The ratings are in for this past week’s AEW Rampage, and it looks like CM Punk’s arrival in All Elite Wrestling was a massive draw for the young promotion. According to Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics, the one-hour episode brought in a viewership of 1.129 million and a 0.53 rating. That’s the highest rating in the target demographic for any AEW show aside from AEW Dynamite’s premiere back in October 2019. It also puts AEW’s second show in the same league as last week’s Monday Night Raw (0.55) and the episode of Friday Night SmackDown that aired right before it (0.57).
The show’s first quarter-hour, which encompassed Punk’s arrival and first promo as a member of the AEW roster, had a 0.65 rating and was watched by 1.341 million people.
AEW Rampage on TNT Friday was watched by 1,129,000 viewers total.
P18-49: 692,000 (0.53), higher than all but the debut episode of Dynamite in 2019.
WWE Smackdown on Fox Friday was watched by 2,102,000 viewers total.
P18-49: 738,000 (0.57)
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— Brandon Thurston (@BrandonThurston) August 23, 2021
During his promo, Punk announced his first AEW match would be against Darby Allin at the All Out pay-per-view on Sept. 5. He also addressed his seven-year absence from the pro wrestling business.
“The most important thing I’m going to say, this is for everybody at home, this is for everybody who bought a ticket, this is for everybody in the back,” Punk told the crowd at the United Center. “If at all through my journey my personal choices or decisions related to my life made you feel disappointed or let down, let me just say I understand. If you all try to understand that I was never going to get healthy physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally staying in the same place that got me sick in the first place.”
“I cried because I knew I leaving a place that I love, and it was a home, and I knew where I was going,” he later added, reflecting on his emotional departure from Ring of Honor in 2005. “It wasn’t going to be easy for a guy like me,” Punk said. “Because I’m one of you. So I look at it like this. August 13th, 2005, I left professional wrestling. August 20, 2021, I’m back.”
The former WWE Champion then took part in a post-show media conference call with Tony Khan and explained what drew him to finally sign with AEW. He said, “I’ll go ahead and spoil that, I’ve been talking to Tony for probably a year and a half. Some girls are easier to get into bed, I am not. I need to be wined and dined. And that’s not, ‘oh I need more money and less dates.’ It was literally just talking to Tony, getting to know him. The more people that he employed that I knew, I’d ask questions, they’d tell me things. I’ve been in the game for a few minutes, so I’ve (promoters before). I’ve seen, I think I’ve tracked it since the downfall of ECW, every six months to a year somebody pops up (saying), ‘I have money, we’re going to have TV, we’re going to use all the ECW guys.’ This is not a slight on Tony at all, it’s more of a slight on me being a paranoid, neurotic, anxiety-ridden, very careful person.
“And I wasn’t in a hurry. The pandemic kind of helped me out. I knew I couldn’t debut if there was no people in the building. I always say timing is everything, and there were a lot of happy accidents along the way that made this possible,” he added.