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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Oct. 8, 2021): Absolute FTW

AEW Rampage (Oct. 8, 2021) emanated from the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, PA. The show featured CM Punk teaching a young punk a lesson, the Lucha Bros defending their tag titles, and Ricky Starks rumbling with Brian Cage in a street fight with the FTW championship on the line.

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

Excalibur, Taz, and Chris Jericho were on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

Mark Henry kicked off the broadcast by interviewing CM Punk, Daniel Garcia, and 2point0. Why attack Punk in Chicago? 2 point0 claimed that the Voice of the Voiceless is just a sad boy quitter. Garcia wanted to end the love fest for Punk. Henry inquired about Punk’s approach to the match. Punk will judge Garcia by his skills. He also plans to show Garcia what it feels like to be on the end of a beatdown.

CM Punk vs. Daniel Garcia

Early on, Punk was better at all aspects of wrestling. Garcia used a kidney punch and interference from 2point0 to build momentum. The focus turned to attacking Punk’s knee. Despite the pain, Punk was still an another level by winning the striking exchanges.

Garcia showed heart by kicking out of the Pepsi Twist hammerlock clothesline. Garcia’s best chance at victory occurred when he countered Punk to lock in a Sharpshooter, however, Punk was able to escape.

Punk bumped out 2point0 by taking to the air for a flying crossbody down to the floor.

Back in the ring, Punk connected on a springboard clothesline. He followed with a piledriver. Punk added insult by making Garcia tap out to the Anaconda Vice submission.

CM Punk defeated Daniel Garcia.

Lio Rush joined Dante Martin and Matt Sydal for their interview with Tony Schiavone. Sydal wasn’t buying Rush’s pitch and called him a junk bond salesman. Rush turned the tables by telling Sydal to improve his value. Rush planned to set up a singles match for Sydal against CM Punk. Sydal was eager to show he is the type of investment that transcends money. Commentary alerted us that Tony Khan made that match official for next week.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: Lucha Bros (c) vs. The Acclaimed

Max Caster’s rap referenced Gritty, Arn Anderson, Ben Simmons, and Rocky Balboa. The Acclaimed are going to expose the Lucha Bros as fake champs.

The Acclaimed attacked before the opening bell, but the Lucha Bros quickly took control with fancy kicks and combo offense. The Acclaimed managed to use dirty tricks to gain an advantage. When Fenix went for a suicide dive, Anthony Bowens bashed him in the head with his boombox. The Acclaimed double-teamed Pentagon, which eventually led to a hot tag for Fenix. Corkscrew kicks and rolling cutters were popping.

The match broke down into superkicks all around with Fenix clearing the ring on a handspring double cutter. Later, the Acclaimed had the edge and went for their teamwork Mic Drop finisher. Bowens slammed Fenix, but Pentagon pushed Caster off the turnbuckles. The Lucha Bros hit a flying butt stomp to Bowens then ended him with a teamwork piledriver to win.

Lucha Bros defeated The Acclaimed.

Recap of Hangman Page returning to win the Casino Ladder Match and earn a world title shot.

Recap of the TBS Championship reveal for the women’s division.

Jade Cargill was not pleased with Skye Blue thinking she had a chance to win the tournament. Blue is not TBS title material. Cargill is going to show why in their match on Rampage.

Jade Cargill vs. Skye Blue

Cargill caught a running crossbody to counter with a fallaway slam. A pump kick and a Glam Slam ended the contest. Blue fought with fire, but she was no match and pretty much got squashed.

Jade Cargill defeated Skye Blue.

Afterward, Cargill continued putting the boots to Blue. Thunder Rosa ran in with a chair for the save. It was the same chair that Cargill used to bash Thunder last week to win the three-way.

Double dip of Mark Henry for the main event interview. Ricky Starks believes he has proved there is a big gap between him and Brian Cage. Cage replied that Starks has only proven that he can run. Who better than Cage? Nobody. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

FTW Championship: Ricky Starks (c) vs. Brian Cage

Philly street fight rules were in effect, which meant anything goes. Cage violated street fight protocol by not wrapping his fists or wearing jeans. He wrestled in his standard gear. As did Starks. What is this sacrilege?

Cage used his power to pummel Starks early. Starks retaliated with a pool cue as an equalizer then connected on a tornado DDT. Starks went after Cage’s arm with a metal pipe. Starks executed a butt drop with a trashcan lid. Cage roared back for a pumphandle slam onto the trashcan.

Starks was in trouble, so Taz called in the troops. Cage anticipated the arrivals of Hook and Will Hobbs, then he cleaned house on them. Starks used the distraction to strike with the FTW title belt at Cage’s head. A spear put the muscle man’s shoulders on the mat. 1, 2, Cage kicked out.

Starks began losing his cool. Cage dodged a spear causing Starks to ram head-first into a chair. Discus lariat by the Machine. 1, 2, Hobbs made the save. Hook turned the tide for Team Taz via low blow. A bloody Starks lifted Cage onto his shoulder for the Roshambo dominator slam. 1, 2, 3. Starks retained the FTW title.

Ricky Starks defeated Brian Cage.

The main event between Ricky Starks and Brian Cage was a good street fight for TV standards. It had just enough violence but nothing overboard. I’m generally not a fan of blatant interference, but at least this fit within the rules of having no rules. Cage should have had a backup plan knowing Team Taz would get involved. Since he didn’t, he deserved to lose. Cage went out hard though. A low blow will drop most men, and even machines, to their knees. The finish was a cool visual of blood streaming down Starks’ face as he carried the big lug on his shoulder en route to victory.

This feud should be a wrap. It is time for fresh matches for Starks. Maybe a rematch with Cody Rhodes is in order using the FTW title as a tool for Cody to go gangster with Arn Anderson. I don’t know where Cage goes from here. He still hasn’t carved out his niche within AEW. It’s cool watching Cage throw people around, and the hoss fight division is always an entertaining option.

CM Punk and Daniel Garcia put on a good opener. Punk was the star attraction, and Garcia stood out by being vicious. Garcia shouldn’t be able to hang with Punk, but it made sense with the knee attack. Punk sold that pain the whole way through. He is no spring chicken anymore, so his body won’t recover as quickly as in his younger days. The submission was a fitting end for old Punk to teach the young punk a lesson. One minor thing I didn’t like about the finish is that Garcia had a free hand close to Punk’s face. He is the type of man that should have gouged Punk’s eyes to break the hold.

Thumbs up for Punk competing against a wide variety of wrestlers. Darby Allin, Will Hobbs, and Daniel Garcia all have completely different styles. Next up is Matt Sydal for another unique flavor. Each contest so far has seen Punk vary his approach.

Solid tag title bout from the Lucha Bros and the Acclaimed. The Lucha Bros did their thing as only they can do. The Acclaimed had entertaining moments, but it never felt like they were close to an upset.

Jade Cargill took care of business. The match wasn’t long enough to show anything new, but that fallaway slam was a delight. With the beef brewing between Cargill and Thunder Rosa, they surely have to meet within the TBS Championship tournament, right?

AEW announced that the Lucha Bros will defend the AAA tag titles next week on Dynamite. That struck me as odd considering the Lucha Bros have a defense against Laredo Kid & Hijo del Vikingo Saturday night (Oct. 9) at AAA’s Héroes Inmortales XIV. AEW has been a pretty shoddy partner this week to their Forbidden Door friends. First, Christian Cage is stretchered out with a neck injury so close to his Impact world title defense at Bound for Glory on October 23. Josh Alexander’s finisher is a double underhook piledriver. Put all my money on a new champ. Second, AEW sort of spoiled that the Lucha Bros will win against Laredo & Vikingo. They can’t be having a story based on the AAA tag titles if the Lucha Bros lose them while in Mexico. AEW should be more careful on these little details.

Closing on a positive note. Mark Henry is aces in the interviewer role. He asks interesting questions digging into the psychology of the wrestlers. It adds a genuine sports quality to the broadcast. Plus, his main event closing line still rocks.

Grade: B+

Rampage was wall to wall action with four bouts. Even though the matchups were too much on the predictable side with 3 of 4 obvious winners, the excitement never ceased.

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

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