KELLER’S TAKE: So far so good for Collision as Tony Khan deliberately attempts to create a different booking style and vibe for new series

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

Update on AEW Collision creative vision


The ratings for AEW Collision from Saturday are not in yet, but AEW is hoping to at least maintain a viewership in the high 500s and ideally getting back into the 600s, while drawing a demo rating above 0.20 (it was 0.21 the last two live shows, down from 0.33 for the premiere).

The danger with the new Collision series is that it would seem like “too much” AEW each week. There was a risk of burnout from AEW viewers who really like a lot about AEW, but two nights a week might be too much to commit to (not for everyone, but for enough people that it affected viewership of Collision and perhaps also be a drag on Dynamite). To combat the sense that one show per week is enough and another can be skipped (as many have decided was the case with AEW Rampage), Tony Khan took a negative and has attempted to turn it into a positive.

By having C.M. Punk and FTR as essentially Collision-exclusive wrestlers, and sprinkling in some others who are primarily or exclusively appearing Collision (Powerhouse Hobbs, Ricky Starks, Miro, Andrade, to name a few so far) gives viewers of Dynamite a reason to tune in to Collision also if they want to see those key names.

It’s similar to the roster split by WWE. Vince McMahon actually called me before the brand split back in the day and asked what I thought of the idea of making Steve Austin exclusive to Raw and The Rock exclusive to Smackdown, and if fans who chose one show or another would end up watching both if they couldn’t see both Rock and Austin on just one show. He had the roster depth to pull it off, and I endorsed it as a worthy concept to try.

I feel the same way about how AEW’s softer roster split is going so far. I know, personally, I look more forward to Collision this way than I would if I had already seen Punk and Hobbs on Dynamite and they were going to appear again three days later on Collision. I also look forward to Dynamite more because I haven’t seen Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, Hangman Page, The Young Bucks, and the Blackpool Combat Club in a full week.

We knew this approach was a possibility in the lead-in to Collision’s debut. Even if it was born out of a desire to avoid backstage conflict by avoiding having Punk and FTR share locker room space with wrestlers they don’t get along with and, in the case of Punk and The Elite, got into a backstage fight with, it gave Collision more of an identity right out of the gate.

What I didn’t expect is the pleasant surprise that Collision would almost feel like a show with a different booker than Tony Khan. That’s not to judge TK’s booking approach as necessarily good or bad, but rather point out that Collision has a different feel.

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After asking around, it turns out that TK is booking Collision with as much involvement as Dynamite. He hasn’t stepped aside at all to give another vision a chance. Instead, he’s just deliberately booking Collision in a different way. What he does have is a different inner circle that he’s working with on Saturdays. While Dynamite includes Q.T. Marshall and Sonjay Dutt helping out, TK is leaning on different voices for Collision, including the stars of the series so far, Punk and FTR.

If you watched Saturday’s Collision, you saw a classic tag team match with FTR vs. Juice Robinson & Jay White and a main event singles match with C.M. Punk vs. Ricky Starks, both of which could have been dropped into a St. Louis NWA show 40 years ago and fit in pretty well (as Dan Kuester pointed out on the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show after Collision on Saturday night).

Saturday’s show is an example of what TK, Punk, and FTR see as the vision for Collision – a more dialed back style of wrestling that relies on telling stories in the ring with more traditional wrestling moves and pacing, and saving the wild highspots and special stips and brawling and weapons and bleeding for special occasions so they stand out more. (It’s worth noting, Battle of the Belts was not meant to follow the parameters informally set out internally with Collision, and the contrast was clear between those two approaches back to back on Saturday night.)

FTR and Punk in particular are showing they can have compelling – and even spectacular – matches without a lot of the stuff that proliferates Dynamite. There’s no “one right style,” but having Collision be based around more traditional (and timelessly effective) match styles and approaches to interviews differentiates it from Dynamite in a way that gives different fans a different option, and can keep both shows fresher for everyone who watches both.

The show-opening soundbites with the wrestlers, the more laid back announcing, the more traditional framing of heels and faces, the greater emphasis on rules and sportsmanship defining who is to be admired and who you’re more likely to root against, with a roster that can pull it off, has made me more confident in Collision’s ability to succeed long-term.

Saturday nights are a tough night to draw a big viewership compared to Wednesdays. WWE Smackdown on Fox has made Fridays work, and AEW can build a reputation for Collision that can earn viewer loyalty on a night they might otherwise have skipped staying in to watch wrestling.

AEW cannot deliver matches the quality of FTR vs. Juice & Jay every week, and they need to do a better job setting up the following week’s show on every episode. But so far, I can highly recommend Collision. It isn’t just a new version of a watered down Dynamite or a two-hour version of Rampage. The deliberate attempt, successful aesthetically so far, to differentiate Dynamite and Collision, gets my endorsement.

What do you think? Is Collision standing out as different enough from Dynamite, in a good way, to earn your loyal viewership, perhaps more than you anticipated? Or does it lack too many of the stars you’ve come to look forward to on Dynamite? Email me at with your thoughts.

(Wade Keller is the founder, editor, and publisher of Pro Wrestling Torch and He hosts the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcasts and Post-shows, free on all podcast apps, plus VIP-exclusive podcasts each week such as the Wade Keller Hotlines with backstage exclusive news and analysis. He has covered pro wrestling for over 35 years after starting PWTorch in high school. He has conducted long-form insider interviews with dozens of pro wrestling’s biggest names for many eras dating back to Lou Thesz and Verne Gagne all the way through Jon Moxley and Cody Rhodes. He was inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame for Excellence in Writing on Pro Wrestling in 2015.)

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