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AEW Battle of the Belts VIII recap & reactions (Oct. 21, 2023): Kris Statlander & Willow Nightingale shine

AEW Battle of the Belts VIII (Oct. 21, 2023) emanated from FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN. The show featured a bonanza of title matches with Orange Cassidy, Samoa Joe, Kris Statlander, and The Acclaimed & Daddy Ass in action.

Battle of the Belts VIII ran as a double-header with Collision. This recap will cover the Battle of the Belts episode. For the Collision recap, click here. Catch up on all the details from both shows with play-by-play from Geno Mrosko. Ring the bell!

AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy retained against John Silver. The champ was a bruised orange when Johnny Hungee muscled up for power offense to start. Silver executed an impressive delayed vertical superplex.

Cassidy rallied with a stunner and the Beach Break. When he sized up a superman punch, Alex Reynolds interfered and clocked him with the title belt. Silver was unable to keep the champ down after an airplane spin slam. Silver went for a running knee strike to finish the job. Cassidy ducked to trip Silver and exploded for the superman punch to win.

Also of note before the match, Cassidy and Jon Moxley bumped into each other as they crossed paths between Collision and Battle of the Belts. Mox was furious and looked for a fight, but the Blackpool Combat Club kept him at bay.

CJ Perry approached Andrade about managing his career. Andrade shrugged to think over the possibilities.

ROH World Television Championship: Samoa Joe retained against Tony Nese. The challenger started the segment with group training for the fat Memphis crowd. Joe’s music hit before the exercise session could start. Nese didn’t last long. Joe did him dirty with a musclebuster to win.

After the match, Joe called out MJF. He’s coming for the AEW World Championship. MJF can either voluntarily give him what he wants or MJF will be forced to give him what he wants.

TBS Championship: Kris Statlander retained against Willow Nightingale. The challenger showed her normal chipper demeanor, but she also had an edge due to black mist still in her veins. This was a hoss fight, and a dandy at that. Statlander showed athleticism on a leapfrog and a slingshot elbow drop. Willow’s aggression kicked in slamming Statlander on the floor and into the ring steps. Statlander regained control with intent of finishing with a piledriver. Willow escaped and hit a big pounce shoulder tackle.

Statlander rebounded to counter a fireman’s carry lift into a DDT. The fisticuffs carried into the corner for an avalanche Death Valley Driver from Willow. Statlander kicked out on the cover. Willow kept on the pressure for a cannonball into the corner. When Willow climbed the turnbuckles, Statlander sprang up for an avalanche powerbomb. The champ sealed the deal with a 450 splash for an impressive win.

Afterward, Statlander offered a handshake out of respect. Black mist clouded Willow’s mind. Skye Blue ran in to stop the act of friendship. Willow brushed off Blue and shook Statlander’s hand. Blue gave the stink eye to both of them.

Backstage, Cassidy challenged Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli to a fight on Dynamite. OC is bringing Kazuchika Okada with him.

AEW World Trios Championship: The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn retained against Daddy Magic, Cool Hand Ang, & Daniel Garcia. The champs were joined by the Memphis Grizzles bear mascot for a scissor party. The story of the match was Garcia’s zest for dance. Daddy Magic stopped the hip thrusts, so the fans chanted in favor of Garcia to strut. Anna Jay entered the ring in an effort to keep Garcia focused on the task at hand. The referee ejected Jay for butting in between the ropes. The challengers isolated Anthony Bowens. Hot tag to Daddy Ass setting up Scissor Me Timbers on Daddy Magic. The challengers regained control during a scissor celebration, but Garcia couldn’t keep his eye on the prize. He had Max Caster in a piledriver position then decided to dance.

Caster escaped, and Billy hit a Fameasser. The Acclaimed finished Garcia on a teamwork slam.

Grade: B-

The ratio of cotton candy to hearty meals was 3:1 on the matches. Each bout was enjoyable in its own way, but only the TBS title clash is worth seeking out to watch.

Kris Statlander and Willow Nightingale put on a damn good match. The hoss fighting reached a fever pitch with dueling body slams. Statlander opened up her offensive arsenal for a handful of cool aerial moves. You know she is digging deep when pulling out the 450 splash to finish an opponent. That puts over how tough Willow was in this outing. She played into the black mist angle with increased tenacity. Commentary sold it well being shocked that Willow resorted to choking Statlander in the corner.

The rest of the show earns a shrug. There’s not much to say about it. Orange Cassidy, Samoa Joe, and The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn all handled business. None of those champs were ever in trouble of tasting defeat. I was disappointed that Daniel Garcia turned into a goof possessed by the spirit of dance. Daddy Magic was right all along. Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy Garcia’s act, however, the rump shaking needs purpose to it. The dancing is fun but not at the detriment to victory. Garcia must meditate on finding the sweet spot in the best of both worlds between sports entertainment and wrestling.

Share your thoughts about Battle of the Belts VIII. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments from the show?

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