AEW Collision (July 22, 2023) emanated from Prudential Center in Newark , NJ. The show featured CM Punk telling lies, Ricky Starks stealing success, the House of Black opening a can of whoop-ass, and more.
Get caught up on all the Collision details with top-notch play-by-play from Geno Mrosko.
Saturday night is alright for fighting.
CM Punk telling lies
Since CM Punk’s return from injury, he has had a high opinion of himself shooting truths. He often likes to say, “Tell me when I’m telling lies.” Well, Punk was telling lies on Saturday night. Punk didn’t use that line on this episode, so maybe he felt comfortable spouting off fibs and falsehoods.
Punk’s first lie occurred when confronting Ricky Starks in the opening segment. Starks was in the ring with Tony Schiavone to celebrate his cheating triumph over Punk to win the Owen Hart men’s tournament. Starks defended his tactics as a way to get the job done by any means necessary. Don’t talk to him about what is right and wrong. Talk to him about how stylish and sexy he is. Starks was cooking on the mic showing his charisma.
Punk interrupted claiming he was not out there to rain on Ricky’s parade. Spoiler alert, that was indeed Punk’s purpose. Punk set it up smooth by sweet talking Absolute. He was proud of Starks for winning. Stroke Daddy blushed with a smile.
Punk wasn’t there to be a hypocrite. He’s cheated before to win. Punk can live with that loss, but the the question was if Starks could live with that win knowing deep down he can’t beat Punk without cheating. And with that line, Punk rained on Starks’ parade.
As Punk exited the ring, Starks mocked Punk’s red bag. Punker turned serious. It looked like Starks hit a nerve. Punk claimed to be the real world champion, and he also threw shade at MJF in the process of making that proclamation.
That was lie number two. Punk was full of whoppers on this evening. Punk is not the real champ. Injuries happen. That’s life. Move on and get the belt back. As much bravado as Punk has with that claim, I find it curious that he hasn’t demanded a world title shot yet.
Besides, Punk just lost to Starks. We could pretend that was equivalent to a non-title match, but that logic doesn’t matter anyway since Punk has no sanctioned championship to defend. Also, the Owen Hart men’s tournament final was Punk’s most important match since his return this go-around. He took it as serious as a world title bout. That loss knocked the legs out of the real world champ story. Punk is coming across as insecure and jealous. It’s time for him to put up or shut up in regard to that specific world champ angle.
The promo segment continued with interruptions from Christian Cage and Darby Allin to set up an impromptu main event. Allin and Punk would wrestle Starks and Christian.
The segment was hot with tension between Starks and Punk, then it tapered off with the other players joining the mix as a backdoor to booking a tag match. Impromptu main events are one of my pet peeves in wrestling, in the context of wrestling more as a sport. It makes the promotion look lazy and unorganized to stumble onto a marquee match by blind luck. As a result, it takes me out of the illusion. AEW generally doesn’t use that tactic, so I hope this doesn’t become a common pattern for Collision.
Christian was amusing in his own right, but it felt shoehorned in there. He pretty much admitted that too by showing up early to fulfill the contractual obligation of Luchasaurus as TNT champion so they could leave quickly. I suppose credit is in order to the bookerman for addressing his appearance in a logical manner.
The main event was over twenty minutes of wrestling, and it rocked the house. The so-called good guys had the early advantage when Starks and Christian had problems getting along. Once they were on the same page working together, they took control. Isolate Punk, hot tag to Allin for a stunner to Christian and a Code Red to Starks. Allin followed for a suicide dive to Starks. When he went for a suicide dive to Christian, Luchasaurus stood in the way, and Allin bounced off comically.
The match progressed isolating Allin for the diving hot tag to Punk for body slams and dropkicks. Punk even did a tribute to Bam Bam Bigelow with a cartwheel and jumping splits, as best as he could do.
Punk continued with signature offense until he engaged in a firefight of fisticuffs with Starks. Punk landed a head kick, and both were down on the mat. Punk crawled to tag in Allin. Starks was left high and dry when Christian was down and out on the floor. Starks lunged for a spear out of desperation, but Allin leaped over him. Allin ran the ropes for a springboard attack. Starks met him in the air with a jumping spear. Starks hit the Roshambo, but Allin kicked out on the cover.
Starks set up a delayed vertical superplex, however, Allin countered for an avalanche Scorpion Death Drop. Christian made the save on the pinfall.
Punk took care of Christian on the outside with a GTS. Meanwhile, Allin was ready for a Coffin Drop to Starks. As the referee was occupied with Punk, Luchasaurus shoved Allin off the turnbuckles. Starks lifted Allin for another Roshambo, but Allin countered for a roll-up. Starks reversed for top position. 1, 2, Starks grabbed the ropes to secure leverage for 3. Starks snookered the win again.
The main event was a lot of fun with all the personalities clashing. Several sequences were slick, especially down the stretch starting with Starks’ spear. I do wish they didn’t waste a kick out of the Roshambo here. That is Starks’ ace finisher, and it should be protected better.
I’ve been critical of AEW’s reliance on cheating finishes, however, this one was the kind of cheating I can tolerate as a viewer. It was used as a story tool and executed by Starks himself through his own wits. It is a big difference from something like the Outcasts bludgeoning numbers game. If AEW wants to make Starks a star player, then he should prevail in this feud with Punk. Imagine Starks being Punk’s kryptonite. I can only dream of how many times Punk makes the crybaby face whenever Starks grabs the ropes to win.
Let’s jam through the rest of Collision.
“Switchblade” Jay White & Juice Robinson defeated Action Andretti & Darius Martin. The Gunns were ringside for support. Andretti and Martin rallied, but it was cut short by Bullet Club Gold. Jay and Juice exploded with offense to ping pong Andretti on a stiff punch, suplex, DDT, and Blade Runner to finish.
Good action with an explosive finish. I was caught by surprise to see Bullet Club Gold go hog wild at the end. That was an impressive effort turning up the heat. It cements Bullet Club Gold’s status at the top of the charts. They lost the battle to FTR last week, but this win showed that they remain in the mix as serious contenders.
Miro defeated Nick Comoroto. Comoroto attacked Miro from behind on stage during The Redeemer’s entrance. Comoroto took the fight to Miro until Miro dodged a corner attack. A release German suplex paved the way to the thrust kick and Game Over submission.
Surprise hoss fight? Hell yeah! The match was short but sweet while it lasted. That was a nice surprise twist to start the action. Nobody was expecting Miro’s opponent to strike first, let alone it being from a beast of a man like Comoroto. If AEW is going to continue giving Miro squashes, then I hope they keep the hoss train rolling to find the largest men on the local scene.
AEW World Trios Championship: House of Black retained against The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn. Buddy Matthews charged with a kick during Max Caster’s rap. The House of Black caught the Acclaimed off-guard to kick their butts from pillar to post.
The House of Black wasn't wasting any more time!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) July 23, 2023
Watch #AEWCollision on TNT!#AEWWorldTriosTitles@SNM_Buddy | @Brodyxking | @malakaiblxck | @Bowens_Official | @PlatinumMax | @RealBillyGunn pic.twitter.com/vs3z4MGnEw
The Acclaimed never truly recovered. The match progressed, however, it was mostly a mauling. The big spot was a hot tag to Daddy Ass. He ran wild until the numbers got him. Brody King crushed a lariat, and Malakai Black walloped a head kick to pin Billy.
Damn! The House of Black opened a can of whoop-ass. That was unexpected. I was sitting there waiting for the big comeback, and it never came. The House of Black were badasses. Also on my mind, I guess the House of Black’s Open House gimmick is done, since they didn’t use it here.
The aftermath of the match is what will be remembered most. Black whispered in Billy’s ear before exiting. Billy went to the corner, unlaced his boots, and left them in the ring to signify his retirement. The Acclaimed were tearing up with emotion.
I don’t know if that retirement moment is real or part of a storyline. I’d like to think this is a method to stall for time until AEW is ready to pull the trigger on a trios title change. I want to be in a mindset to savor Billy’s last match and not have it sprung upon me as a surprise. You know the crowd would erupt if the pay-off was The Acclaimed winning those belts for Billy.
Taya Valkyrie defeated Skye Blue. Taya treated Blue like a little kid with a disrespectful pat on the head. Blue did herself no favors when grabbing a waistlock only for Taya to shake her off like a child. Taya brought the fire for a spear on the floor. Blue rallied with a flying crossbody. Taya regained control on a sliding German suplex. La Wera Loca put Blue’s lights out on a curb stomp to win. After the match, Taya called out Dr. Britt Baker DMD for a match next week on Dynamite.
Taya brought her A-game here. This was the kind of performance that pumps me up for Taya’s future. The action was funny and aggressive. Her personality was huge. Thumbs up to AEW for deciding to do something with Taya rather than use her as fodder for Blue. A feud between Taya and Baker has interesting potential, especially if they unleash the hardcore side.
Notes: Andrade was escorted out of the arena by security to prevent any interference in the House of Black’s trios title match. Andrade was there to take his mask back. It was later announced that Andrade will wrestle Buddy Matthews next week in a ladder match for the mask. Side note, ROH wrestlers Rhett Titus and LSG were security guards.
FTR hyped their tag team title defense against MJF & Adam Cole next week. They warned Cole not to trust MJF. There will be no comedy. Asses will be kicked. That was good to set the mood for a serious fight. MJF and Cole haven’t faced adversity yet as a team. It will be interesting to see how they react when the going gets tough. Cue a Billy Ocean brochacho bonding session with Danny DeVito dancing. AEW also aired a neat video package of FTR’s legacy in the promotion.
#AEW World Tag Team Champions Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood put on a 7-Star performance in last week's 2 out of 3 Falls Match on #AEWCollision!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) July 23, 2023
Let’s look back at their amazing legacy!
Watch #AEWCollision LIVE on TNT!@DaxFTR | @cashwheelerFTR pic.twitter.com/SNxf08oJCW
Scorpio Sky watched the main event from the skybox with focus on scouting the TNT champion.
Shout out to commentary. Nigel McGuinness cracked me up quite a few times, such as calling Juice Robinson wild and virile, claiming Taya Valkyrie blew him a kiss, and so on. That’s that good Bobby Heenan style delusions. Ian Riccaboni played along well reacting with banter.
Stud of the Show: Taya Valkyrie
La Wera Loca dished out an ass-kicking against a quality opponent then called out the top star in the women’s division. That’s how to make an impact.
Match of the Night: Ricky Starks & Christian Cage vs. CM Punk & Darby Allin
Strong work for good times and a cool finish. The character interactions were absolute.
I was lukewarm after the length of the opening gab fest, but the wrestling brought me back in. All the winners left me wanting more to see what’s next. I appreciate the attention to little details for fuller stories.
Share your thoughts about Collision. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?