AEW Collision 7/1/23: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

"AEW Collision" was taped this week, but that didn't stop it from being a worthy watch on a Saturday night — assuming, that is, you still had more wrestling in you after WWE Money in the Bank in London. We certainly did! Saturday's episode featured not one, not two, but three Owen Hart Foundation tournament matches, a TBS title defense, and even an impromptu match for the AEW World Championship. Also, CM Punk on commentary! When's the last time that happened?

There was a lot to like on this week's "Collision," but also several things that left us cold. You can check out our live coverage for all the bare bones facts, but this right here is strictly opinion. What aspects of "Collision" hit the spot, and which ones missed the mark? Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 7/1/23 edition of "AEW Collision."

Hated: The hero of Hamilton, the man they call Page

Is it just us, or is AEW pumping the breaks on MJF? He's the champion, sure, but did you know that he hasn't had a main-event match on AEW TV or PPV in two months? Since the May 3 episode of "AEW Dynamite," he has:

  • Wrestled in the semi-main event of Double or Nothing
  • Opened the June 14 episode of "Dynamite"
  • Opened AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door
  • Opened this week's "AEW Collision"

It's just starting to get a little weird. And to make things even weirder, after he's done with the jobber squash he thought he was here for, he starts insulting the city of Hamilton and brings out "All Ego" Ethan Page, who's from Hamilton and cuts a scintillating babyface promo, eventually getting himself a championship match. The promo was good and the match was fine, but we had two big issues. First, is Ethan Page a babyface now? We have to admit that, like pretty much everyone else, we don't watch "AEW Rampage" regularly, so if this is a thing that's been happening gradually since Page's contract was taken over by Matt Hardy, we might not have known about it. The other possibility is that he was just cutting a babyface promo because he was in his hometown, but Christian Cage was in his hometown last week and ripped Toronto to shreds, so that doesn't really track either. There's a long and glorious tradition in wrestling of heels trashing their hometowns, why would Page be any different?

Our second issue is that Page looked too competitive. We know it's AEW and they love their long matches, but after he barely beat the ghost of Hiroshi Tanahashi at Forbidden Door and got saved by the bell against Adam Cole on "Dynamite," it felt like MJF could have used a strong win, not a 10-minute slugfest against a former member of The Firm. Between that and CM Punk basically saying MJF's title is a cheap replica, this was not a great night for the champion, and it hasn't been a great week, and it hasn't been a great month. We're going to need AEW to remind us why we should take him seriously sooner rather than later. We probably shouldn't have more confidence in Miro.

Loved: The Golden Gunns

We said at the end of this column last week that while there was no official announcement that Austin and Colten Gunn had joined Bullet Club Gold, their mannerisms after their main event win sure made it look like they had. Well, this week, it was indeed made official! Bullet Club Gold is now a perfectly balanced four-man stable, with a tag team (the Gunns) a midcard guy (Juice Robinson) and a main event contender (Jay White). And yes, naturally that means White said he and Robinson are coming after FTR's tag team titles for some reason, but whatever, don't think too hard about it. The point is that we are, suddenly and inexplicably, super into this group. They're just a lot of fun, and they bring something to the table that you don't get terribly often in AEW, which is pure, unfiltered charisma. They might be heels, but we will be rooting for them going forward, particularly after FTR answered their challenge with a stilted promo that made it sound like they were just trying to include as may SEO keywords as possible.

That having been said, we're glad Ricky Starks beat Robinson in the first round of "The Owen," as Starks has been taking it on the chin a lot lately and needed a win. The match was very good, and while we've really been enjoying Robinson, he shouldn't be winning tournament matches (or any other kind, really) against a guy like Starks. And now, of course, Starks has a very interesting date with his former Team Taz cohort, Powerhouse Hobbs. Speaking of which...

Hated: Dustin Rhodes thinks he's Kenny Omega

Overall, the tournament match between Powerhouse Hobbs and Dustin Rhodes was fine, even if we really, truly don't understand why Rhodes needed to be in this thing at all. But to be honest, we barely remember the majority of the match, because we're still so stuck on Rhodes kicking out of Hobbs' spinebuster. AT ONE. WHAT ARE WE DOING.

We really just need somebody to sit down and explain this to us. It was one thing for Kenny Omega to become just the second person to kick out of the One-Winged Angel, also at one, at Forbidden Door. First of all, it was Omega's own finisher; Omega wasn't no-selling any of Will Ospreay's signature moves. Second of all, it was Forbidden Door, a major PPV, and it was Kenny Omega, one of the top stars in the company and a former AEW World Champion. Of course Kenny Omega kicked out of the One-Winged Angel at one. Kenny Omega is a superhero. That's Kenny Omega's whole thing.

This, though? Dustin Rhodes, who is 54 years old and almost certainly in the last year of his career, becomes the first person ever to kick out of the 32-year-old Hobbs' spinebuster, and he does it after a one-count, in a first round Owen Hart tournament match on the third episode of "Collision?" Again: what are we doing? We have real issues with the way AEW has treated Hobbs over the last year or so, but this takes the cake. Did he park in Tony Khan's spot or something? Is there anyone in the world who believes he's going to beat Starks? Because we sure don't.

Loved: The backstage promos

There were two backstage promos on "Collision" this week, and they were both glorious, for completely different reasons. We always enjoy seeing Shawn Spears, and it makes sense that he would be on this Canadian tour that AEW is currently in the middle of. He interrupted a backstage promo from Christian Cage, who was speaking on behalf of Luchasaurus, and it will be very interesting to see how sustainable that dynamic is. It's been obvious for at least a week now that Cage essentially sees himself as the TNT Champion even though Luchasaurus was the one who won the title, but this segment cemented it: Spears said he wanted to talk to the champ, and Christian said "You're talking to the champ." Okay, then, if we're going to be explicit about it, great! We really enjoyed Spears' calm, soft-spoken promo style in this segment, and hopefully we get more of him and Christian talking before Luchasaurus squashes him like a bug.

The other segment was glorious because it was goofy, over-the-top, and hilarious. Was it intended to be? Possibly not. But when Andrade El Idolo is going crazy on screen, demanding the House of Black give him his mask back because of how much the mask means to him, it's kind of hard to take seriously. Like, Andrade, chill out, man. You don't even wrestle in that thing anymore. The House of Black appearing on the TV screen beside him was its own kind of goofy, but we like the direction Malaki Black's promo suggests we could be headed in terms of storyline, with the House of Black trying to free Andrade from his past. We're hoping this feud gets back in the ring next week, but it continues to be a regular "Collision" highlight.

Hated: The women's match, again, somehow

We hate to do this again, but we don't really have a choice. Similar to the Cassidy/Lee/Vikingo vs. Jericho Appreciation Society match from "Dynamite" earlier in the week, there was something off about Kris Statlander vs. Lady Frost — we know they've worked together before on an AEW house show, but there was a lot of awkwardness in this one, and several moves and sequences clearly weren't synching up properly. Statlander's (suddenly inappropriately named) Friday Night Fever, for instance, which she used to win the match, pretty obviously didn't land they way it should have. As we said on Wednesday, we don't like complaining about botches, but sometimes it's really hard to ignore them.

Beyond that though, we have to ask, once again, why there are no stories happening in the women's division, and we will keep asking that until we actually get some. Statlander dethroned Jade Cargill at Double or Nothing in May. That was over a month ago. She has no feud, she has no angle. She just wrestles sometimes. Cargill and her undefeated streak were a walking, talking storyline in and of themselves, and even she got put in actual feuds occasionally (though not often). Statlander's character right now is ... the champion? Is that it? (Honestly, we miss the alien.) And as for Frost, she's good in the ring and we're glad she has a job, but this was her second match on AEW TV, and it was a title shot. Why? Is there a reason, or does Tony Khan just know that people will throw a fit if an episode has no women's match at all, so he just throws a couple of them out there for a few minutes every week? Because we're leaning toward the latter.

Also, weren't we promised Thunder Rosa on this show at some point? Is that happening any time soon?

Loved: Not even the strong survive

The main event this week, an Owen Hart Tournament match between Roderick Strong and Samoa Joe, was awesome. Just an absolutely fabulous, hard-hitting, well-executed match between two guys who have now wrestled each other in seven different promotions over the course of 20 years. It was pretty obvious from the jump who was going to win, because we were never not getting CM Punk vs.Samoa Joe, but the match served a very important purpose in that it re-established Joe in the minds of the audience, specifically as a nearly impossibly obstacle to overcome. Joe is a force of nature, someone who doesn't stay down for three simply because it would never occur to him to do so, someone who slips out of your grasp and locks you in a chokehold before you know what's happening because how else did you expect this to go? We didn't really get that in the "Collision" debut episode, and Joe has been spending a lot of time on Ring of Honor lately (please don't ask us to start reviewing that show, we have a family) so Joe wrestling this kind of match, specifically against an opponent like Strong, who could make it work, was vital in setting up Joe/Punk IV.

The post-match attack on Strong was maybe less necessary (or at least the prolonged stretcher job seemed like a bit of a stretch) but the important thing is the Joe/Punk IV is actually happening. Now, we love the idea of Joe/Punk IV; whether we love the reality of it remains to be seen. But we'll say this: Punk was excellent on commentary this week and really made the prospect of another match between the two feel like something to see, and the way AEW has been letting older talent go balls-to-the-wall lately, we suspect it'll be a banger. It's certainly the most excited we've been to see Punk wrestle a match since he returned, so as far as we're concerned, it's already a win.