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Collision TV report for 07/08/2023

AEW Collision tonight comes to us from the Brandt Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan.  After last week drawing 452,000 & 0.13 in the 18-49 demo.  That demo’s bad btw.

*****

Starks, Hobbs, Joe, Punk promos.  Joe promised tonight will be no different to the past; Punk that he learns from his mistakes so history will change tonight, hinting that he was heading out to the ring.

Which indeed he did after the intro song, though sans his own theme.  Seemed like a positive reaction from a small-sounding crowd.

Punk said there was history that needed detailing.  Appealing to the locals as he did – ‘Stampede country’.

‘This is the biggest match of my career’.  And feels like the tournament final, but that would be looking past Hobbs or Starks and he isn’t doing that.

Tonight ‘history will be made’, a match eighteen years in the making.  Joe has cost him teeth, given him scars.  But there’s one name he wants to hear chanted tonight and that’s Owen Hart.

Cue chant.  Briefly.

If it wasn’t for Owen, Punk and others might not be here tonight.  So you can put all of the remaining tournament competitors on a pedestal but Owen stands above them all.  Punk’s ‘not superstitious’ so touched the trophy, promising to ‘earn it’.

And to ‘pour his heart out’ and ‘leave everything’ in the ring, for fans there, for us watching on tv, and for Owen.

Not his best work.  Seemed like they wanted a reason to get Punk out there early to try to grab an audience.  Didn’t say anything that hadn’t already been said.  Small crowd didn’t help.

On the flipside, it’s rare they actually do any sort of angle, promo or anything pushing the show’s main event.  Better this than nothing.

*****

Right to the video package they played Wednesday pushing the match too.  They’re going hard on this one, interesting to see how it does.

Will Hobbs vs Ricky Starks (Owen Hart Cup)

Backstory: Friends turned enemies; winner faces Punk or Joe in the final

Hobbs came out pre-break in Hart Foundation colors.  They replayed footage of him helping Starks defeat Brian Cage for the FTW title back in the day while Ricky made his entrance.

Chants of ‘Ricky’ as he was easily overpowered by Hobbs: shoved down into the ropes then the corner.  Big forearm from Will – the QTV crew all out there (yay!) – ‘let’s go Ricky!’ chants as Starks ducked a wild swing before sending Hobbs out through the ropes.

QT calmed Hobbs, who re-entered to smash Starks via shoulder block.  The big man then distracted Aubrey, QT taking cheap shots with Starks down in the corner.  Back to his feet, Ricky rallied briefly until being smashed through once more by Big Will.

Suplex ready, delayed, executed: Hobbs continuing to dominate.  Starks struggling in the corner, coming out with a weak shot before being pounded back there.  Then whipped hard to the buckle, crumpling to the mat holding his back.

Break.  Solid action so far.  Crowd into Starks.

Starks drooping, stuck mid-ring in a bearhug/waistlock, throwing bows, finally free, big open hands to Hobbs, a flurry, the crowd with him; knee to the breadbasket cut him off.  Until rebounding off the ropes, a lariat rocking Hobbs, a leaping one taking him down, though not for long as he forced Starks to the corner.

Shoulders to the gut, clubbing forearms across the upper chest, Ricky wilting once more.  Until being hauled up top on Hobbs’ shoulders, slipping free, Hobbs still up there, big powerbomb off the top.

Finally someone actually tried to win the match.  Didn’t go well: Hobbs launching Starks off at the count of one.  Starks to the apron, springboard missed, boot to the face, messy tornado ddt only just about saved by Hobbs’ strength.

QT tripped Starks, Hobbs hit the Spinebuster; Aubrey was occupied admonishing QT on the apron.  Hobbs argued with both and stood there for ages, got shoved into Marshall, Starks hit a Spear.

Big pop for the win.

Kevin Kelly’s so good.  Actually tried to explain that Aubrey refused to turn around and count since she suspected QT’s interference.

Starks left up the ramp, Hobbs had his back to QT who was desperately trying to prevent the inevitable ass whuppin.  Until finally being shoved on his ass, Marshall begging off, for ages, not sure if Aaron Solo was late but either way he ate a Spinebuster as he entered.

Marshall continued to beg, Cameron threw herself between Powerhouse and QT, begging for mercy.  The chivalrous Hobbs obliged, storming up the ramp.  I give QT a lot of crap, his facials and holding his heart like he’d just escaped death itself were very good.  More selling like this please.

The match itself was okay at best.  Outside interference is becoming worse than ever.  For a company who emphasize in-ring and sure love their tournaments, can anyone remember the last good one?

Winner: Ricky Starks

Miro promo.  Many make and break deals with the devil; he’s overcome breaking a deal with his god.  He has ‘nothing left to love’, ‘I cannot be tempted from my path, not by a shiny belt, a false god or a double-jointed hot wife, I must walk the righteous path’.

‘I sense a big battle is coming, and it’s the one we’ve all been waiting for’.

He finished by looking to the heavens.

Anyone know who he means?  I sure don’t.  Maybe a new religious character?  His comment re: belts means it’s not a current champion.  Would love to believe a big feud is coming; until proven otherwise, I’m taking this as more generic filler to get him on tv.

*****

Willow Nightingale backstage with Tony.  She’s injured and can’t compete tonight.  Athena rolled-up, angry at having her Collision debut spoiled, questioning the legitimacy of the injury.

Schiavone insisted it was real.

Athena carried on: Nightingale was running scared since she beat her last time they met and she’d also lost the New Japan belt to Stardom’s Giulia (who they named).  Willow said she still wants the match, it’ll happen at Rampage instead.  She plans on winning that, then the entire tournament, then Athena’s ROH title.

‘You’ve never beaten me, and there’s no chance you’re doing it Friday’ replied Athena, questioning whether Nightingale would even be cleared in time.  Before leaving.

Schiavone solemnly wished Willow luck.

A clear heel, a clear babyface, a debate over who’s better, all based around a world championship.  Nice.  I actually want to see this match.  Certainly more effective than having them hit the gym or get ice-cream together.

And this promo work from Athena was excellent.  She sounds natural, she sounds confident, she has presence.  Of all AEW’s females, only Britt Baker has ever performed on the mic at this level.  Why isn’t this woman on tv?

Also, more of these tete-a-tetes ahead of tournament matches would be nice.  Inset promos are fine but this really built the match.

*****

Package pushing Blood & Guts.  There’ll be more on this Weds.

Julia Hart vs Bambi Hall

Backstory: None

The HOB are legitimately Collision-exclusive per Malakai’s request.  Presumably that means Julia too.  She brought Big Brody with her.  Kelly called her the ‘heavy favorite’.  An understatement given that we were only told Hall’s name by McGuinness, she was treated to neither graphic nor announcement.

Crowd silent as this got going.

Hall smashed her with a shoulder charge; Julia tripped her, Hall came back with a few blows until Hart slipped out of a tilt-a-whirl, chop block, Hartless, tap.

Hart’s look (I mean in the wrestling sense), act and music are good.  Any sort of character development would be nice.

Winner: Julia Hart

Malakai promo in a dark room with ‘spooky’ music playing.

He took Andrade’s mask because Andrade doesn’t become who he is until he takes his off.  While Black has to ‘hide in plain sight’.  For years, Andrade’s been led to believe his mask is the reason for his success but still can’t understand that he has more power when he takes it off.

Then compared it to a teddy bear Andrade can’t let go of.  Malakai will teach him how to let go of it and become his best self.

I’ve been watching AEW since Andrade debuted and never seen the mask be anything other than a prop for his entrance.  But now, suddenly, it’s a crucially important part of who he is from which he gains confidence.

As usual, AEW cut corners and skip steps, making their stories and angles very thin indeed.  I’d rather these two were just having a match.  All this gobbledygook actually makes me less interested.

*****

Lexi with Andrade, to respond.  He’s a businessman.  He doesn’t hide behind his mask since he’s not a coward like Malakai.  His mask is about his family, his culture, his heritage, ‘all Latin people’.

When he takes it off, it’s time to fight.  He issued a threat in Spanish beyond my meagre understanding.

All of which would’ve been good if we’d been told this before something happened.  Otherwise it feels like retroactively trying to come up with a reason for a fight that’s already happening.

Which is why AEW’s angles don’t connect.

FTR vs Juice Robinson & Jay White (Tag title Eliminator)

Backstory: If BCG win they earn a title shot

This is the first time FTR have wrestled a tag on tv since winning the belts April 5th.  And only the second even including pay-per-view.  Kevin Kelly explained exactly what an Eliminator match is.  Nigel further highlighted the rules by complaining about how unfair they are to the heels.

An excellent duo.

FTR were very over with the crowd, as loud as they’d been all night.

White and Dax set it off, White talking smack, backed to the corner, seeking a rope break.  Which he got.  More chants in favor of the champs.  Collar and elbow, White armdrag, Dax single-leg into an early pin, White quickly kicked out but bailed for another break.

This is why FTR are great – it didn’t take ten minutes for a pin attempt, they’re trying to win the match.

Back to it, Dax headlock, whipped in, shoulder block, White back to his feet only to take a hip toss and pop back up into a headlock takeover, ending things back where they started.

White continued stalling before tagging Juice.  Cash in too.  Lockup, Robinson working the arm, Cash rolling free, to his feet, nice fireman’s carry, Juice back on the arm, running through Cash with a series of shoulders until being propelled skyward via monkey flip.

Nasty landing for Robinson who fled to ringside.  A frustrated Cash reaching through the ropes, trying to drag him back in.  McGuinness suggested some ‘mindfulness meditation lessons’.  He’s growing on me.

White back in, clubbing blows to the back, Cash flung out through the ropes, avoiding Robinson’s cheating to slide back in where his partner backed him up.  Cue all four into fisticuffs, crowd into it, FTR firing away in opposite corners, reversing whips to switch behind the heels into stereo Germans.

Really nice sequence, crowd loving it, more loud ‘FTR’ chants as the break beckoned.  Easily the best part of the show so far.

Back to Dax smacking the buckles courtesy of White, tag to Juice, firing lefts from the mount (Kelly again explaining what an Eliminator is, not assuming everyone watches everything) before again introducing Harwood to the buckle with velocity.  Suplex with a floatover, Dax kicking out before two.

Chop time, big battle, Harwood getting the better, laying Robinson down with a back elbow, tag to Cash, belly to back/legdrop combo, Robinson kicking out at two.  Another flurry of chants for the champs, the commentators talking about how controlling the match and the momentum also allows controlling of the crowd.

As Cash got another two after a dropkick.

To the corner, big chop, Juice firing back then biting the forehead to bag the advantage.  Ten punches in the corner, cut off at three, Manhattan drop, big chop, things reversed now as Cash landed eight of ten until White ran along the apron for number nine, allowing Robinson to slip out of the corner.

But only to a waiting uppercut, Juice countering via stungun, Cash landing waist-first then plummeting outside where White was waiting with a front suplex across the apron.

This is really good.

Crowd willing Cash back in, he was dragged to the heels’ corner, Juice throwing shoulders to the gut, White in with more of the same, big chops, backbreaker, tag to Juice, senton, waistlock, White back in to continue working the abdominal area.

Such a classic tag, the crowd clapping away, willing Cash to reach Dax, White cutting him off once more, stomp to the gut, Muta lock, Dax in to break it, McGuinness absolutely disgusted – ‘Disqualify him!’.

This is so much fun, a serious match with clear heels, clear babyfaces the crowd loves and great commentary.

Seeking retribution, White followed Harwood outside, smacking him into the barricade and leaving him laying.  Before dragging Cash back to the wrong side of the ring, Wheeler briefly fighting back, cut off once more, blocking a suplex, inside cradle, White pinned for three but Juice had the ref.

Allowing White to again cut Cash off, smack him with a running elbow then suplex him into the ropes and buckle for two.  As Dax made it back to the apron.

White snatched a headlock on Wheeler – as Nigel said they’d already done enough to earn a title shot – who was whipped to the ropes, blocked Robinson’s interference, knocking him off the apron and turning a White suplex into a cross body, landing on the same side of the ring as his partner, making the crawl, nearly there as Juice popped up to knock Dax off the apron.

‘Harwood’s afraid to make the tag!’ exclaimed McGuinness.  I love this man.

Cash got a boot up, big chop, fighting two on one, uppercut to White, lariat to Juice, only to be elevated outside by Jay.

Another break.  God this is good.

Juice and Cash down, both seeking the tag, Juice got it, White in, Cash avoided a charge and made the dive.

Dax finally in, snapping lefts, big rights, boot to the gut, suplex, another, Juice on top of White, Robinson sent outside, Harwood hooked an inside cradle for a very close two which the crowd were fully behind.

Suplex set-up, White escaping only to be dragged into a series of Germans, standing switches, brainbuster, 1, 2… White kicked out.

TiA chants from those in attendance.

White placed up top, Dax following with a big right, blow to the back, Robinson up to shove Dax off then battle with Wheeler on the apron: Left Hand of God blocked, Juice belly-to-backed onto the apron instead, he and Wheeler down outside.

Dax down inside, White perched up top, cut-off by Harwood, superplex ready, Wheeler up on the other buckle, Power & Glory suplex/splash on the way, hit, White kicked out at 2.99999.

Then got up to fling Dax outside, Cash missed off the top, crashing to the ropes, Left Hand of God waiting, into a White sleeper suplex, Blade Runner coming, Harwood made the save, Big Rig on the way, Juice was late (I think) breaking it up, so White simply landed short instead, Dax dispatched outside, White rolled up Cash, two only.

Ducking a chop, Wheeler hit one of his own, whipped to the buckle, blind tag to Dax, spike piledriver on White, Robinson broke up the pin at the last possible second.  A pissed-off Wheeler beelining for him, Dax and White down, Robinson suckering him in, flinging him through the ropes, tagging himself in, ddt ready, Dax shoved him away, ducked a lariat, White blind tag, Regal plex, another close kickout.

McGuinness emphasized just how much both teams valued the tag titles given the lengths they were going to here.

Cash back in to save Dax from a double suplex, Juice sent out, White hit a uranage to Wheeler, had one for Dax too; Harwood escaped mid-move via armdrag, rebound powerbomb, another 2.99999.  So, so close.

White unable to reach his feet, smacked with a diving lariat, Jay kicked out again.  Robinson back in to hit a leg lariat, Cash avoided the same fate, snatching Juice out the air via powerslam, ducking a White lariat, seeking a backslide, Jay countering back, Blade Runner!

Wheeler laid out, Dax alone, he and White struggling to their feet, yay/boo chops and forearms until White targeted the knee with a low dropkick, Harwood on his knees, smacked repeatedly with chops, finally back up, ducking a last one, seeking a belly to back, White blind tag to Juice who attacked from behind, Dax fighting off both, rolling up the illegal White, still unaware of the tag, Robinson pouncing to hit a facebuster, Wheeler returning a tad late, just as the ref’s hand counted three.

Would’ve preferred White to actually bag the pin here since he’s being built for Punk.  That aside, this was phenomenal.

The tag division was supposed to be – and did used to be – something which set AEW apart.  It’s a damn shame FTR don’t tag more often, they certainly made their point here.

And while they might be big Bret backers, this was very much a Shawn Michaels ‘Follow that!’ to their buddy Punk and Joe.

Winner: BCG

Good god was this ever AEW.  They gave the previous four guys about half-an-hour to leave it all out there.  But couldn’t give them thirty seconds to bask in the moment and allow the commentators to put over what it all meant.

We simply raced away to a Christian Cage and Shawn Spears video.  Yes, we zoomed away from easily the best AEW tag match all year to promote a Shawn Spears match.  That’ll be next Saturday at Battle of the Belts.

*****

To give credit where it’s due, they did then cut backstage to FTR.  The champs were quickly interrupted by BCG – White selling that he was so exhausted he looked about ready to hurl – catching his breath as Robinson said they were the best tag team of the night.  White corrected him that they were the best in the world since they just beat the champs.  For the second time.

The only thing better would be beating them twice in one night, thus a challenge for two-out-of-three falls for the titles.  Dax quickly accepted.  That’ll be next week.

Scorpio Sky vs Action Andretti

Backstory: None

Remember when Jericho ‘made a star in one night’?  Well, said ‘star’ got the dreaded already in the ring treatment as Scorp made his entrance.

Damn you have to feel sorry for these guys coming out after that last match.  Not just because of the quality, it’s also just piling wrestling on top of wrestling without much of a palette cleanser.

Stiff kick from Sky: headlock, whip, shoulder block.  Andretti slipped out of a slam but ran straight into a leg-trip.  Andretti got a hammerlock, Sky came back with a tight armdrag and la magistral for two.

Missing another armdrag, Action got one of his own but telegraphed a back body drop, allowing Sky to strike via leaping stomp, the crowd getting into it, a few ‘Scorpio’ chants.

Ads.

Andretti blocked a rolling elbow, hit a flurry, leaping forearm, backbreaker/neckbreaker combo, handspring elbow, Sky bailing outside, Action pursuing via tope, missing a springboard but popping up to catch Scorp into a Spanish fly for two.

Sky looked for a backslide, ate a pump and thrust kick then a shotgun dropkick but got his knees up to block a split leg.  In turn, Andretti turned TKO into a seatbelt for two.  Sky then hit TKO to win.

The veteran helped the youngster to his feet before leaving to a nice response.

As noted, these two were in a tough spot.  Yet put on a good match with an emphasis on speed and athleticism, wisely contrasting the previous match.  However, it does make one question its purpose.  Sky won, but it was close-fought and Andretti took a good chunk of the match.

Which would be fine if it wasn’t Sky’s first match back and Andretti had been featured and established on tv.  But neither of those are true.  So instead of establishing Scorpio as someone to be reckoned with, it was just a good match.

Winner: Scorpio Sky

Samoe Joe was shown getting ready backstage.  Big cheer for the vet.  Punk shown too to largely the same result.

CM Punk vs Samoa Joe (Owen Hart Cup)

Backstory: Punk hasn’t beaten Joe, ever; winner faces Starks in the final

Loud ‘Joe! Joe! Joe!’ chants as he awaited Punk.  Punk wore his classic shirt with pink instead of red.  Shorts to match.  Going old school here with the gear.

Joe chilled in the corner, crowd chanting loudly for Punk, a few boos underneath, ref calling for the bell, game time.

The pair eyed each other, gradually circling to the center, Joe threw a wild kick, Punk ducking then backing away.  Joe took him to the corner, Punk ducked a chop, hit one of his own before backing away once more.

Before beginning to target the arm, Joe shoved him away, they circled once more before locking up.  Joe forcing Punk to his knees, Punk kicking away then firing a single chop, causing Joe to rush him, into the ropes, break.

Joe missed a swing, Punk ground him down via headlock before going back after the arm with shoulder thrusts and wrenches.  Headlock once more, crowd chanting for Punk again as Joe bulled him to the corner, swinging and missing again.

Punk hitting and moving again – snapping jabs, chops, to the top – Joe walked away from a cross body.  Crowd liked that – ‘Joe! Joe! Joe!’.

His prey finally cornered, Joe smiled while looking at his hand, before firing brutal chops to the back, neck (face really) and chest.  Big kick to follow, Punk down.  To the corner, snapping jabs, faster and faster, Punk left slumped on his ass.

Before firing back – shots and chops – briefly as it turned out, a back elbow from Joe leaving him back down in the corner, Joe arrogantly paintbrushing Punk with his boot before chopping him up-and-over to the outside.

Ads.  Nice action so far with a good story of Punk hitting and moving until being cornered by the monster.

Punk down, face-first in the mat, dragged into a neck wrench, blood on his wrist tape from his own mouth.

Joe missed a knee drop, Punk to his feet, chops and strikes, Joe fired back but his knee buckled, Punk taking advantage via leg lariat, step-up knee strike in the corner, pausing to catch his breath, looking for the bulldog, Joe saw it coming, into a choke, Punk fought free via belly to back.

Both down.

Ref counting.

Fighting from their knees to their feet, Punk got the better with a flurry, Joe coming back with chops, Punk got a big boot, another knee strike, and another, lariat following, Joe down, Punk upstairs.

Diving elbow hit, two only from what I think was the first pin attempt.  GTS signalled, Joe up on Punk’s shoulders, elbow to the face, into the crossface, dead center, hand hovering, crowd chanting.

After getting the ropes with his leg, Punk remained down, Joe dragging him up for Kawada kicks to the face, powerbomb ready, Punk slipping free, thinking GTS, shoved away into the ropes, big snap powerslam as Joe got two.

Owen Hart chant per Punk’s earlier request.

As Joe hauled him up, Punk struck with a kick to the head (like the one he hit to Mox last August before losing), 2.5.

Grimacing, Punk went upstairs once more, Joe playing possum, thinking Muscle Buster; Punk desperately fought free, hooking a tornado ddt, Joe flung him across the ring where he landed on his feet to duck a rushing Joe into a neckbreaker.

GTS once more, Joe ready once more, into the choke, Punk ducked under to hook the legs and bag the win.  Out of absolutely nowhere.  Joe looked shocked.  Makes at least two of us.

This was a really good match with intensity and storytelling.  But I said the other day that if they used up twenty years’ currency on one week’s build, it was the definition of short term thinking.

And yet that’s exactly what they did.

Moreover, it’s possible stuff like this might make people resent Punk.  Especially if he wins the whole tournament.

Exhausted, both guys slumped, eyeing one another once more as Punk’s music played.  It stopped, Joe moved toward him, crowd chanting for Owen again as Joe motioned toward the fans.  Then extended a hand.

Punk hesitated, then accepted.  And of course it was a trap, Joe snatched him into the Kokina Clutch while yelling that he was better than Punk and always had been.  The crowd mostly cheered this; they liked both guys all match.

Liked this – would’ve been stupid for Joe to be all respectful after what he did to Strong last week.

Joe went for a chair, FTR hit the scene, Cash clutching his ribs; Joe thought better of it.  Ricky Starks hit the ramp to eye a downed Punk.  Fans chanted ‘Ricky’.

Punk collapsed to the mat as his music played once more

Outcome aside, I liked everything else: a very strong match capping the best night of AEW wrestling in a long time, Joe getting some ‘heat’ back and hinting at the feud continuing, and them setting up the final for next week.

Winner: CM Punk

 ________________________________________________________________

Next Dynamite:

  • Ruby Soho vs Skye Blue (Owen Cup)
  • Nick Wayne vs Swerve Strickland
  • Komander vs Chris Jericho
  • A ‘closer look at Blood & Guts’ – who’ll be the fifth man on each team?
  • Orange Cassidy & Darby Allin vs Sammy Guevara & Daniel Garcia (Blind Tag Tourn)
  • MJF & Adam Cole vs Brian Cage & Big Bill (‘’)

Next Collision:

  • Soho or Blue vs Athena or Willow (Owen Hart Final)
  • Bullet Club Gold vs FTR (Tag Titles, 2 out of 3 falls)
  • Ricky Starks vs CM Punk (Owen Hart Final)

Thumbs Up/Down

  • Continues to feel like a different, more serious product – Dynamite the last two weeks has been irritating with confusing characters, booking and a lot of ‘comedy’; Collision hasn’t been perfect but what happens makes sense and has clear heels and babyfaces
  • Embodied by the commentators who explain things to viewers, don’t assume they know everything and talk about the matches like a sport
  • Will Hobbs is free! (Hopefully)
  • Athena’s promo work and build for that match
  • Excellent wrestling for the last hour plus – Sky/Andretti might’ve stood out on another night
  • BCG vs FTR
  • Punk vs Joe

 *****

  • The HOB/Andrade story is very thin and uninteresting, Andrade needs a mouthpiece too
  • Miro continues to do nothing
  • Scorpio Sky’s return was barely mentioned – if it isn’t big; neither’s he

Appreciate you reading.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

 

Paul Hemming
Paul Hemminghttps://h00kedon.weebly.com/
Paul Hemming got into AEW during the pandemic, lives in Liverpool, England, and is a huge Liverpool fan, Playstation player and history lover.

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