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AEW Collision recap & reactions (Sept. 2, 2023): The Dragon swerve

AEW Collision (Sept. 2, 2023) emanated from United Center in Chicago, IL. The show featured the return of Bryan Danielson, the termination of CM Punk, Dennis Rodman mingling with Jeff Jarrett, and more on the go-home to All Out.

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

Saturday night is alright for firing.

CM Punk terminated

We have to start with unfortunate news. AEW announced that CM Punk was terminated from his contract due to the real-life altercation with Jack Perry at All In.

Tony Khan opened the broadcast delivering a statement. Punk’s dismissal came at the recommendation of the discipline committee and legal counsel. The incident endangered innocent people backstage. Khan apologized to any fans upset by this outcome.

It’s a shame that the situation got out of hand this badly. Hopefully, AEW management can learn from their mistakes in handling the drama that festered for so long. As for Khan’s promo, there will be jokes aplenty about him implying that his life was in danger. Punk must have given him the crazy eyes.

The world of professional wrestling moves on, and so did the show in a big way. The next scene was a swerve involving Ricky Starks, Ricky Steamboat, and Bryan Danielson.

The Dragon swerve

Starks called out Steamboat for a strap match at All Out. The Dragon rushed to the ring with a contract in hand for Starks versus The Dragon. The paperwork was very clear for all to see. Starks didn’t hesitate to sign. Then, Steamboat revealed The Dragon was actually “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, who returned from injury in a surprise appearance.

That was a smart swerve. Odds were high that a babyface was coming to save Steamboat. AEW delivered on that with a surprise. The Dragon exchange was a nice stroke to connect the dots. Effort was put into explaining this story in a logical manner.

It was also smart for that scene to open the show after the Punk news. Starks was not going be get booed. His charisma is too bright, and he’s viewed as a self-made star, as opposed to a representative of the establishment. Steamboat was not going to get booed. He is a legend. Danielson was not going to get booed. He is one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time. Plus, the segment was really entertaining overall.

Backstage, Starks was asked for a reaction to his new opponent for All Out. He will knock down another obstacle in his path. Starks will show why he is Absolute.

Starks’ attitude about Danielson is a good way to present him as a star. There was no fear, no cowering, no hesitation. It matches perfectly with his promo about believing in himself. Most assume Danielson is a lock to win, however, the confident bravado from Starks makes me think this would be a great moment for his career to beat Danielson. This sells me on not knowing who will win. In turn, that should make the PPV fight a more engaging viewing experience.

Let’s jam through the rest of Collision.

AEW World Trios Championship: The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn retained against Daniel Garcia, Daddy Magic, & Cool Hand Ang. Jake Hager was ringside to help his pals. Sports entertainment was to be had in full. Garcia danced his way around Billy with a ‘suck it’ motion. Billy punched the fancy dancer in the kisser, then Garcia’s body slumped to the mat with his face on Billy’s crotch. Billy did a dance of his own gyrating in Garcia’s face.

The finish was Ass Magic or Magic Ass, whichever you prefer. Daddy Ass hit the Fame-asser on Daddy Magic. The Acclaimed landed the Mic Drop combo to win.

Fun stuff with The Acclaimed & Daddy Ass rocking the crowd. I’m glad Garcia, Daddy Magic, and Cool Hand are sticking together. They are comedy gold. Garcia adds legitimacy as a pro wrestler in their sports entertainer world. Even if they don’t rise high any time soon, AEW needs to figure out ways to have them on camera with promo time.

Aussie Open defeated Nick Wayne & Komander. Wayne was in super babyface mode rallying against the odds, but Aussie Open caught him in the air for the Coriolis to win.

Afterward, Darby Allin explained why he forgave AR Fox so quickly. Allin had a disagreement with Buddy Wayne and never buried the hatchet before his death. Allin didn’t want to live with that hatred again. That’s why he forgave Fox. Allin wasn’t asking Wayne to do the same, just to let it go. Allin asked Wayne to corner him for the TNT title fight.

Christian Cage interrupted with wicked insults about courting Wayne’s mother. He advised the young man to bring a towel for Allin, because Luchasaurus is going to bludgeon Allin.

Everyone had their moment to shine in the ring. AEW continues to push Wayne as a star. They need to do a better job of making it seem natural. When I watch Wayne, it feels too much like a product of booking than the illusion of a wrestling match. He was clowning on Aussie Open at the end, but thankfully they prevailed as former tag champs over a random pairing of opponents. Then, AEW interviews the loser of the match in the ring. Little things like that don’t make the push of Wayne feel natural to me.

As for the post-match promo portion, Allin was relatable with his explanation for Fox. Wayne was as well by not being so quick to cool. I like the mentor relationship developing on screen. These details make viewers more invested in the characters. Christian was the icing on the cake with his trash talking. He is the best at being so smug while spewing hypocrisy.

Dennis Rodman! The Worm was in the house. Rodman was interrupted by Jeff Jarrett with an offer to join his group. Rodman declined and shoved Sonjay Dutt down to the mat. The Acclaimed arrived to protect Rodman. They proposed a trios title match with Rodman in their corner at All Out.

As a fan of the Bad Boy Pistons, seeing Rodman puts a smile on my face. The minute Jarrett interrupted, the smile grew wider. This was going to be ridiculous in a fun way, and that it was.

Saraya, Ruby Soho, & Toni Storm defeated Kris Statlander, Dr. Britt Baker DMD, & Hikaru Shida. Even though there was dissension among the Outcasts at All In, they worked fine as a team here. That was until Storm accidentally crashed on Saraya when trying to break the pinfall. Saraya was annoyed, but the team stick together for victory. Saraya sprayed paint in Baker’s eyes for Soho to hit the No Future Kick.

This match provided momentum for Soho heading into the TBS challenge at All Out. The Outcasts potential breakup seems to be slow brewing.

Backstage, Statlander was tired of the Outcasts tricks. Shouting intensified between champion and challenger.

Will Hobbs defeated GPA. Spinebuster squash. Afterward, Miro entered for a fight. Miro clotheslined Hobbs over the ropes. Hobbs rammed Miro into the ring steps. Miro tossed Hobbs over the barricade. Hobbs backed away to close the scene.

Hoss fight! A tasty tease for what lies ahead at All Out. I can’t wait.

Jay White defeated Dax Harwood. Thanks to a Bullet Club Gold distraction, White hit Harwood with a Blade Runner on the floor. Harwood snuck an inside cradle in the ring, but White kicked out and smashed another Blade Runner for victory.

After the main event, Bullet Club pummeled Cash Wheeler. The Young Bucks made the save, and the bad guys scattered. The Bucks offered a handshake to FTR, but Harwood and Wheeler left them hanging.

Solid action for a TV main event. It was a strong meat and potatoes kind of match. Lots of tussling then popping for big moves. The post-match scene sets up questions of teamwork between FTR and the Bucks. I think they can co-exist without any accidents, however, I doubt there won’t be any accidental friendly fire. That adds a double layer of intrigue for the PPV 8-man. How will the night shake out for FTR and the Bucks as partners? Will Bullet Club Gold be able to stoke the fires to their advantage?

Notes: The show was heavy on quick promos to hype PPV matchups.

Jon Moxley put over Orange Cassidy as a puzzle that hasn’t been solved. He is going to test Cassidy by working his heart and soul. The question will be if Cassidy looks for a way out when in hard trouble. This was classic Mox bringing his verbal A-game. He spoke of Cassidy as a legit star and treated this like it is worthy of the main event. Moxley obeyed a simple rule in cutting promos. He praised his opponent strongly, so that he will look better in victory. The win will have value.

Cassidy responded in the same vein of amplifying the magnitude of this match. Moxley put the weight of AEW on his shoulders to carry the company. Cassidy will beat Mox to do the same. He will carry the weight of AEW after All Out. These two have talked this match into feeling like a genuine main event.

The Dark Order is challenging MJF & Adam Cole for the ROH tag titles. Alex Reynolds trained MJF in the early days and taught him to do whatever it takes to win. Reynolds failed to follow his own advice, so that will change at All Out. They need the belts to show the world they deserve a spot in AEW. John Silver mentioned their friendship with Cole. I forgot about that BTE story arc, so that brought a flood of amusing memories. BTE viewers know what I’m talking about.

Cole relayed a message from MJF to the Dark Order. Cole censored the disgusting parts.

Claudio Castagnoli sarcastically congratulated Eddie Kingston for beating Wheeler Yuta, but he was not impressed. The Blackpool Combat Club beats Yuta everyday. Claudio unleashed a European uppercut to Yuta as he said that. The difference between Yuta and Kingston is that Yuta gets back up. He doesn’t stay down blaming everyone else. Claudio has no respect for Kingston. The visual of this promo is hilarious when Claudio hammers Yuta. That first strike was so unexpected that I burst with laughter.

Katsuyori Shibata summed it up for his team. His translator voice gimmick said, “You both suck.”

Shane Taylor considers himself the most dominant ROH TV champion, and he is coming to take back his title from Samoa Joe.

The true king of television replied with a reality check. Joe is going to make an example of Taylor. Witty verbal jousting from Joe.

Don Callis is the real god of pro wrestling. He will teach Kenny Omega a lesson by destroying him.

Stud of the Show: Tony Khan

No, that’s not a joke. I don’t blame anyone for thinking that, since Khan’s remark about his life in danger is the butt of much ridicule. The reason Khan gets the nod is because he didn’t shy away from the news. It would have been easy to put out a written statement and pretend like there was no elephant in the room. Khan addressed the situation about CM Punk on camera without hiding. The fans weren’t left hanging with wonder about Punk’s status. Khan spun the energy into a positive direction to hype Collision and All Out, like a true promoter. The Punk chapter has been closed, and it allowed AEW to move forward without distraction to focus on the PPV.

Honorable mention to the fans. The partisan Chicago crowd didn’t let the Punk news dampen their spirits. They didn’t try to hijack the mood with negativity to support their hometown hero. The fans enjoyed Collision like any other AEW event.

Match of the Night: Jay White vs. Dax Harwood

Say what you want about this as the choice for the go-home main event. It can’t be denied that this was a good, solid wrestling match.

Grade: B+

Collision was very focused to hype All Out. There wasn’t a lot of irrelevant fluff. The promo game was strong all night long to increase anticipation for the PPV. The Danielson surprise was sweetness. I think the best compliment I can make is that I forgot about Punk while watching the show.

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

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