AEW Rampage (Sep. 24, 2021) emanated from Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. The Grand Slam special featured CM Punk’s first TV match in seven years, the Young Bucks and Adam Cole doing super moves, and a Lights Out surprise wrestler helping Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston against Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer.
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.
Will Hobbs vs. CM Punk
Punk was back in trunks for his first TV match in seven years. He showed urgency at the opening bell by attacking the legs. Hobbs responded with a powerhouse eye rake sending Punk to the mat. Punk hit a Russian leg sweep then flipped the bird to Hook at ringside. On a GTS pickup, Hook hooped onto the apron as a distraction. Hobbs was able to free himself and hit a running crossbody.
Hobbs trucked Punk for a bit. Even Hook laid in a hammering blow. Punk rallied for a flying elbow drop. On the second GTS pickup, Hobbs countered for a crushing spinebuster. Things took a dangerous turn when Punk executed an iffy super hurricanrana with Hobbs crashing down on his head.
Punk went for an armbar then transitioned to a triangle choke. Hobbs escaped with a powerful powerbomb. Punk picked up momentum once more and motioned for the GTS. Hook was on the apron again. This time, Punk dodged out so Hobbs collided with Hook. The third time was the charm on the GTS pickup. Success and victory for Punk.
CM Punk defeated Will Hobbs.
Thunder Rosa is not afraid of Nyla Rose or Jade Cargill. Jade called out Nyla for the Casino Battle Royale treachery. Nyla will put both of them down.
Young Bucks & Adam Cole vs. Christian Cage & Jurassic Express
Fast and furious action. The early highlight of cheekiness was Cole locking Jungle Boy in a camel clutch while the Bucks ran the ropes several times only to stop and plant a double kiss on Cole’s facial cheeks. The Bucks then did double backflips for double dropkicks.
Hot tag to Luchasaurus to clean house with head kicks and chokeslams. Jungle Boy swooped in for a popping sequence to hit a super hurricanrana to Nick Jackson then a German suplex to Matt Jackson. Cristian followed with a flying headbutt, but Matt was able to kick out on the dramatic pinfall.
The tide turned on the entrance ramp when Matt low-blowed Christian. The Bucks shoved Christian and Jungle Boy off the ramp. Back in the ring, Cole connected on a Panama Sunrise to the dino. The Bucks added a BTE Trigger. Cole finished with a Shining Wizard to pin Luchasaurus.
Young Bucks & Adam Cole defeated Christian Cage & Jurassic Express.
Afterward, Cole rubbed the win in Jungle Boy’s face. That looks like the direction for a future singles match. (And that turned out to be the case with a contest announced for Dynamite.)
Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page vs. Chris Jericho & Jake Hager
Hager was a beast with slams. Men of the Year worked him down. Hot tag to Jericho for a Lionsault. Hager snatched an ankle lock, while Le Champion locked in the Walls of Jericho. A terribly timed hour change forced the Rampage intro to replay. I guess Dan Lambert caused a distraction to break it up. Hager picking up steam. As he ran the hopes, Lambert hooked his foot. That allowed Sky to pick up the roll-up win.
Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page defeated Chris Jericho & Jake Hager.
After the match, Hager went hoss wild. Jericho dragged Lambert into the ring. That’s when MMA fighters surrounded the area to keep their coach safe. Andrei Arlovski and Junior dos Santos entered the ring for fisticuffs. The Inner Circle duo was mauled by American Top Team. Paige VanZant unloaded body punches to Jericho. Jorge Masvidal clobbered Le Champion with a running knee.
#AmericanTopTeam out in full force in defense of #DanLambert. @GamebredFighter, @junior_cigano, @paigevanzant, @austinv170mma, @AndreiArlovski, @DaltonRosta, & #MenOfTheYear dismantle @IAmJericho and @RealJakeHager - Watch #AEWRampage: Grand Slam NOW on @tntdrama! pic.twitter.com/pjAC1gUPAt— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) September 25, 2021
Private Party, Butcher, & Blade vs. Lucha Bros, Santana, & Ortiz
8-man fisticuffs led to a 4-man babyface dive.
For an interlude, Matt Hardy was close to cutting Ortiz’s hair, then Orange Cassidy disrupted the barber to Superman punch Jack Evans.
The hectic pace never slowed. In the end, the good guys isolated Marq Quen for a double double-team finish. Lucha Bros nailed the Fear Factor piledriver, then Santana and Ortiz connected on the Street Sweeper powerbomb.
Lucha Bros, Santana, & Ortiz defeated Private Party, Butcher, & Blade.
Backstage, Hardy challenged Cassidy to hair versus hair... against Evans. Jack was not fond of this idea. Hardy angrily ordered Evans to win.
Sammy Guevara used cue cards to promote his TNT title fight on Dynamite. Miro wrecked Sammy and Fuego del Sol from behind. The Redeemer launched Fuego off the stage and locked in the Game Over submission to Guevara.
Andrade is in AEW to fight. Do not interrupt his matches, like Chavo Guerrero did. Andrade will beat PAC again without giving him any excuses for losing.
Anna Jay vs. Penelope Ford
Jay smashed Ford on stage before the bell. Anna steamrolled Penelope in the ring and cinched in the Queen Slayer choke. Bunny ran down to the ring as a distraction. Ford went on a roll of offense. Jay used the Queen Slayer again, but Ford broke free by ramming backward into the turnbuckles. Bunny distracted the referee, threw in brass knuckles, and Ford used them to bludgeon Jay for the win.
Penelope Ford defeated Anna Jay.
Bunny and Ford put the boots to Jay after the match. Tay Conti ran out for the save, but the numbers game got her. HFO guarded the premises. OC and Kris Statlander were joined by the Dark Order to clear the ring of nefarious fellows. Commentary teased a unified Dark Order, but Evil Uno bailed on a handshake offer from Alex Reynolds.
Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Lance Archer accepted the Lights Out match to put boots up asses. Minoru Suzuki spoke in Japanese. He was cut off by Eddie Kingston blubbering his mouth about being in New York City. Jon Moxley took over to add threats for violence. Henry concluded, “It’s time for the main event!”
Lights Out: Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer vs. Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston
Anything goes in the unsanctioned Lights Out match. Tables, chairs, kendo sticks, and more were weapons of choice. The war kicked off with Suzuki and Moxley swinging chairs at each other on stage.
In the ring, Suzuki laughed at Kingston’s chops. Suzuki got the better of Kingston by teep kicking him through a table. Archer beat up random ring crew dudes to chokeslam Moxley off the apron onto the pile below.
Suzuki and Archer duct taped Mox’s hands behind his back to beat him up with a leather strap and a trashcan lid. Kingston tried for the save, but Archer put him down on a helicopter slam. As Archer was setting up a Blackout to Kingston on open chairs, mysterious music boomed.
Homicide made a surprise appearance in AEW to help Kingston and free Moxley from his entrapment. Moxley played coy with his hands still behind his back to trick Suzuki into a Paradigm Shift onto a chair. Kingston blasted Archer with two spinning backfists. A Paradigm Shift from Mox put the big man down. Kingston placed a trashcan over Archer’s upper body and thrashed him with wild kendo stick shots. That was enough to keep Archer down for the three count. Meanwhile, Mox and Suzuki were trading punches on the floor.
Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston defeated Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer.
The Lights Out main event was a glorious brawl. Everyone had a chance to strut their badass credentials. Lance Archer took an appropriate amount of punishment to eat the pin. I love how Moxley and Suzuki were fighting forever even after the bell. That closing skirmish made me strongly desire one more round.
The Homicide surprise was a shocker. That’s one I never saw coming. It adds another log on the fire of never knowing what to expect in AEW. Even if Homicide’s appearance doesn’t amount to anything beyond Rampage, it keeps building on the fun factor.
In terms of how the match played out, I was a little disappointed that the good guys needed help. Eddie Kingston should be embarrassed that he talked so tough and needed help to get the job done in his hometown. At the least, we need a singles match between Archer and Kingston. That would be one vicious fight.
The opener with CM Punk and Will Hobbs was a quality bout showing Punk hasn’t lost a step. It’s one thing to get pumped for a return in his hometown Chicago, but Punk still rocked the ring in his second AEW bout. He has now put on good matches working two different styles. The finish was a little iffy with Team Taz blundering once again. Taz needs to go over cheating drills in their next practice. Overall, the combatants told an interesting story of Punk working the legs and being persistent to hit the GTS.
The 6-man and 8-man tag bouts were full of electric moves that exemplify the AEW style. In the 8-man, the most interesting takeaway was no tension between the Lucha Bros and Santana & Ortiz. We may have to wait longer for those two teams to clash with gold on the line. For the 6-man, Adam Cole staring down Jungle Boy was a nice setup for their match on Dynamite. It makes me wonder who will be the first of the next generation to pick up a win on the incoming superstars. I don’t mind seeing them lose, because most of them should in the current circumstances. That will set up a special moment when one of the youngsters pulls the upset.
The rest of the show was a mixed bag in terms of cramming tons of people into a scene. It worked well for the MMA fighters taking down Chris Jericho and Jake Hager. That built anticipation for payback. It worked so-so for Orange Cassidy and Matt Hardy. OC popped the crowd with an appearance, and Hardy provided the funniest moment of the night by volunteering Jack Evans for hair versus hair. The issue was that it felt too forced pushing Cassidy on screen. The bad was the Dark Order. They added nothing to the broadcast by teasing out their turmoil for another week.
Closing with positives, shout out to Hager. He worked like a beast. The tag team allowed him to push full steam ahead for exciting slams to maximize his minutes. I also love the triangle feud brewing between Thunder Rosa, Jade Cargill, and Nyla Rose. I want all combinations of those matchups post haste.
The Grand Slam edition of Rampage was action-packed. The little talking that took place did well to set up future matches. Putting on a two-hour show in the late time slot was a tough assignment, however, Rampage started strong and closed with a Lights Out surprise for an entertaining show.
Share your thoughts about Rampage. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?