IN LAIMAN’S TERMS #457
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Thoughts on AEW: Full Gear 2023
1. Fantastic pre-show. Joe continues to be on a different level. Adam Cole is here, and is that sweet or suspicious? Pre-show ends with MJF being the one who yells “ADAAAAAAAM!” Oh how the turned have tabled.
2. An opening video with a voiceover. Of all the nostalgia they’ve brought back lately, this is among the better decisions. A new fan could start right here and have an idea of what’s going on.
3. A little bit dramatic, calling the Juniors Ass attack “senseless.” He’s been a good boy for all of six months, and before that, he was doing shit just like that. Then again, they’ve also increased the stakes with an injury and an ambulance ride to provide the capstone for later in the main event.
4. We’re opening with the 3v3, and we’ve got blue lights and a children’s choir. Of all the voices they’ve got singing along, they’ve at least spared us the heavy 2002 of the original.
5. This match involves Christian, Edge, and Sting, and at the same time also involves an 18-year-old kid. I can’t think of too many matches that have a 46-year age gap in them that don’t involve Moolah and Mae Young in 1999.
6. Some other person is here too. At least he’s not wrestling to increase the number in the previous thought. Or for any other reason.
7. Is it going to be a night of special entrances? We’ve got a second one already involving three bats. Adam Copeland is in split face paint like Darby, and they’ve all coordinated wardrobe. Gee, are they winning tonight?
8. The crowd continues singing “Metalingus” well after it ends over the PA. Think this huge crowd is happy to see him?
9. Darby and Nick open up, and it looks like Nick potatoes him right away. Darby continues to come across very naive in this situation. The crowd chants “who’s your daddy” because Christian has made that a thing.
10. Edge and Christian finally face off. They milk it for a few seconds, and Christian tags out because of course he does. They’re not gonna make it that easy.
11. Luchasaurus chokeslams Darby over the ropes and off the ring apron, and somehow he always looks like he was on the receiving end of a devastating fall, whether or not he actually was.
12. Christian’s been doing his DDPYoga, he looks jacked in that turtletank.
13. Nigel describes Darby as an “amiable T-1000” and somehow this commentary HAM is after we had both Nigel and Stokely at the same time earlier this evening. I just hope for all their sakes we don’t cut to ringside and see Robert Patrick anywhere. They are in LA after all, you don’t know what that semi is gonna fly off of next.
14. Christian crawled under the ring just to pull Copeland off the ring apron, which also gets Sting taken out at ringside, so Darby can’t tag out to anyone. Christian encourages him to tag as he stands over him.
15. “He was in the corner, giving Darby Allin the Clap.” Nigel, is there something you know about that you’re not sharing with the class?
16. Edge does some tandem offense with Sting. I don’t know if he’s been this giddy in a tag match since Smackdown in 2002.
17. Ol’ Purple Paisley decides to get involved, and he gets crotch-punched for his efforts. Sting must’ve really wanted him there. He sure recovers quickly though.
18. Team Facepaint wins after Christian takes off. That was perfectly fine, and we didn’t get too many crazy stunts. That’s good, with a ladder match and a Texas death match still to come.
19. Darby drops two f-bombs to call for LA to give Sting one last ovation. How much did he get fined for those? More or less than Mox on commentary recently?
20. Unfortunately, FITE doesn’t go dark during the sports gambling bullshit on PPV broadcasts.
21. Tony gets called up to the stage along with Bryce to bring out Bullet Club Gold. Jay HAMs it up because they play the Gunns’ entrance music to bring him out. They say that the main event has been canceled, but before they can declare Jay White champion, Adam Cole comes out again to cut it off. Cole says if MJF can’t do defend the title, he will. The suspicions increase.
22. OC and Mox are going on already? The rematch of a main event is going on this early? Damn, this card really is stacked. I really think this needs to pay off with OC winning this one.
23. Hook is also here, so maybe some backup in case some BCC shenanigans ensue, as they are wont to do.
24. Just once during this entrance, I want Mox to wear a sleeveless leather jacket and a pair of black horn-rims. I’ll even lend him the Vaughn 99 jersey replica I have.
25. The match begins the same way every interaction with these two does: a mauling.
26. Enough with the fucking Draft Kings shills. There’s something so odd about going into salesman voice while a person is standing on another person’s throat.
27. Nigel compares Mox to Hannibal Lecter. Well, when the Mox hears the Orange scream, he comes a-runnin’, but not to help.
28. They bring up Draft Kings again because Mox is bleeding. I can’t even imagine anyone would take that bet. Of course Mox is bleeding, because it’s a day.
29. Orange starts to play off the hatred and aggression of Mox by using it against him, tempting him into going too hard and making mistakes. What a clever inverse to the usual basis of his psychology, I love it.
30. OC slips out of a Beach Break counter and kicks Mox right in the fuck. OC tries for… Well, what they call the Redrum, that’s a bit generous.
31. After a Gotch-style Piledriver from Mox for a near-fall, they say he was within a “hair’s breath” of winning. Unless they meant “hair’s breadth?” I don’t know, that’s an odd turn of phrase, and I can’t stop picturing individual hairs with pairs of lungs now. Welcome to my mind.
32. Mox no-sells three Orange Punches in a row, gets a near-fall, hits three more and a Beach Break. Orange Cassidy wins! What a wonderful second story to tell in that series. It was a very different one without all the weapons, but OC had to go to his own extreme measures to get the win. The BCC and BFFs are all in the ring, and also Hook gets bumped by Yuta. They hold him back… for some reason. Future FTW title match, I’m guessing.
33. They book the main event officially as Adam Cole in MJF’s stead. That’s what a good booker would do, have someone on crutches be cleared to compete somehow. Nothing to see here, move along.
34. The HAM is getting HAMmier, as Toni Storm’s homage to All About HAM continues to go further into the land of the absurd, and I can’t get enough of how they keep escalating this. They managed to book two women’s matches, and the arena did not disappear into a black hole of ruin and regret. Good to know it is possible to do that. Now maybe keep doing that.
35. Toni tears up the script. “Ad-lib Jones, as they say.” Name one person who has said that before, Taz. Please.
36. Nigel continues with the references tonight. Earlier we had the T-1000, and now he compares Emi Sakura to Mr. Miyagi, and Hikaru as Daniel LaRusso. Well, if there’s a way to make me want to see Toni win, it’d be chopping the chest off that petulant little shit. It’d never work though, they couldn’t get him to shut the fuck up long enough to get the match started.
37. They bring up the story between Toni and Jamie before the change took over, and that just makes me sad. Poor Jamie, I hope she heals up soon.
38. Toni uses one shoe as a distraction as a way to use the other, and it gets such a big reaction. They’ve done so well with this character shift, I can’t say that enough.
39. Toni kicks out of a Falcon Arrow, which Taz says shows you how tough Toni Storm is. I guess that means everyone else is also tough, because I haven’t seen that move win a match in… I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it win a match.
40. Aubrey has to warn Shida to not use the Kendo stick if she wants to keep the title, because the title changes hands after DQ and all, as we all know. But then Luther gets physically involved, and Aubrey just kinda looks at it. That was weird.
41. Toni wins after the Hip Attack where she, to quote Rikishi on WWE Originals, put a little ass on it. I’m surprised she won the title back, but not disappointed. Mariah May comes out to give her the flowers. It is Hollywood, after all. She falls off the ring into Luther’s arms, and gets spun around like some weird meetcute in the 50s. And just like those movies, Luther has to pull the wardrobe enhancement out. What the hell is even reality right now?
42. The ladder match is next, and they’ve likely avoided a lot of the chaos and external spots so they can be maximized here and later.
43. Eddie decides to put his titles on the line in the Continental tournament. He says whoever wins will be a Triple Crown champion because they’ll also get the Continental championship. Please tell me that’ll be like the Owen and not another championship. Even if we got rid of all the ROH titles and kept them to that show exclusively, there is still not a need for another title.
44. LA knows how to respect a MEATsterpiece within a match, good on them. Brody King and Bill of the Biggest Variety going at it is definitely worthy of the Meat division.
45. Dax does a little Terry Funk homage with the helicopter ladder spot before getting it kicked off his head.
46. Dralistico climbs the ladder. Just as they say there’s no one near him, Cash knocks him off the ladder. Words mean things, or so I’ve heard.
47. This is the second consecutive match where chops from the previous night affect the chest of a wrestler. Cash must’ve heard it, as he blatantly low blows Malakai in order to do a piledriver off the turnbuckle onto a propped up ladder. Then Brody does a tope right into another ladder, sending it into the front row. Half Sting in there wanted to get involved, well…
48. Brody King does a freaking Gonzo Bomb on Dralistico on a ladder propped up from the ring apron to the barricade. They spun off it, though Brody ends up going back on to take a little nap. Or so Cash can splash onto him. I don’t remember the last time I saw a ladder match that felt unique and innovative, but here we are. What a fun, chaotic mess this has been.
49. Ricky boinks Cash off the ladder and takes the belts off, exactly like he said he was going to do. What a match.
50. Brody’s face makes Mox’s crimson mask earlier look like a papercut, good JBL. This match has been brought to you by ice baths and Ibuprofen.
51. Despite her being the defending champion, it took me a minute to remember who the third person in this match was, due to how well Skye and Julia have been doing. The champion is an afterthought in the match, which is not to insult Stat, but to compliment the other two.
52. Skye gets a bit of a character makeover with her entrance. Shazam didn’t know what the song was, but it definitely fit her new look and attitude better than the previous one, whatever it was. I’m very unlikely to know any song.
53. Skye and Julia keep teasing affection only to punch the shit out of each other afterward. They’re really leaning in to the speculation.
54. Julia hits her amazing moonsault on Skye, and gets a near-fall before Kris pulls her out of the suggestive-as-hell pin she utilizes.
55. Skye makes up for the not-great Code Blue earlier this with an awesome counter into one on Stat for another near-fall. Stat then does multiple deadlift German suplexes like she’s playing Smackdown 2, which causes them to knowingly call her the Human Suplex Machine while winking like Eric Idle, knowwhatimean, knowhatimean, saynomore?
56. Julia steals the win to a huge reaction after Stat’s big run. Good for her, she’s come so far since the character shift from cheerleader to what she’s become. That was a fantastic triple threat that never felt like a run of the mill three-way. Well deserved on Julia’s part, and the story with Skye’s evolution continues.
57. Tony’s back in the ring, because Renee is busy doing other things elsewhere. I presume this is going to be the totally-not Will Ospreay signing.
58. I had no doubt that it would be anyone but Will Ospreay, but I still popped. So did everyone in the arena, or so it sounded like. I guess he’s no longer part-time Callis Family.
59. He announces his intent to finish up with New Japan. That’s lovely, That covers the contract thing, and he says line up all the best, especially at Wembley. I presume that means he’ll have a bigger match than last year’s.
60. I don’t want to see Swerve lose again, but given the gimmick of this one, it’s very likely.
61. Hangman wants Swerve to make Hell Swerve’s House, but I guess he’ll have to negotiate that with the cabbies.
62. The Swerve dance is more extra than usual, which is saying something.
63. It says something about how massively over Swerve is with the reactions and callbacks he’s getting despite being a dastardly heel.
64. Hangman hits the ring immediately and hits a Buckshot Lariat. I can safely say, that is not how I expected this match to start.
65. We’ve got a staple gun involved already while Swerve’s hands are tied up. If the match needed to distinguish itself from the other gimmick match, it certainly did. Among other things, he gets a piece of paper stapled to his arm. So far, this is a Ricky and Big Bill destroying FTR level of one-sided mauling.
66. Not to be outdone with the stapling, Hangman staples a fingerpainting to Swerve’s fucking cheek, rips it off, and then opens his mouth below Swerve to drink the blood. We went full Gangrel there. Swerve finally escapes the one-sidedness of the match as he counters a shot with the barbed wire chair.
67. Nope, just kidding, more staples. Swerve is pissed though, and no-sells them. So much blood, holy shit. Swerve staples himself, which gets a “you sick fuck” chant after all the shit Hangman just did. It’s different, I’ll give it that.
68. You know there’s been some crimson when you can say “this show had more blood than a typical AEW PPV,” and not have it be hyperbolic.
69. Swerve breaks out a cinderblock. No, don’t do that! That means he’ll use it on you, and they’ll follow it up by doing nothing! Keith Lee deserved better.
70. Swerve does a DVD on the ring apron sending Hangman off the cinderblock, and the replay shows how he used the ropes for help to pull it off. This is not my kind of wrestling, but mad respect for the story they’ve been telling here.
71. Now there’s been a piledriver on the barricade while Swerve’s crimson mask is evoking memories of Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 2003.
72. Did I just see someone with a “wrestling is trash” sign? Um… You paid to get in here though? There’s also a sign that says “IWC” with a line through it. Someone lost a Twitter argument (or wherever the kids talk these days.)
73. Now there’s a barbed wire fallaway slam, because why the fuck not at this point? Not to be outdone, the moonsault to the outside with the barbed wire chair.
74. I keep hearing the crowd react with strong pops to very specific things, and I can’t tell if they’re match things or extracurricular.
75. Swerve hits Hangman with the barbed wire chair and it gets stuck on his damn face. Swerve follows up with a powerbomb and a double stomp on the chair. Damn. This is grotesque.
76. How are we going to escalate from here? There’s a black bag, and is it thumbtacks? No, it’s black glass. Swerve pours it on his back, does a fucking 450 onto the glass back Hangman, and somehow that wasn’t the JBLdamn finish. No, we need more escalation. Swerve is setting up a barbed wire board between two chairs, so you know he’s going through it. If he’s having any issues from blood loss, he’s sure not showing it.
77. Hangman does a trio of moves with Swerve on the board, though the third one (the Deadeye) seems like it would be way worse on Hangman’s knees than Swerve, but wrestling gonna wrestling.
78. Oh god, Hangman wraps the barbed wire around Swerve’s neck and face, PLEASE tell me they’re not going to do the finish to the Mox match with that. No, it’s *just* a Buckshot. Nana saves the damn match and pulls Swerve out to a huge pop. Brian Cage attacks from behind.
79. The crowd pops because Cage pulls out a table. After all the devastating shit we saw, they still want those damn tables. The crowd chants they want fire now. Of course they do.
80. Nana interferes and uses a chair, but No-Sell Jones. Nana gets the Deadeye through the table at ringside. Swerve uses the cinderblock from behind and it goes splody all over the place.
81. Hangman, despite the three-on-one, all he’s been dealt already, and a freaking cinderblock, still manages to get up relatively quickly. Speaking of the finish to the Mox match though, Swerve utilizes the chain to do almost that. Mox tapped immediately, but Hangman stays in to get released and then almost gets up again. Swerve won, Hangman loses a Texas Death match for the first time. For not the first time tonight, I’m pleasantly shocked. Twelve different ways of not my kind of wrestling, but all the love and respect in the world for what they pulled off. Someone has to follow that.
82. The Golden Jets/Young Bucks match has to be the one that goes after that match. The match that was created out of backstage kvetching totally not referencing other events or anything like that. There are stakes, if that term is applied out of context and very loosely. Somehow after attempting revenge for a home invasion, whether or not the two guys who’ve been tagging for eight minutes get to tag together again doesn’t rank high in the level of consequences for me.
83. Callis points out how Omega turned his back on his lifelong friends to hang out with Jericho and… yeah, that’s pretty much what happened. The Bucks were being super whiny and passive aggressive about it, but Callis is accurate.
84. They spent a long time reuniting the Elite just to (maybe) break them up again with different people being the jerkass this time.
85. Callis is complimenting the Young Bucks a bit, is he trying to do a recruit again?
86. They crunch Jericho’s arm in the stairs to, as Taz puts it, take out the “Juice Effect.” I don’t know what hurting Jericho’s arm has to do with the Gremlin in BCG, but there is no taking that out. My partner compared him to Fizzgig today.
87. Callis says that the Bucks look like a great tag team and Omega/Jericho look like two great singles stars. Again… yeah. You’re supposed to be the heel here, right?
88. The Bucks do a blatant low blow on Kenny, so I guess the Elite is no more. Pretty hard to come back from that. Callis is loving it, and Nick uses the Judas Effect to get a near fall.
89. Jericho kicks out of the BTE Trigger. Of course. Jericho does a pretty interesting move where he catches a superkick and uses the foot to kick the other Buck. He then also does a blatant low blow, but the ref didn’t see it so I guess it’s okay.
90. Omega stands in between Jericho and Omega, and appears to point the fingerguns at Jericho. But he does the opposite of what he said he was gonna do. Omega gets caught in a One-Winged Angel, but he’s not going down like that.
91. Jericho no-sells a superkick and screams. Everyone gets one of those tonight, I guess. Kenny wins with the One-Winged Angel. The union of “we begrudgingly started hanging out” is preserved and gets a tag shot.
92. The Bucks do another Christian-circa-2002-esque temper tantrum. Omega, after getting the punch in the fuck earlier tonight, somehow remains surprised that they’re acting like this. One of them throws something in their tantrum and comes damn close to hitting Aubrey with it. Or they did and she’s just not dealing with it.
93. The Bucks continue attacking the ring with chairs, and Aubrey keeps trying to get them to stop. Even Excalibur calls it petulance.
94. Nigel pulls out some 2013 throwback energy, talking about the world title and the IRON! CLAD! CONTRACT!
95. All right, what shenanigans and/or twist is going down here. How will the Devil get involved, will he be revealed? It’s been a show-long story intertwined with several long stories over the months.
96. A siren goes off, which either means MJF is doing himself a comeback, or Scott Steiner is coming back to reclaim his math.
97. Wait, 38 people are trying to stop MJF from going out to the ring, but nobody was trying to stop the guy on crutches from doing so? What’s wrong with this picture?
98. Jay White goes after the leg while MJF does his best to fight back despite the circumstances.
99. Sign: “I’m a poor.” As they have ringside seats at a PPV in LA. Sure, Jan.
100. There’s Juniors Ass shenanigans, because there wasn’t enough going on yet. That’s good, they should introduce some story to this match.
101. This was not the match I was expecting for the main event of a stacked card like this.
102. MJF decides he wants to try the Panama Sunrise, despite how well those attempts have worked out for him ere, and also the whole injured leg thing.
103. MJF tries to whip Jay onto the table, and it immediately collapses. It’s the Anti-I Am the Table. He is definitively not the table. MHF then does an elbow drop from the turnbuckle to the JBLdamn floor since he can’t go through the non-personified table. MJF, your hips, your poor hips. Nevermind the injured leg, landing on your hips from that height…
104. MJF gets caught in the Tree of Woe, and takes some inspiration from the one who lives there better than anyone, Julia Hart, and throws Switchblade for a suplex from that position. It gets him an Avalanche Uranage for a near-fall for his troubles. Other than the injury, there’s just an air of something yet to happen. Especially with Adam Cole randomly being there and everything else…
105. Jay White takes a terrible bump that looks like it’s on his head, and even Taz mentions how he broke his neck falling like that.
106. I don’t even know what to call what MJF just did. A Diamond Cutter leaping over the ropes to the floor, that looked freaking awesome.
107. You know what else would help the pressure on your owie knee? Stop doing things that require you to land really hard on them. Weird thought, but it just might work.
108. As MJF is in the Figure Four, it looks like Adam Cole wants to throw in a towel. A yellow towel, no less.
109. Adam Cole tries to hit Jay with the ROH tag belt, but it backfires. Jay uses it to clobber MJF, but Max still kicks out. All this is lining up a bit too suspiciously. Is this going to be the callback to 2019, among other things, at which they keep hinting?
110. Adam drops off the Dynamite Diamond Ring, but it’s just out of reach. But Jay is the one who ends up getting ahold of it, conveniently.
111. The Juniors Ass pull the Don Callis and run back to the ring despite being ejected earlier. MJF captures the Diamond Ring and hits Jay with it. MJF wins. Max finally gets his title belt back and celebrates with his injured friend.
112. There’s been curiously little Devil in the show so far.
113. There’s a really long shot of MJF and Adam walking up toward the stage. They’ve been holding on this post-match for a really long time for it to be so curiously uneventful.
114. MJF again calls himself the real world’s champion. Total coincidence.
115. Wow, it really is going to end like this.
116. This was a really fun show for the most part, despite how grotesque it got and how annoying it could be in some small moments. The curious lack of the Devil or any kind of swerve or shenanigans involved with the main event is slightly confusing. I suppose it was a different match than expected in the main event, and a lot of the places for things to happen didn’t have said things happening. Maybe they just really wanted to have MJF do the injured gimmick to change it up a bit? It felt anticlimactic as hell. But it’s mostly picking nits.
It’s hard to choose between Jay and Toni, but given that it was in LA, I think I have to go with Toni, not just for the night but as a collective for the last few months that led up to that as well.