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AEW Collision recap & reactions (Dec. 23, 2023): Eddie Kingston is the comeback kid

AEW Collision (Dec. 23, 2023) emanated from Frost Bank Center in San Antonio, TX. The Holiday Bash special featured Eddie Kingston rallying to advance in the Continental Classic tournament, the Acclaimed & Daddy Ass back in action, Thunder Rosa’s return to the ring, and more.

Catch up on all the Collision details with top-notch play-by-play from Geno Mrosko.

Saturday night is alright for fighting. The Continental Classic was on tap for the final week of the Blue League.

Eddie Kingston is the comeback kid of the Continental Classic

The Continental Classic is winding down for the fifth week of the Blue League to determine the semifinalists. Several scenarios were still in play, including a five-way tie. Daniel Garcia was the only participant mathematically eliminated. Bryan Danielson and Andrade controlled their own destiny. A win, and they would advance. Much drama was on the table for Collision.

Bryan Danielson opened the show clashing against Blackpool Combat Club teammate Claudio Castagnoli. Their superior mat skills were on display with creative Greco-Roman monkey flips.

My favorite move was Claudio catching a kick to counter for the giant swing.

As the intensity increased, Claudio thumbed Danielson in the eye on a corner break. Danielson repaid the favor by holding onto a submission extending the five-count. Claudio almost pulled the upset with a nifty counter. When he lifted for a Ricola Bomb, Danielson slapped on a triangle choke. Claudio escaped by countering with the Neutralizer. After Danielson kicked out on the cover, he exploded for the Busaiku Knee. Claudio stayed tough to continue the fight.

As both were down on the mat, they were seesawing with kicks to the face. Claudio was able to snatch the legs for a Sharpshooter. Time was running out. Under 30 seconds, and Danielson refused to submit. With 10 second left, Claudio released and went for a Ricola Bomb. Danielson sandbagged to block, so Claudio blasted an uppercut. Time expired for a draw. Danielson earned 1 point to make his total at 10. That was enough to clinch a spot in the semifinals.

Brody King was still alive, and he had to handle business against Daniel Garcia. King bludgeoned his opponent throughout, but Garcia had the dancing spirit to score a few offensive flurries. In the end, King crushed Garcia on a Gonzo Bomb. 1, 2, Garcia kicked out! King tried for a second Gonzo Bomb, but Garcia collapsed to the mat. All of a sudden, Garcia sprang up for a jackknife pin to shock the win. Garcia picked up his first tournament victory, and King was eliminated from contention.

Andrade and Eddie Kingston closed the show in the main event. By that time, the math was simple. Whoever wins will move on to wrestle Danielson in the semifinals.

Kingston had the power advantage, so Andrade went low to do major damage to the knees. Kingston was savvy on defense blocking a hammerlock DDT to escape in the corner and blocking full application of the figure-four as he inched toward the ropes for the break. Andrade was thrown off his game when Kingston kicked out on El Idolo’s back elbow strike. Andrade delivered it with style, but it wasn’t enough to keep Kingston down.

In the closing sequence, Kingston rose to his feet quicker to unleash two spinning backfists and a brainbuster. Andrade was out on the pin, and Kingston was victorious. The end result was 9 points apiece. Since Kingston owns the head-to-head win, he moves on to the semifinals.

That was a crackerjack lineup of tournament fights. I really like the call for Danielson and Claudio to draw. Danielson loses no shine there. His spot is secure. The result was extremely beneficial for the perception of Claudio. The effort against Danielson keeps Claudio strong as a main event player whenever the situation arises.

Garcia played spoiler to earn his moment. I would have preferred a more explosive finish rather than a sneaky roll-up to boost Garcia’s level, but a win is a win. There was no funny business here. Garcia did it on his own, and that success could prove to be a stepping stone to bigger things. In sports, sometimes the player needs to get over that first hurdle for true self-belief. It’s one thing to talk a big game. Getting results is what builds genuine confidence.

The scene was set with maximum stakes for Kingston and Andrade. Kingston keeps chugging along in his career reaching new heights. His story is a good one as the comeback kid. Kingston started by losing his first two tournament matches, but he didn’t lose faith. Three wins later, and he has the much desired rematch with the American Dragon. Danielson embarrassed Kingston last time with the bum sign. Kingston took that personally as motivation to climb back up the ladder. All the pieces have come together for a bitter rivalry in the Blue League semifinal. Well played, AEW, well played.

Let’s jam through the rest of Collision.

AEW World Trios Championship: The Acclaimed & Billy Gun defeated Top Flight & Action Andretti to retain the titles. Top Flight landed suicide dives to take out Anthony Bowens and Daddy Ass. The finish came down to Max Caster and Andretti. Action hit a springboard 450 splash. Kick out by Caster. The rapper dodged a running shooting star press from Andretti, then he pounced for a roll-up to win. Kevin Kelly questioned if Caster grabbed the tights, but it was unclear on the camera angle.

Seeing the Acclaimed again made me realize I took them for granted in their absence. The scissor crew brings so much energy to the arena. The fans were crazy for their entrance routine. Dante Martin was greased lightning with his impressive athleticism. The questionable roll-up protects the challengers for a rematch down the line. This match was good enough for television, and they left a lot of room to blow up an epic if round two comes on PPV.

Keith Lee defeated Brian Cage. Meat! Cage executed a superplex to shake the ring, then he followed for an F5. Lee kicked out, so Prince Nana place a cinder block into the ring. Cage never got a chance to use the foreign object. Lee muscled up for a barrage of power strikes and finished with a fireman’s carry powerslam. Afterward, Lee said he’s coming to deliver his message to Swerve Strickland personally on Dynamite.

That hoss fight delivered. It was actually more of an athletic style than heavy haymakers. Cage and Lee traded headscissor takedowns, for crying out loud. The power plexes and muscle poses were exactly what the doctor ordered for those in need of the meat sweats. Even though I do want to see Lee versus Swerve finally do battle, I am a little concerned with how hard Lee is pushing the issue right now. It’s starting to feel like plans don’t call for Swerve to win the Gold League next week. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as the follow-up is hot, but at least keep the mystery intact while the tournament is still active.

Christian Cage accepts. The patriarch called out Mama Wayne to explain her actions attacking Adam Copeland. She was disgusted by how Copeland sent Nick Wayne to the hospital on a conchairto right in front of her. Nick is her baby, and she did what any loving mother would do. Mama Wayne also realized that Christian truly cares for her son as the patriarch. Christian implied that he scored with her after the TNT title defense. The new family is set as a unit. Christian accepted Copeland’s No DQ challenge for Worlds End. The champ was confident that he would put Copeland down for the final time.

Mama Wayne’s explanation makes sense. Copeland really was a scumbag to attack her son like that right in front of her. Having her join Christian is a little far-fetched, but I can live with it in a professional wrestling rationale. Christian’s explanation to accept the challenge wasn’t satisfactory. He has nothing to gain in this situation. Christian could beat down Copeland anytime he wants to try to break his friend’s neck. Sure, overconfidence could be Christian’s undoing, however, I’d like to think Christian is smarter than that. We’ll see what tricks he has up his sleeve for Worlds End.

Thunder Rosa & Abadon defeated Julia Hart & Skye Blue. Thunder made her return to the ring by arriving in a lowrider. The story was building to Thunder’s first tag into the ring. Blue was persistent on pulling Thunder off the apron when Abadon reached out. The moment finally came for the hot tag with Thunder running wild.

The match progressed with Abadon trapping Hart in the Tree of Woe, while Thunder finished Blue on a Tijuana Bomb.

Thunder looked good in limited action. They kept it simple to hit some moves and pop the crowd. In that sense, the goal was accomplished. I do think that the overall timing of Thunder’s return overshadows Abadon’s hunt for the TBS Championship. AEW announced that Abadon will challenge for the title at Worlds End. The zombie felt like an afterthought in this match, because the spotlight was on Thunder. AEW needs to make sure Abadon is front and center next week to fire up that feud heading into the PPV. For those wondering, there was no explanation given for why Blue joined Hart last week. Also of note, I believe Thunder had a new theme song and Blue had new gear.

Notes: Hook accepted the FTW challenge from Wheeler Yuta. Hook wants the fight on his turf in New York City at Worlds End. This promo might have been delivered from Sesame Street.

Toni Storm still has no idea who Mariah May is. Storm is focused on eating Riho alive in her world title defense at Worlds End.

Ricky Starks & Big Bill Morrissey are expecting a forfeit with Kenny Omega sidelined indefinitely. Chris Jericho still plans to have his tag title shot. He doesn’t know when, where, or who will be his partner, but he won’t forfeit. It didn’t sound clear that the match was still on for Worlds End.

After Daniel Garcia defeated Brody King, the House of Black came on the attack. Daddy Magic covered Garcia’s body as a shield. FTR ran in, and House of Black scattered. FTR demanded a tag team match with their rivals. I like the detail of Daddy Magic protecting Garcia. Despite their differences over dance, Daddy loves his wrestling son. That act from the heart put substance behind his words.

Stud of the Show: Eddie Kingston

Kingston rose to the occasion when it mattered most.

Match of the Night: Bryan Danielson vs. Claudio Castagnoli

The Blackpool Combat Club put on a wrestling clinic.

Grade: A-

Very entertaining show with the tournament playing out for maximum drama.

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

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