Full Gear is AEW’s first pay-per-view event since the TNT show has started. The previous four PPVs have been solid to magnificent, so where does Full Gear fall? For me personally, it fell more toward the former. But let’s get into the matches.
Britt Baker v Bea Priestly was a great start to the show — it’s been a minor plot, but enough of one to warrant a slot on the PPV. Baker played up her injuries extremely well. Baker attempting to pick Priestly up and dropping to the ground felt like a solid point where you could see the momentum of the match shift. It was a small spot, but when overplaying injuries you normally don’t see that sort of performance where one might think for a second it was a botch instead.
While the match was overall slower paced than I usually like, they did a great job telling a story so I enjoyed this match a lot. And then of course we had Awesome Kong and Brandi coming out, which was absolutely amazing. I’ve always loved the more over-the-top, supernatural, comic book-esque style of story telling in wrestling, and this plot is promising that. Love it.
Young Bucks v Proud n’ Powerful kicked off the actual PPV, and it was solid. It had some great spots, but the Bucks seemed to do less of the high flying spots they usually do; I believe this was all in service to the story that they’re slowly becoming not the team they used to be, which allowed P&P to ultimately take the win. Just like Baker, the Bucks sold their injuries well during the match. I’ve been a bit skeptical of P&P, having seen only bits a pieces of their matches in Impact, but they really showed up in this match and made me excited for their next one.
The beatdown after the match felt a bit odd. I’ve always thought a beatdown by the loser feels a bit odd, especially in this case when they’re the faces. I understand the purpose is to make sure the Bucks don’t just plummet and are still seen as a contender, but I hardly felt like they accomplished that here.
Hangman Page v Pac. If people know me, they probably already know what I’m going to say about this match. These two are very heavily strong style, and without any big building story behind the match I had to will myself to be invested. Currently I don’t care about either of the men character-wise, and their feud hasn’t had any plot points that jumped out at me.
I know a lot of people like this style and that this was an excellent match for them. And I will admit the last three minutes they really started hitting that match climax hard, but it wasn’t enough to make me personally enjoy the match.
Joey Janella v Shawn Spears was yet another match that was slow, more heavy with the strong hits. However, this one didn’t even have a plot to it despite one little 20 second backstage segment. Yes, there were one or two good bits — Sean tying up Joey’s hair and the last final sequence — but honestly, I could have done without this one altogether. Or at least shift it later in the card to have a different flow of the PPV.
Lucha Bros v SCU v Private Party did do a good job highlighting the differences between the three tag teams. All three are more agile than average, but SCU is the more grounded of the three and they were able to demonstrate that in multiple ways, letting us contrast them from Lucha Bros’ high flying teamwork and Private Party’s mix of the two. I loved the different variations while retaining the overall theme that the three teams were quick on their feet and none of them had to ‘slow down the match’ to get an advantage.
However, I was a bit disappointed with the match that it didn’t ramp up the craziness like some of the other AEW tag matches have, especially with three teams in the match. This may have just been an issue of time since the match was only 15 minutes long and they probably needed to ensure enough time for the last two events. My overall take away from this is yes, SCU retains, but these three tag teams are very evenly tied in terms of ability.
Rhio v Emi Sakura was a match which once again suffered from no buildup whatsoever. Very little was mentioned about the match as the PPV approached and while the other two matches were just laziness, the lack of buildup to a women’s championship seems incredible; however, it is not surprising and indicative of what AEW seems to be doing with the women’s division currently.
The in-ring work itself was solid, and Riho has been a joy to watch so far. She’s great at mapping out the spots of the match and where the momentum of the match needs to shift. My complaint about the actual match is once again the story. Sakura seemed to not really know what character to play. She had tears in her eyes before fighting her student and once or twice hesitated before some offense, but quickly resorted to basic heel taunts. So it was tonally off.
All that being said, the in-ring tonal issues were few and the rest of this match was excellent, especially that finish which had me literally out of my seat and cheering. I’m still frustrated though by AEW’s lack of attention toward the women, but that’s for another article.
Chris Jericho v Cody. I, of course, only like slower matches if they can tell a good story or I already care a lot about the characters, and oh boy did this match have all of that. When there is a lot riding on the line, every move is really felt, and that’s what we had here. Even the grappling for the first half, which I normally zone out completely for, had my interest. There were moments of quiet, but there was never a moment of calm. Even the back and forth with the upper body work during the first third had me not even considering glancing at Twitter.
Then the match ended and we had MJF’s inevitable betrayal. I have lots of thoughts on how this was built up and executed which I want to go more endepth with later this week. But overall it was a fun, solid ending to the match and it really made me wondering whats going to happen with Cody and what MJF’s next step is.
Jon Moxley v Kenny Omega has already been discussed extremely well by AIPT’s own Jay Barrett so I’m going to leave the moral questions he raises to that article and simply talk about if I myself enjoyed it. And….
Hell yeah, I enjoyed it! It was the perfect amount of violence that made me squeamish, but not too much so. I enjoy hardcore matches until I start worrying about the safety of the wrestlers, and it got up to that line for me but never crossed it. Every new spot was done well, slowly ramping up the intensity of the match. I did think the very end was a bit anti-climactic, with the Paradigm Shift on the wooden boards, as if all that 40 minutes before of barbaric violence was nothing but a finisher on wood would do it. But it’s an extremely minor complaint. In the end, despite all the dangerous props, the moves are what the core of a wrestling match is, and the moves should get the final say.
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