By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Collision (Episode 8)
Greenville, South Carolina at Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Aired live August 5, 2023 on TNT
Collision opened with brief promos from CM Punk, Ricky Starks, the trio of Big Bill, Brian Cage, and Prince Nana, and FTR regarding their two title matches… The Collision opening aired… Ian Riccaboni and Nigel McGuinness were on commentary, and Dasha was the ring announcer…
Entrances for the AEW Tag Team Title match took place. Brian Cage wore his old school Sting style face paint. Dax Harwood showed off the back of his jacket, which read “Loverboy Dennis” for Midnight Express great Dennis Condrey…
1. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. Big Bill and Brian Cage (w/Prince Nana) for the AEW Tag Team Titles. Wheeler went to ringside and hugged his mother Gail, who was in the front row. FTR went for their Shatter Machine finisher on Bill, but Harwood couldn’t power him up. Bill clubbed Harwood, who dropped onto all fours.
Bill chokeslammed Wheeler onto Harwood. Harwood ended up at ringside. Bill pressed Wheeler in the ring and tossed him onto Harwood on the floor heading into a picture-in-picture break. [C] Bill worked over Wheeler in front of his mother, who was all smiles. Bill taunted Wheeler’s mother until she slapped him across the face.
Wheeler was isolated by the heels and eventually tagged in Harwood, who worked over both opponents with punches. Harwood mounted Cage in the corner and threw punches at him. Harwood dove at Bill, who caught him. Harwood bit Bill’s forehead and eventually cleared him from the ring.
Harwood hoisted up Cage and tagged in Wheeler, who went up top. Wheeler performed a bulldog of Cage from Harwood’s shoulders and covered him for a good near fall. Harwood set up for a piledriver, but Cage powered him up and then caught Wheeler leaping from the ropes. Cage dropped back and landed on Harwood while executing a fallaway slam on Wheeler.
Cage performed a Jackhammer on Wheeler while Bill returned and simultaneously chokeslammed Harwood. Cage covered Wheeler from a near fall. Bill shoved Wheeler over the top rope to the floor next to Harwood. Cage performed a flip dive onto both opponents. Once Wheeler was back inside the ring, Bill covered him for a two count.
Cage powered up Wheeler, who slipped away and shoved Cage into Bill, who fell off the apron. Harwood returned to the ring and joined Wheeler in performing the Shatter Machine on Cage and then Wheeler pinned him to win the match.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler defeated Big Bill and Brian Cage to retain the AEW Tag Team Titles.
After the match, Harwood said they were going to get into a little trouble, but he said they were in the Carolinas and they do things different there. Harwood spoke about starting a legacy ten years ago and talked about becoming the greatest tag team of all-time.
Harwood spoke of winning tag titles everywhere they went. He spoke about some of their big wins and said they were incredible, but there was one thing left to do. Wheeler had a mic and said, “Young Bucks, I say we have unfinished business, so how about we finish it at Wembley Stadium?” Harwood said it would be the rubber match and asked who is the greatest tag team of all-time…
Powell’s POV: Another excellent FTR tag match. They did a great job of making Bill look like a monster and there were several believable near falls for the challengers. Bill and Cage held up their end of things and this was really enjoyable with an eager live crowd that loved the great tag team action. I’ll never understand why it took so long to get to FTR vs. The Young Bucks again, but I sure am happy that it’s happening on the biggest stage the company has.
A video package recapped CM Punk labeling himself the Real World Champion and putting his X symbol on it, followed by Tony Schiavone announcing that Ricky Steamboat would be the special referee for Punk’s match with Ricky Starks… [C]
Tony Schiavone interviewed Juice Robinson, who had the Jay White cardboard cutout on the backstage interview set. White entered the picture and knocked over the cutout. White said that’s what would happen to Metalik during their match. Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn entered the picture wearing production headsets and acted obnoxiously. They all did their “guns up” in Schiavone’s face…
2. Kris Statlander vs. Mercedes Martinez for the TBS Championship. Both entrances were televised. Statlander swept the legs of Martinez and then performed a somersault plancha. Martinez came right back and choked Statlander with the middle rope. Martinez followed up with a couple of butterfly suplexes. Statlander stuffed the third, but Martinez was on the offensive heading into a partial PIP break. [C]
Statlander rallied with a couple of clotheslines and a running elbow in the corner. Statlander backed up and charged Martinez again, but Martinez caught her with an elbow. Statlander returned fire with a big knee strike that sent Martinez to the floor.
Statlander went to the apron and dove at Martinez, who moved, causing Statlander to crash and burn on the floor. Statlander performed a backbreaker and rolled Martinez back in the ring. Martinez clotheslined Statlander over the top rope.
A short time later, Statlander went up top and was cut off. Martinez joined her on the ropes and performed a wicked suplex while hooking her own legs on the ropes. Martinez hit a running knee and got a near fall. Martinez went for a fisherman’s buster, but Statlander countered into an inside cradle for a one count.
Statlander hit Saturday Night Fever for a near fall. Martinez came right back with a near fall of her own. Martinez went for a running strike to the back of Statlander’s head, but Statlander ducked it and then rolled Martinez into a pin for the win.
Kris Statlander defeated Mercedes Martinez to retain the TBS Championship.
After the match, Martinez hit Statlander from behind and then threw punches at her. Diamante ran out and acted like she was going to go after Martinez, but she opted to attack Statlander instead. Willow Nightingale ran out and both of the heels made their exit…
Powell’s POV: The outcome never felt like it was in doubt, but it was a good back and forth match. I can’t even remember the last time Diamante has appeared on Collision or Dynamite, so the vast majority of fans have zero knowledge of her past issues with Martinez.
Tony Schiavone interviewed Toni Storm, who said she felt as naked as the day she was born without her AEW Women’s Title. She channeled Brian from Half Baked while saying he wouldn’t freak out like Schiavone thought she would. She asked if she’s not a star anymore or was no longer talented. Storm declared that the interview was over and told Schiavone he could shut up…
Powell’s POV: Storm has really found her voice in her current heel role. I dig her heel persona. I’d actually like to see her break away from The Outcasts.
3. ROH TV Champion Samoa Joe vs. Serpentico in a non-title match. Serpentico’s entrance was not televised. Joe slammed a charging Serpentico to the mat and then locked him in the Coquina Clutch. Riccaboni said it was the fastest win yet on Rampage.
ROH TV Champion Samoa Joe defeated Serpentico in a non-title match.
Joe cut a post match promo. He brought up All In and said the king has nobody to dance with. Joe said the so-called Real World Champion told everyone he was the best in the world. Joe said he knew it was never true a day in his life. Joe recalled losing to CM Punk in the Owen Hart Cup tournament and said a rollup wasn’t good enough for their legacy. Joe called for Punk to give their legacy what it deserves with a match at Wembley. Joe said that if Punk made him wait until next week, “I’ll convince your ass”…
Powell’s POV: Punk vs. Joe joining MJF vs. Adam Cole, and FTR vs. The Young Bucks? The Wembley Stadium show is starting to look really good on paper. And I’m all for Joe getting a quick squash win. It’s good for his badass persona and it’s also nice to get a different style match after the first two highly competitive matches.
An Andrade El Idolo video package aired and spotlighted his ladder match win over Buddy Matthews… [C]
“The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens were interviewed in a sit-down setting by Tony Schiavone. The duo had the boots that Billy Gunn left in the ring. Schiavone asked if they’d talked to Gunn. Bowens said they have and tried to get him to take the boots back to resume his career, but he declined. Bowens said Gunn feels like he was responsible for their losses to House of Black. Bowens got emotional while saying they would miss Gunn and would go to the ring with his boots…
The Acclaimed were listed as being in action on next week’s Collision… Entrances for the AEW Trios Title match took place.
[Hour Two] Dasha announced that per the dealer’s choice rules (those are still a thing?), the stipulation chosen by the challengers was that Julia Hart was banned from ringside. The fans booed.
4. “House of Black” Malakai Black, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews vs. Darius Martin, Action Andretti, and Lee Johnson for the AEW Trios Titles. The champions isolated Andretti. Matthews knocked Andretti off the apron with a forearm that sent him crashing into the side of the broadcast table heading into a PIP break. [C]
Johnson took a hot tag and hit a double cutter from the ropes on Black and Matthews. Black avoided Johnson when he charged, and then Matthews hit him in the corner with a shoulder block. Black followed up with a running kick to Johnson’s head. King tagged in an cannonballed Johnson, and then Black kicked Johnson from the apron.
King had Johnson pinned, but Andretti broke it up. Andretti performed an Asai moonsault onto Black and Matthews. Martin performed a top rope splash onto the back of King and then covered him, but King kicked out at one. Martin and Andretti both threw kicks at King. Martin launched Andretti, but he was caught with knee strikes from Black and Matthews. King turned Martin inside out with a clothesline and then pinned him…
“House of Black” Malakai Black, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews defeated Darius Martin, Action Andretti, and Lee Johnson for the AEW Trios Titles.
Riccaboni said Tony Khan just informed him that House of Black vs. CM Punk and FTR for the AEW Trios Titles will be held on next week’s Collision…
Powell’s POV: The Trios Titles still don’t do a thing for me, but I do enjoy watching House of Black destroy smaller wrestlers.
Schiavone interviewed “Will Hobbs” on the backstage set. QT Marshall and Harley Cameron showed up. Marshall told Schiavone that it’s Powerhouse Hobbs and then dismissed him. Marshall gifted Hobbs a Cuban link chain. Marshall spoke about giving Hobbs his biggest moment in Chicago at All Out. Hobbs told Marshall he doesn’t need his help. Hobbs grabbed the gold chain and said, “Thanks for the gold,” before walking away… [C]
Schiavone interviewed Christian Cage and Luchasaurus, who had a young girl with them. Cage said the girl is his daughter and he brought her because he realizes that he’s a role model for children now that he’s TNT Champion. The girl asked Cage if she could have his belt. Cage asked if she won the belt, then told her to go find her mother. Once the girl left the picture, Cage called for security and said his daughter was not credentialed and said they should remove from her the arena…
Powell’s POV: Tremendous. I’d pay good money for a Christian Cage parental guidance video series.
Jay White made his entrance with Juice Robinson, Austin Gunn, and Colten Gunn. Robinson had the White cutout with him. The Gunns sat in on commentary….
5. Jay White (w/Juice Robinson) vs. Metalik. Metalik’s entrance was not televised. White dominated Metalik and then tossed him to ringside, where Robinson got in his face while acting crazy. “He’s not even rock hard yet,” Austin said of Robinson. “He’s not even full force.”
Metalik eventually had a run on the offensive and hit White with an Asai moonsault. White came back and executed a Cobra Clutch suplex and then hit the Bladerunner and scored the pin…
Jay White defeated Metalik.
Powell’s POV: White took roughly 90 percent of the offense. This is what I wanted to see from him after he signed with AEW rather than the needlessly competitive matches he had early in his run.
McGuinness read through the previously advertised AEW Dynamite lineup. Riccaboni added Hikaru Shida vs. Anna Jay for the AEW Women’s Championship…
A video package aired on the Shida vs. Jay match. Jay recalled that Shida was her first AEW opponent. Jay said she’s not a rookie anymore and would beat Shida for the title…
Riccaboni listed the following matches for next week’s AEW Collision: House of Black vs. Punk and FTR for the AEW Trios Titles, Kris Statlander and Willow Nightingale vs. Mercedes Martinez and Diamante, and The Acclaimed in action…
McGuinness hyped the main event… [C]
The Oklahoma fight song was playing coming out of the break. Jim Ross was seated between Riccaboni and McGuinness. Riccaboni introduced Ross, who said he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Ricky Steamboat was introduced and he came out wearing a referee shirt and slapped hands with fans on his way to the ring. Steamboat shook hands with Riccaboni and McGuinness. It looked like he was going to leave Ross hanging, but he instead walked around the desk and hugged Ross. The entrances of Ricky Starks and CM Punk followed…
6. CM Punk vs. Ricky Starks for the “Real World Championship” with Ricky Steamboat as ringside enforcer. Stephon Smith was the in-ring referee while Steamboat was at ringside. There was a mix of chants and boos for Punk, though the boos were not as loud as they’ve been in some other cities. Starks performed an early hip-toss. Punk returned the favor. Starks rolled to the floor and looked at Steamboat. Punk smirked and held the ropes open.
There were dueling chants of “Let’s Go Ricky” and “CM Punk” and it sounded like the Punk chants were louder. Punk knocked Starks down with a shoulder block and then mocked Starks’ pose. Punk went to the ropes and struck the pose again. Starks returned through another side of the ring.
Starks performed some deep armdrags, which Steamboat is known for. Starks mocked Punk’s poses and held the ropes open for him. Punk smirked and entered through a different part of the ring. Bothe men went for their finishers and were unable to perform the moves. Starks clotheslined Punk and they both tumbled over the ropes heading into a PIP break. [C]
Starks accused Punk of poking his eye. Both men traded slaps. Starks put Punk in the corner and hit him with a barrage of punches. Punk spun Starks around and fired back with punches of his own. Starks slapped Punk and then headed to ringside. Starks pulled Punk to the floor with him. Punk sent Starks over the barricade and into the front row.
When Starks returned, Punk mounted him on the floor and fired punches at him until Steamboat pulled him off. Both wrestlers returned to the ring. Punk chopped Starks and then stood over him on the ropes and punched him until Starks picked him up and dumped him on the top rope.
Starks performed a baseball slide on Punk. Steamboat checked on Punk. The dueling chants started again and were pretty much equal. Riccaboni gave a shout out to Steve “Mongo” McMichael, who has been hospitalized. Starks took offensive control and maintained it heading into another PIP break. [C]
Punk superplexed Starks coming out of the break. Punk threw some punches and then hit a leg lariat. Punk performed a swinging neckbreaker. Punk followed up with a high knee in the corner and then bulldogged Starks before covering him for a two count.
Punk went up top and dove at Starks in what appeared to be a botched spot. Starks covered Punk for a two count. Punk hoisted up Starks for his finisher, but Starks slipped out. Punk sat down on Starks and hooked his legs while getting a two count.
Punk lowered his kneepad and went for a high knee, but Starks caught him and powerbombed him for a near fall. Starks grabbed Punk’s arm and went for his rope walk spot. Punk pulled Starks from the ropes and into position for his finisher, but Starks slipped away and shoved Punk through the ropes and into the ring post.
Starks charged Punk, who leaped over him. Starks crashed in the corner and was rolled up for a two count. Punk dropped Starks with a kick and got another two count. Punk went for a piledriver. Starks countered into an Alabama Slam for a near fall.
Punk and Starks traded shots in the ring. Starks ran the ropes and Punk dropped down to avoid him, which led to Starks running into the referee. REF BUMP!!! The referee tumbled to the floor where Steamboat checked on him. Starks took Punk down and pinned him while using the ropes for leverage. Steamboat shoved Starks’ legs off the ropes. Starks was upset with Steamboat. Punk rolled up a distracted Starks. Steamboat entered the ring and made the three count.
CM Punk defeated Ricky Starks to retain the “Real World Championship”.
Afterward, Steamboat raised the arm of Punk while a frustrated Starks sat on the mat. Punk and Steamboat hugged. Punk exited the ring and was on the apron when Starks shoved Steamboat into Punk. Starks threw punches at Steamboat and then removed his belt. Starks whipped Steamboat with the belt. Punk tried to return to the ring, but Starks knocked him back to the floor and went back to whipping Steamboat.
Punk returned with a chair to run off Starks. Punk tended to Steamboat and motioned for help while Starks slowly backed up the ramp. Starks walked back toward the ring. Punk saw him coming, grabbed the chair, and chased him. Punk threw the chair toward Starks, who avoided it and went backstage. Punk returned to the ring to join the trainer in tending to Steamboat. Punk showed frustration over what happened to Steamboat. Punk nodded along while fans chanted for Steamboat, who got to his feet and continued to sell the lashes he took…
Powell’s POV: Steamboat sold those lashes like the old school legend that he is. I wasn’t a big fan of the finish, but I enjoyed the match and really liked the post match angle. Starks took the loss, but he comes away from it with more heat due to attacking a legend. Speaking of legends, it was great to see Ross back from his medical leave. He looked and sounded healthy. The Collision style should be far more suitable to Ross than the chaotic nature of Dynamite. Overall, it was another quality episode of Collision with really good bookend matches. I will have more to say in my audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons) while filling in for Will Pruett this week.