All Elite Wrestling: Full Gear match rating 9th November
On November 9, 2019, All Elite Wrestling held its first pay-per-view event since launching their T.V program, AEW: Dynamite. The show was held in Baltimore, Maryland in the Royal Farms Arena.
There were a total of 8 matches on Full Gear, which varied in quality. The last match - Jon Moxley v Kenny Omega in an Unsanctioned Match, drew polarizing reviews from critics and fans alike.
In the AEW World Championship Match, Chris Jericho defeated Cody in 29:35 when MJF threw the towel in for Cody after Jericho had him locked in the Liontamer. Since Cody lost, he will be unable to challenge for the World Title again. To make matters worse for the American Nightmare, his long-time friend MJF kneed him in the unmentionables, turning on his mentor after ending his dream of becoming champion.
In the Unsanctioned Main Event, Jon Moxley defeated Kenny Omega in 38:45 after he hit Omega with a Paradigm Shift onto the exposed boarding under the ring. This match drew heavy criticism due to its length and the intensity of some of the spots during the match - notably when Jon Moxley crawled through shattered glass to escape a submission maneuver
1) Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. def. Bea Priestley in 11:35 by submission.
This match was broadcast on the pre-show and was fairly uninteresting. Baker came out of the gates hot but was quickly slowed by Priestly who began working over her head. Baker has previously suffered a legitimate concussion while working with Priestly, so this came off as in poor taste. The finish came when Baker hit a Panama Sunrise off the ropes for a two-count, then put Priestley in the Lockjaw hold for a submission.
Both Baker and Priestly worked hard but the working of Bakers' head and Bakers general inexperience left this a below-average open. After the match, Awesome Kong came out (accompanied by her voodoo master Brandi) and hit a spinning back-fist on Priestley. Kong then cut some of Priestley's hair and added it to her belt like a trophy. A strange continuation of a strange angle.
2) Proud 'n' Powerful def. The Young Bucks in 21:00 by pinfall.
The Rock-n-Roll Express was shown at ringside before the match. The Young Bucks opened the match hot, sending Ortiz into the crowd over the railings. Referee Mike Knox would not allow a tag between Ortiz and Santana as it was hand-on-foot - it seems the rumors of AEW officials trying to keep tag teams in line are true. They worked Nick Jackson's leg and he was able to showcase just how good a seller and all-round performer he has become - he sold this leg at every opportunity. The finish came when the Young Bucks went for a Meltzer Driver but Nick collapsed. PnP gained control and hit Nick with the Street Sweeper.
If AEW is trying to make casual fans see The Young Bucks as special or stars - which they are too hardcore fans - they're not doing themselves any favors by having them eat losses to the Lucha Bros., Private Party and now PnP. It's understandable that they don't want to be seen as abusing their Vice President Role to dominate the roster, but they still need to be booked strong or fans won't see them that way. Having great matches like this isn't enough if they don't eventually win.
After the match Sammy Guevara (who is rapidly becoming one of the best heels in the company) came to the ring and handed PnP socks filled with baseballs to beat on the Bucks with. Rock-n-Roll jumped the rail guard to make a save and the sixty-three-year-old Ricky Morton hit a Canadian Destroyer and a Suicide Dive to the outside. Incredible scenes. Hall-of-Fame worthy. It's scary to think how good Jericho will be at 63 (in 14 years) if he decides to wrestle that long.
3) Adam Page def. PAC in 18:30 by pinfall.
The bell rang and the fans chanted 'cowboy s**t' in reference to Page. Wonderful stuff. They got the heat on Page when PAC hit him with some brutal stomps and kicks and a brainbuster to the outside onto a chair. Towards the finish, PAC turned the Deadeye into a Brutalizer in an incredibly smooth spot only world-class workers like PAC could pull off. Page got to the ropes, so PAC went for a Black Arrow and missed. He ducked under a Buckshot Lariat. PAC tried a low-blow behind the refs back but missed. Page finally took control and hit the Deadeye for the pin.
This match was a more traditional brawl than the previous tag-match. PAC and Page are both fantastic workers and it shows. Hopefully the start of a nice series. However, again like the Young Bucks, stars are made through wins - especially if you are touting wins and losses matter. Was this the best time for PAC, who was probably in line for a title shot - to lose? Almost certainly not.
4) Shawn Spears (w/ Tully Blanchard) def. Joey Janela in 11:45 by pinfall.
This match was, let's say, a change of pace. Janela ran the apron but got powerslammed by Spears who then tied Janela's hair to the ring post, creative at the very least. Spears locked in a Sharpshooter. The irony that the infamous Montreal Screwjob was exactly 22 years ago, and Earl Hebner was the referee then and now was lost on everyone - including commentary. Janela got some offense in but then Spears took him to the outside and hit a Spike Piledriver with Tully Blanchard assisting. Spears hit the C-4 Death Valley Driver for the win.
Seeing Tully do something for once was interesting but this was the lame duck of the show.
Goldenboy interviewed Kip Sabian backstage and they introduced Penelope Ford as his new valet. She told the audience 'Why just be Bad when you can be Superbad?' The story is that in real life Ford was dating Janela, 'The Bad Boy', but left him for 'Superbad' Sabian. Blending reality into wrestling sure makes for an interesting angle.
5) SoCal Uncensored (c) def. Lucha Brothers & Private Party at 13:00 by pinfall to retain the AEW World Tag Team Championship in a 3-Way Tag Team Match.
The fans booed referee Rick Knox for acting like a stick-in-the-mud with the opening tag match, which was harsh. Knox got into an argument with Scorpio Sky long enough for both Fenix and Pentagon (who were the stars of the match) to hit superkicks on Private Party (who are an enormous talent but still incredibly inexperienced). The Lucha Bros. were in the ring the majority of the match and did a great job putting the heat on both SCU and Private Party. There was a big all-in dive spot that ended when Fenix decided to show everyone why he is genuinely one of the best wrestlers in 2019 and hit a triple springboard twisting plancha from the ring corner to the outside. Incredible scenes. Hall-of-Fame worthy. The finish came when Quen hit a spectacular shooting star press and Private Party went for the Gin and Juice but Kazarian broke it up and SCU hit an SCU-later for the win.
This match was good but it would have been better served with more time. All three parties are massively talented and it showed how stacked the tag division in AEW is right now. After the match, the Lucha Bros. started beating on SCU. The lights went out and a second Pentagon Jr appeared and did the no-fear hand signal with the original Pentagon, who was neither shocked, nor made any move to attack this new Pentagon. The strangest moment of the show. Pentagon Jr. 2.0 hit an STO on Pentagon Jr 1.0 and the Angels Wings on Fenix and was revealed to be Christopher Daniels, to a huge pop, but the surprise of nobody.
6) Riho (c) def. Emi Sakura in 13:20 by pinfall to retain the AEW Women's World Championship.
There was a fantastic video package playing up the student v. teacher dynamic of this match. Excalibur said they had wrestled over 200 times together and it showed. This match was awesome. Riho hit a corner double stomp. Sakura hit a rolling Mexican Surfboard. Sakura was hyper-emotional all match and it added to a great story. Riho made a comeback but Sakura cut her off with a double stomp of her own. The finish came when both women engaged in a series of roll-ups like their match on Dynamite. This time, however, Riho got the better of the exchange for the pinfall.
This was a wonderful technical match and probably the best women's match so far in AEW.
7) Chris Jericho (c) (w/ Jake Hager) def. Cody (w/ MJF) at 29:35 by technical submission to retain the AEW World Championship.
The stipulation going forward in AEW Championship matches seems to be that if the match goes a 60-minute time limit, it will be decided by three judges. The judges tonight were Dean Malenko, Arn Anderson, and The Great Muta. If Cody did not win this match, he could never challenge for the AEW title again.
This match was very old-school. It started slowly with a lot of chain wrestling. Cody worked the right arm Jericho uses to hit the Judas Effect. There was a staredown between Jericho and Malenko. The first big spot of the match came when Cody tried a Topé Suicida to the outside but landed hard on the metal ramp. It busted him open B.A.D. Doctors tried to tend to Cody but he called them off. Jericho started working the face to get more blood gushing so Cody's cornerman MJF came to the apron. This allowed Jericho's cornerman, Hager, to attack Cody behind the referees back. Cody missed a Moonsault and Jericho went for a Lionsault which Cody got the knees up for. Cody hit a Diamond Cutter - a tribute to a family friend Dallas Page - for a near fall. Jericho rolled out of the ring to intimidate Cody's mum who slapped Jericho right in the face. Classic.
Cody hit an Alabama Slam and started his big comeback. He locked in a Figure Four in which Jake Hager broke up, causing the referee to expel him from ringside. Hager beat the everloving s**t out of MJF before departing. Behind Audrey Edwards back Jericho hit Cody with the belt in a classic Eddie Guerrero moment but took so long to cover him that Cody kicked out. Cody blocked the Judas Effect and hit the Cross Rhodes for another near fall. Cody hit a Bionic elbow to a massive crowd pop and another near-fall. Jericho took off his weight belt and whipped Cody a few times before Audrey Edwards put a stop to it.
The finish came out of nowhere. Jericho locked in a Liontamer. Cody got out of it and Jericho confronted the ref, who shoved him into a small package by Cody. Jericho got out and put on another Liontamer and twisted Cody nearly in half. MJF sold how crushed he was that his best friend wouldn't tap and threw in the towel.
The Inner Circle came out to celebrate. After they left MJF helped Cody up and, after much discussion, Cody went for a hug. MJF nailed Cody right in the Private Parties and walked off. They finally turned MJF full heel.
This match itself was awesome and had wonderful storytelling. The post-match angle conflicted me. I initially didn't like MJF throwing in the towel because it seemed like a cop-out finish and it got the wrong kind of heat for a few minutes - fans did not want to see a cop-out finish like this. MJF turning made the whole angle great but for a while AEW had its first dose of bad heat on a finish, and nobody wants that.
8) Jon Moxley def. Kenny Omega in 38:45 by pinfall in an Unsanctioned Match.
To preface, it should be noted that in no way should a match of this magnitude of violence ever be condoned in the industry. While I personally enjoyed it to a great extent, this is the kind of match that should not be emulated by others or by AEW anytime soon. It was remarkably unsafe. No match involving men with massive open wounds crawling through a dirty arena and wrestling on a dirty mat should ever be considered safe. Let alone the actual spots in the match including exposing the wooden ring boards and performing head-impact moves onto them. Was this an awesome match? Yes. Do I want to see it ever again? No. Was it safe? Absolutely not.
The match opened hot and stayed hot for nearly 40 minutes. Omega threw Moxley over the guardrail and hit him with a dropkick. When Omega busts out awesome wrestling moves there isn't anybody in the world who performs at his level of crispness, impact and work-rate. Moxley eventually brought out his barbed wire bat and laid some heavy shots into Omegas back. Omega blocked the shots Moxley was trying to hit on his face and went for a Dragon suplex which Moxley stopped by rubbing Omega's bicep with the barbed wire. If nothing else, this match was super creative. Kenny found his barbed-wire broom and swept it all across Moxleys back. Moxley bled more in this one spot than I knew it was possible to bleed in a match. They took it into the arena and pelted each other with trash cans. Omega hit the crispest moonsault you have ever seen onto Moxley while holding a trash can. Back to the ring and Moxley pulled out an ice-pick which Kenny ducked out of the way of in the nick of time. Moxley buried this thing two inches into a turnbuckle that was close to being Omega's skull. Moxley looked keen to hang Omega with a chain but Omega hit some fantastic looking Dragon suplexes to escape and then tried to hang Moxley over the ring apron himself. Again, Omega's wrestling ability is still unmatched anywhere in the world that I have seen. Omega hit a Tope con Hilo onto Moxley to the outside and they flew through a table they had set up earlier.
Omega pulled out a bag full of broken glass from the table Moxley put him through weeks prior. He tried to jam a piece down Moxley's throat before breaking the entire bag up and spreading it on the ring. Omega gave Moxley a Lo-Down onto the broken glass, and it got a two count. The referee got broken glass on his hand while calling the pin. Now this match is unsafe for three people. Great. Omega put a sharpshooter on Moxley, who crawled through the broken glass (which was probably gimmicked) to make it to the ropes for a break.
Omega took a German Suplex onto the bed of Broken Glass. He hit a pair of V-triggers but Moxley rolled out the ring and went up the ramp. Omega followed him with the ill-fated Ice-pick. He carved Moxley's skin with the pick to no submission. Omega called out the Bucks and Adam Page and told them to bring it out. They tried to stop him but eventually they brought out what Excalibur described as a "barbed wire spiderweb". They teased a One-Winged Angel onto it but eventually Moxley gave Omega a suplex and they both went through it.
Twelve people helped them out of the wire. Still the match continued. Omega gave Moxley a V-trigger through a spotlight. Still it continued. They somehow made it back to the ring without bleeding out and Moxley hit a Paradigm shift onto the broken glass for a two-count. Still it went on. Moxley used scissors to pull back the ring canvas and padding and exposed the wooden boards under the ring. Omega got out of a piledriver, hit a V-Trigger and his own DDT for a near-fall. He missed a Phoenix Splash and landed head first on the wooden ring posts. If this match hadn't gone far enough, this was the limit. Finally, Moxley hit him with the Paradigm Shift onto the wood for the pin. Finally, the bloodbath was over.
This match was a spectacle. I loved it in a vacuum, but if AEW make a habit of having their Lights Out Match be this dangerous I will quickly grow less fond of them. Please don't make this a habit.
And that was Full Gear! A strong show overall that could have used way, way, waaaaaay less violence towards the end Let me know any comments you had about the show, and thank you for reading my first piece!