Battle of the Belts is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
AEW is not giving me a break, are they? I had a power outage for almost a week and am trying to catch up on all the shows, so why not put out one of their special episodes now!? Clearly, they were thinking of me when they made this decision (presumably they were unhappy with my less than favorable coverage of New Year’s Smash), but I will not succumb to their attempts at psychological warfare! I will do my darnedest to enjoy this special event! As long as the matches are good, of course! Is this an excellent start to the era of TNT special episodes, or are we trying to cram too much too quickly? Let’s find out!!
Dustin Rhodes Vs. Sammy Guevara – Interim TNT Title Match
Dustin is accompanied to the ring by Arn Anderson
I’m not the biggest fan of seeing Sting get in the ring at this point in his career, but I do understand where people are coming from as I feel very much the same way whenever we get to see Dustin! Thankfully he managed to deliver a great match here with Sammy Guevara that honestly puts into sharp relief a few of the issues I’ve had with AEW in the last few months. The match isn’t without a few slow parts here and there, but it feels unique to the style we usually get in a typical AEW match and feeling fresh can sometimes pay far more dividends than overwhelming skill or bloodletting. Things start off nice and easy with some good running spots as Dustin gets an Arm Drag and Sammy gets a Hip Toss, but both are still feeling each other out, and neither wants to make a mistake. After a few minutes of this and a fun spot of Dustin getting winded while Sammy is relaxing on the turnbuckle, Sammy finally hits one of those Uppercuts that Dustin likes to do and follows up with a Drop Kick that sends Dustin outside the ring. We then get some okay action as Sammy tosses Dustin around the outside while teasing Arn Anderson, but the turning point comes when Dustin manages to smash Sammy’s knee into the ring steps which he has to deal with for the rest of the fight. This is where things start to slow down a bit and it feels like the crowd is turning on the match as Dustin rolls in and leaves Sammy to be counted out but then they do it again a few minutes later when Dustin is the one outside and Sammy is waiting for the count-out. You can hear the crowd start to groan on the second one, but it ended up working for me as it set up the big spots that immediately followed it; bringing us from a low point to a high point which is an effective way to maximize tension and to get the crowd to pop. Sammy might just have this in the bag but he gets impatient and hits a Double Springboard Dive onto Dustin which hits its mark, but it only causes more damage to Sammy’s knee. He grits through the pain however and throws Dustin into the ring where he hits an Enziguri and goes for a Springboard Cutter. EXCEPT DUSTIN CATCHES HIM AND HITS A CROSS RHODES FOR A TWO-COUNT!! Things only get more ridiculous from here as Dustin gets a Code Red, and Sammy hits the GTH; both of which are kicked out of and the crowd cannot believe it! Then we get Fuego Del Sol who comes out from under the ring (presumably sensing his best friend being in trouble) and sets up a table on the floor. Arn isn’t happy about this, and while he doesn’t dismantle the table, he starts menacing Fuego and chases him up the ramp. Still, with the table in place, Sammy drags Dustin to the apron and tries to hit a Spanish Fly that would send them both through the table and assuredly win him the match. Dustin fights back however and he manages to hit a Canadian Destroyer through the table in what is one of the most impressive and safe-looking table spots I’ve probably ever seen. Dustin hits the table flat on his butt and is protecting Sammy’s head as the table gently falls to pieces, essentially carrying them on their way to the floor, and MAYBE Sammy hit his knees a bit hard. Still, the crowd is going wild and Sammy is in a bad state, so Dustin throws him in… AND STILL ONLY GETS A TWO COUNT! With all that though, it’s clear that the end is near and so Sammy tries for a Sunset flit that Dustin reverses and they keep going back and forth on pin attempts. Sammy manages to keep Dustin down for a split second over three, and wins the match as well as the interim TNT Title! Oh, but it’s not over yet as Daniel Garcia runs in and IMMEDIATELY gets into Sammy’s face which causes the two to start brawling and the refs have to run down to break it up! This was a very good match and I think the key to it, as well as Dustin’s overall success, is that he’s not overexposed and so the matchup feels fresh. AEW has the roster for people to rotate in and out on a regular basis, so we shouldn’t see Danielson six times in eight weeks. Punk is actually striking a better balance as he’s here almost every week but it’s more often for promos than matches. I know that AEW wants to give the crowds the stars they want to see, and I’m thankful that so many of them came out when I went to see them live, but they could get a lot more mileage out of people if they expanded their TV roster more often.Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW – Battle of the Belts”