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AEW Collision recap & reactions (Sept. 23, 2023): Danielson serves Texas Death to Starks

AEW Collision (Sept. 23, 2023) emanated from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI. The show featured Bryan Danielson going to war against Ricky Starks in a Texas Death Match, Christian Cage crowned as the undisputed TNT champion, RVD strutting his stuff, 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. Ricky Starks plans to bury Bryan Danielson six feet deep in the Texas Death Match. Danielson replied that people have been trying to keep him down his whole career. Nobody has succeeded, and Starks won’t be the first.

Texas Death

Danielson and Starks had a proper donnybrook in the main event. Texas Death rules to determine a winner was based on not answering a ten-count. The idea was to beat the opponent so bad that he couldn’t continue. Danielson did just that to serve Starks the cold dish of humble pie. But who are we kidding. Starks is Absolute. He’ll never be humble.

The action was aggressive to start with a brawl into the fans. Starks landed a springboard crossbody into the front row.

Danielson went on the attack with vicious headbutts to the jaw. Starks hit the American Dragon with the ring bell. Danielson was busted open bleeding. The match progressed with more violence using chairs, straps, and chains. Starks choked out Danielson with a chain, but Danielson answered the count at nine.

Starks went back to the chain choke. Danielson flipped over the top to escape. When Starks charged for a spear, Danielson countered for the LeBell Lock then transitioned to use the chain around Starks’ neck. Starks showed intestinal fortitude to fire up for the escape.

Starks swung a chair and missed the mark. Danielson hit the chair clean on a Busaiku Knee driving the steel into Starks’ face. Danielson went wild kicking Starks head in. Starks gushed crimson.

Danielson wrapped the chain around his knee to strike flush for the Busaiku Knee again. Starks was down for the count, and Danielson was awarded the victory.

Hot damn, what a fight. That Texas Death Match was everything I could have hoped for, aside from a Starks win. Unfortunately, the time wasn’t right for Danielson to suffer defeat with WrestleDream around the corner. Starks looked like a star once again, even though, he lost. That was the type of fight with no shame on the losing end. They both kicked ass in heaping helpings. Danielson was a beast with his vicious streak was on full blast. It’s hard to argue he isn’t the best in the world right now after that performance. Overall, that was a fitting end to the feud to leave me fully satisfied.

Undisputed TNT champion

Christian Cage was gracious enough to grant Darby Allin one more shot at the TNT Championship. It just so happened to be a three-way handicap charade with Luchasaurus involved. Christian also made sure to ban Sting from ringside as a condition of the match. When the dust cleared, Christian was the undisputed TNT champion.

Allin had a plan, and that plan included throwing white powder in the face of Luchasaurus. Allin’s strategy was a mad rush for a quick win. He dropped Christian with a suicide dive, then he went for a sunset flip on Christian. The self-proclaimed champ kicked out.

It wasn’t long until the numbers were too much for Allin. Christian and Luchasaurus battered Allin from pillar to post. Luchasaurus executed a brutal German suplex. Christian shooed the dino away to take the pin for himself. Allin kicked out, and the match continued.

Allin rallied with a Scorpion Death Drop to Christian. When Allin climbed for a Coffin Drop, Luchasaurus pulled his pal out of the ring. Allin shifted angles for a Coffin Drop to the outside.

The numbers got Allin once again. Allin had one more charge in him. He cracked Luchasaurus with the title belt, hit the mark on a penalty kick, then landed a Coffin Drop. Christian took advantage to toss Allin out of the ring and steal the pin on Luchasaurus to become the official champion. No more sharing with Luchasaurus.

This was a rowdy match for Allin. He battled the odds with vim and vigor. I like the display of urgency at the start trying to catch his opponents off-guard. Everybody excelled in their roles. Allin was the daredevil. Luchasaurus was the power man. Christian was the scumbag. I figured odds were high that Christian would win, but AEW masked it well during the match for him to slither in for glory.

Also of note, seeds were planted for Luchasaurus to rebel against Christian at a later date. When Luchasaurus held the belt in the middle of the match, he was seduced by its gold. After the win, Luchasaurus was reluctant to help Christian celebrate.

Christian thought the rivalry with Allin was over, but Tony Khan had other ideas. The bookerman booked Christian versus Allin in 2-out-of-3 falls for WrestleDream. The TNT title is on the line.

Well, that’s some bullshit matchmaking. Allin accepted the three-way on his own accord knowing full well that the deck was stacked against him. Christian won fair and square. Sure, his victory resets the TNT title picture fresh for all challengers, but this WrestleDream match is against the spirit of Allin’s agreement. It also reeks of favoritism from Khan toward Allin. Christian should file a lawsuit.

Let’s jam through the rest of Collision.

RVD & Hook defeated Daddy Magic & Cool Hand Ang. Jake Hager and Anna Jay were ringside to interfere. RVD roared on a hot tag hitting his signature spots. RVD kicked a chair into Hager’s face, Hook slapped on the Redrum submission to Cool Hand, then RVD executed the Five-Star Frog Splash to pin Daddy Magic.

This match was good fun letting RVD style and profile in front of his home crowd. There’s not much more to take away from it on a grander scale.

Julia Hart defeated Kiera Hogan. Willow Nightingale was originally scheduled to face Hart, but the sneaky horror queen spit black mist in Willow’s face prior to the show. Tony Schiavone reported that Willow was taken to the hospital. Hogan stepped up in Willow’s place.

Hogan was game bringing a fierce attitude, but Hart handled business to win via submission. Afterward, Hart applied the submission again. Skye Blue ran out for the save. Hart hid behind Brody King as a shield to spit black mist in Blue’s face. King grabbed the mic to demand a TBS title shot for Hart or else the violence will continue. AEW made that bout official for WrestleDream.

This was a solid scene. Hart’s character work has a cold charisma making it hard to look away. Hogan’s fiery attitude draws me in with desire to see more. This is the fight game, and I want to see wrestlers kicking ass. Hogan has that vibe in effort. Obviously, she wasn’t successful on this evening. King impressed me on the mic. I knew he could speak strongly, but his presence commanded the room here. That’s further evidence to believe King has world title potential.

One downside of the segment was AEW rushing the story order. It was later announced that Hart will wrestle Willow on Dynamite, but that match loses its luster now that we know Hart has a date with Kris Statlander. It becomes obvious that Hart will beat Willow on Wednesday night. King’s promo would have been better served for after Hart beats Willow. Perhaps AEW felt the need to book at least one woman’s match early for the PPV to avoid pesky criticism about the division.

Jay White defeated Andrade. Bullet Club Gold were ringside as comical hooligans. Their presence paid off in the end. When Andrade locked in the figure-four, the Gunns distracted the referee, and Juice Robinson blasted Andrade in the head with a clipboard. Switchblade cleaned up the mess with a Blade Runner to win.

This was a classic style wrestling match. AEW put two top stars against one another and let them do their thing. The match was given plenty of time to heat the fire higher and higher the longer it went. Andrade was a stud with a double moonsault and his back elbow strike. White showed an edge with a suplex over the ropes and a slamming uranage. They genuinely attracted my full attention by the end as I was also eyeing a prime time college football game during Collision. The cheap finish was a bit of a bummer on the spot, but it seems like a productive way to extend this feud. I’m all in for more. Andrade wrestles Rock Hard next week.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: FTR retained against the Workhorsemen. The challengers were in the groove, and JD Drake landed his moonsault. He never lands that move against bigger stars. He often misses as a way for his opponent to rally en route to victory. Dax Harwood took the hit and kicked out on the pin. Cash Wheeler smashed Anthony Henry into the apron on a Gory Special. Harwood caught a flying move from Drake to counter for a Sharpshooter to win.

This was a meat and potatoes match. It would have fit nicely in an old school territory. The Work Horsemen had a nice showing, and FTR won in a manner without their finishers to show there are levels to this game. The Work Horsemen were good but not good enough.

Aussie Open had been scouting the match on commentary. They confronted FTR to hype the WrestleDream bout. Aussie Open aims to prove their value to the world. FTR demanded that Aussie Open bring their best, because FTR are the greatest. Harwood cautioned not to even bother showing up if they won’t bring their A-game.

Notes: Promo dump.

Don Callis answered the challenge from Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho. The Callis Family accepts the trios match with Will Ospreay as their third. Callis plans to finish this drama once and for all at WrestleDream.

Eddie Kingston wants to respect Antonio Inoki at WrestleDream, so he challenged Katsuyori Shibata. The ROH World Championship and the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship will be on the line. Wow, that is interesting matchmaking. No way should Kingston win. Shibata has been presented on the legend level of Sting, while the Mad King is a sloppy jalopy. It is a match I definitely want to see though.

Dark Order recruitment commercial for structure, rules, and order. You need the Dark Order.

The Kingdom are going to teach the Best Friends about Neck Health Awareness in a match next week. Piledrivers and wiener punches.

The Righteous earned a shot at MJF & Adam Cole for the ROH tag titles. They had a promo video in the park. Vincent and Dutch are pure and divine. They will crawl out to expose MJF and Cole.

Ortiz accused Santana of using him throughout their careers. Santana had a lot to say on screen and social media, but he didn’t say anything to Ortiz’s face. Ortiz explained that it was typical for Santana to run from problems. Ortiz warned that Santana won’t be able to run from this much longer. This feud has my interest. The slow drip is working.

Shane Taylor has history with Keith Lee. They were partners in ROH, then Lee left to WWE. Now, it’s Taylor’s time to shine and Lee is in the way. Limitless will wrestle Lee Moriarty next week as a warm-up for Taylor.

CJ is in AEW, because Miro lost his way. She wanted to help him become a champion again, but he is preoccupied with temptation. Miro entered the scene to say his temptation is his hot, flexible wife. He also said that CJ’s temptation is fame. It changes her. They bickered and decided to go their separate paths. CJ asked Miro to promise not to put hands on her clients, but he exited without committing.

Stud of the Show: Bryan Danielson

The American Dragon spit hot fire in the form of violence.

Match of the Night: Jay White vs. Andrade

Switchblade and El Idolo demonstrated their superstar skills in the ring to much delight.

Grade: B+

This episode of Collision had a mix of matches from PPV quality to fluff. The peaks were very high. Add in a title change to keep the news feeling fresh on a Saturday evening. The main event kicked ass living up to the Texas Death standard.

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

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