danielson talks about Jon Moxley but in comes Matt Sydal, mentor of Lee Moriarty. The latter promises Danielson “violence”. They have a match on Wednesday. I would love to see that.
Dr. Britt Baker DMD vs. Robyn Renegade
Britt is the champion, Renegade is a jobber. I like squash matches. I have to assume Renegade is relatively inexperienced. She looks green. Good character and personality but she can’t run across the ring convincingly and her spatial awareness isn’t TV ready. The match goes over six minutes and really doesn’t need to. The wild thing about this show is that everything seems to be over, which is great. The fans on the Kool Aid is great for atmosphere.
Britt finishes with the Stomp and hooks the Lockjaw after the match. Thunder Rosa runs in to make the save. I’m guessing they have a forthcoming bout. Hayter makes the save. Mercedes Martinez runs in there too. They’re both on Team Britt or something and have an issue. I’ll try and follow this going forward. Match was bad. I don’t really blame either wrestler. Renegade wasn’t ready for a match of that length on TV and would have been better off taking the L after 2 minutes or so. ½*
VT plays a hype video for Leyla Hirsch and Kris Stadtlander. It’s very brief but gets the points across.
Hook vs. Blake Li
Blake is from QT Marshall’s training facility. He’s just out here to make Hook look good. Hook immediately wins me over. Immediately. He blocks a dumb wrestling move with a quarter nelson, and he keeps control, never letting go. Wrestling often looks fake but Hook goes a long way to stop that here. He does some flips too but they’re for a purpose. They’re not just showing off and he never lets his opponent get away from him. Apparently, he’s only had FIVE matches. His judo stuff is perfect. The match only loses its way when QT jumps onto the apron. Blake tries a flip off the top and Hook just walks away from it. I LOVE THAT. He slaps Blake around a bit and finishes with the kata ha jime dubbed Redrum. I love this guy. Wrestling some major issues. More work along the lines of what Hook was doing here is the answer. It’s that simple. I can’t believe he’s only five matches in. ***
Backstage: We get a split-screen interview with Christian Cage’s boys; Jungle Boy and the dinosaur bloke. On the other hand, we’ve got Billy Gunn and his sons, the Ass Boys.
AEW Tag Team Championship
Jurassic Express (c) vs. Gunn Club
Both of Billy’s sons remind me of Billy circa 1995. This is a better structured match than the opener with the Gunn Club isolating Jungle Boy and cutting the ring off. The match is a complete throwback but at least it has a storyline and it’s well agented. Sometimes wrestlers are their own worst enemies. Luchasaurus is a fun hot tag. They can’t help themselves though and they have Jungle Boy back in there kicking out of a belt shot. You don’t kick out of belt shots. Not on some weekly TV show. That’s a Mania main event kick out. They work in Christian Cage and Billy Gunn nicely and Jungle Boy finishes with the Killswitch. Jurassic Express are a good act and while they’re inexperienced the Gunn Club were decent too. **¼
What I was hoping for from this show was something to show me that I still cared about wrestling in any way, shape or form. As I was watching the opener, I figured I was gone and there was no coming back. However, salvation comes from Red Hook. In a guy five matches into his career, I saw a talent I want to see develop. Having Bryan Danielson around AEW is also potentially beneficial to the development of many of their younger guys. I’m interested in seeing Danielson vs. Lee Moriarty.
Can AEW save Arnold Furious? Goddamn it, I thought this would be a hard no but there’s enough here for a part two. I hope Hook wrestles. Can AEW save Arnold Furious? MAYBE.