VENUE: NOW Arena (Hoffman Estates, IL)
COMMENTATORS: Taz, Excalibur, Chris Jericho, & Mark Henry
Two nights away from taking on CM Punk in one of the most historic matches in modern pro wrestling history, Darby Allin puts his body on the line against Daniel Garcia, a man hellbent on becoming a spoiler for the big event alongside his buddies 2point0. Also on the show Britt Baker attempts to soften her All Out challenger Kris Statlander by putting her in a handicap match against Jamie Hayter and Rebel. Or Reba. Or Rebel. Look it’s hard to keep track sometimes.
- AEW WORLD CHAMPION: Kenny Omega
- AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPION: Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.
- AEW TNT CHAMPION: Miro
- AEW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
- Lee Johnson vs. Malakai Black (***1/2)
- Kris Statlander vs. Rebel & Jamie Hayter (***)
- Darby Allin vs. Daniel Garcia (***1/2)
“Big Shotty” Lee Johnson vs. Malakai Black
Black added Brock Anderson to his list of Nightmare Family victims last week on Dynamite, even throwing in another knockout kick to dear old patriarch Arn. Johnson, a younger member of the Family, came out after and Black surprisingly backed off…and proceeded to give Big Shotty Lee the chance to repent. Repent he did not and now Black looks to continue his path of destruction. Johnson comes out wearing a Nightmare Family weight belt, possibly one owned by his mentor Cody Rhodes who was Black’s first victim weeks ago.
Black backs Johnson into the corner, Johnson grabs a side headlock, Black escapes and Johnson NARROWLY avoids a spin kick. Black escapes a waistlock, Johnson quickly rolls out of the way and they reset. Black grabs a waistlock, Johnson cracks him with an elbow which Black is NOT happy about (cue a “YOU F*CKED UP” chant from the crowd lol). Black drops Johnson with a back elbow and lays into Big Shotty with kicks in the corner as the show moves to picture-in-picture. Whoa, match is already going longer than I expected. Black slows it down, punishing Johnson with a DEEP chinlock. Johnson rolls Black off, Black connects with a jumping knee strikes, clips the leg and traps Big Shotty in a beautiful hammerlock. Johnson tries to escape a side headlock with a back suplex but Black holds on and cinches it tighter after hitting the canvas.
Back to full screen just in time for Johnson to mount an attempted comeback, surprising Black with a dropkick that sends him to the floor. Johnson follows up with a tope suicida and a top rope frog splash but is too hurt to make the cover or doesn’t want to; either way that’s a mistake for him. Black counters out of a waistlock, Johnson kicks him away and Black F*CKS HIM UP WITH A PENALTY KICK HOLY SH*T. Black boxes Johnson in the corner followed by a kick right to the chest, then produces a chair from under the ring. Black teases using the chair then lays it next to Johnson, offering it to him and asking if he cares about winning or cares about revenge. Black turns his back for a moment, Johnson gets to his feet but hesitates and Black lays him out with a spinning heel kick for the 1…2…3.
Malakai Black defeated Lee Johnson via pinfall (9:56)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Man that f*cking rocked. Johnson survived a lot longer than I thought he was going to and managed to rock Black a few times. Black trying to goad Johnson into using the chair on him and essentially poison his mind was a neat idea but the timing of it felt kind of off…unless the point was he was doing it to be a jerk and was gonna kick him in the face the entire time. (***1/2)
Black relaxes, foot on Johnson’s face, until an irate Dustin Rhodes runs out to save Johnson. Black leaves the ring and talks inaudible trash, knowing he’s living in the Nightmare Family’s head rent-free.
-After a commercial Mark Henry interviews Dustin Rhodes backstage. Rhodes says he’s coming straight for Malakai Black this Wednesday at Dynamite, and there is NOTHING Black can do to him that he hasn’t already been through. HELL YEAH.
IN-RING SEGMENT: THE REDEEMER
TNT Champion Miro makes his way to the ring for some words ahead of his title defense on Sunday, Jericho calling him a “cigarette machine with a head on it”. That is a WILD description and I f*cking love it. Miro says Eddie Kingston calls himself a Mad King but the only King he recognizes is mad at him. Miro tells Kingston he took the easy way out despite all the talent given, taking a “charity” contract to come to AEW; Miro is not in the charity business and neither is his God, and a life without struggle makes you soft. Miro tells Kingston he’s become comfortable and nothing but a bad boy for Jon Moxley. Eddie Kingston interrupts, Miro smiling at the interruption. Kingston thanks the crowd for chanting then tells them to quiet so he can handle his business. Kingston tells Miro his God is not real to him so he doesn’t care what he says; if he was real, Miro’s God sent him here to punish Miro. If he didn’t sin, Miro’s ugly ass God wouldn’t have brought him here and know the chink in his armor (his neck). Miro tells Kingston if he steps one foot closer he’s going to get Redeemed tonight. Kingston takes his hat off, and says “Redeemer…my man…REDEEM DEEZ NUTS” and rushes the ring! AMAZING! F*CKING AMAZING! Miro bails from the ring, Kingston runs after and gets a TNT Championship right to the skull. Miro rolls Kingston in but misses a stomp, Kingston connects with a Backfist followed by a DDT, knocking Miro out cold!
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Amazing segment, this f*cking slapped and whipped and slapped again. I can’t believe I spent part of my wrestling fandom not understanding Eddie Kingston. He’s the f*cking best. They are going to beat the sh*t out of each other on Sunday, let’s f*cking GOOOOO.
Kris Statlander vs. Rebel & Jamie Hayter [w/ Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.]
Baker announced on Wednesday that she signed a new contract extension in AEW and was given one concession by Tony Khan: Statlander, her opponent at All Out, would have to face Rebel & Hayter on tonight’s episode of Rampage so here we are. I would’ve asked for enough brown M&M’s to fill a Brandy glass but that’s me.
Statlander and Hayter throw bombs, Rebel grabs Statlander from the apron and holds her so Hayter can get her shots in. Hayter & Rebel make quick tags working Statlander over in the corner, Rebel connecting with a suplex throw for a two-count. Rebel belts Statlander with rapid-fire kicks, Statlander catches one and connects with a powerslam, Hayter runs in and Statlander slams her on top of her partner. Statlander delivers forearms to Hayter and Rebel in opposite corners and a double senton, covering Rebel for the 1…2…shoulder up. Hayter charges, Statlander sends her crashing to the floor (not even touching the ropes, goddamn). Statlander picks Rebel up in an electric chair and CATCHES HAYTER’S CROSSBODY ATTEMPT, throwing both to the canvas like nothing which pops the crowd huge. That ruled. Rebel tries to calm the crowd down, Statlander rolls her up for the 1…2…Rebel kicks out, Statlander kicks her in the face and ties her up in a Spider Crab for the submission. Baker and Hayter don’t intervene, letting it happen. Rude.
Kris Statlander defeated Rebel & Jamie Hayter via pinfall (4:12)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Tremendous show of strength by Kris Statlander there with that double slam spot. Gives her a ton of momentum heading into Sunday, but despite Rebel & Hayter getting boos I doubt Baker is going to get the same fate Chicago seems to love her. Baker & Hayter letting Rebel get her sh*t kicked in at the end was interesting and made the hierarchy of that group real obvious. (***)
Red Velvet runs out to save Statlander from a post-match beatdown. Way to stir it up!
-LAST WEEK ON RAMPAGE: Lucha Brothers defeated Jurassic Express to win the Tag Team Eliminator tournament, getting the right to challenge The Young Bucks at All Out in a steel cage.
-EARLIER THIS WEEK ON DYNAMITE: Cage gets lowered and The Elite beat up Christian Cage & The Lucha Brothers.
–Mark Henry conducts the pre-main event interview with Darby Allin [w/ Sting] and Daniel Garcia [w/ Jeff Parker & Matt Lee of 2point0]. Lee says the real question is what happens Sunday night when their “son” Daniel Garcia breaks Darby’s back tonight. Garcia says the reason he’s doing this is because he can. Allin tells Garcia he’s not overlooking him tonight; he’s going to beat his ass then stare down CM Punk one last time before Sunday.
-”Cult of Personality” kicks up and CM Punk makes his way out to hang with the Chicago crowd and eventually join the commentary table. Punk hops into the crowd and a guy offers him a beer, Punk giving him the BEST “WTF” reaction ever. Amazing. Happy Punk is never not going to be weird.
Darby Allin [w/ Sting] vs. “Red Death” Daniel Garcia [w/ Jeff Parker & Matt Lee of 2point0]
Allin stares Punk down on the stage before making his entrance, Jericho is disappointed Punk didn’t bust out the sportcoat for commentary and Punk says that was the old him. Ha. Allin and Garcia quickly spills to the floor, Garcia sidesteps Allin and he goes CRASHING back-first into the timekeeper’s table, bouncing off the concrete. Sting takes care of Lee & Parker on the other side of the ring, putting them out of the equation. WHAT DID THEY DO? Allin rolls through a suplex attempt and maintains wrist control into a Fujiwara Armbar. Garcia gets to the ropes to break it and rolls to the floor, Allin slams his arm into the steps. Garcia catches Allin with a kick as he re-enters the ring and ties him up in a surfboard-like submission, choking him with his own chain. Allin climbs the buckles, Garcia sweeps the legs and connects with a top-rope superplex, but is too dazed to make the cover right away and Allin kicks out at two just in time for the show to move to picture-in-picture. Garcia continues the assault, connecting with a snapmare into a dropkick to the back of the head for the 1…2…Allin kicks out, Garcia moves it back to the floor and sends Allin crashing into the guardrail. Garcia takes some time to trash talk Punk as Sting checks on his adopted son. Back in the ring Garcia connects with a fireman’s carry, holding onto the wrist so he can continue the punishment without Allin being able to escape. Allin fights back with forearms, Garcia shoves him away then drops him with either a back elbow or a chop, I got lost in the Advil commercial playing on the left side of the screen.
Back to full-screen, Allin splashes Garcia in the corner and Garcia immediately slaps on a rear choke, hanging him as he sits on the top turnbuckle. Noice. Garcia ducks a clothesline and locks the rear choke back on. Allin gets to his feet, gets Garcia on his back, and breaks it by falling off the middle turnbuckle! HOT DAMN. Allin fights back, connecting with a PEPSI TWIST to send a message to Punk oh sh*t. Amazing. Garcia stuns Allin with European uppercuts, Allin turns one into a backslide for the 1…2…Garcia kicks out, Allin connects with a Code Red for the 1…2…Garcia kicks out again! Allin wraps the legs up in a figure four and drops over into a roll-up for the 1…2…3!
Darby Allin defeated Daniel Garcia via pinfall (10:44)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Great match and a testament to Allin that he would put himself through that two days from the biggest match of his career. He didn’t even win decisively, he had to sneak it out. Daniel Garcia and 2point0 are the f*cking best, man. What a trio, who would’ve thunk it. Punk was good on commentary, slinging jokes with Jericho & others while also putting over the gravity of the situation. Weird that he didn’t know what a Code Red was considering he came up the same time as Amazing Red but that’s the NITPICKIEST bullsh*t so I’m embarrassed I even cared about that. (***1/2)
2point0 immediately attacks Allin as Sting gets wrapped up with Garcia. CM Punk leaves commentary and stares 2point0 down, Allin takes them out with a tope suicida and stares Punk down face to face as the episode concludes. SO GOOD.
AEW Rampage has been tremendous every week so far and the streak continues, just a great lead-in show to Sunday’s All Out putting over some of the bigger matches and once again getting CM Punk involved in the mix. All three matches delivered, show was a breeze to watch, and it increased my hype level for All Out even more especially for Miro vs. Kingston. King about to make millions off of “REDEEM DEEZ NUTS” shirts.
- FAVORITE MATCH: Darby Allin vs. Daniel Garcia
- FAVORITE MOMENT: Redeem Deez Nuts. What a thing. Eddie Kingston is the greatest.