In a trash year that has canceled so much wrestling, AEW has been a bright spot. Dark gives exposure to talented indie wrestlers who would’ve lost work in the pandemic and Dynamite consistently puts on great matches. Last night’s Full Gear was one of the most enjoyable pay-per-views I’ve watched in a while.
So here’s the match-for-match breakdown.
NWA Women’s Championship: Serena Deeb (c) vs Allysin Kay – The Buy-In started with Deeb’s title defense against recent free agent (and another former champ) Kay. It was a solid match between two veterans who could really help elevate AEW’s women’s division – a roster full of talented women who are floundering because the division is basically an afterthought. After Deeb retained the belt, Thunder Rosa came out to issue a challenge for what she still considers her title. Their matches so far have been really good, so I’m looking forward, eventually, for Round III. – 3/5
Eliminator Tournament Final: Kenny Omega vs “Hangman” Adam Page – One of the longest-running angles in AEW has been Kenny and Hangman — from a reluctant tag team to the inevitable break-up, the changes between the two (Kenny’s return to being the Cleaner and Hangman leaving the Elite). This match was a hard-hitting war and a phenomenal opener for the main show. While Focused Yeehaw Man — thanks, AEW lower third — winning the title shot would’ve been a good redemption story (the commentators frequently mentioned that Hangman’s loss to Jericho in the promotions first championship match), no one in their right mind would’ve had him winning this match.
We all know Kenny’s the protagonist of this story and his nickname of “Best Bout Machine” says it all; I thought this was going to be my match of the night (I didn’t realize what was coming later) and is a legit MOTY contender. – 4.5/5
Orange Cassidy vs John Silver – If your squad don’t ride for you like the Dark Order rides for their members, do you really have a squad? John Silver has been the breakout star of Being the Elite over the last few months and this match against Orange Cassidy was just what we needed after the power and emotion of the first match. It had just the right amount of comedy (Silver ripped out Cassidy’s pockets! How dare he?!) to balance out the high-energy of the rest of the match. – 3.25/5
TNT Championship: Cody Rhodes (c) vs Darby Allin – That’s right; Cody has a last name again! If you want to know where AEW’s storytelling is, watch this match. I heard someone say that it was great David and Goliath story, which is accurate. The promos talked about how Cody has put on muscle to become a true heavyweight and how Cody has crushed Darby every time they’ve wrestled (which Excalibur disputes, pointing out that Cody has beat Darby “by the skin of his teeth”) and how Allin should never be the face of TNT. Even their entrances tell the story, with Darby and his skateboard riding atop a car that would be more at home in a junkyard than Daily’s Place vs Cody and his entourage with their slick matching tracksuits.
This was my match of the night. The emotion, the story…The wrestling, admittedly, was not as good as Omega vs Page, but it didn’t need to be. The story carried this, which was driven home by the final image of your new champ (post-beatdown by Team Taz) lying motionless on his car on top of the words “The Face of TNT.” – 4.75/5
AEW Women’s Championship: Hikaru Shida (c) vs Nyla Rose – The challenger came out in some gorgeous Mega(n) (Wo)Man gear – Nyla’s wife Kel is one of my favorite gear-makers right now and she knocked it out of the park. Not important even slightly to the match, but it needed to be said.
Nyla has been on a rampage ever since she lost the title to Shida and both of these women came to fight with stiff strikes. That said, I liked but didn’t love this one. It went on a touch too long and I’ve seen both have better matches. – 3/5
AEW Tag Championship: FTR (c) vs The Young Bucks – The Bucks declared that if they lost, they’d never challenge for the titles again. Seeing as Cody is already living that stipulation in regards to the world belt, we pretty much knew this was gonna be our second title change of the night.
Like FTR, I’ve been disappointed in the build to this match. The two teams have been teasing this match for years, and if the build had been better, it would’ve been co-main event with the world championship match. That said, it lived up to my very high expectations. Everything about this match said it was important, starting with the Lakers vs Celtics gear. And the best part was all the references to great tag teams of the past, everything from the Dudleys to #DIY. It brought a tear to my eye.
As a fan of tag team wrestling, this was everything that I wanted, down to FTR losing because Cash Wheeler – Mr. “No Flips, Just Fists” himself – decided to do a flip. If we didn’t have Cody and Darby earlier or if this dream match just had gotten the build it deserved, it would’ve been my MOTN. – 4.75/5
Elite Deletion: Matt Hardy vs Sammy Guevara – I like cinematic matches, but they’ve run their course. I liked most of the weird stuff Matt does at the Hardy Compound, but this one went on way too long and I got super bored, super quick. – 2.5/5
MJF vs Chris Jericho – The big stipulation for this match is that if MJF wins, he joins the Inner Circle. I didn’t realize how much I missed fans singing Judas until Full Gear, and the look on Jericho’s face showed he missed it, too. Also, MJF has a light-up robe now. Heel vs heel matches are always weird for me as fan – who do you want me to cheer for, dammit?! – but the crowd had no problems knowing who they were backing because Maxwell got the loudest boos of the night.
It was a good match, a little long, but a reminder of how good MJF is at such a young age. The Demo God has seemed impressed with him over the course of this angle and I’m not surprised that MJF came out on top – he did say he’d do anything to win. The entire “feud” has been goofy fun and I’m excited to see MJF be goofy in the Inner Circle. – 2.75/5
I Quit – AEW World Championship: Jon Moxley (c) vs Eddie Kingston – There’s not a lot I can really say about this. It was brutal and exactly what we expected. Eddie Kingston is a fucking star. But you knew that already. Last night wasn’t his night, but eventually, he’s going to have AEW gold. – 4/5
Matches = 3.5-3.75/5
Entertainment = 4.25/5
Overall = 4/5 Bibles