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AEW Collision recap & reactions (Aug. 12, 2023): CM Punk choked out

AEW Collision (Aug. 12, 2023) emanated from Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC. The show featured Samoa Joe butting in on CM Punk & FTR challenging the House of Black for the trios titles, Ricky Starks spitting fire about bringing war, Arn Anderson in Horsemen Country, and more.

Get caught up on all the Collision details with top-notch play-by-play from Cain A. Knight.

Saturday night is alright for fighting. The Acclaimed aimed to get back on track, Christian Cage wanted to grow his legacy holding the TNT championship, and CMFTR looked to add three more belts to their collection.

CM Punk choked out

The main event attraction for the evening was CM Punk & FTR challenging the House of Black for the AEW World Trios Championship. They were given close to 30 minutes of ring time to work their craft. The participants delivered a good match, not great, then satisfaction flew the coop for the finish. Shenanigans were afoot, and that was to be expected considering Punk and FTR aren’t in position to eat a clean loss at the moment. Before we dive into that match, there is context to explain regarding Samoa Joe.

Joe wrestled earlier in the show to maul Andrew Everett. Victory was earned via Coquina Clutch. Afterward, the King of Television reiterated his challenge to Punk for All In. Joe had given Punk a week to answer, and it was met with the deafening silence of a coward. Joe extended Punk the courtesy of asking. Now, he is going to take action to convince Punk. Joe slayed this promo as he often does.

Fast forward to the main event. Jim Ross arrived for commentary. The big fight feel was in the air.

Both teams worked the crowd building to hot tags. After a fair bit of action, we were treated to an electric showdown between Punk and Malakai Black. It culminated in a slick spot of Punk ducking a head kick to sit in his cross-legged position without fear.

That moment led to a donnybrook erupting.

It took until under five minutes remaining in the show for the first semi-believable pinfall attempt. FTR executed a double superplex to Brody King, then Punk crashed down on top for a flying elbow drop. That wasn’t enough to finish.

An outburst of offense exploded from both sides leaving everyone down on the mat. The challengers were quicker to recover. Punk landed a suicide dive on Black. Little did Punk know that Joe was lurking in the stands. Joe did as he said he would. He took action to convince Punk by choking him out. Meanwhile, Julia Hart was distracting the referee and Dax Harwood. King clobbered Harwood with a discus lariat to retain the gold.

Like I said earlier, this was a good match, not great. The emotion and intensity were popping, but it lacked drama for such a long affair. It amounted to high-quality wrestling without the deep connection that makes matches special. The finish left a lot to be desired. AEW booked a superfight out of thin air and didn’t have the cojones to deliver a satisfying ending. By satisfying, I mean to find out who truly was the better team on that evening. AEW ran the cop-out route with funny business. To make it worse, this huge match took a backseat to a different storyline. Not to mention production completely missed the finishing move. They had to air a replay of King’s discus lariat.

I do have to give positive credit in one regard. In terms of building Joe versus Punk at All In, hell yeah. Joe’s promo and chokehold fired up an already heated rivalry. It was in the spirit of competition before. Now, it becomes personal.

Ricky Starks is bringing war

Ricky Starks opened the program spitting fire with blazing charisma. His sass had too much flash to boo. Starks’ absolute attitude stole the show.

Tony Schiavone conducted an in-ring interview that quickly got out of hand. It was revealed that Starks was suspended from wrestling for 30 days as punishment for whipping Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat last week. Starks explained that Steamboat had it coming as consequences for his actions. Steamboat cost Starks the match against CM Punk, so Absolute had to whoop that ass. He compared it to a parent enforcing discipline out of love. When Schiavone’s facial expression was appalled, Starks threatened to whip him too over that dumbass look.

Starks turned up the heat after that by accusing AEW of a history screwing good guys. He viewed this situation as Punk’s fault for bringing Steamboat into the match. Starks declared that he’ll still be on Collision each week despite the suspension, because he acquired a managerial license.

Starks will set the whole company on fire by bringing war to the front door.

Damn, that’s how to build excitement in a hurry. Starks’ passion shined through the screen. His cadence of speech was effective in firing up the masses. He spoke in a way that was damn entertaining without creating sympathy, so the cheers should still be there for a babyface to serve Starks payback on behalf of Steamboat. Dropping the bomb of war perked my ears up with intrigue. I’m pumped for next week to see who Starks brings by his side. I hope these aren’t empty words to placate a storyline suspension. If AEW goes full steam ahead with Starks creating a faction, then there is high potential for entertainment in the coming weeks.

Let’s jam through the rest of Collision.

The Acclaimed defeated Iron Savages. Emotion was heavy for The Acclaimed to compete without Billy Gunn by their side. Anthony Bowens was about to say, “Scissor me, daddy,” before realizing that Daddy Ass wasn’t there anymore due to retirement. The Acclaimed started slow, but they found their groove in the end to win via double Fame-Assers.

The Acclaimed gave the fans a chance to say goodbye, since Billy’s retirement was unexpected.

If this retirement story is an angle, then AEW is manipulating it well. I still can’t tell for sure yet if the plan is for Billy to come back. They are pushing all the right buttons by milking sadness from The Acclaimed and playing to the crowd for Daddy Ass chants. This is building up for a huge pop if Billy does indeed return for one more run with his favorite boys. Winning the trios titles has potential to be one of the loudest reactions in AEW history.

Bullet Club Gold. Enjoy this pre-show video of those goofballs turning Juice Robinson from soft to rock hard.

On the show, “Switchblade” Jay White proclaimed the Bang Bang Gang as the most elite version of Bullet Club ever. They took exception with the posers calling themselves the Elite. White also derided the Young Bucks for calling themselves the best brother tag team ever. The Gunns challenged the Jacksons for a match on Dynamite.

Bullet Club Gold’s wacky energy is money. This promo has me thinking about the unofficial roster split. It was a smart way to explain their transition over to Dynamite on Wednesday. It feels more formal than random casual appearances. We’ll see if Bullet Club returns to Collision next week. If not, that’s okay, because they clearly stated their purpose for a new feud.

Mercedes Martinez & Diamante defeated Kris Statlander & Willow Nightingale. Fiery action. The best part was Martinez using her partner to execute a Razor’s Edge toss over the ropes onto the pile below as Diamante flipped middle fingers to the crowd.

The finish broke down into chaos. Martinez scored a roll-up on Willow, and Diamante added illegal leverage to prevent escape.

That match was a blast of fun for two reasons. The different methods of teamwork were neat. Both squads wrestled as a unit rather than singles wrestlers mashed together, but they did it with a visual learning curve to observe their chemistry on the fly. More importantly, they were all full of emotion as characters. Screaming with intensity, flipping the bird, and such made it feel like a wild fight. It is easy to believe a genuine feud is starting to burn, and that leaves me wanting more from these four.

Enjoy part of Ian Riccaboni’s rap and Nigel McGuinness’ reaction.

Impromptu TNT title match. Christian Cage taunted the North Carolina crowd by claiming LeBron James was a better basketball player than Michael Jordan. Christian took the blasphemy a step further to claim he was a far superior wrestler than Ric Flair. That’s when Arn Anderson made an entrance. He was flanked by Brock Anderson to do the fighting.

After Luchasaurus and Brock already started the match, commentary relayed the message to viewers that Tony Khan made it an official TNT title match. This was a ridiculous detail in execution when considering the actual wrestlers in the ring wouldn’t even know they were competing for the championship. Brock fought tough, but the dinosaur smashed him in the end. A chokeslam led to a hammering clothesline to the back of the neck for victory.

Afterward, Darby Allin ran in to attack the TNT champions with a skateboard. Christian ducked, but Luchasaurus ate a flying skateboard stomp to the back. Allin was rearing to go for the TNT title shot at All Out, so he challenged Christian to a match next week. Done and done.

This was an amusing popcorn segment. Christian riled the crowd with outlandish material. Arn provided a Horseman Country surprise. Luchasaurus and Brock put on a decent little match. Allin topped it off with bravado. It was a lot of fluff for a good time.

Will Hobbs calls out Miro. Hobbs had my second favorite moment of the evening. He explained his method to find redemption from losing the TNT title and the Owen Hart tournament. That answer was to call out The Redeemer for All Out. Miro came out on stage and was attacked by Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto. They made their way to the ring, then Miro fired up to send the QTV goons packing. Hobbs picked his spot for a crushing spinebuster.

Hoss fight alert! If there is one thing that gets my motor moving, it is a hoss fight. Another thing that rises excitement deep in the belly is seeing one bad dude call out the baddest dude for a fight. Nobody in AEW wants to mess with Miro, and yet Hobbs is here to take that challenge. Even as Hobbs delivered his logic, I didn’t put it all together. When he requested the presence of Miro, my eyes lit up. Great segment to fire up a feud real quick.

Notes: AEW aired hype packages for FTR versus Young Bucks and MJF versus Adam Cole at All In.

Toni Storm had a snooty attitude toward Lexy Nair and demanded respect. She even threw a shoe at poor Lexy.

Stud of the Show: Ricky Starks

Mr. Absolute talked himself into the story I’m most eager to see next week.

Match of the Night: Mercedes Martinez & Diamante vs. Kris Statlander & Willow Nightingale

I assume the vast majority will pick the trios title bout, and I wouldn’t argue with that choice. I’m rolling with the women’s tag contest, since the level of excitement took me by surprise. That was one of those mid-card matches that demands attention as it plays out due to the performances of all involved.

Grade: B

The grade will be dependent on how much one values promos versus matches of value. On one hand, the promo game excelled all night long. The story advancement and surprises were aces. On the other hand, the matchmaking turned out to be lopsided competition in three of the five contests. And there is also the issue of the unsatisfying main event finish. Overall, the episode was a very fun time.

Share your thoughts about Collision. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?

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