A TV Special from AEW
When AEW last ran a Battle of the Belts show (akin to WCW’s Clash of the Champions) AEW had just re-introduced Ring of Honor and used that show as somewhat of a showcase for ROH talent as well as giving Scorpio Sky and Thunder Rosa some early high-profile matches. Battle of the Belts III seems to be constructed in the same general format with a Women’s Title match, an ROH Title match, and a TNT Title match fleshing out the show. TNT has designed this show as a way to get some eyes on what the product is like when they do pay-per-views, just in a “free” setting on Cable TV. Fans are promised a show with nothing but title matches, and generally everything has been solid since its inception. The Covid-19 pandemic somewhat ruined for first iteration of Battle of the Belts, and the follow up was leagues better by default – tonight we will look at how Battle of the Belts III stacks up, in both concept and execution.
- 1 Wardlow (c) defeated Jay Lethal (with Sonjay Dutt and Satnam Singh) by pinfall Singles match for the AEW TNT Championship 7:21
- 2 Thunder Rosa (c) (with Toni Storm) defeated Jamie Hayter (with Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. and Rebel) by pinfall Singles match for the AEW Women’s World Championship 11:31
- 3 Claudio Castagnoli (c) (with William Regal) defeated Konosuke Takeshita by pinfall Singles match for the ROH World Championship 19:59
As I’ve stated before, my methodology for this is to avoid giving arbitrary star ratings or anything resembling the typical ratings people give in wrestling reviews. I usually go through the show and pull a few things that I thought were significant or that I liked. You might think some of my choices are dumb and that’s okay – we all like different things!
Gotta Love Wardlow:
Big men that get pushed to the moon are generally not my jam, largely because the way WWE does it is always unnatural and at a complete counter to what the WWE fanbase actually wants at any given time. AEW has, for the first time since Goldberg, a true shot at a monster babyface and I’m all for it! I think the biggest reason Wardlow has worked out is that we saw him get bullied and used under MJF so much, that his new page as the domineering TNT Champion is going to show what he could have been doing had he not struck a bad deal early on. This match against Lethal was fine and built the storyline between the two pretty well. It wasn’t a GREAT match or anything, but felt like an adequate TV title defence. This is definitely what Wardlow needs right now, and matches like this will only help him look that much more powerful.
Finally, a Solid Contender:
For whatever reason, the moment Thunder Rosa won the AEW Women’s Championship, it seemed like her stock in the company mysteriously dropped. She was under-represented on the shows and seemed to be overshadowed by her own opponents. A lot of this was largely due to the booking having to plan for not only one, but THREE separate pay-per-views that all occurred at roughly the same time, so it’s understandable to a degree, just disappointing. This match between Rosa and Hayter is one of the first matches since her feud with Britt Baker where I felt she was made to look good and help Hayter not look week. The fact that hayter was able to counter almost everything thrown at her goes to show that Hayter will soon be one of AEW’s big draws. I hope these two can do a repeat of this.
Tony Khan should spare no expense and try to get Konosuke Takeshita under a full contract as soon as he can. The guy is over with fans, has a great look, and can wrestle toe-to-toe with some of the greats in all of AEW. This was easily his best match in the company since day one, and the moment I think most fans realized just how special he is. Great job AEW for taking a “talent exchange” situation like Takeshita coming over from DDT and actually making a star out of him. It would have been far too easy to do the cardinal sins of what other companies have done, such as TNA giving random Japanese wrestlers gimmicks ranging from Kato from the Green Hornet (Okada) to The Great Muta Jr.(Sanada and others). Claudio can make anyone look like a star, even in defeat, and he did an amazing job here.
Battle of the Belts III was easily the best of the trilogy (so far) as all three matches felt important and were of a pay-per-view quality. This was the first one of these to fully encapsulate the entire premise and deliver a pay-per-view experience to viewers that may be on the fence about buying one of the special shows. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Konosuke Takeshita was a great match, and easily made the whole thing worthwhile on its own.
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