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AEW Collision recap & reactions (Dec. 16, 2023): Women’s street fight steals show

AEW Collision (Dec. 16, 2023) emanated from Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, TX. The Winter Is Coming special featured a show-stealing women’s street fight, maximum drama building in the Continental Classic tournament, the return of Thunder Rosa, and more.

Catch up on all the Collision details with top-notch play-by-play from Sean Rueter.

Saturday night is alright for fighting. The Continental Classic participants were eager for action, and Orange Cassidy didn’t know why he was in the opening.

There were three tournament matches on the docket, but, first attention goes to the badass women’s street fight.

Texas Street Fight

Kris Statlander & Willow Nightingale faced off against Mercedes Martinez & Diamante in a street fight. Good Golly, Miss Molly. This bout delivered fireworks.

There were tables, ladders, chairs, tacks, barbed wire baseball bats in the mix. Willow was cracked over the head with a glass bottle to cause blood. Martinez executed a wicked spider suplex onto chairs. The OG Badass also delivered a spinebuster through a makeshift table.

Not every spot was cooperative. Willow tackled Diamante into a board, but the wood didn’t break. Willow tried again with a body slam. No dice. Willow hit Diamante over the back, and the wood still remained intact. Willow took matters into her own hands to kick the board herself. The crowd cheered at the wood finally breaking.

The violence veered ugly when Las Sicarias mooshed Statlander’s face into thumbtacks and broken glass. Diamante hit a Code Red onto the pile, but that didn’t earn a finish.

The closing sequence played out with Martinez intent on powerbombing Willow off the apron through a table. Willow hung on to the ropes for dear life, so Diamante provided a forceful nudge in the form of a dropkick. Timber! Martinez powerbombed Willow.

Meanwhile, Statlander was plotting on Diamante from behind to clobber a chain-loaded discus lariat to win.

Applause to Statlander, Willow, Martinez, and Diamante. This street fight was a glorious car crash from start to finish. The energy never let up. The toughness on display was impressive. It left me wanting more from all four, in regular match circumstances of course. There was a good flow from one spot to the next, except for the finish. That felt like it happened a little out of nowhere.

Sticking with the women’s division for big news...

Thunder Rosa returns amidst head-scratching heel turn

Thunder Rosa has been primarily off screen of English broadcasts since suffering injury. Her last match was in August of 2022. Now, Thunder makes her return to the ring next week. Unfortunately, Thunder’s moment is overshadowed by poor storytelling in an angle involving Julia Hart, Skye Blue, and Abadon.

Adadon wrestled Jazmin Allure. The zombie earned victory without much trouble. The Black Dahlia DDT sealed the deal. Abadon’s story with Hart continued after the match when the creepy girl intruded on the zombie once again. Hart laid down the TBS Championship. Instead of being mesmerized by gold, Abadon tackled Hart for furious fisticuffs.

So far, so good for a simple build toward a potential title fight. It went downhill from there. Skye Blue ran into the scene to stare at Abadon. They shared a funny moment mimicking head tilts. It seemed like both were on the same side to punish Hart. When Abadon turned her back, Blue attacked the zombie. The implication is that Blue is now aligned with Hart.

Thunder was shown earlier at the Spanish broadcast table. As Hart and Blue pummeled Abadon, Thunder jumped over the barricade to save the zombie. The mean girls scattered, and Thunder shared a handshake with Abadon.

AEW announced that Thunder & Abadon will wrestle Hart & Blue in a tag team contest next week, which will act as La Mera Mera’s return to the ring.

There’s a lot to like in that segment, and there’s a lot to pan. The skirmish between Hart and Abadon was hot to create desire for an official TBS showdown. The return from Thunder Rosa was a neat surprise. I’m intrigued by the comedy idea of Thunder and Abadon hanging out together away from the ring.

The heel turn from Blue is ridiculously bad timing in storytelling. AEW made it seem like Blue was beyond the black mist corruption and back in babyface mode. It’s an insult to viewers’ intelligence to push her toward Hart now. It diminished a level of trust in storytelling. They are basically saying the past few weeks didn’t matter. Examples like this are why I can’t firmly rule out anybody in the masked devil story, because what we see on screen doesn’t always matter. Timing in storytelling has often been one of AEW’s weaknesses. Granted, sometimes it’s not their fault due to injury.

Moving forward, I really hope AEW doesn’t have Thunder skip the line for a TBS title shot. They were building up momentum to make me want to see Abadon versus Hart. AEW has to deliver on serving that match. Otherwise, it feels like a waste of time.

Continental Classic tournament rages on

Week four for the Blue League was on tap. Andrade and Claudio Castagnoli started the show. Big swing!

The story of the bout was Andrade trying to use the turnbuckle rod as a foreign object. Andrade had accidental success on Dynamite beating Brody King when the big man’s head collided into the exposed steel. Andrade made a focused effort to do it again against Claudio. Andrade removed the protective pad, but Claudio sensed the game plan and played defense. Andrade changed tactics in that moment for an avalanche sunset flip powerbomb.

Later, Andrade removed the pad in a different corner. As he set up to drive his opponent’s head into the steel, Claudio managed to kick out El Idolo’s legs. Andrade tumbled awkwardly in pain. As the referee turned to return the pad back in place, Claudio struck with a knee to the groin. Claudio seized the moment for a Neutralizer to win.

Next up was Eddie Kingston battling Daniel Garcia. The dancer worked on the brawler’s knee. Kingston came back with a gritty attack for machine gun chops. Garcia danced through the pain playing mind games.

Garcia was tough surviving a spinning backfist, but his rally was cut short by a half-and-half suplex and a second spinning backfist. Kingston’s hand was raised in victory, and Garcia is officially eliminated from contention.

Bryan Danielson and Brody King duked it out in the main event. Danielson’s strategy was to stick and move with leg kicks. King eventually closed the distance to pummel his prey. Danielson’s bandage came off to expose his wounded eye, and that acted as a target for King to tenderize. Danielson pushed through to deliver a Busaiku Knee. King shocked everyone in the arena to kick out at 1. The crowd was woofing with excitement. The match progressed with Danielson wearing the big man down. The American Dragon made sure there would be no doubt with three consecutive Busaiku Knee strikes to win.

All three tournament bouts were exciting in their own way. Andrade and Claudio was a chess match. The finish told a crafty story with creative execution. Don’t shed any tears for Andrade. He was purposely trying to be sneaky. El Idolo got what’s coming. The loss makes sense in a way that focusing too hard on one particular tactic left him vulnerable. I also enjoyed the unexpected result to keep the tournament feeling fresh.

Kingston and Garcia was a slugfest. Going toe-to-toe with Kingston is usually a losing strategy, and Garcia took defeat as expected. On the topic of sports entertainment, Garcia is progressing well blending his dance into the flow of action. It feels natural to pop the crowd.

Danielson and King had a war of attrition. In those little man versus big man battles, the longer it goes has to favor the little man’s stamina. Danielson kept chugging along as King weared down. The first kick-out from the Busaiku Knee on a one-count was a silver lining to make King look like a star. He was protected when Danielson unloaded three Busaiku Knee strikes. Nobody would be expected to survive that in a match. The visual of Danielson’s damaged eye was a sight to see. It gives him a heightened aura of badassery to continue fighting like that.

The Blue League is anybody’s game, except Garcia, heading into the final week. There are all kinds of scenarios to project winners. Next week’s episode of Collision is going to be intense. There’s not much more to ask for out of a tournament.

Let’s jam through the rest of Collision.

AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy defeated Bryan Keith to retain the title. The Bounty Hunter could never secure the proper grip for his tiger driver finisher. Keith had Cassidy in position a few times, but the champ always found a way to escape. The finish was Cassidy escaping the tiger driver to score a roll-up for victory.

This match was reminiscent to the original TNT Championship days. AEW brought in a fresh face to perform well taking the champ to the limit. Cassidy wrestled on his usual level, and Keith made a name for himself on the largest stage of his career. The roll-up finish was a creative way for Cassidy to demonstrate his technical savvy.

Notes: The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass are back. They are coming for revenge on the masked devil goons. Top Flight & Action Andretti interrupted to request a trios title bout. Challenge accepted. It made me sad to hear Max Caster turn his back on MJF for not caring about their pain. It’s not like MJF deserves their friendship, but it was a nice subplot while it lasted.

Miro still has his eyes set on punishing Andrade as soon as he is out of the Continental Classic tournament.

Roderick Strong interrupted Komander. Roddy found his next victim in the luchador.

FTR called out the House of Black. The creepy crew responded by claiming they are the only people who love FTR. Nobody else will have FTR’s back. Malakai Black burned a family photo of Dax Harwood to prove a point, but that only enraged FTR.

Saraya will wrestle Riho to determine the next challenger for the AEW Women’s World Championship. Toni Storm doesn’t care who wins. Storm also doesn’t have time to care about Mariah May’s upcoming debut. Watch to see Renee Paquette stifle laughter about all the tit talk.

Adam Copeland has no excuses for his loss to Christian Cage. He should have been prepared for every scenario. Being so close to winning gold made Copeland realize how much he misses holding a championship. The Rated R Superstar challenged Christian to a rematch for the TNT Championship with no disqualification. I don’t see the motivation for Christian to accept, nor does Copeland’s demand sell me on the rematch even though I know it will be good.

Brian Cage squashed Cary Wright. The local talent thought he was slick dancing, so Cage trucked him. The Machine showcased his strength and closed with a Drill Claw. Backstage, Keith Lee interrupted an interview with the Mogul Embassy to put the bullseye on Swerve Strickland. Hmm, I wonder if that is foreshadowing for Swerve being bounced from the tournament final. However, Lee has waited this long already, so he can wait a little longer if plans are for Swerve to win the Continental Classic.

Stud of the Show: Kris Statlander, Willow Nightingale, Mercedes Martinez, Diamante

Normally, I prefer to pick just one person for this honor, but how can you choose between the four. They all put on a great show in the street fight.

Match of the Night: Bryan Danielson vs. Brody King

All three tournament matches were doozies. The nod goes to Danielson and King for the natural story of the little man chopping down the big man.

Grade: A-

The Continental Classic contests were excellent, and the women’s street fight shifted gears to add a wild element. This episode was on the soft side for story development, but wheels are in motion to set up marquee bouts.

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

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