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AEW Rampage & Collision recap & reactions (Nov. 25, 2023): Tournament surprise, new champion, & unhinged violence

AEW delivered a live double-header of Rampage and Collision (Nov. 25, 2023) emanating from Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, PA. The evening featured the Blue League opening round of the Continental Classic tournament with a surprise result, Adam Copeland snapping with violence, the ROH Pure Championship changing hands to crown a new titleholder, and more.

Catch up on all the Rampage and Collision details with efficient play-by-play from Cain A. Knight.

Saturday night is alright for fighting.

AEW Continental Classic tournament

The Continental Classic round robin tournament is underway in AEW. The Gold League was open for business on Dynamite, and the results went as expected. Now, it was the Blue League’s turn on Collision, and one outcome in particular was surprising.

First up was Claudio Castagnoli versus Daniel Garcia. The dancing man was low on confidence. Everyone viewed his participation as the one to eat pins. Garcia wanted to prove he isn’t a loser.

Garcia didn’t get off to a strong start. Claudio outclassed him early. Garcia fired up with aggression, however, he was posterized when Claudio caught him for a giant swing into the barricade.

Garcia didn’t fold. He rallied with scrappy submissions. Claudio had Garcia’s number on a pop-up uppercut. Garcia kicked out on the cover, so Claudio smashed another uppercut and finished with the Ricola Bomb.

Garcia competed tough, but let’s be honest. He is in the tournament to eat pins. Garcia’s story will be more about getting back up and bringing his best once again. When he does achieve his first victory in the tournament, it will be a sweet underdog moment. Claudio is on his way up the charts. He is going to be a rough matchup for anyone in his bracket.

The main event slot went to Eddie Kingston versus Brody King. Kingston explained that he put the ROH World Championship and the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship into the winning pot, because he wanted to add value in making the Continental Classic into the most prestigious tournament in America.

Kingston engaged in a hoss fight. He wasn’t used to being the smaller man in AEW, and King put him in his place. King threw his fists like sledgehammers knocking Kingston down to the mat. King bullied Kingston from pillar to post in the first half. Kingston fired up for a surprise spinning backfist. King wouldn’t stay down.

Kingston picked up momentum for a triple suplex train to make it competitive. King came back with a piledriver. Kingston rose on weary legs like one of those inflatable clown toys as King peppered punches. King went for the kill. Kingston ducked a lariat to fire off another spinning backfist. King didn’t go down. The behemoth clobbered Kingston with a big boot and closed with the Dante’s Inferno high stack powerbomb.

Damn, what a fight. King and Kingston put on a show. Applause to both men. That was two sluggers duking it out. The exchanges of fisticuffs were electric. The finish was the special moment that was lacking on the Dynamite side. It now feels like this tournament is officially underway. The result qualifies as an upset in my book, since Kingston was entering as the double champ. And to be clear, the title belts don’t change hands until the ultimate tournament winner.

Adam Copeland snaps

Adam Copeland is a man on a mission, and the target is Christian Cage. Copeland drove that point home in a very violent way.

Luchasaurus, using the new moniker Killswitch bestowed by Christian, decimated The Boys in a handicap match. Chokeslams and lariats were the method of destruction. After an easy victory, Luchasaurus added injury to insult by chokeslamming The Boys onto chairs. I was hoping Dalton Castle would arrive for the save.

Instead, Copeland rushed in from behind to batter Luchasaurus with chairshots to the back. Copeland was unhinged and whacked a conchairto. This dinosaur didn’t go extinct. He slowly began rising to his feet, so Copeland curbstomped him and whacked a second conchairto.

Backstage, Copeland voiced a livid message for Christian. He sent Christian’s boys to the hospital, but it is Christian to blame for these actions. Christian crossed the line threatening to break Copeland’s neck and make him in a wheelchair father for his family. Copeland made it very clear that the hunt is on. He will take the one thing Christian holds dearest in life. Copeland challenged Christian for the TNT Championship in Montreal on December 6.

Copeland’s intensity was off the charts. The passion in his promo made this grudge feel real. I thought the bout against Christian would be saved for the Worlds End PPV, however, AEW is rolling with it sooner. I’m curious how they arrange the rules. Copeland has lost his mind in a thirst for revenge. Christian will no doubt rely on pushing buttons to force a disqualification. Heck, he might even take an instant count-out to retain the title and avoid the ass whooping coming his way.

I like the little touch of having Luchasaurus survive the first conchairto. He sold it well like a monster movie so as not to diminish the move itself. In the process, Luchasaurus looked like a total badass, even if he was on the sucker end of a beatdown. Copeland’s shock helped enhance the moment.

New ROH Pure Champion

Whoa! The main event of Rampage had an unexpected title change. Katsuyori Shibata entered with the ROH Pure Championship, and Wheeler Yuta exited with the gold. Yuta also wanted to make sure Shibata never comes back.

Pure rules in effect. Jerry Lynn, Jimmy Jacobs, and Christopher Daniels were the judges in case of a time-limit draw. Shibata snatched a leglock early, so Yuta was forced to use his first rope-break. Yuta responded by raking the eyes and striking Shibata’s head with a closed-fist punch, which is illegal. The referee issued an official warning. As the match progressed, Yuta was trapped in an STF and used his second rope-break.

In the climax, Yuta went for a sneaky pin with his feet on the ropes. Shibata kicked out, then he argued with the referee for not noticing the cheat. Yuta sensed opportunity knocking, and he took advantage. Yuta shoved Shibata into the ref, then he landed a low blow. Yuta followed for a DDT and a seat belt pin to win.

Afterward, Yuta executed part two of his plan. Instead of the Code of Honor handshake, he kicked Shibata in the groin and added another DDT. Hook ran in for the save. Shibata sold his pain, and commentary put it over as reminiscent of Shibata’s brain injury from 2017.

What a surprise. I was genuinely shocked at the result. Shibata has been a dominant force throughout his run with the ROH Pure Championship. Yuta has been the Blackpool Combat Club whipping boy. Personally, I thought Shibata was setting up his eventual defeat to put over a new star. Instead, Yuta torched that idea. I wouldn’t say a new star is born, however, that was a strong way to ignite shit-heel heat. Yuta entered his name into annals of scumbaggery. How can anyone not want to see Shibata get revenge and tear Yuta limb from limb? That rematch would be sizzling. If Shibata can’t compete, then Hook will be a worthy replacement.

Let’s jam through the rest of Rampage.

Hook defeated Rocky Romero. Azucar is the international gatekeeper and requested a rising talent as an opponent. Hook was game for a competitive bout. In the end, the FTW champ countered Sliced Bread into the Redrum choke to win.

Solid match playing out exactly as advertised. Romero was the gatekeeper handing out a tough test. Hook was in some trouble, but he adapted and overcame. Hook showed the fight intelligence to anticipate Romero’s signature move and have a counter plan at the ready. The finish was a cool visual. Hook passed the test with flying colors.

Kris Statlander defeated Diamante. Mercedes Martinez was ringside to interfere. Diamante and Martinez are pals in ROH. Diamante had momentum for a DDT and Sliced Bread, however, she made a strategic error slapping Statlander as a form of trash-talk. Not only did it provide recovery time for Statlander, it also fired her up. Diamante ran the ropes into a vicious discus lariat. That was all Statlander needed to win. Afterward, Martinez and Diamante stomped her. Willow Nightingale arrived for the save, and the heels retreated.

It’s always nice to see Diamante receive meaningful time on television. She took the former TNT champion to the limit. Statlander rebounded nicely in victory to climb back up the ladder. Even though the post-match angle was predictable, it still earned a pop from the crowd. Willow’s entrance is pretty snappy, after all. This foursome should provide enough enjoyable material in mix and match contests over the next few weeks.

The Kingdom defeated Duke Davis & Ganon Jones. Matt Taven and Mike Bennett entered with philosophy about No Neck November. Talking points were blaming Action Andretti for trying to kill Roderick Strong, MJF as the masked devil, and their intention to win the ROH tag titles from MJF. The Kingdom started with a cheap shot, and it was squash city from there. Bennett hit a piledriver on stage, while Taven won via flying splash.

The promo was the takeaway. It added humor, kept them heeling, provided purpose with a future direction, and riffed on the idea that not all heroes wear capes. For example, Strong wears a neck brace. The squash reinforced how dangerous the Kingdom can be when they are not booked like bumbling idiots.

Moving over to Collision.

Malakai Black & Buddy Matthews defeated Komander & Gravity. Lucha libre speed gave the House of Black trouble, but their power was too much to handle. The luchadores were in position for a double dive, however, Black and Matthews got their knees up to block. House of Black imposed their will with strikes. Black wanted to play with his food by baiting Komander to crawl towards him. It was a trick for Matthews to spring up on blindside curb stomp to win.

That match was a very cool clash of styles. Komander and Gravity put in work to look like they belong in the ring against the best. The House of Black were creative in their movement to extinguish the flames whenever the luchadores got too hot.

TBS Championship: Julia Hart retained against Lady Frost. House Rules in effect. Frost chose the stipulation of no count-outs. That strategy backfired for Frost in the end. When the action spilled outside, Hart took her time to execute a running clothesline on the ramp. Hart finished with the Hartless submission.

Hart handled business to begin her title reign. The method of victory is developing a sinister edge for Hart more than just a black mist gimmick. She needs to continue developing herself as a threat in her own right.

FTR defeated The Righteous. Cash Wheeler kicked out of Dutch’s spinning sidewalk slam, then he escaped the finisher combo from The Righteous. That set up FTR to pounce on Vincent for the Big Rig to win.

Afterward, the House of Black cut a promo taunting FTR. Nobody is there to save them. Not even CM Punk anymore. They played ‘lights out’ mind games on FTR to disappear.

That bout was a pleasant surprise of action. The Righteous showed they can go with the crème de la crème of AEW’s tag team division. Dutch was the star of the match for me. FTR played well to Dutch’s big man stature with the routine of working hard just to knock him off his feet. The Righteous have real potential to rise, but they have the stink of losing on them right now. I’d put them a notch above Butcher and Blade in the same role. I’m not sure how Vincent and Dutch can move past that perception into greater success.

Keith Lee defeated Lee Moriarty. The story was power versus technique. Moriarty worked hard to damage Lee’s arm, but it wasn’t enough to stop Limitless. Moriarty collided into Lee’s massive frame on a springboard attack. Taiga went splat, and Bearcat crushed a fireman’s carry powerslam to win.

Backstage, Lee issued a veiled declaration that he is coming to take opportunity. Commentary wondered who was the target Lee had in mind.

This was another nifty duel. I actually thought Moriarty was making leeway for a potential upset. Nope. Lee’s reserve of strength was limitless. The promo added intrigue to Lee’s future. It still has me wondering when AEW will deliver Lee versus Shane Taylor. It’s like Lee’s personal feuds are doomed to never occur, such as the missing grudge match against Swerve Strickland.

Notes: Action Andretti and Darius Martin have built strong chemistry over the past eight months, but something was missing. Enter Dante Martin to return from injury. Hell yeah! That is a rocking trio.

Will Hobbs is coming for the Golden Jets as a one-man wrecking crew.

Ricky Starks and Big Bill Morrissey are angry and motivated to embarrass Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega. Bill carried the majority of this session to strut his promo chops. Starks was hype man letting Bill shine on the mic.

Stud of the Show: Keith Lee


Match of the Night: Brody King vs. Eddie Kingston


Grade: B

The grade is for the full three hours, but I would also judge a B for both shows individually. The action was solid all night long with value in the tournament matches and the Pure title change.

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

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