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AEW Battle of the Belts IX recap & reactions (Jan. 13, 2024): Le Street Fight Gods

AEW Battle of the Belts IX (Jan. 13, 2024) emanated from Chartway Arena in Norfolk, VA. The show featured Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara in a rowdy street fight for the tag titles, Julia Hart honoring House business defending the TBS title, and Orange Cassidy working his tricks to defend the International title.

Battle of the Belts IX ran as a double-header with Collision. This recap will cover the Battle of the Belts episode. For the Collision recap, click here. Ring the bell!

AEW World Tag Team Championship: Ricky Starks & Big Bill Morrissey defeated Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara to retain the titles. Street fight rules in effect. The brawling started outside by the production trucks. Bill chokeslammed Jericho into the brush, then Sammy drove a golf cart smashing into the champions.

Bill was out for blood. He threw a brick through a car window when aiming at Sammy’s head. Tony Schiavone’s reaction said it all, “What the hell?!? Sammy Guevara almost got his head caved in with a flying brick.” The challengers got back on track with a double suplex on the car roof.

As this automobile destruction was taking place, I was thinking it would be funny to find out who owns that car. Lo and behold, AEW delivered an answer. Rhett Titus was upset at the vehicular damage. Jericho shut him up with a Judas Effect.

The brawl made way into the venue, and Sammy pulled off an amazing wall flip. The Spanish God superkicked Bill and sprayed a fire extinguisher in his face. That move by Sammy was very cool.

Eventually, the action carried to the ring. The contestants separated with Bill and Jericho ringside and Sammy and Starks on stage. Jericho was going for a high impact move through tables, but Konosuke Takeshita popped up out of nowhere to hit Le Champion with what I believe was a kendo stick. Bill benefit with an elevated powerbomb through the wood.

Meanwhile, Sammy climbed the lighting truss for a high elevation dive. Will Hobbs pulled Starks out of the way, and Sammy crashed through the stage. Starks covered Sammy for the win.

Serena Deeb is ready to prove she is the best wrestler in the world.

TBS Championship: Julia Hart defeated Anna Jay to retain the title. Hart targeted the shoulder to do serious damage. Anna still fought hard and slapped on the Queen Slayer choke. Hart rolled over the top to create an escape, then she grabbed a choke of her own. Anna rose up to shed Hart off her back. Anna hit a flatliner. Hart kicked out on the cover. Anna continued her momentum for a high kick, but Hart ducked to counter for the Hartless submission to win.

Sonjay Dutt tried to help Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett work through their issues. Jarrett suggested they can get back to winning ways by sending Lethal packing. Satnam Singh entered with sweet treats from his mother. He shoved one in Lethal’s mouth.

AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy defeated Preston Vance to retain the title. The Undisputed Kingdom were seated ringside for Roderick Strong to scout a closer view. They didn’t interfere, but they did take part in a funny moment. Vance rolled outside in front of them to avoid a strike from Cassidy, so OC took to the air for a flying crossbody. Vance caught him midair and launched his body on a fallaway slam onto Matt Taven and Mike Bennett.

In the end, Cassidy used his tricks to rally for victory. Vance cinched in the Master Lock. Cassidy stomped the foot and backed him into the corner to break. Cassidy ducked a discus lariat to land a superman punch. Beach Break sealed the deal.

Afterward, Strong, Bennett, and Taven surrounded Cassidy in the ring. Jose The Assistant protested about them encroaching on Vance’s space, so they socked him. Strong and Cassidy shared a staredown over the International gold.

Grade: B

The street fight was bonkers entertainment. The other two title bouts were serviceable. They felt slapped together without much story, so there was no drama in thinking a belt could change hands. Another Battle of the Belts with no title changes, but I’m okay with it if we get matches on par with the level of excitement from the street fight.

The street fight was a firecracker to start. It put a smile on my face the entire time. The fisticuffs were so wacky, and yet they pulled it off as serious action. I love seeing street fights actually go into the streets. That might not be the most exciting viewing experience for live fans, but it’s so much fun watching at home. It adds to the chaos factor and embraces the novelty of the stipulation. The creative sequences popped with flash. Sammy Guevara is insane for that dive.

It’s a shame that Ricky Starks and Bill Big Morrissey aren’t more active in the ring as tag team champs. Their stock was through the roof after squashing FTR, then AEW did slow rolled their title defenses to cool out. When Starks and Bill get the chance to shine, they knock it out of the park. Collision needs to put on a PPV level opportunity at least once a month for Starks and Bill. Build a feud and go deliver stars in the ring.

Even in street fight gear, Starks still looks stylish. It was funny seeing Bill wake up at the end with mustard on his face and the title belt in his possession not fully realizing that they won. Plus, we now need a singles bout between Chris Jericho and Rhett Titus. He’ll look like a goober to let that disrespect slide from El Ocho.

The TBS title bout was a little confusing with House Rules. That was never made clear at the beginning, and Anna Jay never got to pick a stipulation. I suspect communication got crossed when Julia Hart yelled about the referee to disregard a rope-break due to House Rules. The match was okay. The movement was awkward at times, but the intensity was strong.

Orange Cassidy handled business to keep the AEW International Championship. He played his routine to appeal to his fanbase. Preston Vance showed good snap on his power moves. The fallaway slam bit onto the Kingdom was hilarious. Vance isn’t the best at showing emotion on his face, but little things like that can help his overall persona. Roderick Strong is chipping away at Cassidy’s patience, so that match should have zest to it once they collide.

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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