By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Collision (Episode 12)
Chicago, Illinois at United Center
Aired live September 2, 2023 on TNT
[Hour One] The show opened with Tony Khan standing backstage with a microphone. Khan welcomed viewers to Collision. “Today I had to make one of the toughest decisions of my professional career,” Khan said. “Today I terminated Phil Brooks/CM Punk, for cause. This stems from a backstage incident at AEW All In last Sunday.
“The incident was regrettable and it endangered people backstage, that includes the production staff, the people who put the show on every week, innocent people who had nothing to do with it. I have been going to wrestling shows for over thirty years. I’ve been producing them on this network for over four years. Never in all that time have I ever felt, until last Sunday, that my security, my safety, my life was in danger at a wrestling show. I don’t think anybody should feel that way at work. I don’t think the people I work with should feel that way, and I had to make a very difficult choice today.
“It came at the recommendation of a discipline committee here in AEW, as well as outside legal counsel, who delivered a unanimous recommendation, and I have followed up on that recommendation. I’m sorry to any fan who is upset by this, I’m sorry to anyone who is upset by this.”
Khan said despite this, they would have a great Collision and a great AEW All Out pay-per-view. Khan said it’s the greatest week in AEW history and then set up a video package on AEW All In…
Powell’s POV: Khan also delivered an in-person statement to the Chicago crowd. The big question now is what type of discipline Jack Perry will face for the unscripted line he used during the AEW All In pre-show that triggered the backstage incident. On a side note, there were technical issues with the video that played.
The Collision opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage… Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness were on commentary, and Dasha was the ring announcer…
Tony Schiavone stood inside the ring and introduced Ricky Starks, who was accompanied by Big Bill. Starks carried a weightlifting belt with his name on it and handed it off to Bill, who remained at ringside. Once Starks was in the ring, Schiavone asked Starks if he was out of his mind for challenging a 70 year-old man to a strap match.
Starks took the mic from Schiavone. Starks said he found himself at square one. He said he is so tired of having to start over. He said he does it because he shows up and shows out and delivers every single time. Starks said no matter how many people try to suck the life out of him, it doesn’t work. Starks said you can’t put a lid on a boiling pot because he will overflow.
Starks addressed Big Bill and told him that he’s a hell of a dude. Starks said Bill overcame addiction. He said he was telling him from his heart that he can do whatever he wants. Starks said he believes in Bill and believes in himself. Bill acknowledged Starks by holding up his fist.
Starks said he’s tired and frustrated. He said there were so many things he could say, but he would be a man about it and do what he needed to do. Starks said he sat at home and watched AEW All In. He asked if there wasn’t time for him. He said it’s because he was suspended for whipping Ricky Steamboat. Starks called out Steamboat and said he hopes he will someday see what he did what he did.
Ricky Steamboat made his entrance to a good reaction. Steamboat walked intently to the ring with a contract folder in his hand. Steamboat said he never complained on social media about what Starks did to him. He said he heard Starks wants to have a strap match with him.
Starks said he reached out to AEW legal. He showed off the contract that read Ricky Starks vs. The Dragon in a strap match. Starks signed the contract. Steamboat said people know him in pro wrestling as The Dragon. “But they also know this guy,” Steamboat added.
“American Dragon” Bryan Danielson made his entrance. He wore a Blackpool Combat Club jacket with “Dragon” on the back and played to the crowd as he headed to the ring. Danielson entered the ring. Starks said it was supposed to be Steamboat. The crowd chanted “You f—ed up.”
Danielson signed the contract and then looked at Starks, who said that if this is the bed that he lays in, he’s going to make sure he’s real comfortable. Steamboat said they just wanted to make sure that Starks got what he wanted and said he has his strap match…
Powell’s POV: Starks seem to be do some legitimate venting about having to start over now that his program with Punk has come to an end. It’s tough to blame Starks for being frustrated, and he didn’t say anything that the company should worry about. In fact, it was actually a nice moment when he praised Big Bill for overcoming his addiction issues. The angle was cute with the heel being outsmarted. Danielson seemed to be a babyface mode despite being part of the BCC, but perhaps it will be for one night only.
Jon Moxley stood backstage and delivered a promo about called Orange Cassidy the player that no one can checkmate and the puzzle that no one can solve. Moxley said some idiots call Cassidy a cosplay. Moxley asked who Cassidy is intending to be. He asked if anyone of them became the winningest champion in pro wrestling.
Moxley said Cassidy beat him a couple of years ago by forfeit. Moxley said that’s all Cassidy is going to get. Moxley said Cassidy is on the run of a lifetime. Moxley said there are times he’s won a match before the bell rings, but Cassidy looks like the real thing to him. Moxley said people would find out one way or another on Sunday. Moxley said he would target Cassidy’s soul and his will to even be here.
Moxley said some wrestlers say they want to be perceived as great pro wrestlers, but they don’t really want to be great wrestlers because they look for a way out when things get hard. Moxley wondered if Cassidy would look for a way out when things get hard. Moxley said he hopes not. Moxley said there’s a lot of people who believe in Cassidy and told him not to disappoint us…
Entrances for the AEW Trios Title match took place. Max Caster rapped and was censored by dropping a line about his ball sack….
1. “The Acclaimed” Antony Bowens, Max Caster, and Billy Gunn vs. Matt Menard, Angelo Parker, and Daniel Garcia (w/Jake Hager) for the AEW Trios Titles. Garcia caught Bowens in the Dragon Tamer. Bowens reached the ropes, but the referee was distracted. Gunn eventually broke the hold heading into a picture-in-picture break. [C]
The heel trio isolated Caster. Gunn took a hot tag and was on the verge of hitting a move when he was distracted by Hager on the apron. Gunn came back moments later anyway and put Menard down with a Fameasser. Bowens performed The Arrival and then Caster hit the Mic Drop and got the pin..
“The Acclaimed” Antony Bowens, Max Caster, and Billy Gunn defeated Matt Menard, Angelo Parker, and Daniel Garcia to retain the AEW Trios Titles.
After the match, the Acclaimed used their custom belts to do their scissoring routine…
Powell’s POV: A routine Acclaimed match.
Backstage, Lexi Nair interviewed Alex Reynolds, John Silver, and Evil Uno. Silver said most people don’t remember that Adam Cole was their best friend, but he threw it away to team with MJF. Reynolds said a lot of people don’t know that he helped train MJF. He recalled telling MJF that he would have to do whatever it takes to win.
Reynolds said MJF took that advice and he couldn’t be prouder of him for what he’s accomplished. Reynolds said looking back, MJF was the only one who took that advice. Reynolds said that would change at All Out because they would do whatever it takes to beat MJF and Cole “because we have to”…
Kelly hyped a tag team match for after the break… [C]
Ricky Starks and Big Bill were walking backstage when Tony Schiavone approached and asked him for his reaction to facing Bryan Danielson in a strap match. Starks said he knocks every opportunity they give him out of the park. He said he would show Danielson that he is who they say he is…
2. “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis vs. Nick Wayne and Komander (w/Alex Abrahantes). Fletcher and Davis hit a series of nice double team moves on both opponents and picked up a two count on Komander heading into a PIP break. [C]
Wayne took a hot tag and had a good flurry of offense on his opponents. Wayne capped it off with a top rope frogsplash on Fletcher for a near fall. Fletcher came back with a wicked suplex and then tagged out. Davis held up Wayne and then Fletcher set up for a move, but Komander cut him off with a kick.
Davis took out Komander with some power moves. Wayne got the better of Aussie Open briefly. Wayne went to the ropes and dove at Fletcher and Davis, who caught him and then performed their Coriolis finisher. Fletcher covered Wayne and scored the pin.
“Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis defeated Nick Wayne and Komander.
After the match, Schiavone entered the ring and said Wayne has a bright future. Wayne said he was frustrated he lost the match. He said he is even more frustrated by Darby Allin forgiving AR Fox despite what he did to Wayne.
Allin came out with a mic in hand and asked Wayne to stop. Allin entered the ring and said he would explain why he forgave Fox. Allin said Wayne knew what happened between him and his father. Allin said he didn’t talk to the Wayne family for three years. Allin said he burnt a bridge and Nick’s father passed away before he could make things right.
Allin said AR Fox is another one of his trainers and he had to let go of the hate. Allin said Wayne didn’t need to do it now, but he asked him to find it in his heart to let things go. Allin said he would fight for the TNT Championship on Sunday and added that it would be an honor if Wayne would be in his corner.
Christian Cage’s entrance music played and he made his entrance along with Luchasaurus. Cage stood on the stage and said it was rude of him to say much about Nick’s father last week when he forgot to ask what his mom’s name is. Cage said she wasn’t in the building, so he might slide into her DMs.
Cage accused Allin of using Wayne as a pity project so that he can feel like a good person. Cage said Allin is a loser in life. Cage told Nick to bring a towel with him to ringside because it would be a massacre. Cage called Luchasaurus the most complete big man in the business today. Cage said he, then corrected himself to say that Luchasaurus would stand on top forever…
Powell’s POV: Allin provided a really good explanation for why he forgave Fox. I appreciate the effort to make this storyline make as much sense as possible despite the change in direction caused by Fox not being able to travel to London for All In.
Footage aired from last Wednesday at Dynamite of Claudio Castagnoli speaking while Wheeler Yuta stood by weary from his match. Castagnoli congratulated Eddie Kingston for beating the youngest member of the BCC. Castagnoli said he had a news flash for Kingston. Castagnoli hit Yuta with several uppercuts. He said they beat Yuta every day of the week. He said the difference between Yuta and Kingston is that Yuta keeps getting up.
Castagnoli said he thought Kingston going to Japan would change him and make him a better man. Castagnoli said he was wrong. He said he saw Kingston cry when he won the NJPW Openweight Title and said he couldn’t lose any more respect for him. Castagnoli walked away and then Yuta fell to the ground…
They cut to Eddie Kingston and Katsuyori Shibata. Kingston scoffed at Yuta letting Castagnoli beat him up. Kingston said Castagnoli is a coward who won’t fight him again. Kingston asked Shibata what he thinks of Castagnoli and Yuta. Shibata held up his phone translator and it said, “They both suck”… [C]
Powell’s POV: I can’t think of a better Castagnoli promo. It was creative, logical, and well delivered. Yuta falling over at the end got a lot of cheers and laughs from the live crowd. Great stuff.
Footage aired of Saraya pinning Toni Storm to win the four-way for the AEW Women’s Championship at All In. Additional footage aired of Ruby Soho taking out Kris Statlander with a kick on Dynamite…
Backstage, Lexi Nair asked about dissension in The Outcasts. Saraya told Nair not to be ugly and said she was being disgusting. Saraya said they should talk about her and how she won in front of friends and family. She said they are stuck in America in Chicago where she could smell their breath.
Soho said Statlander has never beaten her. She told Nair not to worry about The Outcasts. She said they will have two titles after All Out. Soho said she saw Toni Storm half-naked in the parking lot throwing shoes at birds, but said Nair should worry about that. Soho wrapped up by saying she would win the TBS Title…
[Hour Two] Schiavone stood in the ring and introduced Dennis Rodman after running through some of his NBA statistics. Rodman made his entrance to a good ovation and they also showed the Chicago Bulls championship banners in the rafters.
Rodman joined Schiavone inside the ring and put an unlit cigar in his mouth. Rodman faced the crowd. Schiavone had him turn toward the hard camera and then asked him what he was doing in AEW.
Jeff Jarrett’s entrance theme played and he haded out with Karen Jarrett, Jay Lethal, Satnam Singh, and Sonjay Dutt. The heels all entered the ring. Jeff dismissed Schiavone and said he had a deal to make. Jarrett said he and Rodman go way back and everyone in the ring had something in common.
Jarrett said Singh, who had a basketball with him, was one of the greatest basketball players of all-time and so was Rodman. Jarrett spoke about Rodman’s run in the NWO without mentioning the faction name. Jarrett said if Rodman wants to run with the bulls and get real heat, he should join his family.
Rodman took the mic and played to the Chicago crowd. He said it was his first time in Chicago in 13 years. Rodman said he was sorry he couldn’t be there, then said he was happy the fans love AEW. Jeff told him to give his answer. Rodman said that when he was playing basketball, Shaq was as big as Singh. “I whipped his ass,” Rodman said.
Dutt had everyone else leave him and Rodman in the ring so that he could show them there was no funny business. Dutt offered a handshake. Rodman threw Dutt to the mat. The heels climbed onto the apron.
The Acclaimed’s entrance music started and they joined Rodman in the ring while the heels went to ringside. Anthony Bowens invited the heels to fight them. Billy Gunn said he wasn’t wrestling twice in one night. He said they had nothing to do on Sunday, and said they would put the AEW Trios Titles on the line with Rodman in their corner…
A Shane Taylor video aired. Taylor spoke about challenging Samoa Joe for the ROH TV Title at All Out…
Samoa Joe delivered a backstage promo. He said that to say the week has been turbulent would be an understatement. Joe said that in times of turmoil, the jackals come out to feast. Joe said Taylor things something great is going to happen, but he was giving him a reality check. Joe said Taylor will hope and wish for success, but in reality he will hope that Joe stops hitting him and he’ll wish he’d never put Joe’s name in his mouth…
Powell’s POV: A strong promo from Joe. I’m a fan of Taylor’s work and I’m looking forward to the match. Unfortunately, they didn’t bother to build up Taylor on AEW television heading into this match, so there are surely plenty of viewers who are unfamiliar with him.
3. “The Outcasts” Saraya, Toni Storm, and Ruby Soho vs. Britt Baker, Hikaru Shida, and Kris Statlander. The entrances were televised. Shida stopped just short of hitting Baker after Saraya ducked out of the way. [C]
Statlander took a hot tag and had a nice run of offense that was capped off by a powerbomb on Saraya. Statlander had the pin, but Soho ran in and broke it up. The wrestlers had a series of rapid fire spots. Statlander powerslammed Saraya.
Storm dropped and elbow to break up the pin, but Statlander avoided it and Storm hit Saraya. Worse yet, she landed on Saraya’s arm and it looked like Saraya was legitimately injured. Soho tagged in and eventually Saraya used spray paint on Baker from ringside while the referee was distracted. Soho pinned Baker moments later…
Britt Baker, Hikaru Shida, and Kris Statlander beat “The Outcasts” Saraya, Toni Storm, and Ruby Soho.
Powell’s POV: The spray paint finish remains a groan inducing moment. Hopefully Saraya’s arm is okay.
Adam Cole delivered a backstage promo. He put over Silver and Reynolds as an amazing tag team, but he said they are not better than him and MJF. Cole read texts from MJF, who brought up Reynolds training him. MJF said it took him nine years to get rid of all of his bad habits. Cole also read a line from MJF about how he didn’t know they could stack crap as high as Silver, then said it’s actually easy because Silver is the size of a dollar store garden gnome… [C]
Kris Statatlander was interviewed by Nair on the backstage set. Statlander she wouldn’t fall for the spray paint. Ruby Soho and Saraya showed up. Soho and Statlander bickered. Saraya stepped in and said, “Shut up, you stupid bitch, she’ll see you tomorrow. Statlander awkwardly yelled that she would see Soho tomorrow…
Powell’s POV: Saraya didn’t seem to be favoring her arm during this segment, so that’s encouraging.
4. Powerhouse Hobbs vs. GPA. Hobbs attacked GBP before the bell. The referee rewarded him for it and called for the bell to start the match. Hobbs put GPA down with a spinebuster and pinned him.
Powerhouse Hobbs beat GPA in 0:10.
Afterward, Miro came out and brawled in and around the ring with Hobbs. Miro tried to power up Hobbs at ringside, but Hobbs tumbled over the ringside barricade. Hobbs backed up into the crowd while Miro stood on the other side of the barricade…
Powell’s POV: A squash match followed by a decent brawl between Hobbs and Miro to set the table for their match at All Out.
The broadcast team ran through the All Out lineup. They announced the following matches for the All Out pre-show: The Over Budget Battle Royal, Athena, Mercedes Martinez, and Diamante vs. Hikaru Shida, Willow Nightingale, and Skye Blue in a trios match, and The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn with Dennis Rodman in their corner vs. Jeff Jarrett, Jay Lethal, and Satnam Singh…
A video package aired on Don Callis, Kenny Omega, and Konosuke Takeshita… [C]
Orange Cassidy sat on a production crate with the AEW International Title belt at his side. Cassidy said he didn’t like this. He said he didn’t like talking, but his match with Jon Moxley isn’t just another title defense. Cassidy said it’s everything he’s been building to.
Cassidy spoke of proving himself against Pac and Will Ospreay. Cassidy said Moxley is the best. He said Moxley picked up AEW when it was down and put all of the weight on his shoulders. The fans applauded. Cassidy said that he would beat Moxley, take the weight off his shoulders, and put it on his own shoulders…
Entrances for the main event took place and Jim Ross was on commentary for the main event. Highlights aired from All In of The Young Bucks blowing off the handshake offer from FTR…
5. Jay White (w/Juice Robinson, Austin Gunn, Colten Gunn) vs. Dax Harwood (w/Cash Wheeler). They took a break early in the match. Harwood was dumped to ringside. The heels approached him on the floor, but Wheeler chased them off with a chair.
Back inside the ring, White avoided a charging Harwood, who crashed in the corner, and then White hit him with a DDT and covered him for a two count. Kelly hyped All Out and said they know they are asking a lot of their fans, but he touted the journey the company has taken them on over the last seven days.
A short time later, Harwood superplexed White. Harwood went for a top rope headbutt that White avoided. White covered Harwood for a two count heading into the final PIP break. [C] Harwood put White down with a brainbuster for a near fall.
White rolled to the floor and tried to escape over the barricade. Harwood caught him and chopped him. Harwood chopped White a second time before dragging him over the apron and throwing him back inside the ring. Harwood hit White with a chop on the apron, but White knocked him to ringside.
Moments later, White caught Harwood climbing back in the ring and used the ropes while performing a dragon screw leg whip. White picked up another near fall. White no-sold a lariat and then put White down with a lariat of his own. Harwood put White down with a piledriver and got a close near fall.
Kelly said White had never tapped out during his career. Harwood set up White for a move from the ropes, but White shifted onto him and got a near fall. White ran Harwood through the ropes and into the ring post, the put him down with a uranage for a near fall.
White picked up Harwood and gave him a sleeper suplex. White picked up Harwood and went for the Bladerunner, but Harwood held onto the ropes. Harwood hit a slingshot powerbomb for a close near fall. Harwood put White in a Sharpshooter, but he fell to his knees and then White scrambled to the ropes.
[Overrun] White’s sidekicks pulled him to the floor. Harwood followed. White put Harwood down with a Bladerunner on the floor. White threw Harwood back inside the ring. White approached Harwood, who caught him in an inside cradle for a near fall. White got up and hit the Bladerunner and covered Harwood for the pin.
Jay White defeated Dax Harwood.
After the match, Robinson and the Gunns rushed the ring and helped up White while celebrating his win. Wheeler entered the ring and checked on Harwood. The heels backed Wheeler into a corner. Wheeler dove on one of the Gunns, but he was quickly outnumbered.
“The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson ran out and chased Gunn Club away. There were a lot of boos. The Bucks offered Harwood and Wheeler handshakes, but the FTR duo returned the favor by blowing them off and leaving the ring.
Powell’s POV: The strong match that one would expect from these two. The post match angle would have been logical in any other building and perhaps even in this building on another night. But it had to come off to some Punk fans in the building like they were being trolled. After all, the show opened with Khan announcing Punk’s termination and then closed with two of Punk’s most notable adversaries.
Overall, they crammed in plenty of hype for All Out, but it still feels like a weak lineup, especially when AEW is asking fans to buy pay-per-views on back-to-back Sundays. Will Pruett’s weekly AEW Collision audio review is available for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Collision by grading the show below.
Joie for my live review of AEW All In on Sunday night.