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    Sunday, October 17, 2021

    The Rampage Report (10/15/21): The Heist

    Bryan Danielson and Minoru Suzuki

    This week on Rampage, Tony Khan puts his big boy pants on and tries to go head-to-head against a supersized SmackDown. While the jury's still out on whether they did actually beat the A-show in their 30-minute head-to-head, from a quality standpoint, it could've been a lot better.

    A free dream match

    In order to properly understand why I felt Tony Khan did not hit Vince McMahon with his best shot, we have to take a look at the fact that there was a free kickoff show on YouTube and FITE just to try and mess with SmackDown's 8-10 p.m. ratings. The main event of this preshow was, bizarrely, a dream matchup: Bryan Danielson vs. Minoru Suzuki.

    Other than the fact that under normal circumstances, this would've received the proper respect and treatment it deserved, the hugeness of this bout would've at least called for it to go on the part of Rampage that was going head-to-head with SmackDown, right? Well, apparently not, as Tony Khan still thinks that the magic of CM Punk is still what it was a couple of months ago, especially paired with *checks notes* Matt Sydal. Now, I love Sydal and I think he's great, but I don't think that's the bullet you want to chock against Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks—and if you think that was a good idea, you've got another think coming.

    Now, Bryan Danielson vs. Minoru Suzuki was the matchup everyone expected it to be and more, and while I support giving good wrestling away for free on YouTube, the objective was to try and beat SmackDown, and to meet that objective, this should've been on that spot. Instead, I daresay Tony Khan is left with egg in his hands, as apparently Vince isn't the only person who's prone to making ridiculous short-term decisions under ratings pressure.

    Yes, I know it feels like I'm complaining about a good match for free. I understand that that's exactly how it sounds like. But I also wanted Tony Khan to do well against the WWE, and—barring new ratings information—he got shown up as the relatively inexperienced booker he is.

    The struggle of Punk

    Here's the second part of why I felt CM Punk vs. Matt Sydal wasn't the best idea for the head-to-head: Sydal actually gassed Punk out and made the match come across as a bit of a slog.

    It wasn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it also wasn't the completely competitive outing that a lot of people were expecting. Speaking with the full awareness that I haven't wrestled a match in almost two years and my conditioning is utter shit, Punk barely made it out of that bout on his two feet. Even the commentators knew.


    Now I'm not saying that this matchup shouldn't have happened. A rep is still a rep, no matter how ugly it is, and Punk is all the better for having taken that rep. But I probably would not have put it in a spot with a lot of pressure riding on it. It wouldn't have been a bad idea to put this in the real main event spot so that the Rampage main event has a huge name.

    Top teams and Inner Circles

    But here's the actual bright spot of Rampage this week: I did feel that the actual main event of the show was huge. You've got Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, and the TNT Champion Sammy Guevara against big MMA star Junior Dos Santos and the Men of the Year, two guys who sorely need rubs. That's huge on paper!


    It was a fun matchup, even if you needed a little suspension of disbelief that JDS wasn't knocking the Inner Circle out cold from the get-go, and for the first time, I believed that Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page were kind of a big deal. Their association with Dan Lambert and his American Top Team—and the Inner Circle as opponents—is finally paying off, and I'm glad to see that Lambert's boomer rhetoric actually has a bit of a satisfying payoff.

    I've been complaining over the past few weeks that Rampage never signed off with a match as big as their opener, and I'm happy to say that they finally fixed that this week with this huge matchup. I hope that they take this and continue applying it in the future.

    Rampage 10/15/21 Report: It wasn't the best lineup to beat SmackDown, but I will admit that it did make the Saturday morning wrestling experience fun again like it was on the premiere episode. Including the Buy-In, this week's Rampage gets an A.


    Little rampages

    • Ruby Soho vs. The Bunny lacked some chemistry, I felt, and as much as I don't want to trash the two women who worked their asses off, it was rough that they were the ones who had to go up against the Roman/Brock contract-signing segment.
    • With the exception of Bryan/Suzuki, the Buy-In matches did actually feel like pre-show matches, or a live Dark episode. That's not a bad thing, by the way—they were pretty solid.


    Photo from AEW

    *****

    Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor-in-Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast. He gets by in this hard-knock life through working in advertising. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, and he likes taking your wrestling questions over on his Curiouscat account. 

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    Item Reviewed: The Rampage Report (10/15/21): The Heist Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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