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Stiva

AEW Rampage - 20th August 2021

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I am 3 minutes into the show right now, haven't checked this thread since yesterday evening, just started watching. Pro Wrestling Only and all that, but just wanted to share something. I missed this episode because I was saying bye (for now) to my friends here in New York. Covid sucks, my mom got it in India back in May, and even though she has recovered, she now has typhoid, because covid fucks your immunity. She says she feels okay, but family circumstances as they are mean I am now going back to India and taking care of her. My flight is tomorrow noon, everything is packed, I came back, and I am waiting and now I have nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. Thankfully, I can always watch wrestling to help me. This stupid sport of ours helps so much sometimes. And right now, as I said, I am watching Rampage. I haven't read the comments in this thread since last evening, so I don't know what the consensus is, but I just watched CM Punk's entrance, and for my money, it is the biggest pop I have ever heard. It is such a powerful moment, it is making me feel better. I can't think of an entrance quite like this. Rock in 2011, maybe, but this is feeling more emotional. Flair in 1998 is a good shout but imo this is better. HHH in 2002 can't come close. This is magical, and it helps. When pro wrestling really hits, like really REALLY hits, there is absolutely nothing like it. It is the most exhilarating experience, and it helps so much. I am so thankful for our goofy dumbass pasttime, and I am thankful to all of you for our shared community of love for this goofy dumbass pasttime. 

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Hey, man, best wishes to you and your mom, safe travels to you, and I hope she makes a speedy recovery.

Tonight was a magical night. I'm glad you're able to enjoy it and your mind off things for a bit.

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Thanks man, she is a fighter, she is, if anything, pissed that she isn't allowed to do her morning run anymore. 

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Also if our South American brothers haven't got a chance to see it, AEW has it on their Youtube page. 

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An amazing moment within an amazing moment was Punk on his knees on the ramp and you could see it looked like his love of wrestling was entering his body again. Like you could see the precise second when it happened. 

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I guess I'll be the guy and say this - I didn't feel it at all. 

I gave it a chance. Yes, the pop was huge, and hey, if Punk's happy, whatever. 

But, then again, I was never really a CM Punk guy. He was never some poor victim to me because he didn't get to main event Wrestlemania or he didn't get to be The Guy in the WWE, because he wasn't willing to do everything a guy like Cena was willing to do. Which yes, was probably better for his life, but just like if you're not willing to be part of The Machine to become an Avenger, if you're not willing to do all the crazy shit Cena was willing to do, you don't get to be The Guy, because the glad-handing with Kay Jeweler execs and random charity appearances is just as important as your promo or in-ring ability. This is why The Miz will have a job forever. 

Yes, the WWE fucked him over near the end, but that's the wrestling business. It's a scummy, dirty business filled w/ con men and Punk should know that better than anybody. I'm sure there are some Jaguar and Fulham players who feel about the Khan's, the same way Punk feels about Vince.

If people are happy about this, great, but then again, AEW has never really grabbed me at all, probably in part because thinking WWE is destroying wrestling and it needs to be saved has never been a distinct part of my personality like it seems to be a large part of the AEW audience, which isn't so true here, but out in the wider Internet, well. I've got zero interest in matches against Omega, Moxley, or Allyn that'll be overhyped by the Internet. 

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"That pissant company" Triple H. 2019.

"What goes around comes around" Julie Hart. 1997

I'm not gonna lie, I've been living my best life as a pro-wrestling fan in the last few months with all the crazy shit going on (which is why I'm trying to stay away from spoilers, as I'm not always in-synch). Jay White showing up in IMPACT ? Major mark out moment for me. Probably not "lived" pro-wrestling like this since, I dunno, 1997/98. This of course, was the cherry on the cake. Or the ice-cream.

The scene of course was awesome in itself. The ambivalent relationship with reality is a part of what fascinates me the most with pro-wrestling (and the hardest to explain to non-wrestling fan), and this was one of those "well, it *is* real" moment in the framework of an illusionary world. The emotion of everybody (Punk and the crowd) was so real. And of course I'm psyched about all the great moments to come. But even if the entire stint of Punk ended up disappointing after that point, it would be irrelevant because what almost matters as much is the symbolic charge of the moment.

For years, people have chanted "CM Punk" at shows including way past the point they actually thought he could come back, as it meant they were refusing the stuff they were forced-fed. Funny how corporate drone Roman Reigns was shitting on Punk the other day, guess who was never and never will be as over as John Cena nor the Rock well, the guy who had people *leaving the arena* during a Mania main event. And let's not talk about that pop tonight, that he never had and will never get either. But anyway. The CM Punk chant meant more than just "We want CM Punk", it also meant "We don't want this !". There's a reason for that : the utter contempt the company that tried to monopolize the business shows toward the people they are making money off of. I'm not even talking about their emplo  independent contractors, which they fire during their biggest gross profit (pun intended, Saudi here we come again, hoping for no lawsuit settlement this time), but the pro-wrestling fans, which they don't call pro-wrestling fans because it's embarrassing. Hell, they don't even use the word itself. Which is why Punk's promo was so perfect when he referred to his departure from ROH to his comeback today, it was more than a cute diss. WWE is self-hating what they are about. So they show contempt for their emplo independent contractors, which they systematically humiliate in their hometown for instance (which is such a bright idea when you're into the business of making stars, which is probably why they haven't made one since about 2005), and they of course despise their own audience which they have trolled and fought for *years* now, actively driving most of them away at this point. Because pro-wrestling fans are *idiots*, I mean, that's what Ronda Rousey said, that's even the fault of the fans when WWE fires people, ya know. Let's call them WWE Universe instead, because you have to stamp a brand name unto them to hide the fact they are, gasp, pro-wrestling fans. WWE is not into pro-wrestling, hell, they even killed the word. They are like Disney. They actually are like Starbucks, they want to kill every other coffee shop in the neighborhood to stamp their brand everywhere, but they really aren't selling coffee (and I mean, I pity anyone who goes to Starbuck to drink actual coffee).

And that's really the crux of CM Punk's promo and also the way AEW approached his debut. Instead of treating their fans like idiots, they banked on their fans intelligence, like they mostly usually do (yeah, they have made mistakes before like with the overhype of Christian Cage, but nobody and no promotion is gonna be perfect). The audience knew he was coming. They knew their audience knew. So they just did the smallest teases, banking on the intelligence of their audience. And when time came they did not fuck around and they just threw him out there to start the show and speak his mind, and the guy did the most striking promo, 10 years after he did one of the most memorable promos of the last 20 years. People chanted CM Punk for more than 7 years, and AEW delivered what the fans *wanted*. And this has been the case for most of the promotion's tenure thus far (again, there have been mistakes and misstep but guess what, of course there is and will be), which is why AEW is the best promotion I've watched in my 30 years of being a fan. Because it's so *satisfactory* as a pro-wrestling fan to watch a promotion that understands both the greatness of pro-wrestling but also the silly aspects of it, yet doesn't think they are above their audience and actually want to *reward* them for being pro-wrestling fans. Really, if you pay attention to everything they do including at the meta level, nobody understands pro-wrestling better *as a whole* than the Young Bucks & Kenny Omega, which is why they are some of the very best at it, ever. They understand the greatness of it, but they also know how silly and stupid it can be (and has been). Yes, they *are* geeks. Because they are pro-wrestling fans at heart. Pro-wrestling fans are never gonna be the cool crowd. Never. And why would they want to be, because what's cool is bound to become uncool eventually. It's never gonna be culturally relevant as something "serious" like movies or TV shows. We are geeks, much more than video game players or comics fans. And that's ok, because pro-wrestling can be the greatest thing in the world, as shown tonight. As shown by CM Punk's legit emotional reaction and happiness too, which was shared by the audience, an audience of simple pro-wrestling fans.

And wait until Bryan fucking Danielson shows up...

@MoS, sorry to hear that, I wish you and your family the best.

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Man, when wrestling is good, it's really great, huh? It's nice to just watch wrestling with a smile on my face again. Just feeling like it's FUN again. Who knew that just giving the fans what they want & letting moments speak for themselves could feel so refreshing. 

AEW have Sting, Chris Jericho & Jon Moxley. Despite C.M. Punk's return to WWE via the Fox talk show or his stint in UFC, him coming out on AEW tonight, he immediately felt like the biggest star in the company.

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I have barely watched AEW but tuned in last night and the pop for Punk’s entrance, the look on his face As he took it all in, and the dive into the crowd was so awesome and cathartic. I felt good for the guy, he seemed so happy and felt like he had finally gotten to the place physically and mentally where he wanted to be. There is a lot for any of us to overcome before we get there, so seeing that was gratifying. 

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I watched the video of Punk's entrance that AEW uploaded to its official YouTube channel this morning. In the recommended videos sidebar, I saw "Seth Rollins gets covered in the horrific darkness of a Broodbath" from last night's Smackdown. You couldn't ask for a more perfect encapsulation of the difference between the two companies.

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Rewatched the Punk return this morning and it's still magical as it was last night. To see people crying was something, this moment will forever be etched in my mind. 

Also MoS prayers to your mother.

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In an interview after The Force Awakens was released, director J.J Abrams explained the reasoning behind saving the reveal of Luke Skywalker till the end of the film. I forget the exact words but it was something about how, once the audience saw Luke, that would be all they wanted to see, that he would essentially overshadow any and every other character and story in the film. And Abrams was right. 

But its also a really great problem to have.

That's what AEW has now with CM Punk. His return last night was so electric - and his segment on Wednesday will probably be equally electric - that it does kind of mean that the segments that follow are going to comparatively less hot. 

Again, this is a great problem to have, it's just up to AEW putting the right pieces in place to build off of. In 98', Vince figured out how to do it when he built the entire show around Steve Austin and then used his magnetism to get other acts even more over. In 2013, though, Vince was unwilling to do this with Daniel Bryan, never really committing to making him the centerpiece at a time when he was undoubtedly the most over act in the company by a wide margin (and, if I'm not mistaken, Cena was on a hiatus post SummerSlam and Lesnar was also off-screen for a lengthy stretch).  

AEW has a huge opportunity here. I'm expecting that last night's rating is going to be a big, big number and Wednesday could also do really well. There are more eyeballs on and there's more buzz around the company than ever before. Here's hoping they knock it out of the park and the rest of the roster gets lifted by the high tide CM Punk caused last night.

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I would imagine it would at least get close. Even if you aren't on the internet and avoided all the teases and spoilers, flicking over and seeing CM Punk would probably pique your curiosity and make you watch.

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I love the spirit of AEW, and I love what AEW symbolizes: a rejection of a banal, corporate, and creativity bankrupt entity like WWE and it's souless, micro produced, crappy version of pro wrestling. I dont even really watch wrestling anymore, beyond occasional get togethers on Zoom to watch old stuff with friends, so as far as caring about anything, I kinda just live for seeing WWE's vision of wrestling fail and be challenged. I'm totally petty. Of course Vince and WWE will ride off into the sunset with billions of dollars and a cash in to NBC or Fox or Disney or whoever and nothing AEW does will really affect them in any way. But at least pro wrestling will live on and thrive independent of the Stamford machine, which wasn't always a given in the last 20 years or so

Stay strong @MoS

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It was real nice to see such a positive reaction for anything from a group of people that size. It was weird to see Punk showing emotions beyond smarmy or misery. I don't really have much interest in Punk doing anything but I'm interested to see if he can keep up or if he'll have anything fresh and new to bring to the table. 

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Meltzer rather casually dropped a scoop on WOR that Bray Wyatt to AEW is not 100% done but may as well be. He compared it to when he first reported on Aleister Black going, weeks before it actually happened.

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7 hours ago, strobogo said:

It was real nice to see such a positive reaction for anything from a group of people that size. It was weird to see Punk showing emotions beyond smarmy or misery. I don't really have much interest in Punk doing anything but I'm interested to see if he can keep up or if he'll have anything fresh and new to bring to the table. 

Its a good point really, the only time he's ever been interesting as a character is when he's been downtrodden and moaning 

Never really thought about it that way

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The thing about Bray is for better or worse the Fiend is the only reason people care, and there's a question if being Legally Distinct Fiend in either AEW (or anywhere else) will be acceptable. 

I'm sure somewhere Bryan was like "FFS, really? I thought I was free of that guy".

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2 hours ago, sek69 said:

The thing about Bray is for better or worse the Fiend is the only reason people care, and there's a question if being Legally Distinct Fiend in either AEW (or anywhere else) will be acceptable. 

100% disagree. Could not disagree any more. Bray Wyatt as the backwoods swamp redneck cult leader, like a bad guy out of True Detective, was infinitely more entertaining - and had a helluva lot more potential - than his fucking Rob Zombie clown gimmick. 

If Windham comes in as the cult leader again & tries to corrupt some people in AEW, ala Raven or the like, I think that might have legs. An unbeatable movie monster doesn't really work in pro-wrestling because... well, you have to sell & lose... Plus Wyatt/Windham's strong suit seems to be his promos.

They have to be careful though because they already have multiple occult type gimmicks going on. Not just Malachai Black or even the Dark Order but occasionally someone like Abadon too. 

Not to go too far down the fantasy booking pipe, but I'd give Luchasaurus to Windham & change his name/gimmick/mask & have him turn on Jungle Boy. Jungle Boy is going on to bigger things & it would get Luchasaurus out of the way, get rid of that awful gimmick, plus give Windham a monster. One that's better than Erik Rowan.

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@Jesse Ewiak I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt empty with the CM Punk AEW debut. If anything, I think Punk’s AEW may have buried a part of my fandom on Friday for the worst.
 

Copy/paste from what I wrote in DVDVR:

I understand Punk wanting to wait for AEW to be viable before joining them. But him joining now seems too little too late for me to be excited about. Had he put his money where his mouth was two years ago, the vision of what and how AEW presents wrestling might be different than what it is today. If Punk had signed up as an EVP in 2019, he could have really bridged the gap between people that were sick of Bullet Club/Elite antics then and the current AEW diehards. While The Bucks, Omega, and Cody aren’t my cup of tea, I can respect that they jumped out on their own and done what they have done up to this point. 

We’ve seen two years of the vision Tony Khan has for wrestling and the influence his current EVP team has had in that vision. I can be honest in saying I don’t like it, even though there’s tons of guys and gals I really like(d) outside the AEW Universe.

I know I will be the lone man on this island but I’ve always been an outlier anyway. Punk showing up in AEW last night made me feel empty. I was not overwhelmed with joy and happiness or tears (even if in some ways it was the worst kept secret in wrestling). Punk just showed up. Arguably the worst kept secret in wrestling. Punk then cut a 20 minute RAW opening segment promo while the United Center chanted CM Punk. Everyone else ate it up while I felt empty and hollow. Maybe modern wrestling just isn’t for me anymore, be it from Orlando or Jacksonville. It almost felt like Punk’s endorsement of AEW made me less likely to want to check them out. In a weird way, I felt like Punk was burying my fandom of wrestling on Friday night, or what is masquerading as wrestling today.

It’s a real shitty feeling for me since I have been watching for over 30 years. I grew up on WWF Superstars in English and Spanish, WCW Worlwide/Pro, LPWA. I would even watch WOW Women of Wrestling in high school. I’ve gone to local indies whenever possible, ROH shows, etc. I lurked on message boards like here for years, read 411mania and Larry Csonka’s reviews. I subscribed to the Wrestling Observer newsletter at one point and gobble an unhealthy amount of wrestling podcasts.

Mind you, CM Punk’s run in 2011 was amazing and it was because of him that I went to my first WWE PPV: MITB 2011. That was an amazing night that I will never forget as long as I live. But that momentum just withered on the vine and pro wrestling is where it is as a result. Things happened, and Punk left WWE. Part of me doesn’t want to go through that disappointment again if the Punk pop turns out to be less than a fad and AEW can’t take advantage of it. 

But modern wrestling today just makes me feel empty. 2011 me went crazy for CM Punk. 2019 me probably would have gone crazy as well. 2021 me, not so much. And I don’t know why that is. 

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Wyatt as AEWs Raven makes some amount of sense when you consider Tony Khan is a huge ECW fan. I guess The Dark Order was originally supposed to be a collection of oddballs and outcasts until they morphed into the “Friendship is Power” collective. Wyatt as Raven also makes sense when you consider they both love cutting rambling, nonsensical promos

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To be honest, I'm not sure Bray Wyatt the cult leader was actually better than the Fiend. His matches were just as bad unless he was being hidden in Wyatt Family six-mans, and his promos were even worse. Nothing but interminable incoherent rambling. He does have value as a merch mover, and Windham Rotunda obviously has a lot of unique and off-the-wall ideas. The question remains whether they can be channeled in the service of compelling wrestling matches and storylines. We do have the Matt Hardy precedent. The Broken Matt stuff went over like a lead balloon in AEW, so they retooled him and made him a far more effective act.

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