Welcome to the Cool Points: AEW Rampage Running Diary Edition
Tonight, I would normally be writing just about WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown, and it’s a notable one, given that SummerSlam is tomorrow. However, there’s another pretty big wrestling thing brewing that I’d be a fool not to take notice of. Many rumours on social media, and teases and references from AEW officials and wrestlers, have indicated that a certain Chicago made “best in the world” wrestler may be making a return to pro wrestling tonight.
CM Punk is the reason I got back into WWE in June of 2011 after a 4 year hiatus of watching only Wrestlemania each year. That’s a story for another time. Tonight, I’m going to provide some live commentary on AEW’s second ever Friday night Rampage show and the card…is…stacked! Refresh periodically for updates or read after the show. Let’s do this!
CM PUNK ARRIVES IN THE UNITED CENTER!
10:05PM: Cult of Personality by Living Colour plays. Crowd goes wild. Chants of “CM Punk” from the crowd. CM Punk is hugging people at ringside, likely friends and family. Amazing. This is happening, folks.
10:09PM: Fans are just adoring Punk, showering him with chants of his name, as Punk smiles in the middle of the ring. He didn’t plan what he wanted to say because he didn’t know how he’d feel. But he is feeling it, Chicago. He says, he’s been listening these last 7 years. Punk says he’s not getting into it all now, but he’s got the time and he’s not going anywhere.
Great to hear that he’s likely going to be running a pretty regular schedule, since he said he’ll see everyone on Wednesdays, Fridays, and a few Saturday/Sundays a year.
10:12PM: Punk says he never would’ve gotten healthy if he stayed in the place that made him sick in the first place. Absolutely spot on TRUTH and a good dig at WWE. Now he sits down cross-legged to tell a story….this is great stuff.
10:14PM: August 13, 2005. Punk says he left professional wrestling. August 20, 2021. I’m back. He’s back for the fans and he’s back because there’s a heck of a lot of young talent on the AEW roster he wants to work with. He also has a couple of scores to settle in that locker room.
Punk at All Out
10:18PM: Shout out to Darby Allin, and he and Sting are up in the rafters of the arena. Wow. He basically challenges Darby and says he’ll see him and Sting on September 5th at ALL OUT, in Chicago. Then, he says ice cream bars are on him for all the fans in attendance.
Huge moment. CM Punk is so good on the mic. He managed his emotions really well, praised the fans, dropped some truth bombs and gave the people another reason to tune into ALL OUT in a couple weeks. That’s the way you do it, folks. That’s an historical feel-good moment for Punk, for Chicago, and for AEW. Kudos on them for starting with Punk, too. Otherwise, the show would’ve been overrun with CM Punk chants.
Jurassic Express vs. Private Party w. Matt Hardy
(AEW Tag Team Championship Eliminator Tournament)
10:27PM: Young Bucks, the current champs, are watching from the stage on the ramp as this match gets started. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus are such a quirky pairing, but they can go in the ring, so no complaints. Watching a good portion of this match on mute because of the picture in picture commercial break. At least we get to keep watching the match.
10:34PM: Luchasaurus got the hot tag but their momentum stalled, thanks to a Canadian Destroyer from the top rope by Kassidy. Dang. These guys can fly.
10:38PM: Jungle Boy gets the win for his team, and they’re advancing in the tournament. Good for them. Fans seemed to be behind them. Fun match between two top teams in the tag division. The Varsity Blonds vs. The Lucha Brothers happens on Dynamite next Wednesday.
Who are you guys pulling for to face the Young Bucks? Who has the best shot at beating them in a cage at ALL OUT?
Jade Cargill w. Smart Mark Sterling vs. Kiera Hogan
10:45PM: This match ends as quickly as it starts with Cargill pinning Hogan. Is she that much better than Hogan? Limits of a one hour show mean that things like this are more likely to happen. I’ve read a bunch about the women’s division in AEW not getting too much of the spotlight on their shows, aside from Britt Baker as of late. Perhaps Cargill’s quick win pushes her up the rankings closer to a title shot?
Jon Moxley vs. Daniel Garcia w. 2.0
10:49PM: Man, Mox is fired up! Spitting words a mile a minute, the physicality of showing with his hands his wanting to squeeze Garcia to pieces. Rips off the earpiece and says enough of the camera and the talking. Gotta love that energy.
10:56PM: Is it just me or is Mox looking more like nWo Macho Man every day? That full beard of his just needs to be dyed black. Give him a bandana and some arm bands…NO! I DIGRESS.
10:58PM: Nice reversal by Mox on Garcia’s leg submission into a bulldog choke! Garcia taps out. Pretty reasonable.
10:59PM: Here come Sting and Darby Allin to help out Moxley in disposing of Garcia and 2.0. They take care of business quickly as the commentary team promotes CM Punk/Allin for ALL OUT, and that Punk will be at Dynamite next Wednesday. That’s such a great way to pull in viewers for Dynamite.
4 cool points for the 2nd AEW Rampage Show.
For anyone who hasn’t been following AEW too closely, like myself, we got to see some familiar faces and some new ones. All the divisions were given TV time, CM Punk’s debut gets the biggest shine, and it set up a huge return match for the upcoming PPV. Honestly, the only thing I wish had happened was a little more time for the women’s match.
Still, the best in the world is back. CM Punk is back in professional wrestling. AEW will reap the rewards of this contract signing and we’re going to see what Punk’s got in the tank after the 7 year break. Likely, a heck of a lot, and the young talent on the roster are a big motivator for him. What an exciting time in life!
BONUS: Friday Night Smackdown Cool Points
Edge is ready to burn it down
Edge’s opening promo was full of intensity, a stark difference to the energy of Seth Rollins’ promo last week, which was more spiteful and mocking. That’s not to say that Rollins isn’t taking the match seriously because he very much is. But I liked seeing Edge go full on with his anger because he’s the grizzly old vet who’s trying to prove he’s still able to keep up with the next generation.
Then, the bloodbath throwback on Seth Rollins and his bright, white suit was a suitable complement to Edge’s opening words. It was also a proper reply to Seth’s video package from last week where it picked apart Edge’s lack of success in factions early in his career. Also, bonus cool point for us getting to hear the Brood’s theme music, one of my favourite themes from the Attitude Era days!
It’s a match we couldn’t have expected to see, but one where both guys are well-matched. It will likely be placed in the middle of the SummerSlam card, perhaps towards the latter half of the show and I would expect them to have main event time to resolve who the more dangerous, opportunistic wrestler is!
Mysterios vs. Usos is not grabbing my attention
These guys have been feuding for months now and even though I’ve only been watching for the past month, it’s just not that engaging. Dominik and Rey have a special thing going as a father/song team, but Dominik is still quite green in the ring at times. I want to cheer them on, but I find myself not really caring if they win or lose.
That said, Street Profits and Alpha Academy are just getting started in a feud of their own and other teams aren’t getting much time, so it seems like options are limited. Perhaps after SummerSlam, we’ll see a change in direction with who challenges the Usos next? But does that mean we’re heading towards a father/son Mysterio matchup? I’m not interested in seeing that right now either. Let’s hope they can tear it down at SummerSlam and give both teams something new to do in the fall.
Bianca Belair is the EST
Props to Belair for wrestling before her title defense against Sasha Banks tomorrow at SummerSlam. I don’t know what the deal is with Sasha not being at SmackDown, but it was actually refreshing not to have another faceoff between the two women. The build was pretty simple on this one, since they’ve pushed the Wrestlemania rematch angle from the get-go. They already had the contract signing last week where they got physical with one another. Having Belair wrestle both “at-present allies” of Banks, as a way to warm up for the title match, was a reasonable use of TV time.
I will always support a fighting champion, title and non-title defenses alike. She looked like a champ defeating Vega and Carmella and is pretty easy to like. She can handle her business in the ring and on the mic, and I’d be happy to see her run with the title into 2022. No one else on Smackdown can touch her right now, not even Sasha.
John Cena: 17-Time World Champion or Roman Reigns: Truly Head of the Table?
After years of Brock Lesnar headlined SummerSlams, this Reigns/Cena match is a pretty fresh look and an historically significant one. SummerSlam sometimes ends up showcasing rematches or next chapters in storylines, and that’s not a bad thing. However, having this version of Roman Reigns against one of the greatest WWE wrestlers of all-time in John Cena, is as big as it gets in 2021. It’s not a stale feud. It’s not overdone. And it’s been about 4 years since they’ve wrestled in a high-profile match.
Cena repeating his promo from last week again tonight wasn’t bad. Again, he got most of the promo time as he’s working hard to sell this match, which he is succeeding at, and he’s managing to get the crowd behind him, which is also good.
What I didn’t like was Roman adding a stupid stipulation that if he loses, he’ll leave WWE. Why would he bother? Cena wasn’t even supposed to have the title match in the first place, and now Roman has gotten so fed up with Cena’s words that he’s raised the stakes? He gains nothing from a stipulation where only he can lose something. At least make Cena abide by the same stipulation! That’s a dummy move by the head of the table, and Heyman should’ve been all over that as his manager.
Regardless, it’s a must-see main event and I’m interested to see if Cena’s going to pull a Brock and win a championship that he’s not going to regularly defend for weeks or months at a time. Not sure that would be best for SmackDown, but it would give Shinsuke Nakamura extra attention, seeing as how he’s the new Intercontinental Champion. Yep. That happened tonight, too.
Like I said earlier, exciting times..
My Wife Says…
She went to bed before the Rampage show but said, “Happy Punk Day!” She’s great.