14th Nov2021

‘AEW: Full Gear 2021’ PPV Review

by Phil Wheat

Welcome to this review of AEW’s Full Gear, which looks to be yet another huge pay per view for All Elite Wrestling – with matches featuring Bryan Danielson, Miro, the Inner Circle, American Top Team, Britt Baker, Tay Conti, The Lucha Brothers, FTR, MJF, Darby Allin and TWO highly-anticipated matches between Eddie Kingston and CM Punk, and Kenny Omega versus ‘Hangman’ Adam Page… And we get some wonderful tributes to the legend that was Eddie Guerrero too!

THE BUY-IN:

Match #1: Hikaru Shida & Thunder Rosa def. Nyla Rose w/Vickie Guerrero & Jamie Hayter

My Thoughts: Thunder Rosa and Hikaru Shida used their size and agility really well in the early going of this match to take down Nyla Rose. However Rose’s size worked to her advantage and she tagged in Jamie Hayter and flipped the match giving the duo supremacy… At one point it was shown Serena Deeb was in the audience watching the match with glee as Shida took all the punishment from Rose and Hayter. Speaking of Shida, what happened to her vicious streak that AEW were building? She seems to have lost it during her conflicts with Deeb and she could’ve done with that streak here! Some shenanigans from Vickie Guerrero and Serena Deeb took out any momentum Shida and Rosa built, with a near fall from Nyla Rose on Shida saved by a huge missile dropkick from Thunder Rosa. Shida eventually hit a jackknife pin on Rose for the win. A great end to the Buy-In!

My Score: 2.5 out of 5

FULL GEAR:

Match #2: MJF def. Darby Allin

My Thoughts: MJF was playing major heel in this one, even coming out in Ric Flair style robe. Meanwhile Darby Allin blew up MJF in a car in his pre-match video package (also a reference to the car crash Darby was involved in as a kid)! The crowd were super-hot for this one, right from the start. And guess what? These two delivered from the opening bell – a series of hold for hold moves, literally mirroring each other had the crowd chanting! A botched coffin drop on the apron gave MJF the advantage, working Darby’s back over at every opportunity. The duo went back and forth in a real display of wrestling (where you literally couldn’t tell who was going to get the win). Mat work, brawling and high spots off the ropes – these two went through the entire wrestling playbook to deliver a superb opening PPV match… one with a RIDICULOUS amount of near-falls (the most I think I’ve ever seen in a match) which all worked BRILLIANTLY to tell this story of two truly evenly-matched opponents. So even that MJF had to cheat, again, to get the win.

My Score: 4 out of 5

Match #3: The Lucha Bros. def. FTR

My Thoughts: This one started out like a fight, with Penta looking absolutely p*ssed off from the get-go; and both teams really selling this as a true grudge match, with emotions running high. What was also running high was the pace of this match – this was a flurry of moves that gave the Lucha Bros. the advantage. Like the previous match there was a lot of back and forth in this one making it too close to call. One thing both teams did have were some seriously vicious looking moves, with FTR using their strength and the Lucha Bros. using literally everything (putting their bodies through the mill) to try and take control of the match. Unfortunately someone decided that ref Rick Knox should make some sh*tty calls (well, miss some tags and some shenanigans from FTR) which took the sheen off this one somewhat. As did that wobbly ending with the “Super Ranas” masks. One thing to note… Dax did the Eddie shake and the crowd went mental, the did NOT like that! But when Penta did it, the crowd went wild! A nice way to pay tribute to Eddie Guerrero on the anniversary of his death. One m ore thing… I do  wish Alex Abrahantes got involved in this one, he deserved to after the beating he got from FTR and Tully Blanchard.

My Score: 4.5 out of 5

Match #4: AEW World Championship Eliminator Tournament Final – Bryan Danielson def. Miro

My Thoughts: This one played out pretty much exactly how you expected. Miro used his size and strength to dominate Danielson for most of the match, throwing him around the ring and outside the ring. Miro worked slow and methodically on Danielson and all the while looked like a beast! Danielson eventually got the upper hand, for a short while at least, kicking the crap out of Miro and then locking in a knee bar. They played up the prior issue with Miro’s thigh which eventually came into play the longer the match went on, with it seemingly stopping him keeping Danielson in the Game Over submission finisher…  Eventually the pair went to-to-toe, with Miro taunting Danielson to hit him (pretty much like Tong Po in the classic Kickboxer movies), before Danielson hit a DDT on Miro and got him in a chokehold, putting him to sleep for the win

My Score: 3.5 out of 5

Match #5: Falls Count Anywhere Match – Jurassic Express & Christian Cage def. The Young Bucks & Adam Cole

My Thoughts: This match was expectedly messy, breaking down from the bell. A double-team from Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy busted Adam Cole open early on in the match… in fact Adam Cole took a lot of abuse here, getting put through a table by Jungle Boy. Meanwhile Christian Cage took the fight into the stands, jumping off a balcony onto Nick Jackson and his two stooges. The advantage continued to go back and forth between both teams, with Jungle Boy EATING thumbtacks at one point – a spot AEW have done before and one that still feels unsettling – and the chaos escalating the more this match continued. Interesting to note that Luchasaurus got a LOT of spots in this one, no doubt to make up for most of this feud focusing on Jungle Boy and Christian Cage. Jungle Boy eventually caved to pressure and hit Matt Jackson with a con-chair-to for the win. JB looked remorseful afterwards though, so does this mean he’s going to argue with Cage for making him cross a line; or is it the turning of Jungle Boy into a more aggressive wrestler, making him into even more of a threat that he already is to the rest of the roster? We’ll have to wait and see.

My Score: 4.5 out of 5

Match #6: PAC & Cody Rhodes def. Andrade El Idolo & Malakai Black

My Thoughts: Well, well, Pretty much everything Cody did in this match got booed. Like really booed. He didn’t help himself by bling-tagging himself in a the start of this one and continuing to do so throughout the match. A heel move if ever there was one… but hold on Cody’s not and apparently never will be a heel? In fact this match was all about the blind tag, with both teams partaking in it. To be fair to Black and Andrade, they at least looked like a team at some spots during this match even if the overall story was that everyone participating in the match was in business for themselves. In terms of wrestling for some reason a lot of the moves here looked clumsy (a clash of styles perhaps?) and there were definitely some botches; but there was enough good stuff here to make up for most of that. PAC eventually hit the Black Arrow on Andrade for the win.

My Score: 2.5 out of 5

Match #7: AEW Women’s World Championship – Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. def. Tay Conti

My Thoughts: AEW’s promotion for this match sold this one as a test for Baker but the match did not start out that way – with Baker getting numerous pins on Conti and almost hitting the lockjaw too and that was all in the first minute or so! Once Hayter interfered by tugging on the ropes to make Conti fall you knew where this one was headed… and it headed there at a pace that felt really slow. This one match took pretty much all the wind out of the PPV – I’m guessing it didn’t help following the last match but I think the audience in attendance were looking for something more exciting than the measured offence Baker put in and so they tuned out somewhat. It wasn’t until Conti started hitting her usual pump kicks that the audience took part in the action! A lot of back and forth followed with Baker hitting Conti with an Air Raid Crash on the apron (which looked nastier than it apparently was). More shenanigans from Hayter and Rebel looked like it could spoil this one but, thankfully, Conti took both women out and the match ended clean with Baker eventually pinning Conti with a roll up for the win.

My Score: 2.5 out of 5

Match #8: CM Punk def. Eddie Kingston

My Thoughts: Hard to believe this match was set-up in the space of two weeks, it feels like a grudge match for the ages. The benefits of having a great storyteller like Kingston involved in your match. Kingston hit Punk BEFORE the bell and crowd went wild, chanting “Eddie” over and over! Duelling crowd chants got this match fired up straight away and you could see both men clearly fed off it. And guess what…? Punk got BOOED when he got the advantage in this one, it really didn’t take long for the entire crowd to get behind Kingston, which you have to love. Punk got busted open, showing how much of a fight this was, rather than a wrestling match. A fight that seemingly wore both men out quickly or they at least sold it that way. Punk looked like he fed of the crowds boos at the end of the match, striking Kingston MMA-style before hitting a second GTS and getting the pin. The wrong man won IMHO.

My Score: 3.5 out of 5

Match #9: Minneapolis Street Fight: The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana & Ortiz) def. Men of the Year (Ethan Page & Scorpio Sky) and American Top Team (Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski & Dan Lambert)

My Thoughts: Much like the Falls Count Anywhere match earlier, this match was a mess from the start, breaking down early and continuing as a fast-paced, spot-filled highlight reel. Sammy Guevara and Santana & Ortiz were the standouts for their team whilst Junior dos Santos shined for his team – hard to believe he’s not a wrestler! Talking about high spots, a HUGE dive of a ladder onto Scorpio Sky lying on a table by Guevara was a real WTF moment; as was Santana diving into the crowd onto Ethan Page (did any fans get hurt in that spot ’cause it looked like it). In the end it was Dan Lambert versus Jericho, with Jericho hitting a huge frog splash on Lambert, in tribute to his friend Eddie Guerrero, for the win.

My Score: 4 out of 5

Match #10: “Hangman” Adam Page def. Kenny Omega

My Thoughts: Well what did you expect from this match? We got the culmination of TWO years of storytelling and a raucous reception fro the new AEW Champion… We also got some great wrestling with both men hitting some huge spots and delivering some more traditional wrestling too; with some “holy sh*t” moments thrown in for good measure. This was a perfectly balanced match with both men getting their moves in… and with Don Callis involved we got some shenanigans, leading to a bloody close win (like a millimetre from Aubrey hitting a three count) for Page. Loved how both men scouted each others moves, countering each others best attempts at getting the advantage. And the Bucks, who came out towards the end of the match, did NOT interfere! Talk about long-term storytelling and rewarding the fans who’ve paid attention for the past two years… Instant classic.

My Score: 5 out of 5

News of the Night:

  1. Dante Martin turned join an invitation from The Acclaimed to join their team (and hit a stunning dive off the top rope onto Caster and Bowens).
  2. Orange Cassidy announced he would team with Tomohiro Ishii, a member of New Japan’s CHAOS, for his rematch against Matt Hardy!
  3. Baron Von Raschke was shown in attendance, sat in the audience with Jake Hager’s wife.
  4. Former TNA star and Ring of Honor mainstay Jay Lethal made his AEW debut and instantly challenged Sammy Guevara for the TNT Title on Dynamite this Wednesday.

Final Verdict: 4.5/5

When the matches were good they were GREAT and that ending was everything fans of AEW wanted. A crowd pleaser that delivered where is mattered even if there were some lulls in the excitement. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward with a new champion, especially given Page’s next opponent will be Bryan Danielson – how the hell do you tell that story in the space of one match? And what happens to the Inner Circle now? They’ve got no one left to feud with so perhaps their time has come? If so we need Santana and Ortiz in that tag title race ASAP. Ultimately it’s safe to say AEW really do know how to put on crowd-pleasing pay per views don’t they!

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