Biggest Takeaways from AEW Rampage's 1st Episode

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2021

Biggest Takeaways from AEW Rampage's 1st Episode

0 of 3

    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    The first episode of All Elite Wrestling Rampage is in the rearview mirror, and the debut broadcast left viewers with takeaways regarding Christian Cage defeating Kenny Omega for the Impact world title, Britt Baker's homecoming and the overall flow and format of the show.

    Dive deeper into each of those subjects with this recap of Friday's TNT presentation.

A New Champion Was the Right Call

1 of 3

    Kenny Omega has been Impact world champion since defeated Rich Swann in April, and while he elevated the profile of that company, he also beat every top contender there was to beat. There was nothing left for him to do in Impact that would have benefited either him or the company, and he would have diminished his reign with repetitive matchups.

    More importantly, after months of dominance with The Elite, we needed to see him falter. There needed to be some indication that he was vulnerable.

    We got that Friday night in the opening contest of Rampage, as he failed to benefit from interference from Don Callis and The Young Bucks, succumbing to the Killswitch on to a steel chair and dropping the gold to Christian Cage in what was a fun, energetic way to kick off the brand-new show—and it was a hell of a match to boot.

    It remains to be seen whether AEW goes through with Cage vs. Omega for the AEW world title at All Out on September 5, but if it does, fans should expect more of the same. The counters and reversals were flawless and fluid. The chemistry was undeniable. For two guys who had never worked together before, it felt like old friends running through a match they had performed dozens of times.

    That shouldn't be surprising to longtime fans of Cage.

    Captain Charisma has long been one of the smoothest workers in the industry, a guy whose transitions, counters and reversals appear effortless. He is as good a worker as any, and even at 47, with the time he spent away from the ring, he's hardly missed a beat.

    Impact, a company over which he has reigned as champion before, and its stars are lucky to have him. As for Omega, we will see how he and The Elite respond to The Belt Collector losing one of his prizes. Does he become more dangerous and focused? Does he sulk?

    Probably a little bit of both.

Britt Baker Is the Star She Was Always Supposed to Be

2 of 3

    From day one in AEW, it was apparent that Tony Khan and the rest of the promotion's management team expected Britt Baker to be the star of its women's division. She was featured prominently on marketing materials and was one of the performers on the first Double or Nothing pay-per-view poster.

    Things didn't go quite as smoothly as expected, though, as fans found other performers on the roster to throw their support behind, not firmly sold on the Pittsburgh native whose only real character trait was "dentist."

    An injury, heel turn and extraordinary on-screen chemistry with the lovable Tony Schiavone changed everything. Baker finally connected with the audience as a loudmouth, egotistical villain, so much so that her insults earned her the fans she struggled to win over in the first place.

    For a year, she steadily evolved her character until capturing the women's title back at Double or Nothing in May.

    It was Friday's main event in her hometown of Pittsburgh, though, that served as the fulfillment of her growth and climb to the top.

    The Good Doctor arrived amid terrible towels waving in the air and fans erupting in support of her. She looked like a star, carried herself like one and was treated as such. There was pomp, circumstance and pyro to hammer home who this woman was and what she means to the brand.

    If that didn't help, the gutsy performance that saw her successfully retain her championship over Red Velvet, doing so with a broken freaking wrist, sure did.

    The company's continued insistence that she is a heel, despite the weekly pops that accompany her arrival, is a bit annoying. But as long as she can continue to ride this wave of momentum, it can be ignored. The show-closing return of Jamie Hayter as Baker's new backup is an interesting addition and provides the champ with another companion to strengthen what could be a faction before too long.

The Format Is Perfect

3 of 3

    Rampage's one-hour format is perfect.

    In an industry notorious for overly bloated television shows that are far longer than they need to be, a one-hour sprint of a show that highlights a few stories and stars in good, competitive matches is exactly what this new television property from AEW needed to be.

    Whether or not you loved episode one, it accomplished three things in its 60-minute runtime: crowned a new Impact world champion, paid off Fuego Del Sol's emotional journey to an AEW contract and reintroduced Jamie Hayter as Britt Baker's new bodyguard.

    There are entire three-hour shows elsewhere that don't accomplish that in a month.

    Considering the other television AEW produces, such as Dark and Dark Elevation, this did not need to be any longer. It flowed perfectly, didn't overstay its welcome and highlighted some of the top stars in the promotion, which is exactly what a wrestling show should do.

    Kudos to the production team for sticking the landing here and resisting any urge or push for a longer presentation.