By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 5)
Taped September 8, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio at Fifth Third Arena
Aired September 10, 2021 on TNT
The opening video aired and the broadcast team of Jim Ross, Tony Schiovone, Taz and Mark Henry checked in. We’re getting right to it with Pac vs. Andrade.
1. Pac vs. Andrade El Idolo. Neither entrance was televised, but both got in-ring introductions. Idolo landed a shoulder block, but Pac got right up. Idolo hit a shotgun dropkick to Pac’s ribs and posed. Idolo kept control, working Pac’s arm.
Pac eventually hit a kick to Idolo’s head and flipped over the top to land on Idolo outside the ring. Taz mentioned how Excalibur isn’t here because he’s still at his wedding. Pac rolled Idolo back into the ring and hit a pair of hard chops. Pac went for the cover and got a one-count. Pac worked a headlock, but Idolo got to the ropes for a break and Idolo eventually hit a DDT on Pac on the apron.
Idolo leaped off the top to hit a spinning splash on Pac on the outside. Idolo rolled Pac inside and got a one-count. A “This is awesome” chant ensued. Idolo and Pac fought at the top of a corner before Idolo landed a double-stomp and it looked like Idolo took the worst of it as he landed on his butt outside the ring. They then threw to commercial. [c]
Back from break, Idolo had control and hit a springboard moonsault from the top rope, and he got a two-count out of it. Idolo put Pac on the top and climbed up with him again. Pac countered whatever Idolo was going to do and hit a huracanrana from the top rope. After trading a few more blows, both wrestlers were on the mat and a 10-count began.
Back on their feet, the two traded elbows while Idolo was on the apron. Pac went for a sunset flip onto the floor, but Idolo blocked it. Pac then landed a super-kick, but Idolo went for another double-stomp and missed. Pac hit a beautiful moonsault onto Idolo on the outside. A “Holy Shit” chant began. Pac rolled Idolo into the ring and went to the top. Pac hit his 450 splash, but Idolo got his hand on the rope to stop the pin at the last millisecond for a very good near-fall.
Pac dragged Idolo to set him up for the Black Arrow, but Idolo got to his feet and hit a Pele kick from a hand-spring. Idolo went for his finisher, but Pac got out of it and hit a snap German Suplex before hitting a belly-to-belly on Idolo into the corner. Pac ended up on Idolo’s shoulders, but Pac sunk in the Brutalizer. With the ref distracted, Chavo came in to hit Pac with an iPad, who rolled over and Idolo got the pinfall victory.
Andrade El Idolo defeated Pac via pinfall in 15:39.
After the match, Andrade punched Chavo, presumably for interfering in the match. Chavo was then double super-kicked by the Lucha Bros, who came out to help Pac. Pac then sunk in the Brutalizer on Chavo in the ring. We’ll hear from Darby and Sting next.
McGuire’s Musings: Well, I guess that’s the end of Chavo as a character in AEW. This was OK. I had high expectations and while the match was good, it didn’t quite kick into the gear I thought it would. The flukey finish probably means we’ll get a rematch, and I’m excited for that. Maybe all the weird travel stuff/delays played a role here. They had enough time, and they mostly had the crowd. I just would have preferred more intensity.
Darby Allin and Sting made their entrance together. Tony Schiavone was in the ring to interview them. Darby addressed Tully and then called Shawn Spears a “generic piece of shit,” and added that without Tully, he’s absolutely nothing. Sting took the mic and screamed into it. Sting said Tully rode the coattails of Flair and Anderson for years. Sting then called Tully out and said they could do it right here in Cincy.
Tully came out claiming Sting and Darby like the numbers game, it being two on one. Meanwhile, Spears ran in, pulled Darby out of the ring and slammed him onto the floor outside the ring. Sting ran off Spears too late. The segment abruptly ended.
They cut to a video package for Adam Cole. Cole said The Elite was designed as a bunch of individually talented wrestlers to come together. Cole said he trusts Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks with his life. Cole said Christian and Bryan Danielson are special. Cole said he would wipe the floor with Danielson.
Danielson then came on the TV and said all of The Elite are insecure. Danielson said he’s heard and seen how great Omega is. Danielson said the reality is that he’s just excited to get in the ring and wrestle. He said he’d love for Omega to be his first match, but if it’s not, that’s OK, too. He said he’s here and here’s game.
McGuire’s Musings: The Allin/Sting/Tully/Spears segment was odd in that it felt like it was designed to set up something, but we never really got a payoff because it seems like they cut it short. The whole thing ended with Sting looking confused. Cole and Danielson was good. Does this mean we are going to Danielson vs. Cole instead of Danielson vs. Omega? I wouldn’t complain.
2. Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, and Rebel vs. Ruby Soho, Riho, and Kris Statlander. Baker’s team entered first and the crowd erupted for the DMD spot. Riho and Baker started by locking up. Baker went for a pair of pins but got two-counts. Riho then hit a dropkick. Riho kept hesitating to hit Baker for some reason and Statlander tagged in. Statlander landed a powerslam for a two-count.
Rebel came in and Statlander picked up Riho, who hit machine gun kicks. Hayter tagged in and Riho hit a tough kick to the face for a two-count. Rebel kicked Riho when the ref wasn’t looking and Hayter took control with a suplex. The heels worked Riho over in the corner as the show went to commercial. [c]
Back from the break, Hayter kept control over Riho, but ultimately Riho got the hot tag to Soho. Soho fired up with some kicks and a back-sweeper for a two count. Statlander then tagged in and the two went for a double arm-drag, but Hayter countered and landed a back-breaker for a two-count. Rebel tagged in and the two hit a bunch of elbows on Statlander, but Statlander suplexed them both at once.
Statlander rolled Rebel up, but Baker broke it up. Statlander slammed Baker and Riho jumped off Statlander onto Rebel and Baker. Riho then hit a splash to the outside. Inside the ring, Soho hit Rebel with a Pele kick, which was enough for the win.
Ruby Soho, Riho, and Kris Statlander defeated Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, and Rebel via pinfall in 9:25.
The split-screen interview for the main event happened. Mark Henry asked Caster what his problem was, and Caster said he’s tired of Pillman. Pillman said his strategy is to go out and out-wrestle Max Caster. Pillman reminded everyone that they are in his hometown.
McGuire’s Musings: Kudos to AEW for giving the women nearly 10 minutes. I whined about this a couple weeks ago, so it’s clear the people in power at AEW read Dot Net. Kidding. Anyway, Soho is being booked to be a credible contender and I like it. She looks strong, she’s getting wins and the crowd loves her. Riho looked a little confused at first, but that splash at the end of the match was fantastic. There wasn’t much of Baker and I hope there isn’t much physicality with Soho until they have their inevitable match. This build could be great.
3. Brian Pillman Jr. vs. Max Caster. Caster came out to his rap, calling Pete Rose a loser, the city’s women fat, and making a Joe Burrow joke. He then said Skyline Chili looks like a bowl of shit. Pillman hit the ring and jumpstarted the match. Pillman hit some chops and Caster rolled outside. Pillman then hit a dropkick through the ropes onto the outside and Pillman nearly hung himself by getting caught on the rope.
Pillman tried to jump into the ring, but Bowens grabbed him and Caster took control. Caster grabbed Pillman’s nose. Caster hit a knee and got a two-count. Caster landed a back suplex and worked Pillman’s back. Caster threw Pillman outside and Bowens stomped Pillman. Back in the ring, Caster hit a back elbow and sunk in a chin-lock.
Pillman fired up and hit a pair of clotheslines and chops. Pillman went to the middle rope and punched Caster almost 10 times as the crowd chanted. Pillman was going to jump onto Caster, but Bowens stopped Pillman. Caster then climbed up, but Pillman fought him off and jumped onto Bowens. Caster went to the outside and rolled Pillman into the ring. Caster went for and missed the Mic Drop.
Pillman then hit a springboard clothesline for the win.
Brian Pillman Jr. defeated Max Caster via pinfall in 6:41.
After the match, Pillman ran to the outside and was emotional with his family. Bowens then attacked Pillman. Jon Moxley came down for the save and gave Caster the Paradigm Shift. Moxley then hugged Pillman and put his arm around him to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: This was fun. I like seeing Pillman Jr. do well and I don’t think there’s a single wrestling fan in the universe that saw his father’s “Dark Side Of The Ring” episode and doesn’t root for Junior to succeed professionally and personally. The finish was a nice homage to Pillman Sr. and the Moxley run-in to close it out was a great way to end the episode. I hope they have good things in store for Pillman Jr. — even if it’s only a match with MJF in New York.
In all, this was an OK-to-good episode of Rampage. It baffled me to some degree that they would go with the Pac vs. Andrade match first, but so it goes. All the matches were good and the aforementioned Pac vs. Andrade match was even very good (just not very great, which was what I was hoping to see). Perhaps the most intriguing development is the proportion of Bryan Danielson’s first match in AEW being against Adam Cole. Oh, how the wrestling world turns.