Full Gear is the first PPV that AEW is holding after their weekly episodic television show, and they are looking to make a positive first impression to get fans to continue to tune in. AEW has done a lot of things right so far, so let’s see if the momentum continues on PPV.
Proud and Powerful def. The Young Bucks
So I definitely was surprised that they gave Proud and Powerful the victory here. However, I do agree with the decision to have Santana and Ortiz win the battle. Not only does it benefit P and P more, but it gives the Inner Circle even more legitimacy as a unit.
This was a rockin’ opener to the PPV. I loved how they focused early on Santana and Ortiz not being able to get the legal tags that they had wanted to. It was an interesting direction that they went there because usually it’s the faces that tend to suffer from that trope. However, it did work out well.
Both teams also provided a consistent energy and worked a match that made sense. After they saw that Nick Jackson’s knee was out, Proud and Powerful started to work it over and forced Nick to start to use that bad leg more on his offense. Also, Nick not being able to complete their piledriver finisher was a beautiful touch. You don’t see wrestlers intentionally falling from the springboard to show that a worked over body part affects their offense much these days.
Eventually, Proud and Powerful were able to isolate the weaker of the Young Bucks and they took advantage for a clean and decisive victory. A very high-energy opener with some great moments (although I could do without Santana chewing gum from another man’s mouth). Ricky Morton getting some in after the match was a good touch to help the Young Bucks get their heat back. ****
Hangman Page def. PAC
I think the opening tag team match may have taken a lot of the crowd, so these two had a steep task ahead of them in trying to get the crowd back and get them hot. I think spots such as PAC’s brainbuster onto the chair outside helped to keep the crowd invested.
Honestly, this was a good, hard-fought match, but didn’t connect with me as well as the opening tag match. I don’t know if it’s just Page’s persona, but he doesn’t really connect with me beyond a superficial level.
The work was pretty good, and PAC’s heel work was great. Again, a very good effort from both men, but clearly a notch down from the opener. ***3/4
Shawn Spears def. Joey Janela
I’ll be honest in saying that I did doze off during this match. Is it concerning that we have only gotten through three matches nearly an hour and a half into the show? I wanted to save my energy for the bigger matches, but this match made me doze off a little.
It’s not because it was bad or anything, but I felt it went a little too long to tell their point. I think they were just stalling for time at certain points. It was a good win for Shawn, but if we all know he’s winning, then there’s no point in really dragging the match longer than it needs to. **1/2
SCU (C) def. The Lucha Brothers and Private Party – AEW Tag Team Championships
With large tag team wrestling matches, the biggest key is keeping the crowd engaged. After the previous matches that came before it, I believe that they did about as decent a job as you can get.
All three tag teams were able to get adequate offense in and showcase why they are at the top of the AEW tag team division. It as decently paced, the right winner won and all three tag teams looked good. That’s pretty much all I was expecting out of this match and I got what I needed from it. ***1/2
Riho (C) def. Emi Sakura – AEW Women’s Championship
This was a good old-fashioned teacher vs. student formula and it as very well done. Riho and Sakura have a very good tendency to bring out the best in each other and I believe they did so here.
That ending sequence especially as also very well good as it really felt like I was watching The Matrix in real-life with all those reversals. It also worked well in the context of how their tag match finished on Wednesday, as Riho was able to redeem herself. Good stuff here to be sure. ***1/2
Chris Jericho (C) def. Cody – AEW World Championship
Definitely an interesting outcome if you ask me. Out of all the title matches on the card, this was the one that I felt was in most jeopardy. However, Jericho retaining the title and continuing to be the top dog in AEW at the moment is still a good call.
The actual match was extremely well done, with good character work from Jericho and Cody showcasing great intensity. I sincerely hope that Cody isn’t too banged up from that dive, though. That looked pretty sloppy.
I was surprised that the entire Inner Circle didn’t come out to try and help Jericho. I was sure that with Cody fighting for the title, they were going to throw the entire kitchen sink and have a hole consortium of interference. However, it was just a very good wrestling match with a good amount of near-falls and a swerve of a finish.
MJF is definitely a natural heel, and I think some foreshadowed MJF costing Cody the title. I just hope that he gets decent mic time this Wednesday to explain his actions. Overall, a very entertaining AEW World Title match with less shenanigans than I thought. Color me impressed. ****1/4
Jon Moxley def. Kenny Omega – Unsanctioned Match
This was a pretty tough match to grade. All I can say is that this match would get a negative five stars if Renee Young as grading it. First off, it was certainly….something. Was it entertaining? Yes. Was it a bit over the top? I’d say so as well.
First off, the match went nearly 40 minutes long. After just watching a match that nearly went half an hour, it was getting increasingly difficult to give this match my full, undivided attention. However, I did my very best.
Now to say that the match delivered on the stipulation would be the understatement of the century. You might as well have called this match straight from CZW. Everything from the barbed wire to the broken glass to removing the padding of the ring made this match seem brutal. If I didn’t know that professional wrestling is “fake”, then you could convince me that these two legitimately wanted to hurt each other badly.
It was also refreshing to see Jon Moxley be Jon Moxley. After 7 years of Dean Ambrose, we got the true essence of what a lunatic looks like. So it definitely delivered on that end. On the flip side, however, I thought there was just also a bit too much.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the brutality. I think a lot of time was wasted just to set up over-the-top spots that really only served the purpose of elongating the match unnecessarily. For example, the sequence with the removal of the ring padding could have been far shorter. You don’t have to go DDT, kickout, missed Phoenix Splash, kick out and then the finish.
It was also kind of disturbing to watch at times. More power to Omega and Moxley for being willing to put their bodies on the line to that degree. I certainly hope this match was worth it, because boy are they going to feel it tomorrow morning.
Overall, the crowd definitely got their money’s worth in this main event. But there could have been certain things done better. AEW ends their first PPV on a good note. ****1/4
I can definitely recommend Full Gear. AEW made a very positive first impression in their first PPV in the post-television era. While I do think some of the matches could have been cut shorter, there is a litany of quality on this card. There’s bound to be something that you can enjoy here. You can consider AEW’s first real PPV a success.