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AEW Collision recap & reactions (Aug. 5, 2023): Ricky Steamboat helps CM Punk win

AEW Collision (Aug. 5, 2023) emanated from Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC. The show featured Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat helping CM Punk prevail over Ricky Starks, FTR cementing their legacy in tag team greatness, Samoa Joe calling his shot for All In, and more.

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

Saturday night is alright for fighting. Four title fights were on tap with focus on CM Punk versus Ricky Starks and FTR versus Brian Cage & Big Bill Morrissey

CM Punk defends the ‘real world championship’

CM Punk versus Ricky Starks received the main event spotlight. Punk’s so-called ‘real world championship’ was up for grabs.

The return of Jim Ross on commentary gave this a big match feel. To prevent any cheating, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat was on hand as the special outside official.

The match rumbled in the 20-minute range. Dueling fan chants showed support for both Punk and Starks from the raucous crowd. Punk out-wrestled Starks early then mocked the Absolute pose. Starks struck back with hip tosses sending Punk out of the ring. He showed Punk how the signature pose was done.

Gamesmanship turned to intensity when Starks took umbrage at Punk raking his forearm across the eyes on a corner break. Shoves led to slaps, and the bad blood boiled from there.

Steamboat’s job was to help the referee enforce the rules. He was impartial, as evidenced by pulling Punk off Starks when ignoring the ref’s warning. Punk was annoyed, but he respected Steamboat for keeping it clean.

The match was competitive throughout with counters to escape signature moves. Heading into the climax, Punk wiggled out of Roshambo to send Starks running the ropes. Punk dropped low, and Starks collided into the referee. Ref down!

When Punk charged forth, Starks bopped a roll-up with his feet on the ropes. Steamboat shoved Starks off the ropes to make sure the contest was fair. As Starks argued with Steamboat, Punk took advantage for a roll-up. The Dragon entered the ring to make the three-count. Punk was victorious.

After defeat, Starks violently attacked Steamboat. Starks ripped the legend’s belt from around his waist to whip him. Punk chased Starks away with a chair.

That match was shaping up nicely to be special, then the finish dropped a steamer on the situation. The logic of that sequence stunk. It didn’t make sense why Starks would do the cheating roll-up at that specific moment. He ran into the referee himself, so it was clear sight that the ref was down. Steamboat’s sole purpose was to keep the fight fair, and Starks cheated right in front of him. Also, Starks did it without the primary ref conscious to count the pin. What did he expect was going to happen? To top it off, Punk scored a cheap roll-up when Starks was distracted. That didn’t feel satisfying at all as a viewer. Based on the post-match scene, this seems like a way to set up the rubber match with a whipping stipulation.

On the plus side, the dastardly beatdown by Starks on Steamboat has fully turned me into rooting for Punk to deliver payback in honor of The Dragon. That’s a win in terms of building real emotion to see the next chapter between Punk and Starks. It was pretty smart to use Steamboat as the victim. He is a shining beacon of honor. Any bad treatment to him is bound to draw a reaction.

So, what’s next for Punk? AEW delivered two answers for the immediate future.

Samoa Joe called out Punk for a match at All In. The one true king of television was without an opponent that marquee event, so he thought it would be appropriate for them to go another round. After their epic matches in the past, Punk winning on a roll-up in the Owen Hart tournament wasn’t a good enough finish for the legacy of this rivalry.

This was a fantastic promo from Joe. It hyped the history as special and rallied the people behind seeing Joe fight Punk one more time. Joe’s confident delivery makes it feel like real truth.

As for next week, AEW announced that Punk & FTR will challenge House of Black for the trios titles on Collision. That is curious matchmaking. One one hand, I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. That match should be badass. On the other hand, the finish might be bullshit. It’s not smart to have Punk and FTR heading into big PPV matches on a loss. Interference from Julia Hart or Starks might make the outcome less than satisfying.

One more topic of discussion about Punk. This ‘real world championship’ story is a dud. The title didn’t feel important at all in his match with Starks. The belt was an afterthought to their heated rivalry and the story of Steamboat making it a fair contest. Moving forward, Punk is challenging for trios gold next week, and a match with Joe is forthcoming that has no relevance to the ‘real world championship’ claim. Nobody cares about that belt except for Punk.

FTR cementing their legacy

FTR had a sizable challenge in beefcakes Brian Cage and Big Bill Morrissey with the AEW World Tag Team Championship on the line. The champs had the benefit of wrestling in their hometown. Friends and family were in attendance, including Cash Wheeler’s mother who slapped Bill. That rowdiness backfired when Bill unleashed his anger on pounding Wheeler in front of his mama.

The story of this match was FTR figuring out how to overcome the overwhelming power game of their opponents. For example, FTR tried to finish Bill early with the Shatter Machine, but Dax Harwood was unable to lift the 7-footer. Bill responded by chokeslamming Wheeler on top of Harwood then pressing Wheeler out of the ring crashing onto Harwood.

FTR were the underdogs in terms of size. They relied on technique and teamwork to earn the win. FTR were able to divide and conquer in the end by shoving Cage into Bill on the apron. As Bill was down on the outside, Cage bounced back into the Shatter Machine. FTR squeaked out the win.

This was a rowdy match to open the show. The hard-hitting action set an energetic mood for the evening. The battle in styles was a classic slaying of giants through grit and determination. Bill and Cage thrilled with their muscle, such as Cage executing a double slam for a fallaway and Samoan drop combo to FTR. Harwood and Wheeler brought the thunder for teamwork moves on near pinfalls. The finish was a bit abrupt. It came out of nowhere, like their allotted time was up and it was time for the show to move on. Let’s hope Cage and Bill stick together, because they fill the role as a monster force that the tag team division needs.

Business wasn’t over for FTR. They started their legacy to be the greatest tag team of all-time, and there is one thing left to do. FTR wants a rubber match with the Young Bucks, and they want it at All In.

Two thoughts on this promo. First, heck yeah. I’ll gladly take FTR versus the Young Bucks in Wembley Stadium. That crowd is going to be fire for the match.

Second, the timing of this challenge was short-sighted. The Bucks have a match against the Hardys on Dynamite. Let them win before writing this PPV clash in wet cement. I pretty much assumed this direction here for the Bucks when the Dynamite match was announced, but the victor wasn’t a forgone conclusion yet. Now, it is, and my desire to see Bucks versus Hardys has been flushed.

That was twice on this show pushing the cart before the horse. At least with Joe challenging Punk, it wasn’t necessarily dependent on the outcome of Punk winning the Collision main event. Joe and Punk could still tangle no matter the result due to their personal rivalry. For the tag team bout, it would be stupid for the Bucks to receive a title shot if they lose to the Hardys.

Last word on the opening match. Check out Cage flying through the air. Good golly, Miss Molly. Even though Cage lost, get that man some shrimp cocktail. He deserves it.

Let’s jam through the rest of Collision.

TBS Championship: Kris Statlander retained against Mercedes Martinez. Rugged slugfest. Statlander had a cool sequence by sweeping the leg and following for a somersault senton. The spider suplex from Martinez is always awesome.

In the end, Statlander ducked a forearm smash to counter with a bridging roll-up to win. Martinez claimed that she kicked out before the three-count. She aggressively attacked Statlander after the match as an act of protesting the result. Diamante ran out for what looked like the save. Nope. She joined in to bash Statlander. Willow Nightingale came out as an ally for Statlander.

The mix of physicality and athleticism made that an enjoyable match. Give me some more of them as opponents. I like that Martinez was angry about the ref’s call, because it puts over the desire to win championships. The OG Badass didn’t wilt away into the background for the next time AEW decides to use her services. I’m pumped to see Diamante on screen with a purpose. She is too good at wrestling to be used so infrequently on AEW television.

Statlander & Nightingale versus Martinez & Diamante was booked for next week on Collision.

AEW World Trios Championship: House of Black retained against Action Andretti, Darius Martin, & Lee Johnson. This match was the Open House gimmick, and the challengers chose to ban Julia Hart from ringside. Of note, Johnson worked babyface in his return to TV after being a member of the Factory. The challengers showed fighting spirit with aerial offense, but they were overmatched by the champs. Andretti’s rally was cut short when the numbers caught up. King flattened him on a discus lariat to win.

House of Black showed why they are the champs. The level in competition felt like the A squad versus the C squad. The prospects did their best with exciting offense, but they weren’t close to being on the same level as the veterans.

Two neat moments stuck out to me. One, Andretti was pretty slick stepping up the ropes to flip over the top for a counter sleeper hold. Two, the crowd was wild with chants of viking noises when King fired up with aggression. Even though Malakai Black is the leader, I think King has the most potential of that group to be a world champion in AEW. He has the monster attitude, power moves, and crowd support.

“Switchblade” Jay White defeated Metalik. The masked man gave White some trouble with his lucha libre skills, but White won in the end with the Blade Runner.

This win seemed easier than expected for White. Metalik was no slouch, but he never took White to deep waters.

The real enjoyment of this appearance was from Bullet Club Gold as a whole. Prior to the show, White and Juice Robinson handed presents to the Gunn Club. They noticed that the ‘Ass Boys’ chants were getting under the Gunns’ skin, so they gifted headphones to drown out the noise.

The Bang Bang Gang also had a pre-match promo with the funny visual of shoving their hands in the face of Tony Schiavone.

The energy of Bullet Club Gold is starting to remind me of DX. They are a different brand of juvenile, but the humor is in a similar vein of mockery.

Notes: Toni Storm felt naked without the AEW Women’s World Championship after losing the title to Hikaru Shida. Storm went into diva mode with her hair in curlers about how she should be respected and admired. This seems like character progression for Storm, and it might even be branching out from the Outcasts if she works solo on Collision.

Samoa Joe choked Serpentico for the fastest win in Collision history. The real purpose of this segment was the previously mentioned promo challenging Punk at All In.

Andrade had a promo package about recovering his mask from the House of Black.

The Acclaimed spoke about chatting with Billy Gunn, and he is pretty firm in his decision to retire. Billy felt like he let the Acclaimed down when they lost. The Acclaimed reflected that maybe they failed him. There is still unfinished business to become trios champions. The Acclaimed plans to carry Billy’s boots to the ring for their matches to honor him. This is a tasty carrot dangling the hope of one more run with Daddy Ass and The Acclaimed.

QT Marshall had gifts for Will Hobbs to smooth over their relationship. QT offered a gold chain and an opportunity for a big win at All Out. Even though Hobbs didn’t want QT’s help, he snatched the jewelry anyway.

Christian Cage called for security to escort his own daughter, a young child, from the venue as punishment for touching the TNT Championship. This scumbaggery was hilarious.

Hikaru Shida will defend the women’s title against Anna Jay on Dynamite. Anna was a rookie the first time they wrestled. She’s not a rookie anymore.

Stud of the Show: Samoa Joe

If there is one moment on this episode that makes me fired up when looking back on the show, it is Joe calling out CM Punk for All In. Joe single-handedly sold me on the PPV in an instant. His passion and reasoning makes this the matchup I’m most eager for, as of now.

Match of the Night: FTR vs. Brian Cage & Big Bill Morrissey

This clash was right up my alley of entertainment. Big dudes duding it up with impressive power, while technical studs worked their game to overcome.

Grade: B+

The peaks were very high, the baseline was solid, and the weak finish to the main event left a sour taste. AEW turned on the switch for story mode building to upcoming PPVs, and that added value from a news perspective.

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

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