REWIND: August 13-19
Welcome to REWIND, an acronym that ChatGPT helped me define: Remembering Every Wrestling Interaction Noted Dutifully.
I'm going to try something new here where I watch something wrestling-related every day of the week, which isn't really that much of a stretch if I'm being honest. The idea, though, is to combine what I'm currently watching with some stuff from wrestling's past and do a little write-up for each thing.
This first pass is going to combine a whole week's worth into one post which was my original intent – a weekly digest sort of thing. But, I'm already feeling like I may want to just publish these each day rather than waiting. I'm trying not to give myself so much of a structure that it feels like work and that I don't feel bogged down by it.
Currently, I'm a regular AEW viewer and I'll sporadically check out New Japan, Stardom, TJPW, or random US indies here and there. When I started this blog, it was just after finding my love of wrestling again thanks to NJPW and Stardom but I've since fallen off of both of them as a regular watcher.
I think a lot of that had to do with the birth of AEW and the ease at which good wrestling was suddenly available to me again. New Japan also went through some slumps for me creatively (who doesn't love a 40-minute EVIL match with tons of interference?), so it was fairly easy for me to let it slip away. Stardom really came down to them updating their website which made it way more cumbersome to access the platform with the browser on my TV, so that boiled down to frustration more than anything else.
That being said – I'm going to try and venture out to whatever piques my interest on non-AEW days of the week. These could be single matches, bits of a show, or a whole card. For this first go, there's some ECW, New Japan, and NWA/JCP in addition to the weekly AEW shows.
August 13: 2 Cold Scorpio vs Sabu, ECW Hardcore Heaven 1994
We're just focusing on one of the main events of this show which was uploaded to Dailymotion straight from the VHS rip which warms my old man heart. God, I wish I had convinced my parents to give me the money to send away for literally any of the VHS tapes ECW used to advertise during Hardcore TV.
If the year and name of the show ring a bell, it's because this was the night that ended with the fans hurling their steel chairs into the ring after the main event. Sadly, it predates Terry Funk using "Desperado" as his entrance theme but it does include him making one entrance, announcing that he forgot his kneepads backstage, and then making a second entrance.
This era of ECW just completely blew my mind as a kid. I was introduced to it by a friend who had a satellite dish and I couldn't comprehend what I was seeing when I watched Public Enemy cut a promo while smoking cigarettes. In my child mind the only thing I could think to say was, "These guys would get fired if they did this in the WWF!"
This is also maybe my favorite era of ECW visually. The color scheme makes no sense at all – red, yellow, and blue ring ropes? Was the yellow rope cheaper than the white rope at the wrestling rope store? The ropes are also maybe the thickest ring ropes I've ever seen. They're like pool noodles strung up between the turnbuckles. Speaking of the turnbuckles, they alternate color between blue and yellow in each corner to add to the technicolor dream of the ECW Arena.
I don't think I could ever tire of watching this era of ECW, and maybe the poor quality of a VHS rip makes it even better. I don't want to see this in high definition. I want to see it the way it looked back then because I want to feel the way I felt back then while I'm watching it. In my case, that was either live at 2AM on MSG or the next day if the VCR timer worked properly and recorded the whole show. That also suggests that the show was on at the same time on the same day every week, which I don't think it was. Many a time did I wake up and check the tape to find some excruciatingly non-ECW programming on my tape.
But onto the match itself – it starts with Sabu rushing the ring and going for a couple of takedowns which Scorpio nimbly avoids. After that, we're into some grappling and chain wrestling which, as Joey Styles notes, is "something no one has tried yet" with Sabu.
Sabu finally gets his single-leg takedown and quickly goes for a slingshot legdrop which Scorpio avoids, leading to a short standoff before more technical wrestling led by Scorpio.
Sabu tries for a sunset flip powerbomb from the inside out as Scorpio stands on the apron, and I wonder if this is the first time anyone tried that move. Joey Styles reacts with "What the hell was that?!" which makes me think even Sabu hadn't tried it by that point in 1994. Scorpio hangs onto the top rope and so he doesn't splat on the concrete in his best JT Smith impression.
FUCK, Scorpio hits a close relative to the Ganso Bomb itself when he picks Sabu up for a piledriver and then drops to his knees instead of sitting out on impact. You can pinpoint the exact moment Sabu's vertebrae crack and compress. Undeterred, Sabu shakes it off moments later and starts playing what would become some of his hits like a springboard off of a chair to the outside and performing a suicide dive toward Scorpio sitting in a chair on the floor. The camera angle here makes it hard to tell if Scorpio was able to move or not.
Sabu eventually picks up the win with a Paul E-assisted Arabian Facebuster while 911 distracts referee Jim Molineaux. You know, because a distraction in ECW in 1994 was always important before some rules were broken.
The match itself isn't technically great or a masterpiece. It's a fun time capsule of Sabu, Scorpio, and ECW in 1994 with Sabu seemingly dialing in what would become some of his trademark offense for the next twenty-something years. Joey Styles reacts several times in amazement in a way that makes it feel like this is the first time Sabu has pulled these moves out. Scorpio isn't left out of the party, though – he also hits a few moves that befuddle Styles on commentary, like a slingshot somersault splash and a twisting moonsault into a legdrop from the top rope (different from Da Bomb, his insane moonsault legdrop).
August 14: Masahiro Chono vs Kazuyuki Fujita, G1 15 Finals (2005)
This isn't an era of New Japan I'm super familiar with, and I know nothing about Fujita. Chono is someone who broke into my field of view in the 90s thanks to his presence in WCW. I'm sure I probably saw him in several of the 9,000 wrestling magazines I'd get from the grocery store, too.
Pretty sure I spy a blond Toru Yano as one of Chono's corner men, though I'm guessing he won't be tying anyone to the barricade this night.
Fujita rushes in quickly, foregoing a handshake to slam Chono and then sting him with a few knees and kicks to the head as he lays on the mat. Chono mounts a quick comeback and takes things outside before being caught in a German suplex on the arena floor.
Photographers are surrounding the ring and the wrestlers with little breathing room, making this feel hugely important. Was it at the time? I don't know!
Back in the ring, Fujita continues to punish Chono with strikes and high-angle suplexes. As Chono is locked in a choke, referee Red Shoes kicks the rope to back the seconds away from ringside.
The first chunk of this match feels like a showcase for Fujita who has the answer for Chono at almost every step, even bouncing back to his feet off of a Saito suplex before finally being stopped by a DDT and Shining Wizard.
Even still, after a short flurry including a pair of diving dropkicks to the face in the corner, Fujita once again barrels Chono over with a knee to the stomach. Chono eventually regains control and locks in an STF, rolling onto his back and keeping the hold locked in so Fujita is locked in upside down. Not sure I've seen that before and it looked pretty sick.
It's not too long before Fujita begins to get back to his feet but is met with a pair of Shining Wizards for Chono's fifth and final G1 Climax victory.
This isn't as exciting a match as some modern G1 Finals, but Chono is always cool as can be watching him knock a dude's block off was a treat. Fujita is apparently still wrestling in NOAH and was active in MMA until around 2018 or so from a quick search. He didn't seem terribly impressive in the ring but is a real shooter and came off that way with how he manhandled Chono for most of the match. At 7 years Chono's junior, it felt like a story of Chono overcoming a refrigerator who loves knee strikes.
Chono just officially retired this year alongside Keiji Mutoh who, as it turns out, we're watching tomorrow against Shinya Hashimoto in what I'm expecting to be a far more exciting matchup.
August 15: Keiji Mutoh vs Shinya Hashimoto, G1 5 Finals (1995)
Let me just start off by saying how much I fucking love the G1. It's just the coolest tournament in pro wrestling. I'm honestly surprised AEW hasn't tried doing some version of the G1 themselves, especially with Tony Khan's apparent love affair with always running a tournament (or at least a series of loosely-connected matches called a tournament). There are just so many stories you can tell in a tournament like this, and watching just the finals of these tournaments back to back makes me want to watch some old G1s in full.
Mutoh enters wearing a t-shirt with himself and Hashimoto drawn in the classic 90s New Japan style. The ring announcer looks to be dressed vaguely like a military beekeeper. Hashimoto is wearing classic Hashimoto. Referee Tiger Hattori is donning a bright red sweater vest. It's nice when so much fashion can happen in one match.
Mutoh stalls a bit to size things up before making a move a Hashimoto shoots him domineering glares from the center of the ring. The match starts off with some wrestling to feel each other out before Hashimoto levels Mutoh with a shoulder block. Mutoh attempts a leaping spin kick to recover, which is caught and seamlessly transitioned into an ankle lock which Mutoh quickly escapes by scuttling to the ropes.
What I love about the first minutes of this match is that there isn't a rush to finish things quickly, unlike Chono/Fujita from yesterday. Mutoh works several leg-focused submissions with Hashimoto agonizing on the mat, but it's clear neither man is trying to win off of these early submissions. It's a long-game and they're planting the seeds for the rest of the bout.
Eventually, as things go, the grappling stops and Hashimoto starts pelting Mutoh with kicks. He paces around the ring, cool as a cucumber, waiting for Mutoh to get to his feet so he can launch each kick into his head and chest. Mutoh again escapes, twisting into a cross arm breaker which is eventually stopped via rope break.
The crowd has been into the match the whole time, but they really come alive when Mutoh lifts Hashimoto onto the top rope and brings him back into the ring with a Frankensteiner. He misses his follow-up moonsault, giving Hashimoto a chance to sweep his legs to essentially reset things.
Hashimoto absolutely bricks Mutoh with a kick to the head with a leaping DDT to follow, and the white bandage that was once on the forehead of Mutoh is now stained red. Hashimoto raises Mutoh into the air for what looks like it may be an attempt at an implant DDT or brainbuster and brings Mutoh down right on top of his head. Both guys stay on the mat for a while, so maybe Mutoh was supposed to counter this or turn it into something else. It was absolutely gruesome to look at.
Hashimoto begins climbing to the top rope and the camera work is great, panning from the bottom rope up to make him look like an absolute monster. He misses a splash and Mutoh misses his moonsault in rebuttal, once again leaving both of them on the canvas.
As both rise to their feet, they meet in the middle and Mutoh takes Hashimoto over with a standing Frankensteiner. He rushes to the ropes and comes off with a moonsault, finally connecting! Hashimoto kicks out at one and a half and Mutoh once again rushes to the ropes. He slips getting his foot on the top rope, adding to the drama of the moment, and comes off with a second moonsault connecting for the three count.
It should be no surprise, but this absolutely kicked ass and was deserving of a G1 final. Chono/Fujita in 2005 was a far cry from this match both in quality of wrestling and overall drama. Post-match, Mutoh receives a giant novelty check and a new robe – more fashion!
Again, this is an era of New Japan I wasn't tuned into. I don't know how I would have pulled that off as a 12-year-old in Central New York. As a WWF kid who didn't grow up with TBS, I was deep in the wilds of the New Generation while broadening my horizons with ECW. That said, every time I see a Hashimoto match I just want to see more – so maybe I'll do a deep dive on him at some point. Until then!
August 16: AEW Dynamite
Dynamite has felt a bit up and down lately, not really consistently grabbing my attention. It may just have been the lull before beginning the build to All In, but this week's show felt like a bit of a return to form. It had the kind of peak batshit AEW I really love. Each segment meant something – big stupid brawls, goofball segments that shouldn't make sense or be any good but actually are, weird fever dream bullshit like Angry Tony Khan... I wish they operated on this level for Dynamite more often/consistently.
Starting off the show with Orange Cassidy is always a plus because you're guaranteed a good-to-great match right out the gate, and that's what we had with OC/Wheeler Yuta for the International Title. I assumed OC would be retaining here because all signs point to an OC/Mox match down the road and I was correct as he retained the title with a quick counter and cover.
Post-match, we get the return of Eddie Kingston (who is beloved by every AEW crowd) setting up Eddie, Best Friends, and Penta & Fenix vs Blackpool Combat Club + 2 in a Stadium Stampede match at Wembley. Anything that gets Eddie Kingston in front of 80,000 people is a win in my book.
With a somewhat oddly chopped-together interview segment between Jim Ross and Kenny Omega, plus a follow-up from Hangman Page definitely not at Collision, we have Omega, Hangman, and Kota Ibushi vs Jay White, Juice Robinson, and Konosuke Takeshita at Wembley.
This Don Callis Family segment was everything great about the Don Callis and Chris Jericho characters and basically pro wrestling. With an ominous new panting shrouded in a black cloth in the background, Jericho accepted Callis' invitation into his new stable. Callis attempted to rush Jericho out of the ring to celebrate, prompting Jericho to ask about the yet to be unveiled painting still in the ring.
To Callis' dismay, Jericho removed the cloth to reveal a ludicrous painting of Callis holding Jericho's beheaded head. Just pure oddball creep shit. Rather than try to save face, Don leaned into the inspiration behind the painting by drilling into Jericho that his ego was too big to care about anyone but himself.
Cue Takeshita and, soon after, Will Ospreay to hop on Jericho and bloody him with shots to the skull from a steel chair and the framed painting. Sammy Guevara made the save, chasing off Callis and his charges.
Looks like we'll be getting Ospreay/Jericho at Wembley, a match Jericho mentions later in the show should have already happened in New Japan in 2001.
Sting is back to doing Joker Sting and has lost his fucking mind (and I'm reaping all the benefits). I've removed as much of Impact from my memory as possible, so I don't remember if this version of Sting was enjoyable in Impact whatsoever. But this little segment with Nana was pretty great.
I can usually go back and forth on the MJF/Adam Cole backstage segments, but tonight's won me over in the second half. Their whole arc has been a joy to watch and has gone on longer than I would have expected, but I'm glad it has. I'm still not sure how it ends up, but I'm waiting for an Adam Cole heel turn to shake things up a bit. Everyone has played their parts perfectly so far, including Roderick Strong being the bitter ex-best-friend. I hope he wears that stupid little neckbrace for the rest of his career, but I hope his foot feels better soon.
Let's just saw the Jeff vs Jeff Texas Chainsaw Massacre Deathmatch happened and was a thing. It wasn't my favorite thing on this or any other AEW show by a long shot, but I guess they at least didn't try to present it as an authentic wrestling match at any point. It was stupid horseshit and then Jay Lethal murdered Jeff Hardy with a hammer on live television. I just hope that was Chuck Taylor under the Leatherface mask swinging that god damn chainsaw around.
THE MOTHER FUCKIN BUNNY IS BACK. I love The Bunny, and Excalibur tells us that her team with Penelope Ford is called "The Final Girls" which I also adore. This is The Bunny's return from injury against Britt Baker for a spot at All In, and the writing was obviously on the wall. Still, this was the first Britt match in a while where it didn't feel like she was moving at half-speed under water the entire time. Britt picks up the predictable win, but I hope The Bunny's return means we'll see her and Penelope on TV regularly again.
In the main event, the Young Bucks beat The Gunns with a little trickery before falling victim to a 4-on-2 beatdown by Bullet Club Gold. FTR make the save, sending us home with a face-off between the champions and their challengers at All In. The match itself was just fine and shines a light on a complaint I have with Dynamite in that their main events are typically pretty short. I think this one started around 9:48 PM ET. Not that I necessarily need to see a 30-minute Gunns match, but I much prefer the Collision style of main event that seems to take up the last half hour of the show.
Overall, a solid show with a better first half than its second half but with a lot of seeds planted for Wembley on the 27th.
August 17: Nikita Koloff vs Magnum TA, Best of Seven
Back into the halls of "things I've always read and heard about but didn't grow up on and never got around to watching", it's the Nikita Koloff/Magnum TA Best of Seven series from 1986. Earlier in the year Magnum was stripped of his US Heavyweight Championship for punching then-President of the NWA Bob Geigel. To determine a new champion, the belt was held up between Koloff and Magnum in a Best of Seven series.
Koloff went up 3-0 to start before Magnum rallied back to tie things up 3-3, leaving the final match to determine the champion. Who could have foreseen this?! The drama!
Tony Schiavone delivers the introductions in this wonderfully worn video uploaded by Monsoon Classic on YouTube. Schiavone moves to commentary with David Crockett while The Russian Nightmare and the former US Heavyweight Champion stare each other down – and the crowd loses their minds.
The two lock up in the center with trepidation as I spill my coffee on the coffee table and floor. It's a really hard night for all three of us.
Magnum locks in a headlock and is thrown to the ropes, avoiding Koloff on the rebound before taking him down with a high cross-body block to a massive roar from the crowd. For a cross-body! Magnum picks up a two-count and then dropkicks Koloff over the top, which is ruled to not be a disqualification as it was momentum, not the dropkick itself, which took Koloff to the floor. Phew.
As Magnum wrenches on a hammerlock, it's at this moment where I realize I want the boots Magnum TA is wearing. They're white cowboy boots with red accents and they're really nice. By contrast, Koloff's black CCCP singlet and plain black boots are just fine.
Magnum has thing in full control, including picking up another near-fall after a double axehandle off of the top, until Koloff backs him into the ropes and buries a knee into his stomach. It's a short-lived reprieve for the Russian, though, as Magnum once again uses his speed to counter his larger and fictionally more foreign opponent.
At this point, we get a commercial break and come back to Koloff in control. Magnum goes for a second high cross-body off of an Irish whip, but Koloff senses it and ducks sending Magnum crashing to the mat and then to the arena floor.
The Russian Nightmare takes complete control now, focusing his attack on Magnum's lower back to thwart his belly-to-belly suplex finisher. Magnum has flashes of hope, but Koloff continues to overpower him.
After another near-fall for Koloff, he yanks Magnum to his feet and slaps on a bear hug. Magnum begins to briefly fade but breaks out of the hold long enough for the crowd to feel like something is about to give – only for Koloff to overcome with strength yet again before applying the bear hug a second time.
On the second go, Magnum squeezes an arm in between himself and Koloff before hurling him high with a hiptoss. Magnum scores with a dropkick and goes for another cover, but Ivan Koloff on the outside grabs a hold of his beautiful blond locks to force Magnum to the floor. Magnum responds with a piledriver on the goddamn concrete floor, rendering Ivan incapacitated for the remainder.
Finally, Magnum lands the belly-to-belly suplex on Koloff! But alas, Krusher Kruschev appears on the apron to distract the referee from making the count. As Magnum busies himself with Kruschev, Nikita obtains his trademark chain and strings it across his arm. As Magnum turns his focus back to his opponent, he's met with a clothesline with the chain which knocks him cold.
No longer distracted, the referee is free to count the pin – a victory for Nikita Koloff, the new US Heavyweight Champion.
The match lasted just about 14 minutes on TV with a break, but it's still maybe one of the most heated matches you'll see on wrestling television. The crowd was going positively ape the entire time, up until the very end when Nikita and crew made their exit with the US Heavyweight Title. True pro wrestling heartbreak.
Magnum would never regain the title, and his career would sadly be cut short two months later in a horrific car accident which immediately ended things in-ring for him.
From some quick searching, it looks like only the final three matches of the series were actually televised. Having watched the final, I'll check out the others to see how they compare. Even if you only watch one, the final match in the series is a hell of a thing to see.
August 18: Big Van Vader vs Davey Boy Smith, Clash of the Champions XXIV
It's August 18 and I tell ya – there's not a ton of compelling wrestling history on this day, at least not outside of modern history which doesn't feel all that interesting to talk about. I don't necessarily feel like doing a Rampage show because, let's face it, it's Rampage and it's fine but it's not really delivering anything crazy. But who knows! Maybe this week's episode will surprise me and I'll be writing about it next year with reverence.
Instead, we're traveling back to 1993 when Big Van Vader defends the WCW World Championship against Davey Boy Smith at Clash of the Champions XXIV. As a WWF kid who didn't grow up with any of the WCW channels, it was always a weird thing to have your WWF wrestlers disappear into a void for a year or two before popping back up on WWF television.
I distinctly remember the first WCW thing I ever "saw", aside from the WCW Wrestling Nintendo game, was Halloween Havoc 1992 pitting Sting against Jake "The Snake" Roberts in a Spin The Wheel, Make A Deal match. I say "saw" because I only experienced this show through the magic of scramblevision on the pay-per-view channel. It confused my 9-year-old mind that Jake was wrestling somewhere else for reasons then unknown to me.
But, onto the Clash. I'm always a sucker for these old WCW sets with the hundred-foot tall curtains. I'm also a sucker for the guy in the front row wearing a homemade "WRESTLING THE KING OF SPORTS" baseball cap shouting "YOU CAN BEAT IM!" over and over again as Davey Boy makes his way to the ring.
Vader enters with Harley Race but without the sick smoke-blasting helmet, but I guess you can't win 'em all. Michael Buffer informs us that the disqualification rule is waived, which evidently means the title can change hands on a disqualification? Buffer also refers to Vader as a "three-time WCW World Heavyweight Titlist", which I swear is pronounced "title-ist" and not "tit-list" like it's spelled.
Davey Boy jumps Vader on the elevated ramp, which is another prime WCW/NWA set piece I've always loved. Davey gets Vader up for a suplex and holds him for several seconds before planting him on the ramp. Fucking bonkers that he could keep a dude the size of Vader up and steady for so long.
Vader catches Davey with a couple of knees to the ribs as Davey went for a slingshot splash back into the ring and the pace immediately slows down as Vader saunters around the ring before pummeling his opponent with blows in the corner. Harley Race wobbles against the ropes on the rampway.
The fight spills outside and Davey gives Vader a front suplex onto the guardrail. A woman in a pink shirt looks absolutely disgusted. A dude in a black tank top does a thing you should never do and puts his hands on Vader, pushing him off of the railing and back toward the ring. Vader shows great restraint in not knocking the dude's block off.
Vader has such a nondescript elbow pad, highlighted in a close-up shot of the champion after he flattens Davey Boy with that big body attack thing he does. Like a standing splash, his opponent running into a brick wall. Vader follows up with a massive clothesline and a somewhat awkward splash off of the top rope for a two-count.
There are a handful of decent mustaches in the crowd.
Davey Boy counters an attempt at a Samoan Drop into a Crucifix, but Vader still mostly lands on top of him. Still, Davey pulls him over for a close two-count. It sort of seems like Davey may be a little lost at this point and Vader a little frustrated, but maybe I'm reading too much into Vader's demeanor and what look like some possibly stiff shots to the noodle in the corner.
Vader levels Davey with a Vader Bomb to cheers from a fairly solid portion of the crowd but only picks up a two. Vader attempts to come off of the ropes again but Davey Boy catches him in a powerslam which takes the referee out at the same time. Davey gets a visual three count, but no actual victory.
Davey picks Vader up for another suplex and Race is in to clip Davey's legs out from under him. Vader comes down squarely on Davey, with both also landing a bit on Race at the same time. With the manager interference, Vader picks up the win to retain his title.
After the match, Cactus Jack sprints toward the ring to attack Vader. This is Cactus' return from injury after Vader powerbombed him on the exposed concrete floor on Saturday Night in April. As Cactus and Vader scrap on the floor, Tony Schiavone promotes Sting vs Ric Flair for the NWA Title. Jack vs Vader would happen a couple of months later in a Texas Death Match at Halloween Havoc, a match I'll have to earmark for October – and a match I'll look forward to far more than Davey/Vader.
This match wasn't especially bad or anything. It was a fine sprint for a TV match, clocking in at just over 11 minutes. Davey would make his way back to the WWF just over a year later to interject himself in the all-timer Bret & Owen Hart storyline. Vader would hold the WCW World Title until December where he'd drop the belt to Ric Flair at Starrcade in a Title vs Career match.
August 19: AEW Collision
I wish I could properly put into words how disappointed I am to have Kevin Kelly back on commentary for Collision. I'm not the biggest fan of the Ian Riccaboni/Caprice Coleman team, but Ian and Nigel McGuinness really hit the spot for me. I enjoy Kevin in New Japan, but something about his commentary for New Japan just doesn't grab me. Ah well.
Very exciting to see new wrestlers debut in big matches like The Golden Vampire– wait just a minute! That's CM Punk! Punk really seems to have become an even bigger crybaby weirdo in real life, but so far his persona on TV has been pretty entertaining since his return and the debut of Collision. I'm not frothing for Punk/Joe again or anything, but I know it'll be very good stuff at Wembley.
Nevermind that shit, here comes The Bang Bang Gang! And Dalton Castle! And The Boys! A wonderful way to start this typically wonderful night of televised professional wrestling. A fun match with White picking up the predictable win, and Kevin Kelly mustering all of the energy of a mossy boulder to push out an emphatic "Blade Runner... it is... over."
I miss Ian.
Back from break, we get a Bullet Club Gold in-ring interview with Tony Schiavone and it's perfect as you'd expect. I love the relationship between BCG and Schiavone, who looks like he's about to break as Austin Gunn jerks his arm around while his hand is forced into the finger-gun position. This leads to a Gunns + Juice/Iron Savages trio match which, again, is predictable yet fun. With the moral support of Jay White on commentary, the Gunns and Juice take the victory.
And now it's time for lore! Daddy Ass lore! It's an artful informative video package of Malakai Black doing a voiceover about funerals and death and the morals of Daddy Ass while the Boots of Ass are destroyed in a trash compactor. If Billy Gunn ever returns to the ring, he'll have to do it barefoot.
More lore! La Faccion Ingobernable lore! This is how I learn Jose The Assistant has a phone case with his own image on the back. We should all aspire to love ourselves this much. Jose is on the phone with RUSH, who is unhappy with how LFI has been doing in his absence as of late. He invites Jose and LFI to Mexico, where we see Dralistico and Preston Vance drunk and kidnapped by men in a white van – to Jose's approval.
Ricky Starks is backstage with Tony Schiavone and he's angry about AEW, too! Big Bill sidles into frame and we get yet another informative lore video package of Ricky Starks reminding us all that he is, indeed, Absolute before he leads Big Bill to the ring for action.
Willow Nightingale is up to take on Diamanté next, and I couldn't be happier to see Diamanté back on AEW TV more regularly. Of course, it's always great seeing Willow and how popular she's become since debuting in AEW. These two really just pound the shit out of each other and it's wonderful. It feels like the women's division gets a bit more time to breathe on Collision as compared to Dynamite, or perhaps it's just that it feels fresher out of the orbit of Britt Baker and The Outcasts.
Mercedes Martinez is out for moral support and ONLY moral support until she isn't, causing a brief distraction to take Willow's attention away. It lasts briefly as TBS Champion Kris Statlander rushes the ringside area to bowl over Mercedes and drop her with a suplex on the ramp as Willow pounces Diamanté damn near out of the arena. Willow tosses her back into the ring and delivers the Babe With The Powerbomb for the win. Willow and Stat pull some increasingly awkward poses in the ring as the heels grimacingly retreat.
Back from a break, Toni Storm is in full fallen starlet mode as she promises a preview of All In with an Outcasts vs Shida & Britt tag match next week. She scoffs at the question of whether or not she can count on Saraya to have her back in Wembley, possibly planting some seeds of dissension.
Hey, it's Kevin Ku! He's about to get squashed by Powerhouse Hobbs, but still. It's Kevin Ku! And the crowd loves him! Hobbs puts him away quickly and then locks on the camel clutch after the bell in an attempt to draw Miro out from the back. Miro appears on the screen instead, telling Hobbs that he'll soon pray to a new God – The Redeemer. I know Miro isn't always around, but I do love his feud with God and how much time he spends talking about how he's going to kick the ass of God.
It's main event time with Darby Allin vs Christian Cage, building to Allin/Luchasaurus for the TNT Title at All Out. The thing that stands out the most in the first half of this match is Christian flexing into the hardcam because he is fucking j a c k e d.
Jim Ross sings my refrain on commentary: "Week after week, time after time the main event slot delivers on Collision." It does here again as Christian and Darby brutalize each other in and out of the ring. As Darby finally gains control, he goes to the top but launches himself backwards with a Coffin Splash into a waiting Luchasaurus.
The actual TNT Champion catches him, leading to Christian regaining the advantage briefly. Darby turns the tables, or chairs, and places Christian in a seating position in a folding chair on the floor. He comes off of the top rope with a missile dropkick, sending Christian flying backward.
Looking to finally finish things, Darby sets up for a Coffin Drop on a prone Christian in the ring. Christian rolls to the apron to avoid and Darby goes for it anyway – landing hard on the edge of the canvas after Luchasaurus yoinks Christian away.
As Luchasaurus is ejected from ringside, Christian takes the chance to clock Darby with the TNT Title. It's only good enough for a two count, though, and it reinvigorates Darby for a moment until the larger Christian once again takes over. He catches Darby with a sunset powerbomb off of the top rope and then rips the skeleton boy in half with an insane spear.
As Christian sets up for the Killswitch, Darby quickly wriggles free and turns it into a sunset flip, then turns that into a jackknife pin with his hands locked for extra pressure to pick up the flash three count on Christian!
Tony Schiavone is back in the ring with Darby, who is essentially in a heap in the center of the ring. He's not alone for long, though, as Luchasaurus makes his return to the ring. He and Christian launch an attack on the TNT Title challenger, leaving him flat in the ring after a chokeslam. Christian covers Darby and Luchasaurus forces Schiavone to count the three, upstaged only by Christian forcing Schiavone to announce him as the winner and still TNT Champion.
As usual with Collision, a hell of a show with a nice, long TV main event and some incredibly rude bullying of Tony Schiavone over the course of two hours.