Awarding the Top WWE, AEW, Impact Performances for Week of Dec. 19

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2021

Awarding the Top WWE, AEW, Impact Performances for Week of Dec. 19

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    The week that was in professional wrestling was dominated by an instant classic between AEW world champion "Hangman" Adam Page and Bryan Danielson on Dynamite: Winter Is Coming.

    The match, one of the best of this generation, captivated fans and ignited buzz across social media, even without a definitive finish. Needless to say, it dominated the competition in this week's B/R Belts.

    But they were not the only stars honored for their contribution this week.

    Who else earned B/R Belts recognition?

    Take a look for yourself.

Introducing the Belts

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    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.


    Stratus Championship

    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.


    Jarrett Championship

    Named for the founder and face of the company, this B/R belt celebrates the best in Impact Wrestling over the past week.


    Dusty Championship

    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.


    Gooker Championship

    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?!"


    5-Star Championship

    Lastly, this title is awarded to the best match of the week.


    *Men and women are eligible for every title except Hitman Hart and Stratus.

Steamboat Championship: Hangman Page

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    From the outset of the AEW world title match Wednesday night, it was apparent Hangman Page and Bryan Danielson were going to run away with this week's B/R Belts, beginning with the Steamboat Championship for the best babyface.

    Page was brilliant as he absorbed everything his opponent threw at him and fought through a head laceration to still came within seconds of defeating The American Dragon in an instant classic.

    The double-tough Virginian showed the never-say-die attitude fans eat up; his grit and determination have helped make him the hero he is in AEW. Never quitting in the face of a punishing onslaught is what makes him so endearing, and that was on full display Wednesday in Texas.

    Whether he is telling the story of an anxious millennial with a knack for doing cowboy s--t on the mic or kicking ass in the ring, Page is probably the best good guy in pro wrestling. And as long as he is allowed to continue showcasing what makes him special and isn't overshadowed by his challengers, he will continue to win this B/R belt.

Piper Championship: Moose

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    It would have been easy to give the Piper Championship to MJF or Roman Reigns, consistent favorites to take it home every week. Instead, this week's title goes to Impact Wrestling champion Moose.

    The top dog in Impact insulted Matt Cardona with the "Mid-Cardona" nickname, used a derogatory term to describe his fiancee, Chelsea Green, and then put his top contender through a table. If that weren't enough, he ducked a chair shot from Cardona, who blasted Green instead.

    Finally, if you're not convinced he deserves this B/R Belt, take a look at the smile painting his face as he exited the Impact Zone.

    It was a great heel work from the world champion, who has consistently upped his unlikability since capturing the top prize in the company. If things continue to trend the way they are, do not be surprised to see the former NFLer steal the title out from underneath your favorites again.

Hitman Hart Championship: Bryan Danielson

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    Bryan Danielson is the best wrestler in the world, and anyone trying to convince you otherwise has not been paying attention.

    That title predates his arrival in AEW. Look no further than what he accomplished against Roman Reigns and Edge at WrestleMania and then against The Head of the Table on SmackDown shortly thereafter. That, coupled with everything he has done in Tony Khan's company since supports the claim, including a 30-minute time-limit draw against Kenny Omega at Dynamite Grand Slam.

    Then came the one-hour draw against Hangman Page on Wednesday's Winter Is Coming.

    Danielson never once looked out of shape or blown up in the hourlong match. He outwrestled and brutalized his opponent and, were it not for Page's guts and determination, would have captured the world title. Instead, he set himself up for another title opportunity sometime in the near future.

    And that match will inevitably be great.

    Somewhere along the line, fans, insiders, critics and analysts forgot about The American Dragon while discussing the best in the business. This a revenge tour of sorts, a hearty flip of the bird to anyone who dared to suggest he had lost it or wasn't the performer he once was, and we are all benefiting from it.

Stratus Championship: Toni Storm

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    Friday's SmackDown kicked off with Toni Storm tagging with Sasha Banks to battle Charlotte Flair and Shotzi. After weeks of having her credibility called into question by way of Gooker-worthy booking decisions, the Australian finally shone, showing off what she can do in a high-profile match that saw her pin Flair and set herself up for a championship opportunity on the forthcoming show.

    Storm is too good, a former Mae Young Classic winner and NXT UK women's champion, to have her first main-roster feud center around smashing a pie in a woman's face. Her performance Friday night in Chicago—not to mention the fans' reaction—was what she needed to help erase the creative team's early fumbles.

    It will be interesting to see how she follows it up next week in her big match with Flair and, more importantly, in the immediate fallout. Can she recover from a loss, if that is what happens?

    That will determine how many more opportunities Storm has to shine on Fridays.

Dusty Championship: Roman Reigns Fires Paul Heyman

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    There was nothing loud, flashy, curse-laden or obnoxious about Roman Reigns' promo Friday on SmackDown.

    Moments after Paul Heyman admitted he was trying to protect The Tribal Chief from Brock Lesnar, Reigns leaned in and hugged his special counsel, thanked him for 40 years of service to the family and fired him.

    Short, sweet and to the point, the crowd in Chicago ate it up.

    It was great television, the sort of storytelling WWE does at its best. Reigns has such a command over his character that losing Heyman, a move that would cripple other performers feels like the natural progression for the egotistical champion.

    He doesn't need to yell and scream. He doesn't need to throw "b---h" at the end of every line to generate a reaction. He speaks strongly and confidently, the fans acknowledge him and it works.

    This was evidence of what makes him so great, the fact that he can say something a 15-year-old could have and still make it so gut-wrenching and engaging.

    Reigns does not get nearly enough credit for being one of the best promos in the business. He certainly was this week.

Jarrett Championship: Rohit Raju

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    With the spotlight off of him in recent months compared to his superb 2020 run, it is easy to forget just how much of a workhorse Rohit Raju is for Impact Wrestling.

    A great heel with the ability to work with wrestlers of any style, he has long been among the most reliable performers on the roster. His selflessness allows him to put over others and make them look great between the ropes, but he never allows himself to be overshadowed. He is there, getting all of his stuff in, reminding the viewer that he may not win, but he sure as hell is going to leave an impression.

    That was the case Thursday on AXS TV, when he and former world champion Josh Alexander tore the house down in the night's opening match.

    He worked with a guy at the tippy top of the card but was competitive, presented himself as Alexander's equal and, though he walked away with the loss, he again proved that he has the ability to test every single wrestler on the roster regardless of stature and profile.

    That is the work of a great professional wrestler and, more importantly, a team player who knows his role in any given match and executes it in a manner that exceeds every expectation.

Gooker Championship: Happy Corbin, Madcap Moss and the Sword in the Desk

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    Happy Talk with Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss on Friday night was the type of wrestling TV that makes you embarrassed to admit you're a fan. Not because of anything Corbin or Moss did. They have made the most of the lackluster creative handed to them. Corbin, in particular, is an asset to WWE and has a history of overcoming bad writing.

    The problem with the segment is that it existed in the first place.

    Did we need two grown men trying to replicate The Sword in the Stone with another grown man's sword? Why does said grown man have a sword named after his mother anyway? Why aren't Corbin and McIntyre having kick-ass matches while Moss bumps around for The Scottish Warrior?

    Too often, WWE goes overboard with attempts at entertainment, dragging down the quality of its shows in the process. Let the wrestlers do what they do best without shoving unfunny, unentertaining shlock down the audience's throat.

    The fans in Chicago have been obnoxious with chants of "CM Punk" in the past, but the ones that rained down on Moss and Corbin as they yucked it up in the center of the ring Friday night were forgivable. Hopefully WWE Creative learns from its issues and lets those involved tell their story in a less groan-inducing way.

5-Star Championship: Hangman Page vs. Bryan Danielson

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    This is the single easiest championship ever handed out in B/R Belts.

    Danielson and Page delivered a 5-star classic Wednesday night on Dynamite. It was a phenomenal match destined to be recognized for many years to come as one of the greatest of this era.

    Don't like the draw finish? Too bad.

    The match intentionally set up a rematch and, in the process, set up Page as a gutsy champion able to hang with the best in the world while protecting Danielson and retaining his status as the top contender. It accomplished exactly what it set out to, and the instantaneous praise across social media served as evidence.

    A bloody, physical, intense battle between two men looking to prove themselves as the best AEW has to offer, it was everything great about the art form of professional wrestling.

    This will not be the last time they earn this title together.