If AEW titles don’t change hands at Battle of the Belts, then what’s the point?
All Elite Wrestling does a really great job on its weekly programming with Dynamite on Wednesdays and Rampage on Fridays. Tony Khan has a lot to do with that. They produce these special shows, such as New Year’s Smash, St. Patrick’s Day Smash, Fyter Fest, Fight for The Fallen, Grand Slam, etc. Although, the company really needs to work on its special quarterly show, Battle of the Belts.
If you want to make a comparison, Battle of the Belts is similar to WWF In Your House back in 1995-1997. Now there are a few differences, with the main one being In Your House was a PPV back in the day, while Battle of The Belts is accessible on free TV. Another difference is the level of competition is much different, with an edge to the AEW roster.
But one of the big differences is the In Your House show brought better moments. In Your House did have moments such as the Buried Alive Match between Mankind and Undertaker, the steel cage match between Diesel and Bret Hart, as well as the first-ever Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and Undertaker, and the debut of Kane. I can’t name a memorable moment from a Battle of the Belts show since its inception and that’s a problem.
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The Battle of the Belts theme is that every match is a championship match, a similar concept to WWE’s Night of Champions and Clash of Champions PPVs. The problem isn’t the quality of the matches or the talent in general. The problem with these shows is the booking.
Taking out the vacant interim TNT Championship match between Sammy Guevara versus Dustin Rhodes, only ONE championship title changed hands in four specials. That title change came at Battle of the Belts II when Guevara beat Scorpio Sky to become a three-time TNT Champion. On those four shows, with 12 total matches, only one title changing hands is an absolute outrage.
How are fans supposed to tune in on a late Friday or Saturday night if they can predict that the champion is going to retain the title in all three matches of the show? After looking at all of these matches, a lot of these matches were softball opponents for the champions. I like both competitors but with all due respect, Jade Cargill versus Skye Blue does not belong on a special TV episode that you’re trying to promote.
The question is, how do you change it? The answer is simple, these shows need big-name stars.
A prime example is having that Darby Allin versus Samoa Joe match on the Battle of the Belts. Although it was never going to happen with Dynamite being in Seattle, so Darby can get a hometown victory with the TNT Championship around his waist. But we need something along the lines of that match or a match like Wardlow VS Powerhouse Hobbs VS Joe. No one wanted to see Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett vs The Acclaimed in an immediate rematch after the challengers had already lost on Wednesday prior.
Obviously, it’s easier said than done, but Tony Khan has made changes to his booking in the past, and this issue can be fixed. By the time the Battle of the Belts VI takes place in Kingston, Rhode Island on April 7th, Khan needs to take steps into changing how he books and formats the show, as he can mark this show as a turning point for future specials. Because if he doesn’t, then why are we even watching these glorified house shows?