The SmarK Rant for AEW Battle of the Belts – 01.08.22

The SmarK Rant for AEW Battle of the Belts – 01.08.22

Live from Charlotte, NC

Your hosts are Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone & Excalibur

Interim TNT title:  Dustin Rhodes v. Sammy Guevara

More importantly than the match itself, we’re graced at ringside by HUMPY WHEELER, a dignitary that could only have that name in North Carolina.  Or maybe Texas.  Maybe Hook will choke him out later in the show.  They battle to a stalemate to start and Sammy grabs a headlock, but Dustin does the spot where he pretends to be winded and Sammy showboats.  Dustin tries an uppercut and Sammy rolls him up for two and then flips over top of him before dropkicking him to the floor.  They fight to the floor and Sammy gets into a hand gesture battle with AA, which is apparently gun vs. bird.  Dustin rams Sammy’s knee into the stairs and follows with a piledriver on the floor before taking the count, as Sammy sprints in at 9.  We take a break as Sammy bails to the floor again and Dustin works on the leg, and back in for two.  I much prefer the Rampage PIP breaks because Taz and Ricky Starks will usually fill it up with wacky non-sequiturs for the international audience, whereas this crew just kind of continues calling the match straight.  Back with Dustin coming back with a powerslam, but Sammy takes out Dustin’s knee and sends him to the floor, as this time Sammy teases a countout win before hitting Dustin with a springboard 450.  That mostly missed.  Back in, Sammy goes up with a springboard cutter, but Dustin reverses to a Crossroads for two.  Dustin with the Code Red out of the corner for two.  Dustin goes up and Sammy brings him down with the GTH, and that gets two. Dustin bails and this brings Fuego Del Sol from under the ring to set up a table at ringside.  Oh man can we NOT do any table spots after this week’s Dynamite?  Arn chases Fuego off with his fake gun while Sammy and Dustin slug it out on the apron, and Dustin puts him through the table with the Canadian Destroyer.  That kind of spot feels so incredibly out of place in this match.  Back in, that gets two for Dustin.  Crossroads times two follows and he teases a Tiger Driver to finish, but Sammy escapes that and they clothesline each other for the double down.  OK, seriously, Sammy took a Canadian Destroyer, through a table, on the FLOOR, and then two Crossroads and he’s still not done?  Come on.  They trade sunset flip reversals and Sammy gets the pin at 16:18 to win the interim title.  I wasn’t into this one at all, as it was slow-paced and a complete clash of styles.  **  Afterwards, Daniel Garcia comes out to talk some shit and they do a quick brawl as we take a break.  That should be a better match but the crowd didn’t react to it at all.

Meanwhile, Sammy already accepts the challenge of Garcia for Dynamite.

FTW title:  Ricky Starks v. Matt Sydal

Sydal quickly snaps off a rana and catches a kick, sweeping the leg into a moonsault for two.  Small package gets two.  He tries a bulldog but Starks slams him and they head to the floor as Powerhouse Hobbs gets involved and we take a PIP break.  Sydal tries to throw Starks back in the ring, but he hits a swinging kick on Matt and puts the boots to him to take over.  Starks slugs away in the corner, but Sydal fights back with chops, but Starks beats him down again before giving us some poses.  Starks works on the back for two and MOCKS Sydal’s third eye.  Has he tried poking Sydal in the third eye?  That’d be a hell of a heel move.  Delayed suplex gets two.  Starks with a neck vice as the crowd is REALLY dead for this one.  Starks with an uranage for two.  I don’t know why this one is so completely off a cliff right now because they’re both great workers, but it’s been a complete disaster so far. Sydal comes back with a running knee in the corner and they fight to the top, where Sydal brings him down with a rana.  Michinoku Driver gets two.  Starks escapes a rollup and tries the Rochambeau, but Sydal reverses to the Lightning Spiral for two.  Sydal goes up with a meteora for two, but Starks hits him with the spear and finishes with the Rochambeau at 9:04 to retain.  This sucked.  It was boring all the way through and they couldn’t get the crowd into it at all, and they never seemed to be on the same page.  *  Team Taz does a beatdown afterwards, but Lee Moriarty and Dante Martin make the save and Dante chases off Hobbs in advance of their match on Wednesday.

AEW Women’s title:  Dr. Britt Baker DMD v. Riho

Britt’s crew distracts Riho, but she dropkicks Britt out of the ring and follows with a dive onto Rebel.  Well that’s what she’s there for.  This allows Britt to hit Riho with a sling blade on the floor while Jamie Hayter sets up a table, but Riho runs up the table and dropkicks Jamie in a neat spot.  Back in, Riho goes up with a missile dropkick, but misses a charge and Britt puts the boots to her in the corner.  Jamie refuses to do the DMD gimmick, however, and Britt is so annoyed by this that Riho gets a rollup for two.  Britt works her over with the Nash choke in the corner and adds a pair of suplexes for two.  Britt with a neck vice, but Riho fights out and into a double foot stomp for two.  Riho comes back with a running knee in the corner and a 619 for two.  Riho with a half crab and a dramatic bridge, but Britt makes the ropes.  Rebel pulls Brit to the apron and provides a human shield, so Riho stomps her from the top.  Back in, Britt comes back with a ripcord forearm and Air Raid Crash for two.  They slug it out, but Britt blocks a suplex with a neckbreaker and tries for the Lockjaw, as Riho makes the ropes immediately.  Rebel interferes again and Britt rolls her to the middle for another try, but Riho blocks for two.  Britt with a curb stomp for two.  The ref finally tosses Rebel for giving Britt the belt, but Britt argues with Hayter and Riho gets a northern lights suplex for two.  Riho charges and Britt mule kicks her, and then hits another curb stomp for two, and into the Lockjaw to finish at 12:43.  A pretty average match.  **1/2

This show was OK at best, but it was the very definition of skippable, feeling like an episode of Dark or something, with a dead crowd and matches that didn’t feel particularly important.