Awarding the Top WWE, AEW, Impact Performances for Week of Dec. 5
Don't let the new headline fool you: We are back for another edition of B/R Belts, celebrating the best in WWE and All Elite Wrestling from the past week, with a little Impact Wrestling now mixed in too.
From the return of Brock Lesnar to the latest in the MJF-CM Punk feud, the week that was in pro wrestling brought us several notable highlights, but which were great and memorable enough to earn one of the coveted championships named after industry greats?
Find out with this recap of the segments, stars and promos that left the greatest impression over the past seven days.
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 namesake of this belt, presented to the best women's wrestler of the week.
Named for the founder and face of the company, this B/R belt celebrates the best in Impact Wrestling over the past 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: Brock Lesnar
Who would have imagined that Brock Lesnar would succeed to the extent he has as a babyface?
Friday night, The Beast returned from his suspension and coerced Sami Zayn into cashing in his title opportunity against universal champion Roman Reigns on that night's show, freeing up the Day 1 pay-per-view match for another top contender.
By battering Zayn later in the show and leaving him for Reigns to pick apart in short order, Lesnar ensured himself a date with the man who screwed him over in Saudi Arabia and cost him the universal title.
Lesnar bullying Zayn isn't why he wins the award for the top babyface. Instead, it is the low-key sense of humor and ability to outthink the heels that earns him the honor. In a week when no better, more traditional hero stood out, it's the brute force of nature with imposing features and surprising wit who takes the title, his second since the start of B/R Belts.
Piper Championship: MJF
The Piper Championship could probably just be renamed the MJF Championship at this point because the loudmouth from Long Island has a tendency to earn it at a higher clip than others.
This week is no exception.
Whether he was accusing CM Punk of trying to get into Britt Baker's pants, incessantly repeating the "PG Punk" nickname on commentary or just being a generally obnoxious asshat, MJF captures the disdain of fans, who cannot stand his entitlement and the cutting nature of his insults.
While this week's promo on Punk may have seen him grab for some low-hanging fruit rather than coming up with something fresh, it was executed so well that you could not help but want to punch the smug look off his face.
At their best, wrestling heels make you want to see them get beat up. MJF accomplishes that every single week, whether he is doing his thing on the mic or competing between the ropes. The inevitable showdown with Punk will be phenomenal, if only because the tension between them is palpable.
Hitman Hart Championship: Seth Rollins
The Hitman Hart Championship could have easily gone to either Seth Rollins or Finn Balor for their low-key excellent match that kicked off Raw Monday night, but we'll give it to the winner.
Rollins has been nothing short of extraordinary over the past year. Perhaps it is the stale nature of WWE programming or Rollins' own consistent excellence causing him to fly under the radar, but there is a very real argument to be made that this is the best version of The Visionary we have seen yet.
The ring work is a huge reason why.
No one in WWE, not even Roman Reigns, can be counted on to have a good-to-great match every time he sets foot inside the squared circle. Rollins, like Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle before him, has entered that rarified air where he is one of the company's most reliable workhorses.
Monday night, he and Balor tore the house down with a show-stealing match won by Rollins to help set him up for his January 1 WWE Championship bout with Big E and Kevin Owens, a match that will almost certainly see him show up and show out.
Stratus Championship: Ruby Soho
Ruby Soho had the best match of her AEW career Wednesday night on Dynamite against Kris Statlander.
Her style meshed incredibly well with that of the bigger, stronger Statlander and allowed Ruby to fight from underneath, something she excels in. She takes a great beating, absorbing the offense of her opponent, before showing grit and determination in her comeback.
Just as it looked like she was done for, Soho scored a rollup that allowed her to secure the win and advance to the semifinals of the TBS Championship Tournament.
It had been a bumpy road for Soho prior to the match. She had been off television for a bit and had struggled to have that one defining contest in AEW. She headlined Grand Slam against Britt Baker in a solid bout, but nothing else stood out as eye-opening.
That changed Wednesday night.
Now that she has that under her feet and a feel for the women on the AEW roster, expect Soho to shine as so many have known she could. Up next? "The Native Beast" Nyla Rose.
Jarrett Championship: Jonah
The inaugural Jarrett Championship, celebrating Impact Wrestling's best, goes to Jonah, who made his first in-ring appearance for the company Thursday night on AXS TV.
The big man made short work of Jai Vidal, manhandling him and finishing him off with the middle-rope splash before cutting a promo in which he made reference to the Impact World Championship and issued a warning to Josh Alexander.
It was Alexander he beat bloody in his shocking debut with the company at Turning Point. The Walking Weapon will likely seek revenge but may want to rethink his plans if they include confronting the massive Australian.
Jonah is a talented heavyweight whose WWE career ended abruptly when he was released in June. Now, he has the chance to prove to those decision-makers just how wrong they were about him in a company that will provide him with plenty of opportunities to become a top-tier star.
Dusty Championship: Edge
"You've got people on other shows saying your name for a cheap reaction. You live rent-free in a lot of heads."
That line, a reference to CM Punk calling MJF a "less famous Miz" over on AEW Dynamite, was the most buzz-worthy line of Edge's promo Monday night on Raw, but it was hardly the only notable one.
Interrupted by the returning Miz, Edge heaped praise on The Hollywood A-Lister for making it further than anyone ever imagined he could. He also called him out for his lack of mutual respect, both propping him up and laying the foundation for their rivalry.
"You expect respect. I earn it."
The dichotomy of the two characters was on full display as Edge cut into Miz, accusing him of using WWE and pro wrestling as a launching point for reality TV fame and dance competitions.
The Rated R Superstar cut another Hall of Fame promo, the likes of which have defined his return to the company. Will he get the same quality of match out of Miz that he did Seth Rollins during their rivalry this past summer? Probably not, but if the promos can talk people into caring about the feud, the crowd will be red-hot either way.
He got things off to a strong start Monday. Hopefully both he and his new-found rival can build on it.
Gooker Championship: Pies Over Championships
Why are two women fighting over pies on SmackDown?
Toni Storm and Charlotte Flair are entirely too talented for their feud over the blue brand's women's title to degenerate into a rivalry based on smashing each other in the face with pies.
After the previous week's segment, in which Storm stood around and did nothing as Flair humiliated her on national television with the Thanksgiving dessert, she returned Friday, getting a measure of revenge by also smashing her rival with a pie?
Flair rightfully brought up on the post-show Talking Smack that if she had been treated like the challenger was a week ago, she would have kicked someone's ass. Instead, Storm just repeated the same thing Flair did to her.
The whole feud, which should have been among the easiest to write (young challenger stepping up to the throne) has devolved into a weekly excuse to use whipped cream on television in a feud that is going nowhere and helping no one.
Least of all the potential star challenger who is way too good to be wasted in silly, creatively bankrupt stories.
5-Star Championship: Penta El Zero Miedo and Pac vs. FTR
The best match of the week goes to Friday's AEW Rampage main event between AAA tag team champions FTR and Death Triangle's Penta El Zero Miedo and Pac (substituting for Rey Fenix).
Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood worked over the one-eyed Pac for the majority of the match before a hot tag to Penta sparked the babyface comeback. Just as Penta and Pac appeared to be en route to an upset of sorts, Malakai Black appeared, spraying black mist into Pac's one good eye and allowing the champions to pick up the win.
Pac was superb as a replacement for Fenix, fitting right in and ensuring the quality of the match never dropped. FTR, as has been the case for years, continued to exhibit why they are at the top of tag team wrestling. An old-school throwback with the capability to hang with the new-school high-flyers, they scored another big win while the still-undefined relationship with Black once again proved advantageous.
A great match to wrap up a week of mostly good wrestling from all three of the country's top promotions.