AEW Collision featured Bryan Danielson and Ricky Starks in a Texas Death Match along with a Luchasaurus-Christian Cage-Darby Allin match for the TNT Title.
Greetings, Colliders. Episode 15 of AEW Collision emanates from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids MI. AEW is wrapping up an electric week of television with a stacked card for Collision. Grand Slam was awesome on Wednesday, even Rampage was very good. Saturday’s episode of Collison may have the best card on paper in the show’s brief run. The headliner is Bryan Danielson taking on Ricky Starks in a Texas Death match. If the match is anywhere close to their strap match at All Out, we are in for a war. RVD in his home state teams with Hook. The TNT Title match between Luchasaurus, Darby Allin and Christian Cage has a very interesting dynamic. Christian calls himself the champ and now has a chance to screw his evil dinosaur. Andrade El Idolo taking on Jay White should be a banger. It’s the kind of match I’d like to see on Collision every week. Let’s get to the action!
During the show opening short promos; Darby Allin and Christian with Luchasaurus talk about their TNT Championship match. Sting is banned from ringside. Ricky Starks is going to put Danielson 6 feet under in the Texas Death Match, Danielson won’t be held down. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting! We’re kicking off the show with the TNT Championship match.
TNT Championship: Christian Cage def. (C) Luchasaurus & Darby Allin – Christian has been on fire lately. The crowd hates him as always. He holds Luchasaurus’ TNT Title over his head before the match. Allin threw powder in Lucha’s face and destroyed Christian with a dive to the outside to gain an early advantage. It didn’t take long for him to crash and burn. The double team was on at that point. Christian duped Saurus into not making a pin attempt. He made the pin attempt himself. Darby is being dominated as we go to a picture-in-picture break.
Allin hit a Coffin Drop to the outside on both opponents. That drew a “Darby” chant. Luchasaurus nailed a big Chokeslam on Allin. Luchasaurus grabs the TNT Title. Announcer Kevin Kelly says it’s the first time he’s touched the title that is rightfully his. Darby laid out Luchasaurus with the TNT Title and hit a Coffin Drop. It looked like Darby would win until Christian threw him out of the ring and pinned his friend to win the TNT Championship. Christian hugged Luchasaurus after the match. I thought Lucha might turn but it didn’t happen he held Christian on his shoulders the way he usually does. Rating ***¼
Gino’s take – Solid opener. It was what I expected. Christian Cage has been the star of his group. Putting the title on him makes sense. I don’t think it was helping Luchasaurus to have someone else hold his Championship. He’s better suited to be a bodyguard. They could set up a face turn for him down the line but I think we might have seen the pinnacle of Luchasaurus’ career in AEW. If the rumors about Edge coming to AEW are true it makes sense to have Christian holding a Championship to set up a big PPV match.
There is a replay from Rampage where the Don Callis family was taking out Chris Jericho until Kenny Omega made the save. Omega got a huge pop which was nice to see. The unlikely team of Jericho and Omega will team up with Kota Ibushi and has challenged the Callis family at WrestleDream. Alex Marvez is interviewing the Don Callis family backstage. Callis announces that Will Ospreay will be the 3rd member of his family with Sammy Guevara and Takeshita.
Gino’s take – It’s a big-time match that I’m looking forward to seeing. I would prefer Kenny Omega be featured in singles matches but I completely understand why they are doing this match. There is a strong storyline behind it that has been going on for a couple of months. It should be an outstanding match.
Don't miss this amazing trios match, live on ppv next Sunday in Seattle at WrestleDream! pic.twitter.com/YRZmneH80F
— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) September 24, 2023
Christian Cage, Luchasaurus and Tony Schiavone are backstage. Christian dedicates his win to Nick Wayne’s mom lol. He also mentions Nick’s late father. Christian says he’s done with Darby Allin. Not so fast. Tony announces Christian’s first title defense will be at WrestleDream in a 2 out of 3 falls match against Darby. Christian and Lucha stormed off in anger.
Hook/RVD def. Angelo Parker & Matt Menard – This should be a fun match. Parker and Menard usually lose but they are entertaining and a step above jobbers. RVD looks good. My wife said it looks like he’s been hitting the gym. There is a loud “RVD” chant. It’s a hot crowd but another where you can tell the building is not close to capacity. The crowd reacted loudly when RVD was in the ring. Niguel McGuiness said RVD hasn’t lost a step. His offense still looks good but that isn’t a true statement despite the crowd chanting “You still got it”. The ending sequence saw RVD hit a Van Daminator on Jake Hager, Hook throws Menard in Red Rum and RVD hit the 5-star Frog Splash on Parker for the win. Rating ***
Gino’s take – A good match with an obvious result. It was nice to see RVD get huge pops in his home state. It was a smart match to book. He probably sold some tickets for AEW as well. The hot crowd helped the quality of the match.
Video package for Eddie Kingston and his victory at Grand Slam over Claudio Castagnoli to win the ROH World Championship while defending his New Japan Strong Openweight Championship. Kingston challenged Shibata for a match at WrestleDream. The show is dedicated to Antonio Inoki. Apparently, Shibata was one of his favorites. That should be another excellent match. The match makes sense based on the way Eddie explained it. Good development for WrestleDream tonight.
Another video package for the Dark Order. It was cult-style again like previous weeks. The Kingdom’s Matt Taven and Mike Bennett are backstage talking about neck health in a nod to their friend Roderick Strong. They have challenged Best Friends for a match next week on Collision. It stemmed from a 4-way match on Rampage. It’s easy to set up small stories for matches like that. AEW should do more of it.
Julia Hart def. Kierra Hogan – Unfortunately Willow Nightingale is injured and wasn’t able to wrestle in this match. It’s not as interesting against Hogan. The announcers mention that Willow was taken out by Julia Hart which is the reason she can’t compete. Smart to mention that so when they actually do have a match it will mean more. Julia rained down strikes on Hogan. Her offense is looking better all the time. Kierra Hogan’s ring gear stands out. Kierra got a little offense but it was mostly a dominant win for Hart who looked really good. Julia tapped out Hogan with her finishing submission Hartless. Rating **¾
After the match, Hart put Hogan back in Hartless. Skye Blue came out only to get sprayed in the eyes by Hart. That is also what she did to Willow. There was no footage for it. Brodie King cut a promo calling out Kris Statlander to a TBS Title match against Julia. Hart says the house always wins to end it.
Gino’s take – It looks like AEW is giving Hart a few wins to build her up to take on Kris Statlander for the TBS Title. Smart. I wrote recently that AEW needs to do a better job creating challengers for championships. Julia Hart has been booked well compared to most of the women’s roster on a 24-match win streak. She’s one of my wife’s favorites. She loves Hart’s entrance and finisher and is impressed by her progress. Later in the show, the match between Hart and Statlander was made official for WrestleDream.
We get a replay of The Righteous winning the 4-way tag match on Rampage to win a shot against Adam Cole and MJF for the ROH Tag Team Championships. It was followed by a vignette for The Righteous to at least show us who they are before the match at WrestleDream.
Gino’s take – I was more excited than most for Cole and MJF winning the ROH Tag Titles. This isn’t what I had in mind. I thought maybe they would take on teams like the Young Bucks or Lucha Brothers that could also set up World Title defenses for MJF. Instead, we’re getting the World Champion in a match against a jobber team for a 2nd straight PPV.
Jay White def. Andrade El Idolo – The buildup for this match consisted of Andrade watching Bullet Club Gold on a monitor leading Jay to make the challenge. It’s a fine way to set up a TV match. It becomes problematic when you book a PPV that has 6 matches with that level of build. The Jay White cutout has joined the commentary team. That’s funny. The Gunns and Juice Robinson are with Jay. The fans chanted “Ass Boys”, it’s one of my favorite chants and still going strong. Andrade leveled White with a brutal chop on the outside. Andrade dropkicked Jay to the floor. White took advantage of a distraction and had the advantage as we head to commercial.
The combatants exchanged hard chops. These have to hurt. Andrade’s chest is purple. The crowd popped for Andrade chanting “Idolo” when he got the advantage. Andrade hit a huge Moonsault to all of Bullet Club Gold on the outside. It was a similar Moonsault that his wife Charlotte Flair does. If she’s still his wife that is. He landed on his feet. It was really impressive. Back in the ring Andrade hit a Double Moonsault. The crowd is very loud for his offense. Andrade took a hard spill on the outside. It looked like he landed on his head. White with 2 pin attempts after a big Ura Nagi. That was a smart spot after what happened in the Jon Moxley/Rey Fenix match on Dynamite.
Andrade nailed his amazing spinning elbow for a near fall. The crowd is chanting “this is awesome” with both men down. Devastating double knees for Andrade followed by a Hammerlock DDT. Juice put Jay’s foot on the rope to avoid a 3-count. Andrade had Jay in the Figure 4 and was attempting to bridge into the Figure 8 when BCG hit the ring for the distraction. Juice Robinson broke up the submission and nailed Andrade with some sort of flat object. He really crushed him. Jay White could barely get up but had enough left to hit Blade Runner giving him the win. Rating ****
Gino’s take – Tremendous match. It was as good as I expected. The cheap finish didn’t hurt the match. It was smart not to have Andrade lose clean. Jay White winning was the right call. There was a lot of hard-hitting offense in the match. I think we’ll see it again. I’m looking forward to that. It’s possible Andrade’s former partners with La Faccion Ingobernable (Rush, Dralistico & Preston Vance) get involved to even up the odds at some point. Although I think it would make more sense if Andrade feuded with Rush because he has been presented as a baby face since his return.
We’re shown a replay of Mike Santana and Ortiz having a confrontation on Rampage. There is a vignette for Ortiz after that. He talks about his problems with Santana. AEW is doing good building to an eventual match between the former partner. It’s good they are showing so many replays from Rampage. It shows Rampage meant something this week.
Shane Taylor is backstage talking about his upcoming match against Keith Lee. I’m glad they are giving us a little background on Taylor before doing the match. He’s a good talker. Lee Moriarty will face Lee first. While it might not be thrilling television. It is better than randomly throwing people in matches all the time.
AEW Tag Team Championship: (C)FTR def The WorkHosremen (Anthony Henry & JD Drake) – I can’t say I’m interested in this one. I’m not thrilled with FTR going the open challenge route. At least it’s the only complete mismatch on this show. FTR’s opponents at WrestleDream Aussie Open are on commentary. The crowd is very quiet to start the match. JD Drake hit a Moonsault drawing a “Holy Shit” chant. The jobbers had their moments but Dax Harwood tapped out Drake with a Sharp Shooter in a few minutes. Rating ***
Aussie Open entered the ring cutting a promo about the match at WrestleDream. Dax said he wants Aussie Open at their best after losses to Cole/MJF and Jericho/Guevara. This was effective, they are decent talkers. However, highlighting Aussie Open getting a world title shot after losing 2 matches recently isn’t ideal.
Gino’s take – Most FTR matches are going to be good. Eli Drake has some impressive moves. Anthony Henry has a good look. He’s clearly experienced in the ring. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him. I get that the point of these open challenges is to showcase talent we don’t see much of on TV. There is just too many of them to be interesting. Maybe if one champion did them at a time. Having someone actually win an open challenge would help too. I hope AEW has something better for FTR soon.
Lexy Nair is backstage with the hot and flexible CJ. Miro came in. They go back and forth about temptations. Miro said the spotlight is the temptation for CJ and it changes her. CJ tells Miro to take his own path and she’ll take hers. CJ asks Miro not to lay a hand on any of her future clients. Miro didn’t answer. Interesting. Sounds like CJ will not manage Miro and we’ll probably get some kind of storyline with them facing each other. More good storyline development. I hope it goes better than it did in WWE. It really couldn’t go worse.
There is a rundown of matches to come on Dynamite and Collison next week followed by a video package of Tony Khan hyping up WrestleDream. The WrestleDream card is shaping up nicely but its not a huge show compared to All In or even Grand Slam. Some of the matches aren’t PPV caliber. The build has been better but it’s closer to All Out as far as quality of matches and storylines. Jim Ross joins commentary for the main event.
Texas Death Match: Bryan Danielson def Ricky Starks – This rivalry heated up very quickly. It didn’t take long to escalate to Texas Death! The only way to win a Texas Death Match is when your opponent cannot answer a 10 count. The wrestlers brawl into the crowd early. Danielson emptied a trash can on Starks. Yuck. Ricky hit a Springboard splash onto Danielson and a few planted security guards on the outside. That looked great. Ricky doesn’t usually fly like that. We go to a PIP commercial break after that. There’s still about 15 minutes to go in the show.
Danielson is bleeding after the break. Starks cracked Bryan in the head with the ring bell during the commercial. Ricky worked Danielson over with a chair. Bryan landed some big chair shots of his own. Starks bit Danielson leading to a “You sick Fuck” chant. Huge Yes Kicks from Danielson. “We want tables” chant. We go to our second and hopefully final commercial. Ricky nailed Bryan with a chain during the break. Danielson landed some big left-handed chops. He’s still not using the injured right arm. Starks is choking out Bryan with the chain.
Starks went for a Spear. Danielson reversed it into a Lebell Lock. Ricky tapped out but it doesn’t matter in Texas Death. Bryan now has the chain and is choking out Starks. Ricky got out of it. The two men exchanged big strikes on the ground. Danielson hit the Busaiku knee into a chair. That busted Starks open. Danielson stomped Starks head into a chair. Starks took it and spit on him. “A-E-Dub” chant. Bryan wrapped his knee with the chain and destroyed Ricky with the Busaiku knee. That was enough to keep Starks down for the 10-count. Cool finish. Rating **** ¼
Wheeler Yuta came out to tend to Danielson after the match. Big Bill also entered the fray but the show went off the air without any further escalation.
Gino’s take – Another awesome match between these two even if it was below the level of their match at All Out. There have been rumors about Ricky Starks wanting to leave AEW for WWE. I think that would be a terrible loss. It worried me that they went so quickly to a Texas Death Match. It reminded me of how they rushed to Jade Cargill’s last match. Danielson winning in a decisive fashion makes sense because he has a big match against Zack Sabre Jr. at WrestleDream. It does have me worried about Starks status with the company. I really feel like Ricky should win his feud against Bryan. Perhaps there will be more matches between them but this felt like the blow off.
Overall Rating 8.5/10
Final Thoughts – I haven’t rated an episode of Collison higher than this. I think there was one other episode I rated 8.5. I know I haven’t gone higher. The two big matches delivered in a big way drawing ratings of 4 stars or higher. Everything else on the show was entertaining too. There was lots of buildup for WrestleDream and TV matches we’ll see in the near future. That’s the stuff I like to see when I watch a wrestling show. There really wasn’t anything bad or anything negative I could say about Collision tonight.
AEW gets a lot of negative press. Some of it is self-inflicted. It’s all just noise to me. There are also so many great things about the company that are almost never talked about. The main thing has always been the in-ring wrestling. I feel like we might be getting back to that. They had three huge shows in recent weeks and delivered on all three. This was an excellent episode of Collision tonight. Possibly the best. It seems like Tony Khan might be understanding booking great shows featuring hometown favorites like RVD will help his attendance problem. The storylines are slowly getting better. There are a lot of positive things going on in AEW. Hopefully they can keep the momentum.
Please follow me on Twitter/X @GeenoEvel86. Thanks for reading!