Saturday, November 14, 2020

AEW: Full Gear 2020 Review - November 7th, 2020

AEW Full Gear

November 7th, 2020

Jacksonville, FL

IT IS TIME. I am a few days late, scratch that, a week late thanks to work causing me to miss a small get together with my friends Mike & Donnie to watch this event live. None the less, I am just as fucking stoked despite seeing spoilers. And as a note, I also caught the main event live. 

Don Callis has joined Excalibur, Jim Ross, & Tony Schiavone on commentary for our opening match per request of Kenny Omega. 

1) Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Page - Finals of the AEW Title #1 Contender’s Tournament 

Alright. We all know I’m a mark for the Bullet Club turned Elite turned AEW EVP’s. Omega & Page’s title defense against The Young Bucks earlier this year earned a five star rating from me which is a testament to how invested I am into this story. Admittedly it felt like this stalled out in the build, however the video package and seeing the two in the same ring for this high stakes match brought back some of the urgency and most definitely brought back the feels. They get into a collar elbow tie up early and wrestle around the ropes and get into it pretty back & forth early. Page sends Omega into the railing but OMEGA JUMPS ONTO THE RAILING AND MOONSAULTS PAGE for my first gasp of the match. Next crazy moment is Page with a pop up powerbomb on the entrance way followed by one in the ring for a big near fall. A couple big moves later and Omega wins with the one winged angel. Dang. I was hoping for more than this, but I guess that’s my own fault for wanting another epic from this story. My only guess is maybe AEW saw this story stalling and decided not to try and make this a melodramatic contest. Well, great opener none the less. Omega wins and Page looks very depressed as he is helped to the back. 

Match rating - ***3/4

2) Orange Cassidy (w/ Chuck Taylor & Trent) vs. John Silver 

I saw these two meet five years ago on Beyond Wrestling’s “Scorned” event(A show for which my review of can be found here) and never did I think that five years later I’d see them meet again on PPV for a major wrestling company. Much less as two of the hottest young rising charismatic stars. This was a lot of fun as you’d expect. After an awesome final few minutes of exchanging moves, Orange Cassidy gets the win. Good way to get him back on track after his unsuccessful TNT Title challenges against Cody.

Match rating - ***

3) Cody Rhodes (c) vs. Darby Allin - TNT Title Match 

“I’ve been Darby’s daddy on more than one occasion.”

Let’s motherfuckin go. Darby beat the hell out of the car windshield of the car he rolled in on with a skateboard which was a great visual coming off the amazing video package that reminded me how much history these two have and how PERFECT polar opposites / opponents they are for one another. This match was pretty similar to their others except with Cody leaning more towards working like a heel. Darby tried to outmove him early on with his speed and Arn tells Cody outside to out muscle him and “don’t let him pull that shit” in reference Darby using his speed and agility to get the advantage. Cody then works Darby over for a good while and it’s great. Darby fires back when Cody resorts to potentially using his back belt. They do an awesome call back to the last finish they did where Cody slid Darby into a pinning combo out of the coffin drop for the win. Here Darby covers Cody differently following a coffin drop to avoid that for a 1.. 2... kick out from Cody! They trade quick pinning combos and roll ups and Darby catches Cody foR THE THREE! NEW TNT CHAMPION!!! So fucking happy for Darby because no one deserves it more. I just can’t help but feel weird about how this whole thing has been booked with Cody recently. He dropped the title to Brodie, only to win it right back and in my opinion, squash all the momentum he had just to drop it back to another mid carder a few weeks later. I just almost wish they would’ve had Darby upset Brodie. Sure the size difference is vast but the star power and card positioning is far more similar than having Cody defeat Brodie. I feel like a loss to Cody is a big deal they could’ve easily had a huge upset for Darby against Brodie then had Cody come firing back for the belt 

Match rating - ***1/2

4) Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Nyla Rose (w/ Vickie Guerrero) - AEW Women's Championship Match

It’s a shame, but this match had so much less fire than anything else on the show. Obviously that probably is contributed to the fact that there was little to no build for it and that isn’t the ladies’ fault because they did the best they could here. On its own, it isn’t bad, it just felt like the audience and atmosphere was jaded much like the effort that was put into the women’s title picture this PPV go round. Shida retains in a valiant effort from these two to make a decent match out of virtually nothing. 

Match rating - **3/4

5) FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) (c) vs. The Young Bucks - AEW World Tag Team Championship Match 

So, just like I said with Omega/Page earlier, I am a huge mark for The Elite and all their intertwining stories, plus The Bucks are probably my favorite tag team of all time so my opinions on these matches can tend to be regarded higher than others sometimes. But just like with that opener, I feel like this is a match that may have taken too long to happen and that the build felt flat (aside from the go home show). However, once these two teams got into the ring, there was nothing flat about it. The Bucks did what they do best with so many small things and bits to tell the story. They hit the 3D & the Twist of Fate/Swanton combo as an homage to the teams that led them to this point in what some consider the biggest built tag team match in the modern era between the two best tag teams of the modern era. While I don’t put FTR in that category (sorry :/), I respect the story and think the execution ruled as they even hit a Hart Foundation tribute here. The story of the Bucks never getting another chance at the titles if they lose here added a sense of desperation on their part that was displayed super well along with the selling of Matt’s injury. FTR was on their game here too, I loved the bit where we saw Cash go for a fucking springboard 450, showing them abandoning their roots and morals in an attempt to retain their titles. This wasn’t the five star piece of art that Bucks/Hangman & Omega was, but it was another amazing display that continues to boast AEW as the best tag team division in the world and The Bucks as one of, if not THE greatest tag team of all time. The Bucks strike gold here and defeat FTR to win the AEW Tag Team Titles. One other thing I loved about this was that they changed their formula and didn’t just build to a crazy finishing run. Anyways, yes. Awesome match, Omega comes out to celebrate and Hangman stands in the ramp watching his former family celebrate two of the biggest wins of their career, one of which was at his expense. THE FEELS :( poor Hangman.. 

Match rating - ****1/2

6) Matt Hardy vs. Sammy Guevara - Elite Deletion Match

I don’t even know how to rate this or fully review it, but you know it was a damn hoot. It was filmed on the Hardy compound in North Carolina and featured a number of crazy spots as well as cameos from Gangrel, The Hurricane, Santana, Ortiz, & Private Party. Hell, this broke down into what looked like a six man tag at one point when Santana & Ortiz interfered and Matt grabbed a walkie talkie and radio’d Private Party in. In the end, Hardy wins and gets revenge after all the hell Guevara put him through in the last few months from the botched chair shot that split him open to the insane fork lift spot that saw Matt’s head snap on the concrete floor and knock him out. 

Match rating - ***1/2 

7) Chris Jericho vs. MJF - If MJF Wins, He Can Join the Inner Circle

It’s wild that this match is pretty much in the cool down spot on the show. BUT it probably deserves to be. It’s not gonna be a blow away match, but it also won’t be bad and involves a huge name like Jericho and a man in MJF who main evented the last PPV in a fantastic match against Jon Moxley. The vignettes and segments leading up to this were some of the best sports entertainment style stuff that AEW has done so this was pretty fun even if it felt like it went a little long. The finish saw Jake Hager throw a bat for Jericho to use when Wardlow had the ref distracted. MJF fakes like he got hit with it and Aubrey turns around. Before anything can be done, MJF rolls Jericho up for the three count! Post match, Jericho welcomes MJF AND Wardlow to the Inner Circle. Hager and Wardlow just sort of stare at each other while Jericho & MJF happily embrace. I love the tension they continue to build between Wardlow & Hager with this. None the less, they all leave together seemingly as an official unit. 

Match rating - **3/4 

8) Jon Moxley (c) vs. Eddie Kingston - “I Quit” Match for the AEW World Championship 

The build to this was phenomenal. Never did I think when Eddie got his one off appearance for AEW in the form of a TNT Title challenge against Cody, that a few months later, he would be here in the main event of Full Gear challenging for the AEW World Title as a full time contracted competitor for the promotion. This whole thing has sort of been a cinderella story for Eddie and man, he made you want to see him win this so bad despite him technically being the heel? It's a weird dynamic, but it works and I honestly never thought this story would reach the depths that it did, with Kingston's mom being brought into it and the past Moxley & Kingston have as friends/former competitors in CZW and other indies back in the day. This match is full circle and this match showed me two things - Jon Moxley truly is the #1 Wrestler in the world right now and Eddie Kingston deserves this main event spot. When Mox was named #1 in the PWI 500, I initially was just like "oh, that's good for him, he deserves it" and didn't really think much about him being truly #1 as I just never have seen him as that. I've always liked Moxley. I've watched pretty much his entire catalog from IWA, HWA, CZW, and of course, WWE, and now here in AEW. However, I just never saw him as THE guy. Because he never was in WWE. And here in AEW, he came in hot and was an attraction, but with guys like Cody and Jericho (during his title run), shining so bright as leaders of the company, I feel like I slept on Mox and kept him tucked away as just old reliable, awesome performer. This story, however, has made me look back and realize - Moxley is THE GUY. He is the #1 star in AEW. In-ring performance wise, character wise, everything. I think because this wasn't just another cookie cutter title defense for him is what made me realize it. He didn't just play the normal Moxley character. This wasn't just face vs. heel. This was in a way - two tweeners in a personal feud with so much history in a story that was handcrafted by them as we would learn through recent Moxley interviews where he said he told Tony Khan to give him & Eddie the chance and they'd develop the perfect program for Full Gear. And they did just that. Kingston came to the ring with so much little storytelling details with his Tracy Smothers shirt, a nod to his late friend & mentor and his green gear in a tribute to the late Mitsaharu Misawa, japanese pro-wres legend and Eddie's favorite wrestler. This was Eddie's big moment and he brought everything to the table. This match was a fight and it felt like that the entire time from the atmosphere to the actual physicality. They didn't go into full deathmatch territory like some thought or hoped, but they had what I felt like was the perfect match. There was barbed wire and other weapons. There was blood. But for as much plunder, there was just as much straight up punches, strikes, chops, throws and suplexes that looked BRUTAL. And for every strike and power move, there were just as many submissions and hold that looked equally as vicious. Then came the finish. Moxley choking Kingston with barbedwire wrapped around his hand and wrapped across the front of Kingston's face. You see Kingston start to get emotional and tear up as he realizes this was it. The high he was riding is over. He's caught, he's done, he has to submit. And he does. NOW. I was torn on this on my first watch. I felt like this finish was flat. I felt like "A CLEAN WIN OVER EDDIE? YOU LOST A CHANCE TO CROWN HIM AS A STAR" But no. That was my heart talking over my brain because Eddie garnered so much empathy from myself, a long time fan, and I'm sure many other more short term fans too, that I couldn't fathom anything, but him winning. However, on a second watch with a more level head, I see how well done this finish was. Eddie fought hard and staked his claim as a future AEW World Champion. Two months in a major wrestling promotion for the first time in his career and he delivered one of the best stories of the year and main evented a PPV in a title match. Eddie should be a lifer in AEW and a future World Champion and to me, this story solidified that as well as his worth and wide range of talent. And as said before, for me, this solidified Moxley as the ace of this company who can play any role and still come out as the beloved badass. Moxley retains and everyone comes out look amazing. Yes. I know, I wrote a lot about this, but there's just so much to unpack. 

Match rating - ****1/4

Post match, the new #1 Contender and former rival of Moxley, Kenny Omega comes out to the ramp. I loved this on my second watch, it got me so hyped for another chapter in Mox/Omega with both men in a totally different spot than they were last year. I love seeing AEW add depth to all their characters and feuds and titles that will be talked about in 10-20 years. I will admit, on first watch, Omega (a personal favorite of mine), was the last person I wanted to see because my brain was still stuck on Kingston winning. But that just goes to show how awesome of a job he & Moxley did with this story. None the less, that's the end of the show and it ruled. Goodnight.

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