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Winfree’s AEW Battle of the Belts Review 1.08.22

January 8, 2022 | Posted by Robert Winfree
AEW Battle of the Belts
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Winfree’s AEW Battle of the Belts Review 1.08.22  

Hey there everyone, it’s time for an AEW quarterly TV special. Tonight we’ve allegedly got three title fights, but one is an interim title and one is the FTW title. I’m not sure how interim titles will work in the world of professional wrestling, but I guess poorly though I imagine Sammy Guevara taking on Dustin Rhodes will be a fine enough match. We’ve also got Ricky Starks defending the FTW title against Matt Sydal. The only real title match tonight sees Dr. Britt Baker defending her women’s title against former champion Riho.

Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Excalibur are on commentary for the evening.

Match #1 – Interim TNT Title Match: Dustin Rhodes w/ Arn Anderson vs. Sammy Guevara

Both men stare off, then we get a handshake before they start circling. Dustin with a shoulder block then an arm drag but Sammy counters with a hip toss and we get a stand off. Another bit of circling as we get dueling chants for both men. Sammy grabs a side headlock then they hit the ropes but Dustin stops him by asking for a second then doubles over catching his breath as Sammy waits on the ropes. Dustin with a quick couple of strikes then they hit the ropes but again neither man can find offense. Dustin is still loosely selling his gas tank issues. Sammy with a few strikes then a drop kick to send Dustin out of the ring. Sammy follows Dustin out of the ring and tosses him into the barricade then he and Arn Anderson trade rude gestures. Dustin fights back and they trade chops on the floor with Sammy getting the better of things. Again Dustin fights back and slams the knee of Sammy into the ring steps. Dustin sets for a piledriver on the floor and hits it. Dustin heads into the ring and Sammy now has to try and beat the count back into the ring. Sammy takes until the count of 9 but he does beat the count.

We go picture in picture for the commercial break. They immediately go back to the floor with Dustin stalking Sammy before they head to the ring. Dustin starts going for the compromised knee of Sammy. We come back as both men are trading rights then Dustin hits a snap powerslam for a 2 count. Dustin sets for a 10 punch in the corner and gets it then Sammy avoids a monkey flip and hits a clothesline that sends Dustin rolling out of the ring. Now it’s Sammy who’s happy to take the count out win as Dustin struggles to get into the ring. Sammy decides he’s not waiting and hits a double springboard dive onto Dustin. Back into the ring and Sammy hits an enziguri then a springboard cutter attempt but Dustin catches him and drills him with a Cross Rhodes for a near fall. Dustin gets back to his feet, hits a Cod Red but again only a 2 count. Dustin slowly climbs the ropes, not sure what he’s doing but Sammy catches him and hits the GTH but again only a near fall and Dustin rolls out of the ring. Sammy is in disbelief but here comes Fuego del Sol from under the ring and gets a table that he sets up on the outside. Arn waddles over and confronts Fuego, miming pulling out the Glock and Fuego heads away. Sammy and Dustin are on the apron, Sammy wants a Spanish Fly but Dustin fights him off. Sammy hits a pump kick, Dustin then with a gut shot and a Canadian Destroyer from the apron through the table and everyone’s down. Dustin drags Sammy back into the ring, but his cover only gets a near fall. Dustin hits another Cross Rhodes, rolls through and hits a second consecutive one then drags Sammy up and wants the Tiger Driver ’98 but Sammy avoids it and hits a super kick. A super kick from Dustin then we get a double clothesline spot. They hit the ropes, then trade roll ups and Sammy eventually gets both of his legs over the arms of Dustin on a Sunset pin and gets the win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Sammy Guevara became the interim TNT champion

Rating: 3.5 stars

That was really good for the most part, but a bit over stuffed. Call me old fashioned but there are some things that, if they’re not going to end a match, should be left in the bag and a Canadian Destroyer off the apron through a table to the floor is one of those things. I do need to note though, Dustin Rhodes is a hero for doing all that at his age. I salute you sir.

Post match Dustin and Sammy have a hug. Once Dustin has left here comes Daniel Garcia to get in Sammy’s face, and we get a pull apart brawl between the two of them to send us to break.

Sammy Guevara is with Schiavone when we come back, he has some harsh words for Daniel Garcia but is willing to defend his interim title just like it was the real one.

Taz has joined commentary for our next match, replacing Schiavone.

Match #2 – FTW Title Match: (c) Ricky Starks w/ Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Matt Sydal

Starks and Sydal get right after it, Sydal laying in strikes but he runs into a back elbow then hits a hurricanrana and a jumping roundhouse. Awkward sweep from Sydal then a standing mariposa for a 2 count. More leg kicks from Sydal then Starks catches him with a release Blue Thunder Bomb. Sydal sends Starks out of the ring then follows him but Hobbs is around there and stands between Sydal and Starks as we go picture in picture.

Sydal keeps brawling with Starks on the floor, then Starks takes over with a tiger feint kick spinning on the mat. Starks is still limping as they head back into the ring, he goes for a 10 punch in the corner but Sydal counters with an inverted atomic drop and lays in chops. Body shots from Starks land and he drops Sydal with them. Starks beings working the lower back of Sydal with strikes and is still in control as we come back to action. Sambo suplex from Starks gets a 2 count. Sydal lands a couple of leg kicks then a question mark kick to the head. Running knee strike in the corner from Sydal then he sets Starks on the top rope and climbs up with him. Starks fights Sydal off, wants a top rope Roshambo but Sydal avoids that and hits a top rope hurricanrana then a kneeling Michinoku Driver for a 2 count. Starks fights out of a pinning position then his leg gives out trying for Roshambo. Sydal with a knee strike then a kick to the head and the Lightning Spiral for a near fall. Starks missed his timing on that kick out, credit to the ref for saving that. Sydal up top, top rope Meteora connects but Starks gets into the ropes on the cover to break it up. Starks avoids a knee strike, they hit the ropes then Starks hits the Spear, then the Roshambo to retain.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Ricky Starks retained the FTW title

Rating: 3 stars

The inconsistent selling from Starks was an issue, as was the very predictable outcome, but this was smoothly executed and that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Post match Starks and Hobbs jump Sydal and beat him down in the corner. Here comes Lee Moriarty to attack Starks but Hobbs lays him down with a body block. Dante Martin is next, he takes down Starks then goes face to face with Hobbs. Hobbs no sells the strikes of Martin but Martin hits a few kicks to send him out of the ring. There’s an awkward spot where Starks should be holding Hobbs back but misses his cue just a bit. Everyone points and yells as we head to break.

Schiavone has returned to commentary for our main event.

Match #3 – AEW Women’s Title Match: (c) Dr. Britt Baker w/ Jamie Hayter and Rebel vs. Riho

Baker with a quick headlock takeover. Rebel with a quick cheap shot, as does Hayter and that allows Baker to take over and hit a shoulder block. Riho hits a couple of drop kicks and Baker takes a powder, then Riho heads up top and hits a cross body onto Rebel. Riho gets distracted on the outside by Hayter which allows Baker to hit a Sling Blade and get back in control. Hayter and Baker get under the ring, they find a table but Riho from behind hits a Dragon Suplex on Baker then a drop kick to Hayter with a little assist from the table. Things head back into the ring, Riho heads back up top and hits a drop kick, but when she tries to follow up Baker hits a Flatliner into the corner. Baker starts arguing with Hayter again as we head to picture in picture.

Baker continues stomping on Riho then hits a butterfly suplex for a 2 count. More stomps from Baker then she lays in strikes in the corner. Suplex from Baker, then another one. Some mounted punches from Baker then she moves to working a cravat and landing knee strikes. Riho avoids a German suplex and hits a double stomp to the body as we come back to live action. Baker avoids a suplex then they trade elbows. Riho lands a kick out of the corner, then another one and hits a head scissors takeover. Knee from Riho, then Baker avoids a Northern Lights suplex but gets drop toe held into the ropes and Riho hits a 619 for a 2 count. Riho grabs a half Boston crab then bridges back for more leverage and Baker has to use the ropes to save herself. Riho goes up top but Rebel pulls Baker to the apron and shields her with her body, Riho decides to oblige her desire for self sacrifice and double stomps Rebel. Back up top for Riho, but Baker avoids the double stomp and this a ripcord roaring elbow then an Air Raid Crash for a near fall. Rebel hands over the glove, Riho avoids a Stomp and they trade strikes. Riho tries a Dragon suplex, Baker counters into the Lockjaw but Riho gets the ropes to force a break. Baker rolls Riho into the middle of the ring and grabs the Lockjaw, but Riho keeps countering until Baker hits the Curb Stomp but Riho kicks out at 2. Hayter comes into the ring and tosses Baker the belt, then Rebel hands it to her but the ref sees it and ejects Rebel. Baker and Hayter start arguing, Riho comes from behind and hits a kick then a Crucifix Bomb, and Northern Lights suplex follows but Baker saves her title kicking out at 2. Riho wants the Somato but Baker blocks it with a double kick. They trade counters then Baker hits a super kick and another Curb Stomp but still can’t pin Riho so she goes into the Lockjaw and Riho has to tap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Dr. Britt Baker retained the AEW Women’s Title

Rating: 3 stars

Slightly generous rating, this match kind of died in the middle and most of it was over booked in ways that weren’t entertaining.

Post match Hayter and Rebel argue about who gives Baker the belt but they all wind up hugging to end the show.

The final score: review Good
The 411
A solid hour of action overall. The first match suffered from trying to do too much, and the last was a bit overbooked with a dead middle segment and a confused focus. The middle match was a decent one, but Starks is clearly still getting his feet back under him after the injury.