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AEW Rampage recap & reactions (June 3, 2022): Good news, bad news

AEW Rampage (June 3, 2022) emanated from Toyota Arena in Ontario, CA. The show featured the Young Bucks and the Lucha Bros tearing the house down, CM Punk announcing an injury, and Scorpio Sky defending the TNT Championship.

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.

Jurassic Express and the Hardys were in the front row to observe the opening bout. Adam Cole was on commentary supporting his pals.

Young Bucks vs. Lucha Bros

If you’ve seen the Young Bucks and Lucha Bros wrestle before, then you know how chaotic the action can be. So many moves.

The first close pinfall came after Fenix executed a suicide cannonball onto Nick Jackson. Pentagon planted Matt Jackson with a pumphandle slam, then Fenix flew in for a frog splash. The second close pinfall occurred with Fenix sitting on his brother’s shoulders. Nick dropkicked Fenix to cause a poison rana to Penta. Matt flew in for an elbow drop.

The third close pinfall had Fenix standing on Penta’s shoulders as Penta was on the middle ropes in the corner. Fenix leaped high for a huge splash onto Nick. Penta cleared out Matt with a Mexican Destroyer, but Nick kicked out on the cover.

The next close pinfall was a Meltzer Driver to Fenix. Penta broke up the cover on that one. The finish came when Matt pulled off the mask of Penta. Superkick party to both Lucha Bros. The Bucks finished Fenix with a BTE Trigger.

Young Bucks defeated Lucha Bros.

Ricky Starks and Will Hobbs are still teaming together, even though, they didn’t win gold at Double or Nothing. They will open the Book of Hobbs, chapter 13. If you go against Team Taz, then you are just another victim.

Ricky Starks & Will Hobbs vs. Jabroni A & Jabroni B

Squash. Hobbs nailed a powerful slam to win, while Starks speared the other man to keep the pin safe.

Ricky Starks & Will Hobbs defeated unnamed jobbers.

Stokely Hathaway was confident that Kiera Hogan would whoop Athena’s ass to send her to the back of the line.

Kiera Hogan vs. Athena

Jade Cargill, Red Velvet, and Stokely Hathaway were seated ringside. Velvet interfered whenever Athena found her groove. Hogan worked to grind Athena’s energy. Athena rose for a creative counter slam with Hogan on her back holding a rear chinlock.

Hogan came right back to regain control, with help from Velvet. For the finish, the ladies tussled in the corner. Athena knocked Hogan down to the mat then launched for a diving stunner to win.

Athena defeated Kiera Hogan.

The House of Black welcomed Julia Hart. Malakai Black claimed that it was part of a carefully executed plan. The house always wins. Hart pointed the finger at fans and their lust for violence. These are the fruits of that labor.

CM Punk injured

CM Punk entered the ring with teary eyes. He’s been telling us that he would give his all until the wheels fall off. That’s what happened. Punk delivered good news and bad news. He is injured and will require surgery. However, this is only a bump in the road. Punk will return to prove why he is the best in the world.

As for the AEW World Championship, Punk didn’t want to hold up the line. The promo got confusing here. It sounded like Punk offered to relinquish the belt, but Tony Khan didn’t want that. The status of the world title was extremely unclear.

Later in the program, it was announced that AEW would introduce an interim world title. A battle royale will open Dynamite. The winner will wrestle #1-contender Jon Moxley in the TV main event. That winner will advance to the Forbidden Door PPV to compete in the interim title match. I think?

Mark Henry interviewed the main event participants. Dante Martin knows he is better than Scorpio Sky, and he will have Matt Sydal watching his back. Sydal put over that Martin will die flying or die trying. Sky felt Martin talked a big game. Time to back it up. Martin and Sydal can have peace, love, and pro wrestling. Sky will be keeping the TNT title. Enough talk. Henry closed with, “It’s time for the main event!”

TNT Championship: Scorpio Sky (c) vs. Dante Martin

Matt Sydal, Ethan Page, and Dan Lambert were ringside. Sky muscled Martin early, but Martin wouldn’t back down. The high-flyer forced openings to execute a springboard attack to the outside and a shotgun dropkick inside the ring. Lambert created a distraction for Page to grab Martin’s foot. Sydal took action for a double knees to Page. Martin countered Sky for a TKO, but the champ kicked out on the cover.

Sky popped Martin into the ropes. On the bounce back, Sky picked up Martin for a TKO and victory.

Scorpio Sky defeated Dante Martin.

Taking a lead from Punk, the good news from Rampage was that the Young Bucks’ homecoming was fire against the Lucha Bros. That match delivered high-octane action. The opening counter dance between Matt Jackson and Pentagon had so many steps without actually causing any damage. And the crowd was hot for it. Nick Jackson and Fenix took their turn with whirlybird motions all over the place. The pace never slowed. Fenix was the go-getter of the contest with a snazzy tornillo, an explosive cutter, the Eddie Guerrero frog splash, and a skyscraper splash. The finish was a bit of poppycock, but I can accept that screwiness for a TV finish. Plus, the Bucks had to win in their home venue.

Athena had a solid outing. Her high-impact maneuvers are awesome. The women’s match as a whole was pretty good for a stepping stone contest with an obvious outcome. The likely next step would be Athena wrestling Red Velvet. That should build her up strong enough to challenge Jade Cargill for the TBS Championship. That title fight would be a pick’em. I can envision either one walking out as champ from that bout.

The bad is that Punk is unfortunately injured. That’s a shame that his run can’t continue unimpeded. He turned back the hands of time to win the AEW World Championship. I was highly invested in seeing his path defending the gold. If there were going to be hints of a heel turn, that will have to wait even longer. You know the fans are going to blow the roof off once he returns from injury. It will be a few weeks or even months for his victory lap to quiet down, if it ever does.

As far as Punk’s promo, his sadness could be felt through the screen. His words resonated like he was speaking from the heart. It was a strong babyface farewell while he exits for surgery. Best wishes for an efficient recovery, champ.

We have the good and the bad. Might as well add the ugly too. The direction and production of this particular episode was terrible at times. The worst example was the muddled message about Punk’s status as champion. His promo seemed to imply that Tony Khan didn’t want him to vacate, but commentary clearly said that the title would be relinquished. On top of that, the announcement of the interim belt was confusing too. Commentary had to clarify that a few times. Because the ambiguity left many bewildered, that elephant completely overshadowed the main event. I couldn’t even concentrate on the TNT title match. The bout was okay, but my concern as a fan was more about trying to figure out the news on the world championship.

Aside from the Punk stuff, there were other ugly moments for production. Ricky Starks and Will Hobbs had their promo playing during the squash match. The contest actually finished before the promo did. Their opponents didn’t even have their names mentioned once. I was focused on Starks and Hobbs speaking that I wasn’t able to soak in the physicality from Team Taz in the split-screen. Stokely Hathaway’s promo had low volume. Dan Lambert’s weaseling in a pivotal moment was on the back-burner while commentary revealed the interim world title news. It was not a smooth night.

Grade: B+

This episode of Rampage was a tough show to grade, because I don’t know how much to take off for the production issues. Sometimes, snafus can be overlooked. That wasn’t the case on this evening. On the positive, the show was entertaining. There were big matches and big news. The Young Bucks and Lucha Bros rocked. Athena shined. Scorpio Sky took care of business to defend the TNT Championship. As unfortunate as CM Punk’s injury is, the short-term bright side is an injection of instant drama into crowning an interim titleholder.

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

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