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AEW BATTLE OF THE BELTS 2 HITS & MISSES
Sammy Guevara Defeated Scorpio Sky – HIT
This match had great action throughout. Sky and Guevara had good chemistry with each other. Both performers have wrestled each other a few times over the last few years as members of SCU/Men of the Year/Inner Circle, but seeing them work in singles matches in recent weeks is a treat. They both have a great way of getting from one spot to the next in a smooth fashion that makes it easy to focus on their story in the ring.
Guevara using a low blow seemed to indicate the start of a heel turn. Taz and Excalibur were putting over winning in such a dirty fashion with a dirty tactic. Reports from the taping last night seemed to indicate that Sammy and Tay teased going through the heel tunnel before ultimately going through the face one, and I’m glad they didn’t show that. It would’ve flown in the face of the commentators analysis and just been confusing to the viewer. If they want to slow play a heel turn, that’s fine. As long as they get there.
Jonathan Gresham/Dalton Castle Video Segment – MINOR HIT
I’m glad they put this together as a pre match appetizer. AEW hasn’t done much to promote this match beyond corner of the screen promos during matches. Being able to hear the elevator pitches for both Jonathan Gresham and Dalton Castle was a good way of introducing both to a crowd of fans who may not know who they are.
Jonathan Gresham Defeated Dalton Castle – HIT
This match was fun right from the performer entrances. I was worried that Dalton Castle’s elaborate entrance wouldn’t get over in front of a larger crowd, and I was pleasantly surprised that fans seemed to like it. Gresham and his Lovecraftian-styled mask is always a treat.
The action in the ring was good, and I wanted to really like it, but this match had spots that were too cute and pulled me out of engaging with the match.
Gresham is an athletic marvel. His ability to blend different styles, from power to lucha, and smash them together into something all his own is impressive. He and Castle have some history and the chemistry was there. There were two specific moments during this match that occurred that really ruined the flow of this match for me. One was repeated chop dodges in the corner, and the other was repeated shifting roll-ups. Normally these are fine and can be great ways to build tension and show performers’ similarity in talent, but these both lasted way too long and bordered on comical. Ending the match with a mat based sequence with a tap out by Castle was a great touch.
Post Match Angle with Sonjay Dutt, Jay Lethal, Satnam Singh, Lee Moriarty and Samoa Joe – MAJOR HIT
This was the proper way to introduce Satnam Singh. Having him join Lethal and Dutt from the tunnel really showed how large he really is. Singh also showcased more physically. His double choke slam wasn’t bad, and throwing Castle into the barrier had a particular urgency, setting him apart from other performers. I would’ve liked a longer shot comparing the height discrepancy between Gresham and Satnam, but the segment worked well regardless.
Nyla Rose/Thunder Rosa Video Segment – HIT
AEW is especially good at these short video segments, and it worked well in setting up this match. If you saw the flat backstage segment between both wrestlers on Dynamite, this would’ve helped you go into the match with a better frame of mind. This segment did a good job in setting up their story without showcasing bad segments.
Thunder Rosa Defeated Nyla Rose – MINOR HIT
The action and story of the match worked well. Rosa was fiery in her performance, and Rose showcased her devastating style. Rosa did well in playing the underdog, unable to find an answer for Rose’s power.
The ending on this match felt rushed. I know the story being told meant a quick finish was likely, but they didn’t even go to a replay of the ending of the match or highlights from the match. The ending worked, but I’d like to see both women given a little more time.
Overall – HIT
This was a fun, compact little show. It felt distinctly different from Dynamite due to the shortened program time, but I felt like it did more with less. Having the video segments before the Women’s and ROH title matches was a very small touch, but worked really well in giving the viewer a basic idea of the match buildup if they missed it. Stuff like that is really important in retaining and building an audience base, and I hope it’s the kind of thing Tony Khan tries working into Dynamite proper.