By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Collision (Episode 2)
Toronto, Ontario at Scotiabank Arena
Aired live June 24, 2023 on TNT
[Hour One] The show opened with brief promos from the two teams in the eight-man tag main event… The Collision opening aired… The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness checked in while some pyro shot off on the stage…
Tony Schiavone stood inside the ring and hyped that the Forbidden Door pay-per-view would be held in the same venue on Sunday night. Schiavone tried to introduce Sting and Darby Allin, but he was interrupted by the “Judas” song.
Chris Jericho and Minoru Suzuki walked onto the stage together. Jericho brought his bat to the ring and had his sparkly boots on while Suzuki wore a black t-shirt with “Strong Style” written on the front. Jericho told Schiavone and the fans to shut up. Jericho told the fans not to shamelessly pander to him like Schiavone does to them.
“I’m not from Toronto,” Jericho said. “I’m from Winnipeg, you idiots.” Jericho said he and Suzuki were pissed because Sting and Allin had taken days to tell them who their partner will be at the pay-per-view. Jericho said Sammy Guevara wasn’t there because he’s a little miffed that he and Suzuki are such good friends. Jericho and Suzuki did a special handshake.
Jericho questioned who Sting could get who would intimidate Les Suzuki Gods. Jericho accused Schiavone of knowing who the partner is. Jericho put his bat up to Schiavone’s throat and demanded that Schiavone tell him the identity of the third man.
Sting and Darby Allin made their entrance. Sting brought his own baseball bat to the ring. There was a “holy shit” chant once all four men were in the ring. Jericho told the fans to shut up. Allin told Jericho to shut up while adding that he had something to say.
Allin looked into the camera and addressed Suzuki. Allin said that if Guevara stands with Jericho and Suzuki, then he’ll kick his ass. Allin said it would just like their tag team partner kicked Jericho’s ass at the Tokyo Dome. A “Naito” chant broke out.
Tetsuya Naito walked onto the stage dressed in a white suit and cape. Naito walked to the ring while Kelly recapped the history between Naito and Jericho. Naito walked to the ring, entered, and went face to face with Jericho. Jericho and Naito jawed at one another off-mic. Jericho and Suzuki exited the ring. Jericho slammed his bat on the broadcast team’s desk. Naito opened the ropes for Jericho, who remained at ringside…
Powell’s POV: Hey, my Naito guess was right. See the old saying about a broken clock being right twice each day. This was a good, basic segment to set up the six-man tag match at Forbidden Door.
Highlights aired from last week’s show of Miro defeating Tony Nese…
A pre-taped Miro promo aired. He said he’s been exile for nearly a year and then he was summoned. He said he was told that he would be his favorite champion again and would never lose. Miro said all he needed to do is praise him. Miro said he knows what he must do. He said he must be righteous without seeking reward. Miro said he renounced his God, his gold, and his beautiful wife because he is Miro and he is godless…
Ring announcer Dasha Gonzalez introduced Swerve Strickland followed by his opponent Hiroshi Tanahashi…
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Swerve Strickland (w/Prince Nana). There was a loud “Tanahashi” chant before the opening bell. Early in the match, Tanahashi tossed his imaginary guitar to Swerve, who then played air guitar until Tanahashi kicked his legs out from under him.
Swerve came right back by kicking the middle rope into Tanahashi’s groin and then put him down with a boot to the head. Swerve tossed Tanahashi over the top rope, but Tanahashi skinned the cat and used his legs to pull Swerve to the floor.
Tanahashi went for a baseball slide kick, but Swerve pulled the ring apron skirting out and trapped Tanahashi with it. Swerve booted Tanahashi’s head and then mugged for the camera on the apron as the show headed to a picture-in-picture break. [C]
Swerve picked up a near fall coming out of the break. Kelly said Tanahashi needed the help of every fan in the arena. Tanahashi rolled Swerve into a pin for a two count, then caught him in an inside cradle for another. Tanahashi performed a dragon screw leg whip and followed up with a sling blade clothesline for a two count.
Tanahashi went up top and performed a High Fly Flow splash, but Swerve put his knees up and then covered him for a near fall. Swerve followed up with a couple of kicks and then went up top and went for a double stomp that Tanahashi avoided. Tanahashi executed another sling blade. Tanahashi went up top and slipped. Swerve joined him on the ropes and was knocked down by Tanahashi, who then hit the High Fly Flow and scored the pin.
Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Swerve Strickland in 10:55.
AEW World Champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman’s entrance theme played while Tanahashi was still inside the ring. MJF appeared on the big screen and asked if Tanahashi was dumb enough to think that he would show up in person for him. MJF said he would embarrass Tanahashi to show that he’s not on his level.
MJF said he told Tony Khan that the only way he would show up for the Forbidden Door event is if his match went on first. MJF said he wanted to get out of Canada as quickly as possible and didn’t want to waste his time watching a bunch of indy jabrones from Japan wrestle. MJF said he would take Tanahashi’s air guitar, put it between Tanahashi’s bowlegged knees, and stick it straight up his ass because he’s not on the level of the devil…
Kelly hyped Brody King vs. Andrade El Idolo for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A solid match with what appeared to be some good improvisation by Swerve when Tanahashi slipped while going to the top rope. MJF’s post match promo was strong and I got a kick out of his logic for the match going on first.
A shot aired from outside the venue, which Kelly noted was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs…
Powell’s POV: It’s a little thing, but it’s a nice move to draw attention to the fact that they are running a major league venue. It also sends the message that the company is big time.
2. Brody King (w/Julia Hart) vs. Andrade El Idolo. Both entrances were televised. Andrade performed his tranquilo pose in between the ropes and then pulled the top rope down when King charged him. Andrade yelled at Hart and then put King back down on the floor before performing a moonsault onto him. Andrade held the back of his head after it hit the barricade, but he seemed to be okay.
Back inside the ring, Andrade sold pain from his taped shoulder and pectoral muscle. King came back and seated Andrade on the top rope before chopping him, which caused Andrade to tumble to the floor heading into a PIP break. [C]
Andrade stood on the apron caught King going for a kick and then performed a dragon screw. Back in the ring, Andrade continued to target the leg and then hit a flying forearm. Andrade performed a double knee strike in the corner and picked up a two count.
King caught Andrade with a forearm strike and then placed him over his shoulders. King sold his knee and dropped down before hoisting Andrade back up and then performing a Death Valley Driver in the opposite corner. King followed up with a cannonball. King hoisted up Andrade, who slipped out and then chop blocked him.
Andrade went for the Figure Four and then gave it up when he spotted Hart standing on the apron hold the black mask that he wears to the ring. King went after Andrade, who caught him with a back elbow. Andrade applied the Figure Four. He sold shoulder pain while trying to push into the Figure Eight. Buddy Matthews ran in and attacked Andrade for the DQ finish.
Andrade El Idolo defeated Brody King by DQ in 12:55.
King and Matthews worked over Andrade afterward. King put Andrade down with a Gonzo Bomb. The three House of Black members posed in the middle of the ring while Hart held Andrade’s black mask. Malakai Black’s face appeared on the big screen. Hart held up the mask and then the lights went out…
The broadcast team hyped previously advertised segments and said Christian Cage would appear after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: This was an upgrade over the opening match, but I could have done without the DQ finish. I assume that Andrade will end up finding partners and challenge for the AEW Trios Titles. He was previously aligned with Rush, so it could be as simple as Andrade, Rush, and Dralistico challenging House of Black.
Schiavone introduced Christian Cage and TNT Champion Luchasaurus. Cage walked out first and had the title belt draped over his shoulder. Schiavone asked Cage how he felt being back home. Cage said he left the show last week in a bad mood for a lot of reasons, but he knew he would be back in Toronto with the TNT Title in just a few short days.
Cage said now he’s in a worse mood. He said the moment he stepped off the plane, all the thoughts and emotions came flooding back. “This city breeds loser and in turn is populated with losers,” Cage said. He claimed the crowd is okay with mediocrity while he is not. He heeled on the Toronto Maple Leafs for choking in the NHL playoffs again.
Cage said the only glimmer of hope the city had was when the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship. He said that was due to Kawhi Leonard. Cage said he contacted Leonard and told him to get out of the city of losers.
[Hour Two] Cage announced that there will not be anymore open challenges. Cage said that people who want TNT Title shots have to earn it, just as he and “my righthand of destruction did.” Cage said he wouldn’t pretend he created the title like a vanity project “who used to travel the roads (Rhodes) here in AEW.” Cage said he would take the title to new heights while “I… we will remain the face of TNT now and forever”…
Powell’s POV: Cage heeling on his hometown crowd was a blast. He delivers consistently entertaining promos and I dig the idea of him calling the shots despite Luchasaurus being the actual TNT Champion.
A video package aired with Satoshi Kojima recalling that he met CM Punk twenty years earlier and said he was pumped to face him. “I’m going to kill you, you idiot,” Kojima said. “I will kick your ass.” They cut to Punk, who said he is thrilled and honored to be in the ring with Kojima and to honor the legacy and life of Owen Hart. Punk said when the bell rings, he’s going to rip Kojima’s ears off.
Roderick Strong and Samoa Joe both spoke about being in the tournament. Strong said he was honoring the legacy of his trainer Jim Neidhart. Dustin Rhodes said he wouldn’t be a stepping stone. Powerhouse Hobbs, Juice Robinson, and Ricky Starks also spoke…
Powell’s POV: A good video package with every entrant in the Owen Hart Cup tournament getting at least a brief sound byte.
McGuinness narrated highlights of Skye Blue defeating Anna Jay on Rampage to advance in the women’s Owen Hart Cup tournament. She will face the winner of Wednesday’s Britt Baker vs. Ruby Soho match…
3. Willow Nightingale vs. Nyla Rose (w/Marina Shafir) in an Owen Hart Cup tournament first round match. Both entrances were televised and the cup was at ringside. Willow put Rose down with a dropkick and played to the crowd. Rose rolled to the floor. Willow followed. Shafir blocked Willow’s path, allowing Rose to catch her with a cheap shot and run her shoulder into the ring post heading into a PIP break. [C]
Willow continued to sell a bad shoulder before performing a missile dropkick from the middle rope, which led to a two count. Willow set up for her finisher and gave it up due to shoulder pain. Rose suplexed Willow and picked up a near fall moments later.
Rose went for her Beast Bomb, but Willow slipped away. Rose clubbed Willow and then put the boots to her. Willow rallied with a Pounce. Willow powered up Rose for her gut-wrench suplex finisher and scored the clean pin.
Willow Nightingale defeated Nyla Rose in 8:55 to advance to the semifinals of the Owen Hart Cup tournament.
Afterward, Toni Storm, Ruby Soho, and Saraya surrounded the ringside area. Skye Blue ran out with a chair and joined Willow inside the ring. Storm held up her title belt and then she and the other Outcasts headed toward the back…
Powell’s POV: A good match. Willow had to go over unless there was interference because she’s challenging Storm for the AEW Women’s Championship at Forbidden Door.
Scorpio Sky was interviewed by Lexi Nair on the backstage set. Sky said he struggled in every part of his life before he arrived in AEW. He said he got his big break and couldn’t control it. Sky said he accomplished what he did in AEW while being a shadow of his true self. He said he’s back and now we’ll find out who he really is…
The broadcast team hyped Powerhouse Hobbs appearing next and the show’s main event… [C]
4. Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Jeremy Prophet. Hobbs’ entrance was televised while Prophet was already inside the ring. Hobbs attacked Prophet right after Prophet was introduced. Kelly said the referee didn’t do Prophet any favors by calling for the bell so quickly, buy he added that it’s on Prophet to be head. Hobbs dominated Prophet and put him away with a spinebuster…
Powerhouse Hobbs defeated Jeremy Prophet in 1:35.
Powell’s POV: A showcase win for Hobbs and no sign of the QTV nonsense. Here’s hoping that the addition of the horribly named Johnny TV being added to the QTV crew will allow Hobbs to escape and be his own man.
The broadcast team ran through the Forbidden Door pay-per-view lineup at a reasonable pace as opposed to the speed reading approach that they have Excalibur use on Dynamite. They said the eight-man tag match was up next… [C]
Entrances for the main event took place with Jay White and Juice Robinson coming out first followed by the Gunns. Ricky Starks made his entrance followed by Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler. CM Punk made his entrance and received a more boos than cheers. “Uh oh, we’re not in Chicago anymore,” Kelly said. Punk came out and cupped his ear on the stage. Punk entered the ring and ended up laughing then pumped his arms along with a CM Punk chant…
5. CM Punk, Ricky Starks, Dax Harwood, and Cash Wheeler vs. Jay White, Juice Robinson, Austin Gunn, and Colten Gunn in an eight-man tag match. Punk and White started the match. White flexed his biceps and then Punk shoved him. White made a gun with his finger, pressed his index finger up to Punk’s head, and then tagged Robinson.
Punk put Robinson down with a shoulder block and then flexed. Harwood tagged in and traded slams with Robinson. A short time later, Starks and White ended up in the ring together. Starks dropped White with a punch. White pointed to the corner and then Punk tagged in to more cheers than boos.
Punk performed a Rick Rude heel swivel to taunt White. White caught Punk with a kick and tossed him to the floor where the Gunns and Robinson attacked him. The other babyfaces ran over. The referee stood between both teams heading into a PIP break. [C]
Kelly ran through additional matches that have been announced for the Forbidden Door’s Zero Hour pre-show. Meanwhile, Wheeler performed a backbreaker on Colten and then Punk tagged in and dropped an elbow on him from the ropes. Punk sat on Colten and flexed while getting a two count.
Punk tried to kick White off the apron. When Punk turned around, Colten blasted him with a clothesline and then tagged in Austin. White tagged in and the heels continued to isolate Punk. White took him down with a dragon screw leg whip and tagged out. Robinson targeted the same left knee. White tagged in as the isolation of Punk continued heading into the final PIP break. [C]
The heels continued to focus on Punk. Robinson set up Punk for his own GTS finisher, but Punk blocked it and dropped Robinson with a kick. Punk fought off the Gunns and dove to his corner to tag in Starks, who cleaned house on the heels while a “Ricky” chant broke out. Starks executed a nice DDT on Austin for a near fall.
Starks and Austin were left in the ring while the other wrestlers ended up brawling on the floor. White made a seemingly blind tag, but Starks actually saw it and performed a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. White avoided Starks’ finisher and rolled him up and held the tights while getting a two count. Starks came right back and covered White, but Robinson broke it up.
Harwood put Robinson down with a piledriver. The Gunns hit 3:10 to Yuma on Harwood. Wheeler clotheslined Austin to ringside and then pressed Colten over his head and threw him onto his partner. Wheeler performed a suicide dive.
Punk set up for a move and dove at White, who put him down with a uranage. White followed up with a uranage on Starks for a near fall. Starks came back with spears on Robinson and both Gunns. Robinson blasted Starks with a left hand from the floor. White hit the Blade Runner on Starks and pinned him…
Jay White, Juice Robinson, Austin Gunn, and Colten Gunn defeated CM Punk, Ricky Starks, Dax Harwood, and Cash Wheeler in 23:45 in an eight-man tag match.
After the match, White held up a gun sign and then Robinson and the Gunns joined him in doing the same while the dejected babyfaces watched from the floor to close the show…
Powell’s POV: I suspect the anti-Punk sentiment is going to be far worse at Forbidden Door. It’s a questionable call to book him for that show if they want him to be a babyface, especially when he’s in a match that doesn’t seem likely to lead to a lot of extra pay-per-view buys. It’s a show for the super fans, who seem far more likely to side with The Elite in their feud with Punk. It’s fine if Tony Khan is cool with turning Punk heel if the backlash grows, but one would think that he wants Punk to be the babyface face of Collision.
Putting all of that aside, the main event was entertaining and I really liked seeing the heels go over. I guess the idea is that the Gunns are officially in Bullet Club Gold. This was another quality episode. The good pacing from the premiere carried over, so it was no fluke. I get the idea of making the two shows feel different, but I really wish they would slow the hell down and take a similar approach on Dynamite. We’re only two weeks in, but Collision has been the more enjoyable of the two shows thus far. Will Pruett will be by later tonight with his weekly audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).
Stop back on Sunday for my live review of AEW Forbidden Door. Check out a full preview along with match predictions on this week’s Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast that I co-hosted with Colin McGuire.