It’s been a while since I reviewed an AEW event. I would even say I’m pretty out of the loop when it comes to the feuds since I haven’t been keeping up with the shows. I will say it is nice AEW doesn’t try to cram a pay-per-view each month but space them out by months. This makes them feel really special and like something big is going to happen. Can’t really say if that’s going to be the case with this year’s Full Gear… but here’s hoping something will!
We got a lot of matches to get through so let’s not dilly-dally and get to the meat of Full Gear: the actual matches! However, I do have to give one criticism right off the bat and it’s how AEW does their recaps before the matches. They’re just too long for my liking. They can try to trim them down much better and they also feel rather stale. To be more accurate, it’s more like a lot of steak but very little sizzle. Yes, I know the opposite is supposed to be the bad thing but, you know what? You need a little more showmanship in the world of professional wrestling!
Then again, AEW did put the sizzle on where it matters: the actual wrestling! Every match was a delight to watch, which is why it is disappointing the worst match of the night, in my humble opinion, of course, was the I Quit match for the AEW Heavyweight Championship with Jon Moxley defending against Eddie Kingston. Maybe it’s just me but having wrestlers who are known for doing extreme stunts in an I Quit match just feels out of place for one thing. Then again, with what they did here, it does make sense… somewhat.
Basically, this was a Hardcore/No DQ match but the only way to win is to make your opponent say I Quit. Hence, there were a lot of bloody implements thrown in. You got your standard chairs and tables, of course. Things do get quite gory with Moxley taking out a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and Kingston suplexing Moxley into a bed of thumbtacks and, afterwards, “kindly” disinfecting the punctures with rubbing alchohol.
The finish, at the very least, utilized a submission hold… kinda. Moxley got a piece of barbed wire from his bat and wrapped it around his arm. He then locked in a headlock on Kingston with the barbed wire around his foe’s head to finally get Kingston to say I Quit. This was a good match with some bloody good spots but the pacing just felt off. It was slow and methodical, which is fine but, when you compare this to the other matches which came before it, it just felt dull by comparison.
Speaking of being dull by comparison, this is how I felt about the Elite Deletion match between Matt Hardy and Sami Guevarra. Maybe it was wrong of me to expect a lot from this, especially with Matt Hardy putting together another one of his signature “cinematic” matches. This just wasn’t up to snuff of the previous Stadium Stampede from All or Nothing.
There were more than a few cute moments, like Sami Guevarra using a golf cart to get to the Hardy Compound and Matt Hardy using a monster truck to crush said golf cart. The dueling fireworks barrage looked crazy fun, albeit dangerous! Someone could lose an eye! The really weird of the Elite Deletion match came with the appearance of Gangrel and Hurricane Helms! There was something with Hardy apologizing to Hurricane for not rescuing him for two whole years because of “long term storytelling” or something like that. I really have to keep up with my “Broken” Matt Hardy lore!
My biggest issue was the finish of the match. After Hardy and Guevarra were locked in the Dome of Deletion, Matt basically brutalized The Spanish God with chairshots, which eventually led him to get the pinfall victory. I understand Sami injured Matt for real with a chair so this is supposed to be his comeuppance. The issue is it felt out of place when you consider the overall silly tone of the Elite Deletion match. It was still fun mostly but I’ve seen The Broken One do much better.
Speaking of fun, the match between Orange Cassidy and John Silver from the Dark Order was just that. You did have some of the classic Orange Cassidy comedic bits but there were some shining moments that let you know he’s more than just a comedy act. Oh, sure. You got the bit wherein John Silver tore off Cassidy’s pockets but we still got a surprisingly engaging wrestling match mixed in with the humor.
In fact, the match kept on escalating up until the finish! John Silver went for a big discus lariat but Cassidy ducks underneath it and counters with an Orange Punch. One Beach Break driver later and Orange Cassidy gets the pinfall victory. This was a fantastic match as everyone got to show their stuff. While the two are as mid-card as they come, they put on a sensational match worthy of… upper-tier wrestlers.
The Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Adam Page for the #1 Contender spot was pretty good but, strangely enough, not all that memorable. It’s not like it was a terrible match as I remember being enthralled by the action. The problem is I’m super familiar with the two and I’ve seen what they can do already. Basically, both Kenny Omega and Hangman Adam Page did their greatest hits here and, while that’s perfectly fine and it was exciting, I can’t recall anything specifically unique about the match. It was great, I know that much. However, I can’t really remember why since it just gets mixed up with their other matches.
The finish came after Kenny Omega ducked under Hangman Adam Page’s Buckshot Lariat attempt. Omega then delivers a couple of V-Trigger knee strikes before performing the One Winged Angel to get the pinfall victory. Like I said, this was a good match. I would like to say it was an excellent match but it just looks too much like the matches they’ve had before. It takes away what would’ve made it special since I can’t remember anything to make it stand out among the rest.
I can’t say the same for the one which had Hikaru Shida defending her AEW Women’s Championship against Nyla Rose. This was a very exciting match for me because it just felt like both of them were doing just a little bit more than usual. They also made good use of Vicki Guererro, as she would try to interfere in behalf of Nyla Rose. Then again, this may be just personal bias as I really like Hikaru Shida as an in-ring performer. Whatever the case, I just liked this.
I do have a problem with how it all ended, though, as it didn’t feel climactic and, well, out of character for Shida. After an avalance Falcon Arrow, Hikaru Shida actually picked Nyla Rose out of the pinning predicament? Anyway, Vicki distracts Shida, allowing Rose to shove the AEW Champ to the outside. Guerrero threatens to hit Shida with a kendo stick but referee Aubrey Edwards takes it away from her. Shida recovers and shoves Rose into Guerrero. Rose kicks out of a Falcon Arrow but, after a couple of knee strikes, Hikaru Shida got the pinfall victory to retain her championship. This was a good match but, like I said, somewhat anticlimactic with Shida picking Rose off the canvas. Still, very good match in my eyes!
The match for the AEW Tag Team Championship was no slouch either! I’m actually not a huge fan of the Young Bucks as their matches do feel repetitive. However, this one did feel special thanks to FTR and the team paying homage to the big tag teams that came before them. Seeing them executed to perfection was also a highlight!
The finish also involved very good in-ring storytelling, with the focus on Matt’s bad leg. Cash uncharacteristically went for a 450 splash but Matt rolls out of the way! One superkick later and the Young Bucks are your NEW AEW Tag Team Champs! This was a fantastic match with really good action and attention to detail. Them doing other finishers was just the icing on the cake.
Speaking of titles changing hands, Darby Allin managed to eke a win from Cody Rhodes to become the new TNT Champion. Honestly, it’s about time! The two have fought before so they’re fully aware of each other’s capabilities and it shows. Lots of good back and forth and really heated action. Both competitors had moments when you thought they were sure to win but the opponent would kick out at the last second. There was really no way to figure out who was going to win here!
The finish was surprising to say the least, with Allin getting the pinfall after winning a rollup contest. Cody was gracious in losing and handing Allin the TNT belt but the celebration was interrupted by Tazz, Brian Cage and Ricky Starks. The latter two go on a rampage, taking Cody and Darby out. The assault is only broken up later on by Will Hobbs, setting up a potential feud between the teams. Like I said, this was really good and going to be hard to top.
Luckily, the match between Chris Jericho and MJF did top it! While not really heavy on the action, this was the standout match of the night for me because of really good character storytelling inside the ring. Both Jericho and MJF are great heel wrestlers and they did try to pull out the stops to get their hand raised in victory. I love it when two wrestlers in the ring are more intelligent than brawn and these two fit the bill.
This was definitely shown during the finish. Wardlow handed MJF the Dynamite Diamond Ring. MJF tried to use it but the Demo God ducks and nails his foe with a punch. He gets a baseball bat and threatens MJF with it but the wily MJF falls to the mat and pretends to be hit by the bat. Referee Aubrey Edwards admonishes Jericho, allowing MJF to roll up Le Champion for the pinfall victory and to become a part of the Inner Circle. Like I said the action wasn’t top-notch but the storytelling was fabulous.
This was a dynamite pay-per-view event. No stinkers and everything was a joy to watch. I guess AEW knows how to pull together a good show. Then again, that’s because they don’t make pay-per-views a monthly thing!
What are your thoughts on this year’s Full Gear by AEW? Let me know in the comments section below!