Welcome to the AEW Rampage review for Nov. 5th, 2021. It’s been a mixed bag for AEW this week. On one hand, we’ve been subjected to enough squash matches – via AEW Elevation and AEW Dark – to give us diabetes, yet AEW Dynamite was electric and made up for the other two shows in spades. Even if I am still mad about the ending to the Cody Rhodes match.
This all meant that heading into AEW Rampage, I was optimistic that it would carry on its tradition of being the best hour of TV you can watch in a week. I expected it to be good but goddamn, I didn’t expect it to be that good. Three top-quality matches alone would’ve been enough for me to start my Saturday morning with some pep in my step, but the CM Punk and Eddie Kingston promo? Brother, that was something else.
Bryan Danielson vs. Anthony Bowens w/Max Caster
After the usual shenanigans with The Acclaimed coming to the ring and dissing everybody – kids still say dissing, don’t they? – AEW Rampage kicked off with a really, really good match between Bryan Danielson and Anthony Bowens.
The genius behind AEW – and it’s something I’ve been saying for a while now, so yay me – is that the ‘top-tier’ talent that they’ve brought in understand that their opponent is only as good as they allow them to be. Now, if you were in the cluster-fudge that is WWE you’d see these kinds of ‘superstars’ do little to nothing to help elevate anyone they deem below them on the card. If anything, they’d go out of their way to bury them. Yet in AEW that very rarely happens, if at all. Instead, what you get is the likes of Danielson and Bowens going toe-to-toe, mat wrestling, exchanging blows, and trading shots as equals.
The reason this is such a good thing is that it helps to shine a huge fricking light on whoever happens to be sharing the ring with the alleged ‘top boys’ and even in defeat, they emerge out the other side looking stronger than they did going in. That is what happened here. No one really expected Bowens to end Danielson’s undefeated run, but there were more than enough seeds planted as this match progressed to make you second guess yourself.
In the end, Bowens would tap out to the LeBelle Lock while Caster looked on from ringside, screaming in despair – though why he didn’t just bum rush the ring and break up the hold is beyond me – yet even though he lost, Bowens proved that when he does eventually have a solo run, he’s got more than enough in his locker to be a huge asset to AEW.
Winner: Bryan Danielson
Promo Of The Year
HOLY S*IT! HOLY F*CKING S*IT!
Did Eddie Kingston just turn CM Punk heel?
This wasn’t just the AEW Rampage Promo Of The Week, it was The Whole OF Wrestling No Matter What You Watch Promo Of The Year!
Having been miffed that he’d lost to Bryan Danielson on last week’s AEW Rampage, Kingston had gone backstage and got into Punk’s face, assuming that The Voice Of The Voiceless was smirking at him. This led to Punk coming out on this week’s AEW Dynamite and demanding an apology. The Mad King wasn’t at the show, so the date for their face-off was set for tonight’s show.
So this is how I thought it was going to go. Punk would come out to rapturous applause, call out Kingston who’d come to the ring where the two would exchange barbs, Kingston would attack, and Punk vs. Kingston would be set for AEW: Full Gear, with everyone fully in the Anti-Eddie camp. After all, Punk’s the returning hero, right? The man who conquered the wrestling world only to vanish when he grew to hate what it had become. This was simple booking 101, surely?
Well, it appears that nobody bothered to tell either Eddie Kingston or CM Punk that this was how it was meant to go.
It started out by the numbers – with Punk waiting in the squared circle for Eddie to respond to his challenge – and when Kingston finally decided to come out, he looked so mad I thought that they’d just get to trading blows and to hell with the pleasantries. Instead, both men ripped into each other with what was either the greatest display of kayfabe I have ever witnessed or total and utter animosity for each other. I am inclined to think it’s the latter.
Kingston said that he used to look up to Punk when he first entered the business, but he quickly learned that Punk was an arrogant, spoiled, selfish brat who not only judged him on the way he looked but went out of his way to bury him, and many others, so he could keep his spot on the Independents.
The Best In The World shot back by telling Eddie that the reason he was so hard on him, the reason he had judged him was that he’d seen greatness in his future but that Kingston had never lived up to that and was nothing but a bum.
He called Eddie Kingston a bum and the crowd went f*cking mental.
Kingston then got right in Punk’s face and said that he’d had to fight for everything he’d gotten out of pro-wrestling and that he was proud to be part of the only wrestling company in the game, and told Punk – in no certain terms – that while everyone else cheered for his return, the wrestlers in the back didn’t want him there because they knew who he really was.
Get out, nobody wants you here”
He challenged Punk to a fight at AEW: Full Gear which Punk refused. This caused Kingston to really get in Punk’s face, yelling “Fight me!” over and over. Eventually Punk acquiesced but when he left the ring, Kingston told him that after he’d beaten the crap out of, that he should just leave again. Punk snapped, headbutted Kingston quite sodding hard, and a mass brawl broke out that saw the locker room empty to help break up, while Punk screamed he was going to “F*cking kill” Kingston and Kingston screamed like a rabid animal.
It was honest. It was mind-blowing. It was The Promo Of The Year. And now I have no idea who to cheer for at AEW: Full Gear. Like everybody else, I was ecstatic to have CM Punk back, but he came off as an utter dilhole here and now – instead of cheering for the prodigal son – I think I’m going to be fully in Eddie Kingston’s corner. This was a work of goddamn art.
TBS Women’s Title Tournament Match: The Bunny vs. Red Velvet
After Jurassic Express and Christian Cage had challenged The Super Kliq to a Falls Count Anywhere Match at AEW: Full Gear – and I’d finally picked my jaw up off the floor – The Bunny faced off against Red Velvet in the TBS Women’s Title Tournament First Round. I wasn’t sure how they’d manage to get the temperature back up in the room after the brilliance we’d just seen, but it didn’t take long before I found myself back on the edge of my seat.
Red Velvet was not messing about. Having fallen victim to the old brass knuckles on this week’s AEW Dark, she charged the ring and lay a beating on her opponent that was as vicious as it was beautiful. She really went to town on The Bunny, and it was only when they spilled to the outside and she got distracted by Jade Cargill who was watching on at ringside – leading to The Bunny executing a wicked-looking stomp to Velvet’s head on the steel steps – did the bout swing the other way.
This was a good back and forth match, but in all honesty, it was only going to end with Red Velvet having her hand raised in victory – due to her on and off again feud with Cargill – and after she’d gotten the victory the two traded insults, ramping up the tension for their future meeting.
Winner And Advancing To The Quarter-Finals: Red Velvet
John Silver vs Adam Cole
And so we come to my Fight of the Night, but that is awarded with a small asterisk. This is simply because the wrong person won. John Silver should’ve been the one with the 1-2-3 to his name and not Adam Cole. Allow me to explain.
From the outset Cole was selling the conchairto he took from Christian Cage to utter perfection. It meant the match started slowly as he was feeling the effects of having his head almost caved in. He wobbled around on his feet, every time he picked up pace he seemed to lose his bearings, he was nowhere near 80% let alone 100. This was perfect. He could have taken the pin here and had a legitimate excuse for the loss.
This was the direction it appeared to be heading in as well – especially after Silver had blocked an attempted low blow from Cole while the ref was distracted, and then proceeded to hit him in the kadiddle hopper instead – but for some reason, they didn’t pull the trigger, and Adam Cole got the win after hitting the Buck Shot.
It was the perfect time to have Cole lose. Silver would’ve got the rub from beating him and he could’ve raved on about how he wasn’t fit enough to wrestle, so it didn’t count. It would’ve laid the foundation for a feud between The Super Kliq and The Dark Order that could’ve and would’ve benefited everyone. Instead, The Elite walked away – from a fantastic fight, it has to be said – with a win they really didn’t need.