AEW Rampage was live from Portland, Ore. for the first time. Immediately following the show, Battle of the Belts started. Between both shows, there were four title matches.
There was only one title on the line on Rampage. Just 48 hours after regaining the TNT Championship, Darby Allin faced his first challenger. After he won the match on Dynamite, The Kingdom’s Mike Bennett challenged him. The two had a hard-hitting match that garnered “this is awesome!” chants. Allin did an Avalanche Code Red off of the top rope and quickly followed it with a Coffin Drop for the win.
Immediately following the TNT Championship match, the tag team titles were on the line. Battle of the Belts kicked off with The Acclaimed vs. Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal in a No Holds Barred match. “Double J” and Lethal nearly became champions on Wednesday when they tried to cheat. Referee Aubrey Edwards saw what happened and the call was reversed. The refs would come into play again two days later.
Lethal and Anthony Bowens did a rolling Figure Four down the ramp. Later in the match, Lethal took out referee Stephon Smith with an elbow drop from the top rope. This allowed Billy Gunn to take advantage.
Smith would be replaced by Mike Posey. Gunn used Jarrett’s guitar on Satnam Singh. An enraged Singh took his anger out on everyone, including Posey.
Sonjay Dutt attempted to be the next referee and even put on a ref’s shirt. Edwards came down to the ring and wasn’t having it. Jarrett and Lethal nearly won, but Edwards ensured that The Acclaimed remained champions.
One day after celebrating one year as TBS Champion, Jade Cargill defend her title against Skye Blue. She was accompanied by Leila Grey, but Red Velvet was nowhere to be found. Blue took it to Cargill early on until the champ delivered a chokeslam on the ramp. While Cargill was waiting in the ring for her challenger to be counted out, Velvet appeared at the top of the ramp to stare her down.
Blue would beat the 10-count and pick up her offense once again. Skye nearly beat Cargill with the Code Blue. Cargill countered a hurricanrana with Jaded to move to 48-0. Both women looked great in this match, with Chris Jericho saying on commentary that it was Cargill’s best match to date.
Velvet and Cargill are on a collision course for a title match sometime soon.
Orange Cassidy versus Kip Sabian for the All-Atlantic Championship closed the show. Cassidy was accompanied only by Danhausen. He began the match with a sense of urgency and tried to put Sabian away early. Sabian worked with Penelope Ford to try to gain a victory over Cassidy. The Bunny got involved as well. Sabian also got cursed by Danhausen.
Sabian mocked his opponent with Cassidy’s own lackadaisical moves, but this only provoked Cassidy. The Bunny got banned from ringside, but The Butcher and The Blade took her place. They were setting him up on two chairs when Best Friends made the save.
Cassidy showed a side of himself we’ve never seen. He was so angry that when referee Paul Turner tried to stop him, he pushed him down. The champion immediately regretted it, but his concern over Turner nearly cost him the title. In the end, Cassidy nailed Sabian with Double Orange Punches to retain.
While Battle of the Belts is usually a fun show with solid matches, title changes on the show are rare. Sammy Guevara defeated Dustin Rhodes in a match for the vacant TNT Championship last January. Guevara later defeated Scorpio Sky for the title at Battle of the Belts II. That’s it.
Battle of the Belts happens quarterly because TNT wanted a special show that isn’t a pay-per-view. To make these shows mean something, though, title changes need to occur more frequently. Due to the lack of title changes, fans no longer expect them. If title changes aren’t happening, the shows don’t feel special or like must-see TV. As Rampage begins to feel important again, AEW needs to do the same for Battles of the Belts.