(Promotion: All Elite Wrestling – Event: Full Gear – Location: Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore, MD – Announcers: Jim Ross, Excalibur – Date: November 10, 2019)
The preshow opened with an excellent pre-produced Countdown piece highlighting all the key matches and why the viewer should care about them. It was cut and narrated much like a Showtime or HBO boxing event. It was very well done.
Britt Baker v. Bea Priestley
Excalibur, Taz and Goldenboy are the announcers.
Prior to the start of the bout, a pre-tape aired of Baker. She came off so natural and relatable. At the same time, she threatened to rip off Priestley’s jaw. It’s one of the better promos she has ever cut.
Late in the bout, Baker hits an “Avalanche Brainbuster” and a cutter for a nearfall. She follows with a “Crucifix” for two.
Priestley hits a German and follows with a shoulder capture suplex. She drives her heel into Baker’s back.
Baker hits a ripcord elbow into a destroyer for a nearfall. She superkicks her opponent and lays her out with a Russian leg sweep and goes for the “Lockjaw” submission. Priestly pulls her hair to get out.
Baker sinks in the “Lockjaw” for the victory by submission.
The arena lights go out. Awesome Kong and Brandi Rhodes make their way to the ring. Rhodes looks particularly vampy, like Elvira. Kong clobbers Priestly with a spinning backfist. Kong brandishes a knife and gives it to Rhodes. She hits a double-underhook gourdbuster to Priestley. Rhodes grabs a chunk of Priestley’s hair and Kong hacks it off. She tucks it in her belt like a trophy.
Overall: The match was serviceable. Like I said, Baker’s promo was good, which counts for a lot at this stage in the game. I like Priestley. She is a bigger more physical version of Paige from the WWE.
With three minutes until the start of Full Gear, Justin Roberts announces Jim Ross who makes his way to the announce booth.
Ross makes a last-minute pitch for the show. The Bucks and the Proud & Powerful will kick off the show. Ross and Excalibur loosely suggest that this may indeed be the match of the year.
There is pyro to officially open the evening.
Ross tells fans that Tony Schiavone is on-assignment covering a Georgia Bulldogs football game.
The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) v. Proud & Powerful (Santana & Ortiz)
Minutes into the bout…
Nick Jackson eats a knife-edge chop from Santana, and then fights off a double-suplex. Ortiz lays him out with a “Dragon Screw.” Nick retaliates with a superkick. Both men are down.
Matt hits two double suplexes on the Proud & Powerful.
The Bucks connect with “Risky Business” on Santana.
Santana gives a cutter to Matt.
15-minutes has elapsed in the match.
Audience: “This is awe-some!”
Matt counters the “Street Sweeper” in mid-air.
The announcers remind viewers that Matt and Ortiz are the legal participants.
The Bucks superkick Ortiz. They then powerbomb/cutter him for a two-count. Nick’s right leg buckles during an attempted “Meltzer Driver.” The Jackson brothers are in trouble.
Nick’s gum flies out of his mouth. Santana picks it up and chews it.
Audience: “You sick fuck.”
Nick unloads on P&P with kicks.
Ten minutes remaining.
Audience: “Fight for-ev-er!”
Proud & Powerful hit the “Street Sweeper” on Nick for the win.
JR seemed shocked by the outcome.
Sammy Guevara is out to celebrate to heavy boos. He gives a sock full of baseballs to P&P. The Rock-n-Roll Express hit the ring to make the save. Ricky Morton hits a Destroyer on Santana. He then does a tope to the floor. The audience is eating it up.
“There is some magic left in those bones of the Rock-n-Roll Express! –JR
Overall: This is a big step forward for Santana & Ortiz. Both guys are legitimately cool. They have natural swagger and feel authentic and threatening. They are the legitimate heirs to other NYC-based performers like Homicide and Eddie Kingston. Proud & Powerful are destined to be the aces of the division. I’m looking forward to them squaring off with the RnRs.
PAC v. “Hangman” Adam Page
Fifteen minutes in…
Page rocks PAC with an “Avalance Blockbuster.”
JR: “They ‘know how to fall,’ right?
PAC answers with a release German.
Page comes right back with a pop-up powerbomb.
PAC transitions from the “Deadeye” into the “Brutalizer.” Hangman drops to one knee. His face is bright red. He falls into the ropes. The ref breaks them up.
PAC misses the “Black Arrow.” He goes for a low-blow but Page blocks it. He clotheslines the Brit and buries him with the “Deadeye” for the pinfall.
Overall: This was good, not great. This was PAC’s first loss in the company, though it shouldn’t affect his momentum. Page is learning loads from these matches with quality opponents like PAC.
Shawn Spears (w/ Tully Blanchard) v. Joey Janela
Janela hits a flipping senton off the top to the floor.
Spears with a release suplex off the top.
Janela gets an inside cradle for two, tope suicida, kicks to jaw and chest and suplex.
Ten minutes announced.
Blanchard is up on the apron to buy Spears time to recover.
Spears drills the Bad Boy with a gut wrench suplex across the top turnbuckle.
Blanchard distracts the referee while Spears exposes the top turnbuckle. The duo spike piledrives Janela on the floor. Spears hits the “C4” for the pinfall.
Overall: Decent match. I love the Spears/Blanchard combo. They grow on me a little more each time I see them. And they MUST keep the spike piledriver in their toolbox. It’s a great callback to the days of Tully & Arn Anderson…plus, it’s just cool. Spears will/would be an amazing secondary champion for the company if such a belt is ever introduced.
Goldenboy interviews Kip Sabian. Sabian tells him that he thought he was an intern. He says that he is going to carve his own path in the company. Also, he has found a kinship with The Hybrid2. Penelope Ford comes out and gives him a kiss. She is his shoot girlfriend.
Ford: “Why be ‘bad’ when you could be ‘Superbad?”
This was a clear shot at “Bad Boy” Joey Janela, her former beau.
AEW World Tag Team Championship
SCU (c) v. Private Party v. Lucha Bros.
Scorpio Sky locks Fenix in a “Dragon Sleeper.”
Marq Quen executes a flawless “Fosbury Flop” to the floor.
Isiah Kassidy launches a “Tornillo” to the floor.
Rey Fenix performs a double-springboard rotation dive. Simply gorgeous. He then rattles Sky with a springboard crossbody for a nearfall.
Kazarian hits an assisted DDT off the top rope. Wow!
Quen delivers a Pele kick to both champions. He stuns Kaz with a perfect shooting star press. Millimeters away from new tag champs.
Kazarian avoids “Gin & Juice.”
SCU gets the duke over Kassidy to retain the World Tag Team Championship. They are jumped by the Lucha Bros. after the bell.
As Pentagon goes to perform a “Package Piledriver” on a chair, the lights cut out. Another Pentagon is in the ring. He hits the “Angel Wings” on Fenix and unmasks to reveal that he is Christopher Daniels. He wildly swings chairs at the Lucha Bros.
Christopher Daniels: “C’mon, I’m back! I’m back!”
Audience: “Fal-len An-gel!”
Overall: This was a hot match. The tag division is going to be the key to the long-term success of the company and these teams are laying a terrific groundwork for the future. I’m glad that Daniels didn’t come out until after the bell. I’m curious where the story goes next, now that he had returned but isn’t necessarily part of the tag team champions.
AEW Women’s World Championship
Riho (c) v. Emi Sakura
The women are trading strikes. Riho explodes on her larger opponent. She hits a “Northern Lights” suplex for a nearfall, then a stomp off the second and top ropes for two-counts.
Sakura fires off a “Backdrop Driver” reminiscent of Takeshi Morishima of Pro Wrestling NOAH. She then executes a double-underhook into a torture rack driver. Riho barely gets a foot on the rope to break the pin.
Riho realizes a double-knee strike to the side of the challenger’s head. She transitions a “Crucifix” into a high stack pinfall to retain the championship.
Sakura shakes and raises the champion’s hand after the bell.
Overall: This was a far smoother match from Riho than any I have seen her have in the company to date. The history between the two certainly figures into their familiarity with one another, but I’m wondering if the shared language helped as well.
AEW World Championship
“Le Champion” Chris Jericho (c) (w/ Jake Hager) v. Cody Rhodes (w/ MJF)
Rhodes (with MJF) rises from the stage, surrounded by fire. Rhodes’ entrances always inspire chills.
Jericho saunters out with Jake Hager in tow.
This bout is the very definition of “Big Fight Feel.”
“He is the grandson of a plumber. He is the father of a husky.” –Justin Roberts
Minutes into the match…
Rhodes hits a springboard Diamond Cutter.
MJF is at ringside showing concern.
Jericho drives the challenger into the post. He then taunts Michelle Rhodes, Cody’s mother, who slaps him.
Rhodes makes the save and embraces his momma.
The “American Nightmare” then “Water Wheel” drops “Le Champion.” He then locks him in the “Figure Four.”
Hager jumps up on the apron. Rhodes sends Jericho into him and rolls the champ up for two.
Hager is ejected. He attacks MJF, who is taunting him. Officials escort him out.
Jericho cracks Rhodes with the belt. He gets a 2-count.
Both men are on their knees, trading punches.
Rhodes connects with a bionic elbow for two.
Jericho counter for two. He removes his weight belt and whips the challenger. The ref takes the belt from him.
Rhodes goes for a hurricanrana from the top. Jericho reverses it into a “Lion Tamer.” Rhodes struggles and gets to the bottom rope.
Jericho sinks in the “Lion Tamer” again.
MJF is gripping a white towel.
Jericho stomps Rhodes on the head while he torques down on the move at a sick angel.
MJF…throws in the towel to a litany of catcalls and boos.
Winner and still champion: Chris Jericho.
Rhodes is shown beaten up and defeated.
JR on MJF: “I think he did the right thing.”
Friedman is kneeling in the ring looking concerned.
The Inner Circle is out to celebrate. They throw Jericho upon their shoulders.
MJF is trying to explain himself to Rhodes. He is in tears. Cody puts his hand on his shoulder…and MJF kicks him in the crotch.
Excalibur: “Human GARBAGE!”
MJF: “My turn!”
MJF slowly struts from the ring. Fans toss garbage on him.
Overall: Man, I love the build and body of the match…but the finish. I don’t have a problem with Rhodes losing, I fully expected him to. But pulling the trigger on the MJF turn feels extremely premature. This could have slow-boiled for a minimum of 6-months to a year. The wait would’ve made the turn even more textured and explosive. That being said, the resulting Rhodes-MJF feud is gonna be a banger. I get AEW’s desire to launch Friedman as a top-tier heel because he is going to be a major singles star.
Kenny Omega v. Jon Moxley
Omega enters the ring in traditional gear. He looks serious.
Moxley enters wearing camo pants, boots and a black leather jacket that reads “MOX” on the back.
The announcers remind viewers that this match is unsanctioned, therefore it doesn’t count for or against either participants’ record. Hence, I am going to treat it at such and forego a detailed blow-by-blow.
This match included barbed wire, baseball bats, broken glass, mousetraps, chain, a screwdriver, chairs, tables, trash cans, the mat was pulled up to expose bare wood and anything else one could conceive. At a runtime of over 38:00 minutes, it was just overkill. It was way too long. Eventually, the violence lost any significance or meaning.
The build didn’t warrant the match. Yes, these two had a number of violent dust-ups leading into this bout, but the resulting encounter was far being the sum of the beef between the two. I mean, you tear into someone in this manner if they punched your mother in the face, not if they said some mean things about you in an interview. It’s like, what the hell does the company do in the future when they have a white-hot blood feud on their hands? What level has been set for such a scenario?
I’m a fan of both men. I think they are terrific performers in different ways, but this was just a bad call. It feels as if Moxley saved every nutty idea he had during his term in the WWE and barfed it out in one match. If he’d have sparsed them out they would’ve lasted him a couple years. Instead, he burned through them all in 40-minutes, ultimately belittling the risk and impact on the viewer along the way. If they’d have picked the top two or three spots and featured them, the match would’ve been far more dramatic and memorable.
I commend both wrestlers on the risk and sacrifice involved in executing such an encounter, but in retrospect, I don’t think they made the best choices.
The build-up to “Full Gear” was awesome.
Rhodes cut a career-defining promo and Jericho cut a video that will be talked about for years.
I cared about nearly every match, save for the women’s title defense, going in. Both tag bouts delivered.
The tag division is quickly proving itself to be the load-bearing post of the entire organization.
The choice to turn MJF this soon is an unfortunate one. However, the toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube. I don’t think that this will cause irreparable damage to MJF’s career, but it has slightly altered the trajectory. A 5-star meal was in the works and instead AEW is serving a pretty good dinner. It’s now up to MJF to make up the lost ground. I’m fairly confident he has the tools to do so.
I’ve said my piece about Mox-Omega. I really don’t care to see the “The Cleaner” in such a position again…and Moxley will be fine if AEW creative takes the initiative to edit him.
To be continued…
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