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Rampage & Battle of the Belts V recap: Jeff Jarrett equals entertainment


AEW’s Friday night (Jan. 6, 2023) programming emanated from Veterans Coliseum in Portland, OR. They held a double-header of Rampage and Battle of the Belts V back to back. The live special featured The Acclaimed tearing the house down with Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett in a wild spectacle for the AEW World Tag Team Championship, Darby Allin as a fighting TNT champion, Orange Cassidy overcoming the odds in an All-Atlantic title bout, and much more.

Let’s run it down from start to finish. Recap of the show first, followed by reactions.

Excalibur, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Chris Jericho were on commentary. Dasha Gonzalez handled ring announcer duties.

Rampage

Jon Moxley & Bryan Danielson vs. Top Flight

Top Flight brought the fight to start. Dante Martin landed an aerial attack on Moxley during his entrance through the crowd.

Danielson went for a suicide dive, but Top Flight caught him to ram into the guardrail. The match progressed as finesse flyers versus rugged tacticians. Whenever Top Flight tried to play the BCC’s game of violent striking, they were outgunned.

For the finish, Danielson connected on the Busaiku Knee to Darius Martin. Dante made the save on the cover. Moxley hammered on a flying axe handle to the outside smashing Dante. Danielson continued dishing damage to Darius. The American Dragon stomped Darius’ head in then applied the Regal Stretch. Darius was already out before the submission was cinched tight.

Jon Moxley & Bryan Danielson defeated Top Flight.

Hangman Page had his medical report ready to be cleared. To be honest, he didn’t care anymore about the paperwork. He would have showed up anyway to fight Moxley in the parking lot. This won’t be a sob story about Hangman’s health. He’ll make sure the story is Moxley finally getting his ass kicked.

Jamie Hayter & Dr. Britt Baker DMD vs. The Renegades

Rebel was ringside. Hayter and Baker brought the ruckus with physicality. The Renegade sisters put up a scrappy fight, but they were no match for The Killer and The Pillar. Hayter and Baker sandwiched Charlette Renegade with elbow strikes. Hayter crushed a neckbreaker over her knee and added a sliding lariat. Baker finished with a curb stomp.

Jamie Hayter & Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeated The Renegades.

House of Black had a message for Eddie Kingston. This is not the man Malakai Black knows and loves. This is not the sadistic, violent bastard. Malakai wants that version of Kingston. The House of Black is here to help Eddie.

“Perro Peligroso” Preston Vance vs. Sonico

Jose The Assistant was ringside. Squash. Spinebuster, full nelson, discus lariat, win. Afterward, Vance ripped off the mask of Sonico.

Preston Vance defeated Sonico.

Darby Allin was confronted by Mike Bennett, Maria Kanellis, and Matt Taven after Dynamite. Bennett requested a shot at the TNT title. Allin accepted as a fighting champion.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Mike Bennett spoke about people assuming they know Darby Allin. Allin is just a cosplayer daredevil. Bennett has seen real darkness, and he’ll prove himself tonight. Allin’s turn. Allin had his first match in Portland and was told he wouldn’t amount to anything. The past doesn’t matter. All that matters in this second is the TNT Championship. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

TNT Championship: Darby Allin (c) vs. Mike Bennett

Maria Kanellis and Matt Taven were ringside. Intense matchup. High spots were Bennett with a slingshot Russian leg sweep off the apron down to the floor, Allin countering Bennett for a Scorpion Death Drop, and Allin connecting on a flying dropkick to the outside to a seated Bennett in a chair.

After the chair spot, Allin rolled Bennett into the ring. Maria ran in to cover her husband’s body from harm. Allin climbed the corner anyway intent on a Coffin Drop. Referee Bryce Remsburg removed Maria from the ring, and Taven kicked Allin off balance. Bennett capitalized for a piledriver. 1, 2, Allin kicked out.

Bennett lifted Allin onto the turnbuckles for an avalanche piledriver, but Allin blocked the motion. Allin smashed Bennett’s skull into the turnbuckles. That contact stunned the challenger long enough for the champion to execute an avalanche Code Red. Allin quickly followed for a Coffin Drop to win.

Darby Allin defeated Mike Bennett.

Battle of the Belts V

AEW World Tag Team Championship: The Acclaimed (c) vs. Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett in No Holds Barred

Rules dictated no count-outs, no disqualifications, anything goes. Billy Gunn, Sonjay Dutt, and Satnam Singh were ringside. The bad guys jumped the Acclaimed before the opening bell. Jarrett paired off with Max Caster to brawl, and Lethal duked it out with Anthony Bowens on stage. Lethal applied a figure-four to Bowens, but Bowens reversed to roll them all the way down the ramp.

The match settled down into tag team action. Tag team action! Caster trapped Jarrett in a grapevine ankle lock. Lethal climbed the corner. The assumption was that he would target Caster. Instead, Lethal hit a flying elbow drop onto the referee. Due to the rules, that was legal.

The ref bump opened to the door to maximum CHAOS! Capital letters are necessary for the amount of hijinx that went down. Billy ran in to clothesline Lethal over the ropes. Singh pulled out Caster to smash into the ring steps. Bowens hit a Fameasser on Jarrett, but there was no referee. The crowd counted to 9 before the backup ref slid in. 1, 2, Jarrett kicked out.

Jarrett grabbed his guitar, and Bowens grabbed his boombox. Billy snatched the guitar. Singh entered the ring, so Billy kabonged him. Jarrett hit the Stroke on Billy. The Acclaimed slammed Jarrett. Singh was back for a double chokeslam to the Acclaimed, then he chokeslammed the backup referee for good measure.

Dutt put on the ref’s jersey. Lethal hit the Lethal Injection on Bowens. Dutt counted as a fake referee. 1, 2, referee Aubrey Edwards ran in to pull Dutt out of the ring. She then had the audacity to snap Dutt’s pencil. The Acclaimed pounced for the Mic Drop combo on Lethal to win with Edwards as the official.

The Acclaimed defeated Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett.

Will Hobbs returned with the Book of Hobbs. All his pain is in that book. Everything that happened to him will happen to you.

Ortiz pointed out House of Black speaking in riddles. Their last riddle caused Kingston to question him. Tonight’s riddle was all about Eddie, so Ortiz questioned Kingston. What’s up with that? Kingston look offended. Kingston issued a tag team challenge to House of Black for next week on Rampage. After Ortiz and Kingston beat their asses, then Ortiz can question Kingston.

TBS Championship: Jade Cargill (c) vs. Skye Blue

Leila Grey was ringside. Blue used her agility to surprise Jade with early roll-ups. Jade slowed down the pace to take control with a chokeslam on the ramp. Red Velvet sauntered out on stage to get in Jade’s business from a distance.

Jade roughed up Blue in the ring until Blue launched a babyface rally. A vicious pump kick knocked Blue out of the ring. Velvet walked down to shout encouragement for Blue. Red also slapped Grey when she got too close. Jade lifted Blue for the Jaded finisher, however, Blue countered for a roll-up. Kick out by Jade, superkick by Blue. The challenger hit Code Blue for a pin. 1, 2, Jade kicked out.

Blue leaped for a hurricanrana, but Jade caught her for an impressive Jaded to win. Jade’s record improves to 48-0.

Jade Cargill defeated Skye Blue.

Stokely Hathaway was flanked by Big Bill Morrissey and Lee Moriarty with words for Jungle Boy and Hook. The Firm is a force to be reckoned with. It is fitting that this tag bout will take place in Los Angeles. L.A. is where entertainers go to die. They will put JB and Hook in the dirt. See you at the crossroads.

Ruby Soho & Willow Nightingale will engage in a street fight against Tay Melo & Anna Jay next week on Rampage. Blood and broken bones are a cake walk compared to what Ruby will do to them. Tay grew up in the Brazilian favelas. She has been street fighting all her life. Tay is not scared. Great hype package.

AEW All-Atlantic Championship: Orange Cassidy (c) vs. Kip Sabian

Danhausen and Penelope Ford were ringside. No Best Friends. Cassidy wrestled with anger all match long. Sabian played mind games using Cassidy’s signature methods against him. Bunny came down to the ring in support of Ford’s husband. Sabian blasted Cassidy, then the ladies gave Sabian a Best Friends hug. Danhausen tried to even the odds by cursing Sabian, so Sabian bit Danhausen’s cursing finger. OC used that distraction to land a suicide dive.

More shenanigans erupted later in the bout. Cassidy geared up for the superman punch, but Bunny grabbed his foot. The referee caught her in the act and issued an ejection. Danhausen followed Bunny up stage. Out came Butcher and Blade. Danhausen tried to fight them but got his ass kicked. Butcher and Blade grabbed a pair of chairs to have a seat ringside.

Sabian’s closest chance at victory came when he mocked Cassidy’s slacker moves. Cassidy was itching for a slugfest, but Sabian threw soft chops. Sabian put his hands in the air a la Cassidy to exploit that tactic for a headbutt. Sabian blitzed with offense for a cross-legged driver. Cassidy kicked out on the cover.

Cassidy was tossed in front of Butcher and Blade, who had bad intentions. Trent and Chuck Taylor ran in for the save. Cassidy ate a superman punch, but that fired him up. Cassidy stomped a mudhole in Sabian and shoved the referee in the process. Cassidy instantly apologized to the ref. Sabian scored a roll-up. Cassidy escaped and crushed two consecutive superman punches for victory.

Orange Cassidy defeated Kip Sabian.


Grade: B

Solid action for an energetic evening of fights. The Acclaimed versus Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett was the peach of the bunch for maximum entertainment. Whoever organized that epic spectacle deserves a bonus.

Blackpool Combat Club versus Top Flight was a rousing opener for the evening. I appreciated Top Flight upping their aggression from finesse high-flyers. Unfortunately, that tactic did not pay dividends. Live and learn. Top Flight would probably be better off using their speed against the slower BCC members.

I do have an issue with Top Flight taking losses two weeks in a row. Commentary tried to steer the narrative that Top Flight would be benefit from competing against BCC, win or lose. In a sense, they have a point. Iron sharpens iron. Where that logic falls short is disintegrating Top Flight’s momentum in the process. Top Flight were arching real hot, and now I view them as just an exciting mid-card act. I guess it’s not that important right this moment since The Acclaimed should carry the tag titles for a few more months. But, it’s not a good look seeing Top Flight lose two weeks in a row to duos that aren’t even real tag teams.

The Killer and The Pillar put a thumping on the Renegades. Jamie Hayter’s ring style seems to be rubbing off on Dr. Britt Baker DMD. Baker was hitting harder than usual. I like that extra intensity shown from the women. I also liked the smooth flow for the teamwork finish. Hayter and Baker were a well-oiled machine moving in different directions to strike with precision timing. The Renegades scored enough shine to make a positive impression in defeat.

Preston Vance took care of business in a squash. I suppose that was effective in reminding us of Vance’s power game. Not much else to take away from the bout.

Darby Allin had a heck of a performance in the TNT title match. I appreciate how he has become a thinking man in the ring. On the surface, it all looks like stunts. However, Allin does a smart job of setting up moves. Allin forced Mike Bennett to step up his game, and that he did with the brutal Russian leg sweep off the apron. That impact probably hurt him just as bad as it did Allin. Bennett re-established himself as a legit threat after being off screen for so long.

The AEW tag title bout was a true gem of entertainment. There was so much ridiculous bullshit that it was glorious. Everyone involved was creative about it too. That flying elbow drop from Jay Lethal onto the referee was a genius piece of strategy. Not to mention the move was hilariously unexpected. It eliminated any risk of Jeff Jarrett tapping out in the submission. Sprinkle in giant chokeslams and a guitar shot for extra sizzle. I could do without referee Aubrey Edwards being the hero, but it did pop the crowd as a local talent. And someone had to put Sonjay Dutt in his place. Might as well been Edwards. That’s twice this week. It makes me wonder if AEW is setting up a story. Perhaps Dutt becomes a sanctioned referee acting with bias for his pals. Anyway, I think it is safe to say that the Jarrett chapter in AEW has been a success so far. Are you not entertained? Cue the Jarrett strut.

Jade Cargill versus Skye Blue for the TBS Championship is a case of poor matchmaking. I didn’t care squat about this match going in. Cargill just defeated Blue in tag team action on Dynamite, and Blue did nothing to make me believe she could beat Jade. So, what’s the logical next step? A title match, of course. Add in the Red Velvet drama where we have little reason to root for her. It dug a hole for the ladies in terms of getting invested in the contest. Jade and Blue did good work as the match progressed to earn my attention. Blue’s shiftiness for the Code Blue was slick, and Jade’s muscle power lifting Blue into Jaded was cool. That Jaded transition was the type of move worthy of Jade’s superhero physique.

The All-Atlantic title tilt between Orange Cassidy and Kip Sabian built strong drama teasing a championship change. Of all the matches on the card, this was my pick for an upset. As the night wore on without any new champions, I felt that odds were increasing for Sabian to win gold. AEW leaned into that with all the help on the outside, the Best Friends angle, Sabian successfully playing mind games on Cassidy, Sabian’s blitz of offense for a false finish, and the referee shove leading to a roll-up. It all set up for Cassidy to overcome the odds in victory in a surprising and exciting manner. Well played.

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