Welcome to the second AEW Rampage review here on TJRWrestling. They are calling it “The First Dance” from Chicago’s United Center and I didn’t write this live on Friday night. I’m sure most of you reading this know what happened to begin the show. It was pretty cool. Time to review it.
This is AEW Rampage from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
The show began with a shot of the crowd in Chicago with some pyro going off on the stage. Excalibur welcomed us to the show while the announcers went over some of the matches coming up this week. The announce team of Excalibur, Taz, Mark Henry and Jim Ross welcomed us to the show. JR was filling in for Chris Jericho, who was selling his loss against MJF on Dynamite.
It was time for “Cult of Personality” and the AEW debut of the legend known as CM Punk. There was a huge ovation for Punk in his hometown of Chicago. Punk was wearing a black jacket and jeans. The jacket said “Larry” on it for his dog. Punk got down on his knees on the stage and looked around at the crowd. The fans were popping huge for Punk chanting his name and just making a lot of noise for him. After a couple of minutes, Excalibur said that CM Punk has arrived in AEW and JR compared it to as if Michael Jordan was there. Punk hugged some fans in the aisle. They showed some guy crying in the crowd. Punk actually jumped into the crowd to hug the fans. I hope they were all vaccinated! I mean, for all their sake. Punk soaked in more chants from the crowd. Punk spotted my buddy Frank The Clown and hugged him at ringside. That was cool, but I know some people don’t like Frank. I just know Punk and Frank have been friends, so that was a genuine moment for them. Punk was about to go to the ring, but then he saw some friends at ringside, so he went over to give them hugs. Punk grabbed a microphone and went into the ring. They went to break for 90 seconds before a promo from Punk.
Analysis: That was a cool way to start the first five minutes of the broadcast. What an amazing ovation. I loved it. It was the right city to do that return for sure. The fans knew Punk was coming out there (thanks to AEW leaking the return or however it got out there) and they were ready to cheer him on with a hero’s welcome to let him know that they missed him. Punk took his time taking it all in and you could tell from the look on his face that he enjoyed it. I’m a fan of his. I’m glad he’s back.
Let’s Hear from CM Punk
It feels good to write “Let’s Hear from CM Punk” again! It’s been over seven years!
CM Punk stood in the ring with a beard that had some grey and black in it. Punk is 42 years old. Punk said you guys know how to make a kid feel like Britt Baker in Pittsburgh. Great line! Punk said that “we” are winging this and said that’s an important decision that we will get back to. Interesting. Punk said he didn’t plan on what he was going to say. Punk said he didn’t know what he was going to feel, but he needed to feel it. Punk said he feels Chicago, he hears them and there was a 2766 days sign marking the last time he was in pro wrestling over seven years ago. Punk said that’s what he has heard for seven years saying “I heard you” multiple times. Punk said we can’t cover it all right here, right now, but the good news is he’s got the time Wednesday, Friday, four Sundays or Saturdays a year. Punk: “I’ve got the time and I ain’t going anywhere.” That drew a big pop from the crowd.
Punk said for everybody at home, everybody that bought a ticket and everybody in the back. Punk said if any of his personal choices made you feel disappointed or let down, he understands if you all try to understand that he was never going to get healthy physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally staying in the same place that got him sick in the first place. There’s the shot at WWE without mentioning them. Punk took off his Larry coat to reveal some new CM Punk shirt and an “I Was There” shirt that likely sold a lot. Punk: “Can I tell you a story?” that led to him sitting in the ring cross-legged as he had done many times in wrestling in the past.
Punk said that he felt before that he had to leave, he didn’t want to and he knew he couldn’t stay. Punk said that was Ring of Honor. Punk said that August 13, 2005 was his last match in ROH and he had tears in his eyes. Punk said that walking out there today, he knows why he was crying. Punk said he made a place where people can come work, get paid, learn their craft and love professional wrestling. Punk said he cried because he knew he was leaving a place he loved and he knew where he was going wasn’t going to be easy for a guy like me (another shot at WWE). Punk said he’s one of us (the fans). Punk said that August 13, 2005 he left professional wrestling and he stood up to say “August 20, 2021 I’m back.” Punk said he’s back for you, the fans and for himself. Punk said there’s a hell of a lot of young talent that he wished he was surrounded by ten years ago. Punk said they are there now, so now he’s back because he wants to work with that young talent that had the same passion that he had. Punk said he’s back because there’s a couple of scores to settle in that locker room.
Punk talked about how he’s back for the young guys: “Darby Allin!” That led to Darby standing in the rafters with his much older friend Sting. Punk told Darby he’s good, he talked about some of his crazy moments, he has seen Darby always come back and just like everybody in Chicago, he’s tough. Punk said that Darby is the first on the list and he said there is nothing Darby can do that is more dangerous than wrestling CM Punk…except wrestling CM Punk in Chicago. Punk said he’ll see Darby, he’ll see Sting and all of us on September 5th at All Out live on pay-per-view. Punk: “I’m back.”
Analysis: That’s a great first match for Punk. It was obvious it was coming since Darby Allin referenced “Best in the World” (a phrase Punk used many times) several weeks ago. It’s smart to put Punk against a smaller guy like Allin who can sell and make Punk look great while I’m sure Punk will do the same for him. Both guys are faces, so I doubt the fans will be against either guy, but with All Out being in Chicago then that means they could favor Punk a lot. I assume Punk wins the match in a close manner, then maybe they can do a rematch down the road and Allin can get the win on him. Since AEW is probably paying Punk a huge salary, I assume Punk’s going to win a lot and get pushed to the main event scene sooner rather than later.
Punk said there was one more thing. Punk said seven years is an awful long time to wait for somebody. Punk said he appreciated everyone there that has waited. Punk informed the fans on their way out of the United Center tonight, grab yourself a free ice cream bar on me! The fans popped huge for that. Everybody loves free ice cream…unless you’re on a diet maybe. Anyway, Punk posed in the ring again. The fans cheered loudly for him. (If you’re wondering, fans did legitimately get ice cream bars as they left the building. That’s great!)
CM Punk left the ring, then greeted more fans around the ringside area. The announcers reminded us of matches still to come.
Analysis: I liked that. It was a lot of fun. Punk still has great presence on the microphone, which is no surprise. There were shots at WWE because it’s AEW where they thrive on doing that and the hardcore AEW fans that may not like WWE will love those kinds of comments. That’s not really my main takeaway from it, though. I think Punk looked good, sounded happy to be there and like he missed being a professional wrestler. The fans are going to eat up everything he does because seven years is a long time to go away, but I think this next chapter for CM Punk is going to be very interesting. I’m excited for CM Punk, for wrestling fans all over the world and for AEW as a company. Maybe it’s going to light a fire under other wrestling companies too. I don’t know. I just think CM Punk being back in pro wrestling is a great thing and I’m glad to be here to watch it as well as write about it. Welcome back, CM Punk.
They showed Christian Cage with Jurassic Express. Christian said that Jurassic Express are going to beat Young Bucks for the AEW Tag Team Titles. Christian said he beat Kenny Omega for the Impact World Title and then he’s going to beat him for the AEW World Title at All Out as well. Christian told Jurassic Express to go win their match.
Private Party made their entrance with Matt Hardy. Private Party are 9-1 in 2021. Jurassic Express were next with the fans chanting along to the Jungle Boy theme song. They are 9-2 in 2021. I’m shocked that both teams haven’t had more matches this year. The Young Bucks, the AEW Tag Team Champions, entered with Brandon Cutler to watch on the stage.
AEW Tag Team Championship Eliminator Semifinals: Private Party (Marq Quen & Isaiah Kassidy) w/Matt Hardy vs. Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy) w/Marko Stunt
Jungle Boy started with Kassidy with each guy getting some takedowns and they both did kip-ups at the same time. Boy got an armdrag on Quen and a dropkick to Kassidy. Private Party cheated with some cheap shots by Matt Hardy as well. They went to picture in picture break.
The match returned with Boy hitting an impressive dropkick followed by a huge clothesline after bouncing off the ropes. Luchasaurus got the tag with punches, then chops, a back body drop and a slam across the ring. Luchasaurus with a double clothesline on both guys. Luchasaurus suplexed Kassidy on the top rope, Boy tagged in and Quen got back into it with a kick. Kassidy jumped off the top with a Destroyer on Boy after he was on the shoulders of Luchasaurus. That got a two count with Luchasaurus getting the pin. Quen with a missile dropkick on Luchasaurus, then they stunned Luchasaurus by the ropes and Quen hit an SSP on Luchasaurus on the floor where he barely touched him. The announcers tried to cover for the miss saying it could still hurt the guy. Sure. Luchasaurus barely sold any of that and was back in quickly with a double-team slam into a Cutter. Luchasaurus took care of Quen as Boy covered Kassidy for two. Hardy was on the apron, Stunt tried to get him and Matt slammed Stunt down. Boy knocked Hardy off the apron. Kassidy with a rollup with tights for two. Private Party went for their Gin N Juice double team move, but Boy countered into a DDT on Kassidy. Luchasaurus was back up with a kick on Quen. Luchasaurus launched Quen into the air for a Throwassic Express double team sitout Powerbomb by Boy for the pinfall win after ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy)
Analysis: **3/4 It was an average tag team match with a good ending. I like Jurassic Express a lot and they are a popular team that deserve to be pushed. Private Party guys are good athletes that know how to do some flips, but they really don’t do much in the way of working on body parts, submissions and things like that. It’s all about setting up the next spot. I know Private Party is young, so they’ll get better and I think they have a lot of potential. Luchasaurus could have sold better after taking a bunch of moves. That’s my main complaint because it made Private Party look weak. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus could be the next Tag Team Champions in AEW.
Kenny Omega was backstage for an interview with Don Callis and Michael Nakazawa. Callis complained about Kenny’s match with Christian last week. Omega said he’s going to retire Christian for another seven years. That was it.
There was a video about Jade Cargill’s match against Kiera Hogan with Jade calling herself a bitch as usual. She seems fun. Jade made her entrance with a 10-0 record although Mark Henry said she was 9-0 so I don’t know what’s right. It doesn’t matter, really. Kiera Hogan was in the ring as a free agent that is 0-2 in AEW.
Jade Cargill (w/Smart Mark Sterling) vs. Kiera Hogan
Jade shoved Kiera down. Kiera got a couple of kicks in, then a charging clothesline and a Jade came back with a jumping kick to the head. Jade picked up Kier and hit the lifting Jaded slam for the pinfall win. It went one minute.
Winner by pinfall: Jade Cargill
Analysis: 1/2* Squash city. They clearly want to push Jade, but they are not rushing it even though she’s undefeated and records are supposed to matter.
They showed part of CM Punk’s debut again. JR said that this moment has topped all of the great moments he’s experienced in pro wrestling. Sure, Jim. Smart thing to say about your current employer.
This Wednesday on Dynamite in Milwaukee:
* CM Punk makes his first Dynamite appearance.
* Varsity Blonds vs. Lucha Brothers in the World Tag Team Title Eliminator Semifinals
* Red Velvet vs. Jamie Hayter.
* Orange Cassidy vs. Matt Hardy.
* Malakai Black vs. Brock Anderson.
Next week on Rampage, Jurassic Express will face the Varsity Blonds vs. Lucha Brothers winner for a World Tag Team Title match against the Young Bucks.
There were split-screen interviews between Daniel Garcia & 2.0 talking trash about Jon Moxley, who was also interviewed. Mark Henry was the one doing the interview. Moxley was fired up and it was time for his match.
Jon Moxley made his entrance from the back part of the arena while “Wild Thing” played. Moxley looked angry as usual. Eddie Kingston showed up to join Moxley for the entrance. Moxley is 36-3-1 in his AEW career. He’s almost as good as Jade Cargill. Poor Daniel Garcia did not get a televised entrance.
Jon Moxley (w/Eddie Kingston) vs. Daniel Garcia (w/Jeff Parker & Matt Lee)
There were only about six minutes left in the show when the match began. Moxley with a belly to back suplex followed by repeated kicks to the chest. Garcia with a running dropkick into the knee and Garcia pulled back on the leg. Garcia kicked the left leg. Garcia with a knee drop on the left leg and Garcia applied a weak-looking ankle lock. Garcia got out of a submission attempt with hammer punches. Garcia with two chops to the chest, but then Moxley came back with a boot to the face and two German Suplexes. Garcia tripped up Moxley into a better-looking ankle lock this time. Moxley got to the bottom rope to force a break. Moxley came back with a clothesline. Moxley headbutted Garcia (actually his own hand) and then Moxley hit a suplex into a slam. Garcia countered Moxley into a Sharpshooter submission, but he stumbled back down, so it wasn’t the same. Moxley grabbed a hold of Garcia into the Bulldog Choke leading to Garcia tapping out. It went four minutes.
Winner by submission: Jon Moxley
Analysis: **1/4 It wasn’t a total squash, but it was a dominant win. Garcia did a couple of nice takedowns, Moxley sold it for a bit and then just stopped selling by the end of the match. It was a decisive win for Moxley as expected.
Post match, Moxley and Kingston were attacked by Garcia and 2.0. That led to Darby Allin and Sting walking down to the ring for the save. Kingston with a spinning backhand and Moxley hit a Paradigm shift. Allin and Sting beat up some dudes with punches. Sting hit a Stinger Splash on two guys. Sting hit a Scorpion Death Drop (reverse DDT). Allin with a splash, then he went up top and hit the Coffin Drop on both guys.
The foursome of Moxley, Kingston, Allin and Sting posed in the ring together. That was the end of the show as the announcers plugged Dynamite and Rampage next week. The faces continued to celebrate. That was the end of the show.
Three Stars of the Show
- CM Punk
- Jurassic Express
- Jon Moxley
This Week: 7.5 out of 10
Last Week: 7.25
The CM Punk stuff is about a 10 out of 10 and the matches were maybe a 5 out of 10. I already wrote a lot about the CM Punk stuff up above. I really enjoyed it and thought he looked so happy to be there. As much as the fans were excited, Punk was thrilled to be there too and you could tell by looking at his face.
Moxley won an extended squash while Cargill won a short squash. The Jurassic Express win over Private Party was the only good match, but even that was very predictable. I feel like with the roster they have, they should be able to put on better matches than this. With that said, it was really a show about CM Punk and nothing else mattered that much.
Rampage is an easy watch because the one-hour format goes by fast. I like it. I just think they need to put on better matches next week.
The next AEW pay-per-view is All Out on Sunday, September 5. Here’s what we know so far.
AEW World Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Christian Cage
CM Punk vs. Darby Allin
Andrade El Idolo vs. Pac
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Rams. You can contact me using any of the methods below.