McGuire’s Monday: With less than two weeks before AEW’s Full Gear, it’s time to look at what we know will happen, what we hope will happen, and what we think will happen

By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)

Welcome to the week before Full Gear go-home week. Also, slightly less important, welcome to the one-year anniversary, or 51st installment (I missed a week in February) of McGuire’s Mondays. Sign in at the door to receive your free gift bag.

In what can only be described as an accident, I have attended every Full Gear to date. The first was in Baltimore, so that was fairly easy. The second, however, was in Jacksonville, and that … well … wasn’t as easy. But it was time to get out of the house after spending months locked in a room due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year? Well, my streak of two will come to an end because I, in fact, will not be in Minneapolis at AEW’s final pay-per-view of the year. Still, that doesn’t stop me from having a thought or two about a thought or two when it comes to the 2021 Full Gear installment. And of all the thoughts one could have when considering the show, perhaps the most prominent one is …

A FAIRYTALE ENDING?

… Will this finally be the night for Hangman Page to win the AEW World Title?

Conventional wisdom might suggest it is, but AEW doesn’t always necessarily play by the rules. I had a ticket in hand for All Out back in September, thinking that would be Page’s coronation, but it wasn’t to be as the cowboy took some time off to welcome a child into this fantastically cruel world. The resulting disappointment from a fan’s perspective made me wonder if the moment slipped through AEW’s hands and Page’s eventual title reign wouldn’t feel as special as it would have, had Hangman burned Chicago to the ground with a win and garnered what would have been an uproarious pop that most people in Milwaukee could hear.

And thus the question is simple: If Page does beat Kenny Omega at Full Gear, will that reaction be as emotional as the reaction would have been two months ago? I was in Philadelphia when Page returned on Dynamite and the ovation was enormous for the guy, so maybe I’m overthinking it, but even if that’s the case, it’s not unreasonable to question, no matter how the result and reaction plays out, how much different it could or could not have been in Chicago.

The other intriguing factor here is that, by and large, AEW has historically been a heel territory. Of the three world champions the company has crowned, two of them were full-fledged heels during their reign (Jericho and Omega), while the third has always been somewhat of a tweener, even if the people cheer him as he stomps through the crowd (Moxley). So, what does this company do with a real, honest-to-goodness babyface champion? Does Omega fall into chase/get-it-back mode or does he move onto a program with Bryan Danielson? Who’s the first heel to step up and challenge Page, should he win?

Actually, to that last part …

WILD THING

… I think it’s pretty clear that we’re going to get Bryan Danielson vs. Jon Moxley in the finals of the No. 1 contender tournament (or whatever the hell they’re calling it) at Full Gear. Moxley has shown a boatload of edge over the last few weeks and it appears he’s positioned to lean toward being a heel, which would be different from his leanings over the last year or so. Case in point: Don’t be surprised if he marches to the ring on Wednesday, beats Orange Cassidy in a minute-and-a-half and then continues to pummel him after the bell rings. With Cassidy being such a fan-favorite, a Moxley heel slant would ultimately be cemented.

So, then, what happens with the title picture? Danielson and Omega don’t really need a title between them for their feud to be the best in the company because their skills and chemistry transcend any belts that could be passed between the two. Would this mean that Page’s first world title program as champion would be with a heel Jon Moxley? If so, count me in. For as over as Page is, Moxley is that guy who oozes credibility no matter what role he’s in, and something tells me he won’t have a problem drawing heat from crowds, even if he’s also out there trying to sell books.

Add to that the fact that Page would presumably come out on top of the program, and you’ve set Page up to be the most credible champion AEW has had to date, considering how he would have beaten Omega to win the title and then Moxley, a former champion himself, to retain it. I don’t want to veer too far into the fantasy booking world here, but I’m struggling to see how else all these scenarios could play out, if — and only if — Page wins the AEW World Title next weekend.

But enough about the top of the card.

GO TO SLEEP

Let’s dive into something a bit more interesting. If last Friday’s Rampage was any indication, it looks like we’re going to get CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston at Full Gear and I’m (pun intended) all in for that. I admire Punk’s desire to work with younger talents who are still working their way up the card, but as I discussed with Jason Powell on the Pro Wrestling Boom podcast weeks and weeks ago, wouldn’t it be nice to see Punk work with some of the top tier talent, too?

The comeback match with Darby Allin was very good, but since then, Punk has floated in deliberate mid-card purgatory, working with Team Taz for a minute before moving on to people like Daniel Garcia and Matt Sydal (the latter of which, I contest, gave Punk his best match since returning). All due respect to the fellas I just mentioned, but Eddie Kingston is decidedly a cut above the mid-card, even if he’s not quite in the main event at the moment. Or, in other words, I think it’s fair to say this is a step up for Punk.

Which is good. Great, even, if it means the Best In The World is long for more guys on Kingston’s level — or, for that matter, if it means that this will somehow marry Punk with Kingston’s running partner, Jon Moxley. Better yet, how about we consider this for once: What if Punk gets involved in a program with a wrestler that extends beyond one match? All of Punk’s work in AEW has felt like a series of one-night-stands with some better than others. The formula is simple. Someone stares at Punk or interrupts Punk on Dynamite. A match is signed for Rampage. Punk wins. The world moves on.

Wouldn’t it be fun if this time around, we see something more than just what’s sure to be a slugfest between Kingston and Punk? Maybe we get a distraction finish or even a (gasp!) ref bump, and all that leads to a rematch with higher stakes in a month or so. It would be nice to see Punk get a meaningful, long program with a wrestler who both deserves it and elevates Punk to the next tier of stars when it comes to opponents. Not that Punk ever really needs to be elevated, of course. But if only we could get him to eventually hop into a feud with the Elite. Or Moxley. Or even Miro. Someone who feels like a main event player.

With any luck, a potential match with Kingston could be the first step toward just that.

HALFWAY THERE

If you count the No. 1 contender tournament final, you have six confirmed matches for the show thus far. With two Dynamites and two Rampages between now and Nov. 13, the entire world can change, with the way AEW books these things (and, if you look back in the archives, you’ll see I’m very much not a fan of that, but I digress). Assuming Kingston vs. Punk is signed this week or next, that gives us a seven-match card from which we can work.

So … who ya got? It’d be insane to think Adam Cole, Cody, the Young Bucks, Miro, Malakai Black, Andrade, Christian Cage, Jungle Boy and, say, Orange Cassidy won’t be on this card (though you could write the last one off with an injury if Moxley gives him that expected beatdown this week). Where do they all fit in? Do they all fit in? You already have a big 10-man tag between the Inner Circle and America’s Top Team, so it’d be tough to justify throwing together a six- or eight-mean match, unless you do it on the Buy-In. But even if you do, I can’t imagine at least half of those names being thrilled with being featured on such a throwaway match.

Let’s not forget the women, either. Dr. Baker will defend her title against Tay Conti, and that’s pretty much all we know when it comes to the women’s side of things. Lying in wait are names like Ruby Soho, Anna Jay, The Bunny, Penelope Ford, Nyla Rose, Jade Cargill, Kris Statlander and Thunder Rosa, to name a few. Plus, there’s this very good (if not great) feud between Hikaru Shida and Serena Deeb that could tear the house down if they are given the time to work their magic. Will we see that program continue on Full Gear? Will there be a TBS Title tournament match somewhere? Could somebody get Thunder Rosa a gosh-darn win for once?!

If I had to guess (and that’s kind of the point here, isn’t it?), I’ll go with Jungle Boy finally getting a win over Adam Cole and then celebrating with Christian Cage and Luchasaurus. The Young Bucks beat some version of the Dark Order. Deeb and Shida have a hell of a rubber match. And Cody and Miro lock up because … I don’t know? Maybe they’ll explain that over the next 10 days or so?

Of course, I’m probably going to be entirely wrong. I just hope we see the first steps toward a few more Full Gear matches on Wednesday. Because as it stands now, there are way too many talented names sitting on the sidelines. And it’s with those names in mind …

SURPRISE, SURPRISE

… that we now find ourselves at the final thought for next weekend’s event.

AEW is very good at making sure it brings in names for pay-per-views. Having only four a year not only makes them stand out more, but it also ensures that each should and does stand alone as something special. Even if it’s only a ladder match or a battle royal, there’s always an unexpected name that pops up at these things. I don’t think things will be much different for this year’s Full Gear.

And so, while I have absolutely no inside information, and I am 1,000 percent certain anyone who reads this will immediately think I’m a dope, I just can’t shake the feeling in the air that Windham Rotunda will somehow be figured into all this. I know Tony Khan said he hasn’t talked to him, and I know there are detractors out there who don’t believe all that much in the former Bray Wyatt’s work, but with his non-compete clause expiring recently and old running mates like Braun Strowman unable to come to terms with Impact, the destinations for Rotunda seem to be limited.

Let’s just look at it for a second. If Strowman wasn’t happy enough with Impact, why would anybody think Rotunda would be? There’s NJPW, but with all due respect to the Wyatt Family leader, he’s not necessarily known for his work-rate, and there’s a premium on that kind of stuff in New Japan if you’re going to be a top guy. Ring of Honor is sadly going on hiatus at the beginning of the year and who knows how that future looks. With all the leaked insults that have surfaced recently from his WWE run, it’s hard to think he’d go back there. So, what’s left?

AEW. That’s it. That’s the list.

Rotunda has seemingly wanted the ability to explore the depths of his mind when it comes to character development and not have any type of corporate machine holding it back. If the rumors are true, AEW allows for all of that and more. My guess is he perceives himself as a main event guy because that’s how he was positioned in WWE, and main event guy means main event money, so who else could offer him that type of cash? Between the Dark Order, Matt Hardy, the aforementioned Black and some others, AEW doesn’t mind weaving supernatural-ish, horror-movie-inspired, pseudo-unrealistic/inhuman characters into the fold.

So, why not? It could be a fun experiment and it could perhaps be the rebirth of a guy who is one the more polarizing figures out there in mainstream wrestling today. I mean, as long as he doesn’t bring that weird-ass giant mallet and a Firefly Inferno Match with him, we’re all cool with it … right? Right.

Either way, next Saturday ought to be an interesting time to tune into some pro wrestling.

SPECIAL EPISODE

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Readers Comments (2)

  1. It would make no sense for Cody to face Miro.

    If anything, it would be Pac/Cody versus Black/Andrade. They’ve all been involved with each other lately, so it makes sense.

  2. It’s American top team not America’s.

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