The SmarK Rant for AEW Battle of the Belts III – 08.06.22
Taped from Grand Rapids, MI
Your hosts are Excalibur, Taz & Tony Schiavone
TNT title: Wardlow v. Jay Lethal
Lethal attacks Wardlow from behind and hits him with a suplex, but Wardlow pops up and boots him into the corner for a backdrop. Lethal bails and Wardlow follows him out to have words with Sonjay, but Lethal gets a cheapshot and slugs away in the corner to take over. Enzuigiri follows, but Wardlow gets a tilt-a-whirl slam for two. Lethal escapes the F10 and hits him with dropkicks, but Wardlow no-sells it and Lethal claims a knee injury, before getting a rollup for two. He tosses Wardlow and follows with a tope before going to work on the knee. Wardlow escapes a figure-four and then rolls into the powerbomb, but Lethal slugs out of it and takes out the knee again. Lethal Injection, but Wardlow just catches him and tries another powerbomb. Lethal keeps slipping out, so Wardlow just destroys him with a straight headbutt and a lariat because HE’S IN NO MOOD. And then the powerbomb is academic at 7:21 to retain. Too much Wardlow selling, but this was fine. Didn’t really mesh well, though. **1/2 And then Lethal’s crew proceeds with a beatdown and Wardlow sadly has no friends to help him. So makes his own comeback and kicks Satnam in the old yam bag, but then he gets greedy and tries a powerbomb and flies too close to the sun. So the heels put him through a table and steal the title belt.
AEW Women’s title: Thunder Rosa v. Jamie Hayter
Hayter attacks before the bell and puts the boots to Rosa in the corner, then adds some choking. They trade chops in the corner and Hayter puts her down with a shoulder tackle, but Rosa fights back with dropkicks and sends her to the floor. But then she tries a tope to follow, and Hayter punches her in the face to block it and hauls her out for a trip to the railing. Back in, Rosa fights back, but she gets distracted by Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Hayter slams her on the steps. Man, Toni Storm isn’t exactly earning her pay out there as Rosa’s backup. Back in the ring, Hayter chokes her out on the ropes and adds a double knees for two. She keeps coming with chops in the corner and follows with a snap suplex before going to a chinlock. More shenanigans from Rebel and Britt and Fite takes a break. Back with Rosa fighting out of a chinlock and they slug it out with forearms until Rosa gets a northern lights suplex for two. Hayter retreats to the ropes and Rosa dropkicks her to the floor and follows with a somersault senton to the floor, which seems to knock Hayter goofy. Back in, Rosa with a cross body for two. Rosa tries a rollup, but Hayter reverses her into a backbreaker for two. Brainbuster gets two. Britt goes after Rosa again, but Toni finally does something useful and saves, although Britt superkicks her anyway. Meanwhile Rosa gets a rollup for two and then finishes with another one to retain at 11:38. Man, poor Hayter was taking all kinds of inadvertent shots to the head in this one. They were just beating on each other with mustard here and this was pretty great. ***1/2
ROH World title: Claudio Castagnoli v. Konosuke Takeshita
They trade takedown attempts to start and battle to a stalemate, but Claudio takes him down with a toehold for one. Claudio ties up the arm and goes to work on it, but Takeshita bridges out and they trade monkey flips off that. Takeshita goes for the leg on the mat and powers him into a hiptoss, but Claudio reverses him into a headlock takedown and adds a shoulderblock for two. Claudio works the back with a pair of backbreakers for two and ties him up on the mat, but Takeshita powers up and gets a suplex. Claudio with a backbreaker again, but Takeshita punches out of a submission attempt, so Claudio surfboards him and Takeshita fights out of that. He goes up with a rana and hits Claudio with elbows to set up the Warrior clothesline and make the comeback. Claudio hits the floor and Takeshita follows with a dive as the announcers bring up someone named “El Generico”. Never heard of him. Maybe HHH can sign him, too? Takeshita goes up and Claudio brings him down with a gut wrench for two. Claudio with the Giant Swing for two and he hits him with running forearms in the corner, but Takeshita fires back with a running boot and Blue Thunder Bomb for two. They fight to the top and Takeshita manages to get a DDT on the top turnbuckle, and follows with a frog splash for two, although it kind of missed. Claudio blocks the knee strikes and then puts Takeshita down with an uppercut for two, which sets up the Sharpshooter. Takeshita reaches for the ropes, so Claudio turns him into a crossface instead, and Takeshita rolls him over for two. Takeshita fires up and hits the german suplex, but Claudio pops up with an All Japan lariat, and then Takeshita pops up with his own lariat for two. They trade forearms and Claudio wins that battle, but Takeshita backslides him for two and hits the knee strike and brainbuster for two. Takeshita with a rolling elbow, but Claudio backdrops out of a powerbomb and hits an uppercut and double stomp. Ricola Bomb is reversed into a rana by Takeshita, for two. That was a crazy great near fall. Takeshita tries a high knee and Claudio catches him in mid-air and hits him with a death valley driver, then follows with the spinning uppercut and lariat. Hammer elbows set up the Ricola Bomb to finish at 19:52 to retain. I know I say this every week but Takeshita is incredible and they need to do something with him while they’ve still got him. ****1/2
A much better show than last night’s Rampage, and well worth going out of your way to check out. Especially the main event, but all three matches were good. Big thumbs up.