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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Oct. 15, 2021): MMA stars shine bright

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AEW Rampage (Oct. 15, 2021) emanated from the James L. Knight Center in Miami, FL. The show featured CM Punk outlasting Matt Sydal, Ruby Soho outsmarting Bunny, and Jorge Masvidal outfoxing Chris Jericho.

Let’s jump right in with a recap of the show followed by reactions.

Excalibur, Taz, and Ricky Starks were on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

AEW aired a special pre-show available on YouTube (here) as counter programming for friendly competition to WWE’s supersized Smackdown encroaching into the Rampage time slot. Hype segments from AEW Road to Miami aired between the matches.

Tay Conti vs. Santana Garrett

The fisticuffs got a little testy with back and forth tosses. Garrett gained momentum on handspring back elbow in the corner then a suplex. Conti rallied with a four straight pump kicks. Garrett was wobbly and ripe for the picking. A hammerlock DDT gave Conti the win.

Tay Conti defeated Santana Garrett.

Lee Moriarty vs. Bobby Fish

Grappling chess match to open. Fish had the advantage in striking and general veteran savvy. Moriarty focused on attacking the elbow, but it never paid off in the end. Fish turned the tide with a roundhouse head kick then a back drop suplex. The competitive juices flowed until Fish put it away with a leaping knee strike flush to the mush, an exploder suplex into the ropes, then a measured head kick to win.

Bobby Fish defeated Lee Moriarty.

Minoru Suzuki vs. Bryan Danielson

Suzuki received time for his full musical entrance. KAZE NI NARE!

The bout lasted in the 15-minute range and played toward the crowd for a mighty slugfest. Tension and intensity were served throughout. The striking was heavy across the chest. Neither man backed down. One of Suzuki’s elbow blasts opened a cut on Danielson’s cheek.

Danielson fed off the pain and almost trapped Suzuki in the Cattle Mutilation submission. Suzuki was able to position his body at an angle to avoid maximum pain. Danielson transitioned toward a crucifix pin. Suzuki kicked out, and the fight raged on.

Suzuki countered a suplex into an armbar. Danielson was able to reach the ropes with his foot for a break. As Suzuki goofed around with the referee, Danielson sprang up for a LeBell Lock. Suzuki bridged over the top sticking his feet into the ropes to get free.

The finish was furious chops and kicks to the chest back and forth. The action led into quick submission transitions and counters. Back on their feet, Danielson ducked a clothesline and exploded for a running knee to win.

Bryan Danielson defeated Minoru Suzuki.

Onto the main Rampage show.

Matt Sydal vs. CM Punk

Strategies were Punk trying to slow down the pace and Sydal testing Punk’s cardio level in regard to in-ring action. Punk scored the first crushing blow with a body slam on the apron.

Sydal tried several times for the Lightning Spiral slam, but Punk was able to counter out often. When Sydal finally hit that finisher down the stretch, Punk kicked out. Sydal went up top for a shooting star press. Punk was back on his feet, so Sydal bailed on the idea. He jumped onto Punk’s back in a crucifix position. Punk used his strength to pop Sydal up onto his shoulders for a surprise GTS for victory.

CM Punk defeated Matt Sydal.

The Dark Order was excited for Hangman Page’s world title shot. Since they believe the Super Elite will get in involved on Kenny Omega’s behalf, they challenged them to a fight.

Ruby Soho vs. Bunny

Bunny controlled the action early. Soho fired up with kicks to the head and a back drop suplex. Bunny went back on the attack for a German suplex off the turnbuckles.

In the end, Soho was able to block Bunny’s finisher and counter with a back slide three count.

Ruby Soho defeated Bunny.

Afterward, Penelope Ford ambushed Soho on stage. Ford landed a clean brass knuckles punch to KO Soho.

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Dan Lambert talked up Junior dos Santos bashing brains for years, so a wrestling match should be no sweat. Chris Jericho shot back that the Inner Circle is ready to kick butt. Nobody in AEW is crazier than the Inner Circle. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, & Jake Hager vs. Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page, & Junior dos Santos

Guevara and Sky kicked it off with hot action. Tag to dos Santos for rugged dirty boxing on Jericho. Time for Hager to step up to his MMA foe. Dos Santos backed Hager into the corner, but big Jake picked up his opponent for a hard slam.

Jericho took the brunt of the beating for the Inner Circle. Hot tag to Guevara for flippy offense to light the ring with electricity. He hit a double springboard cutter, standing Spanish Fly, and a running shooting star press.

Even Jericho turned back the hands of time for a flying double axe handle and a Lionsault.

The match eventually broke down into chaos. Something cool happened between Guevara and Page on the floor. The cameras missed it, but the crowd erupted into, “Holy shit,” chants. Hager planted dos Santos through a table with a uranage.

In the ring, Le Champion escaped a TKO from Sky to counter with a Walls of Jericho submission. Paige VanZant caused a distraction on the apron, so Jorge Masvidal could blast Jericho with a knee strike. 1, 2, 3 for Sky on the pin.

Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page, & Junior dos Santos defeated Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, & Jake Hager.

In the aftermath, American Top Team pounded the Inner Circle. That led to Santana and Ortiz cleaning house on Men of the Year for the save.


CM Punk and Matt Sydal opened with a strong bout. Even though a victory from Punk was never in doubt, Sydal sure made him earn it. It will be interesting to see if Punk’s first loss is a result of endurance at his age. He was huffing and puffing during the contest. With that salt and pepper beard, Punk is looking like an old man. All that matters is being smarter than the average bear to keep racking up those wins. This victory came from Punk slyly outmaneuvering his adversary.

Ruby Soho and Bunny were given plenty of time, and they brought the ruckus for a physical contest. I like that Soho scored the sneaky pinfall. Even though she was favored, it still kept the results feeling fresh. Being outnumbered once again has me wondering if Soho will be bringing in a pal for backup. That topic was broached in the latest ‘Road to’ video, and Sarah Logan was seen backstage for Soho’s debut. Could a Riott Squad reunion be in order?

The main event did well as a spectacle. Junior dos Santos was protected to shine as a monster but also take some hits. Those body shots looked heavy. If he has enough aptitude for the pro wrestling game, then I’d love to see a singles showdown with Jake Hager.

Likewise for letting Jorge Masvidal shine. In, huge knee strike, out. Pay the man. It is looking like Masvidal will have an MMA fight in December, so it may take awhile before Jericho can pay him back with a Judas Effect.

One minor detail that stood out in a bad way was Sammy Guevara taking a backseat in the pre-match interview. As TNT champ, he needs to be front and center sharing the spotlight with Jericho. Guevara should have been standing next to Jericho instead of behind. Hager is tall enough to be visible in the background. Not so much for Guevara. Seeing Sammy on an equal level will help push the perception of his star power. In the ring, Guevara rocked likes he always does. I believe he was the one guy that new viewers would have most taken notice of in that match.

AEW’s pre-show peak eclipsed 98,000 live viewers on YouTube. Bryan Danielson and Minoru Suzuki was great fun. The crowd treated it like the overall main event, and the two men returned the favor by riling the fans into a frenzy. Heck, AEW should play it again on next Wednesday’s ‘Best of Dark’ special.

One thing that caught my attention going forward is Danielson’s susceptibility to being knocked out. Against Kenny Omega, his clock was cleaned with that super duper ramp sprinting V-Trigger. Against Suzuki, Danielson was knocked dead down to the mat on a vicious strike. Much like Miro’s story with a weak neck as his kryptonite, Danielson might have a weak chin. Granted, he quickly recovered and fought hard for several more minutes, but it is something to keep an eye on.

For the rest of the pre-show, Bobby Fish and Lee Moriarty had an interesting chess match that is worth watching. Fish showed he belongs on the main stage, and Moriarty flashed skills for a bright future. The women’s match was average Dark quality.

Commentary was a blast throughout the evening with witty banter amongst the three. Taz is much more enjoyable when speaking freely instead of pushing the Team Taz agenda. That’s when he is on level as the best in the game at the announce table. Plus, Taz’s singing always puts a smile on my face.

Grade: B+

Rampage was pretty much all action with no filler matches this week. That is a simple recipe for an enjoyable hour of television.

Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?