By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 9)
Taped October 6, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Liacouras Center
Aired October 8, 2021 on TNT
The commentary team of Excalibur, Chris Jericho and Taz checked in. Mark Henry did his split-screen interview thing between CM Punk and Daniel Garcia, who was accompanied by 2.0. Garcia talked about how he attacked Punk in Chicago. Garcia said he puts an end to the Punk love fest tonight. Punk said he didn’t come back to the world of wrestling, the world of wrestling came back to him. Punk called 2.0 the Nasty Boys’ little brothers because of their attire and it was very funny. Henry said they had enough talk and it was time to go to the ring.
1. CM Punk vs. Daniel Garcia. Punk was wearing the long-boy tights and the crowd chanted for Punk. The two tested each other’s strength and Punk pinned Garcia a few times for a pair of two-counts. Taz kept saying Garcia earned this match because he won four matches in a row and I’m not so sure I agree. Anyway, Punk hit a shoulder tackle to take Garcia down.
Punk then worked Garcia’s leg with a heel hook, but Garcia made it to the ropes for a break. Garcia backed Punk into the corner and hit a chop, but it didn’t phase Punk and Punk slapped Garcia. Punk then slammed Garcia. Punk did it again. Garcia eventually fired up and stomped Punk in a corner, but Punk lifted Garcia for a GTS. 2.0 broke it up, though, and all three heels worked together to distract the ref and work over Punk’s knee. A PIP then commenced. [c]
Back from the break, Garcia kept working over Punk’s legs. At one point, it looked like Garcia broke Punk’s knee by bending it backwards. Still, Punk fought back with forearms and punches. Punk tried to lift Garcia for a suplex, but Garcia wiggled out and chop-blocked Punk’s knee. Garcia played to the crowd, went for a dropkick and missed it. Garcia went to take Punk down, but Punk hit a knee strike to take control.
The two traded punches and strikes. Punk landed a roundhouse kick and it earned him a two-count. Punk hit a neck-breaker and Garcia went to a corner. Punk came at Garcia, but Garcia landed a back suplex for a two-count. Punk hit a short-arm clothesline and a running clothesline for a two-count. Punk lifted Garcia for a GTS, but Garcia rolled through and worked a sharp-shooter. Punk made it to the ropes for a break, but Garcia pulled him into the center, but that led to Punk pushing 2.0 off the apron. Punk then jumped off the top rope to the three men on the outside.
Punk rolled Garcia inside in the ring and hit a springboard clothesline. Punk landed a pile-driver and then sunk in the Anaconda Vice and Garcia tapped.
CM Punk defeated Daniel Garcia in 14:09 via submission.
The show cut to an interview with Dante Martin, who was accompanied by Lio Rush and Matt Sydal. Rush said what he and Dante has is real. Rush said what he’s selling is real. Rush then booked a match between Sydal and Punk. Excalibur said it was official and threw to break.
McGuire’s Musings: It is just so damn refreshing to see a good traditional wrestling match on AEW TV. That’s not to say I don’t have an appreciation for the other stuff AEW offers, but it feels like such a treat when a pair of wrestlers work a slower pace, isolate body parts and tell those traditional stories. In that sense, this match was great. Punk sold a lot for Garcia and Garcia, I’ve noticed for the first time, has some great facial expressions, which adds so much. Everyone involved in this looked great coming out of it, and that includes 2.0. As for Lio Rush booking matches … ahhhh, I don’t know about that. But we’ll see how this relationship with Martin evolves because it could be a lot of fun.
2. Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix vs. The Acclaimed for the AEW Tag Titles. Max Caster referenced Ben Simmons and Arn Anderson packing heat in his entrance rap and it was awfully fun. The Acclaimed attacked the Bros before they could make it to the ring. After the bell rang, Penta and Fenix hit stereo super-kicks. Caster eventually grabbed the boom-box and hit Fenix with it on the outside.
In the ring, Penta went for a backstabber, but Caster blocked it. Bowens tagged in and the two hit a few double-team moves. With it essentially being a handicap match, Penta fought back and Fenix recovered from the boombox shot to tag in. Fenix hit a leaping cutter on Bowens for a two-count. Fenix went for a springboard move, but Bowens stopped him. Penta returned to the ring to help out. Fenix landed a double cutter on Caster and Bowens.
Bowens and Fenix fought with Bowens setting up Fenix for the Mic Drop, but Penta interfered and the Bros hit their finisher for the win.
Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix defeated The Acclaimed via pinfall in 5:15.
Excalibur threw to a video package on the Casino Ladder Match and the return of Hangman Page. To a break, we went.
McGuire’s Musings: I actually think this could have used more time. I’ve grown to really like the Lucha Bros when I can enjoy them, but I’ve also grown to really hate them when I have to keep up with writing about their matches. Either way, The Acclaimed got a nice rub out of this, and because the commentary team hyped up the fact that the Bros haven’t lost in AEW this year, I’m wondering if something is in the works.
A video aired on the announcement of the TBS title.
3. Jade Cargill vs. Skye Blue. Skye Blue’s entrance wasn’t televised, but boy, it seems like she’s over with live crowds. Blue went for a cross-body, but Cargill caught her and slammed her. Cargill hit a kick and jawed at the hard cam and Blue. Blue fired up, but Cargill caught Blue, hit her finisher and that was that.
Jade Cargill defeated Skye Blue via pinfall in 1:07.
After the match, Cargill kept attacking Blue, but Thunder Rosa ran in with a chair for the save. Excalibur then hyped the card for next week’s Rampage and Dynamite.
McGuire’s Musings: Jade Cargill just looks so much bigger than the women she wrestles. It really helps the act. She’s taller, more muscular and increasingly has a unique edge. This was everything you’d think it could be. It’s kind of wild to think she’s never lost and she hasn’t been doing this for all that long. Kudos to the AEW crew to build her as well as they have with such little pro wrestling experience.
Back from the break, Mark Henry returned for a second split-screen interview of the night. Ricky Starks was flanked by Hook and Powerhouse Hobbs. Starks said he’s going to prove he’s the absolute truth. Cage said he wants to stick it to Team Taz and he accused Starks of ducking him. Henry said it’s time for the main event.
McGuire’s Musings: Give Mark Henry another chance at commentary. Please. Just trust me on this.
4, Ricky Starks vs. Brian Cage in a Philadelphia Street Fight for the FTW Championship. They jumpstarted the match and Cage hit Starks across the back with a chair. Cage threw Starks into the front row and then chopped him across the chest. Cage reached under the ring for a garbage can, which also had weapons in it. Starks went for a spear, but Cage stopped him. Still, Starks picked up a pool cue and hit Cage with it. Starks landed a tornado DDT and the final PIP began. [c]
Back from break, Starks hit Cage with a chain around his fist. Starks then hit a leg drop on cage with the top of the garbage can under his legs. Cage took back control with a super-kick. Cage then hit Starks with the garbage can. Cage slammed Starks onto the garbage can for a two-count. Hook ran down to the ring, but Cage nailed him. Hobbs ran down, too, but Cage kicked him. Starks then hit a spear into Cage with the pipe for a close near-fall.
Starks threw a fit. Starks ran at Cage, but Cage pushed his head into a chair that was perched into the corner. Cage hit his Discus Lariat, but Hobbs broke up the pin. Starks was bleeding. Hook hit a low blow on Cage. Starks hit his finisher and that got him the win.
Rick Starks defeated Brian Cage via pinfall in 10:37 to retain the FTW Championship.
Team Taz made its way up the ramp and Taz joined them to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: Fairly tame by Philadelphia street fight standards, but such is the state of television wrestling. This was fine. Nothing about it really blew me away. Something occurred to me while watching it, though, and thinking about who might win and that’s the fact that the story could be fun if Cage won the FTW title and Taz spent weeks being obsessed over the fact that someone not on Team Taz has his belt. But that’s for another day. The visual of the blood from Starks made for nice images, but if you’re going to have a no DQ match in Philly, you need to bring all you got. I’m not so sure that happened here.
All told, this was a fine episode of Rampage. Not great. Not terrible. My fear of it becoming AEW Dark Extreme is kind of/sort of coming to fruition in that while AEW can get away with saying “CM Punk is on the card so watch, it’s important, right?!” they can also be accused of being a bit formulaic. Combine that with the rotating, thrown-together commentary teams, and you have something that seems to pride itself on being a B-show. That’s fine. But let’s not forget how hyped up this hour of wrestling was when CM Punk returned and it was supposed to change the landscape of wrestling. I also agree with something Jason Powell wrote this week when he said that it’s becoming somewhat tiring to see Punk work with second or third-level wrestlers who might be young and talented but aren’t necessarily the wrestlers we thought we’d see face Punk when Punk returned. God bless Punk for working with the younger talent, but it’s not like he’s putting anyone over. But I digress. You can miss this episode and not miss much. I say that lovingly.