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    Sunday, October 31, 2021

    The Rampage Report (10/29/21): In Which We Have A Candidate For Match of the Year

    Bryan Danielson and Eddie Kingston


    Happy Halloween! Welcome to this week's Rampage Report. If you're reading this without having seen the show, allow me to tell you now to stop reading and watch it. Find a copy, stream it online, pay for AEW Plus on FITE, anything. Watch this episode, then come back.

    Okay, so you've seen it? Welcome. Let's get this show started.

    Match of the Year candidate

    It only took AEW the signing of one American Dragon to have themselves a true Match of the Year candidate on their B-show. Bryan Danielson and Eddie Kingston went to a real war in what was only the semifinal match (!!!) of the current World Championship Eliminator Tournament. Imagine the kind of match they would've had if these were the finals on PPV, which, by the way, Bryan is having with Moxley at Full Gear.

    Both men damn near killed each other to try and advance to the finals. Bryan was his usual self, except he leaned more toward striking—his desire to work in Japan again seemingly manifesting here. Kingston was laying it in, as evidenced by the tomato-colored chest Bryan had at the end of the night. Like WALTER/Dragunov last year, this bout was the epitome of struggle, and watching that struggle unfold properly can be beautiful. Don't ever let anyone tell you Japanese-style wrestling is bad.

    For me, though, the real revelation was Eddie Kingston. I knew he was good and he had a cult following, and I had seen glimpses of the puro style he's influenced by, but I didn't fully understand it until this match. To be totally fair, he doesn't always show his full range, and it seems it takes him a lot of inspiration to pull out performances like this. (He's on Zoloft, so I totally understand, though.) 

    If there's anything to nitpick here, it's—you guessed it—that it should've been the main event of the evening. It was a long night of taping for AEW, and (unverified) reports are claiming that a lot of people left after this match. Once again I feel bad for everyone who has to come after a top-notch bout like this, and while I understand Tony Khan needs to keep the energy from the Dynamite broadcast, I feel like people would've hung around for Bryan vs. Kingston. Put some respect on your people, TK.

    Dante vs. Sydal III

    Now, wrestlers would normally take on the challenge of following such a good match, but it's also on the booker to not have to give his guys that unnecessary hassle. That said, though, Dante Martin and Matt Sydal did their absolute best to follow that—and it worked.


    While it's unfortunate that his brother Darius is out injured, Dante is absolutely making the most of this hot run right now. I don't think I've ever seen him botch his high-flying style once, and that goes a long way with wrestling fans who have full and regular access to dumb shit like Botchamania. It's clear that TK sees something great in Dante, and the decision to keep the foot on the gas is the right one.

    The better Trick or Street fight

    I gotta admit, though, everyone put in pretty inspired performances on this episode. Abadon and Britt Baker had themselves the better Halloween street fight on Friday night, though between this and Bryan/Kingston, this would've also been a fine opener.


    It was a solid hardcore match, and AEW's deliberate TV-14 rating lends itself a lot better than WWE to matches like these. It's good to see the women doing a straight-up street fight, while you probably won't see thumbtack spots in either men's or women's matches on SmackDown.

    If anyone's wondering why this match happened, though, other than the fact that it's Halloween weekend, it's because Abadon racked up quite the record on the Dark shows. That speaks more about the Dark booking—making them count toward the records but still also framing them as enhancement matches for the full-time roster only means that there will be some win-loss record inflation. I've always thought that was weird, because the easiest way to get yourself a title match in AEW is to stay in Dark.

    Rampage 10/29/21 Report: I've complained about the real main event being up first, but this time, I won't let it stop me from giving this episode a straight-up A+. This episode is must-watch, and I hope it does good ratings.

    Little rampages

    • In the second commercial break, Bryan Danielson offers a handshake to Eddie Kingston, which he refuses. It seems he'll be sliding back toward being heel.
    • CM Punk makes a strange cameo backstage just for Eddie Kingston to throw a tantrum on, and it seems as though this is going to be the matchup for Full Gear in two weeks. It all feels a little random (and rushed), and isn't really the best way to segue into a new story for both men. But let's see what happens on this week's shows.

    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 (10/29/21): In Which We Have A Candidate For Match of the Year Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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