AEW Collision recap and reactions (June 24, 2023): Sting’s surprise

AEW Collision (June 24, 2023) emanated from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario. The show featured Sting’s surprise trios partner to take on Chris Jericho’s team, CM Punk in the main event, MJF making an appearance, and more on the eve of Forbidden Door.

Let yourself be carried away by all Collision details with play-by-play by Geno Mrosko.

Sting’s Surprise

The card for Forbidden Door July 25 was pretty much set, but one ingredient was missing. Sting and Darby Allin had to reveal their lines partner for the match against Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara and Minoru Suzuki at the PPV.

Tony Schiavone was set to open the show with Sting, but Jericho beat the Icon to the punch to come first. Jericho was flanked by Suzuki. Sammy was away for the evening. Jericho wiggled his gums unafraid of Sting’s surprise. Jericho even showed off a cool new handshake with Suzuki.

By the way, thanks to the production for showing the replay of Le Sex Grandpas poses on dynamite. This moment was hilarious, and it was great to have a focused camera angle this time.

Jericho was tired of waiting, so he threatened Schiavone with a baseball bat to reveal the secret information. The music of Cue Sting and Schiavone shouting “It’s Sting!” Allin took it upon himself to issue a clue. This man kicked Jericho’s ass in the Tokyo Dome.

Enter Tetsuya Naito looking super fly in a white suit and wearing a cape.

Jericho and Naito have wrestled twice before. Jericho won the IWGP Intercontinental Championship in 2018 and Naito won the title in 2019 in a no disqualification match.

Naito entered the ring for a stare with Jericho.

The opening segment was dynamite. Jericho brought his A-game to the mic with humor, arrogance and intimidation. It was the kind of joke that wasn’t meant to be fun per se, but it was funny to watch. The little things added to the fun, like a stoic Suzuki with the handshake and Schiavone shouting “It’s Sting!” with a bat to the throat.

Sting’s surprise pick was a good pick in terms of star power and revisiting Jericho’s NJPW history. I don’t know how well they will blend together as partners in the direction of the story. My experience watching Naito comes only from CMLL, and he represented the Los Ingobernables style through and through.

As far as AEW storylines go, this segment dangled the carrot of tension between Sammy and Jericho. The handshake and sex pose with Suzuki was meant to be jealousy bait, but that doesn’t make much sense to me. If Sammy was true JAS to the bone, then he would enjoy sports entertainment. Even if he thinks about leaving Jericho, these things weren’t blatant enough to be offended. Allin also weighed in on the situation. If Sammy stands with Jericho, then Allin will kick his ass. Sammy and Allin have yet to be introduced as good enough friends to make this threat count. Ultimately, Sammy and Allin will still be competing as part of the Four Pillars.

Let’s go through the rest of Collision.

Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Swerve Strickland. This match had good action with a comedic air guitar dueling tone. The Ace of the Universe lived up to his name in the end. Tanahashi aimed to close with a flying splash, but Swerve lifted his knees to block. Swerve knocked Tanahashi out with kicks, but he missed the target on a flying double stomp and got his knee stuck. Tanahashi leaps for a slingshot. Tanahashi climbed the corner to finish with the High Fly Flow.

It was cool matchmaking. I’m glad AEW was able to make this a special attraction for Collision. Unfortunately, this again put Swerve on the short side of the stick. There was no way Tanahashi would lose a night before the AEW World Championship match against MJF. Shout out to Swerve for adapting on the fly for the finish when Tanahashi slipped turnbuckles. Instead of laying flat on the mat for an unrealistic amount of time, Swerve rushed in to engage in punches. This gave Tanahashi a chance to regroup, knock Swerve to the mat and hit his finisher.

Speaking of MJF, he honored Collision with his presence on the big screen for a promo after Tanahashi’s victory. MJF demanded that their match be the first on the PPV. He doesn’t want to spend another minute in Canada than necessary. MJF is going to shove Tanahashi’s air guitar up his ass, because Tanahashi isn’t level with the devil.

With Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada already announced as the PPV main event, the MJF promo provided a clever excuse as to why the AEW World Championship won’t be closing the show. It also fuels MJF’s fragile ego justifying why he’s not in the main event.

Andrade defeated Brody King. The style was speed versus power. The story was King targeting Andrade’s surgically repaired pectoral and Andrade taking the big man down by attacking the knee. King exploded for a running DVD in the corner followed by a running cannonball. On the lift for a finisher, Andrade escaped and sliced ‚Äč‚ÄčKing’s knee to set up a figure four. It was then that Julia Hart grabbed Andrade’s mask to cause a distraction. Andrade posted the submission, but he didn’t fall for the trap. El Idolo dodged King’s strike and fired back with his signature back elbow. Andrade slapped the number four and bridged for the number eight. Buddy Matthews ran into Andrade’s attack and shoved the referee. A disqualification was pronounced. The House of Black defeated Andrade as Malakai Black watched on the big screen.

It was a quality game with a cop-out finish. King saved face by not having to submit. I’m curious what the next step will be for this story. The House of Black showed that Andrade needed friends. No one has mentioned Andrade’s status with Los Ingonernables. Plus, this band is full of heels. Andrade takes a babyface swing, so it would be odd to pair them again. For the curious, there were no interactions between Andrade and Naito on this show.

Christian Cage as TNT Champion. Christian won the TNT crown, even though Luchasaurus is the official title holder. He basically spent the entire interview shitting on Toronto sports as losers. Christian took credit for advising Kawhi Leonard to leave the Raptors. Christian dug deeper saying he has to leave this town and it’s running out of steam to become a champion. Christian ended the trend of open challenges and also took a shot at Cody Rhodes using the TNT title as a vanity project. The ‘champion’ plans to take the title to new heights.

Christian hosted a heel heat master class in his hometown of Toronto. They didn’t boo him in the blink of an eye. It was as if he really got under their skin. As an unaffiliated viewer in Toronto, the whole scene was hilarious.

Owen Hart Tournament Women’s Quarter-Final: Willow Nightingale defeated Nyla Rose. Hoss fight! Marina Shafir provided a distraction for Nyla to smash Willow’s shoulder into the ring post. This attack paid off later when Willow’s arm was too weak to perform the med bomb finisher. Nyla triggered Native Beast Mode with a flurry of heavy punches. When she ran the ropes, Willow cut the angle for a big shoulder tackle. Willow walked through the pain to hit the Doctor Bomb for the win.

This match had a solid babyface finish. The explosion of the leap blew the crowd away, and the second attempt on the medical bomb yielded an emphatic victory. Willow showed perseverance and a champion’s heart to defeat her opponent.

Willow advances to the semi-finals to face the winner of Athena against Billie Starkz. After the match, the Outcasts surrounded the ring. Skye Blue ran with a chair for the stoppage.

Will Hobbs defeated Jeremy Prophet. Powerhouse attacked before the bell. He relished crushing his opponent until he finished with a spinebuster.

This contest was a warm-up before the Owen Hart tournament match against Dustin Rhodes next week. I hope Dustin’s spine doesn’t smash to dust when he picks up that spinebuster from Hobbs. The impact promises to be brutal.

Bullet Club Gold & Gunn Club defeated CM Punk, FTR and Ricky Starks. The crowd was rowdy for Punk in the main event. He was more active in this fight than last week. The villains isolated Punk to set the stage for a Starks hot tag. Absolutely cleaned the house then did it with Jay White for near falls. The match turned into chaos when Cash Wheeler took out Juice Robinson and the Gunns in a suicide dive. Switchblade took control with a uranage to Punk and a uranage to Starks. White went for a Blade Runner, but Starks escaped to score a roll-up. White kicked out sending Starks into the ropes. Starks bounced for a spear. Starks went wild spearing the Gunns too as Juice shouted, “Ricky!” Starks fetched another spear from White. This time Switchblade dodged and Juice timed Starks with what I assume was a charged punch. White finished with the Blade Runner to win.

It was energetic action for the main event. The frenetic finale flowed well. Unfortunately, the result was basically meaningless in what amounted to a high profile exhibition contest for bragging rights. This is technically Punk’s first loss since returning, and it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all. The seeds have clearly been planted for a showdown between Punk and White, so we’ve got that to look forward to.

Remarks: Quick thoughts on production. The show opened with promos promoting the main event. I have one Saturday night’s main event atmosphere upon delivery. Often the arenas seem seamless with the same decor week after week. I like that they occasionally provide an exterior view of the venue to give the impression of a traveling tour. Thumbs up for showing match highlights, if any, for story purposes.

Miro realized that his god is an idiot. He renounced his god, his gold and his beautiful wife. Miro walks alone.

Owen Hart’s men’s tournament hype package drew arrogant talk from all competitors.

Scorpio Sky is back and better than before. He wasn’t even at his peak when he was winning championships in AEW.

Haras of the show: Christian Cage

It takes a special set of skills to make your hometown hate you.

Match of the Night: Willow Nightingale vs. Nyla Rose

A healthy match of good conquering evil.

Rating: A-

It wasn’t necessarily a big show in terms of the material delivered. It was great fun though. The promotional work was golden all night. The action was solid. Toronto fans provided an electric atmosphere. It really helps everything seem bigger and more important than it really is. Overall, this episode of Collision left me with a good buzz of excitement before Forbidden Door.

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

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