Though the build-up may have been muddied by yet another backstage fight, with Andrade vs. Sammy Guevara the latest backstage battle to garner headlines across the greater sporting world, AEW: Battle of the Belts IV is officially here, and this time, it’s going to be a little different the previous runnings of the show.
For one thing, the show will not run on Saturday, likely to avoid clashing with WWE’s Extreme Rules, and will instead air immediately following Rampage on TNT. The show will also be live, a change from recent runnings of the special, which will avoid spoilers like *spoiler* Claudio Castagnoli besting Konosuke Takeshita for the Ring of Honor World Championship – arguably the best bout in the show’s limited but expanding history.
Will this slight format change fix what ails the event? Maybe, maybe not; AEW’s Friday night offering on TNT has been lagging pretty significantly behind their efforts on TBS, and seemingly even the decision to move Jim Ross to the show full-time hasn’t been enough to get the show out of the 500-600k range on the regular. Still, after Battle of the Belts III only averaged 437,000 viewers during its initial televised run, it’s possible AEW could see a marked improvement over its previous viewership total, which is encouraging, considering Tony Khan is currently vying for a new television deal and a weekly Ring of Honor show.
And yet, if AEW is able to roll over the audience from their live Rampage running at 10 pm ET to BotB IV, that’s only half of the battle; no, the show actually has to keep the audience for a full hour and prove to the Warner Bros Discovery duumvirate that the show is, in fact, worthy of continued runnings into 2023, instead of being left on the cutting room table like other AEW ideas like the Nightmare Family, Late Night Dynamite – Ben Carter should be in AEW, not known as Nathan Frazer in NXT – or the original orientation of The Dark Order. Will three matches featuring the likes of Jade Cargill, Willow Nightingale, FTR, The Gates Of Agony, Trent Beretta, and PAC – who will also be wrestling on Rampage in a trios match of Death Triangle vs. Dark Order – really be enough to swing the needle one way or another, or does Khan need to pull an Orange Cassidy-Jack Evans and have a “win on picture and picture“-style shake-up to get folks to buy into the show? Either way, fans will find out soon enough.
Get ready for tonight's Friday Fight Night at the #AEW Control Center!
4 Championships are on the line at #AEWRampage & #AEW Battle of the Belt IV #AEWBOTB4; join us for 2 hrs of LIVE ACTION starting at 10pm ET on TNT!
▶️ https://t.co/a32dT5aN17 pic.twitter.com/y7S7mRky1x
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) October 7, 2022
3 bold predictions ahead of AEW’s Battle of the Belts IV.
3. Willow Nightingale gets fully over in AEW
While Battle of the Belts IV is being billed as an AEW show, two of the acts and one of the belts being contested actually call Ring of Honor their regular home, with FTR defending their ROH Tag Team championships, Gates of Agony members of the company’s The Embassy faction alongside Brian Cage and Prince Nana, and Willow Nightingale a fixture of the promotion’s first two Khan-booked pay-per-views.
BotB IV is the night Nightingale transcends her status as a part-time AEW player and fully gets over in the eyes of the promotion’s fans.
Yes, Nightingale’s record in the company isn’t great, with a 7-14 record historically, and she’s already lost to Cargill three times, twice in tag team action and once for the TBS Championship, but she’s a charismatic babyface the likes of which AEW is sorely missing. If given a competitive match instead of a squash, don’t be surprised if Nightingale is the big winner of the night, even in a losing effort.
OMG— Will Willow Nightingale be the one to end Jade Cargill's TBS Championship reign ?!?!? pic.twitter.com/025LKEaiV1
— Denise 'Hollywood' Salcedo (@_denisesalcedo) October 6, 2022
2. FTR steal the show
With the Young Bucks suspended, FTR are the undisputed best tag team in AEW right now. Yes, technically, The Acclaimed are the promotion’s tag team champions right now, but from a technical standpoint, it’s hard to put the two teams in the same league, and thus, it’s almost impossible to imagine the two teams facing off for the belts as a result.
And yet, because Max Caster, Anthony Bowens, and Billy Gunn are so darn over, FTR find themselves in a weird spot – to the point where Dax Harwood explicitly reminded Khan that “we still work for you, book us, brother.” Still, with a pair of big baddies in Gates of Agony booked for Battle of the Belts IV, don’t be surprised if fans online are clamoring for more FTR by the end of the night – an outcome Khan is likely dreading.
I'm really looking forward to seeing Gates of Agony vs FTR for a few reasons.
1. It's a FTR match.
2. Toa made his AEW debut against FTR and looked great so I'm hoping they can replicate that here.
3. Prince Nana will be at ringside. pic.twitter.com/Vsr92YHEoU
— Patrick🇮🇪 (@PatrickEireWres) October 7, 2022
1. No belts change hands.
And last but not least, the biggest prediction of all is the most obvious one: no belts exchange hands at Battle of the Belts.
I know, crazy, right? Though one belt has changed hands in the event’s history – Sammy Guevara vs. Scorpio Sky at BotB II – it’s hard to imagine that happening again at Battle of the Belts IV, with the one match with the highest probability of a change actually booked for Rampage, when Death Triangle face off against Dark Order for the AEW World Trios Championship. If it was Orange Cassidy vs. PAC in the main event, maybe fans would be on upset watch, but unfortunately, this card feels pretty predictable.
PAC vs. Trent Beretta set for AEW Battle of the Belts IV https://t.co/FfSK80fmSl pic.twitter.com/5DdVwjdbKk
— Wrestling Observer (@WONF4W) October 1, 2022