Reviews

The John Report: AEW Battle of the Belts 01/08/22 Review

aew battle of the belts jan 8

The first-ever AEW Battle of Belts special aired on Saturday night on TNT with a runtime of one hour and it had three title matches.

It’s Saturday night and you know what that means. The pyro went off in the building with Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone and Excalibur welcoming us to the show. They are the Dynamite crew. The show is taking place from the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dustin Rhodes made his entrance first with Arn Anderson joining him. Sammy Guevara was up next as the opponent and a former TNT Champion that was 10-2 in 2021 in singles match. This is for the Interim TNT Championship because the TNT Champion Cody Rhodes is not cleared to compete, but he should be back soon. They showed some local racing guy named Humpy Wheeler and former wrestling executive David Crockett to present the Interim TNT Championship to the winner.

Interim TNT Championship: Sammy Guevara vs. Dustin Rhodes (w/Arn Anderson)

They shook hands to start the match. Dustin first competed in this match over 30 years ago, which was before Sammy was alive. Dustin and Sammy exchanged hiptosses, they each delivered kicks and then they got back up and had a staredown. They were doing some lockup spot, then Dustin needed a break and they paused for a bit. Sammy showed off his speed again as he avoided a powerslam and jumped over Dustin to avoid an attack. Sammy with an uppercut followed by a dropkick that sent Dustin out of the ring. Sammy sent Dustin into the barricade, he did a gun gesture to Arn, who gave him a middle finger. Arn rules! The wrestlers exchanged chops on the floor and Sammy sent Dustin into the barricade. The referee Aubrey Edwards was doing a very slow count, then Dustin sent Sammy’s knee into the steel steps and she left the ring to check on Sammy. Dustin gave Sammy a piledriver on floor. They were probably outside for over one minute. Dustin went back into the ring so the referee actually counted in the proper way and Sammy got back in before the ten count. Dustin got a cover for a two count. They went to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

Dustin with a perfect-looking powerslam for a two count. Dustin with the ten punches, then he teased a Goldust taunt and didn’t do it. Sammy countered a monkey flip with a shove followed by a clothesline as Dustin did a flip bump. Sammy was selling a left knee injury. The announcers talked about a countout while the referee doesn’t even administer a count. Sammy did a double springboard with a twisting splash onto a standing Dustin on the floor. That was wild. Sammy with a jumping kick to the head, then Dustin was in the ring and Sammy went for springboard Cutter, but Dustin blocked. Dustin hit the Cross Roads neckbreaker for a two count. Sammy sold that so well. Dustin with a kick to the gut leading to the Code Red (or Sunset Bomb) for a two count. Dustin to the middle rope for nothing, Sammy punched him and Sammy hit the GTH knee to the head for a two count. Fuego Del Sol, who is Sammy’s best friend, appeared from under the ring and set up a table beside the ring. Arn confronted Feugo, so Fuego went up the ramp to the back. Sammy and Dustin fought on the apron by the table, Sammy with a pump kick, Dustin with a kick and Dustin hit a Canadian Destroyer through a table. That was a crazy spot that looked like it was done perfectly. A move like that should be a disqualification normally, but the match continues. They went back into the ring for a two count. Dustin hit Cross Roads two times on Sammy with no cover. Why would he not cover? It’s kinda silly. Dusty teased a Tiger Driver that Cody does, but Sammy hit a superkick, Dustin with a kick and then they did a double clothesline. They exchanged pin attempts with each guy doing sunset flip pin attempts about two times each, then Sammy managed to hold Dustin down for three and Sammy got the pinfall win after 15 minutes.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW Interim TNT Champion: Sammy Guevara

Analysis: ***1/2 A pretty good match with some crazy spots and they probably could have ended the match sooner instead of no-selling multiple Cross Roads and table bumps. I don’t get why you need a table spot in a regular match. I get that it pops the crowd, but I mean you can still have a good match without doing that kind of garbage spot. I find it weird that an older guy like Dustin Rhodes feels the need to use a table spot in a match that’s supposed to be a regular match. Anyway, Sammy’s win should lead to that match against Cody soon with the winner keeping the TNT Championship.

Post match, David Crockett presented Sammy with the Interim TNT Championship. Dustin hugged Sammy after the match.

Daniel Garcia went into the ring to get in Sammy’s face after Dustin left the ring. Garcia slapped Sammy, so Sammy slapped back and they got into a bit of a brawl until it was broken up by the AEW referees. The crowd barely reacted to this.

(Commercial)

A video aired showing some Dynamite highlights featuring the wins of Jade Cargill as the new TBS Champion, Jungle Boy/Luchasaurus becoming Tag Team Champions and Hangman Page beating Bryan Danielson to keep the AEW World Title.

Sammy Guevara was interviewed by Tony Schiavone. Sammy said he didn’t give a shit about Daniel Garcia. Sammy said this title is about open challenges, so he’ll defend the title against Daniel Garcia on Dynamite on Wednesday night.

Matt Sydal entered with a 23-12 record. Taz was on commentary for this match featuring his Team Taz guy Ricky Starks as the FTW Champion. Starks had Powerhouse Hobbs with him. Starks was 37-8 in AEW. This is Ricky’s first televised match in over three months. I know he had a neck injury earlier last year, but I assume he’s been healthy after that and they just don’t use him enough.

FTW Championship: Ricky Starks (w/Powerhouse Hobbs) vs. Matt Sydal

Sydal started with strikes, Starks hit a back elbow, Sydal with a jumping kick and a standing splash for a two count. Starks hit a spinning slam. Starks charged, Sydal got his boots up and Starks bailed to the floor near Hobbs. That led to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

Starks was in control with a running elbow, clothesline and a spinning uranage slam. Sydal came back with a dropkick and then a running knee attack against the turnbuckle. Sydal with a hurricanrana off the top followed by a Michinoku Driver for two. Starks went for a power move, Sydal got out of it with a knee to the face, then Sydal with a roundhouse kick and a Lightning Spiral slam for two. The crowd barely reacted to it while Excalibur a was screaming about it as some great near fall. Sydal went up top and got a double knee attack for two with Starks getting his foot on the bottom rope. Starks and Sydal ran off the ropes leading to Starks getting a Spear. Starks hit the Roshambo slam off the shoulders for the pinfall win after nine minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ricky Starks

Analysis: **1/4 This was just an average match. The crowd barely reacted to this match because they know the FTW Title feels meaningless in AEW. The lack of a story hurt and they didn’t get that much time. Starks could be a big deal in AEW, but they don’t use him enough. Sydal is mostly there to get good matches out of the younger talent and make them look good.

After the match, Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs went after Sydal with some kicks. Lee Moriarty ran out to save to no reaction and Hobbs knocked him down easily. Dante Martin ran out to the ring to knock down Starks on the floor. Martin with a kick on Hobbs and a shotgun dropkick sent Hobbs through the ropes.

Analysis: Basic pro wrestling booking here. The crowd barely reacted to that just like the match that was before it.

They did a rundown for AEW Dynamite in Raleigh, NC on Wednesday.

* CM Punk vs. Wardlow

* Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Dante Martin

* Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb

* Sammy Guevara defends the Interim TNT Championship vs. Daniel Garcia

The Women’s Title main event was up next.

(Commercial)

A video aired about how Riho beat Dr. Britt Baker in a match in November to earn this title shot and Baker has yet to beat Riho.

Riho made her entrance as the challenger with a 23-5 record. Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. was joined by Jamie Hayter and Rebel with the fans reacting to Baker with a pop while chanting the “DMD” part of the name right on cue. Britt’s singles record is 19-2. Tony was back on commentary while Taz was gone.

Analysis: I looked it up on ProfightDB to see that Britt’s last title defense was at Full Gear two months ago. Her next two matches were losses including a tag match on Rampage on Friday. It would be nice if they did at least one title defense per month with this title. I’d say that for every title in wrestling. There doesn’t have to be a “30-day rule” but at least have champions defend the titles a bit more often.

AEW Women’s Championship: Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. (w/Jamie Hayter & Rebel) vs. Riho

Some fans woke up after the last match with some chants for both women. Riho hit two dropkicks that led to Baker regrouping on the floor. Riho went up top and jumped onto Rebel with a cross body block on the floor. Baker with a Slingblade neckbreaker on Riho on the floor after Hayter was talking to Riho. Hayter grabbed a table from under the ring. The wrestlers were out of the ring for well over a minute when the referee decided to start a count. That’s not the right way to referee a wrestling match. Riho with a Dragon Suplex on the floor and Riho hit a running dropkick on Hayter, who was trying to set up a table. They went back into the ring with Riho hitting a dropkick, but then Baker came back with a neckbreaker into the turnbuckle. They went to a picture in picture break.

(Commercial)

The match returned with about eight minutes left as Riho evaded a pin attempt and got a double foot stomp to the ribs. Riho with boots to the face, then a headscissors takeover and a running kick or knee against the turnbuckle. Riho with a drop toe hold into the ropes leading to the 619 (or Tiger Feint Kick but most people know it as a 619 by Rey Mysterio) for a two count. Riho with a weak leg submission with Baker easily getting to the ropes. Baker was near the ropes, Riho went up top and Rebel pulled Baker to the apron. The referee should eject Rebel right away, but they had to set up a spot with Riho jumping with a double foot stomp on Rebel’s back. JR: “Can’t allow that.” Yeah well, it’s AEW. Riho missed a move off the top, Baker with a forearm and the Air Raid Crash slam. Baker put on her black glove, Riho avoided The Stomp, then they exchanges strikes and Baker reversed a suplex. Baker went for the Lockjaw, but Riho made it to the ropes. Rebel and Hayter pulled Riho’s hands off the ropes while the referee saw it. JR: “I’ve seen enough, get them out of here.” Sorry Jim, it’s AEW refereeing. Riho countered a Lockjaw attempt and simply went for a regular pin for two. Baker hit The Stomp for a two count. Good nearfall there with Riho selling that really well. Hayter was on the apron and she dropped the title in the ring. Rebel handed Baker the title, so the referee Paul Turner finally ejected Rebel. Hayter got on the apron to argue with Baker. Riho with a knee to Baker’s back to knock Hayter down. Riho with a Crucifix Bomb and then a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Riho charged, but Baker bent back and got her feet up to kick Riho away. Baker with a kick to the face, then The Stomp and Riho barely kicked out. Baker applied the Lockjaw submission with Riho tapping out for the loss after 13 minutes.

Winner by submission: Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D.

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a solid match that was a bit too overbooked by the end of it. They want to try to push the story of Baker having problems with Hayter, but then it hurt the booking of the match. They also need to do fewer spots in matches where referees are made to look like inept morons although sadly that’s a problem that has existed in AEW for three years. The spot where they had Hayter on the apron to argue with Baker seemed to be a bit too much. At least they got a good nearfall after that. Baker winning was no surprise. The fans do like Riho at least, but I think AEW has to work on building some babyface women for Baker to feud with in the months ahead.

Baker celebrated the win while Tony was excited about the win while Excalibur said it was a tainted win. As Baker celebrated, Hayter and Rebel argued about who got to present Britt wit the title. Hayter handed Britt the title and the three women hugged. They must be on the same page for now. That was the end of the show.

Analysis: I assume the long-term story with Baker is that she’ll continue to have minor problems with Hayter. When they get to Revolution PPV in March, Baker will probably drop the AEW Women’s Title to Thunder Rosa and then Baker can feud with Hayter after that.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Sammy Guevara
  2. Dustin Rhodes
  3. Britt Baker/Riho

 

Final Thoughts

I’ll call it a 6 out of ten. It felt like Rampage-lite. Two matches above three stars, but it was not a must-see show by any means, nor did it have any big angles. A lot of AEW’s top stars were nowhere to be seen. Putting the FTW Title on the show was a poor decision.

This was the first-ever Battle of Belts special, but it didn’t feel like a big deal at all. The Baker/Riho match was built up well while the others were not. I realize that Cody being absent hurt the match that Sammy Guevara had, but it’s not like they had much of a story there either. Dustin Rhodes always tries hard, so it’s not like he had a bad showing.

If they do Battle of the Belts again this year, I hope it’s two hours and I hope they get more of AEW’s more important titles on the show.

Thanks for reading. You can contact me using any of the methods below.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport