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AEW Collision Preview for July 8, 2023


The Owen Hart Foundation Tournament is drawing towards its conclusion at Calgary's Saddledome on July 15th, and the Finals of the Men's bracket will be set this Saturday night! All Elite Wrestling debuts in Regina, SK at The Brandt Centre with CM Punk versus Samoa Joe for the first time since 2005, Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs colliding, ROH Women's World Champion Athena fighting Willow Nightingale, and FTR in action against BULLET CLUB GOLD!


COLLISION begins at 8:00pm ET/7:00pm CT this Saturday on TNT, as well as at AEWPlus.com for AEW's international fans, and don't forget to check in on the official AEW YouTube channel before the show for highlights from this week's episodes of DYNAMITE and RAMPAGE, as well as the latest edition of THE CONTROL CENTER, and so much more!


ELIMINATOR MATCH...

AEW World Tag Team Champions FTR(Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) vs. BULLET CLUB GOLD (Jay White & Juice Robinson)


Jay White and Juice Robinson have been a thorn in the side of a lot of people since they first united in All Elite Wrestling to become BULLET CLUB GOLD. Be it Ricky Starks, CM Punk, or FTR, these two men have proven to be among the most irritating humans in professional wrestling, and with the addition of The Gunns to the BC GOLD unit, they've likely become the undisputed kings of irritation. Sneak attacks, verbal derision of their foes, and grandstand challenges are pretty much the hallmark of all four of these men, and now this Saturday, Juice and Jay have their biggest tag team opportunity as a result.

With a potential bid at FTR's AEW World Tag Team Titles on the line, Juice Robinson and Jay White will fight Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood in an Eliminator Match! That means if BC GOLD defeats the champions, they will earn a future title match, and that's a feat very few in All Elite Wrestling have accomplished since the introduction of the Eliminator bout. Five such bouts have taken place in the Tag Team Division, but only Eddie Kingston and Penta El Zero Miedo were able to pull off the victory, even though it did not parlay into a subsequent championship victory over The Young Bucks.


Can BC GOLD add their names to the singular list of Eliminator match winners? Or will FTR shut down Juice and Jay's championship aspirations before they really begin?

OWEN HART FOUNDATION MEN'S TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINALS...

CM Punk vs. ROH World Television Champion Samoa Joe

Where to begin with this one? Do you start with their first singles meeting in August 2003, at a ROH event dubbed as BITTER FRIENDS, STIFFER ENEMIES, best known for the Homicide versus Steve Corino Grudge Match many tapped as ROH's match of the year for 2003? Does it begin with the first fight of their legendary trilogy, a 60-Minute Draw that took place at WORLD TITLE CLASSIC on 6/12/04, and set the stage for two more singles matches over the next six months that, unarguably, helped save Ring of Honor during its most tumultuous of times. Is it JOE VS. PUNK II; the rematch on 10/16/04 that earned a coveted Observer 5-Star rating, the first North American Match since October 1997 to do so, and slotted the number 3 match of 2004 in their year-end fan voting? Or is it their final fight, ALL-STAR EXTRAVAGANZA II, a bloody affair that did not test the endurance of the two foes like the others, but rather their grit and determination, and pushed Joe past his limits to the point his next title defense would be his final?


Perhaps it is a tale of the entirety,of their singles matches and tag matches and trios matches and their fights that took place outside of the auspices of Ring of Honor. While The Trilogy is available on Honor Club, there is so much more to their story than just those three fights. It is a tale of a bond created through a mutual desire to see ROH thrive through the lean times, and rise up as the most influential wrestling promotion of the last twenty years. It is a rivalry that meant everything to the fans of Ring of Honor, that has only grown in legend in the twenty years since, and has made this match-up THE most anticipated one for both men since Spring 2022 when both were fighting under the AEW banner.


And it is finally here this Saturday night on COLLISION! For the first time since a March 19, 2005 bout in England, CM Punk and Samoa Joe will go one-on-one inside the squared circle with a spot in the final of the Owen Hart Foundation Men's Tournament at stake. A year ago at DOUBLE OR NOTHING 2022, Samoa Joe stood in that position opposite Adam Cole but ultimately fell to Cole in the finals in a thirteen minute heated bout. CM Punk, on the other hand, was not part of that tournament, rather he was winning his first AEW World Championship that night, and now he is back in the fold, after nine months recovering from injury, to reassert his position as the top guy in professional wrestling. There would be few better ways to do just that than be winning the entire Owen Hart Foundation Tournament, but in order to do so, he first has to defeat the man he's never beaten in a one-on-one match. In fact, the only victory Punk holds over Joe in any kind of singles match was at REDEMPTION, the night Punk lost the ROH World Championship to James Gibson in a Four Way Elimination bout, when he took advantage of a low blow delivered to Joe by Christopher Daniels to eliminate Joe from the bout. But in one-on-one matches, CM Punk is 0-4-2 against Samoa Joe across their career, and that leaves a great deal to prove for Punk despite the world-class resume he has built over his career, even with all those years away from professional wrestling.

This is about legacy as much as it is The Owen; can CM Punk rest knowing he's never beaten Samoa Joe, that Joe is the proverbial albatross around his neck? Or can he free himself from that noose this Saturday night and move on towards the final stage of this tournament in Calgary? Do not miss out as history continues to unfold this Saturday night on COLLISION!


OWEN HART FOUNDATION MEN'S TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINALS...

Powerhouse Hobbs vs. “Absolute” Ricky Starks


Powerhouse Hobbs heads into this Quarter-Final bout in the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament having bested “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes last Saturday on COLLISION. It was one of the toughest fights Hobbs has faced in his AEW career, the veteran experience of Rhodes testing Hobbs like few others before him, but Powerhouse managed to secure the victory over a bloodied and battered Dustin to secure his position in the Semi-Finals.

In the other bout of the night, Ricky Starks upended Juice Robinson despite the best efforts of BULLET CLUB GOLD to sway it the other way, and it was just the arrival of CM Punk and FTR that prevented Juice, Jay, and The Gunns from attacking Ricky again after the match. Credit to that assist as allowing Starks to head into this Saturday night without the bumps and bruises that would've resulted from that BC GOLD assault.

But now an assault of another kind awaits Ricky Starks, the kind that comes from a monster named Powerhouse Hobbs, one fueled by the past, present, and future! See Starks and Hobbs are old friends, old enemies, both men who sat under the learning tree of Team Taz early in their AEW careers, and united for numerous tag team matches. As a team, they ran 10-4 together, including two AEW World Tag Team Championship matches, but as foes it is Ricky Starks who holds the advantage over his foe, even if one of those isn't quite official. See their last encounter back on the September 23, 2022 edition of RAMPAGE was contested as an Unsanctioned Lights Out fight, making the victory for Starks unofficial, but both men know what happened that night.

So this right here, this isn't just about making the Finals of the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament, although that is what's most important on July 8, 2023, but also about the road that has led both men to this point. Each has been right on the cusp for quite some time now, each has been frustrated by loss, and by forces beyond their control, and this tournament is just as much a declaration of who will step up for AEW's future as it is about who is the better man right now.

And to the victor awaits either CM Punk or Samoa Joe, match possibilities that are quite tantalizing whoever it sways, but first Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs must worry about one another. Well, to be honest, Hobbs has to worry about Starks...Ricky has to worry about both BULLET CLUB GOLD and QTV deciding to insert themselves into the equation.

OWEN HART FOUNDATION WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINALS...

ROH Women’s World Champion Athena vs. Willow Nightingale



Fresh off losing her NJPW STRONG Women's Championship in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall to Giulia on Thursday, Willow Nightingale returns home to All Elite Wrestling to battle ROH Women's World Champion Athena in the first Semi-Final match of the Women's Owen Hart Foundation Tournament! The winner of this faces the winner of next Wednesday's Ruby Soho/Skye Blue bout, but no one better look past this fight towards the Finals quite yet.


This rematch from the second edition of ROH ON HONOR CLUB is going to be rather heated as Nightingale needs to rebound from her heartbreaking championship loss while “The Fallen Goddess” aims to continue the monumental roll she's been on since last Fall. As aggressive and, quite frankly, abusive as Athena has been to everyone who's stepped onto the Proving Ground or challenged for the ROH Women's World Championship, she's not going to be able to pull that off with Willow. There's a reason Willow's been nicknamed “The Babe with the Power”, and while Athena may have felt some of that in their previous encounters, the confidence Willow gained from beating Mercedes Mone and becoming the first NJPW STRONG Women's Champion means “The Fallen Goddess” is in for a bigger fight than she may have gotten back in March.

Can Athena, coming off a Proving Ground fight on Thursday's ROH ON HONOR CLUB, keep her streak alive and head into the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament Finals in Calgary? Or will it be Willow Nightingale who takes all she's experienced over the months since her last encounter with Athena and parlay it into a spot in the Finals?



As AEW heads towards the finals of The Owen Hart Foundation Tournament at Calgary's Saddledome, on July 15th, this Saturday night All Elite Wrestling comes to Regina, SK and The Brandt Centre for the very first time! The finals of The Men's Owen will be set when a historic rivalry is renewed as Samoa Joe and CM Punk meet for the first time since 2005, while old Team Taz partners battle it out on the other side of the bracket! Plus, fresh off losing her NJPW STRONG Women's Championship to Giulia in Tokyo at NJPW STRONG INDEPENDENCE DAY 2023: NIGHT 2, Willow Nightingale returns home to face Athena in the Semi-Finals of The Women's Owen. And, FTR will meet BULLET CLUB GOLD in an AEW World Tag Team Eliminator Match with a potential shot at those championships on the line for Jay White and Juice Robinson!


The fights get underway at 8:00pm ET/7:00pm CT, as well as at AEWPlus.com for AEW's international fans, just be sure to visit the official AEW YouTube channel for highlights from this week's episodes of DYNAMITE and RAMAPGE, as well as the latest edition of CONTROL CENTER, and much, much more!





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