By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Battle of the Belts
Taped August 5, 2022 in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena
Aired August 6, 2022 on TNT
Excalibur checked in to begin the show and threw it to Justin Roberts. We had Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and Taz on commentary. Jay Lethal’s music then hit and on, we went.
1. Wardlow vs. Jay Lethal for the TNT Championship. Lethal rolled to the outside once the bell rang. Dutt go on the apron to distract Wardlow, and Lethal attacked him. Lethal hit a suplex, but Wardlow popped right up and landed a boot to the face. Wardlow clotheslined Letha to the outside and then rolled him back in the ring. Satnam Singh got in Wardlow’s way and Lethal came back with a kick and a punch.
Wardlow went for a clothesline, but Lethal ducked it and hit an enziguri. Wardlow came back with a suplex and a one-count. Lethal hit a series of dropkicks and then claimed he hurt his knee. It turned out, he was fibbing and Lethal rolled up Wardlow for a two-count. Lethal hit a suicida on Wardlow, who was on the outside after missing a shoulder block in a corner. Lethal worked Wardlow’s leg. While he was using the ring post, Excalibur threw to our first PIP [c].
Back from break, Lethal went for a pin and got a two-count. Lethal tried again, but Wardlow got up and initially went for a powerbomb, but Lethal worked his way out and went for Lethal Injection, but Wardlow caught him and eventually hit a loud headbutt. Wardlow then landed a strong clothesline. Wardlow went for a powerbomb and got it. That one powerbomb was enough for the win.
Wardlow defeated Jay Lethal via pinfall in 7:21.
After the match, Lethal’s crew attacked Wardlow with Singh taking the lead. Lethal sank in a figure-four while Singh stepped on Wardlow’s throat. Wardlow worked his way out and went for a powerbomb on Singh, which was nuts, but Lethal broke it up. They then got tables and Singh choke-slammed Wardlow through the table. Lethal’s crew posed over Wardlow while Lethal held up the TNT title.
McGuire’s Musings: A pretty cut and dry match. I wasn’t expecting much from it, though, so it kind of exceeded my low expectations. Lethal did a good job of avoiding the powerbomb for longer than I thought he would, which made things fun, but the most unpredictable moment came when Lethal went down after only one powerbomb. The post-match attack went on a little long, and I don’t know if this means we’re going to get a rematch or if Singh is going to try his hand at Wardlow (please, let’s not do that quite yet, for the sake of both men), but it appears this program is not over just yet.
2. Thunder Rosa vs. Jamie Hayter for the AEW Women’s Championship. Hayter jumpstarted the match and worked a ground-and-pound. Hayter landed a snap-duplex and kept stomping on Rosa. Rosa came back with some dropkicks and went for a suicida onto Hayter, who was on the outside, but Hayter cut her off. Hayter threw Rosa into the guardrail. Rosa tried to fight back, but Hayter countered with a suplex attempt. Rosa came right back and hit a DDT on the floor.
Back in the ring, Rosa went for the pin, but got a two-count. Rosa went to the top, but Baker had Rosa’s title in her hand, which distracted Rosa. Hayter took advantage and slammed Rosa on the ringside steps. With Rosa in pain, we went to our second PIP [c].
Back from break, Rosa was working her way back. Rosa landed a Northern Lights suplex for a two-count. Rosa dropkicked Hayter through the bottom two ropes. Rosa then landed a Senton from the apron. Rosa hit a cross-body for a two-count. Hayter fought back and landed a back-breaker and a brain-buster for a two-count. Hayter was being held back by Aubrey The Ref and Baker attacked Rosa. Toni Storm tried to help and Baker and Storm just ended up fighting each other. Rosa ultimately rolled Hayter up for the win.
Thunder Rosa defeated Jamie Hayter via pinfall in 11:31.
After the match, Rosa went to the crowd to celebrate.
McGuire’s Musings: They worked hard and I was actually kind of hopeful that Hayter would win. Yeah, I know that sounds stupidly impossible, but a good swerve is a good swerve and Hayter is one of the best women AEW has. That in mind, it was good to see Hayter dominate the majority of the match, though I’m not quite sure what happens with Storm and Baker. On one hand, it’d be great to see a non-title women’s program have relevance in AEW because I’m not sure that’s existed before. On another hand … wouldn’t it be more fun if one of them had a belt? Perhaps that’s just me being greedy. Either way, I like this group of wrestlers working together because the chemistry keeps growing between all of them.
3. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Konosuke Takeshita for the ROH Championship. William Regal and Caprice Coleman joined the commentary team. The two wrestlers exchanged a bunch of attempts to open the match, but no one got the upper hand. Castagnoli kept pinning Takeshita with his wrists and the two went back and forth. After a flip, the two got back to their feet again and the crowd applauded them. The two kept feeling each other out and nobody gained significant control. Castagnoli worked a head-lock repeatedly. Takeshita went for a splash on the outside, but Castagnoli moved. Still, Takeshita came right back, hit Castagnoli and rolled him back into the ring. Castagnoli hit a back-breaker and we went to our final PIP [c].
Back from break, Castagnoli had control and hit a series of uppercuts. Takeshita came back and hit his flying clothesline after running the ropes. Castagnoli ran at Takeshita, but Takeshita ducked and Castagnoli went over the top. Takeshita then landed a flip onto Castagnoli, who was on the outside. Takeshita went to the top, but Castagnoli cut him off with a forearm. Castagnoli then landed a gut-wrench suplex from the top for a two-count. Castagnoli called for the swing and did it. Castagnoli went for a cover after it and got a two-count.
Castagnoli hit a series of uppercuts, but Takeshita reversed one and hit a kick. Takeshita then landed a Thunder Bomb for a two-count. With Takeshita on the apron, Castagnoli rammed Castagnoli into the top turnbuckle. The two battled to the top and Takeshita hit a turnbuckle DDT and a splash for a two-count. Takeshita went for a knee strike, but Castagnoli caught him and eventually hit a European Uppercut for a two-count. Castagnoli sank in a sharpshooter, which went into an STF.
The two got to their feet and exchanged blows. They then traded German Suplexes before Takeshita hit a strong clothesline for a good near-fall. Takeshita went for a back-slide and then hit a brain-buster for another good near-fall. Takeshita took off his elbow pad and hit a spinning elbow. Takeshita went for the Cinna-bomb, but couldn’t do it. Castagnoli came right back and went for a Ricola Bomb, but Takeshita rolled through and got a hell of a near-fall. Takeshita went for the knee, but Castagnoli caught him and dropped him on his head. On their feet, the two traded uppercuts. Castagnoli hit a leaping lariat and then did the hammer elbows before landing the Ricola Bomb for the win.
Claudio Castagnoli defeated Konosuke Takeshita via pinfall in 19:59.
Claudio posed to end the show.
McGuire’s Musings: My match of the week and it’s not close. I said last night in my review of Rampage that perhaps Takeshita’s squash win on that program – it being his first AEW TV win ever – was a good way to send him off. They taped that the same night they taped this and if this is the last wrestling match he has before going back to Japan, this was a great way to send him off, too. I loved this. It was highly unlikely Claudio was going to drop that belt this quick, but even knowing that, some of those late near-falls had me hook, line and sinker. Takeshita came and took over America and you have to think at some point he’s going to come back and cash in on that. Either way, this was a fantastic match and Claudio did such a good job making Takeshita look like a million bucks between the generosity and the selling. This match is more than worth your time.
In all, this was probably my favorite Battle of the Belts of the three. And that’s just because the matches were good. Like, really good. Wardlow/Lethal over-delivered, the women were great and that main event deserved every bit of its main event status. At some point, we’re going to have to see a title change at Battle Of The Belts, though … right? Here’s hoping. I’ll have more to say in my audio review, as always.