AEW Collision Review – July 15, 2023

aew collision july 15

It’s AEW Collision with a huge AEW Tag Team Title match between FTR and Bullet Club Club along with the finals of the Men’s & Women’s Owen Hart Cup Tournaments.

Episode 5 of AEW Collision comes to us from the Saddledome in Calgary Alberta Canada. There are only 3 matches announced. We have the finals of the men’s and women’s Owen Hart Tournament. CM Punk is facing Ricky Starks and Willow Nightingale is taking on Ruby Soho. The match I’m looking forward to most is the best out of 3 falls match between FTR and Bullet Club Gold for the tag team championships. It’s a rematch of their incredible match last week that John and I rated 4 ½ stars. I’m not sure if they’ll be able to top that. With only 3 matches announced and the 3 falls stipulation it seems certain they will get as much or more time at the very least. Let’s get to the action!

FTR, Jay White and Juice Robinson, Willow Nightingale, Ruby Soho, Ricky Starks and CM Punk open the show with short video packages that look to be a staple on Collision. The show is starting with the 3 falls match. Dasha Gonzalez is in the ring to announce the match. She mentioned the 60-minute time limit. For some reason the way Dasha announced it made think it might come in to play tonight.

AEW Tag Team Championship; FTR def Bullet Club Gold (Jay White/Juice Robinson) – FTR comes out to “FTR” chants. There was a very slow pace with a lot of heel antics from BCG early. Not much has happened up to the first commercial break. That’s OK because we could be here a while. FTR was in control of Juice Robinson for a few minutes. Harwood nailed Robinson with a huge chop that knocked him down as if he’d been shot. Nice job selling there. At the 15-minute mark, the pace is still very show. It has a similar pace to some of the epic encounters we see in New Japan. My wife noticed David Benoit sitting ringside as was reported.

Robinson slammed Dax shoulder first into the ring post then tagged in White. Jay and Juice worked over Harwood for a few minutes. Ian Riccaboni who is filling in for Kevin Kelly mentions Jay White is no stranger to 60-minute matches. This feels like time limit draw territory. It was smart of Ian to mention it. The crowd is into the match but could be louder. Cash Wheeler tagged in blind which seemed like a good move because Dax had been worked over. However, Robinson saw the tag and took out Wheeler before he could do any damage. That allowed Jay White to hit Bladerunner on Cash for the first fall of the match. Bullet Club Gold leads 1-0.

That was a clever fall. They are telling a good story so far. Bullet Club Gold seems to be in FTR’s head and has now pinned them twice in 2 weeks. It’s smart to book the babyfaces in underdog fashion like that. After a second commercial BCG has been working over Cash Wheeler most of the second fall. This is classic tag team wrestling where the heels work over the face in peril. The action is outstanding just like last week. Cash made the hot tag to Dax after a hurricanrana to Jay White. Dax is popping the crowd with chops after the tag. Harwood cleaned house and dropped Juice with a brainbuster for an excellent near-fall drawing “this is awesome” chants.

The crowd is coming alive according to Riccaboni. He’s right, they are louder now. It seems like it’s been about half an hour. FTR hit a tremendous double team move that was like a Razor’s Edge combined with a Cutter. White shockingly kicked out. I thought that was the second fall for sure. FTR has been in control for about 10 minutes. FTR went for Power and Glory. The crowd is going crazy now chanting “A-E-Dub”. Dax hit the superplex but Jay got his knees up on Cash’s splash attempt. Robinson landed a splash of his own and it actually led to a near-fall for White. Shortly after, FTR landed the Shatter Machine/Big Rig on Juice to get the 3-count to tie it up. Ian called it Shatter Machine but I believe they call it Big Rig in AEW in honor of Brodie Lee. We went to a third commercial break after the fall. Match tied 1-1.

White and Dax rolled each other over the barricade into the crowd. The referee is calling for the medical team to check on Harwood who ended up being fine and nailed White with a vertical suplex on the concrete drawing “holy shit” chants. Now the medics are checking on Jay. Double vertical from FTR on Jay from the crowd back into the ring area. Juice eats a double vert on the outside as well. The action is tremendous at this point. They’ve topped last week. This is fantastic! All four men are exaughested as they should be. The crowd gives them a standing ovation as we go to a fourth commercial break of the match, a record for Collision.

Jay White tuned up the band for Sweet Chin Music then slapped the Sharpshooter on Harwood. The Calgary crowd didn’t like that but it was a brilliant tribute to two of the best to ever do it Shawn Michaels and hometown hero Bret Hart. We’re into the second hour so the time limit has to be coming up. Timekeeper Dasha announces there is 5 minutes remaining just as I wrote that. Nigel McGuinness yells to Juice that there’s 5 minutes left. I like how they are pointing out the time limit. FTR has both members of BCG in the Sharpshooter. The crowd is loving that. Dax’s knee finally gives out and he has to give up the hold on the legal man White. There hasn’t been one time where I questioned who the legal man was.

Harwood pulled down his knee brace. The announces said it was likely to alleviate swelling in his knee. It looked like Dax was in trouble but he was able to slap the Sharpshooter on Juice. It turned out he pulled down his knee brace so he could get more torque on the Sharpshooter which led to Robinson tapping out at the 58-minute mark. The new announce team did a wonderful job setting up the finish. Amazing finish to an amazing match. Everything about this was near perfect. FTR wins 2-1. Rating 5 * out of 5. (For those that are interested, TJRWrestling’s John Canton also said it was a five star match.)

After the match, FTR held out their hands in a show of respect. It made sense for them to offer the handshake after that type of a war. The heels thought about it but decided to spit at FTR’s feet. It’s also fitting for the heels to not acknowledge their defeat.

Gino’s take – Instant Classic. It was possibly the best AEW tag team match ever. The only one that comes to mind is Lucha Bros beating Young Bucks in a Steel Cage at All Out in 2021. It’s worth noting that Juice took both falls. Even in defeat, Jay White was protected. I think Jay has benefited the most from the addition of Collision to AEW’s weekly lineup. He got off to a slow start in AEW but Jay is working at a higher level than he did in New Japan if you ask me.

There was a short video package for the Blood and Guts match coming up on Dynamite Wednesday. Kenny Omega mentioned that Blackpool Combat Club has always had the numbers advantage and Kota Ibushi will even up the odds.

Gino’s take – I’m really excited to see Ibushi. He’s one of my favorite wrestlers that doesn’t compete regularly in America. He actually hasn’t wrestled at all since 2021 due to injury. My wife and I saw him as a surprise guest at an NXT show many years ago. He faced Bobby Roode for the NXT title in front of a crowd of about 500 people. I think a lot of AEW fans consider him a big star. Kenny mentioned BCC always using the numbers game. That has really hurt the program making the Elite look like complete idiots. The Elite/BCC feud started out really hot. It has ended up mostly being the heels outnumbering and beating down the faces. It didn’t help that they did the exact same storyline on the women’s side with the Outcasts. The rivalry should come to an end after Blood and Guts. I hope it does. I don’t think any of the wrestlers have been hurt by the program at all. I do think it’s time to move on.

Willow Nightingale def Ruby Soho – This show might set the record for the most in ring action in 2 hours as we go immediately to another match. That’s definitely not a complaint. The main reason I watch wrestling is for the matches. The crowd isn’t that into early. Not much has happened headed to the first commercial break. I’m not surprised the crowd is tired. The opener was an impossible match to follow. Ruby hit the No Future kick. Willow barely kicked out. Ruby tried to grab spray paint and cheat but Willow caught her arm so Ruby threw the paint outside the ring. After that Willow hit her Powerbomb finisher and won the match. Uhhh that was anticlimactic. I don’t know if it was rushed. It certainly didn’t seem like we were close to the finish when it ended. Rating: 2¼*

Tony Khan came out with a cowboy hat. I guess it has to do with a rodeo called the Calgary Stampede. Martha Hart isn’t even there. She’s showing up on Battle of the Belts. They showed the title and trophy Willow won for winning the tournament then went almost immediately to a commercial. I’m sure AEW will put it over as a gigantic win for Willow. They should do that but it didn’t seem like it based on the time they had left for her celebration.

Gino’s take –I wish I could rate it higher. The action was fine. Having a young star like Willow win is the right call. Winning this tournament will probably help her in the future. That said, the match wasn’t fitting to end an important tournament. Following the tag match has a lot to do with it but there was barely anything I could write about which obviously isn’t a good thing. I’ve said all along the Owen Hart Tournament doesn’t seem like a big deal. I don’t think AEW helped that by going to a commercial break instead of a celebration after Willow won.

QT Marshall and Harley Cameron went into Powerhouse Hobbs locker room. QT pleads his case to Hobbs after causing him to lose to Ricky Starks last week. Powerhouse is in his wresting gear for some reason. I don’t think he has a match. Hobbs slapped QT on the chest and said remember your word is your bond.

Gino’s take – When Hobbs turned on QT, I said I didn’t think it was that interesting. This supported that line of thinking. I don’t mind QT he’s just not going to elevate someone like Hobbs. It’s a shame someone with true star power like Wardlow had to lose to Hobbs due to a QT screwjob. The Hobbs/QT storyline went nowhere and really hurt Wardlow. I don’t like to use the bury word but Wardlow isn’t exactly hot anymore and I’m not sure how he can recover from the poor booking.

Kings of the Black Throne (Malakai Black/Brodie King) def 2 jobbers – Julia Hart has Andrade’s mask which is the most notable thing about this match. I didn’t catch the opponent’s names. Malakai hit the guy with green hair with Black Mass and put his foot on his chest for the 3-count. Rating SQUASH.

Andrade El Idolo came out towards the end of the match. For some reason the refs and security were all about stopping him. We don’t usually see that in AEW. I guess security is tighter on Collision. Andrade didn’t really try to get around them.

Gino’s take – Not much happened here. It was just a way to get Malakai and Andrade on TV. It wasn’t much more than that. It didn’t make me more excited for whatever all this is leading to. Last week I wrote they needed to add to their rivalry on this show. I don’t think we got that.

Ricky Starks def CM Punk – Starks is out first. The crowd is pretty loud for him. The crowd is louder for Punk and they don’t like him. Sounds like 75/25 negative. I like the reactions Punk is getting. He seems to embrace it. Just as I type that there is a loud “CM Punk” chant that is met with loud boos. This is awesome. I love this dynamic in the crowd. Dueling “let’s go Ricky”, “CM Punk” chants. There crowd is on fire which is really good to see. The chants lasted the first 2 or 3 minutes of the match. The action was back and forth and solid before the commercial break. Punk had control during the break but Starks is in control when we got back.

Starks did his Billy Jean rope walk. CM Punk is using a lot Bret Hart’s moves like the elbow drop from the second rope and snap suplex takedown. Punk looks pretty good tonight but Bret definitely did those moves better. Punk showboated on the middle rope. Starks took advantage and pulled him off as we go to the last commercial break. Punk hit a running knee after the break. Punk hit another knee but Starks reversed it to a swinging DDT for a 2-count. Starks missed on a top-rope elbow drop. Punk hit a hammerlock clothesline for a near-fall. That was a pretty sweet looking move. I’ll give Punk credit there. Both guys take each other out with flying crossbodies. Riccaboni said it hurt their esophagus. IDK why but that was funny to me.

A lot of great back and forth. Starks went off the ropes but Punk caught him and hit a Bret Hart type piledriver. Announcers mention it was Bret’s original finisher. This has been a great match. Starks hit a Spear but knocked Punk outside the ring. Starks seemed to hit a second spear but Punk rolled him into a mounted front face lock guillotine type submission. That was impressive. Great spot. Punk went for a hurricanrana from the top rope. Starks rolled through. They did a couple more rollups before Starks grabbed the top rope and got the 3-count. Rating 4*

Punk looked shocked and was looking at the rope Starks held after the loss. The announcers went bonkers and Starks celebrated putting it over like the huge upset that it is. They blew some streamers from the ring posts to celebrate Starks’s win.

Gino’s take – Excellent match. I love that Starks won! I think it could be just what he needs to get back on track. Before the brackets were even announced I said someone like Ricky Starks should win. The Owen Hart Tournament should be used to elevate a mid-card guy like Starks. I’m not sure if him grabbing the ropes means he’s turning heel and will have beef with Punk. I’d like it better if he stayed face and was just willing to do whatever it took to win the tournament. Even though it was a huge upset and the right guy won, I just wasn’t as fired up as I should have been. The tournament was never treated like a big deal. Giving the celebration 30 seconds to end the show really highlighted that.

Overall Rating 8.25/10

Final Thoughts – I enjoyed the show. I think it deserves a good rating. You don’t get many 5 star matches on regular TV. There was nothing wrong with main event. Starks winning is awesome. I don’t really mind that he held the rope to protect Punk. It’s definitely a victory for Starks that the announcers will talk about during all of his matches for a while. I sure hope it helps elevate him. He is a huge crowd favorite for AEW and someone that should be upper mid-card to main event level. I don’t think he’ll be put in the World Title picture. I love the storyline AEW has brewing with Adam Cole and MJF. It has a Sami Zayn in the Bloodline type vibe for me. I’m sure it’s just leading to a match at All In or All Out but I think it could so much further. Maybe Starks should go after Christian’s TNT Title. Or is it Luchasaurus that has that? Winning gold seems like the next logical step for Starks.

What more can I say about the Tag Team Title match? It was as good as it gets. I think it’s my second favorite tag match in AEW history. I usually prefer the Lucha Bros and Young Bucks chaotic style tag matches. FTR and BCG have put on back-to-back masterpieces. If I have one complaint, I’d say they could have waited a week or 2 to have this match and then booked the rubber match at All In. There is no way you can tell me these performers don’t deserve to settle this rivalry at AEW’s biggest show ever. It doesn’t seem like the timing for that works.

Honestly, this show should have been rated a lot higher than an 8.25 out of 10 with it having 5 and 4 star matches. There just wasn’t really anything else to the show. The 30 minutes or so that wasn’t those 2 matches wasn’t very good. The women’s Owen Hart final was very disappointing which is a staple of the AEW women’s division. It seemed like it went under 10 minutes with half if it during a commercial break. The entire Owen tournament was a letdown. Even when Ricky Starks won, they went off the air almost immediately so it didn’t seem like a big deal. Starks beating Punk is a big deal. Giving the opener 58 minutes was really cool. I will remember that match more than any of the negative parts of the show. Going a few minutes shorter could have given Starks and Willow the moments they deserved.

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