SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
C.M. Punk/Daniel Garcia/2.0 Promo: MISS
First off, props to AEW for including a pre-match interview for the match involving marquee talent. The formula for Rampage seems to be “open with top talent, conclude with the culmination of an undercard feud.” In this case, the opening match also needs some hype.
That being said, despite a couple of witty lines from Punk, this promo did nothing to excite me for the upcoming match. You could plug in literally generic heel into Daniel Garcia’s position and they probably would have said the same thing. In Punk’s video promo on Rampage last week, he said “I would rather take too big a bite and choke to death on greatness than starve on mediocrity.” How does Daniel Garcia fit that bill? A man who has largely wrestled on shoulder programming, not even been properly introduced to the television audience, and has lost more matches than he’s won in AEW. I don’t mind Punk re-gaining his ring skills by working with skilled youngsters, but if he’s going to do that, I’d prefer he didn’t prematurely raise my hopes up for a top-tier feud.
I managed to catch Smackdown earlier tonight, and watched it all the way through for the first time in nearly a year. I know more about who Madcap Moss is than Daniel Garcia. Daniel Garcia is an example of someone who is being shoved in my face with no context. He largely wrestles on Dark, and when he gets TV time he is put up against big names with a very “well, you should know who he is” tone. I haven’t seen a single video package on him or a promo explaining who he is and what he’s all about. This isn’t apparent in his non-verbal expressions either.
C.M. Punk vs. Daniel Garcia: HIT
This was a good television match. Daniel Garcia is solid wrestler and if I just knew who he was I’d be less perturbed with his appearances in marquee matches.
Lio Rush/Dante Martin/Matt Sydal Interview: MISS
I feel like I’ve missed a few chapters of how Lio Rush got close enough to these two that they’d allow him to put his arms around them. Matt Sydal vs. C.M. Punk on Rampage next week should be good, but I really want to see Punk in a rivalry instead of exhibition matches.
Lucha Bros vs. The Acclaimed: HIT
As usual with these “number 1 contenders,” if you don’t watch shoulder programming, they tend to just sneak up on you and you suddenly have to care for them. Then, they disappear back to Dark.
I used to look forward to an Acclaimed entrance but now I just feel complete apathy for this tag team. Max Caster comes across very petulant, just trying to get a rise out of people for its own sake. I’m not emotionally invested in this duo at all.
The match itself was a bit of an entertaining squash. Considering how much TV time the Acclaimed have received, this was probably exactly what it needed to be.
TBS Championship Video Promo: HIT
Very short, but I appreciate them keeping this title on people’s minds. If most of the matches are going to take place on shoulder programming, please show us some highlights on TV.
Jade Cargill vs. Skye Blue w/ Thunder Rosa run-in: REGULATION SQUASH
On Rampage, we either get a decent women’s match in the middle of the show marred by a lengthy commercial break, or a quick squash. It’s disappointing, but it is what it is. At this point, I’m content with the latter.
Good to see Thunder Rosa get some TV time as well. Working a program with Rosa should help Cargill improve.
Main Event Promo: MISS
This feud has dragged on for so long that I had forgotten what it was even about. Starks was awful in promoting this fight last week on Rampage, and his performance on Dynamite two nights ago was just average. This promo, too, was just ordinary.
Ricky Starks vs. Brian Cage for the FTW Championship in a Philadelphia Street Fight: MISS
Entertaining brawl, but nothing special. I wasn’t emotionally invested in the outcome at all. There was a time when I was somewhat invested in this feud, but not anymore. The interplay between Taz and Jericho on commentary kept me more entertained than the wrestlers themselves. I’m just happy this feud is finally over.
Jericho was tolerable (actually, kind of good), Taz stayed true to character, and Excalibur is always serviceable. This is a formula for a fine commentary performance.
Overall show: MINOR MISS
This was a mildly entertaining show, but quite skippable. There was just too much talent I either don’t know or don’t care enough about featured on this program.