AEW Collision: December 23, 2023 (& Rampage, December 22)
December 24, 2023 11:02 AM - Season 1, Episode 28 - Subscribe

Say "thank you" to Santa if your holiday wishes included: (1) a nail-biter conclusion to the Continental Classic Blue League, (2) the company's four spoooOOOOOooookiest women in a tag match, or (3) a big hoss battle, because this week you got all three. PS if you watched this week's Rampage you also got a PPV-quality luchador title match!

RAMPAGE -- December 22

AEW International Championship Match: Orange Cassidy (c) defeated Rocky “Azucar” Romero
Within the storyline, Orange Cassidy offered this title shot to his Best Friends associate simply because Romero was bummed about losing the CMLL Middleweight title he'd held for about a year. Outside of that context, I question whether it's just sort of become accepted lore that Cassidy is a high-workrate guy. Does he pop a specific ratings demo, is that why he's constantly on? Could this space have been given to develop someone else instead?

Not to say the match wasn't fun. I never really doubted the outcome, although I suspect that eventually Cassidy will lose the title to someone (perhaps a friend) who isn't put off by his slipperiness. Romero found creative ways to attack from unexpected directions, with a step-up huracanrana on the floor. Trent Baretta, friend to both men, stood on the outside watching Romero his the Strong Zero -- Trent's move -- on Cassidy, and tried not to take sides. Post-match, all three men did the Best Friends group hug, even though Romero was still selling the loss and acting comically punchy.
Stokely Hathaway attempts stir up dissension between Kris Statlander and Willow Nightingale by telling "Kristin" that Willow is talking shit behind her back. Stokely is basically a middle-school child in a man's body, so this tracks.

Matt Taven & Mike Bennett (w/ Roderick Strong) defeated The Hardy Boys
"Before the match, Strong got the names of various fans in the crowd, shouted their names and called them stupid. Fantastic. “If I call people stupid, I gotta go to H.R.” quipped Excaliabur. [...] Meanwhile, on the other side of the ring, [Jeff] Hardy beat on Bennett with his boot. Matt whipped Bennett into the steel stairs, then sent him head firsts into all of the steel stairs. Referee Rick Knox and Matt Hardy fought over a steel chair, which Knox got away from Hardy. Then, back in the ring, Taven rolled up Matt Hardy and got the pinfall."

It's funny to me how Strong's neck nonsense has somehow elevated The Kingdom into being a team that goes over the Hardys. During the US commercial breaks, those watching with FiteTV heard the commentary play a game of talking around the issues of Jeff's leaves-of-absence for substance reasons, and obliquely blaming that for the Hardys loss. And just why was Jeff hitting people with his boot anyway? Did it come off mid-match and he decided to roll with it, or did he remove it for just that reason?
During Rene Paquette’s interview with Ruby Soho, Jeff Parker arrived and asked Soho out for a drink. Before she could answer, Saraya interrupted and initially acted in support of Soho and Parker’s new romance. But once Soho was out of earshot, she told Parker she hated him.
My friends and I are divided on whether Saraya's reaction is caused by her fear of losing her last friend in AEW (having lost Toni Storm already), or the beginning of a love triangle centered on Ruby.
Skye Blue defeated Queen Aminata

AAA Mega Championship Match: El Hijo Del Vikingo (c) defeated Black Taurus
Among the highlights of this match: Taurus throwing the smaller Vikingo straight up in the air to catch him for a Samoan Drop and a near-fall.
So, so many huracanranas and poison ranas from both men. I expected from Vikingo, but not from a bulkier man like Taurus.
Vikingo using the apron to hit a 619 (ok ok a "Tiger Feint Kick") on a standing Taurus
Everytime Vikingo goes for a 630 splash I get nervous because it always seems like his opponents are closer to the corner than they should be, and that Vikingo will under-rotate and land neck-first. This match got "Fight Forever!" chants from the crowd.
COLLISION -- December 23

Continental Classic Blue League MatchBryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli fought to a time-limit draw
"Danielson goes five-for-five with excellent Continental Classic matches, as the drama escalated to a wonderful crescendo here. AEW making a habit of the 15-minute time calls in matches over the last few weeks made the draw a possibility in fans' heads, and it paid off here as Danielson survived the Sharpshooter to clinch his spot in the Blue League Final."
AEW World Trios Championship MatchThe Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens, Max Caster, & Billy Gunn) defeated Action Andretti & Top Flight (Dante & Darius Martin) to retain
"I don’t understand this result at all. Top Flight & Andretti had some real momentum, and this Acclaimed title run is far past its sell-by date. This is the Acclaimed’s 10th defense of the titles. Caster used his rap to wish Dante good luck, telling him to Break A Leg. [...] Andretti and Dante cut off Scissor Me Timbers, isolating Caster in the ring. Andretti hit a springboard 450 for a nearfall. Caster evaded a running Shooting Star Press, with Caster scoring the win with a roll-up. Kevin Kelly thought he saw Caster pull the tights, but I couldn’t see that on the camera angle we had."

I disagree with Mr. Wrestling Observer, at least on the timing aspect. It's true that since Bullet Club Gold and the Acclaimed got wrapped up in MJF's story re: the Devil and Jay White stealing the title, the Acclaimed have had little to do. But this moment is not the time for the Acclaimed to lose. On the other hand, if I had the ear of Tony Khan, I'd tell him that while the ROH Tag Titles have their own long and respectable history, the ROH Six-Man titles only go back to 2017, and that there should be a unification between those and AEW's Trios titles. That would automatically give you a reason to promote more factions, which gives talent more time to shine, and also a nice excuse for another tournament (because TK friggin' LOVES tournaments) that can either culminate at the next Revolution in March(?).
Keith Lee defeated Brian Cage (w/ Prince Nana)
"Lee looked better here than he did at Final Battle. An interesting time for the Swerve feud to pick back up with his involvement in the Continental Classic, but he will need something to do afterward anyway. [...] Lee forced Cage into the corner and clubbered on him before sending him head-over-heels with a German Suplex Throw. Cage escaped a Spirit Bomb before hitting a 619. Cage went for the outside-in superplex, but Lee headbutted him down. Lee went to the top rope, but Cage cut him off and hit a superplex for a nearfall. Cage hit a series of kicks before landing an F-5 for a nearfall. Prince Nana pulled out a cinderblock, the same weapon Swerve Strickland used to take Lee out this time last year in this very city. Lee caught Cage with the Big Bang Catastrophe to score the win.

After the match, Lee took to the mic. He brought up the attack from last year while refusing to say Swerve Strickland’s name. Lee said that he’s been trying to send him a message for weeks. Swerve wouldn’t listen, so at Dynamite, he’d be tearing down a house brick-by-brick."

I am constantly surprised when I'm reminded that Brian Cage is surprisingly nimble, and Lee has actually dropped 30 pounds or so in 2023 so he's faster as well. When have you seen big men like this do aerial moves? I'm certainly glad that Lee has raised his power levels so that he can no longer be stopped by cinderblocks, and I look forward to him and Swerve having a major match with perhaps some slight Hangman Page interference.
Christian Cage (with Shayna Wayne) Responds to Adam Copeland
I reiterate what I said a while ago that Christian's sleazy patriarch act is so effectively creepy that people who grow up in actual abusive households might reflexively get triggered and need to skip these segments. Shayna comes out to support Christian, having rewritten the narrative in her mind such that Christian Cage was defending her son from mean Adam Copeland, and Cage also takes a dip into white-trash territory by implying that he scored with "Mother Wayne" post-match (with Nick Wayne standing right there).
Continental Classic Blue League MatchDaniel Garcia defeated Brody King
"Garcia gets his win in a big upset here. His defiance and grit got the crowd behind him, and the Gonzo Bomb kickout shocked me. The post-match was effective, transitioning to the build for the FTR/Black & Matthews tag at the PPV."

A good match for Garcia, great way to build him for an eventual singles push. On the other hand, add the Gonzo Bomb to the list of finishers that AEW (maybe) doesn't protect anymore.
Abadon & Thunder Rosa defeated Julia Hart & Skye Blue
"Rosa looked good in her return. Not a lot of shine for Abadon going into her PPV title match, though."
Continental Classic Blue League MatchEddie Kingston defeated Andráde El Idolo
"Kingston was the perfect person to fight back from the brink of elimination. The story of Danielson motivating him after embarrassing him with the “Eddie Is A Bum” sign gives the Blue League Final even more story depth, as Kingston still isn’t done fighting. His titles and his pride are still on the line. A great main event, and a great conclusion to the Continental Classic on the Collision side. [...] After the match, Bryan Danielson went face-to-face with Kingston as the show went off the air."

There was a brief post-airtime confrontation between the two men, which nicely sums up the technician vs. performer dynamic headed into their semi-final match: Danielson is by far the better wrestler, but Eddie is basically going to fight until he's dead. Sharp viewers will remember that MJF won by pushing a similar pressure point leading into his iron-man match with Danielson at Revolution -- namely that Danielson has a family to return to and therefore has to treasure his own health, but MJF (and now Eddie Kingston) have very little to fight for other than the titles at stake.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta
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