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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (Sep. 3, 2021): All Out fever

AEW Rampage (Sep. 3, 2021) emanated from the NOW Arena in Chicago, IL. The show featured Malakai Black taking another Nightmare Family victim, Eddie Kingston stepping up to Miro, and CM Punk in one final staredown with Darby Allin in the go-home toward the All Out PPV.

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

Excalibur, Taz, Mark Henry, and Chris Jericho formed a four-man booth on commentary. Justin Roberts handled ring announcer duties.

Malakai Black vs. Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson wore a weight belt, which was likely is a shout-out to Cody Rhodes. Johnson rumbled alone with no Nightmare Family coaches by his side. Malakai Black forced the pressure early. Johnson was nimble enough to avoid any major strikes. He was more focused with defensive reaction than offensive action. A strong back elbow increased Johnson’s confidence, but Black was on a completely different level of skill.

Black mixed up his attacks with a low rolling kick to take Johnson down. Black unloaded a barrage of European uppercuts in the corner. Black continued to dish out pain. Johnson rallied with punches, a suicide dive, and a frog splash. Johnson aimed to finish with a suplex neckbreaker, however, Black escaped and punted Johnson in the face. Black pummeled Johnson in the corner with vicious body punches and a crushing high kick to the chest.

Black searched under the ring for some plunder and brought out a steel chair. He teased using it on Johnson, then he placed it on the mat. Black taunted his opponent. Does Johnson care about winning or getting revenge? Black turned his back daring Johnson. The underdog rose to his feet and picked up the chair, although, he was too weak from the beating to lift the steel into the air. Black put Johnson out of his misery with a spinning head kick for the win.

Malakai Black defeated Lee Johnson.

Afterward, Dustin Rhodes ran in to prevent any further punishment. He picked up the chair, so Black bailed while talking trash from the floor.

Mark Henry interviewed Dustin backstage with a message for Black. Malakai has had the element of surprise. This time, Dustin is coming straight for him in a match on Dynamite. Black comes from a place of darkness, however, Dustin thrives in darkness.

Miro & Eddie Kingston showdown

Miro hyped his TNT title defense against Eddie Kingston. Kingston calls himself the Mad King, but the only king Miro recognizes is mad at Eddie. Kingston was blessed with struggle only to take the easy way out by accepting a charity contract from AEW. Life without struggle made him soft. Kingston has become comfortable as nothing more than a bag boy for Jon Moxley.

Kingston came out hot with a mic in hand. Miro’s god is not real to him, so he doesn’t care what Miro says. Kingston pivoted to claim that Miro’s god sent him there to punish the sinner. Kingston put over his moveset as perfectly suited to pick at Miro’s weak neck. Miro called Kingston into action. Kingston obliged with the line, “Redeemer, my man, redeem these nuts.”

Kingston stormed in, but Miro bailed to a loud chorus of boos. Kingston charged around the corner thinking he could surprise Miro, however, the champ was ready to smash Kingston in the head with the belt. Back in the ring, Kingston dodged a stomp to explode for a spinning backfist. A DDT knocked Miro out cold.

Jamie Hayter & Reba vs. Kris Statlander

The handicap numbers had an early advantage over the alien. Statlander rallied to smash both opponents at the same time. The coolest move was Kris Statlander hoisting Reba up on her shoulders while catching a crossbody from Jamie Hayter. Statlander then executed a double front slam.

In the end, Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Hayter decided to sacrifice Reba to take the beating. Statlander won via spider crab submission.

Kris Statlander defeated Jamie Hayter & Reba.

After the match, the bad girls surrounded three sides of the ring with mean intentions toward Statlander. Red Velvet ran in for the save, so Baker’s crew exited without engaging in post-match physicality.

Jon Moxley and Satoshi Kojima threw blows at one another during a press conference. It appeared that Moxley acted as the surly aggressor.

Mark Henry conducted a three-way interview with the main event participants. Daniel Garcia threatened to ruin the big match against CM Punk by breaking Allin’s back. Darby Allin shot back that he will look Garcia dead in his eyes and knock him on his ass.

CM Punk’s music hit to pump up the crowd as he made his way to the commentary table.

Darby Allin vs. Daniel Garcia

Sting and 2point0 were ringside. A hard slap fight kicked off the festivities. Garcia dodged a running attack causing Allin to bulldoze into a table on the floor. Meanwhile, Sting beat up 2point0.

Both combatants worked a physical style. Garcia bashed Allin into the guardrail. Allin tortured Garcia’s arm between the ring steps and ring post. Garcia pulled Allin’s chain necklace across his mouth during a submission. Garcia used a rear naked choke in the corner to lift Allin off the ground. When Garcia went back to the choke, Allin took him for a piggyback ride up the corner and back down for a Coffin Drop.

Allin sent a message to Punk with a Pepsi Twist hammerlock clothesline.

Allin closed it out with a Code Red and Last Supper pin.

Darby Allin defeated Daniel Garcia.

Garcia and 2point0 were not content to let Allin celebrate, so they attacked. 2point0 teamed up on Allin as Sting was occupied with punching Garcia. Punk saw enough and came down to stop the assault. Allin rebounded to give 2point0 a taste with a flying shoulder tackle out of nowhere. Allin immediately stood up for a tense staredown with Punk to close the show.

AEW is doing a fantastic job with the Malakai Black story. He has one of the best entrances in the game to strike fear and doubt into his opponent’s mind. It oozes big fight vibes.

In the ring, Black is showcasing his skills in a dominant manner. His precision on his head kicks are killer. It’s cool that Black fights like a professional by linking together strikes in order to setup death blows. It genuinely feels strategic and realistic for a fighter at his level. The twist with the chair added intrigue to the match. As Black picks off the Nightmare Family members one at a time, it is building to a fever pitch for the rematch with Cody Rhodes. The roof is going to blow once Cody finally emerges from the shadows.

Miro and Eddie Kingston did an excellent job hyping their TNT title fight. Miro’s line about struggle reminded me of Billy the Kid in Young Guns convincing the Regulators to test themselves everyday. It combines well to illustrate Miro’s point about Kingston taking the easy path. As for Kingston’s speech, I wasn’t feeling the line about not believing in Miro’s god, because it kind of invalidated the rest of his trash talk about being sent to punish Miro. Kingston’s closing line was a hoot. Simple, vulgar, and hilarious.

Kris Statlander was impressive in victory. She is peaking high right before her title shot against Dr. Britt Baker DMD. That is ideal to make us believe a new champion could be crowned. I appreciate Reba showing off some skills instead of playing a goof. It made for a more entertaining match.

I think Mark Henry is on to something with his closing interview line, “It’s time for the main event.” It is a signature way to amp up excitement, similar to, “Let’s get it on.” Henry delivered the line with gusto and eagerness to witness the contest. His enthusiasm passes through to viewers.

Darby Allin versus Daniel Garcia contained satisfying action to close out Friday night. It was hard-hitting and intense. That is the type of contest I’m looking for out of Rampage. CM Punk added enough value on commentary for his appearance to still be an attraction. The final staredown made my blood rise with anticipation for their fight at All Out. I appreciate how the respect level has remained high between Punk and Allin. It truly feels like two of AEW’s biggest babyfaces colliding for the sake of competition. By not having physical contact yet, it keeps the novelty strong for the PPV.

Grade: B+

Rocking show with electricity toward All Out. With AEW’s large roster, not all their stars will be wrestling on the PPV. I like how they keep a couple feuds hot building for Dynamite, so Wednesday night isn’t left with cold matchups. Black versus Dustin is an example of this. The closing scene should make anybody interested in Punk versus Allin ready to open their wallets, if they haven’t done so already.

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

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