B/R Belts: Top WWE, AEW Performances for the Week of November 28
It was a hotly contested week for B/R Belts between WWE and All Elite Wrestling, what with the former's Survivor Series pay-per-view Nov. 21 and strong episodes of Dynamite and Rampage from the competition.
There were great performances by the industry's biggest stars and an all-timer of a promo battle between two of wrestling's best talkers. Throw in some great heel work by a former world champion and the mind-boggling booking of a prospective top contender, and you have a noteworthy week in the world of professional wrestling's top two promotions.
Who stood out enough to earn B/R Belts for their performances over the past seven days?
Let's take a look.
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 male wrestler of the week.
A revolutionary performer who bridged the gap between generations of female performers, Trish Stratus is the namesake of this belt, presented to the best female 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: Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy, at age 44 and in his 28th year in professional wrestling, may be the best and most pure babyface in all of wrestling. Don't believe that? Watch back his tag team match with Drew McIntyre against Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss from Friday's SmackDown.
Some may dismiss it, claiming Hardy was only so over because the show took place in his home state of North Carolina, but that would demonstrate ignorance of the enormous ovations he has received in arenas across the country.
The Charismatic Enigma teamed with McIntyre to defeat the aforementioned heel duo Friday night and then came within an eyelash of earning a shot at Roman Reigns' Universal Championship, only to be robbed of the opportunity by an alert and cunning Sami Zayn.
The disappointment that swept over the arena when Zayn eliminated him indicates just how badly fans want to see the future Hall of Famer succeed in WWE.
The more exposure he gets on television, the louder the reaction will be and the more fans will champ at the bit to see him in a top-level position. Hardy has repeatedly expressed his desire to wrestle Roman Reigns, most recently on Wednesday's edition of Steve Austin's Broken Skull Sessions.
If he keeps generating the types of reaction he has and proving his connection with the audience, WWE will not have a choice but to put him in a position to make that desire a reality.
Hardy remains as over as he is because he has never pretended to be anyone but himself. He's not the biggest or baddest, but he's always been one of the coolest and more death-defying wrestlers on any roster. He might be a little older and naturally a little slower, but he still brings an aura about him that captivates fans every time he steps through the curtain. That cannot be mass-produced or taught in a Performance Center. You either have it or you don't, and Hardy has it in abundance.
Piper Championship: Bryan Danielson
Heel Bryan Danielson is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
Not only does he do all of the classic heel stuff, such as turning down a fight with some lame-ass excuse as to why he can't participate, but he also viciously and savagely brutalizes innocent parties along the way. First was Evil Uno on the previous week's episode of Dynamite. Wednesday night? Chicago's own Colt Cabana.
The physicality, aggression and relentlessness he brings to his matches at this point is unrivaled. That he promises to kick the head in of every Dark Order member until he gets his AEW Championship match with "Hangman" Adam Page only makes him that much more dangerous and deplorable.
This is the best version of Bryan we have seen since his Planet's Champion days in WWE nearly three years ago. He is viler with every passing week, and the fact that he dodges competition from Page proves he is both intimidated by the challenge and jockeying for the right opportunity.
He talks a big game, but when confronted by the champion he wishes to dethrone, he tucks tail and leaves. It is the traditional heel move with a bit of a dangerous head-kicker sprinkled on for flavor.
It will be interesting to see which Dark Order member feels his wrath when AEW heads to Georgia, especially since both Alan Angels and Anna Jay are from the state. We have yet to see AEW cross many intergender lines, but might the surest way to intensify the hatred for Danielson be to have him target The Queen Slayer?
The answer to that question, and maybe even the date for his AEW world title match against Page, will be revealed Wednesday on Dynamite.
Props to Paul Heyman, who nearly wrested this award from Danielson at the last minute on the heels of his performance Friday night on SmackDown. Every week we watch him get startled and outsmarted by Kayla Braxton. On Friday, with Roman Reigns by his side, he bullied the backstage announcer and dismissed her from the ring like a real slimy bad guy, only to have her proved correct by the end of the night.
It was a great performance by a guy who understands—and always has—the nuances of his character. We're lucky to have the special counsel on TV every week because he enhances everything he is involved in.
Hitman Hart Championship: Adam Cole
Since arriving in AEW, Adam Cole has been the picture of consistency. Always among the best wrestlers on any show on which he appears, that was no different when he partnered with longtime (and undisputedly great) partner Bobby Fish to battle Orange Cassidy and Wheeler Yuta of Best Friends on Friday.
Cole was the best wrestler in the match and showed surprisingly strong chemistry with Cassidy, making a potential showdown between Cole and Freshly Squeezed mighty appealing.
The former NXT and Ring of Honor world champion has been the best wrestler in most of his matches under the AEW umbrella to this point, raising a question about when will he move on to something of greater significance than random tag matches.
Cole arrived in AEW in September with momentum behind him after a run in NXT that saw him emerge as the face of the brand. Since then, he has partnered along Superkliq buddies The Young Bucks and Fish to battle Jurassic Express and Christian Cage almost exclusively but feels as though he is on a booking treadmill.
Yes, there are other pieces at play and ongoing stories preventing him from jumping to the top of the card, but it still feels like the company should be taking advantage of his star more than it is.
If he can continue to deliver the type of in-ring performances he has since arriving, though, it will only be a matter of time before there is no choice but to return ol' Budge to world title contention.
Stratus Championship: Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch again proved why she is the best women's wrestler in a major promotion with her performance against Charlotte Flair at Survivor Series.
With all of the pressure on her and Flair's shoulders given the hype and real-life animosity between them, Lynch and The Queen delivered a hellishly physical match that saw The Man out-cheat her opponent en route to victory.
The Raw women's champion spent a large portion of the match selling the effects of her opponent's offense, reminding fans she can easily slide right back into the babyface role when necessary. That she outsmarted the dirtiest player in the game, manipulating the referee's positioning and grabbing hold of the ropes helped to accentuate the performance.
Lynch has been on fire since returning at SummerSlam, delivering a series of outstanding performances against Bianca Belair and adding the champion vs. champion duel with Flair. Now, all eyes turn to Liv Morgan, who has yet to be in a high-profile championship match against one of the pillars of women's wrestling in WWE.
That will be the real test of Lynch's comeback: Can she elevate a talent who has yet to be at the mountaintop?
We saw her do it in 2019 with Lacey Evans when The Man was at her peak. If she can replicate that and make Morgan the star so many have expected her to be, it will be difficult to argue anyone but Lynch is the best.
Jamie Hayter and Thunder Rosa also earned consideration for their intensely physical battle on Dynamite that saw the latter score the win on an errant superkick from Dr. Britt Baker, DMD. Do not at all be surprised to see Hayter assume the role of Batista moving forward—the smarter-than-believed sidekick who knows very well that the Good Doctor only keeps people close to her to protect her title and one day will oppose her for it.
Dusty Championship: CM Punk and MJF
The moment CM Punk grabbed a microphone to respond to MJF's initial verbal onslaught Wednesday night on Dynamite, it was clear who was going to leave this week with the Dusty Championship.
Punk and MJF engaged in a brilliant, edgy 20-minute promo battle that saw MJF reference John Cena before his idol-turned-rival compared him to The Miz. Like a great match, the intensity of the words escalated until Punk promised MJF he would end up in the obituaries of the New York Times.
What was the most anticipated promo in recent memory did not disappoint. The full video of the battle has generated 1.9 million views as of this writing, suggesting multiple replays from fans looking to relive the verbal beatdown the performers dealt each other.
Punk got the better of his younger, smarmier rival Wednesday, but if history tells us anything, MJF is far from finished with the Second City Saint. There will be more to come, and if this first one were any indication, AEW fans will be here for it.
Gooker Championship: Booking Toni Storm
At what point did Vince McMahon and the writing team think that the best way to get fans who are unfamiliar with Toni Storm's work to invest in her as a top contender to Charlotte Flair's SmackDown women's title was to book her the way she was Friday night?
Storm was humiliated, pied twice in the face by Flair.
That isn't the issue, though. Sometimes, humiliation can form a desire among the audience to see the babyface fight back and avenge their indignity. The problem was that Storm just stood there and took it. There was the first pie and then a second that she walked right into.
As Flair arrogantly walked off, Storm stood there, glaring at the champion. Most people, embarrassed on national television like that, may have been inclined to attack their assailant. Instead, Storm just stood there with whipped cream on her face as the show shifted to the next segment.
She showed no anger, no real emotion at all. Nor did the segment call for it. It was another instance of Flair getting one over on Storm, who has never once been treated like the champion's equal. Considering how inconsistently the prospective champion has been utilized, and how bungled her main roster call-up was, she needs all of the help from creative she can get to be taken seriously as a contender.
Segments like Friday's turkey will not do it.
If Storm doesn't erupt in a fit of revenge Friday, getting the best of Flair and finally proving herself worthy of opposing the top star in the division, we are destined for a title match that will be great but have no bite because no one will believe the former NXT UK women's champion is a viable challenger.
That is unfortunate because WWE Creative has failed a young performer who has had star written on her from the moment she appeared in the 2017 Mae Young Classic.
5-Star Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair, Survivor Series
Lynch and Flair kicked off Survivor Series on Sunday, and beyond getting the show started with a bang, it needed to live up to expectations placed on it by fans that had followed the real-life drama that has existed between them since the failed title exchange segment.
They delivered, attacking each other from the opening bell. From there, they were responsible for a match that was physical, hard-hitting and kept fans invested throughout. The bumps were a little harder, the strikes stung a little more and the intensity was off-the-charts.
There was trash-talking to hammer home the dislike between the two before a finish that may not have backed up everything that preceded it but made sense considering both are the top heels on their respective brands.
It should not have been a surprise that the match was as good as it was, though.
We witnessed Lynch and Flair deliver a Match of the Year contender three years ago at Evolution in a Last Woman Standing match that further solidified Lynch as the breakout star of the year. There was no reason to believe they would not deliver again, especially considering everything surrounding the match.
Two of the best female wrestlers in the world took to the ring with the idea of unloading frustration and stealing the show. They accomplished both.