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3 Big Takeaways from AEW Rampage - Jan 20, 2023

The action continued this week in Fresno, as Brian Cage clashed with Willie Mack, Daniel Garcia faced off against Action Andretti, and much more

AEW Rampage from Fresno attempted to replicate the wrestling action of this week's fantastic Wednesday performance and came awfully close to pulling it off. While the one-hour program wasn't quite as explosive as Dynamite, it lit some fires of its own.

The crowd in Fresno remained hot for the show, and they certainly weren't disappointed. While it's worth noting that Rampage has had its critics, it's been on an upswing recently. At least in terms of match quality and pacing of the show. No longer does it seem as if Tony Khan is trying to jam as many stories as he can into late-night, Friday shots.

Instead, the show has started to find its groove again as we roll into 2023. It may still be a few weeks away from the Revolution pay-per-view, but the company is already lining up a huge portion of that upcoming show. That's a good sign for those who are fans of long-term storytelling.

With all those wheels turning at once, here's a look at three things that stuck out in a very entertaining episode of AEW Rampage.

#1 - Ortiz and Eddie Kingston are two great performers stuck in what is quickly developing into a flat angle

While this story is just developing, the promo tonight between the two men definitely didn't help add any fuel to this flickering fire.

Ortiz came out - dressed casually out of character, and looking like a Latino version of Tiger Woods - to address Tony Schiavone. Eventually, and as always, Tony departed the scene, allowing the two former partners some time for closure

The last two remnants of the old LAX faction were left standing in the ring, and Ortiz briefly tapped into that history. He even mentioned Homicide. However, the nostalgia fell on mostly deaf ears. Although the faction is known to the AEW audience, they have no connection to the company, in general.

Instead, Ortiz and Kingston shared an awkward moment in the ring that saw The King eventually nail Ortiz with a chair. He then (oddly) just tucked the hardware under the ropes, tucked it under his arm, and walked away casually.

It was almost as if he wanted to get out of the segment as quickly as the viewers did. Probably because it was as forgettable as this feud promises to be.

#2 - Brian Cage continues to be AEW's most underappreciated star

The Machine battled Willie Mack in what turned out to be the surprise of the night. The two power performers were given plenty of time to fit their styles, and the pair didn't disappoint. They hit lots of big moves. While this wasn't a total spot fest, there was certainly no shortage of high-impact maneuvers.

Speaking of 'IMPACT', it was also the last promotion that booked Brian Cage in the manner that he should be. He was their World Champion and flagbearer - and certainly had every reason to be in that position. He's been considered 'the next big thing' for several years now, and for good reason.

Someone of his size and power shouldn't be as skilled and agile as he is. However, Cage hasn't seen that same solo success repeated in All Elite Wrestling.

Despite getting an impressive victory over Mack, The Swolverine still isn't where he should be. AEW has wasted years of his immense talent for years, as he has never held a singles title while with the company (sorry... the FTW Championship does NOT count). Hopefully, that situation will be remedied in 2023. It would be a shame to see this potential breakout star go by the wayside.

#3 - Daniel Garcia and Action Andretti still need time to grow, but they are developing into entertaining television characters

Both Garcia and Andretti are explosive in the ring, albeit in different ways. Their main event showdown this week was certainly a harbinger of the future, as it's pretty easy to envision these two as mainstays of the promotion for years to come.

Daniel Garcia made his way to the ring in new, leather gear that had been gifted to him by his 'mentor' Sammy Guevara. While it's clear that this angle is leading to an inevitable rift between the two, seeing the disgust on Garcia's face right now is priceless. And Guevara continues to play the obnoxious and oblivious idiot perfectly.

As far as the match was concerned, it was much as any AEW fan might expect. A lot of exciting offense from the two youngsters. While they are both still developing their storytelling styles in the ring, both stars are already a lot of fun to watch. Whatever mistakes they may be making now are covered by their youthful enthusiasm and outstanding athleticism.

While Andretti continues to be a thorn in the side of Chris Jericho and the Jericho Appreciation Society, he's gaining a great rub and a lot of TV time. He really shined in this featured spot, winning in grand fashion with a running shooting star press.

It's going to be interesting to see how far they take this current story. Just how long will Tony Khan continue to book Andretti as a world-beating hero? Probably for quite a while, as it appears the promotion has discovered another potential face of the franchise.

In the meantime, hearing how it irritates 'Le Champion' every week on commentary? The fans will surely enjoy it for a few weeks longer.

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