AEW Collision Review – December 23, 2023 (Holiday Bash)

aew collision december 23

The final AEW Collision episode of 2023 saw Bryan Danielson face Claudio Castagnoli, Andrade El Idolo in action against Eddie Kingston and plenty more action.

This episode of AEW Collision is the 28th and last episode of the year. There will be no Collision next week due to the Pay Per View Worlds End taking place next Saturday Night. We’re live from Frost Bank Center in San Antonio, Texas. I’ve enjoyed AEW television lately with the Continental Classic tournament taking center stage. We’ll see more of that tonight as Blue League is coming to a close. There could be a 5-way tie for first place in the block. That’s unlikely to happen. It does show how competitive the Blue League block has been. For the record, my prediction is Bryan Danielson vs. Eddie Kingston in the semi-finals. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting. Let’s get to the action!

No opening promos this week. Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli are kicking off the show. Danielson will advance to the semi-finals with a win or draw. This episode is dubbed as Holiday Bash.

Bryan Danielson vs. Claudio Castagnoli ends in a Draw– Excellent back and forth technical action early on. Danielson has been more willing to take hard shots. Claudio eventually went after Bryan’s bad eye which has been a big story in the tournament. Danielson has had more control landing some of his vintage moves including a flying knee on the outside. Claudio got his giant swing in. The action has been terrific as you’d expect. Belly to back suplex from the top rope for Bryan who was nearly counted out during the break. Impressive avalanche suplex from the second rope for Castagnoli.

Neutralizer from Claudio after a great exchange between the two. Busaiku knee from Danielson. Claudio kicked out at 2. Both men exchanged Blackpool stomps and were kicking each other while on the ground. Claudio has Danielson in the Sharpshooter with one minute remaining. 30 seconds remain. Claudio let go of the hold with 10 seconds to go, landed a huge uppercut but could not pin Bryan in time. It’s a draw. Danielson advances to the Blue League finals. Rating ****½

Gino’s take – Fantastic match. That’s not a surprise considering how talented the performers are in the ring. That was the best match of the tournament so far. At least as high as I’ve rated one anyway. I wasn’t sure if they’d do a draw this year. I like the way it was done. Claudio needed a win to stay alive. He showed the desperation you’d expect at the end considering the stakes. Good stuff here.

There is a recap of the CC action from Dynamite on Wednesday. Jon Moxley, Swerve Strickland and Jay White advanced to the Gold League finals.

Max Caster did his rap before the Trios Titles match. It wasn’t that funny but there was a decent line about him being long like Victor Wembanyama. I don’t think he was talking about his arms. There was also a cringy line about Dante Martin’s horrific broken leg he recently came back from. This is Acclaimed’s first title defense in 45 days after being taken out by the Devil’s henchman.

AEW Trios Tag Team Championships: The Acclaimed (Max Caster/Anthony Bowens) & Billy Gunn def Top Flight (Dante and Darius Martin) & Action Andretti– This one has broken down quickly with all six men in the ring early. It didn’t take long to get a picture-in-picture commercial. Top Flight hit a few double team moves. Their offense is awesome. They actually tagged in and out which is good to see. All three members of the team were dominated by Billy Gunn shortly after that. Way to put over the young guys. The action has been fun and fast paced none the less. Andretti got a good near fall after a springboard 450. Max Caster pinned him with a rollup shortly after. Announcer Kevin Kelly mentions Max had the tights. Rating ***

Gino’s take – Good match that could have been a lot better. The ending was abrupt. A good portion of the match happened during a commercial. This should have been built up more and maybe led to a title change. Top Flight had an amazing high-flying match on Rampage last week. Instead of continuing to build them up as a top contender AEW went straight to the title match. I’m not sure who would make better contenders for the Trios Titles than the losers here and it only got about 10 minutes with 7 on TV. Everything about this felt rushed.

Hook has a vignette sitting on stairs outside of what appears to be a ghetto apartment building. I doubt he lives there. He challenges Wheeler Yuta to an FTW rules match next week in New York. That sounds like a Zero Hour match.

Keith Lee def Brian Cage – Head scissor takeover from Cage. Lee returned the favor. These guys aren’t as agile as the last match. They are still working fast for big guys. It’s been a profound display of athleticism. Cage hit another flying head scissor taking Lee down before another early break. Overhead throw from Keith Lee. Superplex from Cage drawing a “holy shit” chant. WOW, that was a sight to see. Flatliner on Lee for a 2 count. Prince Nana has grabbed a cinder block. It really just distracted Cage allowing Lee to hit his finishing firemen’s carry powerslam. Rating ***

Lee got a microphone after the match. He’ll be at Dynamite and insinuated he’s going after Swerve Strickland. The cinder block was a nod to when Swerve put Keith Lee on the shelf for two months earlier this year. A story that was forgotten after that.

Gino’s take – MEAT! It was the second straight match where an early commercial break stopped the flow early. This one wasn’t even PIP. The action was really good but it was hard to get into it for that reason. There was around 5 minutes shown on TV. Keith Lee has been mentioning going after “him” which is Swerve. Lee winning here made sense to build up to that match. Just like the match before it, this could and should have been a lot better. I’m glad they are finally doing Keith Lee vs Swerve. I think we’ll see that at Worlds End with Lee possibly costing Strickland his match on Wednesday.

Renee Paquette is backstage with Mariah May, the amazing Toni Storm and her butler Luther. This was done in black and white like normal for Toni. Toni says nice to meet you to May even though they’ve been hanging out for weeks. That was funny. Storm spoke about her match against Riho at Worlds End. Another terrific comedic promo from Toni Storm.

Christian Cage is out next. “The Prodigy” Nick Wayne has returned from injury and is with him. Christian brings out Nick’s mom Shayna to explain why she took out Adam Copeland. The crowd booed her loudly. Her explanation is obvious. What mom wouldn’t want to go after a guy who smashed her son’s head in? Cope has hardly acted like a noble babyface in this feud. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Christian called Copeland a piece of crap and did his normal heel schtick. He was splendid as always. Cage accepts Adam’s challenge at Worlds End. It will be no DQ.

Gino’s take – I liked this. Shayna was a little shaky towards the end. She did well for the most part. Her facial expressions while Christian was talking were on point. Even when he was putting her down. Classic top-notch heel work all around. I like the no DQ stip for the match. Having Nick Wayne and possibly Kill Switch involved in the match could make for some good drama. There is a good chance Copeland wins the TNT Title. I think it should happen.

Lexy Nair is backstage with Tag Team Champions Ricky Starks and Big Bill. They make fun of Kenny Omega who is out indefinitely. Chris Jericho interrupts them. Jericho is going to have a partner to replace Omega at Worlds End. That could be interesting. My guess would be Kota Ibushi. I suspect the champs will retain.

Daniel Garcia def Brody King – I smell upset. More on that later. We go to another early commercial break. The breaks have been timed terribly all show. It’s hurting the match quality. Brody has been on offense the whole match. Typical David vs Goliath booking. Garcia hit a nice stalling belly to back suplex. Death Valley Driver from King. Daniel kicked out. King Kong lariat from Brody. Another 2-count. Gonzo bomb. Daniel kicked again. I haven’t seen anyone kick out of that. Garcia was able to flip King into a pin attempt and got the 3-count. Rating ***½

King was stalking Garcia after the match. The lights went out. Malakai Black and Buddy Matthews have joined him. Daddy Magic Matt Menard was on commentary. He tried to make the save but was taken out. It looked like Malakai broke Daniel Garcia’s fingers. Menard covered Garcia up. FTR came out too late to make the save. They challenge House of Black to a first time ever match. We’ll most likely see that at Worlds End.

Gino’s take – The action after the commercial break was outstanding. There wasn’t much before it after another poorly-timed commercial. The upset was well done. There were three times I thought my prediction was wrong. Garcia looked really tough here kicking out of all those huge moves. He had a terrible tournament record but still managed to come out looking strong because of this. I didn’t think AEW wanted to do multi-person matches in both Continental Classic semi-finals. King winning here would have complicated things. The aftermath was good. FTR vs House of Black should be an incredible match that has a solid storyline behind it.

Thunder Rosa/Abadon def TBS Champion Julia Hart/Skye Blue – Cool entrance from Hart and Blue. We’re in Thunder’s hometown. She gets a special entrance being driven into the building in a pink low-rider. New music for Rosa. My wife Amber liked her old music better. I agree. It took them a little longer to get the PIP break this time. Still early but there was a little action before it unlike the others. Thunder got the hot tag drawing a good reaction from the crowd. She cleaned house. There was an awkward stretch where Skye Blue stood in the ring doing nothing while Tunder was selling a minor move way too long. It was a set up to the finish. Julia Hart got hung up on the top rope. Abadon held her while Thunder Rosa hit her finisher Tijuana Bomb on Blue for the win. It didn’t look great. Rating **½

Gino’s take – Great seeing Thunder Rosa back. She looked good for her short time in the ring. She has new ring gear that looks good as well. The action was decent for the most part. That ending sequence hurt the match. I think someone messed up somehow. I really can’t tell what they were supposed to do. During the match, they announced Abadon will be facing Julia Hart at Worlds End. I think they should have waited until after the match. Make it seem like winning the match earned her the shot. It’s a minor complaint. I’m actually looking forward to the match. It’s been built up well for an AEW women’s match.

Eddie Kingston def Andrade El Idolo – Main event time. Reluctant handshake at the start. With the events earlier tonight, this match is now a win-and-get-in scenario. Here we go again. Yet another early commercial. Eddie’s been in control. It’s another uneventful start before the break. Andrade gained control getting a near-fall after three amigos suplexes. Moonsault from the top rope to the outside from Andrade. Double Moonsault from El Idolo back in the ring. Loud chants for both guys. Beautiful spinning back elbow from Andrade. He does it better than anyone. “This is awesome” chant. Figure 4 from Andrade. Eddie got to the rope just as Andrade bridged into the Figure 8. Fifteen minutes have passed. Two spinning back fists and a T-Bone suplex gave Eddie Kingston the win. Rating ***¼

Bryan Danielson came out after the match. They went off the air too quickly. A good staredown would have been a good visual to help hype up their match on Dynamite. The show ended too quickly for that to happen.

Gino’s take – Good match. It fell short of a normal AEW main event. The early commercial break really hurt this one. I grew tired of that formula as the show went on. With the win, Eddie Kingston ties Andrade El Idolo for second place in the Blue League and advances based on winning the head-to-head tiebreaker. Eddie Kingston was my original pick to win the tournament. I don’t think the new Continental Title will be a big deal in AEW. Nor does the idea of a “modern triple-crown champion” mean that much to me. I do think it means a lot to Eddie. I feel confident about my pick now. I don’t think winning the C2 would elevate anyone left other than Kingston. The announcers talked about Eddie wanting to create the triple crown situation because of his love of All Japan Pro Wrestling.

Overall Rating for AEW Collision 7.5/10

This was a solid show. I do have to start with a complaint. The commercial breaks really killed the flow of the show. You can’t start nearly every match by going straight to commercial. It was definitely the caliber of show that should have been rated an 8 or higher. The match quality was really good, especially the opener between Danielson and Claudio which was my favorite of the tournament. Everything felt so choppy. I think they went to break in less than three minutes in four matches. Those matches never got going like they could have. With that said, there wasn’t anything bad on the show outside of the last minute of the women’s match.

I think the Continental Classic was a huge success. I like that AEW is an in-ring-based product. The tournament helped put that back at the forefront. I’m looking forward to the semi-final matches on Dynamite. The right guys have made it. My prediction is Moxley vs. Kingston at Worlds End with Eddie getting the win. When he put his titles on the line in the tourney, I thought he would win. It really is a tremendous story. I would have liked it better if the stakes for winning the CC was a shot at the World Title like New Japan does with the G1. With that said, Eddie winning back his titles does elevate him. The Triple Crown Champion idea is something that could work well in the future. The whole thing has been really well done. It’s certainly not a lock Eddie will win. I won’t like the conclusion as much if it’s anyone else.

In closing, I wanted to give a few year-end awards for Collision as this is the last show.

Male wrestler of the year – Jay White

Female wrestler of the year – Julia Hart

Best match of the year – FTR vs Bullet Club Gold (Jay White/Juice Robinson)

Feud of the year – CM Punk vs Samoa Joe

Please follow me on Twitter/X @GeenoEvel86. Thanks for reading!