REVIEW: Continental Classic finds footing in electric AEW Collision

Pair of anticipated rematches deliver

Bryan Danielson poses for the Montreal crowd before his match with Andrade El Idolo (Jake Schulz/December 5) 

MONTREAL, Que. – It may have been recorded on a Tuesday, but AEW Collision brought all the typical mayhem you’d expect from a Saturday night.

Collision has been a constant highlight this year since its inception in June, and while it may have lost a bit of originality and flair since CM Punk’s departure, it still houses some of the best wrestling on free television you can find.

Saturday’s tv card was no different. This week’s Collision was bookended by the Blue Group continuing their run at the Continental Classic, with a pair of rematches from earlier this year on tap.

Ring of Honor World Champion and NJPW Strong Openweight Champion Eddie Kingston looked for his first points of the tournament in a must-win matchup against a man he knows all too well: Claudio Castagnoli.

Weeks after their “dream match” in October, an eyepatched Bryan Danielson locked up with Andrade El Idolo once again in the main event; both men looking to jockey position in the standings of the tournament.

As well, a rare Kenny Omega TV singles match saw him battle fellow Canadian Ethan Page as an energetic Montreal crowd brought constant energy to their first show in AEW history.

With an episode featuring no in-ring promos, the action spoke louder than words would have, and put a bow on a tremendous two events in Montreal.

Continental Classic Blue Group: Eddie Kingston (0 points) vs. Claudio Castagnoli (3 points)

Eddie Kingston vs. Claudio Castagnoli (Jake Schulz/December 5)

Desperate to pick up points, Kingston immediately hit Castagnoli with a spinning backfist for a close two-count. Castagnoli countered with his neutralizer, which couldn’t keep Kingston down. From that point on, Castagnoli controlled much of the match, but Kingston refused to give up.

Like the rest of their matches, this was great back-and-forth action you’d expect from them; both men really sold the story of Kingston needing to climb a mountain to stay alive in the tournament. There was a decent amount of Castagnoli chants, but Kingston does what he always does, and slowly won them over with his in-ring storytelling.

The finishing sequence saw Kingston countering the Ricola Bomb to roll up Castagnoli and steal the victory.

Winner: Eddie Kingston

GRADE: A-

Analysis:

This was no different; the added flair of Kingston’s desperation to get points in the tournament and his longest rival standing in-between him accomplishing it worked great. It may be time to retire Castagnoli vs. Kingston for a bit, but after going 0-2 in the first two matches of the tournament, Kingston beats his long-time rival to stay alive in the Continental Classic.

The history between Kingston and Castagnoli has been talked about to death, and even with their blowoff in their feud on Ring of Honor earlier this year, it’s virtually impossible for these two to have a bad match. Claudio’s freakish strength and absurd technical skills pair exceptionally with Kingston’s ability to get the crowd to cheer for him in any level of adversity.

Mercedes Martinez vs. Willow Nightingale

Credit to AEW

After weeks of teasing, Mercedez Martinez went one-on-one with Willow Nightingale. Even with sporadic booking, Nightingale continues to get great reactions from crowds, and this match was no different.

Both women worked well together, and had a really solid match; there just lacked a lot of heat, despite Martinez’s best efforts. The match ended after Willow rolled up Martinez for the win, which did not sit well with the heels, as they beat up a defenceless Nightingale with a mini ladder before Kris Statlander came out to run the heels to the back.

Winner: Willow Nightingale

GRADE: B

Analysis:

It’s interesting AEW is revisiting this feud after seemingly pausing it late in the summer to focus more on Statlander’s TBS Championship run, but all four women are extremely talented, so it’s good to see them get some time here.

Martinez really does need something to get over with the crowd, because no matter how good she is in the ring, there’s not much to chew on elsewhere. Diamante is a star waiting to burst though, and she was certainly having a great time antagonizing the crowd at ringside.

Wardlow vs. Willie Mack

Credit to AEW

Wardlow destroyed Willie Mack with multiple powerbombs, the last one knocked him out cold. Wardlow continues to have some of the best high-power offence in the company, and the fact he picked up 300-pound Mack with ease is insane and terrifying at the same time.

Winner: Wardlow

GRADE: n/a

Analysis:

As is tradition in all of Wardlow’s matches since his return, he destroyed his opponent and walked out without saying a word. AEW have done a really good job at rebuilding Wardlow after his so-so TNT Championship reigns. With MJF in his sights, it’s only a matter of time before Wardlow reintroduces himself to the champion.

Kenny Omega vs. Ethan Page

https://twitter.com/AEW/status/1731135566819766311?s=20

In his first singles action on AEW since losing to MJF on Collision in June, Hamilton native Ethan Page threw down a challenge to one of Canada’s greatest wrestlers: Kenny Omega.

The crowd was excited to watch Omega wrestle, and was treated with a surprisingly longer match than many may have expected. The duo worked a showcase match for Page, who got in a lot of offence, and Omega sold each move exceptionally well, and Page slowly got a pro-Omega crowd to cheer for him.

This was probably the best usage of Page in a long, long time.

Still, Omega came out victorious after he countered Page’s pinfall attempt into multiple V-Triggers, and the One-Winged Angel to put Page down for the three-count.

After the match, Omega embraced Page before being attacked by Big Bill while he was walking to the back. Page hobbled to the top of the stage to save Omega as Bill gloated his way to the back.

Winner: Kenny Omega

GRADE: A-

Analysis:

It’s great to see Ethan Page back on television after being off AEW TV for awhile; he is in phenomenal shape.

All Ego has been one of the more underrated wrestlers in the company, and it’s nice to see him get rewarded with a long singles match showcasing his talents. He and Omega worked really well, and while typical face vs. face matches are pretty hard to buy into, both men did a great job at getting the Montreal crowd invested.

Hopefully this is the start of AEW utilizing Page a bit more, and if the post match angle is anything to go by, he very well might be.

Daddy Magic & Cool Hand Ang vs. Penta El Zero Miedo & Komander

Credit to AEW

The Montreal crowd went crazy for hometown wrestlers Menard and Parker, who were both clearly touched by the massive ovation. Booming “ole ole ole!” chants filled the arena to start the match, which led both teams to swap their usual dynamics to play with the crowd reactions.

A “Papa Magi” chant, a fun French spin on Menard’s Daddy Magic moniker, roared as the match continued, and as Menard got a massive hot tag to try and rally his team back after Parker spent awhile getting worked over.

Ultimately, Penta and Komander got the better of the crowd favourites as Penta and Komnder pinned the crowd favourites after an assisted package piledriver. 

Winners: Penta El Zero Miedo & Komander

Grade: B+

Analysis:

If you had said that the heel tag team of Menard and Parker would have had the biggest ovation on a card that featured Omega, Danielson, and Kingston who are some of the biggest babyfaces in AEW, no one would have believed you.

The action was always going to be good with the talent involved, but the reception for the hometown wrestlers and molten-hot crowd turned a basic match into something a lot more memorable. Penta is very good at sliding into using more villainous moves when he needs to, so it was easy to get behind the heel tag.

The result is what it is, since Menard and Parker never win, but this is just more evidence the crowd is ready to embrace the two once they decide to come to the other side. 

Continental Classic Blue Group: Bryan Danielson (6 points) vs. Andrade El Idolo (3 points)

Credit to AEW

After meeting in October, Bryan Danielson and Andrade El Idolo met once again on AEW Collision, but this time, there’s an eyepatch! Danielson’s orbital surgery was the focal point of the match, as the second Danielson began to show that his vision was faltering, El Idolo targeted his eye viciously.

At one point, El Idolo ripped the covering off Danielson’s face and threw it into the crowd (fun fact: it landed right in the hands of someone sitting ringside, who proceeded to put it on his face…not sure that was a good idea)

From this point on, the blood and swelling around Danielson’s eye came into full effect, as the blood slowly trickled down Danielson’s face. El Idolo continued to attack Danielson, but he refused to give up and kept fighting through his apparent reinjured eye.

The two continued to hammer each other with stiff looking slaps, kicks until the end where El Idolo pulled out his hammerlock DTD to win the match and beat Danielson clean, much to commentator Nigel McGuinness’ delight.

After the match, the ringside doctors and fellow Blackpool Combat Club members Claudio Castagnoli and Wheeler Yuta came out to check on Danielson, and were not too thrilled with Andrade, who was pleading with them as the show fades to black.

Winner: Andrade El Idolo

Grade: A

Analysis:

Remember when Tony Khan billed their first AEW encounter as a “dream match”? This was that match. El Idolo and Danielson leveled up their previous match with a bloody and vicious sequel that was filled with tons of tension surrounding Danielson’s eye.

The second that El Idolo threw the eyepatch off, the entire complexity of the match changed, and you could feel Montreal getting uneasy with what they were watching. Even the Blackpool Combat Club, who are known for pushing the envelope on violence had genuine concern for Danielson’s health.

Part of that is just terrific selling from Danielson, and part of that is fans worried that he sustained his third injury in the span of six-months. Thankfully, he’s okay, and the storyline of Danielson possibly overworking himself and coming back early from his injury will be one to watch as the tournament enters the back half. 

Andrade’s tenure with AEW has been up and down, but there’s denying just how good this recent stretch has been. It’s certainly the best he’s been in-ring since his days in WWE NXT, as he’s found a perfect mold of intensity and brutality which melded perfectly in this match. Beating Danielson is not necessarily an upset, but it’s a surprise, and is a massive star making performance for Andrade. 

Final Show Grade

AEW announced their Canadian Tour in 2024; credit to AEW

Grade: A

Analysis

This genuinely is one of the better episodes of Collision that AEW has done in awhile, and that says something because most are very strong.

This week’s edition had more juice, and the decision to focus on two rematches gave some satisfying narrative threads weaved throughout them. Claudio Castagnoli and Eddie Kingston used their rivalry to heighten the dire feeling of Kingston needing to win. Andrade El Idolo and Bryan Danielson felt massive, and began a story that Danielson can bring with him for the rest of the tournament.

For people who say that “tournaments don’t have storylines”, you can easily point them to this week’s edition of Collision. It’s a shame the arena wasn’t as filled because the Gold League has been outshining the Blue League all tournament long, and this week, Collision gave the Montreal fans the wrestling they deserve.

Here are the current standings for the Continental Classic as it enters its fourth week.

Continental Classic Gold League Standings

  • Jon Moxley (9)
  • Swerve Strickland (9)
  • Jay White (6)
  • Rush (3)
  • Mark Briscoe (0)
  • Jay Lethal (0)

Continental Classic Blue League Standings

  • Brody King (6)
  • Andrade El Idolo (6)
  • Bryan Danielson (6)
  • Eddie Kingston (3)
  • Claudio Castagnoli (3)
  • Daniel Garcia (0)

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Posted: Dec 9 2023 10:00 pm
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