Collision – June 17, 2023 (Debut Episode)
By Thomas Hall on 17th June 2023
Date: June 17, 2023
Location: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Kevin Kelly, Nigel McGuinness
It’s the debut episode of the new two hour Saturday night show and the big draw is the return of CM Punk. After being gone for about nine months due to an injury/suspension, Punk is back for a six man main event which has some potential. Other than that, the card looks decent enough so let’s get to it.
Opening sequence, set to Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting by Elton John.
The fans are chanting for CM Punk so here he is, with a pair of shoes around his neck and a bag in his hand. Punk talks about how he’s back and fired of being nice. This is still the wrestling business and it’s for serious people. When he was fifteen years old, he wouldn’t have believed that he would sell out all kinds of buildings and arenas around the world. He’s tired of being nice and tell him when he’s telling lies.
Punk says he has made his career because he is uncompromising and that makes people uncomfortable. He is the truth and that makes people uncomfortable. FANS: “F*** THE ELITE!” He points out some pro and anti-Punk signs in the crowd and says you can call him whatever you want. He is the one genuine article in a business full of counterfeit bucks. The king is back and he has some things to get off his chest. He has a question for Chicago: why would he change?
If you’re here today and you feel he owes you an apology, here it is: he’s sorry that the only wrestlers softer than him are the ones you like. He picks up the bag and implies that the World Title is in there, saying it’s his until someone can pin him or submit him or it. He takes the shoes off his neck and says he knows there are people who wanted him to leave them in the ring and walk away. Instead, he isn’t walking away until someone can fill those boots. Stop him when he’s telling lies.
I’m not sure how much of a difference this kind of a promo is going to make. If you like Punk, it was great but if you don’t, it was more of the same from him. Punk is one of the most polarizing figures in wrestling and that was on display here, as he took a few shots in some thinly veiled references while also showing more fire on the microphone than most of the roster. He’s a star, and if he can stay healthy (that’s a big if), there is no reason to not have him as a focal point. Seeing what happens when he’s not in Chicago will be interesting, but this felt like a huge moment.
TNT Title: Luchasaurus vs. Wardlow
Wardlow is defending and Christian Cage is here with Luchasaurus. They go straight to the brawling and fight to the floor, with Luchasaurus sending him into the steps for one back inside. Some shots in the corner drop Wardlow again and we take a break. Back with Wardlow hitting an electric chair and driving shoulders in the corner. Luchasaurus catches him on top though and a chokeslam brings him down for two.
Wardlow pops back up and loads up the Powerbomb Symphony but Christian gets on the apron. Not that it matters as Wardlow hits the first powerbomb, but spends too much time loading it up and gets chokeslammed for two. Wardlow tries to pick him up for something but can’t quite get it, instead settling for a powerslam. The Swanton makes it worse and Wardlow is fired up…but Christian takes a camera from a ringside photographer and breaks it over Wardlow’s head. Luchasaurus hits him from behind to win the title at 10:50.
Rating: C. I guess the TNT Title is designed to be the one that changes hands a lot, and now I’m sure Wardlow will get to rebuild himself and win it back, because he has spent what feels like years doing just that. Luchasaurus getting the title is fine enough, but my goodness I do not get what they are doing with Wardlow. He seemed ready to break into the main event (which could use some homegrown stars) and instead he’s just doing the same thing over and over.
Post match Christian grabs the title and celebrates with it, as Luchasaurus never actually touches the thing.
QT Marshall says that Powerhouse Hobbs was never advertised to be WRESTLING tonight but he’s here anyway. He’ll win the Owen Hart tournament.
Andrade El Idolo vs. Buddy Matthews
Julia Hart is here with Matthews. The fans are happy to see Andrade and they start fast by running the ropes. Andrade does his hang in the ropes deal and avoids a charge to send Buddy outside. A cartwheel moonsault off the apron drops Matthews again and they crash onto the announcers’ table.
Back in and Matthews pulls him shoulder first into the post, followed by a knock off the apron and into the barricade. A top rope meteora gives Matthews two and we take a break. We come back with Andrade working on the leg and hitting the double moonsault for two. Matthews gets a hanging DDT but his knee gives out in the corner. That allows Andrade to hit a discus elbow but Matthews is back up with a jumping kick to the face for two. The Figure Four goes on and Andrade turns it into the Figure Eight for the tap at 13:05.
Rating: B. These guys were working hard and the arm vs. leg stuff worked, but egads it was strange to see Andrade get that strong of a reaction. I can’t imagine he sticks around that long but for now, or at least for tonight, the fans were way into him and that is a good sign for his future. Matthews looked good as well, and if he ever gets out of the House of Black (which he doesn’t need to at the moment), there should be a strong singles push waiting on him.
Post match respect is offered but the lights go out. Cue the House of Black to lay Andrade out.
Here is Tony Nese, with Mark Sterling, to lead this out of shape crowd in exercise. We’ll start with stretching, but someone cuts him off.
Miro vs. Tony Nese
Miro runs him over to start and hits some of Sheamus’ forearms to the chest. Nese gets in a neck snap across the top and adds the Randy Savage jumping neck snap. Miro pulls his high crossbody out of the air but a Sterling distraction lets Nese get in a kick to the face. That earns him a Miro Up and a swinging release Rock Bottom plants Nese down. The camel clutch finishes Nese at 3:17.
Rating: C. This was about getting Miro back out there and having him run through someone annoying. That certainly worked, as Nese got flattened in short order. I’m sure there was more to it than meets the eye, but how Miro was stuck sitting at home for six months instead of doing something like this is baffling. He has a presence to him and that is the kind of thing that anyone would want on their show.
Video on CM Punk.
Ruby Soho/Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale/Skye Blue
Blue is the hometown girl. The Outcasts jump Blue and Nightingale to start and the beating is on outside before the bell. Storm even shoves Blue’s mom at ringside and gets slapped for her efforts. Nightingale Pounces Soho into the barricade and Blue adds a hurricanrana to drop Storm. The bell rings as Nightingale takes over inside, only to get taken into the wrong corner as we take a break.
Back with Nightingale clotheslining her way out of trouble and bringing Blue in to clean house. Everything breaks down and Nightingale plants Toni with a pumphandle slam. Storm is right back with the hip attack to each of them, setting up the spray paint. Nightingale isn’t having that though and the paint hits Soho by mistake. Code Blue finishes Soho at 8:04.
Rating: C. Good enough match here and it was nice to see the emotional Blue get a win in front of her hometown crowd. I could go for seeing her get a bit of a push towards a title shot, though if AEW doesn’t strap a rocket to Nightingale, I have no idea what to tell them. For now, this felt like a step towards something else and it went fine.
Ricky Starks is in the Owen Hart tournament.
Jeff Jarrett is ready to hurt Mark Briscoe….in a concession stand brawl!
Here are the Acclaimed and Billy Gunn for a chat. They’re so happy to be here that Billy bought a new scissoring outfit. They might as well stick around for Dynamite and here’s a scissoring to commemorate the moment. And that’s it.
Here’s what’s coming on various shows.
FTR/CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe/Bullet Club Gold
Harwood and White start things off with the latter firing off chops in the corner. A backdrop gets Harwood out of trouble so it’s off to Robinson for a strike off. Wheeler comes in for some dropkicks but a glare from Joe cuts him off. A gorilla press plants Robinson and it’s back to Harwood, who immediately hands it off to Punk. Wheeler hits a middle rope powerslam on Robinson with Punk getting two and calling for the Go To Sleep. That’s broken up so Joe comes back in for the big showdown. Joe chops away in the corner but gets pulled down into a chinlock as we take a break.
Back with Harwood caught in a chinlock before Robinson stands on his head. Harwood finally manages to get over to the corner and brings in Wheeler to clean house, including a rollup out of the corner for two on Robinson. A Rick Steiner powerslam gives Wheeler two and it’s back to Punk for a Demolition Decapitator and a near fall of his own.
We take another break and come back again with Robinson hitting a backsplash for two on Wheeler. Joe enziguris him in the corner but Wheeler grabs a belly to back suplex to drop Robinson. The hot tag brings in Punk to clean house but White rakes his eyes. White’s swinging Rock Bottom gets two but the Bladerunner is blocked.
Instead Punk takes him into the corner for the PowerPlex into Punk’s top rope elbow. Joe comes back in to take Punk out and everything breaks down. Joe gets the Koquina Clutch on punk and White sleepers Harwood. Wheeler breaks that up and Harwood makes the save, meaning it’s the Shatter Machine to Robinson. Punk adds the GTS for the pin at 25:12.
Rating: B. This is an example of a match that was long without being great. There were times when it felt like they were just stretching things out because they had to and that gets old quickly. What mattered here was getting Punk back in the water and his flourish at the end looked good. Punk and FTR do work well together, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it be a semi-regular thing. For now, you can probably get two feuds out of this and it should work well.
Punk and FTR celebrate to end the show with nothing interrupting them.
Overall Rating: B+. There’s a lot to this one and we’ll start with the biggest: it felt like an AEW show but not Dynamite. There was nothing but straight matches throughout and it felt more like a traditional wrestling show. Punk got the big promo at the beginning but other than that it was mainly wrestling based with a few interviews and some talking in the middle. Commentary was a nice change as well, with Kelly and Nigel being SO much more laid back than what you get on Wednesdays.
As for everything else, the action was good, the stories (what there were of them) made sense and it felt like a show that wasn’t just trying to be the same thing. If this is what we get on Saturdays then we’re in for some fun nights. It was a heck of a debut, though I’m curious to see how things are going in a few months when they’re out of Chicago and the new show smell has worn off. For now though, heck of a show and more enjoyable than most Dynamites in a lot of ways.
Luchasaurus b. Wardlow – Clothesline to the back of the head
Andrade El Idolo b. Buddy Matthews – Figure Eight
Miro b. Tony Nese – Camel clutch
Skye Blue/Willow Nightingale b. Ruby Soho/Toni Storm – Code Blue to Soho
CM Punk/FTR b. Bullet Club Gold/Samoa Joe – GTS to Robinson
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