AEW returns for the first of two nights of live programming from Miami, Florida, with Friday featuring both Rampage on TNT and a Buy In pre-show on YouTube.
The pre-show will see Bryan Danielson take on Minoru Suzuki for the first time since 2004 in New Japan Pro Wrestling. This will be Danielson's third singles outing in AEW and the second for the New Japan star who debuted with a loss to Jon Moxley last month.
The pre-show will also have Bobby Fish vs. Lee Moriarty and Tay Conti vs. Santana Garrett.
Rampage will be headlined by CM Punk vs. Matt Sydal, their first match since 2005 on the indies. Punk will look to run his AEW record to 4-0 while Sydal will be looking for his first singles win since July.
The rest of the show will see Ruby Soho take on The Bunny while Chris Jericho, TNT Champion Sammy Guevara and Jake Hager team up against Men of The Year (Ethan Page & Scorpio Sky) and the debuting former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos, flanked by Jorge Masvidal and Dan Lambert.
The Buy In.
Excalibur, Taz and Ricky Starks are on commentary.
Tay Conti (w/ Anna Jay) defeated Santana Garrett (4:50)
Kinda surprised they didn’t open with Danielson & Suzuki. This match won the first quarter-hour for NXT against AEW (seriously).
The crowd was behind Conti, who ducked a clothesline and took Garrett down to the mat headfirst. Conti missed a pump kick in the corner, but got it on the second try and Conti fired up. She followed up with a series of pump kicks in the corner, and Garrett stumbled out of the corner and into the DDT-Tay. Conti got the win.
- Recap of the Men of Year/American Top Team/Dan Lambert storyline. Lambert has excelled on the microphone since his debut, and plenty of clips of his great work are shown. Excalibur points out that the Men of the Year and American Top Team have gotten the physical advantage. This package did a great job building up the Rampage main event. Excalibur and Tony Schiavone also spent a lot of time building up Jorge Masvidal, who will be in the American Top Team corner tonight. I think that might be foreshadowing.
“The Infamous” Bobby Fish defeated Lee Moriarty (7:54)
Fish got his first win in AEW over Moriarty, who looked very impressive despite the loss.
Big chant for Bobby at the start of the match. Moriarty and Fish exchanged angle locks early. Moriarty switched up to an armlock, and Fish fought out of that with fists and backed Moriarty in the corner for an elbow. Moriarty continued to tenaciously work over Fish’s arm. Fish finally powered Moriarty into the corner and hit a sliding lariat. Dueling “Let’s go Bobby!/Let’s go Lee!” chants from the crowd. Fish hit a slingshot senton for a near fall, then followed up with a snap suplex for another near fall.
Fish buried a knee in Moriarty’s gut and then locked in a keylock. Moriarty battled out of the move and caught Fish with a clothesline, then went back to attacking the arm. Moriarty hit a flying back elbow, a gamingiri and then a sliding dropkick on Fish for a near fall. Fish came back with a round kick and a backdrop suplex for a near fall. Fish went for go behind, but Moriarity attacked the arm again and did a backdrop suplex of his own. Fish hit a running knee strike, then gave Moriarty an exploder suplex into the ropes before taking him out with a round kick to the head for the win. This turned into quite the match.
- A video package hyped the Buy In main event between Bryan Danielson and Minoru Suzuki.
Bryan Danielson defeated Minoru Suzuki (19:14)
Danielson and Suzuki delivered a classic match.
With over 30 minutes remaining in the broadcast, the crowd and TV audience got the full "Kaze Ni Nare" expreience. The match was announced with a 30 minute time limit. The crowd was hugely behind Danielson and greeted him with very loud "Yes!" chants. The bell rang and the crowd chanted "AEW!"
Danielson worked an arm lock on Suzuki while the crowd chanted “This is wrestling!” Suzuki quickly transitioned out of that into an abdominal stretch, then transitioned into a chinlock. Danielson countered and went for a knee bar, but Suzuki got to the ropes. Both men got to their feet and Suzuki taunted the fans a bit.
Danielson got an ankle pick and went for the dragon screw legwhip, but Suzuki escaped. Danielson gave Suzuki a hard kick, and Suzuki was not impressed. So Danielson unloaded with a forearm that sent Suzuki back into the ropes. Suzuki came back with a hard chop. Suzuki taunted Danielson, who unloaded on Suzuki with a round kick. Suzuki responded with another chop. Danielson came back with another front kick. Finally, Suzuki absolutely flattened Danielson with a forearm that knocked Danielson to the mat and elicited a “Holy Sh!t” chant from the crowd.
Danielson got up and nailed Suzuki with a series of kicks, then rained down on him with elbows and forearms. Suzuki got into the ropes and caught Danielson with the juji gatame in the ropes, then took Danielson and the fight to the floor.
Back in the ring, Suzuki worked over Danielson while the crowd engaged in “Let’s go Bryan!/Su-ZU-KI!” chants. Suzuki did nasty things to Danielson’s arm on the way to locking in a hammerlock, which Danielson broke by getting to the ropes. Danielson tried to escape to the floor, but Suzuki followed. Suzuki tried to whip Danielson into the post, but Danielson countered and sent Suzuki into the post headfirst. Danielson followed up with a running knee strike off the apron to the floor.
Back in the ring, Danielson unloaded onto Suzuki with front kicks. Danielson grabbed Suzuki by the arms and stomped Suzuki. Then Danielson locked in the Cattle Mutilation and rolled into a pinning combination for a near fall. Danielson backed Suzuki in the corner and hit chops and kicks in the corner, then followed up with a running dropkick in the corner. Suzuki countered with a kick in the corner of his own, then hit the place kick… but Danielson popped right up! Suzuki went for it a second time, and Danielson got up again. The third time was enough to keep Danielson down for a two count.
Suzuki allowed Danielson to recover, and Danielson won another battle of strikes. Suzuki countered and locked in a Fujiarwa arm bar, but Danielson got to the ropes. Suzuki allowed the ref to distract him, and this allowed Danielson to go for the LeBelle Lock, then into a pinning combination, but Suzuki got his feet on the ropes. Justin Roberts made the 15 minute time call.
Both men got back to their feet while the crowd chanted “Fight Forever!” and I’m totally on board.
Suzuki and Danielson went back to exchanging forearms. Suzuki put his hands behind his back and gave Danielson a free shot, and Danielson was more than happy to oblige. After Danileson jarred Suzuki with a particularly nasty forearm, Suzuki responded in kind and both guys went back to exchanging forearms, and a double slap knocked both guys down.
“If you aren’t watching this on YouTube, you’re dumber than a box of rocks!" exclaimed Taz.
Suzuki and Daneilson kept exchanging forearms while the crowd chanting “Si!” for Danielson and “No!” for Suzuki. Suzuki locked on the sleeper, but Danileson escaped. Suzuki went for the piledriver, but Danielson backdropped Suzuki, ran the ropes and caught Suzuki with a flying knee. Danielson got the pin.
- With five miinutes to go, a recap of CM Punk's AEW debut and a package on the Matt Sydal/CM Punk match. Sydal and Punk both got their first big breaks in the midwest, and Sydal was coming into the business just as Punk was becoming the first big midwestern independent star.
Sydal is making his entrance as the Buy In ends and Rampage begins!
CM Punk defeated Matt Sydal (14:44)
The match aired with no commercial breaks and it was awesome.
Of course, the crowd was hugely behind Punk. They started with a handshake and show of respect before the lock up. Punk is 4-0 against Sydal in previous meetings, the last in 2010.
The commentators pointed out that Sydal’s plan might be to try and blow up Punk. Sydal got Punk in a bow and arrow, but Punk escaped and slammed Sydal. Punk tried to slam Sydal again, but Sydal slid out and hiptossed Punk and caught him with a kick.
Sydal got Punk in a chinlock, then turned that into almost a stump puller that he rolled into a pinning combination for a near fall. Sydal followed with a series of kicks to Punk’s leg, and worked on Punk’s knee. Sydal went for the lightning spiral early, but Punk slid out and hit a dropkick for a near fall. Punk followed up with a leg lariat and went for a hangman’s neckbreaker, but Sydal rolled through and caught a kick. Sydal followed up with a sliding knee strike in the corner.
Punk went to the apron and Sydal went after him, but Punk caught Sydal and slammed him on the apron. Ouch. Back in the ring, Punk hit a slingshot senton for a near fall. Punk hug Sydal in the tree of woe and went for a sliding dropkick, but Sydal pulled himself up. Punk and Sydal battled to the top rope, and both guys knocked each other to the floor.
Both guys got back in the ring before the ten count and exchanged strikes. Punk tried for a suplex, but Sydal countered with a knee strike and got a nearfall. Sydal went for the lightning spiral, but Punk countered with a hangman’s neckbreaker. Punk followed up with a knee strike in the corner and a short arm clothesline for a near fall. Punk went to the middle rope, but Sydal caught him with a jumping rana for a near fall.
Sydal locked on a ankle lock and then transitioned into a straight jacket. Punk countered into the Anaconda Vice, but Sydal got to the ropes. Punk went for the Pepsi Twist, which Sydal escaped. Sydal blasted Punk with a roundhouse kick and hit the lightning spiral (which the commentary team had been putting over all night as a match ender), but it only got two.
Sydal went to the top, but Punk got to his feet and avoided Sydal’s attack. Sydal went for a crucifix, but Punk countered the move with the GTS. Punk got the pin.
Punk didn't look like he's lost a step to me.
- John Silver challenged the Super Kliq on behalf of the Dark Order. "Those sons of a gun!" "Uh, that's the Gunn Club."
Ruby Soho defeated Bunny (9:45 w/ break)
Following Bryan/Suzuki and Punk/Sydal, this match pretty much died with the live crowd.
Bunny drop kicked Soho while her necked was wedged against the turnbuckle. Bunny then yanked Soho off the ropes and Soho smacked her neck against the turnbuckles. Neither of those bumps looked fun to take. After a commercial break, Soho made a comeback. Bunny caught Soho with a german suplex off the middle ropes for a near fall. Bunny went for her finish, but Soho countered into a backslide and got the pin.
After the match, Penelope Ford attacked Soho. Ford and Bunny double teamed Soho and Ford knocked her out with the brass knuckles.
- Rundown of Upcoming Shows: In addition to what has been previously announced for Dynamite tomorrow night, Kiera Hoga is taking on Penelope Ford and Jon Moxley is taking on Wheeler Yuta. On Rampage next week, the TBS title tournament brackets will be announced, there will be a first round match for the World Title Eliminator Tournament and Pac takes on Andrade El Idolo.
Mark Henry moderated a face-to-face segment with American Top Team and the Inner Circle.
Jorge Masvidal & Men of the Year (w/ Dan Lambert & Jorge Masvidal) defeated Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara and Jake Hager (11:25)
The crowd was hot for this match.
Lambert immediately went heel on the crowd for singing “Judas” and demanded the crowd sing his team to the ring as well. Shockingly, they did not. Other members of the American Top Team were shown in the crowd.
Scorpio Sky brutalized Guevara with elbows to start, but Guevara came back with a spring kick off the ropes and a dropkick. Jericho got the tag and so did Dos Santos, who looked huge next to Jericho. Dos Santos brutalized Jericho with fists but looked kind of clumsy in his first exchange. Dos Santos looked more comfortable out there as the match went on. Hager got the tag and the advantage with a takedown. Dos Santos came back with a knee and got the tag to Scorpio.
Jericho got the tag and dropped to the floor to confront Lambert and Masvidal. The other members of Men of the Year attacked Jericho on the floor, and the show went to a picture-in-picture break with Jericho in trouble.
Back from break, Dos Santos power slammed Jericho for a near fall. A pretty good powerslam, too. Ethan Page missed a kick and Jericho caught him with an enziguri, then got the tag to Guevara. Guevara hit a double springboard cutter on Sky and a Spanish fly on Page. Jericho came back in and hit a springboard dropkcick on Page, a double axehandle on Sky and then the Lionsault for a near fall. Everything broke down with Hanger and Dos Santos fighting on the floor. Guevara and Page did some kind of crazy highspot that the cameras missed (I know because the crowd popped huge for whatever it was), while Hager put Dos Santos through a table on the floor with an uranage.
Back in the ring, Jericho went for the codebreaker, but Sky countered into a TKO attempt. Jericho countered that and got the Walls of Jericho. Paige VanZant left her seat and jumped on the apron to distract the ref. This allowed Masvidal to run in an hit a running knee on Jericho. Scorpio got the pin.
After the match, VanZant took selfies while all the members of American Top Team and Men of the Year beat down Jericho. Santana and Ortiz ran in to chase off the members of Lambert’s crew. The crowd chanted for the Inner Circle as the show closed.
This was such a great night of AEW action. Danielson/Suzuki is well worth seeking out, as is Punk/Sydal. The Inner Circle/American Top Team angle is definitely leading to some kind of mulitman match, if not a Jericho/Masvidal match. And Paige VanZant is a fantastic heel.