Welcome one and welcome all to the AEW: Full Gear 2021 review. AEW: Full Gear is one of the most anticipated PPVs of the year in a sea of seemingly never-ending PPVs, and the build to this show had been brilliantly put together. Some of it has been over two years in the making. So, could it live up to the hype?
Well…nearly. Look, I have no complaints about the wrestling on offer as it was of the highest caliber – as I’ve come to expect from AEW – it’s just some of the booking decisions I didn’t fully agree with. Weird endings that almost seemed botched, an after the bell beatdown that has no place on an event people are paying hard-earned money to watch, and far too much interference in the headline attraction meant that even though I enjoyed AEW: Full Gear, I did feel that it was nothing more than a glorified episode of AEW Dynamite.
And now I wait for the comments section to explode with people questioning my parentage.
The AEW: Full Gear Buy-In
Didn’t watch it. Sorry. Being in England, I have to get up in the middle of the sodding night to watch any PPV live as it is, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to sacrifice any of my tiny amount of sleep to sit through a two-hour-long pre-show with just one match on it. People give WWE crap about their pre-shows being pointless, but they’re not as pointless as this.
MJF vs. Darby Allin
It can’t be easy to kick off a PPV. You’re the first match of the night and no matter how fired up the crowd is, that can all change in the blink of an eye if you stink the joint out. Luckily, MJF and Darby Allin put on a fantastic curtain-jerker and one that had the right outcome. Yesterday at SPOBS Towers, we were trying to figure out how they were going to get out of this without either wrestler taking a hit. We agreed that MJF should be the one to get the 1-2-3, but how would they get to that point without Darby’s character coming off weak?
Well, the first step was to put on a bout that had me on the edge of the old sofa. It was a brilliant display from both men, as they traded blows, pin-falls, and moves as if this was going to be the last match either of them wrestled. Sometimes when I watch Darby Allin in the ring, I actually do believe it will be the last match he ever wrestles as he puts his body through so much that it’s going to catch up with him at some point. I fully appreciate what he does to entertain and to push the wrestling envelope to new extremes, but Coffin Drops from the top turnbuckle to the floor outside does not longevity make.
As for MJF, I think he suckered me – and a lot of other people – quite expertly. At one point he hit a Back Breaker on Allin and instantly cried out in pain. It genuinely appeared as if he’d done himself some damage and as the match progressed he sold it as such. I thought that this was going to be the perfect get-out for MJF. Injured, he could lose and claim that Allin hadn’t beat him fair and square, but instead, we got a moment where a distracted ref – removing Darby’s skateboard from proceedings – didn’t notice MJF pull the Dynamite Diamond from his shorts and lay his opponent out with it.
Yes, it was a distraction finish of sorts – and we all know how much I hate those – but this one didn’t bother me at all. Partly because we’d already seen Sting head off one attempt of interference from The Pinnacle earlier in the match, partly because I’d been fooled into believing that MJF would lose due to his dodgy knee, but mainly because MJF is the biggest bastard in the world and how the bloody hell else did you think he was going to get the pin?
AEW Tag Team Championship: FTR vs. The Lucha Bros.(c)
What the hell was that ending? Seriously? Can someone explain to me just what in the blue hell was going on there? I think the idea was to have FTR pull the same trick they did to win the AAA titles, but nobody seemed to have informed them they’d both have to be in the ring at the same time for that to work, and The Lucha Bros. simply hit a finishing move and pinned Cash Wheeler. Who was the legal man anyway!
That ending was just horrible.
That aside, this was just what you’d expect from two teams well versed in the art of tag team wrestling, and two teams that are very familiar with each other. It was a well-oiled affair with – the ending aside – all four men on the same page, hitting their big spots, getting all their moves in, and firing the crowd up even more than it already was, but that finish? Jesus.
I haven’t seen something that ungainly in a wrestling match since the first time I laid eyes on The Great Khali.
Winners And Still AEW Tag Team Champions: The Lucha Bros.
AEW Title Eliminator Tournament Final: Miro vs. Bryan Danielson
I know that a lot of people are more than happy with the outcome of the AEW Title Eliminator Tournament, but I’m gonna call it right now. They got this one wrong. The way they had this match laid out was perfect for Danielson to take the loss, but instead, he hit got the win after a rushed finish. At least, that’s how it seemed to me.
What I think should’ve happened was that no matter what Danielson tried, he couldn’t stop Miro. He tried everything, short of dropping him on his head – which he’d do at the end – and it had no effect on him. You could see Danielson questioning himself at every turn., wondering what he could do to beat this beast, wondering if he could beat this man that took everything he threw at him and then asked him for more. He should’ve succumbed to Miro’s strength and machine-like focus. This could’ve set Bryan on a journey of rediscovery – ala Okada in NJPW – and it would’ve set him up for yet another redemption arc that would’ve blown the roof off of wherever it was held and seen PPV buy rates follow suit.
Instead, we got the obvious outcome – meaning that all the subtle in-ring work the two put in meant nothing in the long run – and now I feel as if Hangman Page is nothing more than a transitional champion to set up a Danielson feud with Omega. After all, they’ve only had one match and that ended up in a draw.
Great fight, bad choice of victor.
Winner: Bryan Danielson
Falls Count Anywhere Match: The Super Kliq vs Jurassic Express and Christian Cage
If it wasn’t for the Main Event, this would’ve easily gotten my Fight of the Night Award. There are some amongst us at SPOBS Towers that don’t feel The Young Bucks are that good of a tag team. Overrated I think I heard bandied around. These people are obviously wrong and if they need convincing, they should go and watch this utter war between The Super Kliq, Jurassic Express, and Christian Cage.
It was f*cking brutal. With some of the most painful-looking spots I’ve seen since the days of The Dudley’s, The Hardy’s, and – unsurprisingly – Edge and Christian. Chair shots, ladder shots, bin shots, thumbtack knee pads, Adam Cole (Bay Bay!) bleeding like a stuck pig. I loved every damn second of this.
I’m not embarrassed to say I popped like a child when Luchasaurus hit a Shooting Star Press off the f*cking ramp onto Nick Jackson, Adam Cole (Bay Bay!), and Brandon Cutler below. As did the fans – who chanted “Holy S*it” – and Tony Schiavone and Jack Perry who both echoed the audience members sentiment as clear as day.
This was a work of wrestling art, and with Perry seemingly changing up his look each time out – he worked this match in jeans – we could be about to see the end of Jungle Boy as well. The only disappointment I had was that he delivered the Conchairto to Matt Jackson and didn’t turn around and beam Christian in the head as I was expecting him to do,
Come on, be honest, you can’t wait for a Jack Perry heel turn either.
Winners: Jurassic Express and Christian Cage
Tag Team Match: Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo vs. Cody Rhodes and The Bastard PAC
A good, solid tag team match that benefited from having PAC in it, but suffered from having to follow the Falls Count Anywhere Match we’d just seen. Nothing spectacular, but it kept the show ticking over nicely. I do have a couple of things I’d like to get off my chest, however.
First off, to the idiots who have now decided it’s their right to highjack a show by either trying to get involved with the wrestlers – as some drunk bint did at last week’s Dynamite – or bringing signs that say ‘Cody Ended Racism’. Do us all a favor and f*ck off back under the attention-seeking rock you crawled out from, will you? You’re about as funny as cancer.
Secondly, stop with the post-match beatdowns. It’s getting beyond a joke now. We can’t even have a PPV go by without someone coming out and laying a whupping on somebody else and I f*cking hate it! AEW promised they’d be different from the other promotions, that they wouldn’t rely on tired tropes, and yet, here we are with more and more of these crutches being used to fall back on, each and every week.
Winners: Cody Rhodes and The Bastard PAC
AEW Women’s Championship: Tay Conti vs. Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D(c)
This was the right choice. I said a couple of weeks back – or maybe it was this week, time just seems to flow together – that I didn’t think that Tay Conti was ready for the AEW Women’s Championship just yet, and I stand by it. Six months, a year from now, sure, she’ll be perfect, but in Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D, AEW has one of the most popular characters in all of wrestling, so why strip her of the belt when she’s carrying the division so well on her back?
This was a very entertaining match that didn’t see Rebel of Hayter interfere too much, though it did have me wondering if we were about to see a double turn, ala Hart and Austin. This was down to how shocked and frustrated Conti seemed to be getting with each pinfall that Baker kicked out of, and for a moment I thought they might be about to pull the old switcheroo.
They didn’t in the end, as Baker countered another pin attempt into one of her own – even though for a split second I don’t think anyone knew who’d actually won – and she retained her AEW Women’s Championship. Though I don’t think this feud is done. Not by a longshot.
Winner And Still AEW Women’s Champion: Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D
CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston
This was just a straight-up fight. a slobber knocker as Good OI’ JR would call it. In fact, JR summed it up best when he said that one man had come to wrestle and the other hadn’t. Right from the off, these two set about punching, kicking, gouging, and biting the hell out of each other, with the only caveat seeming to be “I’ll hurt you way more than you can hurt me.”
Punk bleed quite impressively – supposedly from an errant corner post, though I suspect blading – and took a hell of a lot more punishment than I expected him to. I was hoping that they’d call this in the ring as Eddie Kingston was greeted like a conquering hero, being cheered in everything he did while Punk – surprisingly – was on the receiving end of some vicious jeers and boos whenever he got the upper hand.
Part of me was hoping we’d get a Rock/Hogan situation going where they realized what was happening and changed the match on the fly, but it wasn’t to be. It took two GTS’ and a series of nasty-looking kicks to put him down, but Punk would pin Kingston for the 1-2-3.
No matter if I thought it was the right call or not.
Winner: CM Punk
Philadelphia Street Fight: The Inner Circle vs. American Top Team and Men Of The Year
This was a five on two handicap match. That’s it. I don’t care what anyone says, Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page had to carry three other men who are nowhere near what I’d call wrestlers throughout this match and still make it entertaining. Whatever those two are paid, it isn’t enough.
Sky and Page bumped around the ring and the outside, taking and dishing out some horrendous looking punishment, just because they’d been stuck with American Top Team who was made up of an old guy, and two former MMA fighters who should never be allowed near a wrestling ring again. Yes, I do realize that both of these men could kill me with their bare hands, but I gotta call it as I see it.
Neither one did anything that didn’t consist of punching people and Dos Santos was so late to interrupt a Chris Jericho Lionsault onto Dan Lambert that The Demo God had to stand on the ropes, waiting for him. It was laughable. I’ve been a longtime believer in wrestlers being trained in how to…y’know…wrestle, but it seems as if these two were just added into American Top Team because of name value. It sure as sh*t isn’t because of in-ring ability.
Thank the Wrestling Gods for Sky and Page. They carried this match between them. Being able to get in their shots, cause enough damage that people wouldn’t notice their teammate’s weaknesses, and take a brutal-looking Swanton Bomb from Sammy Guevara off a fricking 15ft ladder through a bastard table. They were the MVPs of AEW: Full Gear and both deserve a healthy pay rise from Tony Khan.
Winners: The Inner Circle
Jay Lethal Is All Elite
Probably not the news that most people were hoping for – with thousands convinced that we’d see the former Bray Wyatt at AEW: Full Gear in some way, shape, or form – the news that Jay Lethal is now All Elite is pretty damn cool as far as I’m concerned. Lethal is a hell of a wrestler and can only help enhance an already star-studded roster and his first opponent is Sammy Guevara? Hell, sign me up.
AEW World Championship: Hangman Adam Page vs. Kenny Omega
It was over two years in the making. A two-year spell that had seen Hangman Adam Page go through some of the greatest highs and lowers in his career, and here he was, across the ring from his former friend. Would the path of redemption be finally walked, or would he fall at the last?
This was brilliant. It was the culmination of some of – if not – the greatest long-term storytelling that wrestling has ever seen. Adam Page, a former member of The Elite, the man who had promised he would be AEW World Champion but had failed to beat Chris Jericho for the inaugural reign and had suffered for it ever since, here he was about to make one more grasp for greatness.
Only one thing stood in his way. Kenny Omega.
Well…Kenny Omega and Don Callis.
Only two things stood in his way. Kenny Omega and Don Callis.
Well…Kenny Omega, Don Callis, and possibly The Young Bucks.
Only three things st…
Okay, I might be being a little facetious there. This match was booked to near perfection, though I really, really could’ve done without Callis interfering every five minutes, but outside of that mild annoyance it was a barn-stormer. Kenny Omega is the greatest wrestler in the world today. If you think otherwise, you are wrong. Tell me any other performer who could pull off a Springboard Liger Bomb? You can’t, can you? Omega is called the Best Bout Machine for a reason, and together with Hangman Page, they weaved a tale that was for the ages.
Would he pull it off? Would he beat the very stacked odds? How can one human being take so many damn V-Triggers to the head? This match had it all. Suspense, thrills, spills, and Don Callis getting the taste slapped out of his mouth. It was beautiful.
It also raised the question, are The Elite no more? As we entered the final stretch, The Young Bucks came down to the ring and didn’t get involved. In fact, they seemed to signal their begrudging approval for Page to hit Omega with two Buckshot Lariats. So where does this leave The Elite now? For weeks it appeared that – perhaps – they were getting a little tired of Kenny and when Adam Cole (Bay Bay!) showed up he seemed to be there as Omega’s replacement. Well, now that prophecy might have come true.
As for The Hangman, he did deserve it. Though I sadly feel he is – as I stated earlier – nothing more than a transitional champion, let us bask in his success until Tony Khan books him to lose the strap to #1 Contender, Bryan Danielson.
Which’ll be on this week’s AEW Dynamite.