Call it hyperbole if you wish, but Full Gear has all the makings of being one of the biggest, and most important, AEW pay-per-views in their brief existence.
There’s no need to waste any more time.
Are y’all ready?
Because I’m ready.
If we’re all on the same page, then say it with me…
LESS DEW EET!!!
(0:00) On the pre-show, Orange Cassidy hints that the “Stone Pitbull” himself, Tomohiro Ishii might be OC’s mystery tag partner this week on Dynamite. RIP Butcher and Blade.
(0:01) Our first match of the main show is Darby Allin going one-on-one with MJF. Probably won’t be an all-time classic or anything, but it damn sure will get the crowd going nuts.
(0:05) In his usual pre-match vignette, Darby is driving to the arena and flips his car before getting out of the wreck and setting the car on fire. Well, if he can walk away from that, he can walk away from MJF’s offense.
(0:09) Nice back-and-forth technical wrestling to start the match, ending in one of those standoffs to get the crowd excited.
(0:10) Noted dipshit Frank The Clown is sitting in the front row wearing sunglasses. At 7:10pm. Indoors.
(0:13) As usual, it seems like we’re going to have a mighty lively crowd. It will be interesting to see if they can keep things up for the next four hours.
(0:17) Good Lord Almighty, MJF delivers something of a Powerbomb, but takes a knee and drops Darby SQUARE onto said knee. At least once in every match Darby wrestles, you’re going to find yourself cringing. He’s insane.
(0:19) Good Lord Almighty again, MJF hits more of a standard Powerbomb, nearly folding Darby in half.
(0:22) Stop if you’ve heard this one already, but… Good Lord Almighty! MJF hits a Tombstone Piledriver on the ring apron. In kayfabe, it’s supposed to be a move that nearly finishes Darby, but in actuality, MJF jumped and landed, knees-first, on the apron.
(0:25) At least a dozen pin attempts happen rapid fire, leading to a VERY believable 2.99999999999 count off of a Code Red by Darby.
(0:26) Darby goes for a Coffin Drop, but MJF gets his knees up to block it. In a nice touch, MJF is selling the hell out of his knees. That needs to happen more with those types of moves. Yeah, you hurt your opponent, but your knees should be fucking killing you after that. Too often, you’ll see someone get their knees up, then immediately get up and go on the offensive like nothing happened.
(0:29) MJF gets the pin after distracting the Referee with Darby’s skateboard. When the Ref has his back turned, MJF nails Darby with the Dynamite Diamond Ring and then gets the Side Headlock Takeover pin. That was the best match MJF has ever had. Wow. Instead of putting my match ratings here like I usually do, I’ll be putting them all at the end. Just trying something new, in an effort to keep everything together. This is going to get a good rating, though, for sure.
(0:32) Our next match is for the AEW Tag Team Titles, with the Lucha Brothers defending against FTR. Can’t get much more different than these two teams as far as in-ring style is concerned.
(0:38) So far, the crowd continues to be hot. There’s always an eventual lull for AEW shows, as crowds tend to burn themselves out a bit before regaining steam again. We’ll see how it goes.
(0:42) The aforementioned difference in styles is so jarring with these teams. The Lucha Brothers will be on offense, and the match will be moving at 100mph before coming to a near complete halt for FTR’s offense before kicking right back up to 100mph again. It’s enough to give you whiplash just watching along.
(0:46) The entire arena thought the match was over after a belt shot by FTR. Another 2.99999 count.
(0:48) Loud “SHUT UP, ASSHOLE” from Dax Harwood, yelling at someone in the crowd.
(0:49) Biggest heel heat of the night so far goes to Harwood, who does the Eddie Guerrero shimmy and then tries to hit the Three Amigos. It is followed up by perhaps the loudest face pop of the night as Penta goes for his own version. In case you’ve been under a rock and haven’t heard about it, Eddie Guerrero passed away 16 years ago today in Minneapolis, Minnesota… where Full Gear just so happens to be taking place this year. Lots of “Eddie” chants already tonight, starting during the pre-show, when Vickie Guerrero accompanied Nyla Rose to the ring.
(0:53) A bit of a clunky ending leads to a successful defense for the Lucha Brothers. Dax Harwood was the legal man for FTR, but after they put on their Las Super Ranas masks on, Referee Rick Knox couldn’t tell them apart suddenly, and Cash Wheeler ate the pin. Okie dokie then. It was a pretty good match up until the weird ending.
(0:56) Time for Bryan Danielson vs Miro to crown the next #1 contender for the AEW World Title. This is going to be fun.
(1:00) Not that anybody would be surprised by this, but we have ourselves a physical match here.
(1:03) We have our first mini-lull of the night for the crowd. Because of who is involved in the match, that’s a surprise, but because of who is involved in the match, the lull won’t last for long.
(1:07) Weird to have a match involving Bryan Danielson basically be a “cool down” match, but here we are. Nothing bad has happened. It’s just slow. Not just slow compared to the first two matches of the night. Slow, period.
(1:10) Jim Ross has now mentioned Miro’s weight of 280 pounds approximately 34 times so far in this match. Someone unplug him and then plug him back in, please.
(1:12) Jim Ross has now called Bryan Danielson “Daniel Bryan” approximately 19 times so far in this match. Someone unplug him and throw him away, please.
(1:14) The mini-lull is over. The crowd is back.
(1:18) A Tornado DDT from the top rope leads to a victory for Bryan Danielson, who locks Miro in a submission after the move, and the big man is out. Danielson is the new #1 contender for the AEW World Title. Oh boy. This match had its slow spots, but it was still really good.
(1:19) AEW continues to have no fucking breaks between their matches. SLOW IT THE FUCK DOWN. You don’t need 15 minutes of filler between matches like WWE, but even your commentators are thinking you’re going to a video package to hype the next match and then you immediately go into the ring entrances instead. Sigh. Anyway, our next match is Christian Cage, Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus taking on Adam Cole and The Young Bucks in a Falls Count Anywhere Match. The Young Bucks have pink ring gear… and pink facial hair to match. That’s certainly a choice that was made.
(1:24) The Bucks’ ring gear is SO pink that it’s hurting my eyes. I feel like my TV is about to tap out. It really needs to be seen to be believed. Good thing noted fuckstick Frank The Clown is still wearing his sunglasses.
(1:30) Adam Cole is a fucking bloody MESS after being dropped onto a chair. My goodness. He saw Britt Baker’s match against Thunder Rosa and figured he’d give this blood thing a go after a few years of family-friendly wrestling.
(1:35) Christian Cage with a balcony dive! He jumps down squarely onto Nick Jackson and Brandon Cutler! Seems like now is a good time to point out that Christian turns 48 in a couple weeks.
(1:37) A bag of thumbtacks is brought into the ring. The Bucks put a handful of tacks into Jungle Boy’s mouth and then hit him with a double Superkick. Ouch.
(1:38) Now it’s time for a ladder to be introduced.
(1:41) There’s so much going on that I missed Nick Jackson getting busted open at some point. Apparently it didn’t happen too long ago, because as I typed that, Tony Schiavone just noticed it, too.
(1:43) Panama Sunrise on the stage gets 2.99 for Cole.
(1:44) Cole pulls out a black bag. Inside the bag are knee pads with thumbtacks stuck in them. Cole and the Bucks each put one of the pads on and hit Luchasaurus with a triple BTE Trigger… that gets a two-count. Jesus. This match is all over the place, literally and figuratively.
(1:46) Fucking Luchasaurus hits a fucking Shooting Star Press from the ring ramp to the floor below, taking out The Elite.
(1:47) Jungle Boy hits Matt Jackson with a one-man Con-Chair-To to pick up the win for his team. A wild, wild brawl. It was a lot of fun, but it says something about the rest of the show to this point that this might’ve been the “worst” match so far.
(1:49) Moving right along, our next match is Cody Rhodes and Pac taking on Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo. Some interesting pairings here.
(1:54) Huge boos, as expected, for Cody Rhodes before he is even visible during his entrance.
(1:56) There’s a “Cane Liberty” sign in the crowd. Go ahead and guess the name of Cody’s five-month-old daughter.
(2:00) It was said on commentary, and to this point, it’s true… this is more of a “four singles wrestlers having to pair off” match than an actual tag match. I dig it. The real question, though, is CAN THEY COEXIST?!?!?
(2:02) Man, Cody is just so hated. Even MJF, who many feel is the biggest heel in wrestling, got a bunch of positive chants in tonight’s show opener. Cody, on the other hand, gets booed for simply existing.
(2:07) Pac makes his way to the corner to go for a tag, but Cody is at ringside, selling injuries. Dastardly.
(2:08) Tony Schiavone actually said that he was wondering how these teams would coexist! Ha!
(2:11) Cody locks in a Figure Four Leglock on Andrade and gets booed. It’s one of the easiest moves in wrestling to get a pop for, and he still got booed for it.
(2:13) Black Arrow on Andrade picks up the win for Pac. It wasn’t a bad match or anything, but it was a little too hectic for my liking. The whole “singles wrestlers pairing off” thing was too strong.
(2:14) Next up, Britt Baker… D… M… D… defends the AEW Women’s Title against Tay Conti.
(2:17) Rich Ward, the guitarist for Fozzy and the ex-husband of the late Daffney, plays Britt Baker to the ring.
(2:20) Early in this match, it appears we’re getting another lull from the crowd.
(2:22) This is such an important spot for Tay Conti. She’s come such a long way since joining AEW. This is the biggest match of her career, but it’s one that nobody is really expecting her to win. A good performance here is going to go a long way for her, though. If she struggles here, it might be a while before she’s considered for a spot like this again.
(2:28) Britt drops her challenger with an Air Raid Crash on the ring apron! Ow.
(2:30) I’m going to need Rebel to stop screaming at ringside. It’s annoying as fuck.
(2:32) lol @ the Referee pronouncing Tay as it is spelled and not “Tie” like everyone else.
(2:34) The champion retains with a roll-up, which is apparently the toughest move of all-time in women’s wrestling. That match… happened. It would’ve been fine on an episode of Rampage, but it wasn’t on pay-per-view level, unfortunately.
(2:35) Here we fucking go. CM Punk vs Eddie Kingston is up next. This is going to be ugly in the most beautiful of ways.
(2:38) Noted brown-nosed bitch boy Frank The Clown has taken his shades off and pulled his mask down for CM Punk’s entrance.
(2:39) Before the bell even rings, Kingston NAILS Punk with his backfist, nearly knocking him out.
(2:41) Nothing but a fight in the early going here. Surprise, surprise.
(2:43) Punk is busted open, and Kingston immediately rubs some of that blood on his own face like war paint.
(2:45) LMFAO @ Punk taking a page out of John Cena’s playbook with the multiple shoulder tackles, the whirlybird slam, and then looking like he was going to deliver the “you can’t see me” gesture, but then turning it into a middle finger. The crowd was not a fan of that at all.
(2:47) The crowd is all the way back after the previous match took them out of things a bit.
(2:48) Kingston signals that he’s going to go for a Go To Sleep. As the crowd boos, Kingston does the hand motion for jerking off. Fun!
(2:50) Punk lands Go To Sleep and picks up the win. As a wrestling match, that wasn’t much. However, as a fight and a bit of a spectacle that got the crowd into it, that was superb. Going into the match, Punk’s comments about Kingston were that Eddie had a world of potential, but always fell short. He’ll certainly say he was right here.
(2:52) Punk offers Kingston a handshake, but Kingston bails and leaves the ring.
(2:53) Our next match is a Minneapolis Street Fight. The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager, Santana and Ortiz) take on Men Of The Year (Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky) and American Top Team (Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski and Dan Lambert). Expect this to be another mess of a clusterfuck.
(2:56) The funniest part about Chris Jericho’s entrance is when the cameras catch people who have NO IDEA what the words to the verses are, and they’re kind of just mumbling things, but then they really get into the chorus because they finally know some of the words.
(2:58) Sammy Guevara and Scorpio Sky are kicking this one off.
(3:02) It is painfully obvious that dos Santos is pulling his punches a ton.
(3:03) In case you were wondering, noted cumstain on the black boxers of life Frank The Clown is back to wearing his shades and mask and just sitting there all stoic.
(3:04) Jake Hager with a dive from the top rope, wiping everyone out at ringside! Don’t see him head to the top very often. The match has finally broken down into madness after a really orderly start. You know, like you’re supposed to have in what is supposed to be a blood feud.
(3:09) Hager starts wearing Page out with… a toaster. Jericho then uses a water ski as a weapon. This comes a minute or so after Guevara used a football as a weapon, throwing it at the chest of Scorpio Sky. Lots of random weaponry.
(3:12) Now Hager is wailing on people with a bundt cake pan! I’m waiting for someone to get hit with some lutefisk soon. Uff da.
(3:13) Sammy Guevara with the “Jeff Hardy Special” there, landing a Swanton onto Scorpio Sky from atop a giant ladder and through a table.
(3:14) Fun spot as wrestling legend Baron von Raschke, sitting at ringside, puts the The Claw on Ethan Page to a big pop after Page got in the face of Jake Hager’s wife.
(3:17) With tears welling up in his eyes, Jericho hits the Eddie Guerrero shimmy and then lands a Frog Splash on Lambert to pick up the win for the Inner Circle. That worked. The match itself was perfectly acceptable for what it was.
(3:18) It is official… Orange Cassidy teams up with Tomohiro Fucking Ishii on Dynamite this week to take on The Butcher & The Blade.
(3:20) Whoa… Tony Schiavone is on the stage and introduces Jay Lethal! Wow. That’s a huge signing for the company.
(3:21) Lethal challenges Sammy Guevara for the TNT Title on Dynamite, which brings Sammy back out onto the stage. Sammy agrees, and the match is on for Wednesday night.
(3:23) Main event time. Kenny Omega defends the AEW World Title against “Hangman” Adam Page. The emotions in this one are going to be off the charts.
(3:25) Page gets a cinematic drone video entrance as he rides a horse through the streets of Minneapolis heading to the Target Center.
(3:29) During Page’s entrance itself, it said “We’re proud of you – Graphics Team” on his name plate. That was incredibly sweet. I just tweeted it, but damn, if Page wins the title here, expect the camera to cut to multiple people with tears in their eyes. To say that AEW fans love Adam Page would be quite the understatement.
(3:34) I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Don Callis gets physically involved here.
(3:37) It has been said by other folks, but it’s worth noting that this entire story arc with Hangman is one of the best and most layered stories that pro wrestling has told in a long, long time. Maybe ever. So many twists and turns, call backs, Easter eggs, and dramatic build. It’s more out of a movie or a dramatic television series than something you’d see in wrestling. Kudos to everyone involved in putting it together.
(3:43) A SPRINGBOARD LIGER BOMB FROM THE TOP ROPE BY KENNY OMEGA. That looked b-e-a-utiful.
(3:46) AVALANCHE BLOCKBUSTER FROM THE TOP ROPE BY ADAM PAGE. These two are breaking it all out so far. Page has reopened the cut he suffered in the contract signing the other night. Lots of blood on this show.
(3:49) We have a REF BUMP! Page goes to hit the Buckshot Lariat, but Omega pulls Referee Paul Turner in front of him to take the move. Honestly, I understand why it happened, but I really could’ve done without the shenaniganery here.
(3:50) Aubrey Edwards comes out to make a 2.99999999999999 count for Page off of a Deadeye. The crowd bought into it.
(3:52) These fans are eating out of Omega and Page’s palms. They’re going nuts for everything.
(3:53) As The Young Bucks limp their way to the ring, Tony Schiavone says “ugh, dipshit alert” on commentary. Fantastic.
(3:54) Page slips out of a One Winged Angel, then performs the move himself for another VERY believable near fall.
(3:55) We have a new champion! After a Buckshot Lariat, Page gets the pin. The news coming out of that was that the Bucks showed up to be in Page’s corner. As he was lining up for the Buckshot, the Bucks gave him a subtle head nod and stood by as he performed it. What a match. What a fucking match.
(3:57) The Dark Order is out to applaud the new champion. They lift Page on their shoulders as we go off the air. Helluva show, folks.
Match Ratings That I Will Probably End Up Changing After A Second Viewing Without Having To Write A Column At The Same Time
Darby Allin vs MJF: 4 stars
Lucha Brothers vs FTR: 3.5 stars
Bryan Danielson vs Miro: 3.75 stars
Christian Cage, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus vs Adam Cole & The Young Bucks: 3.5 stars
Cody Rhodes & Pac vs Malakai Black & Andrade El Idolo: 2.75 stars
Britt Baker vs Tay Conti: 2.25 stars
CM Punk vs Eddie Kingston: 3.5 stars
The Inner Circle vs Men Of The Year & American Top Team: 3 stars
Kenny Omega vs Adam Page: 4.5 stars