(So this is a little late. Going forward, I’m hoping to do these the day after the show. Some of you may struggle to believe I still have unexpressed thoughts after the reviews, yet it’s true).
FTR vs Bullet Club Gold
There’s nowhere else to start. This was – easily – my favourite match of 2023.
It had more back-and-forth than Omega/Ospreay I – which was basically Omega beating the crap out of Will for forty minutes. None of the Callis-related plot holes of Omega/Ospreay II. And unlike Danielson/MJF, the winner here was in doubt.
The falls were well-spaced, perfectly built to and perfectly executed. And if the crowd were a mid-life crisis on a bender, the match was a hot blonde. Batting her eyelashes via Bret spots.
In the past two shows, these four have established:
- Jay & Juice as a force to be reckoned with
- FTR as legit champs
- The tag titles as something to chase & fight for
- Collision as the place to see tag wrestling
Without even saying a word.
And there’s still Aussie Open to come. Punk’s masterplan to force the Bucks into demanding a move to Saturday Night is taking shape (joke!).
About fifteen minutes into the above, Juice Robinson kicked out of a pin at one. The rare early kickout leaving Ian Riccaboni wondering if Juice was panicking and didn’t trust himself to rest an extra second before doing so. Nigel McGuinness disagreed: it surely showed Robinson had plenty in the tank.
An authentic, realistic discussion of big match strategy between two commentators taking opposing sides. A long, long way from inside jokes and attempts to make one-another giggle.
Nor do they assume the viewer watches every second of everything AEW puts out.
And in McGuinness’ case, he’s reviving the art of the heel commentator who so blatantly roots for the villains that even he no longer knows when he’s being genuine. He frames everything from their perspective, to such a ridiculous degree you can’t help but root against them and him.
And is an entertaining character in his own right, without – crucially – taking attention away from the acts themselves. Quite the contrary.
Whether these two or Kevin Kelly, Collision’s commentary is lapping Dynamite.
The HOB squash aside, every other match on the show could’ve gone either way.
As a viewer, if the outcome can’t be predicted, then I need to stay and watch. Pretty simple.
Promos at the top
The second the show starts, these set the tone. They aren’t rushing to guys already in the ring, or trying to squeeze three segments into one to bombard the audience into sticking around.
Collision’s vibe is Here’s what we have to offer, we think you’ll like it.
A far cry from Dynamite’s Please don’t change the channel, please don’t change the channel, please don’t change the channel…
Lack of forward planning
This is the only real critique here. It just reveals itself in a variety of ways.
Foremostly in the total lack of anything advertised for the next show.
That just cannot happen. And has done so twice since Collision started. Suggesting AEW are booking on the run. Aided by a bunch of tournament matches which basically book themselves while eating up a lot of show time.
As if the six hours of tv demands filling by any means and we’ll worry about next Saturday next Thursday.
More storyline hooks are needed – along the lines of Sting & Darby’s reveal on the second episode. Want to know who their partner is? You’ll have to tune in.
Andrade vs House of Black
Give me back my mask! No! Seriously give it back! No!
I’m waiting for someone to go tell the teacher.
Unless viewers are hugely invested in whether El Idolo does recover his property – and since there’s no backstory, we’ve been given no reason to be – the only thing fans are tuning in for is the match itself whenever it occurs.
There’s no reason to join in along the way. Consider the Punk/MJF build last year – you couldn’t simply tune-in for the match and get as much out of it as someone who watched every week.
This should’ve been laid out in a way to explain the mask’s significance long before the feud began.
Miro & Scorpio Sky
We’ll breeze past Sky since he was mentioned but not highlighted ahead of the show’s debut.
The former Bulgarian Brute on the other hand – was given a big return and reveal on Dynamite a couple months back. Portrayed along with Punk and a select few as a major reason to check-out the show.
A month in, say a fellow fan who didn’t watch asked what Miro was up to, the best answer’d be a shrugging ‘Iontknow’.
Can’t imagine that’d sway them to sit around their screen on a Saturday. Not in the same way as ‘Man, him and Joe are going to war! The first week Joe jumped him after a match, the next week they had this huge brawl and had to be separated, it was crazy’.
(For Joe insert Hobbs, Malakai, Brody or hell even Lance Archer. Big Bill’s not up to much. Let’s have a monster battle.)
It isn’t enough to just throw someone out there on tv. Not even close. Ask Wardlow.