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    Sunday, September 26, 2021

    The Rampage Report (9/24/21): New York Minute

    CM Punk

    As you probably already know by now, this week's Rampage is a two-hour special in the heart of New York City. More than anything, it underscores just how deep (or bloated, depending on how you like it) AEW's roster is, and throws into question whether one hour a week is enough for Rampage.

    Autumn of Punk

    Because this is AEW, the real main event is now the opening match. They did it on Dynamite with Kenny Omega and Bryan Danielson, and they did it again with CM Punk vs. Powerhouse Hobbs—except Punk vs. Hobbs is a more appropriate curtain-jerker than Kenny/Bryan was.

    The match was a fine affair, wrestled in CM Punk's pace and made to make Hobbs look pretty dominant. If there's one gripe I have, it's that I would've given the dirty win to Hobbs here just so he and Team Taz could look competent. Darby Allin was one thing, but the rusty, older Punk is going up against a younger, bigger Hobbs, with Hook in his corner. I thought that merited a win, especially if the plan is for Punk to eventually feud with Ricky Starks and the rest of the team.

    That said, given everything else that happened on Rampage, it also does make sense for the returning babyface to get a win. I just wish it wasn't Hobbs, and I just wish it wasn't now.

    SuperKliq season

    Punk won the opening match of the show, so that means other fan favorites have to take the fall to build up the heels.

    Jurassic Express and Christian Cage ate a good loss at the hands of the SuperKliq (that's the Young Bucks and Adam Cole to you). Fun match, all things considered, with no tangible stakes other than the heel stable continues to reinforce their dominance on the brand. I do think we're building up to an Adam Cole vs. Jungle Boy dream match on the next PPV, or the big Jurassic Express vs. Young Bucks match I so badly want. Both options are fine with me.

    Do we really need an MMA crossover?

    So the entire Inner Circle vs. Men of the Year feud is designed to get more non-wrestling fan eyes on the AEW product, with American Top Team MMA fighters finally jumping into the squared circle to attack Chris Jericho and Jake Hager.

    Here's the thing—Jorge Masvidal, Paige VanZant, and Junior Dos Santos are big and recognizable enough names for MMA fans to take notice of. Maybe, just maybe, these names would get MMA fans curious to check out AEW. But the question really is: do we need them? Yes, it's more mainstream eyes, but are they the mainstream eyes pro wrestling needs?

    In my experience, if you're an MMA fan and you already like pro wrestling, chances are you're already watching pro wrestling. You understand the differences between both sports, and you're able to pigeonhole the pros of each enough to enjoy it. I've seen a lot of MMA fans thumb their nose at pro wrestling just because it isn't real enough to satisfy their bloodlust, even though they know that many MMA fighters have already done pro wrestling. I don't think having big names co-sign the pro wrestling product will be enough to convert them into the sport, especially when AEW isn't even the wrestling company that comes closest to the gritty violence of mixed martial arts.

    Basically, what I'm saying is maybe all we needed was heat magnet Dan Lambert managing the Men of the Year, and that's it. Rosario Dawson was a better big-name gamble than MMA fighters. But hey, if they can make it work, then hats off to them—this is just one thing I'm really not optimistic about.

    Anna Jay and the legend of the brass knucks

    Even though AEW still has a ton of work to do when it comes to focusing on their women's division, I will say that the story they featured on Rampage was at least a story they've been trying to tell consistently over the past few weeks.

    That said, the match between Anna Jay and Penelope Ford is nothing to write home about. Penelope Ford and the Bunny use brass knucks to take Jay and Tay Conti down. The bigger story is the Dark Order coming together to try and help them, leading into what is rumored to be a new leader reveal this coming Wednesday on Dynamite. Again, another story they've been telling consistently over the past few weeks. I respect you, bookerman.

    Lights out in New York

    The real main event of the evening is the Lights Out unsanctioned match between Suzukigun and Moxley and Kingston, which is honestly the most rushed story they've featured on this week's episode. If you forget the fact that AEW is more about telling week-to-week stories than building up to big monthly events, this is actually just fine, but I have to go and reorganize my WWE-oriented brain for this.

    Eddie Kingston and Jon Moxley beat Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer in a fine no-DQ match. Indy and TNA legend Homicide makes an appearance, popping his hometown New York and helping the good guys win. Not actually sure yet if this means Homicide will stick around for an AEW payday, but it's not a bad name for them to utilize.

    If you're wondering why Moxley and crew beat Archer and Suzuki for the nth match in a row, it's because they're building up to a rematch on New Japan Strong Showdown next month, where Suzukigun is presumably going to win. I mean, they have to at this point!

    Rampage 9/24/21 Report: The first-ever two-hour Rampage is a big party, with huge names and hometown favorites earning the adoration of the New York crowd. While it was fun, one can't really shake off the feeling that it's the B-show to Dynamite instead of the standalone event it should have been, especially with two main events like that. It certainly wasn't for lack of trying, though; maybe better planning was needed? B+

    Little rampages

    • Looks like Ricky Starks is permanently replacing Mark Henry on commentary. If the reason was Mizark didn't talk much while he was in the booth, it's really, really hard to get a word in edgewise when you have loudmouth Chris Jericho and a singing Taz making up half the team. He didn't really get a fair shake.
    • I didn't get to talk about the eight-man tag between Lucha Bros and Proud and Powerful and the Hardy Family Office because, well, there was no video on the AEW YouTube page for some reason. Again, another fun match that made it feel like a fun house show.

    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 (9/24/21): New York Minute Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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