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AEW Collision recap & reactions (Jan. 6, 2024): FTR has love of family and friends

AEW Collision (Jan. 6, 2024) emanated from Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, NC. The show featured FTR outwrestling House of Black, Eddie Kingston as a fighting champion, Adam Copeland working his way up the ladder, and more.

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

Saturday night is alright for fighting. No opening promo package this week, so enjoy this groovy retro intro instead.

FTR wins the battle, but House of Black stands tall

Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler competed against Malakai Black and Buddy Matthews in the main event. Hardwood’s family was sitting in the front row, and Black tried to use them as leverage for mind games. Nothing went over the line. It was just the threat of potential violence that crept into Harwood’s head.

The high spots were cooking when FTR landed a superplex to flying splash combo on Black. Matthews leaped in with a flying knee to knock Wheeler onto the pin pile.

The match continued with House of Black catching Wheeler on a suicide dive to dump over the commentary table. Black grabbed a chair with malice toward Harwood, however, he could never connect with the steel. FTR rallied for a Shatter Machine on Matthews. Black made the save on the pin. FTR kept the momentum strong for a spike piledriver to Black on the apron.

Enter Brody King at the sign of trouble. Daniel Garcia repaid the favor to FTR by clobbering King with a chair. The big man was down. Garcia cheered Harwood into the ring, but Matthews was waiting for a curb stomp. Harwood was able to place his foot on the ropes for the break. Matthews went for the kill on a powerbomb to jackknife pin. Harwood ate the impact, then he countered the pin into a roll-up to win. Chalk one up for the Top Guys.

House of Black weren’t content to leave the night like that, so they attacked FTR and Garcia. Wheeler was recipient of a curb stomp on the chair. Black nailed a spinning head kick into the chair against Harwood’s head in front of his family. King pounded Garcia with the chair. Julia Hart ominously rang the bell during the beatdown. House of Black closed the show standing tall.

FTR and House of Black were given the big match treatment, and they delivered as expected. The action flowed well ratcheting up excitement for the finish. The manner in which Harwood won leaves room for rematches with a more definitive finish. AEW did a smart job blending Garcia into the story, so it makes total sense. Too bad it makes Black look like a doofus with his silver-tongued promos. Not only does Harwood have the love of his family, which was pretty clear on this evening, FTR also has a budding friendship with Garcia. No doubt FTR will share tequila backstage with Garcia as the bond grows tighter. The Top Guys might even bust out some dance moves. The perception of Black doesn’t matter that much in this case, since he’s the bad guy in the drama. He’s supposed to be full of shit to an extent. As long as Black continues to back it up in the ring as a badass wrestler, he’ll be fine.

Let’s jam through the rest of Collision.

Sting & Darby Allin defeated Workhorsemen. Ric Flair was in the house. Charlotte is Horsemen country after all.

It’s Sting! JD Drake and Anthony Henry attacked before the opening bell. Sting no-sold a chair to the back. He punched the chair into Drake, and Flair peppered a few jabs. The Workhorsemen gained control with chop blocks. Once the match officially started, they isolated Allin. Hot tag to Stinger running wild. Allin hit a Coffin Drop to Henry on the outside, and Sting finished Drake with the Scorpion Death Drop.

Fun match hitting all the right notes on Sting’s farewell tour. The Workhorsemen put up a fight to make it interesting.

Sting and Allin team up next week against Konosuke Takeshita and Will Hobbs in a Texas Tornado match on Dynamite. Ric Flair hyped their 26-0 unbeatable record. Watch this promo for the few seconds that Sting got rowdy with a burst of energy. This wasn’t a commercial for the WOOOOO! beverage, but it could have been.

AEW Continental Crown: Eddie Kingston defeated Trent Beretta to retain. Sue sat in the front row to cheer on her son. Trent was bloodied from the bridge of the nose when he took a chop to the face. Trent often lost the striking exchanges, but he put Kingston in peril with an avalanche powerbomb, German suplexes, and a Gotch piledriver. In the end, the Mad King countered for an exploder suplex. He followed with a spinning backfist and a fisherman buster. Trent surprisingly kicked out at 2. Kingston kept on the pressure to finish with a second fisherman buster.

This was a gritty contest. Applause to both for the exciting match. There are several examples when blood doesn’t really add much to the story. Not so here. The way Trent was bleeding made it feel like a real fight. He didn’t wilt in that moment. Trent stepped his game up to a higher level as a result. This was exactly the kind of title fight I wanted from Trent in his position. He showed heart and left me wanting more. As for Kingston, he fought with the confidence of a champion. At least that’s how I perceived it. When Trent kicked out on the closing barrage, Kingston popped up with energy knowing it was the moment to hammer home the win. That attitude goes in line with the story of growth from his huge victories during the Continental Classic.

About the Continental Crown, I’m still confused how this situation works. AEW has yet to provide an official explanation in simple and direct terms. I’d like to see that addressed clearly. It seems weird that the title can be won without going through the grind of the tournament, unless the tournament won’t be a yearly event.

Matt Taven & Mike Bennett defeated Komander & Bryan Keith. Proving Ground match. Rules dictate that if the challengers win or survive for a ten-minute draw, then they will earn a shot at the ROH World Tag Team Championship. Roderick Strong was ringside for support. The Kingdom controlled the pace for much of the bout, but the ragtag duo were tough to put away. Komander and Keith rallied for a unique superplex with the luchador standing on the bounty hunter’s shoulders.

In the end, Bennett took out Komander with a piledriver. Taven popped a knee strike to Keith. The Kingdom closed with a powerbomb double-team maneuver.

The Kingdom wrestled more seriously in this bout. It was a good step in improving their image to become recognized as legit threats with the ROH tag titles. Komander and Keith were a weird team on paper, but they made it work well. Keith has been putting in quality performances lately in increased opportunities on screen. He has the skills to carve out a future in AEW and ROH.

Adam Copeland defeated Griff Garrison. Copeland cut a promo to start. He has no problem working his way up for a TNT title rematch against Christian Cage. Copeland issued an open challenge, and Garrison answered the call. He was flanked by Maria Kanellis and Cole Karter, as seen on ROH TV. The match was pretty competitive. I never felt the sense that Copeland was in danger of losing, but he had to work hard for the win. Copeland took control for an Impaler DDT and executed a new crossface armlock submission for victory. Afterward, Karter ambushed Copeland, but the Rated R Superstar silenced him on a spear.

This is a smart direction for Copeland. I wanted to see him against fresh competition rather than rushing into another rematch with Christian. This open challenge story delivers as the best of both worlds. We’ll get to watch Copeland wrestle interesting matchups while building his case to challenge Christian again. His new submission was pretty sweet as well. Garrison impressed in his outing. I particularly enjoyed the bravado of slapping Copeland across the face.

Skye Blue defeated Kiera Hogan. Blue earned the win via TKO into a dragon sleeper.

This was one of those low-key bouts on paper that turned out pretty good. They were given plenty of time to work, and that trust paid off into a quality match. Blue is thriving when leaning into her dark character. Screaming on the submission was an aggressive display of dominance.

Alas, another week goes by without a promo from Blue explaining her heel turn. The longer times passes, the less I’ll care when we finally hear the answer.

Claudio Castagnoli defeated Andrew Everett. Giant swing!

Everett showed fancy feet for creative kicks, but Claudio handled business with a European uppercut, Neutralizer, and crushing lariat.

The real takeaway was Claudio calling out Hangman Page. He criticized the cowboy for looking for a reason to fight. Claudio doesn’t need a reason. It’s part of the job. A job he does very well. Claudio challenged Hangman for a match on Dynamite, and it was made official. That one is going to be awesome. I like how Claudio is taking matters into his own hands to create big fights.

Notes: Kris Statlander and Willow Nightingale want to keep the momentum rolling throughout 2024. Statlander had an iguana on her shoulder. Or it might have been Danhausen in disguise.

Hook has eyes on more gold. He is coming for Samoa Joe and the AEW World Championship. Wow! That is an interesting development. I love seeing rising prospects take the initiative to call out top dogs.

Bullet Club Gold and the Acclaimed both want to fight the Undisputed Kingdom. Jay White demanded first dibs. Anthony Bowens eased tension by suggesting they form a faction together. Switchblade and Colten Gunn blew off that idea, but Austin Gunn was more receptive. Ooh, this is an interesting step. I like it. Adam Cole will need more men, and this opens the door for returns of Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish or new free agents. I’m curious if this will become the direction for the next Blood & Guts.

Serena Deeb is ready to return. I believe this was the same vignette from Worlds End. If you missed it the first time, be sure to watch it now. The concept is pretty cool.

Ricky Starks and Big Bill Morrissey challenged Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara to a street fight for the AEW tag titles at Battle of the Belts next week.

Stud of the Show: Hook

Hook is taking on the test of all tests. I love the chutzpah. Grab the brass ring, as they say.

Match of the Night: FTR vs. House of Black

PPV worthy action.

Grade: B-

The show started hot in the first two bouts, then the importance tapered off until the main event. Even though the middle matches felt tossed together, the wrestlers put in work to entertain. AEW added just enough succulent story morsels to build anticipation for future directions and matches.

I like the tone of AEW so far in 2024 with so many wrestlers creating opportunities for big matches. That attitude gives a rub across the promotion that business is picking up. You don’t know what to expect next.

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

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