After an exciting pair of nights in Oklahoma City for DYNAMITE and RAMPAGE, All Elite Wrestling returns to San Antonio for the first time in a year when the Freeman Coliseum hosted the 2022 Holiday Bash! This time we are coming to San Antonio’s Frost Bank Center and bringing COLLISION to River City with us! With the Gold League coming to a head in a Three Way fight between Moxley, Swerve, and Jay White in next week’s finals, eyes turn to the Continental Classic’s Blue League to see who will advance from this group!
This Saturday night, the final three matches in the Blue League take place to see whose points total puts them in the finals! The Blackpool Combat Club will be tested against itself when Bryan Danielson takes on Claudio Castagnoli for the first time in AEW, as well as their first bout in nearly three years! Andrade El Idolo and Eddie Kingston fight it out for the first time, and Daniel Garcia attempts to get on the board, and throw a monkey wrench in the works, by beating Brody King! The bouts begin at 8pm ET/7pm CT on TNT, and the best way to get ready is to visit the official AEW YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFN4JkGP_bVhAdBsoV9xftA/videos), as well as AEW’s other social media platforms, for highlights from this week’s DYNAMITE and RAMPAGE, as well as events from last week’s COLLISION, the latest CONTROL CENTER, and so much more!
CONTINENTAL CLASSIC: BLUE LEAGUE…
Andrade El Idolo (9)
“The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson (9)
Brody King (6)
Claudio Castagnoli (6)
ROH World Champion/NJPW STRONG Openweight Champion Eddie Kingston (6)
Daniel Garcia (0)
Bryan Danielson (9) vs. Claudio Castagnoli (6)
For the first time in All Elite Wrestling, “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli will go head-to-head in their final match of the Continental Classic’s Blue League! These two members of The Blackpool Combat Club have quite a checkered past with one another, first coming to blows in September 2005 as part of the Ted Petty Invitational Tournament, fighting in multiple independents around the country, but it was their shared time in Ring of Honor that created both a strong rivalry and a mutual respect. Beginning with their June 28, 2008 match at VENDETTA II, the two men could lock-up in four singles matches, culminating in a No Disqualification bout at SOUTHERN HOSTILITY. Danielson won three of those four one-on-one bouts, including that final match, but their rivalry also included tag matches, Three Way fights, and Four Corner Survival matches. One of those Four Corner bouts, a ROH World Championship one, actually saw Claudio try to stomp Bryan’s skull in with a Steel Chair! The two had a few other matches after that No DQ bout, including a memorable Three Way at INSANITY UNLEASHED that also included Kenny Omega, but their final singles match as independent wrestlers actually took place in Germany for wXw on May 1, 2009.
Now that’s not to say their paths didn’t continue to cross over the next several years when the two occupied the same space once again, in fact from 2013-2021 they went one-on-one seven times, five of which were won by Danielson, with the last two going to Claudio. Prior to entering AEW, the two were actually working on the same page, and it’s that, along with the respect forged through their wars together, that likely led Danielson to bring Claudio into The Blackpool Combat Club!
Since FORBIDDEN DOOR 2022 when Claudio first arrived to replace Bryan in the scheduled match with Zack Sabre Jr., we’ve seen how well the two work together, and how The BCC operates like a well-oiled machine, but this night we will get to see how they operate as foes! Claudio is on a mission to fight his way into the finals, a real possibility if he defeats Danielson, while Bryan is on the precipice of securing his position with a victory. Unfortunately “The American Dragon” may be coming into this as the underdog, not due to skill or ability, but because of the injuries he’s sustained over the last year. We know he’s not 100% recovered from the broken arm suffered at FORBIDDEN DOOR 2023, we’ve seen how foes in the Continental Classic have gone after the still-healing orbital bone injury, that eye patch serving as a constant reminder to his opponents of what to target.
So how will this play out? We know the phrase “iron sharpens iron” is embedded in the ethos of the Blackpool Combat Club, but does that mean doing whatever is necessary to win when it is one of your own group who is most vulnerable? Will Claudio follow in the footsteps of Andrade and Brody King and attack the weakest part of Danielson’s anatomy? Or are there some lengths the BCC members won’t go to in order to win? We will find out when Claudio and Bryan lock-up this Saturday night! As for the probable outcomes, let’s save that for a minute…
Eddie Kingston (6) vs. Andrade El Idolo (9)
The start of this tournament was not favorable to ROH World/NJPW STRONG Openweight Champion Eddie Kingston. Despite putting both his titles into the mix to form, along with the Continental Championship, a modern American Triple Crown Championship, Kingston dropped his first two atches to Brody King and Bryan Danielson. Fighting out of a hole heading into this three remaining matches, “The Mad King” rallied with victories over long-time nemesis Claudio Castagnoli and newer rival Daniel Garcia, to notch himself six points in the tournament. Those two victories restored some hope that Kingston could actually win this tournament but, in a tournament filled with the best fighters in the world, Eddie has what may be his toughest fight in this last fight.
Unlike Eddie, Andrade El Idolo started this tournament with three consecutive victories in large part as a result of his willingness to do whatever it took to win. He topped Daniel Garcia to begin his streak, took advantage of Danielson fighting with that eye injury to get his six points, and used an exposed turnbuckle to help defeat Brody King in their fight for nine points. It was only Claudio Castagnoli’s willingness to do the same in their fight that kept Andrade from hitting the 12-point mark, instead putting him in a tie for points lead with Danielson.
So that is what’s at stake here for Andrade, potentially a definitive lead in the Blue League depending on how Bryan/Claudio plays out, but for Eddie it’s a fight for survival, his survival in this tournament, and his survival as a dual champion. If Kingston loses here, he can absolutely say goodbye to his ROH World Title and his NJPW STRONG Openweight as well as he will be mathematically eliminated from any hope of the Blue League Finals, much less the full tournament. This is truly do or die for Eddie Kingston…
Daniel Garcia (0) vs. Brody King (6)
The one man in the Blue League who has no hope of seeing the finals in Orlando is Daniel Garcia, his inability to notch any points in the previous four matches guaranteed that, but there is still the possibility he can play spoiler to the aspirations of one Brody King. It wouldn’t be the first time Garcia surprised the AEW faithful with a victory over this House of Black member, he did it at ST. PATRICK’S DAY SLAM 2023 back in March, so it’s certainly possible for him to repeat that feat. It has to be incredibly frustrating for Garcia to have had this opportunity and get nothing more than experience out of these fights. So is one win redemption for the failures that have come before this Saturday night? Mark Briscoe certainly experienced something akin to an awakening with his lone tournament victory on Wednesday night, perhaps Garcia can have his own moment of clarity, his own personal epiphany about what the future could hold. Then again, he’s got to step inside The House to try and get to that moment…
As for Brody King, victory in this tournament is not yet out of reach despite his loses to Andrade and Bryan Danielson. This current situation putting Brody, Claudio, and Eddie in a three-way tie at six points is rich with possible outcomes, but any hope for making it to the Blue League Finals hinges on Brody winning his fight, as well as requiring either Eddie or Claudio to win their fight. Now this is where things can get complicated, given how close the scores are between the five men still in the race, there are so many possible outcomes for this tournament.
The simplest outcome is that both Bryan and Andrade win, netting each 12 points, and putting those two in the finals next Wednesday night in Orlando. The outcome of Brody and Garcia is then irrelevant in the grand scheme of things because even with a win, the House of Black member has no choice with only nine points to his name. If Andrade and Claudio win, then El Idolo is the clear top man with 12 points, but the second place spot all depends on the outcome of King/Garcia. We could potentially see Bryan, Claudio, and Brody King all end up with 9 points to close the field, and that same situation plays out with Bryan and Eddie winning, only Bryan takes the top spot, while Andrade, Claudio, and Brody could potentially end with a three way 9-point tie.
There’s even one situation that could end the Blue League in a five-way tie! If Eddie Kingston, Claudio Castagnoli, and Brody King all win their respective fights, then everyone but Garcia ends this with 9 points to their name! It’s the wildest possible outcome, but given that we saw the Gold League end in a Three Way tie, anything is possible when athletes of this caliber are competing against one another. The most likely scenarios end with Bryan and/or Andrade in the top spot, but nothing will be certain until the bell rings at the end of each match! Who will head to Orlando next Wednesday to determine the winner of the Blue League?
A CHAMPION RETURNS…
TBS Champion Julia Hart & Skye Blue vs. Abadon & Thunder Rosa
We haven’t seen Thunder Rosa in action since the August 15, 2022 edition of DARK: ELEVATION where the then-AEW Women’s World Champion was victorious in a Trios match alongside Hikaru Shida and Toni Storm. Coming off a hard-fought title defense at BATTLE OF THE BELTS III against Jamie Hayter, and heading towards ALL OUT 2022, Rosa finally succumbed to a nagging back injury and was forced to relinquish her status as champion. Toni Storm would pick up that crown at ALL OUT 2022 in a Four Way with Dr. Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, and Hikaru Shida to begin her first stint atop the division, and from there the landscape has continued to shift in numerous ways in Rosa’s absence from competition.
That’s not to say Thunder has been completely AWOL from AEW, since the beginning of COLLISION she has served as one of the Spanish announcers for the program, but was still quite removed from any in-ring competition. During Thunder’s time away, she watched the title shift from Toni Storm to Jamie Hayter, saw Saraya become a part of All Elite Wrestling and form The Outcasts en route to experiencing her own time atop the division, and she saw Hikaru Shida become the first-ever 3-Time Women’s World Champion.
Rosa watched Toni Storm become “Timeless”, watched Skye Blue rise up the ranks through hard work and grit, saw Julia Hart transform from cheerleader to Princess of the House of Black, and watched the TBS Championship go from the grips of Jade Cargill to the waist of Kris Statlander to residing inside the walls of The House. That’s not all the Women’s division has experienced during the sixteen months Thunder has been unable to compete, there’s been a great deal of talent who’ve stepped up, some who have departed AEW, and some new faces who have entered the scene. Through it all, Thunder Rosa has had both the luxury of being able to observe it happen while suffering with the knowledge that she was unable to be in the mix herself.
That is until last week; when Abadon fell victim to the somewhat surprising attack of TBS Champion Julia Hart and Skye Blue, it was Thunder Rosa who rose up as an ally for “The Living Dead Girl”, saving them from a further beating, and surprising everyone with the later revelation that she would step up as Abadon’s partner in conjunction with AEW’s return to the city Thunder Rosa calls home! The last time Thunder competed for AEW in the River City was the ST. PATRICK’S DAY SLAM 2022 Cage Match where she bested Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D for the AEW Women’s World Championship, but by HOLIDAY BASH 2022 in December, “La Mera Mera” was on the sidelines.
So while the fight of this match is largely about Abadon’s issues with Julie Hart, the TBS Championship, and now Skye Blue, the return of Thunder Rosa in her hometown is a huge moment in her life, and a major moment for the Women’s Division! Once this match is done, win or lose, then the questions can be asked about what plans the former Women’s World Champion has for her return to competition, but for Saturday night at least, there will be at least a moment for San Antonio to celebrate the return of a champion!
AEW TRIOS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH…
The Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens & Max Caster) and Daddy Ass(c) vs. Action Andretti & Top Flight (Dante & Darius Martin)
The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass, though reigning as AEW World Trios Champions since August 27th, have been out of action since the November 8th edition of DYNAMITE where they were taken out by The Devil’s masked goons in response to their willingness to help MJF. That doesn’t change the fact that with nine defenses they are the most successful Trios Champions to date, but it does mean they may not be quite ready to get back into action with a fight like this against opponents such as these high-flying young men.
That’s right; in their first match in 45 days, The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass will put their AEW World Trios Championship on the line against Top Flight and Action Andretti! Though his layoff was much longer than that of the champions’, and the severity of his injuries potentially career-ending, Dante Martin has recently returned to competition alongside his brother and Andretti, and has looked superb in his handful of bouts.
Dante is coming off a strong singles victory during Thursday night’s ROH ON HONOR CLUB presentation, while Darius and Action scored a Three Way Tag Team win of their own, and collectively this trio has picked up two big trios wins in the month since Dante’s return. Stepping up to challenge the champions is a huge undertaking for this young trio, but this may be the perfect time to knock The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass off their throne! Can the champions pick up where they left off before The Devil’s henchmen knocked them off the playing field, or did the time away stall the momentum they’d worked so hard to build and leave them easier targets for their challengers? We shall see this Saturday night on TNT!
ROH World Six-Man Champion Brian Cage vs. “Limitless” Keith Lee
Following his FINAL BATTLE 2023 victory over former tag team partner Shane Taylor, Lexy Nair interviewed Keith Lee under the assumption that Shane Taylor was the “him” Keith had been referring to, but “Limitless” quickly corrected her. Of course this would lead to speculation just who “him” actually was, but Keith Lee did not let that mystery simmer for very long when, as witnessed in the video above, he confronted The Mogul Embassy on COLLISION, making it abundantly clear that it was Swerve Strickland who he’d been talking about all along.
Clearly Keith feels like he’s let this unfinished business with this former AEW World Tag Team Championship partner go unresolved, and is ready to bring it to a conclusion, much like he did with the decade-long simmering issues with Shane Taylor. But before Keith can get his hands on Swerve, and while Strickland is still wrapped up in the Continental Classic, The Limitless One has to deal with “The Machine” Brian Cage!
Over the course of their careers, Cage and Lee have gone one-on-one three times, all prior to All Elite Wrestling’s existence, with the last being nearly four years ago. Each of those contests went in favor of Keith Lee, but a pair of Three Way contests they were involved in both went in Cage’s favor. But here in AEW, the only shared ring time these two behemoths have experienced has been mutual participation in the Blackjack Battle Royale at DOUBLE OR NOTHING 2023 and an 8-Man tag in June won by Keith, Orange Cassidy, Darby Allin, and Sting.
So thus begins Keith Lee’s road to settle his score with Swerve Strickland, and if every member of The Mogul Embassy is thrown in his path, this is going to be a very rough journey indeed. But if anyone is capable of surviving that grueling gauntlet, it is “Limitless”, and if there is anyone capable of matching the combination of power and speed Lee possesses, it is “The Machine” Brian Cage! Can this ROH World Six-Man Champion stifle Keith Lee’s aspirations at the starting line?
All Elite Wrestling is coming back to San Antonio, TX this Saturday night for our debut at the Frost Bank Center, and with it comes an all-new, loaded edition of COLLISION! The Blue League battle for points wraps up this Saturday with Castagnoli versus Danielson, Kingston battling Andrade, and Garcia fighting King! Plus, the AEW World Trios Championship will be at stake when Daddy Ass and The Acclaimed return to action against Top Flight and Action Andretti, while San Antonio’s own Thunder Rosa returns after sixteen months to team with Abadon for a fight with TBS Champion Julia Hart and Skye Blue! COLLISION begins at 8pm ET/7pm CT on TNT, and to get prepared for it all, drop by the official AEW YouTube channel to watch highlights from this week’s editions of DYNAMITE and RAMPAGE, as well as events from the last COLLISION, and the latest CONTROL CENTER!
Article source: allelitewrestling.com