TORONTO — It’s only been two weeks, yet AEW Collision already feels like must-see television.
After a strong debut last week in Chicago, with the much talked about return of star CM Punk headlining the show, AEW Collision felt like a fresh direction for the young All Elite Wrestling company.
An ode to the sport’s past, the show graced our screens on Saturday, and was praised for its fresh match-ups — featured stars who had been off television for months, wrestlers like former TNT Champion Miro, Andrade El Idolo, and the aforementioned Punk, all returning with a fresh coat of paint to their characters.
Andrade turned face, starting a feud with the House of Black, Miro returned with his nastiness found once more, and ‘One Bill Phil’ stated that he “was done being nice,” alluding plenty to his controversial press conference at All Out 2022, one that saw an alleged altercation backstage that led to his suspension from the company.
This week in Toronto, just less than 24 hours away from AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling’s second ever Forbidden Door pay-per-view, Collision wet the appetite with yet another stacked card:
AEW Collision – June 24, 2023 from Scotiabank Arena; Toronto – ON (in order of segments)
- Darby Allen & Sting reveal their partner for Forbidden Door 2
- Swerve Strickland vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
- Brody King vs. Andrade El Idolo
- Christian Cage addresses the TNT Championship
- Owen Hart Cup Tournament: Nyla Rose vs. Willow Nightingale
- Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Jeremy Prophet
- CM Punk, FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Hardwood) & Ricky Starks vs. Bullet Club Gold (Jay White & Juice Robinson) & The Gunns (Austin and Colten Gunn)
Darby Allen and Sting reveal their partner for Forbidden Door
Collision kicked off with Tony Schiavone set to bring Darby Allen and Sting to the ring, but is interrupted by Chris Jericho and Minoru Suzuki. Jericho is disgruntled, blaming Allen for making he and Suzuki wait days to find out who he’ll be facing off against at Forbidden Door.
Jericho mentions that his tag partner, Sammy Guevara isn’t in Toronto because he’s upset how close Jericho and Suzuki have gotten, which prompts the strangest handshake that gets a cheer from the crowd. Jericho then confronts Tony Schiavone, threatening to hurt him if he doesn’t tell him who he’s facing.
Sting and Allen make their way to the ring, with Schiavone screaming his staple “IT’S STIIINGGGGGG” on the microphone for the entire audience to hear. Allen talks to the camera and tells Guevara that if he shows up at Forbidden Door Sunday night, he will not hold back. He then tells Jericho that his partner is someone who he knows well. And someone who beat him not long ago at the Tokyo Dome.
Tetsuya Naito’s music hits, the crowd erupts, and Jericho is beyond upset.
Naito makes his way to the ring, stares down Jericho and Suzuki before the two run away.
This was a solid way to kick off Collision. Short, sweet, and to the point, and finally introducing Naito to AEW was satisfying and exciting. There has been a lot of rumours running rampant about who would be teaming with Allen and Sting, and while Naito may not seem like an intriguing choice compared to some of the other names, it’s certainly better than Bill Goldberg. Naito and Jericho had good chemistry in their Wrestle Kingdom 13 match for NJPW, so his inclusion makes sense, and seeing two legends in Jericho and Sting face for the first time ever will be one for the ages.
Swerve Strickland vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
In perhaps the most random matchup of the year, Tony Khan decided to treat the Toronto crowd with a Forbidden Door preview.
The two locked up, and took turns mocking each other with Tanahashi’s air guitar taunt before Swerve took momentum after he trapped Tanahashi in the apron.
After a fair amount of back and forth competition, and a ton of showboating, Tanahashi went for his finisher in the corner, but nearly slipped off. Swerve hopped to his feat to try and cover the spot, before Tana hit it and scored the pinfall.
Winner: Hiroishi Tanahashi
MJF’s music hit after Tanahashi celebrated, but after awhile, he appeared on the titantron saying that he doesn’t want to spend any unnecessary time in Toronto, and because of that, he made sure Tony Khan put their title match on first so he can leave as fast as he can. In typical MJF fashion, he said he is going to do everything he can to embarrass the Ace of New Japan and retain his Triple B.
It’s fairly obvious the two were keeping this in the first gear to try and keep Tanahashi healthy going into his title match Sunday. Tanahashi is getting older, but he is still very capable of putting on great matches, this just unfortunately didn’t really live up past its announced hype, which is fine. The overall decision for Swerve to eat a clean pin is interesting, as he’s been losing a lot recently and is meant to be strong in his major feud with Keith Lee. Regardless, this was a solid opener that reintroduced Tanahashi to the AEW faithful.
Andrade El Idolo vs Brody King
After his return last week in a victory against Buddy Murphy, Andrade is facing off against another member of the House of Black in Brody King.
The match was physical from the start, with the two exchanging chops, and Andrade still selling the shoulder from his match from last week. Andrade went to the top rope at one point and did a moonsault off the top turnbuckle onto the outside, which got the crowd on their feet.
King tried to use his aggression and size, but Andrade continued to counter with his quickness and agility. King continued to chop down Andrade, as El Idolo’s chest turned more red the longer the match continued.
The bout came to a crescendo when Julia Hart distracted Andrade with his mask, which didn’t have much of an effect, as he was able to lock in the Figure Eight on King. Before King could tap, Buddy Matthews rushed the ring and attacked Andrade, causing the disqualification. Matthews posed with Hart and King, as Malakai Black looked on from the tron.
Winner: Andrade El Idolo via disqualification
In back-to-back weeks, Andrade has delivered the best pure wrestling match on the card. It’s so great to see him back on our screens, and the decision to make him a babyface was for the best. He’s a legit star, and to build him back up by letting him get loose and do what he does best is already getting over with the crowd. The DQ is not a finish AEW does often, so it’s impactful here, and makes sense to keep both men strong. It’ll be interesting to see where the rest of this feud goes, as it seems to be heading towards the rest of the members of Andrade’s old stable coming to aid him, but I’m not sure its the right choice to pair Andrade back with Jose and Rush. He’s doing well on his own.
Christian Cage addresses the TNT title
After Luchasaurus won the TNT Title from Wardlow last week on Collision, Christian Cage immediately took the title and treated it like he won it himself. Nothing changed here in his return to his hometown of Toronto as he walked his way down to the ring with the title around his shoulder.
Christian shuts down Christian Cage chants from the crowd by saying he was flooded by horrible memories of Toronto and that walking through Pearson International Airport reminded him of all the losers like the Toronto Maple Leafs. He berates them for cheering a team that made it past one round only to do what they do best: choke. Cage then tells a story about him being close personal friend of Kawhi Leonard during his time with the Toronto Raptors, and insinuating he told him to leave town.
Christian then turns his attention to the TNT title, where he vows to bring the title back to relevancy. He announces that there will be no more open titles, and that he will do everything he can to make sure that title stays on his…erm…their shoulder, as he poses with the title once more.
It’s a typical heel promo that we’ve all heard 1,000 times before, but it hits so different when it’s a heel in his hometown, and when that heel is Christian Cage. His smarmy antics have been entertaining for a year now, and the acting of the TNT title being his instead of someone else’s is hilarious. There was a lot of interesting blocking in this segment, specifically Christian standing in front of Luchasaurus. It’s pretty obvious this is going to end with Luchasaurus turning on Cage at some point. Let’s just hope that’s not for awhile and let the lucha dino and Christian have a lengthy title run, something this title desperately needs after hot potatoing for years.
Owen Hart Cup Tournament: Nyla Rose vs. Willow Nightingale
In a quarter-finals matchup of the women’s Owen Hart tournament, the Native Beast battled red hot Willow Nightingale, who’s been getting really nice reactions as of late.
The match-up on paper seems solid due to a lot of similarities in the two’s work rate, and the match was fairly back and forth, but there wasn’t much to write home about due to a slower than expected pace. Still, Nightingale looked really good in particular, and put away Rose with the Doctor Bomb to advance to the next round.
After the match, The Outcasts surrounded the ring and attempted to flank Nightingale, but Skye Blue ran to the ring with a chair in hand and scared The Outcasts away.
Winner: Willow Nightingale
Well, that’s not the most exciting way to open up the Owen Hart tournament. The match was fine, just very uninspiring. Nyla and Nightingale are both very solid wrestlers, but the two never clicked. The continued spotlight on Blue is certainly noticed. She’s impressed as of late, and it’s great to see her growth be rewarded with added TV time. As for the AEW Women’s title match at Forbidden Door, there might not be a lot of build, but both Storm and Nightingale are going to tear down the house.
Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Jeremy Prophet
It’s a jobber match. You know how this ended. Hobbs has a really nice powerbomb.
Winner: Powerhouse Hobbs
Let’s hope this tournament gives Hobbs a chance to build some more momentum after woefully losing the TNT title. And let’s hope QT Marshall is nowhere to be seen with him.
CM Punk, FTR & Ricky Starks vs. Jay White, Juice Robinson, Austin and Colten Gunn
For the second week in a row, CM Punk main evented AEW Collision with a stacked tag team match. With FTR returning to his side once more and staring down Bullet Club Gold again, boy was this crowd very different. While Punk might have gotten a hero’s return in Chicago, Toronto was anything but.
They greeted Punk with a chorus of boos and did not let down the entire match. The cheers were still there, but they were greatly outmatched.
Regardless of who was in the ring, Punk was being booed against, and he loved every single second of it. He embraced it and ran with it, even hitting Hulk Hogan’s leg drop at one point. It was baffling to watch the crowd reject everything Punk did, and it probably won’t be the last time this weekend he gets this mixed of a reaction.
Aside from the crowd, this was a fun and chaotic tag match that saw Punk see a lot more action than the previous week. It took last weeks match and upped it; more interaction between Jay White and Punk, and this match felt very much so in the wheelhouse of White.
The match came to an end when White hit the Blade Runner on Ricky Starks to win for his team. The Gunns and Bullet Club Gold posed in the middle of the ring, seemingly confirming The Gunns inclusion into the famous boy club.
Winner: Bullet Club Gold & The Gunns
This was every bit as chaotic as Collision has offered us. Punk looked great and less rusty than last week, and was having the time of his life with the crowd reactions. White continues to look strong, with this being the best showcase for his talents in his short AEW career thus-far. But really, the real winners are The Gunns. This team has grown so far in such a short time, and from a team that was mocked and seen as nothing more than “jobber fodder” to now being former tag champs and in Bullet Club Gold is nothing to snuff at. They look the part, they feel the part. They’ve grown a lot in a short time. The winners may seem surprising at first, but it’s fresh and keeps GCG looking strong.
Overall Show Grade
Collision followed up on its debut with another well-paced, well-executed go-home show that delivered everything it needed to. With just two episodes under its belt, AEW has managed to create a show that feels hungrier, fresh, and different Dynamite in the best ways possible. With two great matches (the personal favourite being King/Andrade) and two entertaining promos, it already was a win, but when you add the debut of Naito and the crowd’s energy, it pushes Collision into a higher tier. If two weeks are to go off of, Collision is making a statement that it is the show to watch.
AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door card:
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson
- IWGP United States Championship: Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay
- AEW World Championship: MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
- IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Sanada vs. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry
- AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy vs. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Daniel Garcia
- Owen Hart Cup Tournament: CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima
- AEW Women’s World Championship: Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale
- Blackpool Combat Club (Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta), Konosuke Takeshita & Shota Umino vs. The Elite (Hangman Page & The Young Bucks), Eddie Kingston & Tomohiro Ishii
- Sting, Darby Allin & Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki
- Adam Cole vs. Tom Lawyer
- Owen Hart Cup Tournament: Athena vs. Billie Starkz (Zero Hour)
- United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher, & TJP) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, BUSHI, & Hiromu Takahashi) (Zero Hour)
- Stu Grayson vs. El Phantasmo (Zero Hour)
- Mogul Embassy (Swerve Strickland, Toa Liona, & Bishop Kaun) vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta) and El Desperado (Zero Hour)