By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 43)
Live from Ontario, California at Toyota Arena
Aired June 3, 2022 on TNT
The commentary team of Taz, Excalibur, Adam Cole, and Chris Jericho checked in to begin the show. Entrances for the first match took place on social media, so to the action, we went while the white hot crowd was going nuts.
1. “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson vs. Penta Oscuro and Rey Fenix. Penta and Matt began the match and Penta went for the Fear Factor early, but Matt countered and went for a Fear Factor of his own, but Penta countered. After a flurry of moves back and forth, the two stood up and tagged in Fenix and Nick. Nick hit a springboard arm-drag before the action spilled outside. The two rolled back in the ring and hit dueling super-kicks. Both then landed respective nip-ups.
As the two shook hands, Matt attacked Fenix and the Bucks took control. Matt and Nick were on the outside and Penta hit a Tope Bomb onto the Bucks on the outside. Fenix then went to the top and hit a tornado splash onto everyone. Fenix rolled Matt back into he ring, but Matt sank in a Sharpshooter on Fenix. The four were then tied up in the ropes and Nick landed a running kick to Fenix. Fenix then hit a rolling cutter on Matt before rolling Matt back into the ring. Fenix went for a splash, but Matt got the knees up. We then got our first PIP [c].
Back from break, Fenix went for something off the top rope, but Matt countered into a series of Northern Lights suplexes. Matt draped Fenix on the middle rope and Nick hit a splash for a two-count. Quickly, Penta grabbed Nick for a DDT on the outside. The Bros did the same to Matt on the inside of the ring. Fenix landed a dive through the ropes onto Nick which was wild. Fenix then hit a frog splash on Matt inside the ring for a good near-fall.
Fenix placed Matt on the top rope and hit a kick. Nick came in for the save and hit a springboard dropkick before Matt landed an elbow from the top rope for another good near-fall. Matt tagged in Nick and Nick traded blows with Fenix. Fenix eventually landed a back-heel kick. The Bros went to the top and Fenix jumped off Penta onto Nick for a wild near-fall. Fenix went for a muscle buster, but Nick came back with a Poison-Rana. The Bucks began a super-kick party on both Bros. Fenix went for a splash, but the Bucks caught him and hit the Meltzer Driver for a great near-fall. Matt then unmasked Penta and hit the BTE Trigger on Fenix for the win.
“The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson defeated Penta Oscuro and Rey Fenix via pinfall in 14:54.
After the match, the Bucks celebrated in the crowd.
Correction: This report previously listed “Hangman” Adam Page as being on commentary for the opening match. Adam Cole was actually on commentary.
McGuire’s Musings: Wow. Whatever you just read that I wrote couldn’t have possibly done any of that justice. I’m positive I missed at least 40 percent of the moves, if not 60 percent … hell, if not 70 percent. This was a wild match in front of a wild crowd and my God, if this isn’t one of the five best Rampage matches to date, I don’t know what is. There were no real rules and it was the super-duper spot-fest we all expected it to be, but the crowd and the room added so, so much to it. These two teams work so well together and it was great to see this happen in their old stomping grounds.
2. Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Two Guys. Starks jump-started the match, so we weren’t properly introduced to whomever these other guys were. Hobbs slammed one of the guys while Starks speared the other guy and that was the end of the match.
Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs defeated Two Guys via pinfall in 46 seconds.
Starks and Hobbs got out of the ring right quick and Excalibur recapped Double Or Nothing while Cole was no longer in the commentary team. Kiera Hogan’s music then hit and she, along with Jade Cargill’s crew, made their way to the ring.
McGuire’s Musings: The squash was what it should be, but things did feel a bit rushed and I wonder why that had to be there.
3. Athena vs. Kiera Hogan. The two locked up and before long, Hogan hit a tough forearm. Athena then lifted Hogan and went for a slam, but Hogan landed on her feet. Athena landed a springboard splash for a one-count. Hogan then rolled to the outside. Athena ran for what looked to be a splash but then stopped and powered her way through the ropes onto Hogan. Athena was on the apron, but Red Velvet grabbed Athena’s legs and then rolled Athena back into the ring. Hogan got a one-count and then the next PIP began [c].
Back from break, Hogan had control and ran at Athena, but Athena came back with a dropkick. Athena fired up and landed a front handspring into an elbow strike. Athena climbed to the top, but Velvet tried to interfere. As a result, Hogan ripped Athena off the top rope. Hogan hit a running boot for a two-count. Hogan went to lift Athena, but Athena worked her way out of it and landed a spinning fist. Athena went to the top, but Hogan cut her off. Athena punched Hogan away and hit her finisher, which was the same as the one she had in WWE, for the win.
Athena defeated Kiera Hogan via pinfall in 8:23.
We then got a video package from the House of Black. Malakai said the house always wins and Julia joining them was a carefully executed plan. Julia told everyone to celebrate and then faded into black (no pun intended). CM Punk then made his entrance. He walked gingerly and had the belt around his waist. Punk looked like he was going to cry and then, it turned out, he might very well had been crying as his eyes were bloodshot. The crowd chanted his name and Punk took it in.
Punk said when he got to the arena, every bone in his body told him to go home and hug his wife. Punk said his brain told him to stay and that everyone live deserved an explanation. Punk said he said he would give everyone his all until the wheels fell off. Punk said he had good news and bad news. Punk said the last thing he ever wanted to do was let the fans down or leave them disappointed. He said he hoped he had never made them feel that way.
Punk said he loved every single second he’s been in the ring. He said it’s been a gift he never thought he’d be able to experience again. The crowd chanted his name again. Punk said the bad news is he’s injured and he needs surgery. Punk said a couple things are broken, but the biggest one is his heart. He said he wanted to go on one hell of a run. Punk said the good news is he can still do all that. Punk said the wheels are still there and they haven’t fallen off; it’s just that one of them happens to be broken.
Punk said he’s felt worse. He said it’s a bump in the road. He said he wants to wrestle for everyone right now. Punk said he told TK he didn’t want to hold AEW up and he said there’s a laundry list of people who could fill his shoes. He cited Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson. Punk said TK said he believes in CM Punk. The crowd chanted Punk’s name again. Punk said sometimes he gets a little down on himself. Punk said he wouldn’t let doubt creep in and he said the get back is going to be bigger than the set back. Punk said he’s champion for a reason and he said he’ll come back strong and hungrier than ever before. Punk said he will prove why he’s the best in the world.
McGuire’s Musings: The women’s match was pretty good and even more intriguing knowing the real-life history the two ladies have. I like Athena as a challenger to Jade Cargill, though I hope they wait to put the match in the ring because Athena could stand to go a few months before she takes her first loss (presumably). The Punk stuff was emotional and just a little bit confusing. He didn’t explicitly say he was dropping the title, but doesn’t it seem like that’s what’s happening? And if that’s happening, what are we going to do? A tournament? Color me dumb, but I’m under the impression he’ll be keeping the belt while he heals up. That said, I guess this means he’s out of Forbidden Door, which is a bummer because Punk vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi would have been super fun. Either way, here’s hoping Punk gets a full recovery and he comes back sooner rather than later. He’s made a world of difference for this company and you never want to see someone go down like this right after they get to the top of the mountain.
Back from break, we got the Mark Henry segment. Dante Martin was with Matt Sydal, who did most of the talking for him. Dan Lambert said something along the lines of, “If the queen had balls, she’d be king.” Sky then talked a little bit before Marky Henry gave his now-iconic line. To the ring, we went. Jericho said as Sky was walking to the ring that Punk has officially relinquished the title.
4. Scorpio Sky (w/Dan Lambert, Ethan Page) vs. Dante Martin (w/Matt Sydal) for the TNT Title. After exchanging some moves, Sky landed a shoulder block and posed. Martin came back and grabbed an arm-lock before we got the final PIP of the night [c].
Back from break, the two were exchanging elbows. Martin took control with a dropkick that sent Sky the outside and Martin jumped to the top rope and leap onto Sky on the outside. Dante landed a shotgun dropkick on Sky inside the ring. Excalibur explained that the winner of a battle royal on Wednesday will face Jon Moxley in the Dynamite main event, and the winner will have a chance to compete for the interim championship at the Forbidden Door pay-per-view. So there’s that. Meanwhile, a match was going on and Dante Martin nearly beat Sky.
Martin went for a cross-body, but Sky rolled through for a two-count. Martin landed a double-stomp for a two-count. Sky then lifted Martin and hit his finisher for the win.
Scorpio Sky defeated Dante Martin via pinfall in 8:10.
Sky posed with his belt to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: Poor Dante Martin. I won’t even say Scorpio Sky, because at least Scorpio Sky is a champion. Dante Martin, meanwhile, just can’t catch a break, even when he’s given chances to shine. This match fell victim to the picture-in-picture, as that took up at least 30 percent of it. Then, when we finally got back to the action, the commentary team had to force-fit in the announcement of the battle royal for Dynamite to clear up the confusion about the status of the world title, which seemed to confuse a lot more people than just me. All that aside, the match was fine. For those focused on other things, Martin was given a few good near-falls and Sky sold his ankle so well that I wondered if that would open the door for Martin to … ahh, who am I kidding? Sky came out in gear that matched the colors of his title. Dude wasn’t losing tonight.
In all, a frantic, news-worthy episode of Rampage, which is a delight, because there was a period of months where Rampage felt like less than the B-show. I’m glad to see the Friday night program get more love, I’m glad to see it live and I’m glad that it makes the job of covering it that much more fun. The opening match was absolutely must-see, while the Punk announcement certainly tugged at some fans’ heart strings. I feel bad for the company having to reshuffle so many things. I was under the assumption that we were working toward MJF vs. CM Punk, which would have been a fantastic long-term story, especially with all that’s happened recently with MJF. But, now … who knows, really. Does MJF show up for the battle royal? Does Danielson get the win and do we have Mox vs. Danielson either on Wednesday or at the Forbidden Door? It’s a lot of bad luck for AEW and some of its top guys. Can they turn chicken sh– into chicken salad? Only time will tell. I’ll have more to say, as always, in my audio review.
Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated that the Dynamite battle royal winner will face Jon Moxley at the Forbidden Door event for the interim AEW World Championship. The battle royal winner will actually face Moxley in the main event of Wednesday’s Dynamite to qualify for a chance to win the interim title at the Forbidden Door show.