By: Dave LeClair
The show started with quick promos from Bullet Club Gold and Ricky Starks, CM Punk, and FTR. The groups were mostly there to hype Collision.
Who’s the Partner?
Tony Schiavone opened the show in the ring, but he was quickly interrupted by Chris Jericho and Minoru Suzuki. Jericho promptly reminded the crowd that he was from Winnipeg and told them to shut up and stop cheering him. After praising himself, Suzuki, and Sammy Guevara, he threatened Schiavone unless the announcer would tell him who Sting and Darby were having as a partner.
Finally, the lights went dark, and Sting and Darby made their way to the ring to an epic “It’s Sting” from Schiavone.
Darby cut a brief promo on Guevara (who wasn’t in attendance) before saying that he thinks Jericho already knows the partner. Tetsuya Naito’s music hit, and the Japanese superstar made his way to the ring clad in all white. Naito milked every second of his ring entrance, and when he finally went face-to-face with Jericho, Naito chants rang out through the arena. Jericho and Suzuki left the ring while Sting, Darby, and Naito stood strong.
Miro cut a backstage promo in a cool-looking backlit room. He said he’s been in exile. The Bulgarian wrestler claimed his god offered him power, but he turned it down. The Redeemer said he renounced his god, gold, and beautiful wife. There seems to be a character change coming for Miro now that he’s back, and this is the early phase.
Swerve and The Mogul Embassy
Swerve went to the ring with Prince Nana for a match with “The Ace” Hiroshi Tanahashi. Loud Tanahashi chants rang through the arena to start the match. It started slow and wasn’t as fast and intense as you might expect from two high-level wrestlers of this caliber. Things did pick up after the picture-in-picture commercial break, and the match became more heated. The finish saw Tanahashi go for the High Fly Flow and almost fall off the top rope. It’s unclear if this was a botch or him selling injuries from the match, but he returned and hit the big move for the finish.
While he was celebrating, MJF’s music hit, but MJF cut a promo on the big screen instead of coming to the ring. It was a stellar promo that saw MJF threaten to put the air guitar between Tanahashi’s legs and up his behind.
Brody King Battles with Andrade El Idolo
Brody King entered with Julia Hart in tow. El Idolo made his entrance with Kinesio tape all over his shoulder. The crowd seemed quiet for both entrances and during the start of the match. Andrade hit a massive Moonsault to the outside on Brody that woke the crowd up for a bit (and looked incredibly painful for both). After that, the bulk of the match consisted of El Idolo targeting King’s knees to create an opening for his version of the Figure 8 while King made typical big-man moves. It was a good match that ended with El Idolo locking in the Figure 8. However, Buddy Matthews hit the ring just before King tapped for a rare disqualification.
After the match, Matthews and King assaulted Andrade while Hart held his mask in the air. Malakai Black appeared on the big screen, and everything went black.
Christian Cage and his Angry Dinosaur
Tony Schiavone welcomed us back from the commercial break and introduced Christian Cage and Luchasaurus. The pair made their way to the ring, with Cage carrying the TNT championship. Christian Cage chants rang out from the hometown crowd. Christian buried Toronto quickly to turn the crown against him. He cut the entire promo as if he won the title, despite Luchasaurus winning the belt. Cage said there would be no more open challenges, and he even made a quick Cody reference before throwing the mic down and leaving.
Owen Hart Video Package
A hype video aired for the Owen Hart tournament with several participants discussing their opponents. Satoshi Kojima started, then CM Punk, followed by the rest of the wrestlers. It was a fun segment filled with quick, entertaining promos.
Quarterfinal Women’s Match
Willow Nightingale battled with Nyla Rose in a quarterfinal Owen Hart Tournament match. Nyla came to the ring with Marina Shafir while Willow rolled solo. The match went through a picture-in-picture break, and while it wasn’t a bad match, it felt somewhat slow. It did have an impressive finish, with Willow lifting Nyla up for a powerbomb to finish the match. After the match, the Outcasts came out to go after Willow, but Skye Blue made the save with a chair.
Lexy Nair Talks to Scorpio Sky
Scorpio Sky cut a decent promo citing his accomplishments in AEW. He said he lived in the shadow of his true self, so we can expect him to be even better.
Powerhouse Hobbs Squashes Jeremy Prophet
Hobbs attacked the enhancement talent at the bell and dispatched him quickly. Hobbs toyed with the veteran before finishing him off. It was a fine squash match in a card filled with traditional matches. It reminded everyone that Hobbs is there and ready for a big push now that AEW has the extra TV time to work with.
Main Event: CMFTR & Ricky Starks vs. White, Juice & Gunns
Bullet Club Gold entered first, with the epic new Ass Boys… I mean Guns entrance following. The way they spit water in time with the finger guns as the camera circles make them feel like stars. Ricky Starks made a quick entrance, then FTR followed to their song. Finally, CM Punk came out and was greeted with a somewhat positive reaction from the Toronto crowd. It was nothing like the Chicago return, but the fans still seemed happy to see Punk.
Punk actually started the match with Jay White, but White quickly tagged out so “Rock Hard” Juice Robinson could go at it with One Bill Phil. The fast-paced match continued with lots of action, and eventually, it got back to Punk and Jay White. The crowd was incredibly hot for the exchange between these two mega-stars. Things continued at a breakneck pace with plenty of spots, pinfall attempts, and tags.
Interestingly, Punk was tagged into a chorus of boos about halfway through the match. The crowd even cheered when the heels got the heat on the Chicago native. Some fans tried to get a CM Punk chant started during the heat, but they were drowned out with boos. The fact that AEW booked Punk to be isolated from his team makes it seem like the company didn’t expect this reaction.
During the picture-in-picture, fans on Fite could hear dueling “Let’s go Switchblade” and “CM Punk” chants. When the PIP ended, the heels still had the heat on Punk. Juice went for a GTS on Punk, which was countered, allowing Punk to make the hot tag to Ricky Starks. He cleaned house briefly, landing impressive offensive maneuvers on everyone. All hell broke loose outside as all the illegal men fought, leaving Starks and Austin in the ring. After plenty of chaos and insane spots from Cash Wheeler that included a truly suicidal Suicide Dive, the action resumed with Ricky Starks and Jay White going at it.
After a cheap shot from Robinson, Jay White hit the Bladerunner on Starks and picked up the win for the heels. While Punk didn’t take the fall, seeing him on the losing end of a match so early in his second AEW run is still surprising.