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AEW BATTLE OF THE BELTS REPORT
JANUARY 8, 2022
CHARLOTTE, NC AT BOJANGLES COLISEUM
AIRED ON TNT
REPORT BY TYLER SAGE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Excalibur
(1) SAMMY GUEVARA vs. DUSTIN RHODES – INTERIM TNT CHAMPIONSHIP
Sammy and Dustin shook hands and then started a back and forth sequence, that led them to stare down in the ring. The two men then walked in a circle as the crowd chanted back and fourth. Dustin Rhodes asked for a break and put his hands on his knees and then hit a drop punch. Dustin then ran the ropes as Sammy jumped and then did a back flip over Rhodes. Sammy hit a dropkick to send Dustin out of the ring.
On the outside of the ring, Sammy continued working over Dustin, he then did finger guys at Arn Anderson and got a middle finger for his troubles. Dustin then took over and hit chops and then slammed Sammy’s knee into the ringside stairs. Rhodes followed that up with a piledriver on the outside. Dustin rolled in the ring and tried to win via count-out, Sammy beat the count as the break started. [c]
When the show returned Dustin was able to hit a power slam for a two count on Sammy. Rhodes then laid down punches on Sammy from the middle rope. Sammy countered with a clothesline, leaving both men winded and on their knees in opposite corners. Dustin rolled out and was coached by Anderson. Sammy did a spinning flip out onto Dustin, he then threw Dustin back in the ring. Sammy tried for a springboard cutter, he was caught by Dustin, who hit a Crossroads for a near fall.
Both men were laying on the mat, Dustin was the first to get up and hit a code red on Sammy for a near fall. Dustin went to the middle rope. Sammy picked up Dustin and hit the GTH, for a near fall on Rhodes. Fuego Del Sol emerged from under the ring and set up a table on the outside. The two men battled on the apron and Dustin hit a Canadian Destroyer onto the table. Dustin rolled Sammy into the ring and got a two count on Sammy. Dustin then hit two Crossroads and went for a tiger driver. Sammy then came to life and hit a pump kick, sending both men to the mat.
Dustin was the first to get up, the men traded pin attempts. Sammy then got a three count after a series of back and fourth pins.
WINNER: Sammy Guevara in 17:00
(Sage’s Analysis: A really good match, that felt PPV worthy. The psychology was really strong throughout, until the very end. I know that Sammy is a feature act, but no one should be kicking out of a Destroyer through a table and then two crossroads. Just don’t do one of those two and it would have worked. But, Sammy has really great chemistry with Cody and Dustin so this story has a lot of potential in my opinion. This match made lemonade, from lemons.)
-Post match, Dustin and Sammy hugged. Daniel Garcia entered the ring and began to fight with Sammy. The two brawled and were pulled apart. [c]
-A recap of Wednesday nights Dynamite was shown. Tony was backstage with Sammy and he said he would take on Garcia next week on Dynamite.
(2) RICKY STARKS (c) vs. MATT SYDAL – FTW CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Starks and Sydal got in each others faces and then Matt Sydal hit some leg kicks and then hit a standing flip after a series of holds by Sydal. Matt Sydal got a two count and then hit some more kicks, before Ricky Starks hit a slam on Sydal. Starks rolled to the outside, and Sydal followed. But, Powerhouse Hobbs stood and blocked Sydal from advancing further. [c]
When the show returned Streaks was in control and hit a head kick for a two count. Sydal hit a series of leg kicks, then head kicks, finishing the flurry with a cannonball into the corner. Sydal and Starks were on the top rope, Sydal hit a hurricanrana and then a driver for a two count once more on Starks.
Starks then get a gut wrench hold, but sold his injured legs. Sydal then hit a series of moves for a near fall. Sydal then hit a double knee from the top rope, the pin was stopped by Starks grabbing the bottom rope. Starks then hit a spear off of a rebound, Starks then hit the Rochambeau for the pinfall win.
WINNER: Ricky Starks in 10:00
(Sage’s Analysis: An odd match in a lot of ways, but I did enjoy it. It was strange to see Sydal in the traditional heel role. By that I mean he had 80% of the offense during the televised portions of the match. He also wore down Starks, but it was Starks who hit a big move to pin him quickly. Which I like in terms of making Starks look good, he won even on an off night type of story. This match felt like when CM Punk was having matches that he should have won easily, but they were 10 minute matches.)
-Post match Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs beat up Sydal. Lee Moriarty and Dante Martin ran to the ring to make the save.
-The announce team ran down next week’s card for Dynamite and Rampage. [c]
-A video package to hype the upcoming match was shown.
(3) BRITT BAKER (c) vs. RIHO – AEW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Britt Baker took Riho to the mat as soon as the match started, Riho rolled away and both women were back on their feet. Riho hit a drop kick to send Baker to the outside. Riho dove to the outside and hit a crossbody on Rebel. Baker, who had dodged the crossbody, continued to assault Riho. Jamie Hayter brought out a table and Riho countered and took out Hayter in the process. Back in the ring, Riho hit a drop kick off the top rope. Baker countered and began to stomp Riho as the break started. [c]
Riho hit a double foot stomp as part of a comeback when the show returned. Riho was in the corner and used her feet to fend of Baker, which led to a big knee by Riho and then a drop toe hold that led to a Tiger Fade Kick on Baker that led to a two count pinning attempt. Riho then locked in a submission and Baker was able to get to the rope to break the hold. Baker was laying flat on the apron, Rebel laid on top of her and took a double foot stomp from Riho.
Baker then hit the Ripcord and then got the glove form Rebel for the Lockjaw submission. Riho was able to get to the ropes and avoid the first attempt of said hold. Riho then countered and got a two count on Baker. Britt then hit a curb stomp and got a near fall on Riho. After this Hayter threw the belt in the ring, the ref also threw Rebel out of the arena. Riho took advantage and pushed Baker into Hayter. Riho then hit two moves and got a near fall.
Baker hit an uptick and then another curb stomp for a near fall, she then transitioned and hit the Lockjaw and got Riho to tap out.
WINNER: Britt Baker in 13:00
(Sage’s Analysis: A good main event with a well told story between the heel and her minions vs the undersized babyface. I thought both women worked well off of each other and the match itself had believable near falls and moments where it was believable that Baker would lose.)
Final Thoughts: When Battle of the Belts was first announced everyone and their mother compared it to WCW’s Clash of the Champions. While this was not that, and the event itself has seemed like a low priority event from the AEW marketing and promotion team, I enjoyed this hour of wrestling and think 4 Saturday’s a year that have this type of show is great and I look forward to more Battle of the Belts shows in the future.