B/R Belts: Top WWE, AEW Performances for the Week of October 24
On the heels of WWE's Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, and as All Elite Wrestling continued its build to Full Gear on November 13, fans were greeted with a surprisingly great week of professional wrestling, and it is reflected in this week's edition of B/R Belts.
With excellence between the ropes, who was able to snag the Hitman Hart Championship for best wrestler and the 5-Star Championship, awarded to the best match of the week?
What promos stuck out, which booking decision had fans scratching their heads and which women's wrestler rose to the occasion and captured the Stratus Championship?
The answer to those questions lies inside of this recap for the week of October 24.
Introducing the Belts
Before we get to the performers who defined the past seven days in WWE and AEW, these are the B/R belts at stake and what they represent.
The Steamboat Championship
Named after the consummate good guy Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, this belt is awarded to the top babyface of the week.
The Piper Championship
When he was bad, he was oh-so good. Named for the late "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, this belt is awarded to the best heel of the week.
Hitman Hart Championship
Arguably the best to ever do it, Bret "Hitman" Hart is defined by his in-ring excellence. This belt is awarded to the best men's wrestler of the week.
A revolutionary performer who bridged the gap between generations of female performers, Trish Stratus is the inspiration for this belt, presented to the best women's wrestler of the week.
The legendary Dusty Rhodes had the gift of gab and the ability to captivate an audience with his words. This belt goes to the star(s) responsible for the best promo of the week.
Pro wrestling has a long and, um, dubious history of WTF moments. This belt is awarded to the stars, match or moment that had you asking "huh?!"
Lastly, this title is awarded to the best match of the week.
*Men and women eligible for every title except Hitman Hart and Stratus.
Steamboat Championship: Mansoor
Sometimes, the best babyfaces are the most simple. They're not overwritten or given convoluted motivations. They are simply good guys wrestling bad guys for pure reasons, and this week's Steamboat Championship winner is one such performer.
Mansoor entered his hometown of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, determined to prove he was not a talentless waste, as Mustafa Ali had called him. He wanted to prove he belonged, and he did just that, rising to the occasion and defeating the former cruiserweight champion in front of his friends and family.
He would make it 2-0 just a day later, upsetting Ali for a second time as he put an exclamation point on what was a monumental week for the young star.
Is he destined to stand above other, more prominent babyfaces again? Who knows, but for this week, he stood out as a throwback to the uncomplicated good guys of the past, and the result was refreshing if nothing else.
Piper Championship: Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns has been the best heel in WWE for the last year, an arrogant-yet-calculating bad guy whose reliance on The Usos and Paul Heyman is obvious, but not always necessary. This week, the self-proclaimed Head of the Table needed every ounce of interference he could get to save his Universal Championship reign.
When he did get it, and narrowly escaped Riyadh with his title intact, he arrived at SmackDown more arrogant and braggadocious than ever before. He took credit for smashing Lesnar, claimed he would do it again and when confronted by The Beast, he got his ass kicked.
That is the sign of a great heel; someone who talks a big game but often cheats and when the time comes takes the ass-kicking.
Was MJF great this week and worthy of repeating as the Piper champion? Sure, but Reigns was on top of his game for yet another week since August of 2020 and absolutely earned the recognition.
Hitman Hart Championship: Bryan Danielson
Bryan Danielson's one-man crusade to remind the wrestling world that he is, without a doubt, the best wrestler in the world continued into this week's Dynamite, where he delivered another show-stealing performance against Dustin Rhodes as part of the World Championship Eliminator tournament.
Bryan was aggressive, physical and earned the win to advance to the semifinals of the competition, where he will meet Eddie Kingston for a spot in the finals.
With the restraints off and the focus on turning in banger after banger, Danielson is somehow managing to wow a wrestling world that never forgot how excellent an in-ring performer he is.
We are witnessing the renaissance of The American Dragon and should absolutely be ecstatic about what he has accomplished and will moving forward. His match against Rhodes, who himself is always great, easily earned him the award, even as there was a better match out there this week.
Stratus Championship: Anna Jay
Anna Jay may not have the experience of a Ruby Soho or Britt Baker, or the exposure of a Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair, but the sole female in The Dark Order showed up and showed out Friday night on Rampage as she challenged Baker for the AEW Women's Championship in what was her best performance to date.
She was confident and demonstrated strong chemistry with Baker, who won the match. But it was the Georgia native who stole the attention of the viewing audience.
It's been fairly obvious from the moment Jay made her first appearance in AEW back in 2020 that she was destined for big things with the company. Grabbing the attention from fans in her first match of significance, against the measuring stick for women's wrestling in the promotion, is a great way to ensure momentum stays trending in that direction.
That she earned this title in the same week that Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks had a strong showing in Saudi Arabia is a testament to how good she was in a match in which she absolutely had to shine.
Dusty Championship: Roman Reigns
Piggybacking off his Piper Championship, Reigns also earns the Dusty Championship for the show-opening promo on this week's SmackDown.
In his bag following his successful title defense against Lesnar at Crown Jewel, The Tribal Chief kicked off this week's show by touting the laundry list of performers he has beaten since capturing the Universal Championship, then he spoke on smashing The Beast Thursday.
Except, you know, he had to cheat and rely on interference from The Usos to retain his title. The bragging, the uber confidence and the complete lack of awareness as to why he really is still champion elevated the promo and helped him retain heat through a commercial break.
Challenging Brock to a fight, thinking he either wouldn't answer or delusionally believing he actually smashed him in Riyadh, only enhanced what was a great bit of business from The Head of the Table. His work on the mic has come a long way over the last year, and he deserves every accolade he receives for working to better himself in that field.
Gooker Championship: Cody Rhodes Defeats Malakai Black
Cody Rhodes defeated Malakai Black Saturday night on Dynamite, an outcome you likely saw coming from a mile away the moment AEW began its ill-advised redemption storyline with him. The fans in Florida certainly did and greeted the outcome with a chorus of boos, and rightly so.
One of two things is happening: AEW either doesn't know that Rhodes isn't John Cena and that the boos are not reflective of a wrestler fans get a kick out of jeering, or they are stubbornly sticking to the game plan to keep Rhodes babyface despite every indicator suggesting the audience has no desire to see him inspirationally win these big blowoff matches.
Black had momentum on his side and is a rare attraction in this wrestling business. He was red-hot and saw his momentum halted with a loss to Rhodes that did not need to happen. Sure, it was the culmination of a few weeks of Arn Anderson riding The American Nightmare for being soft and losing his focus, but that story was so incredibly tone-deaf that you have to wonder if those with any real power had simply tuned out the audience over the last three months.
Rhodes has stated he's not turning heel, thanks in large part to his role with AEW's community outreach program, per Brian Jones of PopCulture.com. That's fine, but he should expect resistance in every single story that he appears in moving forward because the AEW fanbase wants nothing to do with this self-righteous babyface.
It's unfortunate, because Rhodes is a great worker, proving as much in the match with Black Saturday night. Sadly for him, the wrestling industry isn't what it was a decade ago, when fans set aside their disdain for Cena's babyface character and eventually just grew to appreciate and respect him.
This story doesn't have that ending. The heel turn will have to come eventually or we are destined to have repeats on Saturday nights in cities around the country for a long time.
5-Star Championship: Edge vs. Seth Rollins, Hell in a Cell Match
Edge and Seth Rollins tore the house down at SummerSlam. They did it again in Madison Square Garden a few weeks later. Given their history of superb in-ring offerings, there really was no reason to believe they wouldn't wow fans again.
Wow is an understatement.
They had a genuine Match of the Year candidate, a brutal and violent Hell in a Cell match that culminated with Edge slaying The Visionary and earning the highest-profile victory of his comeback to date.
Setting an impossible bar for anyone else on the show to eclipse, they lived up to lofty expectations with a match that would have been right at home in the main event slot of a WWE pay-per-view.
It is a testament to them and the match they constructed that they earned this week's 5-Star Championship, because Andrade and PAC probably would have taken the prize home any other week given their superb outing on Friday's Rampage. Ditto for Danielson and Rhodes from Dynamite.
Edge and Rollins' match was simply that much better, concluding a red-hot rivalry, reminding fans of Edge's all-time excellence and, more importantly, casting out any doubt that Rollins is an elite performer and professional wrestler.