The John Report: AEW Battle of the Belts III (08/06/22) Review
This is the third AEW Battle of the Belts show with Wardlow defending the TNT Title, Thunder Rosa defending the AEW Women’s Title and Claudio Castagnoli defending the ROH World Title in the main event.
This is AEW Battle of the Belts III from the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. This was taped before a very boring edition of Rampage this week. Check out the AEW PPV listing archive only on TJRWrestling as well. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
I don’t believe this show aired on TV here in Canada. I found a website to watch it on Sunday morning (it’s important to “watchwrestling” after all), so here we go. It aired on Saturday night on TNT in the US.
It’s Saturday night and you know what that means. Excalibur was on commentary with Taz and Tony Schiavone.
Jay Lethal made his entrance with Sonjay Dutt and Satnam Singh. Lethal has an AEW record of 19-5 and is the number two ranked single wrestler even though he lost the ROH TV Title match to Samoa Joe recently. Wardlow was next as they showed him walking backstage and his entrance has piped in “Wardlow” chants since they are trying to give him a Goldberg-like feel. Wardlow is 55-8 in AEW with 33 wins in his last 35 matches. The fans like him.
TNT Championship: Wardlow vs. Jay Lethal (w/Satnam Singh & Sonjay Dutt)
Dutt provided a distraction for Lethal, so Lethal hit a suplex that was no sold by Wardlow, who hit a boot to the face. Wardlow with a back body drop followed by a clothesline over the top rope to the floor. Wardlow tossed Lethal back in, then Dutt and Singh got in Wardlow’s face, so Lethal hit a running kick. Back in the ring, Lethal avoided a kick and hit his own enziguri kick. Wardlow hit a tilt-a-whirl slam for two. Lethal hit two dropkicks, then he went down to sell a knee injury. Lethal was faking it and got a rollup for two. Wardlow charged, Lethal moved and Wardlow’s shoulder hit the ring post. Lethal hit a suicide dive onto Wardlow on the floor. Lethal rammed Lethal’s left leg into the ring post two times as they went to a 90-second picture-in-picture break.
The match returned with Wardlow going for a Powerbomb, but Lethal got out of it with a kick to the leg. Lethal went for the Lethal Injection, Wardlow stopped him and Lethal avoided a Powerbomb again. Lethal went for a punch, but Wardlow hit him with a headbutt to the head followed by wind up lariat that led to a big bump by Lethal. Wardlow hit a Powerbomb for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Wardlow
Analysis: **3/4 It was a decisive win for Wardlow after he spent most of the match selling. Once Wardlow got some offense going, he finished off Lethal easily. At least AEW is smart enough to book Wardlow in matches that end in under ten minutes. They should do that for bigger names in the company, but instead, they go long to make them look weak because they can’t beat people easier.
Post match, Dutt went into the ring to cheap shot Wardlow from behind. Singh went into the ring where he put his foot onto Wardlow’s chest. Wardlow tried to fight it off, but the heels were triple teaming him with Lethal applying a Figure Four Leglock submission. After Lethal got back up, Wardlow punched Dutt and Lethal followed by a low blow kick to Singh. Wardlow wanted a Powerbomb on Singh, but Lethal saved and Singh gave Wardlow a back body drop, which Wardlow sold as a big move. A table was brought into the ring, so Singh gave Wardlow a Chokeslam. Lethal posed with the TNT Title on top of a fallen Wardlow.
Analysis: It’s a bit silly that there’s a beatdown for several minutes without anybody trying to save it. You should at least have referees out there trying to stop it. I guess this means they could be building to Wardlow against Singh unless they book Lethal in a strong way to get him a rematch with Wardlow. I don’t think a Wardlow vs. Singh match be very good, but it may be a way to put over Wardlow’s power by hitting a Powerbomb on Singh if he can do it.
They replayed Wardlow getting attacked after his win.
Jamie Hayter entered for the AEW Women’s World Title match. Hayter got a pinfall win in tag team action on Dynamite with Hayter pinning Toni Storm, so that’s why she gets this title shot. Hayter is only 5-1 in singles matches (only six singles matches as we sit here in August?) and is fourth ranked. Hayter had Dr. Britt Baker and Rebel with her. Thunder Rosa was up next as the AEW Women’s Champion that has held the title for about five months. Rosa was wearing a cowboy hat for her entrance. Rosa had Toni Storm with her.
AEW Women’s Championship: Thunder Rosa (w/Toni Storm) vs. Jamie Hayter (w/Dr. Britt Baker & Rebel)
Hayter attacked Rosa while Thunder was posing on the turnbuckles. Hayter hit a suplex followed by Hayter sending Rosa into the ropes followed by a shoulder tackle. Rosa got some offense going with two dropkicks that sent Hayter out of the ring. Rosa went for a suicide dive, but Hayter stopped it with a punch. Hayter whipped Rosa into the barricade. Rosa blocked a move on the floor and Rosa hit a DDT on the floor. Baker got a hold of the title, Rosa went up top where she was distracted by Baker and Hayter knocked Rosa off the top to the apron to the floor. Hayter slammed Rosa back first onto the steel steps. That led to a picture-in-picture break.
The match continued as they got into a slugfest exchanging forearm strikes to the face. Rosa hit a Northern Lights suplex for a two count. Hayter was up against the ropes leading to Rosa hitting a dropkick that sent Hayter out of the ring. Rosa hit a senton attack off the apron onto Hayter on the floor. Back in the ring, Rosa jumped off the top with a cross body block for a two count. Hayter got some offense going again with a backbreaker for two. Hayter with a brainbuster for two. Hayter distracted the referee, so Baker choked Rosa and Storm went after Baker. That fight led to Baker hitting Storm with a superkick. Baker was celebrating that, so Storm hit Baker with a DDT on the floor. Back in the ring, Rosa got a couple of nearfalls, then Rosa did a cazadora roll through where you use the legs to get the takedown and sit on top for the pin. The referee counted to three while Hayter kicked out right after the three count. It went 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Thunder Rosa
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a pretty good match. It was hard hitting at times so that helped in terms of making it look like a fight. The last few minutes featured some big moves by both women that made it look like perhaps there could be an upset although I don’t think anybody expects a title change on a Battle of the Belts show. Rosa winning in a close fashion shows that Hayter was a tough competitor. Hayter apparently suffered a broken nose in the match, which isn’t that surprising because she took a couple of hard shots to the face.
Thunder Rosa celebrated the win with Toni Storm raising her hand. Rosa went into the crowd to celebrate with some fans.
Analysis: I don’t know what the plan is for the Women’s Title at All Out on September 4. Maybe they will have Storm turn on Rosa to give Storm another title shot and Storm could win it this time. I don’t know if that’s what they might do or find another opponent for Rosa. AEW doesn’t like triple threats or fatal four-way matches, but they could opt for something like that.
A video aired about the ROH Tag Team Champions FTR, who are also the IWGP and AAA Tag Team Champions. It said that FTR will be back on Dynamite this coming week.
Analysis: The video did not point out that FTR has been ranked as the number one tag team for nearly 20 weeks (that’s about five months) and have yet to get an AEW Tag Team Title match while several other teams below them have had title matches. What a weird company with their rankings.
Next Wednesday on AEW Dynamite “Quake By The Lake” in Minneapolis, MN the lineup looks like this:
* Coffin Match: Brody King vs. Darby Allin.
* Tornado Tag Team Match: Lucha Brothers vs. Andrade El Idolo & Rush.
* TBS Championship: Jade Cargill vs. Madison Rayne.
* AEW Interim World Championship: Jon Moxley vs. Chris Jericho.
That’s a pretty good lineup. Three of the matches should be outstanding. I don’t expect the TBS Championship match to be good, but they might surprise me.
They used Ring of Honor announcer Bobby Cruise to do the introductions for this match. Caprice Coleman from ROH was on commentary as well. Konosuke Takeshita made his entrance looking ready to go. Takeshita is 9-5 in AEW with Excalibur noting that Takeshita was on a US excursion for just over three months. Coleman noted he has been in the sport for nine years. Claudio Castagnoli was next upas the ROH World Champion joined by Wheeler Yuta and William Regal from the Blackpool Combat Club. Regal joined the commentary team for this match while Yuta went to the back. Tony was gone by this point, so they had four announcers for this match.
If you watched Rampage (I know that not a lot of people do), then you might recall Jim Ross saying repeatedly he thought this was going to be match of the year contender. Keep in mind that Battle of the Belts was taped before a live Rampage, so it was after JR saw the match.
Ring of Honor World Championship: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Konosuke Takeshita
They shook hands to start the match since that’s the Code of Honor. They each went for some big moves, but neither guy connected while countering eachother. Regal said that Takeshita is 26 years old now and he started at 18 years old while putting over how impressive he is. They locked hands leading to Claudio doing a monkey flip across the ring. The fans applauded while the announcers loved it. There was crowd noise, but they didn’t have the fans mic’d up very well or like how they do it on Dynamite. Takeshita did a hip toss. Claudio got a headlock, then he was free leading to a shoulder tackle and Takeshita managed to hit a jumping side kick. Claudio was on the floor, Takeshita missed a leap over the top because Claudio moved, but Takeshita hit him with a forearm to the face. Claudio hit two backbreakers while Takeshita was selling a lower back injury. They went to a picture-in-picture break.
The match returned with Claudio running into an elbow, which led to Takeshita hitting a hurricanrana off the turnbuckle. Takeshita ran the ropes leading to a leaping clothesline. Claudio charged, Takeshita pulled down the top rope to send Claudio to the floor and Takeshita followed up with a somersault dive over the top onto Claudio. Takeshita went up top, but Claudio got back up leading to a gutwrench suplex off the top for a two count. That was some incredible power from Claudio as usual. Claudio delivered the DREADED GIANT SWING~! That led to about ten revolutions by Claudio leading to a two count. Claudio with a running elbow in the corner, Takeshita with a reversal leading to a running kick and a Blue Thunder Bomb. The announcers mentioned El Generico earlier (Sami Zayn in WWE) and Takeshita just did two Sami-like moves with the running corner kick and Blue Thunder Bomb. I’m not being critical. I don’t mind it at all. They are great moves. Claudio fought back with an elbow that sent Takeshita to the apron. Takeshita sent Claudio into the top turnbuckle, then Takeshita was on the turnbuckle and he delivered a turnbuckle DDT sending Claudio’s head into the top turnbuckle. You don’t see that very often. Takeshita jumped off the top with a Frog Splash for a two count. It wasn’t a perfect move because it looked like he came up a bit short, but Takeshita got enough of it. Claudio blocked a knee strike, Takeshita ran the ropes, jumped in the air and Claudio hit an uppercut for a two count. Claudio applied the Sharpshooter with Excalibur calling it the Scorpion Death Lock instead and Claudio wanted a Crossface, but Takeshita rolled out of it for a two count. Takeshita avoided a forearm, Takeshita hit a German Suplex, Claudio popped right up and hit a clothesline leading to Takeshita hitting another German Suplex along with a lariat that got a two count by Takeshita. The fans gave them a standing ovation while the announcers put over that sequence. Claudio with an uppercut, Takeshita with a backslide pin for two, a knee to the face and a brainbuster got another two count for Takeshita. Takeshita with an elbow to the jaw, then he decided to sell the back injury and Takeshita got a sunset flip for two. Claudio hit a diving uppercut followed by a double stomp to the chest. Claudio went for a Ricola Bomb, but Takeshita reversed into a hurricanrana where he sat on top for the two count. They did a sequence where they ran the ropes, Takeshita went for a running knee, but Claudio caught him and hit a Death Valley Driver. That was really impressive with Taz saying that was so hard to do. I believe it. They exchanged strikes, Claudio jumped off the ropes and hit an uppercut. Claudio with the lariat, then the hammer elbows to the jaw and a Ricola Bomb for the pinfall win after 20 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Claudio Castagnoli
Analysis: ****1/4 This was an awesome match. The best AEW match that I saw in the last week. It featured a lot of great moves, counters, they sold well and Takeshita looked like he might win even though we know going on they were not going to have Claudio drop the title already. Claudio took a pounding on his neck with a lot of hard bumps. They also got a lot of time, so they were able to go at a slow pace in the first half before really picking up the pace later. They really did a nice job in the final few minutes of giving Takeshita some spots where it looked like he was going to win. You want to see nearfalls like that to build up the finish because it leads to the crowd getting into the match more and that’s what happened here. Claudio found a way to win, but Takeshita took him to the limit for sure. Takeshita continues to impress. I really think AEW needs to lock him up with a long-term contract if they’re able and he’s willing to sign.
(On a personal note, every time I write about a Claudio match in AEW, I have to check to see how many times I write “Cesaro” before I hit publish. This time I can say I didn’t do it once! Nice. I’ll give myself a Horowitz pat on the back for that!)
Post match, Claudio Castagnoli sold the physicality of the match as he celebrated with his title. The announcers plugged what’s coming up on Dynamite. They had no time for replays. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: I would love to see a rematch down the road. If it happened on Dynamite then a lot more people would see it, but I’m telling you that if you missed it then you should seek it out.
Three Stars of the Show
- Claudio Castagnoli
- Konosuke Takeshita
I’ll give it a 7.25 out of 10.
A good show overall that was very simple because it was all about the in-ring action. The match between Claudio and Takeshita was amazing. Easily the best AEW match of the week. Even though we know a champion isn’t going to lose on a show like this, Takeshita was very convincing as a challenger that got a lot of nearfalls and nearly won a few times. Claudio took a lot of bumps on the head/neck, but he came back to win. I would love to see a rematch down the road. If it happened on Dynamite then a lot more people would see it, but I’m telling you that if you missed it then you should seek it out.
Wardlow’s match with Jay Lethal was kept short with a post match angle to suggest Wardlow still has to deal with Jay’s group. The women’s match with Thunder Rosa beating Jamie Hayter was a hard-hitting match. I don’t think Rosa’s title reign has been that interesting, but AEW really does a poor job in terms of their storylines for the women.
It was really just about three matches. There were no promos or interviews. Just the three title matches filling up one hour. Simple as that.
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