It’s AEW Collision with CM Punk facing Ricky Starks while FTR put their AEW Tag Team Titles on the line and issued a challenge for All In too.
Greetings, Colliders! Episode eight of AEW Collision is live from a sold-out Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville South Carolina. A lot of AEW shows haven’t been selling out recently so that’s good to see. It’s another good lineup with a noteworthy main event. CM Punk crowned himself the Real-World Champion last week. He will defend the spray-painted title against Ricky Starks. Ricky the Dragon Steamboat is the special guest referee. Kris Statlander is facing Mercedes Martinez for the TBS Title. Both matches seem a bit rushed but I expect them to be good so it’s a minor complaint. The rest of the card looks good as well. Let’s get to the action!
CM Punk gets the first short video package, Ricky Starks says he’s going to beat Punk for the Real World Title, Prince Nana, Brian Cage and Big Bill are next saying they will win tag team gold, FTR wraps things up saying we’re in FTR country and they’re facing two big monsters that don’t matter. Good line that is mostly true. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting plays, so my wife and I dance to it. It’s a good song to start the show.
AEW Tag Team Championship: (C) FTR def Big Bill/Brian Cage – Bill and Cage lost to MJF and Cole recently. They won a random Battle Royale on Rampage to earn this spot. Brian Cage has his face painted. It reminds my wife of Sting. She likes it. The early action is very clean. FTR are putting over the size of the heels as they should. Dax couldn’t lift Bill for the Shatter Machine. Bill hit a huge chokeslam on Dax onto Cash headed into the first commercial break. Cash Wheeler’s mom is in attendance. She slapped Bill and bowed to crowd. It was a bit awkward.
Cash took out both opponents and made the hot tag. Crowd was hot for that. I thought FTR won with a top rope bulldog. They didn’t but it looked like a 3 count. Cage hit a double throwback slam. Jackhammer and chokeslam from the heels. Really good match. Crowd chanting A-E-Dub. Cage and Bill tried to hit a big move. Looked like a botch. Cage landed a dive to a “holy shit” chant. It was followed by a “this is awesome” chant. FTR was finally able to hit the Shatter Machine on Cage and win. Rating ***½
After the match FTR has the mic, they want to complete their legacy. FTR calls out the Young Bucks and wants to finish it at Wembley Stadium. It sounds like we have our second match announced for All In!
Gino’s take – It was a solid opening match like we usually get in AEW. It got a lot better towards the end. FTR sold very well making Cage and Bill’s power moves look excellent. There were plenty of good near falls. It would have been even better if Cage and Bill were more believable challengers. I love that AEW is doing FTR vs Young Bucks at All In! They are the two best tag teams in AEW history. It’s fitting to do that match at AEW’s biggest show ever. It’s an easy story and there is plenty of time to build up the match.
Recap of CM Punk and Ricky Starks hyping up the main event. My wife doesn’t like CM Punk being a self-proclaimed Champion saying it’s a cop out. I don’t really agree. Punk didn’t lose the title so it makes sense. Especially if he’s in heel mode. I will agree that he doesn’t seem like the real champ.
Juice Robinson is backstage with the Jay White cutout. White knocks the cutout over. He is going against Metalik later. Danhausen tweeted or X’d I guess earlier in the day calling Jay Jason Blade and saying the Gunns are still Ass Boys. The Gunns show up. White says they are no longer Ass Boys. I agree with Danhausen. Good ending to the segment with everyone trying to put Guns Up in Tony Schiavone’s face.
TBS Championship: (C) Kris Statlander def Mercedes Martinez – The placement of this match is better than the 9:23 slot the women normally get. AEW could have given this match more of a story. Kris is in control early and the crowd is behind her. The action is good, the crowd is into it headed into commercial. Kris is in control after the break to a loud crowd. Mercedes hit a devastating snap superplex type move leading to a good near fall. Statlander nailed a fishermen buster for another good 2 count. Mercedes was in control and went for a big move but Kris countered and won with a roll up. The roll up looked good but wasn’t a great ending. Rating ***
Martinez did a beatdown after the match. Diamante helped Mercedes. She will likely be the next opponent for Statlander. Willow Nightingale came out to break it up.
Gino’s take – The match was good. It was the second straight match where a title was defended against an opponent with no chance to win. It does hurt the show a bit. There was a small story based on last week. It would have meant more if they told more of a story over a couple of weeks before doing the match. It could have even been done on one of the PPV’s considering the lack of credibility in the women’s division. Make us care about Mercedes more before giving her a title shot. They did basically the same thing as last week with Diamante showing up in the post-match angle and Willow backing up Kris. I give AEW credit for at least trying to make us care about the women’s division. However, doing the same thing two weeks in a row and throwing Diamante who we probably haven’t seen in over a year in a title match isn’t that interesting.
Toni Storm says she is naked without her belt. She’s not going to freak out like Jim Carrey from Dumb and Dumber. Storm is out her mind. She’s illustrious now. This could be good character development if they do something with it.
Samoa Joe def Serpentico – As expected, this went like 12 seconds. Rating SQUASH
Joe says we go all in at Wembley and he has no one to dance with. He seems to call out Punk. Joe says Punk has never been better not even for 1 day. They’ve had over 3 hours in the ring. A rollup is not good enough for their legacy. Looks like Joe vs. Punk at Wembley. The camera cuts to a sign for All In. Nice touch.
Gino’s take – This was well done. It’s a huge match for All In. It explains why Starks vs. Punk is tonight. Joe is a much bigger opponent for Punk. Especially in England where they will want to see the most established stars AEW has. Joe is definitely one of them. I see why AEW would want to go with CM Punk against Samoa Joe. Their last match on Collision was very good. I think they can do better on a bigger stage.
A good video package showing how Andrade El Idolo beat Buddy Matthews last week. It teased a future match with Malakai Black. I’m not sure if that’s a significant enough matchup for All In. I think we’ll see that match at All Out.
The Acclaimed are up next with Tony Schiavone. Anthony Bowens says Billy Gunn didn’t take his boots back. Billy thinks it’s his fault Acclaimed lost to House of Black. Max says Billy gave them so much. It seems like they are starting a storyline but Acclaimed deserves better. Bowens is crying. It’s not bad but a little cheesy.
AEW Trios Championship: (C)House of Black def Action Andretti/Darius Martin/Lee Johnson – This is taking place under House Rules which hasn’t been mentioned in a while. I thought they forgot about it. I don’t remember the rules honestly. I do remember the opponents get to pick a stipulation. The stip is Julia Hart is banned. It’s smart but the crowd and my wife didn’t like it. Excellent fast paced action early as you’d expect in the trios division. Great enzuigiri kick from Andretti to King. Black kicked Action hard against the barricade. There is a ton of action. Andretti did a 450 to King to break up a pin attempt. He then moonsaulted on Black and Matthews on the outside. The crowd is loving this. Brodie King pinned Darius Martin after a huge spinning clothesline. Rating **½
Gino’s take – It was the third championship match on the show that was more of an exhibition than a title fight. I said last week the faces needed to win when Andretti, Martin and El Hijo Del Vikingo went against Bullet Club Gold. They lost and now 2/3 of the team gets a title shot? It’s ridiculous. Why not have the faces win last week if you were going to put them in a title match? You can’t parade these guys out to lose every week and expect to create compelling television out of it. It was probably better than I rated it. The action was tremendous. The crowd enjoyed it. The horrific booking of the “challengers” made it too predictable for me to have any interest.
After the match we a shown a graphic announcing House of Black vs CMFTR next week. Say what!
Gino’s take – Now this is the kind of random, thrown together match I can get behind. Both teams are involved in storylines so this feels like something fresh in between. I didn’t catch if it’s for the Trios Championship. I think it would be less predictable if the titles weren’t on the line. I don’t see CMFTR becoming Trios Champs on top of everything else they have going on. It’s a big-time match either way. I’m excited to see it and wonder what they will do for the finish.
Tony Schiavone is backstage with Powerhouse Hobbs. QT Marshall quickly interrupts. He gives Hobbs a gold chain as a gift. He says he can give Hobbs the biggest match of his career at All Out. Powerhouse doesn’t want QT’s help but takes the gold anyway.
Gino’s take – The match is most likely against Miro. I mentioned last week that perhaps Hobbs will stay with the QTV group and take on Miro after Aaron Solo attacked him last week. I’m not sure if Powerhouse will stay with QTV but it looks like I was right about the match.
Tony Schivaone is backstage again. This time with Luchasaurus and TNT Champion Christian. Or is it the other way around? Christian has his daughter with him. She looks terrified to be there. It’s weird. She asks Christian if she can hold his belt. Christian asked her if she won the belt and then told security his daughter didn’t have a credential. Another funny segment from Christian. The real champion said nothing.
Jay White def Metalik – The Gunns are on commentary. Nigel McGuinness is thrilled while Ian Riccaboni is shocked. Jay White’s cutout is behind the Gunns as Jay throws his shirt to them. The table is set for some goofy commentary work. Juice taunts Metalik on the outside. The match is off to a silly start. Jay is in control early hitting moves like a DDT and backbreaker. Metalik hit some impressive ariel moves once he got the advantage including an Asai moonsault. He wasn’t in control long as Jay won with Bladerunner after a few minutes. Rating **
Gino’s take – It was a little more than a squash. This show had too many matches like this where the loser had no chance. This was mostly about the comedy of the Gunns on commentary that was entertaining.
We get a rundown of matches on Dynamite. The Young Bucks are facing the Hardys for the first time in AEW. That would have been a dream match at one time. I think it will still be decent. Anna Jay gets a shot at Shida’s Women’s Championship after beating Skye Blue on Rampage. They are making Rampage mean a little more but it’s still not must-see TV.
Jim Ross is back on commentary for the main event. Good to see JR in good enough health to come back to work. He sounds good too. Ricky the Dragon Steamboat enters to be the special guest referee. He hugged JR which drew a pop from the crowd. This isn’t the first time Steamboat has refereed a Punk match. They haven’t mentioned it. It seems certain Steamboat will have something to do with the finish.
“Real World Championship”: (C) CM Punk def Ricky Starks – Starks is out first followed by Punk. It was a mixed reaction for both. So, Steamboat is not the referee. I guess he’s actually the special guest enforcer. Strange. Loud “CM Punk” chants. Jim Ross explains why they have 2 referees. I think that was important because they didn’t advertise it correctly IMO. The crowd is on fire. They are split down the middle according to Riccaboni as there are dueling “Let’s go Ricky”/”CM Punk” chants. The chants easily lasted a couple minutes or more. Crowd’s this hot really help the match quality. Punk mocks Ricky’s pose. Then Starks mocks Punk’s X hand gesture. Both men tumble over the top ropes as we go to commercial.
The combatants exchange hard strikes. Punk got the advantage landing heavy forearms on the outside. The Dragon got involved for the first time breaking it up telling Punk to take it back into the ring. The announcers finally mention Punk and Steamboat’s history and how it was a surprising choice because their history really isn’t good. I believe Steamboat was involved in the decision in a match Punk lost in ROH nearly 20 years ago. Starks is in control back in the ring. He’s working over Punk’s chest and rib area. We go to a second picture in picture commercial.
CM Punk hit a superplex after the break. The announcers said he hurt himself too since Ricky has been working over the ribs. Punk hit some of his vintage offense leading to a near-fall. Punk went for a top rope move that I guess Ricky reversed. It was likely a botch. Starks caught Punk after a knee attempt and hit a last ride powerbomb for a good near-fall. Starks went for a spear but Punk moved. Starks hit the middle turnbuckle. Punk got a couple more near-falls. The crowd is chanting “this is awesome”. Starks got a 2 count after an Alabama slam.
Predictably, the first referee took a bump so Steamboat had to get involved. Starks had Punk pinned but had his feet on the ropes. Steamboat knocked his feet off which allowed Punk to roll Starks up. It took the Dragon a few seconds to get in the ring. Punk had Starks pinned for at least 5 or 6 seconds and got the 3 count. I think Punk had the tights but the camera didn’t show it. If he did, it would have been right in Steamboat’s face. Weak finish to a good match. Rating ***½
Starks was shocked after the match. They showed a replay. It doesn’t look like Punk had the tights after all. Starks just couldn’t escape the dreaded ROLLUP OF DOOM even after what seemed like 10 seconds.
Gino’s take – It was a great match that was hurt badly by the finish. I get wanting Steamboat to be involved in the finish but it really didn’t work. A rollup finish should be out of nowhere, not something where the wrestler is essentially knocked out and can’t get out for multiple seconds longer than a 3 count. That’s why I thought Punk must have held the tights. The finish felt off for sure.
Steamboat gave Punk the title. As Punk was leaving the ring Starks slammed the Dragon into Punk and proceeded to rain down some worked punches. Starks took Dragon’s belt off and whipped him with it multiple times. It was uncomfortable watching a legend like Steamboat take a beating like that at his age. The segment really worked in that regard. Ricky was being loudly booed and fans chanted “you suck”. He flipped the crowd off. Punk was attending to Steamboat who was back on his feet as the show ended.
Gino’s take – That was a very effective segment to close the show. Starks got his heat back after taking the loss. I don’t think he’s hurt by the loss because of it either. If anything, he is elevated due to the beating. I think we can pencil in Starks vs Punk III at All Out. It definitely has a better story after this. I’ll remember the beating a lot more than the 10 second rollup pin.
Overall Rating 7.25/10
Final thoughts – It was a weaker episode of Collision. This was probably the most predictable card they’ve had on Saturday night. There were 4 title matches where the challenger had no chance of winning. Even though Starks holds a win over Punk, I didn’t think he had much of a chance. The match was too soon for a title change with Punk claiming his belt as the Real-World Championship just last week. The show ending angle with Starks beating down Steamboat was the highlight of the show. I liked it as a way to get heat on Starks and cement him as a heel. FTR had a very good match against Big Bill and Brian Cage. The women’s match was also good. However, there was never a point in either match where is felt like we might see an upset.
There wasn’t anything terrible on the show although I hated Andretti and crew getting a title shot after losing 3 or 4 weeks in a row. It’s awful booking that confirms win and losses mean nothing in this company. For a company that started out with the premise that matches matter even having a ranking system it’s just lame. Logically why wouldn’t Juice Robinson and the Gunns get the title shot since they won the trios match last week? Either give guys like Andretti and Darius Matin a win here and there or get them off my TV.
One thing I really liked about the show was the buildup to All In and All Out. I’m not sure I would have rated this show even a 7 without the solid storyline development. There still aren’t many matches officially announced. We can definitely pencil in a few things after Collision. The All In card is off to an outstanding start. MJF vs Adam Cole, CM Punk vs Samoa Joe and FTR vs the Young Bucks are strong headliners. I think we can also assume we’re getting CM Punk vs Ricky Starks and Miro vs Powerhouse Hobbs at All Out. I was shocked nothing was announced last week but I think there is still time to build compelling storylines with 3 weeks and 15 hours of TV before All In. Now, will Tony Khan and AEW use that time to build compelling stories? That remains to be seen. Saturday night was good for storyline development so I’ll give them credit for now.
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