“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
— Bilbo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings
In February, All Elite Wrestling filed a trademark for the phrase AEW Collision, which is the alleged name of the new show that no one at AEW has confirmed exists. Already scheduled is a June televised program from Regina, Saskatchewan. If two plus two equals TV, then AEW Collision could debut as early as June or July. Normally, I keep my weekend schedule clear for playing orgiastic board games with friends who shall remain anonymous or watching 1970s kung-fu porn. I guess it’s time to revisit my time management skills.
Don’t get it twisted. I voraciously consume wrestling content. On Monday, I watch AEW Dark Elevation. On Tuesday, I watch AEW Dark or, as my friends and I call it, the Taz and Excalibur Show. Wednesday? Well, you know what that means. I also watch AEW All Access after that because I need to know the wrestlers’ shoot names. [I’m looking at you, Austin Jenkins.] Thursday nights, there’s Ring of Honor on Honor Club TV. Then there’s AEW Rampage, which comes on whenever there’s not a massive sportsball event. That program slingshots around the schedule like the Enterprise whipping around the sun to save the whales on 20th-century Earth.
That’s not counting the WWE and Impact content I look at on social media, the DEFY and GCW shows I catch when I can, or the streaming AAA channel that allows me to watch old lucha libre matches. My name is X, and I’m a wrestling addict. Even so, I’ve got some reservations about adding another show to the already-crowded Khanjureverse.
The Face Problem
AEW has the best heels in the business, most of which are former WWE Superstars. Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, and Bryan Danielson comprise three-fourths of the Blackpool Combat Club. Malakai Black (formerly Aleister Black in the other company) has continued his wicked ways. Athena (f/k/a Ember Moon) has been beating the ever-living snot of people in both AEW and Ring of Honor. Chris Jericho. Christian Cage. Saraya. Ruby Soho. Toni Storm. All of them, former WWE stars who came to AEW and turned bad.
AEW may be heel rich, but that’s not the whole story. Babyfaces in AEW are essentially homegrown talent, Adam Cole notwithstanding. These people are still learning the ropes of being on a weekly wrestling television program. Whether they’re searching for the hard cam or stumbling through a promo, not many of them have established themselves as strong enough personalities or credible threats. Simply put, the bad guys are better. Why should we want them to lose?
AEW has a face problem, and adding a new show could make that issue more obvious to the viewers. When you take the Wednesday night standard-bearers out of the equation, such as Dr. Britt Baker, DMD or Absolute Ricky Starks, who is left to champion the viewers by proxy? I know who I want to see get more TV time (Abadon, Nyla Rose, and Stu Grayson). Whether they would be enough to draw people away from other Saturday activities, like board games and blindfolded field hockey, is another question.
The Rampage Problem
Here’s an unpopular opinion: Rampage doesn’t suck. There have been some excellent matches on Rampage. We get Jim Ross on commentary, even if that’s sometimes an unintentionally hilarious addition. When it runs in its regular time slot, Rampage serves as a fine nightcap for a week of wrestling. Thanks for watching, we’ll see y’all on Monday.
Since its premiere, Rampage has felt like an afterthought, a place to stick matches that got bumped from Dynamite for time issues. The good bouts feel like accidents, workers over-performing because they can. The inconsistency in both booking and being swatted about the schedule like a feather on a string in front of a cat has not helped. One wonders if Collision, even in its projected two-hour format, will meet the same fate.
The Punk Problem
Look: I am sick and tired of writing about CM Punk, but he keeps coming up in the conversation. Right now, the most controversial rumor floating about is that CM Punk will be the main star of Collision. Reportedly, there is still X-Pac heat between Punk and Omega, Chris Jericho, and the Young Bucks. Punk is still under contract, and there’s no question that the Second City Saint puts butts in seats. How do you solve a problem like the Punker?
Regardless of whether he’s positioned as heel or face, centering a show around CM Punk would be a calculated risk. Punk is injury-prone, given to going off-script, and a polarizing presence in the locker room. AEW is scheduled to return to Chicago, Punk’s hometown, in June. Reportedly, AEW is running a televised event at the United Center on June 17, which is a Saturday. That’s a perfect storm of Punkness and, more than likely, the setting for the debut episode of AEW Collision.
Perhaps both the reaction of the Chi-Town crowd and seeing if Punk can still go after his surgeries will serve as the litmus test. If Punk gets over, then we could see him on Saturdays, leaving Dynamite as a Punk-free show filled with the Elite and their friends. That feels more like a social experiment than a wrestling program, a surreptitious brand split, and I’m not sure I want to participate.
The Quality Problem
For a company as young as AEW, three in-ring shows and a reality show is a lot of content. Tony Khan has positioned himself as head booker for the AEW programs. He’s also booking the new Ring of Honor programming. While that kind of quantity looks good from a marketing standpoint, providing more stats to drive ad sales, one wonders how long it will take for the quality of the shows to suffer. It didn’t take long for Rampage to become That Other Show. One wonders if Collision will fall into the same trap. If Collision becomes a hit, should Rampage even exist? Won’t it become AEW’s version of WWE’s Main Event? One could argue that Rampage is already at that point.
How much is too much? I’m not the human to answer that question. I’ve shown you my schedule. If Collision comes to fruition as a weekly interruption to the non-stop schedule of Marvel and Star Wars movies on the Turner networks, I reckon I’ll watch it too. Even if I have to record it and watch it hungover early on a Sunday morning, I’ll be watching Collision. I’m honor bound. I’ll tell you one thing, though.
That shit better be good.