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‘AEW RAMPAGE: THE FIRST DANCE’ 08.20.2021 Recap + Review – The Return of CM Punk

CM Punk AEW Debut

VENUE: United Center (Chicago, IL)
COMMENTATORS: Jim Ross, Excalibur, Mark Henry, & Taz

Heard some guy is gonna be on the show tonight. Let’s see if that’s true.

CHAMPIONS

  • 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)

LINEUP

  • TAG TEAM ELIMINATOR: SEMI-FINALS: Jurassic Express vs. Private Party (***)
  • Kiera Hogan vs. Jade Cargill (SQUASH)
  • Jon Moxley vs. Daniel Garcia (***1/4)

*****

-Pyro goes off as Excalibur welcomes the home audience. Hype for tonight’s lineup, very noticeable “CM PUNK” chants. Wonder if they’re expecting something.

CM PUNK RETURNS

“Cult of Personality” hits and CM PUNK IS F*CKING HERE OMG OMG OMG, Punk drops to his knees on the ramp, soaking in the reaction and chants. Punk gets up, makes his way down the aisle then F*CKIN’ DIVES INTO THE CROWD HELL YEAH. Song cuts and Punk embraces some folks at ringside, those “CM PUNK” chants deafening. Punk will speak…IN 90 SECONDS AFTER A COMMERCIAL BREAK.

Back live and Punk tells the crowd they know how to make a guy feel like Britt Baker in Pittsburgh. Ha. Punk didn’t plan on what to say because he needed to feel it, and he feels and hears Chicago, giving the crowd another chance to lose their sh*t. Punk says he can’t get to everything tonight but he’s got a lot of time coming up and he ain’t going anywhere. Punk says if any of his choices disappointed them over the years he understands, as long as the people understand he was never going to get better stuck in the same place that got him sick in the first place (WWE). Punk removes his hoodie and reveals a BRAND NEW T-SHIRT before sitting cross-legged in the middle of the ring to tell everyone a story. Punk talks about his final match at Ring Of Honor and how he entered with tears in his eyes, but he understands why: he had created a place where people could love professional wrestling and knew he was leaving for somewhere that was not going to be easy. The day he left ROH (8/13/2005) is the day he left professional wrestling, but 8/20/2021 he has RETURNED. Punk is back because he wants to work with the young talent in the back that have the same passion that was stamped out of him and because there’s some scores to settle in the back. 

Punk calls out Darby Allin, who’s shown watching in the rafters with Sting. Punk calls Allin tough and he’s first on his list; there’s nothing more dangerous for Allin to do than wrestle him in Chicago and will see him at All Out. YESSSSSS. Punk appreciates everyone waiting 7 years and tells everyone to grab themselves a free ice cream bar on him. YESSSS. 

  • JON’S THOUGHTS: Literal f*cking chills. CM Punk got me back into pro wrestling in 2012 and to see him return and in a good place is amazing. I’m so f*cking happy. This is the good stuff.

Christian Cage is backstage with The Jurassic Express, hyping them up and reiterating that he’s in Kenny Omega’s head heading into All Out.

-Jurassic Express’ entrance gets cut short by The Young Bucks to watch the match from the stage, Brandon Cutler providing the chairs. Lucha Brothers and Varsity Blonds, who are in the other semi-final match, are shown watching in the crowd as well.

TAG TEAM ELIMINATOR: SEMI-FINALS
Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) [w/ Marko Stunt] vs. Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen) [w/ “Big Money” Matt Hardy]

Jungle Boy and Kassidy speed around the ring and trade takedowns and pinfall attempts ending in a standoff. Kassidy clubs Jungle Boy down and Quen makes the tag; Jungle Boy connects with a twisting armdrag and a dropkick to Kassidy. Quen dead weights Jungle Boy to prevent a tag and yanks him to the mat by the hair. This draws Luchasaurus into the ring, allowing Private Party to double team as the show moves to picture-in-picture. Jungle Boy tries to fight back, Kassidy wrestles him to the ground with a chinlock. Quen tags in and drops Jungle Boy with a back elbow followed by another driving elbow to the sternum. Jungle Boy stuns Quen with a jawbreaker, Quen recovers quickly and pulls him into his team’s corner to tag out to Kassidy. 

Show goes back to full screen, Jungle Boy launching off Quen’s back to connect with a leg lariat on Kassidy. Luchasaurus gets the tag and he lights up Private Party with strikes and a double lariat that turns both of them inside out. Kassidy gets dropped on the top turnbuckle, Jungle Boy tags in and ends up on Lucha’s shoulders, Kassidy comes off the top and hits a YUGE CANADIAN DESTROYER for the 1…2…Luchasaurus breaks the count! Private Party send Luchasaurus to the floor, Quen follows up with a springboard SHOOTING STAR to the dinosaur. Hot damn. Private Party try Silly String, Jurassic Express counter with a wheelbarrow/cutter combo for the 1…2…Kassidy kicks out! Hardy climbs the apron, Stunt tries to attack and gets THROWN TO THE FLOOR with a sickening thud. Jungle Boy attacks, Kassidy pulls the tights and rolls him up for the 1…2…KICKOUT. Jungle Boy counters Gin & Juice with a tornado DDT and launches Quen into a big boot from Luchasaurus; Jurassic Express follow up with Thoracic Express for the 1…2..3!

Jurassic Express defeated Private Party via pinfall (10:11)

  • JON’S THOUGHTS: Look it’s going to be hard to care about anything other than CM Punk returning tonight, I’ll admit it. I dug this match though for the most part. I really like Jurassic Express’ finisher. (***)

Kenny Omega and Don Callis throw some shade at Christian Cage, Omega vowing to send Cage back into retirement at All Out.

Kiera Hogan and Jade Cargill have some pre-taped words for one another headed into tonight’s match. Cargill doesn’t usually play with her food, but tonight she feasts.

Kiera Hogan vs. Jade Cargill [w/ Smart Mark Sterling]

Cargill throws Hogan down and talks trash, Hogan responds with a series of strikes and a corner clothesline. Hogan gets the crowd clapping and runs…right into a big boot from Cargill. Whoops. Cargill picks Hogan up in a double chicken wing and turns it into a faceslam for the 1…2…3.

Jade Cargill defeated Kiera Hogan via pinfall (1:05)

  • JON’S THOUGHTS: Jade Cargill is a STAR. Great seeing Kiera Hogan get a shot in front of a big audience. (SQUASH)

Mark Henry interviews Jon Moxley and Daniel Garcia & 2point0 heading into the main event. 2point0 says Garcia will be giving Moxley a TASTE tonight, Moxley says he’s pissed off and says Garcia has a better chance of getting him pregnant than making him submit and goes OFF. Hell yeah.

Jon Moxley [w/ Eddie Kingston] vs. Daniel Garcia [w/ Matt Lee & Jeff Parker of 2point0]

Mox stomps a mudhole in Garcia right at the bell, following up with a snap back suplex that drops Garcia on his head. Mox tees off on Garcia with a pair of penalty kicks, Garcia dropkicks the left knee and goes to work on weakening the wheel. Garcia locks in a cool-looking Ankle Lock into a leglock, Mox counters into a cross armbreaker attempt but Garcia picks the ankle and hammers down forearms to break the grip. Mox ducks a clothesline and dumps Garcia on his head with a pair of release German suplexes, Garcia counters the third with an Ankle Lock grapevine, Mox makes it to the ropes despite 2point0 trying to pull the rope away. Mox absorbs forearms and drops Garcia to his knees with a series of headbutts followed by a suplex throw. Garcia counters the Paradigm Shift and locks in a Sharpshooter-like submission, pulling back, Mox counters with a Bulldog Choke and Garcia taps!

Jon Moxley defeated Daniel Garcia via submission (4:07)

  • JON’S THOUGHTS: Don’t let the match time fool you, Mox and Garcia had themselves a mini-banger here. Stiff as f*ck, Garcia got a lot of shine showing off his submission prowess. Apparently Garcia is only four years into his career but this dude carries himself as a grizzled vet. (***1/4)

2point0 and Garcia attack Mox and Kingston, Darby Allin and Sting come out to help Mox & Kingston. Mox drills Garcia with a Paradigm Shift, 2point0 get stacked in the corner for a STINGER SPLASH. Scorpion Death Drop on Parker, COFFIN DROP ON 2point0! Mox and company celebrate and the show concludes.

*****

FINAL THOUGHTS

This episode of Rampage will forever be remembered for CM Punk’s return, and it should be. What an iconic moment that gave me chills and made me feel all sorts of emotions I haven’t felt for pro wrestling in a long time. I still can’t believe it happened and that it’s going to continue to happen and he’s going to wrestle at All Out. Holy hot goddamn. Everyone else on the show had a mountain to climb after that whole thing but I think they pulled it off well, the tag team eliminator match was good, Cargill looked dominant as usual, and Mox/Garcia tore it up in only four minutes. Great episode of Rampage and with Punk’s debut AEW has made sure this show becomes a must watch every week.

  • FAVORITE MATCH: Jon Moxley vs. Daniel Garcia
  • FAVORITE MOMENT: CM Punk returns and is HAPPY. A happy CM Punk is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen.

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