AEW will make their debut in Ontario, California, Friday for a live edition of Rampage, with a previously unexpected guest: AEW World Champion CM Punk.
Punk took to Twitter Friday to say he would be on the show with a an important announcement regarding the title and his career.
California kids The Young Bucks will take on old rivals the Lucha Brothers as they revive a feud that once culminated with Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix defeating the Bucks in a steel cage match for the AEW Tag Team titles at last September's All Out.
Athena, the former Ember Moon in WWE, will make her in-ring debut in her new home as she faces Kiera Hogan. Hogan is part of TBS Champion Jade Cargill's Baddies as Athena has Cargill in her sights.
The TNT title will be on the line as Scorpio Sky, another California native, will defend against Dante Martin.
For the first time in weeks, Rampage will air in its usual time slot of 10 PM Eastern on TNT.
We are LIVE from Ontario, California with Excalibur, Chris Jericho, and Taz on commentary, with special guest Adam Cole for the opener.
CM Punk holding up the AEW World title belt is the first shot and the last shot in the new Rampage opening titles.
The Young Bucks defeated The Lucha Bros (w/ Alex Abrahantes) (14:53)
The Lucha Bros are up 5-3 in the lifetime series against The Young Bucks.
Penta and Matt Jackson started out. The crowd was super-hot as the match opened. This is only the second time these two teams have wrestled with no championship on the line. Both Matt and Penta went for the Fear Factor and easily escaped. Penta kicked out of a sharpshooter attempt, and Matt escaped Penta’s arm breaker. Tags were made on both sides, bringing in the younger brothers Nick and Rey Fenix. Fenix tried to powerbomb Matt the floor, both guys wound up on the floor and then back in the ring where they each connected with hook kicks. After another standoff, the cowd chanted “AEW!”
The Bucks got the advantage when Matt attacked Fenix from behind. Fenix hit the diving kick through the ropes on Fenix on the floor, and Nick came over Matt with a twising bodypress onto Fenix. Penta came out of nowhere and hit both the Bucks with a tope con hilo. Fenix then came off the top with a torino on everyone on the floor. This match is insane.
Back in the ring, Matt got a sharpshooter on Fenix, but they were somehow got tied up in the ropes. Penta got Nick in an abdominal stretch also in the ropes. Nick took out Fenix with a punt, then hit Penta with a rana on the floor. Fenix caught Nick with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on the floor and caught Matt with a cutter. Both teams are going a million miles a minute and it's just fantastic.
Fenix came off the top with a splash but Matt caught him with his knees. Nick got the tag and the show went to a split-screen break.
During the match, Jericho and Excalibur addressed Punk's annoucement and some of the rumors concerning Punk and the title.
Back from the break, the Hardy Boys and the Jurassic Express were shown watching from the crowd. Matt hit the double Northern Lights suplex on the Lucha Bros. Nick hit an assisted senton atomico for a near fall. Fenix caught Matt with a rana and got Nick with a hook kick. The Lucha Bros took Nick out with a foot stomp DDT on the floor. They got Matt witha foot stomp DDT in the ring for two. Fenix hit a tope con hilo on Nick on the floor and Penta then hit Made in Japan on Matt. Fenix followed up with a frog splash on Matt for a two count.
Nick dropkicked Penta into a poisoned rana from Fenix, and then Matt came off the top with an elbow on Fenix for another near fall. Yes, Nick dropkicked Fenix into hitting a poisoned rana on his own partner. Fenix and Nick Jackson exchanged forearms, then Fenix and Penta caught Nick with a pair of kicks. Fenix hit a splash off of the top of Penta’s shoulders while Penta was standing on the middle rope. Penta hit a Canadian Destoryer on Matt (jumping over a pile of Fenix and Nick). Nick caught Fenix with a small package to countered a Black Fire Driver for a near fall. After Nick hit a poisoned rana on Fenix, The Bucks queued up the superkick party for the Lucha Bros. The Bucks hit Fenix with the Meltzer Driver for two. Shocked fan in the crowd! Penta made the save.
Penta taunted Matt after breaking up the cover, so Matt yanked off his mask to tremendous heel heat. Superkick Party for Penta, and the BTE Trigger on Fenix finally got Matt the pinfall.
This was easily the best Rampage match since Andrade/PAC.
Powerhouse Hobbs and “Absolute” Ricky Starks defeated two enhancement talents (0:47)
Hobbs and Starks crushed their unnamed opponents in 47 seconds. They cut an inset promo that last the entire match. Hobbs hit one of the enhancement guys with a high angle spinebuster and Starks hit the other with a speark. Hobbs got the pin. This was brisk.
Clips of CM Punk winning the AEW World Title from Double or Nothing were shown.
Athena defeated Kiera Hogan (w/ Stokley Hathaway, Jade Cargill & Red Velvet) (8:21)
Athena had a jacket with a wing gimmick that was pretty neat. Hogan countered a fireman’s carry with an armdrag, but Athena landed on her feet. Athena hit a springboard crossbody for a one count. Athena and Hogan messed up their timing on a running dive, but the commentators covered for it and Athena hit a short dive through the bottom ropes. Athena tried to taunt Cargill on the floor, but that was a mistake. Velvet sent Athena into the ring apron while Hogan distracted the ref. Hogan took control in the ring while the show went to a break.
Back from break, Athena hit an awesome shotgun dropkick. Athena went to the top for her finish, but Velvet distracted her and Hogan pulled her off the ropes. Velvet hit a hurricanrana and a sliding kick in the corner for a near fall. After a series of reversals, Athena nailed Velvet with a solid shot, but got crotched by Hogan when she went to the top rope. Athena shoved Hogan down to the mat and hit her top rope cutter (formerly The Eclipse, I believe) and got the pinfall.
Jade Cargill looked a little concerned after Athena’s win.
–House of Black promo. Julia Hart told us to celebrate. "Isn't this what you wanted."
– CM Punk promo. Punk walked to the ring and was clearly limping, but wasn’t walking on crutches or anything. But he didn't look happy at all. Punk doesn’t speak at first, and the crowd chants “CM Punk!” Punk was practically on the verge of tears. “Every bone in my body told me to go home and hug my wife and hug Larry.” Punk wanted to turn around and go home, but he felt like he owed everyone an explanation. Punk has good news and bad news. Punk said he didn’t want to let anyone down and he hoped that he hadn't done that. Punk stopped and the crowd chanted his name.
Punk told the crowd that he’s got a couple of things are broken and he’s going to need surgery. "A couple of things are broken, and one of them is my heart." He promised he was going to go until the wheels fell off, and “the wheels haven’t fallen off but one of them happens to be broken.” He wanted to wrestle right now, and while he's felt better, he’s definitely felt worse.
Punk then addressed the title. Punk doesn’t want to hold this place up. Punk told Tony Khan he’s not going to stand in anybody's way and was willing to relinquish the title so someone deserving like Jon Moxley or Bryan Danielson (mentioning them by name to cheers from the crowd) could be champion. But, Tony Khan said he believed in CM Punk, and is convinced that this is only a bump in the road. Punk said needed to hear that. “The get back is going to be bigger than the set back.” Punk promised to come back bigger, faster, stronger, and hungrier than ever before. When Punk comes back, he will prove why he is the best in the world.
This was a fantastic promo by Punk. But, this lead to confusion for the rest of the show over the AEW World Title. Jericho just as the show went to break said something about Punk having to vacate the title. But Punk was holding up the belt at the end of the promo and never said he vacated the title; it sounded like he wanted to but Tony Khan wouldn't allow him to vacate the belt.
– Chris Jericho clarified at the start of the next match that the AEW World Championship has been reliquinshed by CM Punk.
Scorpio Sky (w/ Dan Lambert & Ethan Page) defeated Dante Martin (w/ Matt Sydal) for the TNT Championship (8:10)
Between the Punk promo before the match and the announcements about the AEW World title situation during the match, the in-ring action was a total afterthough.
Martin hit a series of arm drags and worked on Scorpio with an armbar as the show went to break.
Back from break, Martin fought his way out of a chinlock. Martin sent Sky to the floor with a low dropkick, then followed out with a springboard crossbody from the top rope to the floor. Martin jumped from the floor to the bottom rope to the top turnbuckle and hit a top rope dropkick for a near fall. Martin hit a TKO for a near fall.
At this point, Excalibur made a confusing announcement about the world title situation. On Dynamite there will be a battle royal to open the show. The winner of that Battle Royal will fight (new #1 Contender) Jon Moxley in the main event of Dynamite for a shot at the interim AEW World Championship at Forbidden Door. Now, because it will be for the "Interim AEW World Title," Excalibur clarified Punk is not vacating the AEW World title. Confused yet? Excalibur and Jericho were; it took them a few times before they finally laid out the scenario correctly.
Back to the main event. Martin hit a crossbody off the top for a near fall. Scorpio hit Martin with a hot shot, and then Scorpio got the TKO for the pin. And it might be a bad night to be a singles champion in AEW, because Scorpio Sky came up limping a bit after the pinfall.
Between MJF on Saturday and CM Punk tonight, this has been the most newsworthy week in AEW. The Young Bucks opener was a fantastic match. The Punk announcement was very newsworthy and very disappointing if you are a fan of Punk (which I am).
I think for sure they'll be some kind of Interin AEW World title match at Forbidden Door. My guess is Moxley v. Tanahashi simply becomes for the Interim Title.
The one big criticism here is after the Punk promo no one knew what was happening with the title. It almost would have been better to say nothing. At different points the viewers were told Punk was vacating the belt, keeping the belt, and interim champ would be crowd at Dynamite and at Forbidden Door. I was finally only able to get the story correct by pausing the screen to read the cyron for Dynamite next week.
That aside, this live Rampage felt like a A show tonight, and probably the most noteworthy Rampage since Punk's debut back in August.