By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer
AEW Collision (Episode 25)
Erie, Pennsylvania at Erie Insurance Arena
Aired live December 2, 2023 on TNT
Brody King opened the show with a backstage promo. Claudio followed that up by saying the time for talking is over. CJ Perry weighed in next to Andrade and Perry mispronounced his last name, so Andrade told Daniel Garcia he’d see him later. Garcia then spoke and said tonight, he will fight back and he wants to put Andrade in his place. From there, we went to Bryan Danielson, who called out Eddie Kingston. Danielson said he wants the best version of Kingston because if he doesn’t bring it, he’ll get hurt. Finally, we got to Kingston and Kingston said he didn’t have time to do this “cold open” thing. Kingston said he didn’t care about Danielson’s eye or arm. Kingston said all he cares about is winning and as a result, Kingston said he will bust Danielson up. Cue the Elton John music, and welcome to AEW Collision.
Tony Schiavone checked in from ringside. He was joined by Nigel McGuinness and Kevin Kelly (I have NJPW Strong Saturday night coverage flashbacks!) and they ran down the night’s card. Brody King then made his entrance.
1. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Brody King in a Continental Classic tournament Blue League match. The two traded blows to start the match and King got in a few stiff clotheslines, but Claudio hit him right back. Multiple double clothesline attempts went down, but it wasn’t until they both put some running behind those attempts that they finally went down. Ultimately, King landed a running kick to the face and that took Claudio down.
Claudio came right back, however, and hit a strong body-slam on King before clotheslining King over the top to the outside. Claudio followed King and landed a running uppercut before throwing King into a guardrail. King bounced right back, though, and clotheslined Claudio to the floor. King then took off some protection from the guardrail and threw Claudio into the crowd. The show then went to its first commercial break [C].
Back from break, Claudio worked King’s arm until King fought back and landed a running Senton. King went to a corner, but Claudio cut him off with a series of European Uppercuts. Claudio took King down and set up for the big swing, but King kicked out of it. Even so, Claudio came back with a double-stomp and he got a two-count out of it. King ran at Claudio and in a wild turn of events, Claudio threw King into the air and hit his trademark European Uppercut. That resulted in a good near-fall.
Claudio then actually figured out how to do the swing on King and did it a lot. From there, Claudio worked a Sharpshooter. King made to the ropes for a break. Claudio ran at King and King moved, throwing Claudio into the ring post. King then hit a Cannonball on Claudio, but Claudio kicked out at one. Claudio then slammed King, but King kicked out at one. Claudio came at King, but King caught him for a piledriver. That resulted in a great near-fall. King then landed a strong lariat and that was enough for the win.
Brody King defeated Claudio Castagnoli via pinfall in 12:33 to earn three points in a Continental Classic tournament match.
McGuire’s Musings: A great opening match. And speaking of my initial New Japan Strong reference, this was a Strong match on steroids – complete with Brody King chopping the hell out of someone. I was mildly surprised to see King go over, but I’m not complaining in any way. While we are still in the opening stages of the tournament, it feels like this might be used as a vehicle to elevate King in some way and I’m all for that. God bless Claudio, who did the honors and put King over hard in a way that made him look even stronger than he is. Plus … really … he did the swing! On Brody King! Nuts.
We got the backstage Jon Moxley promo that ran on social media over the weekend. Moxley said nobody does it like he does it. He said his body hurts and he lives in pain on a day to day basis. Moxley said he feels like his head isn’t on straight lately and he’s sick and tired of being sick and tired. Moxley said he’s tired of being depressed and being pissed off. Moxley said because of that, he’s going to wrestle and fight his way out of it. Moxley said he’s going to put every ounce of sweat and effort into winning the Continental Classic. Moxley said he’s the Ace Of The World, and there’s nothing anyone can bring to him worse than the demons he fights on a daily basis. Moxley asked everyone to take their shot. The show then went back to the ring.
2. Abadon vs. Keira Hogan. Hogan looked concerned early as Abadon cornered her. Before long, Hogan landed a shotgun dropkick, but Abadon came right back with a series of strikes. Abadon ran at Hogan moved and ultimately got in a hip attack and a super-kick. Hogan landed a running kick to the head for a two-count. Abadon countered a Hogan move into a side slam and fired the crowd up. Abadon hit a Cutter and got a two-count out of that. Abadon toyed with Hogan, but Hogan countered with some kicks and a Rick Rude neck-breaker, but Abadon kicked out of a pin attempt. Schiavone noted how Tony Khan (drink twice – it’s Saturday!) has standby matches if need be due to the tournament matches perhaps not going the length. Almost instantly, Abadon hit her finisher for the win.
Abadon defeated Keira Hogan via pinfall in 3:40.
After the match, the lights went out and went they came back on, Julia Hart stood in the ring behind Abadon. The lights then went out again and Hart disappeared. From there, Alex Marvez interviewed Samoa Joe backstage. Joe was cut off by a yelling Roddy Strong, who said Joe tried to break his neck twice. Strong said MJF was the devil and Joe teaming with MJF means Joe will be attacked. Strong said Wednesday will be a setup for MJF to have his goons “beat the crap out of” Joe. Joe laughed and walked away.
McGuire’s Musings: I know I’m just pinch hitting, but I’m all in on Brody King and Abadon getting some booking love, and for at least the first half-hour of this show, I can’t say I have much to complain about. Hart/Abadon makes a lot of sense and I’m glad the booking minds at AEW think the same. The match was what it was, but it still allowed Abadon to get some shine for the first time in years on a prominent AEW television show. Sure, Hart isn’t dropping that belt soon, but the marriage between her and Abadon feels like a natural fit.
3. Andrade El Idolo vs. Daniel Garcia in a Continental Classic tournament Blue League match. Andrade had control early and landed some loud chops. Garcia tried to throw Andrade out of the ring, but Andrade did his middle-rope pose. Andrade then went to the top and hit a cross-body. Andrade followed it up with a low dropkick and Garcia went to the outside, where Andrade landed a splash. Back inside the ring, Andrade went for a pin, but Garcia kicked out at one.
Garcia fired up and started in on Andrade’s leg, including a pair of dragon-screw leg whips. Andrade went to the outside and Garcia followed, but Andrade kicked Garcia in his midsection. Garcia fought back and threw Andrade into the guardrail. Back inside the ring, Andrade landed another loud chop and ultimately pushed Garcia off the top rope in a stiff moment. Garcia landed on the floor outside and the show went to a commercial break [C].
Back from the break, Garcia had control and tied Andrade into the Tree Of Woe. Garcia punched Andrade’s knee repeatedly. Garcia then hit a running dropkick and a brain-buster for a two-count. Garcia held Andrade and eventually hit a wild chop, but Andrade came back with a flying elbow. Garcia went for a lariat, but Andrade countered it into a Three Amigos … until Garcia telegraphed that into a sleeper hold. Andrade worked to a corner and from there actually completed the Three Amigos sequence, but Garcia kicked out at two.
Andrade went for a figure-four, but Garcia stepped through and worked a Sharpshooter of his own. Andrade wiggled his way out of hit and landed the Flatliner for the win.
Andrade El Idolo defeated Daniel Garcia via pinfall in 10:57 to earn three points in a Continental Classic tournament match.
McGuire’s Musings: Boy, QT Marshall wasn’t kidding when he said AEW was going in a more New Japan direction. OK, so reports are reports and who knows what’s real and what’s not, but the first hour of this show definitely feels like a matches-based company, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If AEW is the alternative to WWE, this is probably the best road to travel. This bootleg G1 is perfect to prove as much, too, as the matches are consistently very good to great. The first match tonight was great. This one was very good. But “very good” is still better than 99 percent of anything else you’ll see on American pro wrestling television. I continue to wonder what happens with Daniel Garcia as he seems to be caught in half-repackaged purgatory. It would have made sense to give him a win here, being right down the road from Buffalo, in Erie, Pennsylvania, but it was not to be. Here’s hoping he gets some more attention sooner than later.
Willie Mack cut a promo backstage and called out Wardlow. I’m not quite sure if that’s the best move a wrestler can make, but here we are. The Kingdom then made their entrance. Roddy Strong yelled and said called Samoa Joe his new best friend by proxy. Strong reiterated that MJF is the devil. Strong then dedicated the upcoming match to Adam Cole.
4. The Kingdom (Matt Taven and Matt Bennett) vs. The Iron Savages (Bear Boulder and Bear Bronson). The Savages had control early, but Taven turned things around with a kick to the head. Bronson came back with a choking power-bomb for a two-count. Boulder tagged in and danced a little before missing a moonsault. From there, The Kingdom had full control and inevitably hit their finishing spike piledriver to win the match.
The Kingdom (Matt Taven and Matt Bennett) defeated The Iron Savages (Bear Boulder and Bear Bronson) via pinfall in 2:29.
McGuire’s Musings: A quick squash that saw the Savages get more offense than I would have expected. Strong’s act is still funny … but friends, if I’m only stopping by for a stray Saturday night, I hope it’s OK to say that perhaps the end of the entertainment value of the act is close. The screaming is fun and the wheel chair can still get half a chuckle, but at some point, that story is going to have to move, and it’s going to have to move before Adam Cole is completely healthy again.
After the match, Strong ran into the ring to hit a running knee, but then, of course, returned to his wheelchair, which was kind of/sort of broken. After that, we got a backstage promo from Ethan Page, who noted how he’s been on a roll at Ring Of Honor. Page said he wanted to be one of the biggest names in Canada and as a result he challenged Kenny Omega to find out who the best Canadian wrestler is. After a Willow/Mercedes Martinez video package, we went back to the ring because a standby match was ready to go and, as Schiavone pointed out, Tony Khan (drink four times!) had standby matches in order. So, the House of Black was about to be in action.
5. House of Black (Malakai Black and Buddy Matthews) vs. Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal. Sydal and Matthews began the match. The two traded strikes and Sydal got the better of it before tagging in Daniels. Eventually, Matthews kicked Daniels away and tagged in Black, who received a nice ovation. Matthews tagged back in and ran into a chop from Daniels, but then Daniels ran into a kick from Black. With Daniels on the outside, Black hit a moonsault from the second rope. The show then went to a commercial break [C].
Back from the break, Sydal had control and pinned Black for a two-count after a leg-drop. Sydal went to the top, but Black cut him off. Daniels ran in for the save and we got dueling Meteoras. Sydal hopped up and ran into a knee from Matthews, but then Matthews ran into a knee from Sydal. Things broke down even more and Daniels landed a splash onto Black, who was on the outside. Back inside the ring, Daniels tried to roll up Black, but Black got out of it and Matthews hit a Curb Stomp on Daniels. Ultimately, Daniels ran into a Black Mass and Black got the win.
House of Black (Malakai Black and Buddy Matthews) defeated Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal via pinfall in 8:41.
After the match, the lights went out and FTR walked to the ring. Black got a microphone and said he assumed FTR was there to join the House of Black. Black said FTR are family men and the only people to have been there for FTR is the House of Black. The crowd chanted “House of Black!” Black said he has never once told a lie, and buds, we know what that meant. Black laid down the microphone and when FTR went to pick it up, the House attacked FTR. Black landed Black Mass on Cash Wheeler. Black got a microphone and yelled that no one was coming to save FTR. Black then hit a Black Mass on Dax The Axe.
A Collision Exclusive with Timeless Toni Storm aired. Storm asked for RJ City and complained that her hair wasn’t finished. Storm talked about how she was interrupted by Sky Blue and she made fun of Blue and her spookiness. Storm ultimately walked away.
McGuire’s Musings: I maintain that one of CM Punk’s best matches in AEW was the one he had with Matt Sydal on a random Rampage, but that’s neither here nor there. I suppose I bring that up only to say it was a pleasure to see Sydal mix it up with the House of Black guys because after all these years, that dude can still go. The outcome was expected, but it was fun getting there. The post-match stuff was interesting in its own way (see what I said on the “lie” comment that Black made), and all told, AEW can do a whole lot worse than HOB vs. FTR, so good on them for that. The Toni Storm promo is impossible to truly articulate in a written review. It continues to be one of the three most entertaining things in all of wrestling.
Skye Blue cut a solo promo backstage, sans black makeup down her face, so I guess that’s over. Turns out we’re going to get Blue vs. Storm for Storm’s belt on Wednesday’s Dynamite. In a shocking move, Tony Khan (drink 12 times!) put together yet another standby match, so to the ring, we went.
6. El Hijo del Vikingo vs. Kip Sabian. Vikingo had control early and went for a running splash, but Sabian got his foot up to cut Vikingo off. Sabian hit a moonsault from the second rope onto Vikingo, who was on the outside. The show then went to a commercial break, and if anyone has a line on a Kip Sabian action figure, let’s talk [C].
Back from the break, Vikingo hit a modified GTS. From there, Vikingo hit some type of flip, moonsault, 360 … I mean, I don’t know. It’s Vikingo. It was crazy and it worked. Sabian came right back, however, and the two fought on the top rope. Sabian got the best of it and eventually went to a pin, but only got a two-count out of a roll-up. Vikingo came back and went to the top with Sabian on the outside. Vikingo landed a corkscrew/tornado splash and back inside the ring, Vikingo hit the 630 splash for the win, and my God, that 630 had no give at all.
El Hijo del Vikingo defeated Kip Sabian via pinfall in 8:06.
After the match, Vikingo went for a handshake, but Sabian left the ring. From there, we went backstage for a Keith Lee promo. Shane Taylor walked into the frame and said they should give people the fight they really want to see. Taylor challenged Lee to a match at Final Battle and Lee accepted it.
McGuire’s Musings: Vikingo continues to be one of the most athletically entertaining wrestlers in the world. This was no exception as he pulled out all the stops in a random match on a random Saturday in a random town (love you, Erie!). If anything, it felt like the commentary team made it clear that Sabian was in this to remind everyone that he was on the pre-show to this year’s All In, and, well, don’t forget that 2024 All In tickets are on sale. Everyone wins.
CJ Perry was shown backstage in front of Andrade’s dressing room. Miro showed up and Perry told Miro not to lay a hand on Andrade. Miro gave Perry his word that he wouldn’t touch Andrade. Bryan Danielson’s music then hit and we went to the main event.
7. Bryan Danielson vs. Eddie Kingston in a Continental Classic tournament Blue League match. The two felt each other out to begin things. Danielson backed Kingston into a corner and slapped the hell out of him. The two then went back to feeling each other out … until Kingston chopped the braids out of Danielson and his hair and Danielson went to the mat. Kingston went to Danielson’s arm, but Danielson tripped Kingston and then worked some kicks on Kingston. Danielson hit some chops before hitting some kicks.
Danielson hit a German Suplex and Kingston found himself on the apron, where Danielson kicked Kingston’s legs to take him down. With the two on the outside, Kingston landed a back suplex to slow things down as the two were on the floor. From there, the show went to its final commercial break [C].
Back from that break, Danielson hit some elbows and a shotgun dropkick on Kingston, the latter of which came off the top rope. The two got back to their feet and exchanged strikes. Kingston lifted Kingston, but Danielson countered into a cross-face attempt. Ultimately, Danielson sunk in a Lebelle Lock. Kingston punched his way out of it, but Danielson returned the favor with some slaps. Danielson went for a Psycho Knee, but he missed and Kingston caught Danielson with a spinning back fist for a good near-fall. Kingston followed things up with a vertical suplex for a two-count.
Kingston hit some knees to Danielson’s orbital bone. Danielson came back with a back body-drop and a round-kick. From there, Danielson landed a series of Yes Kicks. Kingston caught Danielson’s final kick and laid in some crazy chops that echoed all the way to the Erie Zoo. Kingston hit a half-and-half and went for another spinning back fist, but Danielson countered with a suplex of his own. Danielson went back to the Yes Kicks. Danielson hit another suplex and went in on the Blackpool Combat Club stomps. Kingston flipped Danielson off and Danielson responded with a Psycho Knee for the win.
Bryan Danielson defeated Eddie Kingston via pinfall in 16:50 to earn three points in a Continental Classic tournament match.
Danielson posed on the second rope and riled up the crowd. Danielson found a sign from the crowd that said “Eddie is a bum,” and put it on top of Kingston as the show ended.
McGuire’s Musings: This was about what we’d expect from a match like this. Danielson is just so good. Like, so, so good. Pick a style. He can work it. Those ethos were applied here, as it wasn’t like Kingston was going to grapple his way to a win, and yet, Danielson still knew how to pull a great match out of a brawler who probably wasn’t going work a modified cross-face chicken wing to try and get the upper hand at any point. Some of those chops from both ends were brutal and both guys clearly came to make a point. As a result, the fans won.
And Erie, Pennsylvania, won! Hey, that arena looked ideal for a show like this. Smaller town. Smaller arena. Smaller show. It still felt great and the energy it packed was palpable. Collision is not Rampage – this I know for sure after spending all those weeks covering Rampage and now spending one night covering Collision. I understand AEW is in a lull currently, and because of that, it might have been easy to view this as a throwaway show, but it really wasn’t. The company is doing a good job establishing this tournament as a Real Thing that deserves Real Attention, and sometimes that means very good matches on a random Saturday night in December. Sure, no MJF. Sure, no Devil. Sure, not a bunch of story. But if you like really good pro wrestling, I don’t know how you could walk away from this episode with a cynical attitude. Good on AEW for staying the course.
Will Pruett will offer up an audio review (or at least I think, I hope!) sooner than later for Dot Net members and Patreon Patrons. For now, Happy December!