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AEW Collision & Rampage recap & reactions (Nov. 17, 2023): MJF saves the show

AEW served a live double-header of Collision and Rampage (Nov. 17, 2023) emanating from Kia Forum in Los Angeles, CA. The evening featured MJF accepting the offer from Samoa Joe, Christian Cage defending the TNT Championship, Miro not in the mood for dancing, and more.

Catch up on all the Collision details with first-rate play-by-play from Sean Rueter.

Friday night is alright for fighting. This episode of Collision was on a special night, since the Full Gear PPV is on Saturday.

The combo show was hum-drum with a few highs until the final segment of the evening. That was straight fire to save the night.

Deal with the devil

MJF has a tough assignment for Full Gear, but it got a little bit easier after making a deal with the devil. No, not the masked devil. MJF made a deal with the devil in the form of Samoa Joe.

MJF has to defend the ROH World Tag Team Championship against the Gunns on the Zero Hour pre-show, then he squares off against Jay White for the AEW World Championship in the PPV main event. MJF explained that he is pulling double duty, because he intends to keep his promise of having the ROH tag titles to share once again with Adam Cole upon return from injury. He will do whatever it takes to win. As for the AEW world title, it is the man that makes the championship. Not the other way around with White in possession of the Triple B. MJF will prove that by taking back his prize at Full Gear. This sitdown interview was basically rehashing the talking points of the feud.

White told his side of the story to start the final scene of Collision. He is convinced MJF is the masked devil. Switchblade will have the Bang Bang Gang ready. White will prove he is better. Boom! MJF crashed the interview with violence trying to retrieve the Triple B. MJF smashed a TV over Juice Robinson’s head.

The brawl made its way to the ring. MJF pounded White and the Gunns with punches, but the numbers got him in time. White sized up MJF for a final blow with the title belt. That’s when Samoa Joe ran down. Bullet Club Gold scattered to safety. Joe waited for an answer from MJF. He pushed the issue by extending his hand. MJF accepted. Joe will watch his back and be his partner against the Gunns in exchange for a future shot at the AEW World Championship.

That scene was fantastic and extremely effective in driving up anticipation for the PPV main event. It was the moment I’ve been waiting to see from MJF this entire time. He had been too soft in attempting to take back his stolen goods. This time, he finally brought the thunder. That might have been the most vicious MJF has been his entire AEW career. It was pure emotion over methodical maneuvering. The way he clung onto the title belt and forced them to pry it from his fingers drove home how important the championship is to him. That was a great example of show, not tell. Sprinkling in the deal with Joe was icing on the cake. Excellent final image for the go-home to Full Gear.

PPV go-home build

Storylines for the Full Gear PPV were pretty much set coming into the double show, but there were a few loose ends to tie and some match additions. There was also a wild melee. Yeah!

Ricky Starks and Big Bill Morrissey are the BBQ team. Best in the business, no question. Starks felt it was unfair that they could lose the tag titles in the PPV four-way without having to be pinned or submitted, so Tony Khan allowed him to choose a stipulation. Starks went with a ladder match.

The tag champs sat in on commentary for Rush versus Dax Harwood. That match was the definition of a slugfest. The longer it went, the wider my eyes opened. Rush chopped Dax The Axe so hard that his chest was bleeding. Harwood dished out hits of his own, even though, he was on the losing end of most exchanges. Rush was too much of a badass.

Rush was in control down the stretch, then he decided to taunt Starks with an absolute pie-face. When Rush went for the Bull’s Horns dropkick to finish Harwood, Starks picked his spot to retaliate with a spear. The match was ruled a no-contest. The locker room emptied with Starks, Bill, Rush, Dralistico, Preston Vance, Harwood, Cash Wheeler, Malakai Black, and Brody King. The melee was eventually broken up by officials and security.

Donnybrooks on go-home shows have become a staple of AEW, and I love it. The scenes are always a rowdy injection of energy bringing excitement in anticipation for the PPV. King and Bill teased a hoss fight showdown, but it was ruined by dives to the outside. They better deliver on that moment during the ladder match. Meat!

In other PPV news, Claudio Castagnoli has a date for Full Gear. He challenged Buddy Matthews to a fight when the House of Black member took liberties after his win over Wheeler Yuta. That contest is scheduled for the Zero Hour pre-show.

Eddie Kingston will be in the house for PPV Saturday. Jay Lethal was finally granted his shot at the ROH World Championship on the Zero Hour pre-show. Kingston played mind games with tough guy talk trying to drive a wedge between Lethal and his friends. When the bad guys exited, Kingston turned around to see Ortiz, who nodded. The scene cut out there. Intrigue!

TNT Championship

There was one story that was self-contained for throughout Collision and Rampage. Christian Cage was set to defend the TNT Championship against the winner of a four-way on that same evening.

Christian began his night with threats for Sting, Darby Allin, Adam Copeland, and Ric Flair. It was announced that the Nature Boy will be ringside for the PPV trios match. Christian plans to end Sting’s career, be Allin’s father figure, put Flair in the grave, and break Copeland’s neck. Christian made sure to call out Beth Phoenix with a request that Copeland’s daughters watch his demise.

Brian Cage, Trent Beretta, Pentagon, and Komander competed in the contender match. The Machine was a wrecking ball. He crushed everyone by suplexing Komander out of the ring onto the pile below on the floor.

The action was high-octane. Pentagon had the coolest moment with a rolling cazadora on Cage into a Destroyer on Komander.

In the end, it was between Trent and Komander. Pentagon took out Cage on a flying attack. Komander hit a suicide dive on Penta. Trent dodged a rope-walking shooting star press from Komander to strike back with the Strong Zero finisher.

Christian opened Rampage with the TNT title defense against Trent. The Best Friend was actually inches away from victory when he managed to hit the Strong Zero, but Christian kicked out on the cover. Luchasaurus created a distraction, so Christian could attack Trent’s neck. That was a message to Copeland. Christian closed with the Kill Switch to retain. I was hoping Sue would show up to invite Christian for a victory lap in her minivan, but no such luck for the patriarch.

Solid action. The contender match quickly provided a reason to get invested in the TNT story. Trent had the underdog moment to create a crowd reaction on the Strong Zero. It was a little disappointing that AEW relied on tricks for Christian to retain. Sure, it builds up heel heat, but he also needs to show why he is a threat by beating opponents who aren’t on his level. No offense to Trent, because he can go in the ring. In the hierarchy though, they aren’t close as equals at this moment in time.

Let’s jam through the rest of Collision and Rampage.

Miro defeated Daniel Garcia. This bout was set up to serve punishment for Garcia gyrating his hips toward CJ Perry last week. Miro actually teased like he was going to dance. The crowd was hot for it, but he swerved with the ‘up yours’ motion.

Miro’s power was too much for Garcia to handle. The dancer took a beating, but he evened the playing field with a chop block and dropkicks to the knee. Garcia rallied with a suplex. Instead of going for the kill, Garcia stopped to set up a dance. Daddy Magic ran down trying to urge Garcia to regain focus. Miro charged and collided into Daddy Magic. Garcia had a super slick roll through into the Sharpshooter. He cranked backward and left his neck unprotected. You know, the same mistake Garcia always makes. Miro snatched him and smashed his skull into the mat repeatedly with force. Garcia was pretty much unconscious. Miro slapped on the Game Over submission, and the referee called for the bell.

That finish was badass. Garcia’s movement was so cool to slide into the Sharpshooter. Miro’s viciousness was movie villain level to finish Garcia. Both men looked good overall. Miro was every bit the dominating force he presents himself to be. Garcia showed guts and strategy fighting with the will to win. As much as I like the dancing, it cost him in this match. Daddy Magic was right on this particular occasion. There’s a time and place for dancing. During a match with Miro is not it.

When speaking of Miro, we have to check in on CJ. She entered Andrade into the Continental Classic tournament. El Idolo was taken aback, since they never discussed this. CJ negotiated with Tony Khan for extra pay and a special bonus if he wins. Andrade wasn’t convinced, so CJ whispered in his ear. It seems like she told him what the bonus would be, and he was on board.

After last week, I wanted to see what CJ brings to the table to benefit Andrade as a manager, and this scene was good in showing that. They are building trust along with presumably more wealth and greater opportunity.

Malakai Black & Brody King defeated The Boys. Squash via piledriver from King. The highlight was crowd engagement woofing with King.

Wardlow defeated Evan Daniels. Mr. Mayhem charged before the bell. Powerbomb. Swanton. Powerbomb. Referee waved off the match. Total domination.

Buddy Matthews defeated Wheeler Yuta. The Blackpool Combat Club member was rolling with skills until Matthews threw him into the commentary table. Yuta’s ribs were damaged, and Matthews viewed that as a bullseye to target. Yuta dug deep to fire up and rally with strikes. Matthews regrouped to snatch Yuta off the turnbuckles for a powerbomb. A curb stomp sealed the deal.

This match was another case of quality action with both wrestlers looking good. Matthews was a beast when he needed to be. Yuta showed heart and demonstrated his technical abilities.

Hikaru Shida & Kris Statlander defeated Saraya & Ruby Soho. This bout was technically the main event slot for Collision. Cool Hand Ang was in the front row cheering for Soho. Once she noticed, flirting intensified from both parties. That love story bled into the match when Cool Hand hopped the barricade to check on his main squeeze in a moment of pain. Ang paid the price when Statlander clotheslined him, allegedly aiming for Soho. Saraya was distracted, and Shida capitalized with the Katana strike to pin Saraya.

This was basically a warm-up for Shida and Statlander prior to their PPV matches, and the side story with Soho and Cool Hand was mixed in for dramatic effect. I like it on both ends. Shida and Statlander got their moves in to look good. Soho and Cool Hand moved closer together to make fans happy, at least those that are interested in this story. Saraya’s facial expression was so vivid showing her disapproval. It has me looking forward to next week’s installment of this story.

Toni Storm defeated Emi Sakura. Storm presented a script to Sakura, who promptly tore up the papers. Sakura took charge to smash Storm around the ring. Her mistake was missing the mark on a moonsault. Storm pounced for a hip check and a piledriver to win.

Small picture, this was a fun match showcasing Storm’s Timeless persona. Luther was involved with butler duties lifting Storm up and down from the apron during the match. Sakura wrestled strong like she always does. Big picture, this did nothing to sell me on Storm challenging Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s World Championship. Storm got her ass kicked for much of the match then scored a blitz of offense to win. She didn’t perform like a genuine threat to win gold.

Roderick Strong defeated Action Andretti. Strong marked Andretti as his next victim.

The Collision promo turned into a match on Rampage. Strong milked his injuries to rise out of his wheelchair like a miracle. The Kingdom were comically outraged when Andretti executed a neckbreaker. Strong rallied in the end with a jumping knee strike to intercept a springboard attack. A backbreaker finished the job.

This match had a scary moment when Strong was dumped on his head during a standing Spanish Fly from Andretti. The referee immediately called in the ringside doctor. After a few moments, Strong was given the okay to continue. The crowd was on his side chanting, “Neck Strong”, because that looked like a genuine potential injury rather than a scripted spot. I often criticize AEW for pausing matches with fake doctor checkups. This one seemed legit, and it was smart to err on the side of caution. The finish was pretty darn cool to boot. Strong’s jumping knee came out of nowhere. He leaped high meeting Andretti in the air to make the visual all the more impressive.

Notes: Chris Jericho joined commentary to replace Kevin Kelly for Rampage. Tony Schiavone and Nigel McGuinness called all three hours. Jericho delivered a message to the Young Bucks. He has great chemistry with Kenny Omega and will prove it at Full Gear.

AEW aired a pair of promo packages to hype the TBS Championship and International Championship bouts. Julia Hart, Skye Blue, and Kris Statlander explained the feud triangle and all believe they are going to win. Jon Moxley brooded the lack of respect from Cassidy. The champ has spirit, but he can’t hurt Moxley with spirit. Mox claimed that OC hits like a bitch. Cassidy’s focus was on beating Moxley to feel like the true champion.

Will Hobbs urged Paul Wight to stay away or else Powerhouse will send him to the hospital again.

Stud of the Show: MJF

The show was on cruise control, then MJF drove it off the rails in the best possible way.

Match of the Night: Miro versus Daniel Garcia

This was a crafty take on big versus little. The aggression of the finish should quench the thirst of fight fans with satisfaction.

Grade: C+

This is a combo for both Collision and Rampage, because it was presented as one long show. It was a case where the sum was lesser than its parts. If I separate the two and imagined watching them on individual nights, I’d go with B- for Collision and B+ for Rampage. Together, three hours was too long for a show without many meaningful moments. There wasn’t even a match that I would consider to be the real main event. On the positive, the wrestling action was good throughout, and they put in great effort to entertain. The MJF finale was outstanding.

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

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