Around the Loop: ‘AEW: Collision’ Brings Back Andrade, Miro, and CM Punk

Opening with Elton John’s raucous classic “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting),” All Elite Wrestling premiered its third televised program, Collision, this past weekend. Enough time has passed to process the program as a whole. This column has never been about match-by-match reviews or knee-jerk reactions. In that vein, it’s safe to say that Collision is a wrestling show on television. There were, however, enough interesting bits to keep AEW fans interested and curious about what future episodes could hold.

CM Punk was there, too.

From a presentation standpoint, Collision looks great. The set incorporates sci-fi elements, like grids and vectors, while reaching into the past to WCW Nitro, with it’s red and gold palette. There’s an air of futuristic spaceship danger to the whole thing. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Gorn came stomping down the shiny entrance ramp. Oh, wait. There was a Luchasaurus match, so maybe that description isn’t too far off.

Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness are a good announce team. There’s chemistry between the two, even though some first-show jitters were noticeable. Kelly borked up Andrade El Idolo’s name a couple of times. Jim Ross joined the team to call the main event, but his voice was not in the best condition. Good Ol’ JR has had a rough go of things as of late. Here’s hoping Tony Khan gives Ross as long as he needs to get better.

Collision was important for two reasons: the beginning and the ending. Viewers wanted to hear what CM Punk would say and see how he would fight.

As expected, Punk opened the show with a long promo, addressing his absence and his continuing quibbles within AEW. He wasn’t the happy “Chicago Strong” Uncle Punk we saw last year. Punk’s first words in the ring were, “I’m tired of being nice.” Punk is pissed, and seeds for a heel run were planted. How that will ripple out to the rest of the Collision roster will be an interesting thing to watch. If Punk becomes a bad guy, will his friends in FTR follow suit? Who will choose to be on Punk’s side against the Eite and whoever Punk deems to be an enemy?

It feels like we could be headed towards that oft-used Authority/Powers That Be story. I do not want this.

At this point, I don’t know what I want from CM Punk. Stay face. Turn heel. Go away. I’m not sure what’s going to make me happy with the guy. Maybe that’s intentional and I’m being manipulated like the mark I am. If forced to choose, I’ve always enjoyed Punk’s heel work more than his babyface runs. Maybe that’s what Collision needs, some overarching story with a popular big bad protected by the company he wants to reshape into his own image.

Punk’s main event match, teaming up with FTR to face Bullet Club Gold and Samoa Joe, was a fine violent affair. Punk and Joe went after each other, with Joe refusing to react to one of Punk’s chops. There was never any doubt that CMFTR would emerge victorious, but it was an entertaining match. Punk looked as good as he did before his triceps surgery. Joe is a monster, but he’s a skilled monster and he’s always fun to watch.

It made sense to have a title change on the first episode of Collision, but what we got was bewildering. Due to some shenanigans from Christian Cage, Luchasaurus was able to defeat three-time champ Wardlow and become the 10th person in AEW to hold the TNT Championship. There’s a status issue with that title. The TNT Championship has lost its sheen of importance, especially after the departure of Cody Rhodes. Right now, the title seems to be as vital as the old 24/7 Title in WWE, nothing more than a heavy ping-pong ball that can be won or lost on a whim. Much like how Orange Cassidy took the AEW International Championship and made it a highly sought-after belt, the TNT Championship needs to be held by someone who can elevate that title. Even with the veteran Cage as his mouthpiece, Luchasaurus may not be the guy to do that.

Andrade El Idolo returned after months away from the company, beating the sense out of House of Black’s Buddy Matthews. Andrade paid tribute to his wife, Charlotte Flair, by pinning Matthews with her finisher, the Figure Eight. That’s super cute. Andrade seems to have come back as a face, and a feud with the House of Black is on the way. Before his injury, Andrade was in the middle of one of his best runs. He was getting over with the fans and consistently producing great matches. Here’s hoping he gets back to that magical zone sooner than later.

Miro came back to the ring as well, defeating eternal mid-carder Tony Nese. If the reports are to be believed, Miro stayed away from AEW until Creative could come up with a storyline he agreed with. There was no true indication what that angle would be on Saturday night’s show. Miro, a former TNT Champion, should be back in that specific title hunt with a quickness. If anyone can redeem that title and restore its former glory, it’s Miro.

Skye Blue’s push continued as she and Willow defeated Outcasts Toni Storm and Ruby Soho. Since it was a Chicago show, it was a given that Blue would get the pin in front of her hometown crowd. No surprises in that match, and they still haven’t given Blue a real character besides a backwards baseball cap and tons of blue eye shadow. This match probably won’t have any real effect on the overall Outcasts/Originals storyline, either.

How the AEW roster as a whole will appear on Collision is still unclear. We were promised via advertisements the returns of Scorpio Sky and Thunder Rosa. While Rosa had Spanish announcing duties during Collision, I have an ineffable need to see Sky back in the ring.

Look: CM Punk can’t fix everything, nor should he be expected to. Collision has the same problems as AEW’s flagship program, Dynamite. Some storylines don’t make a lick of sense, and there are wrestlers who desperately need character work. Putting a new show on the air doesn’t automatically fix those issues. That’s the kind of repair work that should have started months ago.

There are always growing pains for any new show. In all, Collision was fine. It was a good debut episode. But there is room for improvement, and those opportunities should be taken quickly. Collision has the chance to become more than The CM Punk Show. Its overall success may depend on that.

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