By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Battle of the Belts VII
Calgary, Alberta at the Calgary Stampede Saddledome
Aired live July 15, 2023 on TNT
The show picked up where Dynamite left off with Starks celebrating his win while Punk looked shocked. Starks went to the stage where the legendary Jushin Liger was dressed in his gear holding the Owen Hart Cup. Starks took the trophy from Liger and paid no attention to Liger, which the broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni and Nigel McGuinness acknowledged..,.
The broadcast team checked in from ringside and then ring announcer Dasha handled the introductions for the AEW International Championship match. Orange Cassidy came out with his backpack and title belt. Riccaboni said AEW officials spent the night getting the belt back from Lance Archer and Jake Roberts after they stole it on AEW Rampage…
1. Orange Cassidy vs. Lance Archer (w/Jake Roberts) for the AEW International Championship. Cassidy went right after Archer, who immediately took offensive control. Archer set up for his Blackout move, but Cassidy fought free temporarily. Archer drilled Cassidy with a knee while Cassidy was still on the ropes. Archer set up for the Blackout, but Cassidy put him in a sleeper hold. Archer escaped and put Cassidy down with a clothesline.
Cassidy ended up at ringside and did his light leg kicks on Roberts, who cocked his fists. Cassidy motioned for Roberts to stop and then put his hands in his pockets. Archer went after Cassidy from behind and ended up swinging him into the barricade. Archer tossed a security guard into the barricade and then tossed another.
Archer went after a third security guard, but Cassidy dropkicked him a few times at ringside. Cassidy picked up a security guard and slammed him onto Archer. Cassidy stacked two more security guards on top of Archer, who ended up shoving them all off and running Cassidy into the barricade.
Riccaboni said they were going to a picture-in-picture break. McGuinness said they would stay with the action because it looked like the match could end. Riccaboni said that was a great call and then they went to the PIP break anyway. Weird. [C]
Archer went for a chokeslam, but Cassidy slipped away. Cassidy ended up punching the back of Archer’s leg. Archer grabbed him by the throat. Cassidy kicked his way free. Cassidy superkicked Archer while he was on all fours. Cassidy went for the Orange Punch, but Archer caught his fist and held him up after punching him. Archer threw another punch and let Cassidy fall to the mat.
McGuinness sat this one was over. Archer performed a Blackhole Slam for a near fall. Cassidy rolled to the apron and gave the thumbs up to Archer before falling to the floor by Roberts. Archer distracted the referee. Roberts set up for a DDT, but Archer went to ringside and stopped him. Archer hoisted up Cassidy, who slipped away and kicked Archer’s knee out from under him.
Cassidy mocked Roberts before DDT’ing Archer on the floor. Cassidy and Archer fought on the apron while the referee counted. Archer laughed after taking a punch, but Cassidy was able to knock him off the apron with a punch. Cassidy rolled back in the ring while Archer was counted out.
Orange Cassidy defeated Lance Archer via count-out in 10:20 to retain the AEW International Championship.
Afterward, Cassidy sold hand pain. A trainer tended to his hand while Archer stood in disbelief in the ring…
Powell’s POV: An unsatisfying finish that got some boos. As if the lineup doesn’t tell people that Battle of the Belts is nothing special, a finish like that in the first title match really drove it home. I get what they were going for, but I hope we haven’t seen the last of Liger tonight.
Tony Schiavone stood in the ring and introduced Billy Gunn and “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Antony Bowens. Caster rapped on his way to the ring and included lines about Jonah Hill, not lasting eight seconds in a rodeo, and hot chicks in cowgirl outfits. Bowens did his usual part once they were in the ring. Caster presented a young fan with his autographed chains.
Caster said they were accepting the QTV challenge regarding the Royal Rampage in rapping. Bowens said they had another announcement. Caster said that they would be challenging House of Black for the AEW Trios Titles next Saturday in his hometown of Trenton, New Jersey.
Bowens had the fans hold up their scissors fingers and told the director to get a shot of it. Caster said that it was the greatest show on earth because everyone loves The Acclaimed. Schiavone joined them in the post promo scissoring. Riccaboni hyped the AEW Women’s Title match for after the break… [C]
Taya Valkyrie made her entrance dressed in Canadian colors and wore a cowgirl hat. Toni Storm’s entrance followed and she was joined by Ruby Soho…
2. Toni Storm (w/Ruby Soho) vs. Taya Valkyrie for the AEW Women’s Championship. Storm sent Valkyrie to ringside early and followed her to the floor. Storm tossed Valkyrie by the hair to the mat a couple of times and then Soho laughed at Valkyrie. Storm jawed at a few women in the crowd. Riccaboni said the women are friends of Valkyrie, who came back heading into a PIP break. [C]
Valkyrie took control and then the screen fizzled out until it went black, yet the logo was still at the bottom of the screen. The logo also disappeared and they cut to another break. [C]
Toni Storm beat Taya Valkyrie to retain the AEW Women’s Championship.
When they returned from the break, they replayed a portion of last week’s Julia Hart win over Bambi Hall. They cut back to ringside where Riccaboni and McGuinness, who were in the middle of talking. Riccaboni plugged the main event and welcomed viewers back who were affected by severe weather in Calgary. He said they had a satellite interruption. Riccaboni sent things to the stage…
Powell’s POV: So we missed the finish of the AEW Women’s Championship match and they have yet to tell us who won. Live TV, folks. I added the result of the match, which they later told viewers will be available on the TNT app in its entirety.
Tony Schiavone introduced Owen Hart Cup tournament winners Ricky Starks and Willow Nightingale. Schiavone followed up by introducing Tony Khan and Dr. Martha Hart, who came out arm in arm wearing cowboy hats. Khan was in Scott D’Amore mode in that he was also wearing his headsets around his neck.
Hart went to a podium on the stage and said it was great to be there with Tony Khan, her family, and the Owen Hart Foundation committee members. She noted that they were in Calgary, which is the hometown of Owen Hart and the foundation. She thanked Chris Jericho, Jeff Jarrett, and her children Oje and Athena for their support.
Martha spoke of AEW coming to Calgary for the first time and touted the Calgary Stampede event. She also talked about how they were steps away from where it all started with Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. She said Owen was like his father in that he was an amazing person and a very good man.
Martha congratulated Willow and Starks and said they would forever represent the kingdom of Owen Hart. Martha held up the arms of Willow and Starks, who held the title belts for winning their respective tournaments. The broadcast team hyped the main event… [C]
Dasha conducted the introductions for the main event. A masked Shawn Spears sat on a stage while smoke formed around him. Spears was introduced as “The Chairman” and he removed the mask on his way to the ring. Christian Cage entered to his theme, and then Luchasaurus followed to his own entrance. Cage carried the TNT Title belt over his shoulder…
3. Luchasaurus (w/Christian Cage) vs. Shawn Spears for the TNT Championship. Scorpio Sky was shown watching on a backstage monitor. Riccaboni finally noted that Toni Storm was victorious in the match that didn’t air in its entirety for some of us. He also said the match and the full card would be available on the TNT app after the show concluded. Spears went for a springboard move and was blasted by a Luchasaurus punch heading into a PIP break. [C]
Spears sent Luchasaurus to the floor. Riccaboni said they would stay with the match as long as it takes or to the 20-minute time limit. Spears chased Cage around the ring. Luchasaurus ended up chokeslamming Spears into the timekeepers’ area. Luchasaurus dragged Spears back to ringside and then tossed him in the ring.
[Overrun] Luchasaurus returned to the ring and grabbed Spears by the throat. Spears fell to his knees, but then rolled Luchasaurus into a pin for a two count. When they stood up, Luchasaurus chokeslammed Spears and covered him for a near fall.
Cage grabbed the chair that Spears brought to the ring and wedged it into the corner. Luchasaurus charged Spears, who moved, causing Luchasaurus to crash and burn. Spears rolled him up for a two count. Spears set up for his C4 finisher and was distracted by Cage. Luchasaurus clotheslined the back of Spears’ head and then pinned him…
Luchasaurus defeated Shawn Spears in 9:15 to retain the TNT Championship.
Luchasaurus placed Cage on his shoulders and then Cage held up the TNT Title belt.
Highlights aired of the finish of the AEW Women’s Championship match. Ruby Soho punched Taya Valkyrie from the floor while the referee had his back turned. Toni Storm performed her Storm Zero piledriver and pinned Valkyrie.
The in-ring celebration continued for Luchasaurus and Cage while Sky was shown watching on the backstage monitor…
Powell’s POV: A distraction finish that made the babyface look like an idiot. The first match ended in a count-out. And now we were shown that the second match had an interference finish. What the hell? Who thought this would make for a satisfying one-hour special? In hindsight, I’m actually happy they separated Collision and Battle of the Belts, because at least I can say that I enjoyed Collision. Battle of the Belts was a train wreck and it had nothing to do with the satellite issue. What a mess. I’m looking forward to hearing what Will Pruett thought of all of this once he checks in with his weekly AEW Collision audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).