AEW Rampage: Katsuyori Shibata makes in-ring debut


On this week’s AEW Dynamite, Orange Cassidy put his All-Atlantic Championship on the line against Rey Fenix and Luchasaurus. The winner of the match not only got the title, but a contract for their dream match.

Cassidy retained the title and then the most surprising music hit. It belonged to none other than “The Wrestler” himself, Katsuyori Shibata. Some had expected Minoru Suzuki because he is currently wrestling in the United States and because Cassidy was supposed to face him Joey Janela’s Spring Break 4. The pandemic put that dream match on hold. This is a dream match fans didn’t know they wanted until that very moment.

Shibata requested this match. He wanted to face two people in AEW: Cassidy and Bryan Danieslon (perhaps that match comes on January 4th, 2023; not in the Tokyo Dome, but in the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle). We’re very lucky to get any match with “The Wrestler” because it was feared that he would never wrestle again after he suffered a subdural hemorrhage in a match against Kazuchika Okada in 2017. His match against Cassidy was only his third match since that day, just one reason the match was must-see.

Another unexpected layer to this dream match on Rampage was the fact that Mike Tyson was on commentary (yes, you read that correctly). Tyson seemed knowledgeable about Shibata, although he was very openly rooting for a “freshly squeezed” victory.

Shibata vs. Cassidy lived up to the hype. The biggest complaint was that it didn’t go longer (no, Shibata was never going to win the title). Shibata wasn’t afraid to meet the champion at his own game with his patented lackadaisical kicks and hits. He’s also a powerful striker and let Cassidy have those too.

Cassidy won clean with the Orange Punch. In a truly surreal moment, Shibata offered Cassidy his hand and Cassidy placed his trademark sunglasses on Shibata and all was right in the wrestling world. These are the dream matches that we deserve.

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