It’s the second episode of AEW Collision with CM Punk leading his team against Jay White’s team in a big eight-man tag team match main event.
(Note from John Canton: I’m not going to have the time to review AEW Collision weekly, so I found a wrestling fan that’s also an experienced writer to give it a try. His name is Gino Lewis and I like to call him “All Elite Gino” due to his passion for the AEW product. He likes other wrestling too, but I know he really likes the AEW product. Thanks to Gino for writing. Check it out below.)
Greetings, TJRWrestling readers! This is All Elite Gino. I’ll be taking over the review of AEW Collision on Saturday nights to take some of the load off the shoulders of my friend John Canton. If the name didn’t give it away, I’m a huge AEW fan. It’s not a gimmick I gave myself. The nickname was in fact given to me by John. It makes sense to use the moniker for this venture. That’s enough about me.
Collision is coming to us from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. It’s the same building Forbidden Door will be held the next night. Canadian crowds are usually amongst the hottest in wrestling. The premiere episode of Collision was widely considered a big success. They have a decent card Saturday to follow that up. The 8-man tag featuring CMFTR and Ricky Starks against Bullet Club Gold and the Gunns should be good. The 2 matches I’m looking most forward to are Brody King vs Andrade El Idolo and Swerve Strickland vs Tanahashi. Let’s get to the action.
The show started with a short backstage promo from CM Punk/FTR/Ricky Starks and Bullet Club Gold/Gunns. That was a unique start to the show that felt like a throwback. I know I’ve seen that style before. Possibly on Saturday Night Main Event. My wife mentioned the show feels like WCW Saturday Night so perhaps it was there. Either way, it was an effective intro to the show. Tony Schiavone is in the ring to introduce Darby Allin and Sting. As Tony is about to yell for Sting, “Judas” hits. It’s Chris Jericho instead. That’s always a good way to pop the crowd to start a show since they love singing his song. There is a lot of pyro early in the show. Collision is not presented as a “B” show for sure.
Suzuki is out with Jericho. They do a high 5 routine. Funny seeing Suzuki do that. There is a loud chant for Suzuki. Jericho threatens Tony with Floyd his bat. With that it’s Stiiiiiing. Schiavone probably yelled that in Jericho’s face which would have been funny but production cut away from it as they do too often in AEW. The crowd is chanting “holy shit”. The live crowds seem to be enjoying this budding rivalry. Darby Allin spoke directly into a camera in the ring. I don’t think I’ve seen that vantage point in AEW. It looks cool. Sting and Darby are out to announce their partner at Forbidden Door. Sting whispers it in Chris’s ear. The crowd is chanting “Naito”. That’s who it is.
The crowd went bonkers for him when he came out. The segment got 2 “holy shit” chants and a dueling “holy shit”, “Naito” chant. Jericho slammed his bat on the announce table to show his frustration. That startled Kevin Kelly on commentary which was mildly amusing.
Miro had a short backstage vignette. He says he’s still the redeemer, renounces God and his beautiful wife (Lana). He is now Godless. Glad that Miro is back on TV. That’s only about 4 minutes of air time in two weeks. I’m looking to see more for him.
That was a lot of talking to open the show. They got a lot done in 15 minutes so I didn’t mind it. Now it’s time for the first match of the night.
Hiroshi Tanahashi def Swerve Strickland – Tanahashi is a legend in Japan. I didn’t start watching NJPW until well after his prime. I’ve seen him lose a lot over there. He doesn’t seem like a suitable opponent or a threat to MJF. The crowd is chanting loudly for him to open the match which shows why AEW treats him as a big deal. Tanahashi is a master at working the crowd. He and Swerve go back and forth with an air guitar routine which is something Tanahashi does. The crowd loves him and is into the match. Loud “Tanahashi” and “go Ace” chants. In the ring, he shows his age. He doesn’t move very well anymore. My wife said he looks rusty. Not like he’s been out of action for a while. Rusty like he’s old and rigid. I think it’s a good description.
The match was pretty good. Swerve got plenty of offense even though we knew he had no chance of winning. There were a couple of good near-falls. Swerve got his knees up on a Frog Splash attempt. He also hit his House Call kick to the back of the head but missed with the finishing move Swerve Stomp. Tanahashi fell off the top rope in an awkward spot. Strickland helped him get through it. Tanahashi ended up hitting the Frog Splash for the win. It was a rough ending. I probably would have given the match another quarter star had the finish not been botched. Rating: *** (out of five)
MJF is shown on the big screen as Tanahashi celebrates his victory. MJF mocks him and talks down on the Canadian fans. He calls New Japan wrestlers indy jabrones. He says he’ll embarrass Tanahashi, their match will be first because he doesn’t want to stay in Canada longer than he has to.
Andrade El Idolo def Brody King, DQ – Andrade beat Buddy Matthews last week. They are continuing his rivalry with House of Black. Julia Hart is out with King. There was a lot of excellent action in this one. Andrade hit a beautiful moonsault from the top rope to the outside. King nailed Andrade with a huge chop with him perched on the top ropes sending him crashing to the floor. Brody worked Andrade’s chest like Buddy did last week. They are doing a good job of selling that he is still recovering from an injury that kept him out for months. Brody King is also selling a knee injury that Andrade is working over. There was a bit of a lull in the middle of the match where the crowd got a little quiet.
King hit some big offensive moves including a Death Valley driver into the bottom turnbuckle followed up by a cannon ball splash with Andrade prone on said bottom turnbuckle. That looked devastating and got the crowd back into it. Hart distracted Andrade by holding up his mask. Andrade was still able to slap on the figure 4 after doing a “woooo” for the crowd. He struggled to bridge into the figure 8 due to the chest injury he sold all match. King also did an excellent job selling the knee injury. Both injuries played a big part in the match. Andrade not being able to bridge allowed Buddy Matthews to hit the ring for the rare DQ finish in AEW. I don’t mind the DQ ending. It protects King. The story is ongoing so we didn’t need a clean finish here. Rating ***1/2
After the match, Malakai Black is shown on the big screen. It looks like that’s something we’ll see regularly on Collision that doesn’t happen much on Dynamite. Julia Hart stands over a laid-out Andrade and holds up his mask as a prize of sorts. The story is Andrade doesn’t have any friends and needs to even up the odds.
Gino’s Take: It’s kind of a weird angle considering Andrade’s prior gimmick was that he led a group that was always trying to get other wrestlers to work for him. It’s still a solid start of a storyline that should be good and lead to a trios title match.
Christian and Luchasaurus are out to the ring next. Luchasaurus won the title from Wardlow in the first match in Collision history. It wasn’t a good match. Poor Wardlow. Christian is holding the belt, acting as if he is the champion. It fits their gimmick well. Christian is in his hometown of Toronto and being cheered. He quickly puts the kibosh on that saying the city is full of losers like the Maple Leafs who choked after finally reaching the second round of the NHL playoffs for the first time in 20 years. Christian claims to be good friends with Kawhi Leonard and convinced him to leave the Raptors after winning the title in 2019. That was very creative, a tremendous jab at the crowd. I laughed but also cringed for it. I’m a huge Clipper fan and let me tell you, Kawhi should have stayed in Toronto. Both franchises would be better off if that had happened. Christian took a shot at Cody Rhodes. The segment ended with Christian on Luchasaurus’s shoulders holding up the belt. It looks like that is their standard pose.
There is a rundown of the lineup for both men’s and women’s Owen Hart tournament.
Gino’s Take: It’s an okay field. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. CM Punk’s first round match against Kojima is beneath him. I get that it’s a match he wanted himself. Kojima isn’t even presented as a star in Japan anymore. I’ve never seen a good match from him. The only thing I’m disappointed about with the Forbidden Door card is that match. AEW should have been able to deliver KENTA. I know he doesn’t want to do the job for Punk but money talks. Punk is above Owen Tournament. His presence in it makes the outcome obvious which makes the whole thing seem irrelevant.
There are also no Canadians in a tournament named after a Canadian taking place in Canada. Weird. Why not put El Phantasmo, who is a Canadian and a favorite of my wife and mine against Punk in the first round? After all, he was announced for a Zero Hour match against Stu Grayson. Another Canadian. Punk vs. ELP would have been an awesome match. Shawn Spears would have been a good choice as a competitor as well. On the women’s side, Taya Valkyrie should be in the tournament instead of that weird heel turn she just did that amounted to nothing more than another TBS title match loss to Kris Statlander. I hope the tournaments are great. They just could have been booked better already and it hasn’t even started.
Willow Nightingale def Nyla Rose – This was a good match. A hoss fight that we don’t often see from the women. They worked well together. Everything looked like it connected. Nyla has credibility as a former champion. I’m not a fan of hers but she should have been booked better along the way to keep her as a big threat. Willow beating her should be a bigger deal and treated like an upset. I think they should have done a big match between Rose and Aja Kong at some point. That would have established the Native Beast as the top monster wrestler on the women’s side. Any way I did enjoy the match. Willow hitting her powerbomb finisher looked impressive. Rating: ***
After the match, the Outcasts came out to intimidate Nightingale. Sky Blue came out in support of Willow. Always nice to see Sky if you know what I mean.
Gino’s Take: This didn’t amount to anything. Just a short way to remind us Willow is facing Toni Storm for the AEW Women’s Championship at Forbidden Door.
Scorpio Sky had an interview. He ran down his accolades in AEW that are actually quite impressive. He said he got his break but wasn’t ready to handle it. It looks like he’s in babyface mode. He snapped and the lights went off.
Powerhouse Hobbs def Jeremy Profit – SQUASH. Profit sold his butt off for Hobbs. There isn’t anything more to write about it than that. Hobbs is in the Owen Hart Tournament. He’ll likely face Ricky Starks in the second round. I hope Starks wins that match. I don’t think Hobbs and Punk would be a great match in the finals. After the match, there was a rundown of the Forbidden Door card.
Jay White/Juice Robinson/The Gunns def CM Punk/FTR/Ricky Starks – Main event time. It’s a very similar match to the main event last week. I really like the Gunns’ new intro spitting water while they shoot imaginary guns. They are becoming less Ass Boys every week. The most notable part of the match was the reactions for CM Punk. It was a very split crowd that I would say was 55% negative. Kevin Kelly mentioned they aren’t in Chicago anymore. He’s right. The reaction is incredible nonetheless. Similar to John Cena in his heyday. Punk started the match against Jay White. Juice Robinson was in next. Juice and Ricky Starks stood out early. Starks did his Michael Jackson “Billy Jean” type routine on the ropes which always looks great.
They announced 3 or 4 new matches for Forbidden Door during the match. It looks like there are now 4 Zero Hour matches. That’s fine with me but I can see why people think it’s a bit much. The match was really good early on. The crowd was on fire for the whole thing. They really helped the show. FTR hit a Superplex and Doomsday Device. CM Punk was in the match for a long time. He looked head and shoulders better than last week. Punk knocking off the rust so quickly is a great sign for AEW. Kevin Kelly is doing a good job putting over the mixed crowd reaction.
The match was excellent by the end. There really is a lot less chaos in matches on Collision. It definitely has a different more professional presentation than Dynamite. Things did break down towards the end after Ricky Starks made the hot tag. Starks was on fire hitting spears on White and both Ass Boys. Juice Robinson was able to hit Starks with a fistful of quarters leading to Jay hitting Blade Runner for the pin. The match result was obvious in this one. However, the obvious team lost. Even though he didn’t take the pin, I’m surprised Punk was on the losing end so quickly after his return. Upsets are a good thing in wrestling. This was an upset. I liked the match slightly better than their match last week. Rating: ****
Gino’s Take: The heels winning was the right call to end the show. There are too many times when AEW has long one-sided rivalries. If this is going to be a long-term storyline the heels needed a win and they got it. The match had a wonderful face/heel dynamic where the crowd was very split. Austin Gunn was even getting cheered at one point. CM Punk and Jay White worked well in the ring together. I think we’ll see a singles match from them down the line. I’m looking forward to that. There is no need to rush into it. White getting the win for his team was a pleasant surprise.
Overall Rating 8/10
I thought this was a really good episode of Collision top to bottom.
In closing, I wanted to write a short preview for Forbidden Door. To me, the card is about as good as it gets! Bryan Danielson vs Okada is almost as big a dream match as you can get. Possibly the one dream match that would be bigger is Will Ospreay vs Kenny Omega. However, that is a rematch from Wrestle Kingdom 17 about 6 months ago. If I were rating matches back then, I would have rated it 5 stars. I expect just as good of a match this time around. The 4-way, MJF vs Tanahashi, Sanada vs Jungle Boy and Adam Cole vs Tom Lawlor should be great matches. The multi-person battles pitting Le Suzuki Gods vs Sting/Darby/Naito and BCC vs the Elite should be fun chaotic brawls that AEW fans love.
I can understand why most wrestling fans might not be as excited about the show as me. Knowing all the wrestlers on the card makes it more intriguing. I know I’m in the minority there. Even a lot of die-hard AEW fans don’t know the entire New Japan roster. The card probably feels random and thrown together unless you’re a big AEW and New Japan fan. That said, I think AEW did a tremendous job building the card even though they basically did piece it together in 3 weeks. The wild brawl ending with Ospreay taking out Omega and the face to face between Danielson and Okada were absolutely the right ways to end the last two Dynamites. AEW doesn’t always get it right going home to a PPV. I think they did this time. My excitement level for the show is a 9.5 out of 10.
Please follow me on Twitter @GeenoEvel86. Thanks for reading!