It’s the debut episode of AEW Collision on Saturday night with CM Punk teaming up with FTR, the TNT Title was on the line and more.
I watched this show on Sunday because I was out on Saturday night and even if I was home, Collision doesn’t air live on television here in Ontario, Canada even though I pay an obscene amount of money for cable. The TSN+ app sucks too, so I downloaded this show from an illegal pro wrestling site that I won’t name here because I don’t want it to get shut down. Truthfully, my plate is full with all the news writing and reviews that I do. That means I probably won’t be reviewing Collision for very long.
Anyway, let’s dive into AEW Collision aka the People That Can Tolerate CM Punk Show. I like Punk, but it’s really messed up that AEW had to create another show to put Punk on because other people that are on Dynamite don’t like him. The guy is a millionaire in his mid-40s and these people act like high schoolers arguing about the stupidest stuff. According to CM Punk, he tried to reach out to The Elite to talk about their issues, but apparently he was referred to lawyers.
For this review I’ll go play-by-play for the main event only and summary style for the other matches.
This is AEW Collision episode #1 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
I am a big fan of using “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” by Elton John as the theme song for this show. It probably wasn’t cheap, but it’s a great song from a music legend.
The commentary team to start the show was Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness.
Let’s Hear from CM Punk
When CM Punk emerged as “Cult of Personality” played in the arena, the crowd greeted him with a huge ovation for Punk’s first appearance on AEW TV in over nine months. Punk had wrestling boots tied around his neck, a t-shirt with his dog Larry depicted on it and a red bag with him as he addressed the vocal crowd. Punk started his promo saying he was tired of being nice. Punk referenced suffered a torn triceps that required surgery and kept him out of the ring for the past ten months (it was a little over nine months ago). It was a babyface promo with CM Punk thanking the fans for supporting him so much. Punk admitted that some people don’t like him for the same reasons that the fans love him. Punk said that his presence makes people uncomfortable and the truth is painful. There was a brief “F**k the Elite” chant as well, but Punk moved on rather than address it.
At this point, CM Punk stared into the camera and took what could be considered a shot at The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson): “You know what David Zaslav calls me?… ‘One Bill Phil.’ That’s because I am the one true, genuine article in a business of counterfeit Bucks…” The fans let out an “ooohhh” reaction when they heard Punk mention the Bucks. Clearly, The Young Bucks heard it too because they changed their Twitter bio to reflect it. Punk laughed: “The King is back, baby, and I do have a lot of things to get off my chest.”
CM Punk continued saying he will never change, he will always be himself and he will never compromise. Punk had a message for people that think he owes an apology. “And then there’s the people who think they’re owed an apology. I’ve grown older and wiser in my years. Sometimes it’s better to be the bigger man. If you feel you need an apology — I’m sorry that the only people softer than you are the wrestlers you like. Tell me when I’m telling lies!”
Based on what he said, there’s a perception that perhaps he was referencing The Elite’s Kenny Omega, Nick Jackson, Matt Jackson and maybe even “Hangman” Adam Page, who Punk isn’t very fond of. The promo wrapped up with CM Punk referencing the AEW World Title that was in the red bag he had with him. Punk said that he held it over his head the last time we saw him. Punk said it belongs to him until somebody can pin him or make him submit. Punk ended it by saying that his wrestling boots will remain on his feet until somebody in this company can fill his boots. Punk: “Tell me when I’m telling lies.” After he dropped the microphone, Punk delivered a message to AEW World Champion MJF: “What’s in the bag, Max?”
Analysis: It was a strong promo from Punk as usual. He is one of the greatest promo guys of all-time and I have enjoyed his promo style for decades now. I think he’s better as a heel promo, but he’s also skilled at just talking while he’s standing in the ring too. Whether you think what he said with the “Bucks” line was a shot at the Young Bucks or not, he obviously knew what he was doing by using that word when he could have gone with something else. I wouldn’t call it some epic promo by any means, but for his first promo in nine months, it was very effective and what it needed to be from him.
A video package aired to set up the TNT Title match between champion Wardlow and challenger Luchasaurus, who is aligned with Christian Cage. Luchasaurus and Christian injured Arn Anderson on Dynamite prior to this match.
TNT Championship: Wardlow vs. Luchasaurus (w/Christian Cage)
Luchasaurus took advantage early after a leg pulling effort by Christian. Luchasaurus decked Wardlow with a superkick.
Wardlow got some offense going with an electric chair drop. Wardlow continued on offense with some power moves including a spinebuster. Wardlow went up top, he was looking at Christian and Luchasaurus tripped him leading to a Chokeslam off the top rope. Wardlow came back with a clothesline. Wardlow hit a Powerbomb even though Christian was on the apron. After Wardlow stalled for way too long about doing another Powerbomb, Wardlow dropped him with a Chokeslam. Wardlow came back with a powerslam and Swanton Bomb off the top rope. Luchasaurus distracted the referee, so Christian hit Wardlow with a camera two times. Luchasaurus hit a clothesline to the back for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW TNT Champion: Luchasaurus
Analysis: *1/2 The first title match on AEW Collision leads to a title change. It’s the sixth TNT Title change this year alone and it’s only halfway through the year. I thought it was a poor match. They just didn’t have much chemistry together. The cheap ending was fitting for the heel win with Christian costing Wardlow the title and Luchasaurus is the guy that benefited from it.
Luchasaurus celebrated with Christian on his shoulders with Christian holding the TNT Title.
Powerhouse Hobbs was with QT Marshall for an interview with Lexy Nair. Hobbs talked about winning the Owen Hart Tournament.
There was a replay of the TNT Title change from before the break.
Andrade El Idolo vs. Buddy Matthews (w/Julia Hart)
Andrade is back from a torn pectoral muscle suffered last fall, so he’s missed about eight months. They were each going for moves early on, Andrade did his pose in between the ropes and Andrade hit a cartwheel on the apron leading to a moonsault onto Buddy on the floor. Buddy sent Andrade over the barricade at ringside. Andrade came back with a hurricanrana off the barricade while sending Buddy into the barricade. Buddy hit a Meteora double knee attack on Andrade leading to a picture-in-picture break.
Both wrestlers were being checked on by doctors during the break with one doctor checking on Andrade’s left arm/pectoral and Buddy’s left knee as well. Andrade worked over Buddy’s left knee with dragon screw leg whips along with a running forearm. Andrade did his classic double moonsault spot for a two count. Buddy hit an impressive DDT off the ropes for a two count. When Buddy went for a Powerbomb off the ropes, the left knee gave way. Buddy collapsed going for a Powerbomb, so then Andrade hit a spinning back elbow that looks better than when Chris Jericho uses that as a finisher. Buddy hit a jumping kick for two. Buddy applied the standing leg lock finisher that girlfriend Rhea Ripley uses, but Andrade got out of it. Andrade applied the Figure Four Leglock finisher that he turned into the Figure Eight (that his wife Charlotte Flair uses and Buddy tapped out. Andrade won after 13 minutes.
Winner by submission: Andrade El Idolo
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a very good match that was competitive the whole way. Andrade won with his wife Charlotte Flair’s Figure Eight submission move while Buddy used a move from his girlfriend Rhea Ripley as well. They weren’t going to bring back Andrade against a tag team wrestler to have Andrade lose, so the result was never in doubt. Kudos to both guys for selling a lot. Some wrestlers in AEW hate selling injuries, but I think it’s a positive thing and it helps tell a story. I thought Murphy sold the knee injury very well throughout the match and it factored into the finish as well, which is nice to see.
After the match, Andrade wanted a handshake, Buddy pushed him away and then the lights went out. When the lights came back on, Buddy’s friends in the House of Black – Malakai Black & Brody King – were in the ring behind Andrade. The big man King decked Andrade with a clothesline as Andrade did a flip bump. Black said something to Andrade, then the lights went out again and that was it.
Analysis: It looks like it could be the start of a storyline with Andrade possibly getting some friends to deal with House of Black.
There was a video about Scorpio Sky, who is a former TNT and Tag Team Champion that hasn’t been booked on AEW TV for a very long time.
Tony Nese was in the ring with Smart Mark Sterling for a pre-match promo. Nese trashed the Chicago crowd for being fat and disgusting. Nese decided to lead the crowd in some group training.
Analysis: They had Nese do the heel promo to ensure that Miro would be cheered heavily for his entrance and he was. Good booking tactic
Miro vs. Tony Nese (w/Smart Mark Sterling)
. This was Miro’s first match since September last year. He wasn’t injured. They just didn’t book him for nine months. I don’t know why.
Nese tried to run away, but Miro caught him leading to punches, kicks and a clothesline. Miro did some forearm smashes to the chest like his good friend Sheamus. Nese did get some offense with a necksnap across the top rope, but Miro caught Nese and hit a fallaway slam. Miro no sold some Nese strikes leading to Miro hitting a spinning uranage slam. Miro with a jumping side kick. Miro applied the Camel Clutch submission for the submission win. It went just over three minutes.
Winner by submission: Miro
Analysis: *1/2 A squash match to put over Miro. That’s all it needed to be. Going three minutes is the right amount of time for it too.
There was a video promoting CM Punk’s return to the ring. Punk said he never left, he just got injured. There are still things left that he wants to finish.
The Outcasts – Toni Storm & Ruby Soho vs. Willow Nightingale & Skye Blue
Storm is the AEW Women’s Champion and Willow is the NJPW Strong Women’s Champion. Blue is from Chicago, so she got the hometown pop. I should point out that Skye Blue’s shorts have made her very popular with some fans. Blue hugged her mom at ringside. Storm and Ruby did a cheap attack as soon as the faces entered. Blue’s mom slapped Storm and Ruby. Willow got some offense early, but Storm did a cheap shot to the back and Ruby took over.
The heels were working over Willow for a few minutes, so Willow made the comeback with a clothesline. Blue got the hot tag with the fans popping big for it as a Chicago girl that’s easy to like. Blue unleashed on Storm with kicks and knee strikes along with a cross body block off the top for two. Storm managed to trap Blue in a poorly applied Texas Cloverleaf submission with Blue getting to the ropes to break it. After Willow tagged in with a slam, Ruby kicked her and Blue was back in, but that led to Storm hitting a running hip attack. Willow stopped a spray paint attempt with a Death Valley Driver on Storm (they were not legal) and Blue hit a Code Blue on Ruby for the win after eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Willow Nightingale & Skye Blue
Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid match with the crowd getting into it when the faces made their come backs. A big win for Blue beating a bigger name like Ruby and maybe it will lead to Blue getting a Women’s Title match against Toni Storm soon. Blue and Willow are a likable babyface team.
A video aired about Ricky Starks declaring that he is going to win the Owen Hart Cup tournament. Starks certainly could be a winner of that tournament.
Jeff Jarrett was featured in a video saying he’s going to face Mark Briscoe in a Concession Stand Brawl. Jeff said he’s going to kick Mark’s ass.
Let’s Hear from The Acclaimed
The Acclaimed’s Max Caster & Anthony Bowens entered with “Daddy Ass” Billy Gunn with Max doing a rap while mentioning a former President’s documents. They said AEW stands for “Acclaimed Every Weekend” in their eyes. They also did a scissor celebration together. The fans cheered.
Analysis: They had five minutes to fill on the show, so this is what we got. I like the Acclaimed and Daddy Ass is okay, but they have lost a lot of momentum since losing the Tag Team Titles.
There was a rundown of some upcoming AEW shows. There are so many shows.
The introductions took place for the main event. Jim Ross joined commentary for the main event, but it sounded like his voice wasn’t strong.
CM Punk and FTR – Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler vs. Samoa Joe and Bullet Club Gold – Jay White & Juice Robinson
Harwood started with White and Harwood was in full control of White, who bailed to the floor. Harwood with some hard chops on Juice and Wheeler tagged in with multiple dropkicks. Juice was in control against Wheeler with a body slam. Juice hit multiple shoulder tackles on Wheeler, but Wheeler came back with a press slam. Harwood tagged in and Punk also tagged in as they lifted Juice so that Wheeler could hit a powerslam off the middle rope. Punk went for the GTS, but Juice got out of it. Joe tagged in leading to a huge ovation from the crowd as Joe and Punk faced off in the ring for the first time in nearly twenty years. Joe overpowered Punk in the corner with hard chops to the chest. Kelly said it was 6,518 days since Joe and Punk were in the same match, up until tonight. They went to a picture-in-picture break.
Analysis: That was a cool moment with Punk and Joe. I’ve been watching and writing about those guys for so many years. I’m glad the fans reacted to them with such a loud reaction.
The heels were in control as Juice worked over Harwood and then Joe tagged in with punches/kicks to wear down Harwood. White tagged in, then Juice tagged in and White held Harwood leading to Juice hitting a double axhandle. Harwood hit a German Suplex on Juice. Wheeler got the tag with clotheslines, uppercuts and a sunset flip for two. Wheeler caught a leaping Juice leading to a powerslam. Punk was back in with an elbow smash off the turnbuckle for two. Punk hit a backbreaker on Juice leading to another picture-in-picture break.
White was working over Wheeler as the face in peril with White applying a half crab submission. Juice hit a senton splash on Wheeler for two. Juice hit a belly-to-back suplex on Wheeler for two. Juice whipped Wheeler hard into the turnbuckle. Joe hit an impressive jumping kick on Wheeler in the corner for a two count as Punk broke it up. White was back in with a chop block and a leg wrench into the mat. Wheeler hit a belly-to-back suplex on Juice. Punk got the hot tag with punches, body slams for White/Juice and Punk hit a jumping kick on White. Punk hit neckbreakers on Juice and White. Punk did a bulldog/lariat combination. When Punk lifted White, it led to an eye gouging from White to get out of it. Punk delivered a roundhouse kick to White. Punk went up top, but Juice knocked him down while the referee wasn’t looking. White hit a uranage slam on Punk for two. White wanted the Bladerunner, Punk got out of it and Punk hit a clothesline. Harwood and Wheeler made quick tags with a Powerplex combo and Punk hit an elbow drop off the top on White for two. I think Wheeler was actually legal, but Juice did a tackle onto the pile to break it up. Joe tagged in against Punk as they exchanged punches while the other four guys were brawling on the floor. Joe missed a corner charge, Punk hit a knee strike and Joe came back with a choke attempt. White held onto Harwood while Juice held onto Wheeler. Punk was taken down to the mat by Joe with a rear naked choke. Wheeler broke free with a DDT and Harwood broke up Joe’s submission move. Juice tagged in, he went for a move, Punk kicked him in the head and FTR hit the Shatter Machine. Punk hit the GTS for the pinfall win after 23 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: CM Punk and FTR – Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a good match that was given a lot of time. I said it from the moment this match was announced, it was obvious that Juice Robinson was going to be the guy that ate the pin in this match and that’s what happened when he took two finishers back to back. CM Punk winning was the obvious result to show that he’s as good as ever. The interaction between Punk and Joe was by far the best part of the match with the fans reacting to it in a big way. They need to have a singles match soon.
CM Punk and FTR celebrated the win. End show.
Three Stars of the Show
- CM Punk and FTR
- Andrade El Idolo
This Week: 7.5 out of 10
I liked the show overall. I wouldn’t say it blew me away as some special AEW television show, but it was fine for two hours of pro wrestling in 2023. CM Punk’s opening promo was an interesting mission statement of sorts with some unique references thrown in there. The two best matches were Andrade El Idolo beating Buddy Matthews and the six-man tag team main event, which got so much time. I liked seeing Miro back in action after they didn’t use him for nine months. I didn’t think the TNT TItle match was good, but at least it was newsworthy with Luchasaurus stealing the TNT Title from Wardlow thanks to Christian’s help.
The main event was more of a traditional tag team match because of the guys in the match like FTR, Punk and Joe valuing telling a story in a match. There were fewer spots featuring guys running into the ring doing moves and combo moves like we see way too often in AEW. There was still some of that, but not much. By actually telling a story within the match, making the tags matter and building to the hot tag, it’s more fun to watch.
This show didn’t do much in terms of promoting the Forbidden Door PPV that is taking place in one week. I think with that show AEW knows the hardcore supporters will be watching because the matches will be great and that’s enough for Forbidden Door in their eyes.
The next AEW pay-per-view is AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door on Sunday, June 25th. Here’s what we know so far.
* AEW World Championship: Maxwell Jacob Friedman (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
* Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada
* IWGP US Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Will Ospreay
* IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: SANADA (c) vs. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry
Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays. You can contact me using any of the methods below.