In my original run of columns on this site, I would often write about my predictions for upcoming pay-per-views. Not exactly groundbreaking material, I know, but I wanted to add my own flavor to that tried-and-true recipe. Everybody had columns that said So-And-So will defeat Such-And-Such to retain Whatever Title. That’s great and all, but is that the right decision? You clicked a link to read about my opinions, so I wanted to give you opinions on top of opinions. I decided to share who I thought would win matches, but also, to share what would happen if I was the one in charge of those decisions. Sometimes both outcomes matched up, but other times, they were polar opposites. That’s part of the fun.
I don’t think I’ll do this type of column for every upcoming event, but with AEW’s big Full Gear event coming up this weekend, I figured this would be a good time to reintroduce it on the site. You know the usual routine… share your thoughts and predictions with me, either in the comments section below or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Orange Cassidy vs John Silver
Starting off with the pre-show match makes sense, no? First things first, I have to say that John Silver is one of the more underrated members of the AEW roster from an entertainment standpoint. He gets a ton of laughs during his appearances on the Being The Elite series, and he has made the most out of his time on Dynamite, as well. He gets lost in the shuffle a bit as the member of a stable that has 832 members, but hey, that’s life. Unfortunately for him, he’s coming into Full Gear with two problems. One, he has yet to win a match in AEW that wasn’t on their AEW Dark YouTube show. He has participated in a total of eight matches on either Dynamite or pay-per-view, and he has been on the losing end of all eight matches. Not exactly a ton of momentum, or reason to believe he’ll be gaining momentum anytime soon. His other problem is that he’s going up against someone who AEW has turned into a star over the last year. Orange Cassidy has gone from comic relief to comic relief that can actually “go” in the ring when the situation calls for it. There’s no denying the outcome of this one. Expect something funny and inoffensive, but expect “Freshly Squeezed” to emerge victorious.
What Will Happen: Orange Cassidy Wins
What Should Happen: Orange Cassidy Wins
Matt Hardy vs Sammy Guevara – The Elite Deletion
Well, here we go again with these two. So far in this feud, we’ve seen an errant chair shot that busted Matt Hardy’s head open and a misjudged ladder jump that nearly busted Matt Hardy’s head WIDE open. What could be in store for us this time? I’m hoping that we won’t get anything along those lines. This sounds like it’s going to be a pre-taped “cinematic” match, which should hopefully curb any issues that involve Matt’s brain matter being exposed to the world. By now, most of us know what to expect when it comes to these types of matches involving Matt Hardy. I’m expecting some humor, but not as much as usual, based on the heated rivalry these two have had.
Either way, I’m hoping that this is the end of the feud. Sammy has been viewed as one of the future stars of the company, and he should be moved on to something else. Matt’s time with AEW has been a disappointment, but I think a lot of that has had to do with the pandemic removing live crowds from wrestling for months. More than the average wrestler, Hardy’s shtick is reliant on the noise and energy from fans in attendance.
With everything Hardy has been through in this rivalry, and with the addition of The Elite Deletion, I’m thinking that the outcome here is getting clearer. I don’t think it’s the right choice, though. As I said, Sammy Guevara has been positioned as one of the top young talents on the AEW roster. He’s 27 years old, so it could be said that he’s coming up on the peak of his career soon. Matt Hardy could lose and lose and lose, and it wouldn’t do much to harm him. Sammy is in need of something big. Outside of the back-and-forth in this feud, it can be argued that Sammy hasn’t had a “big” singles win since back-to-back wins over Dustin Rhodes and Christopher Daniels… all the way back in January. It’s his time. I’d have him pick up the win in an absolute war, and then move him on to something big like a title picture, whether it’s the TNT Title or the Tag Team Titles with a fellow Inner Circle member.
What Will Happen: Matt Hardy Wins
What Should Happen: Sammy Guevara Wins
Hikaru Shida vs Nyla Rose – AEW Women’s Title Match
Doing my research for this column, I saw that Shida won the title on May 23rd of this year. That means we’re coming up on a five-and-a-half month reign. Because of the AEW women’s scene not always being strong, her reign just felt much longer to me. It feels like she’s been the champ for at least the entire 2020 calendar year. That’s not a knock on her at all. Again, the women’s division in AEW is, too often, an afterthought. You’ll watch episodes of Dynamite that feature barely any women’s action. Then, when you DO see women wrestling, you’ll often see people that aren’t quite ready for primetime, as the saying goes.
We’ve been building to this one for a while. In that May 23rd match, Shida defeated Rose to become the new champion. Here we are, all this time later, and Rose is finally getting her rematch. There is money to be made in people chasing the “monster” champion. There always is in this great sport. In this particular instance, though, I think there’s more money to be made with Shida overcoming the challenger and moving on to the person who most feel is the top heel in the division… Dr. Britt Baker. Once Shida retained the title against Thunder Rosa, I felt that the showdown with Baker was a foregone conclusion. Nothing has changed my mind since then. This is going to be a fun match, but I don’t see a title change happening.
What Will Happen: Hikaru Shida Wins
What Should Happen: Hikaru Shida Wins
Cody vs Darby Allin – TNT Title Match
Darby Allin is in a very interesting spot with AEW. As one of their most over face wrestlers, he always seems to find himself in important spots on the card. In the last year, he has had two shots at the World Title, losing them both. That’s the roller coaster he goes on. He wins matches and gets built up into the title picture, loses a title match, goes back down for a bit, wins matches and gets built up into the title picture, and so on.
Cody, on the other hand, is also in a very interesting spot. He beat all comers in defending the TNT Title, only to be decimated by Brodie Lee, only to return after a brief hiatus and win the title back from Lee. He’s also 2-0-1 against Allin in singles matches.
Where does that leave us? Does Allin continue losing title matches? If so, how long until that truly starts to tarnish him a bit? Does Cody drop the title again, just a month after winning it back? This is an unenviable spot for the company to be in. Of course, they put themselves in this spot, so it’s not like you can feel bad for them. I’m seeing a lot of other predictions, either on social media or in the columns/podcasts of sites all over Victoria Pedretti’s internet, that Darby’s going to surprise the wrestling world and pull off the victory here. I’m trying and trying to see it. I’m just not sure that I can. I like Darby. I really do. He’s got AEW gold in his future, but I think that’s exactly it… the future, not the present. I’ve called him AEW’s version of Jeff Hardy, when Hardy became a singles wrestler for WWE, but Darby doesn’t need to become a champion as quickly as Hardy did back then. If you’re not counting work in the Hardcore Title division, Jeff Hardy was a singles champion right off the bat after splitting from his brother. Darby’s got plenty of time. He’s not quite 28 years old yet.
Would it shock me if Allin won the title here? No. Am I expecting Allin to win the title here? No.
What Will Happen: Cody Wins
What Should Happen: Cody Wins
FTR vs The Young Bucks – AEW Tag Team Title Match
I hate, hate, HATE the final build for this match.
When Cody was going after the AEW World Title and dropped the “I’ll never compete for this title again if I lose” stipulation, people thought it meant it was a guaranteed victory for him. He’s one of the company’s bosses, he’s one of the company’s biggest stars, etc… there’s no way he’s staying out of the World Title picture for the rest of his career. Well, he lost. Then we got the TNT Title. Hahahaha, we got got!
Cody’s last World Title shot took place at… let me check my notes… Full Gear 2019. Now, The Young Bucks have pulled the exact same deal at Full Gear 2020. If they lose this match, they’ll never compete for the AEW Tag Team Titles again! The horror! I guess we should prepare ourselves for Britt Baker to do this at Full Gear 2021.
A year ago, the singles wrestlers in AEW needed another title to compete for. Using the stipulation and having it lead to the introduction of a second title was beneficial to the company. Is there anybody out there who thinks AEW needs something like a set of TNT Tag Team Titles? Is there anybody out there who thinks, with only one set of titles for the tag division, that the Bucks will never, ever compete for them again after this weekend? To me, it just feels like overly choreographing the result here.
If these were two face squads going up against each other, you could say that we’re on the verge of a Bucks heel turn as they do everything in their power to make sure the titles come home with them. Unfortunately, they aren’t two face squads. If FTR had been heel for longer than three months, and if the Bucks had been working as faces recently, you could say that we’re on the verge of a double turn, as the Bucks get desperate and FTR busts their asses to try to hang on. Unfortunately, FTR turned heel in August and the Bucks have been pretty dickish for a bit now. Nothing makes sense.
In a perfect situation, we wouldn’t get a winner here. At the very least, we’d get a winner under some screwy, contested circumstances. That would give us some sort of stipulation (Ladder Match, you’d think) at the next pay-per-view. As we’ve all seen, though, 2020 just refuses to give us anything resembling a perfect situation. As it is, I think we’re getting new champions here.
What Will Happen: The Young Bucks Win (New Champions)
What Should Happen: No Winner, followed by a Ladder Match, or something along those lines, at the next pay-per-view
Chris Jericho vs MJF
I’m really surprised to see just how many people are predicting a “Fingerpoke Of Doom” scenario here. They’re thinking that Jericho, MJF, and The Inner Circle are all in cahoots. Bell rings to start the match, Jericho lays down for MJF, MJF gets the pin, and The Inner Circle have a new member. Admittedly, it does seem like something two heels could be capable of in a match like this. However, think back to when WCW gave us the “Fingerpoke Of Doom” in 1999. They heavily promoted their WCW World Title match between Kevin Nash and “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, only to have Nash turn heel and take a dive for Hogan. Fans were upset. Experts felt it was yet another event that, ultimately, led to WCW going down the toilet and being purchased by Vince McMahon. Yes, that’s a bigger situation than what’s on the line here at Full Gear, but is AEW ballsy enough to roll the dice on something like that? For all intents and purposes, AEW is winning the “Wednesday Night War” with NXT. What happens if they pull a stunt like WCW, only to piss off their own loyal fans? Can you imagine if they do it, only to see their viewership for Dynamite drop and drop and drop in the coming weeks?
If they did pull a swerve like that, I do think it will upset some fans, but not enough to cause a seismic shift in the weekly viewership numbers. It would still be a bad move, in my opinion.
When you look at “What Will Happen” and “What Should Happen” here, I think you’re looking at something similar, only with an advanced timeline. I think MJF gets the victory at Full Gear. He has mentioned that he will do absolutely anything to win the match, and I think that’s going to be the difference. That takes us to the next part of the storyline, as we get a new member of The Inner Circle, while the rest of the group hate him being there every step of the way.
What I would do here is something I think is going to happen down the road at some point. I would have The Inner Circle turn their backs on Jericho and help MJF win. Their reasoning would be simple enough. Jericho was once at the top of the mountain in AEW, but what has happened to him in the last few months? He lost to Orange Cassidy twice, even putting him over in interviews and promos. He nearly lost to Isiah Kassidy. What’s next? David Cassidy returns from the dead to defeat Jericho on Dynamite? Jericho loses a battle rap to rapper Cassidy? Hopalong Cassidy and his horse, Topper, show up at Revolution to defeat Jericho and a horse-to-be-named-later in an equestrian competition? The Inner Circle would say that Jericho has gotten too “soft” and too “old” to get it done anymore, so they decided to make the change for him. Jericho becomes a face again, which is fine, as he’s getting cheered, anyway, and having his entrance theme sung by crowds every time he comes to the ring.
The reason I would do that now instead of, say, at the next pay-per-view is that AEW could use a new “hook” to get people talking. Yes, they’re regularly on top in the viewership numbers, but it’s “easier” for WWE… and therefore, NXT… to give us something to talk about. A new signing, a new roster shift, a big return, etc. A big face turn for Jericho could give AEW some new momentum to run with. Why wait for that? Just pull the trigger.
What Will Happen: MJF Wins
What Should Happen: MJF Wins, Chris Jericho turns face after being kicked out by The Inner Circle
Kenny Omega vs “Hangman” Adam Page – AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament Finals
As soon as the brackets for the tournament were revealed, everybody and their mother knew this was going to be the Finals match. Mind you, that isn’t a bad thing in this instance. This is the match we’ve been building to for a long time now. It’s something that needed to be on pay-per-view, and not a random episode of Dynamite.
I continue to be amazed at the growth Adam Page has made as a performer in the last year. He has become a bona fide main event talent for AEW, capable of being its World Champion and carrying it into the future. Kenny Omega is, of course, Kenny Omega. He’s someone who almost everyone expected to have been AEW World Champion by now. He’s the “proven” main event guy. But which direction should AEW go in right now?
Honestly, it’s a simple choice. With the winner of this match going to the front of the line and getting a World Title shot, it comes down to who makes the bigger and better match. As much as I am enjoying the work Page is doing, I cannot sit here and say that he would have a bigger and better match against the World Champion than Omega would. It’s going to move the needle, so to speak, if Omega is being presented as the next-in-line for a title match. I think this is going to be a fantastic match, maybe finding itself on the shortlist for AEW Match Of The Year, but Omega is on a mission right now. It’s a mission that isn’t over. His newfound focus and aggression will be the deciding factor here.
What Will Happen: Kenny Omega Wins
What Should Happen: Kenny Omega Wins
Jon Moxley vs Eddie Kingston – AEW World Title “I Quit” Match
I know that not everyone is a fan of Eddie Kingston. There are still the people who feel a pro wrestler should look a certain way, have a certain body type, and even wear a certain type of in-ring attire. Those fans look at Eddie Kingston and immediately dismiss him. He doesn’t have the body of a John Cena or a Finn Balor. He doesn’t wrestle in tiny little trunks or a singlet. That’s fine, though. It doesn’t matter that his body isn’t the second-coming of Lex Luger. What does matter is that he has the ability to, as the old saying goes, talk people into the building. He has a charisma about him that is so natural and so effortless, yet so jarring and so unlike what the average wrestling fan is used to seeing. He is as believable on the mic as anyone in wrestling today. His matches fall into the “believable” category, as well. No, he doesn’t look like Seth Rollins or The Ultimate Warrior, but his in-ring style is one where he just beats the shit out of his opponents, all while being able to take a hellacious beating, too. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see him getting the opportunity to shine on a larger stage. He deserves it.
With that said, he’s not winning this match.
When I think of this match, I think of a lot of the World Title matches we saw on Royal Rumble cards a decade-and-a-half or so ago. If you remember, there was a stretch of time when WWE went from mega-match World Title bouts to featuring new challengers, and people that may not otherwise be in that type of featured role. 2003 saw Chris Benoit get a shot at the WWE Title, over a full year before he would finally win it at WrestleMania 20. 2004 saw Hardcore Holly get a shot at the WWE Title. 2006 saw Mark Henry get a shot at the World Heavyweight Title, two-and-a-half years before he became the ECW Champion and five-and-a-half years before winning that same World Heavyweight Title. 2007 saw Umaga and Mr. Kennedy get shots at the WWE Title and World Heavyweight Title, respectively. 2008 saw Jeff Hardy get a shot at the WWE Title, almost a year before he finally became WWE Champion. 2011 saw Dolph Ziggler get a shot at the World Heavyweight Title a month before he would win it for the first time. It was never said publicly, but I assume the line of thinking there is that people tend to watch the Royal Rumble for the Rumble itself, allowing you to put “secondary” contenders in title matches. Full Gear feels like that to me right now. A lot of the attention is going to Omega vs Page, as well as FTR vs The Bucks, which allows a “secondary” contender to be in the World Title match.
This will put Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega on a collision course, and that is the big money move for AEW at this point. Their match at last year’s Full Gear event was an insane brawl that left everyone wanting more. Since then, Mox has gone on to become a seemingly unstoppable World Champion, and we’re now getting a different “form” of Omega as a singles wrestler. That makes a match between them seem fresh for more than just the fact that we’ve only seen it once in the history of ever, and that was a year ago. Make it happen, AEW.
What Will Happen: Jon Moxley Wins
What Should Happen: Jon Moxley Wins
Eight matches on the full card, and of those eight, my “What Will Happen” and “What Should Happen” are different in some way, shape, or form three times. Not bad. What say you?
Weekly Power Rankings
- WALTER vs Ilja Dragunov: I don’t write about NXT UK for two reasons. One, I don’t get to watch every episode, so I find myself behind on a lot of their stuff. Two, and perhaps most importantly, I already find myself writing 4000+ words every week without having to add another show to my viewing schedule. That may not be fair to them, but it’s all I got. I had to write about them this time around, though. I’ve seen a few singles matches between these two men, back when they were wrestling for PROGRESS or wXw, and they always had absolute wars. When I saw that they would be facing off under the WWE umbrella for the first time, I had to make sure I watched, even if I still wasn’t fully caught up on the NXT UK brand. I was not disappointed. Holy shit, what a brutal contest. They beat the holy hell out of each other from bell-to-bell. I can’t even properly put into words how hard-hitting this match was, but I loved it. LOVED IT. It’s going to be on a ton of Match Of The Year lists in about a month’s time. If you haven’t watched it, and especially if you’re unfamiliar with WALTER and/or Ilja Dragunov, do yourselves a favor and load up the WWE Network to watch the match on this week’s NXT UK episode. I would love to hear from you about your thoughts on what you watched.
- Io Shirai: Another very good match. Another successful NXT Women’s Title defense. Ho hum, right? Io is one of the best in-ring performers on the planet right now. Not best female. Best. Period. Full stop. Her reign is reaching the five-month mark, and I’m interested to see where it’s headed now that she has hopefully moved on from this Candice LeRae feud.
- Roman Reigns & Jey Uso: I’m becoming a broken record here. Every time these guys are on the screen, I’m going to enjoy what they’re doing to advance this story. Now that Jey Uso has fallen in line and has joined his cousin, we reach the next stage. Is it a ploy on Jey’s behalf? What will happen when we see Jimmy Uso again? Are we finally about to get a Samoan stable with Roman and The Usos like people have been requesting for a long time? We shall see.
- Rhea Ripley vs Raquel Gonzalez: Two of the biggest badasses the NXT women’s division has ever seen, squaring off. You knew it would be a wild fight, and that’s exactly what it was. The right woman won, too. Ripley either needs to be strong for another shot at the Women’s Title or for the main roster call-up that a ton of people are expecting to happen soon. Gonzalez looked great in the loss, too. She’s come such a long way in the last several months. She can be a strong piece for NXT in the future, especially if Ripley does move on to Raw or Smackdown.
- Kenny Omega: I’ve already mentioned it multiple times, but we appear to finally be getting the version of Kenny Omega that we thought we would be getting when AEW was getting started. That’s a good thing. That is potentially a VERY good thing.
- Johnny Gargano: The new North American Champion is someone who is as dependable in the ring as it gets. He’s also someone who I feel should’ve been moved to the main roster already, as he has done everything there is to do in NXT. I guess the brand is stuck with him for at least a little while longer. Poor things. More good matches for them. Oh, darn.
- Pete Dunne: I don’t know what that guy’s workout and diet regimen is, but whatever it is, he should be making money in giving his secrets away. He returned to NXT looking JACKED. He looks like the guy who would’ve picked on the previous version of himself in school. Being inserted in the Pat McAfee vs Undisputed Era feud is a logical choice, considering all the hell UE has put Dunne through in the past. He’s in a very good spot now. I’m interested to see if title gold is in his future. I’m all for him getting a shot at Finn Balor or Johnny Gargano.
- Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin: The level of athleticism in this team is ridiculous. They make a great addition to the Raw tag team division, and a proper title match between them and the team of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods has the potential to be epic. As an added bonus, it gives Alexander something he can actually sink his teeth into. As one of the most underrated in-ring performers in the business, he deserves that shine. Having Benjamin, who has been a part of eight total Tag Team Title reigns in his career, by his side can only be a good thing. The Hurt Business is turning into one of those stables with the potential for everyone involved to be a champion, as long as MVP moves back into the midcard scene and Lashley is elevated to the main event.
- Bianca Belair: I wanted to have her listed higher in the rankings this week. Picking up the win on Smackdown to qualify her for the brand’s team at Survivor Series is the type of start to a push that everyone can get behind, but this is WWE we’re talking about here. The chances of her being the sole survivor for Smackdown at Survivor Series are just as high as the chances of her losing a match to Billie Kay in less than four minutes next week. If the company can actually focus on giving her a proper push, it will be something fun to see. Let’s see if it happens.
- Leyla Hirsch: Yes, she was unsuccessful in winning the NWA Women’s Title in her match with Serena Deeb on Dynamite, but even in a loss, I’m seeing more people talk about her and her performance than Deeb. With a strong amateur background, her in-ring style is something that you don’t see that often in women’s wrestling. That makes it stand out. She looked like she has a world of potential in the match, and is someone I want to see more of in the future. Deeb is Deeb. You know she’s going to deliver, and that’s what she did. No disrespect to her, though. Hirsch just captured my attention.
This Week’s Playlist: “Function” by E-40, YG, Iamsu!, & Problem… “Captain Save A Hoe” by E-40 & The Click… “Sprinkle Me” by E-40 & Suga T… “Rapper’s Ball” by E-40, Too $hort, & K-Ci… “Sinister Mob” by E-40 & Nate Dogg… “Hurricane” by The Click… “Gas Pedal” by Sage The Gemini & Iamsu!… “Forgot About Dre” by Dr. Dre & Eminem… “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg… “Who Am I (What’s My Name)” by Snoop Doggy Dogg… “Sumner Days” by Above The Law… “Let’s Ride” by Richie Rich… “Can I Rap” by Roach Gigz… “This DJ” by Warren G… “New York, New York” by Tha Dogg Pound & Snoop Doggy Dogg… “Let’s Play House” by Tha Dogg Pound & Nate Dogg… “Killaz On The Payroll” by The Luniz, Phats Bossilini, Madd Maxx, & Poppa LQ… “Jus Mee & U” by The Luniz, DJ Quik, & Raphael Saadiq… “Girl” by The Luniz & Crooked I… “Truth (Why You Mad)” by KXNG Crooked & Royce Da 5’9