AEW Battle of The Belts Preview for January 8, 2022
This Saturday night on TNT, All Elite Wrestling returns to the Bojangles Coliseum (Buy Tickets) in Charlotte, NC with the first of our quarterly network specials on TNT! For our premiere event, AEW presents BATTLE OF THE BELTS airing LIVE at 8pm EST/7pm CST and featuring two big title fights!
The original AEW Women's World Champion Riho gets her first opportunity to reclaim the championship since losing it to Nyla Rose way back on February 12, 2020. All she has to do is once again beat Dr. Britt Baker, a feat Riho has accomplished several times already in her AEW career! And in our other title bout, medical protocols have necessitated a change to the original plan, so now it will be “The Natural Dustin Rhodes who steps up into his brother's spot to take on “The Spanish God” for the Interim TNT Title!
And for those in the house at the Bojangles Coliseum on Saturday night, AEW GM Tony Khan has also promised a stacked show on top of BATTLE OF THE BELTS! It's all going down this Saturday night at 8pm EST/7pm CST on TNT, and is just the first of several network specials coming your way in 2022!
INTERIM TNT TITLE MATCH...
“The Natural” Dustin Rhodes vs “The Spanish God” Sammy Guevara
Dustin Rhodes and Sammy Guevara are no strangers to one another; as far back as the second episode of DYNAMITE in 2019 they have engaged in tag team bouts, singles fights, and trios matches. The record tips in the favor of Dustin, 3 wins to 2 wins, with each owning a singles victory over the other, but it has been 21 months since they last clashed and each has gone through a great deal in the interim.
Dustin united with QT Marshall as The Natural Nightmares only to be eventually stabbed in the back, and he watched his brother ascend as TNT Champion on three separate occasions. He valiantly stepped up to defend Cody against The Dark Order and Mr. Brodie Lee only to be smashed right back down in his lone singles championship bout in AEW. He has helped to refine numerous talents who occupy the AEW locker room, battled in one of the greatest bouts AEW has seen to this day against his brother, is truly respected by nearly everyone who has set foot in the ring here, save those affiliated with The Factory, but has not yet tasted the heights of success that many of his day one compatriots have experienced.
Sammy Guevara, since those clashes with “The Natural”, has continued his in-ring growth as a competitor, went through absolute wars with Matt Hardy, and found himself inexplicably on the side of the angels with his Inner Circle brethren as a result of their bloody battles with The Pinnacle. After coming through Blood and Guts Cages and Stadium Stampede chaos, Guevara would end up using what his best friend Fuego Del Sol showed the world, and defeating the nigh-unstoppable Miro to become the TNT Champion.
Although battered and bruised from that ordeal, Sammy dove right back into the TNT Title Open Challenges that Cody Rhodes established at the onset, and would delve into another violent affair with his Inner Circle family. This time the fights were with The Men Of The Year and American Top Team,and would culminate in a wild Street Fight at FULL GEAR 2021 that once again left Guevara hurting. Still, he didn't stop taking on any open challenge, including that of “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes, and perhaps the physical toll that the last several months had inflicted on Sammy are what led to his undoing, and Rhodes' third TNT Championship reign.
Cody, just as Sammy before him and just as he had done himself to establish the belt, immediately took on the challenge of Ethan Page. Rhodes was victorious in that first defense, and it was then established that he would face Guevara in a rematch of their TNT Title clash. Guevara even used his match on DARK this Tuesday to send a message to Cody by using The Cross Rhodes to defeat Ho Ho Lun.
Unfortunately, as announced on RAMPAGE, due to medical protocols, a change to BATTLE OF THE BELTS became necessary, and now it will be “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes who slides into a prime position, much to the chagrin of The MOTY. The fight will crown an Interim Champion, meaning there is the potential for Sammy to finally get a victory over Cody down the line, or the possibility for Dustin to get a rematch from that DOUBLE OR NOTHING 2019 battle that netted many Match Of The Year honors.
Whoever emerges from this situation as the Interim Champion will certainly land right in the crosshairs of Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page, but for one night at least, either Dustin or Sammy will be able to celebrate a hard-fought championship victory!
AEW WOMEN'S WORLD TITLE MATCH...
Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D(c) vs. Riho
In Riho's first Women's World Title defense on 10/16/19, she topped Dr. Britt Baker to retain the championship.
In Riho's third defense of the championship on 1/1/20, with three women in pursuit simultaneously, the defending champion pinned Baker once again to keep hold of the belt.
On 11/26/21, Riho once again defeated now Women's World Champion Baker in their Black Friday Deal match, with the stipulation being if Riho won then she would receive a title shot down the line.
Around those three bouts, there have been several tag team matches involving the two women. Some fo them have put Britt and Riho on the same side, but more importantly to this Saturday's fight are the times they have been foes. See between the three tag team and one trios match in which the competitors have fought, the score is split right down the middle, two for Baker and two for Riho, but none of those bouts ended with one beating the other. Penelope Ford pinned Riho, Riho pinned Jamie Hayter, but in those multi-woman bouts, neither Baker or Riho have gotten the fall on the other.
So what does that mean for this AEW Women's World Title Match and for the champion herself? It means that Riho is one of the few women on the AEW roster who has not fallen to the champion at some point in AEW's near three year existence. Even Thunder Rosa, who Baker seems to also avoid at all costs, has been defeated by the defending champion, as have Ruby Soho, Kris Statlander, Nyla Rose, and Hikaru Shida, just to name a few. Two of the three champions prior to the Good Doctor have fallen to her, but at no point has Riho suffered that same fate to Britt herself. It's a spectre looming over Britt's AEW career, one she is well aware of, and one she seems to be afraid of confronting.
Riho shows no such fear, not of Baker nor of anyone else thrown in her path throughout her entire AEW career. The original Women's Champion has valiantly fought any and all comers since day one, regardless of any perceived advantages they may have had, and excelled at every turn. The fact that this is Riho's first chance to reclaim the belt Nyla Rose defeated her for almost two years will only server as further motivation to fight Baker harder than ever before.
Can Baker break her own personal curse of Riho, or will we see our first 2-Time Women's World Champion crowned at BATTLE OF THE BELTS??
FTW TITLE MATCH...
“Absolute” Ricky Starks(c) vs. Matt Sydal
Ricky Starks is tired of the FTW Title being ignored, being sidelined, and not treated with the same respect as every other championship in All Elite Wrestling. He's also livid at the disrespect shown Team Taz by Dante Martin after he and Lio Rush pulled the wool over their collective eyes regarding Dante's alliegances.
To both ends, as can be seen in the tweet embedded above, Ricky Starks has called out the first of Martin's AEW mentors for a fight a BATTLE OF THE BELTS! It will be Matt Sydal versus the FTW Champion this Saturday night in Charlotte, NC as part of the first Saturday Night Fight special on TNT!
It's a Saturday Fight Night when BATTLE OF THE BELTS comes to the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, NC with both the AEW Women's World Title and the interim TNT Title on the line! Plus AEW GM Tony Khan has promised a stack house show card for those in attendance as well! Doors open at 6pm EST, the in-house action gets started at 7pm, and we go LIVE on TNT starting at 8! Do not miss out on this first of several network specials that will go down in 2022!!!