The state of Illinois was home to one of the most significant moments in the young history of AEW. But the fun is only really just beginning.
Last week, former WWE Champion CM Punk made his highly-anticipated AEW debut at the the
Rampage special, The First Dance. The event was held at the United Center in CM Punk’s hometown of Chicago.
Fans won’t have to wait long to see CM Punk wrestle for the first time since the Royal Rumble 2014 event (Jan. 26). He is set to square off with Darby Allin at the All Out pay-per-view on Sept. 5 at the Now Arena in Hoffman Estates.
Several action-packed events will take place between now and Sept. 5. Next week’s All Out go-home episode of Dynamite will be held at the aforementioned Now Arena. The promotion will also hold an “All Out Fan Fest” at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center on Sept. 3 and 4.
Finally, the Now Arena will also host the final episode of Rampage before All Out next Friday.
All Out Preview
Needless to say, this is shaping up to be arguably the most monumental and story-filled week in AEW history.
CM Punk’s debut is newsworthy enough, but he’s only one of the marquee names on the All Out card. At this time, there are nine total matches on the card, including three championship matches.
The title matches will see Kenny Omega defend his AEW World Championship against Christian Cage, who defeated him for the Impact World title two weeks ago. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D will look to retain her Women’s World Championship against Kris Statlander.
The Young Bucks will face either Jurassic Express or the Lucha Brothers (the winner will be determined on this week’s episode of Rampage) in a steel cage match for the World Tag Team Championship.
Chris Jericho will put his AEW wrestling career on the line in a singles match against MJF. A 21-woman Casino Battle Royale will be held as well, with the winner receiving a future Women’s World Championship match. So far, Tay Conti, Julia Hart, The Bunny, Big Swole, Diamante, Penelope Ford, Red Velvet, Thunder Rosa and Nyla Rose have qualified.
The three singles non-title matches consist of Satoshi Kojima vs Jon Moxley, Paul Wight vs. QT Marshall and Pac vs Andrade El Idolo.
This is a stacked card that includes a mix of wrestling legends (Wight, Jericho, Kojima, Cage and Punk), up-and-coming stars and established veterans (Baker, Moxley, Young Bucks).
It’s also possible that CM Punk is only one of the few notable names to debut for AEW in Illinois.
More Surprises In Store?
From Jericho’s arrival to Sting’s debut at Winter Is Coming, AEW hasn’t failed to deliver special surprises for its fans. And more just might be on the horizon.
Earlier this month, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that Ric Flair appears to be headed to AEW. The 16-time World Champion requested his release from WWE earlier this month, and the company granted it to him.
If Flair comes to AEW, this would give the company three of the legendary “Four Horsemen” members. They already employ Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.
It is also expected that Bryan Danielson, formerly known as Daniel Bryan in WWE, will soon become #AllElite. CM Punk dropped a tease on his Instagram story earlier this week.
For what it’s worth, FanDuel has listed CM Punk as the favorite for Danielson’s first AEW opponent at +175.
As we saw with CM Punk, AEW simply wouldn’t make all these teases if it was all for naught. Bryan’s WWE contract expired several months ago, and the fact the two sides haven’t reached an agreement on a new deal by this time says enough.
All Out would be an opportune time to bring in both Flair and Danielson. If one or both of them don’t show up on Sept. 5, one has to think that their respective arrivals aren’t far off.
Needless to say, AEW is certainly growing as a competitor to the WWE. With Punk and likely more big names soon to arrive, the competition between the two promotions is starting to really take off.