Powell’s AEW Full Gear Hit List: An in-person perspective on Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Page for the AEW World Championship, Bryan Danielson vs. Miro in the eliminator tournament finals, Lucha Bros vs. FTR for the AEW Tag Titles, Britt Baker vs. Tay Conti for the AEW Women’s Title, CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston, Darby Allin vs. MJF

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

AEW Full Gear Hits

Kenny Omega vs. “Hangman” Adam Page for the AEW World Championship: A terrific main event. Tony Khan did everything he could to make the fans feel like Omega might retain, which he acknowledged in the post event media scrum. It started with booking Bryan Danielson to win the eliminator tournament rather than having heel Miro go over. It continued during the match with the ref bump and the Young Bucks walking to ringside. And while I’m bored to death by ref bumps, this one actually did feel necessary given what Khan was trying to accomplish. The match was ultimately made by having the feel good ending of Page finally beating Omega to capture the championship. The post match scene with the Dark Order coming out was great, and that’s coming from someone who isn’t a big fan of the Dark Order or their friendship with Page. I especially enjoyed Page’s post match promo, which took place after the show went off the air. I’m anxious to see how Page does as champion. Making his first appearance as champion in front of his hometown fans on Wednesday along with the eventual match with Danielson should get him off to a great start.

CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston: My favorite match of the night. The crowd seemed fatigued during the two preceding matches and they came out of this clearly reinvigorated. I loved seeing Kingston drop Punk with the spinning back fist before the bell rang. Punk sold it like he’d been shot and it put him in position to work from underneath. Both men did an excellent job of making this feel personal during the brief build and then via their actions throughout the match. Punk going over clean was expected, especially given that Kingston stated going in that this wasn’t about winning or losing for him. But while Kingston may have lost the match, his character lost nothing. He’s as hot as ever and I can’t wait to see what’s next for both characters.

Darby Allin vs MJF: An outstanding opener. It was so good that the some of the matches that followed had a hard time measuring up. MJF called his shot by stating how he would win the match (though he obviously left out the part about using the Dynamite Diamond Ring as a weapon). The great thing about this rivalry is that it should only get better as time goes as long as Tony Khan can pick and choose when to revisit it rather than running it into the ground by doing it too often. And this was another match where the guy who took the loss won’t come out of it any worse for wear.

Miro vs. Bryan Danielson in the eliminator tournament finals: This was a notch below my admittedly high expectations. Still, it was very entertaining and I enjoyed the physicality. Danielson winning really did make me question whether we might see Kenny Omega retain the AEW World Championship in the main event, which was by design, as previously noted. Miro coming up short this soon after dropping the TNT Championship wasn’t ideal, but it will be interesting to see how his character responds after taking another setback.

Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Christian Cage vs. Adam Cole and The Young Bucks in a Falls Count Anywhere match: This was the better of the big brawls. Did we really need two on the same show? Anyway, this match overstayed its welcome by a few minutes, but there were plenty of crowd pleasing spots, including Cage’s balcony dive. Jungle Boy came out of this match looking as good as ever. Now we just have to hope that someone will sell the Conchairto, which really should be saved for injury angles.

Lucha Bros vs. FTR for the AEW Tag Titles: These four had the unenviable task of following the hot opening match. There was a time when I would have felt pity for any match that had to follow this tag match, but these teams just haven’t clicked enough to deliver show stealing performances. I assume the bit with the masks at the end will give FTR an out in that they will claim that the illegal man was pinned, meaning we may not have seen the last of this feud.

Cody Rhodes and Pac vs. Andrade El Idolo and Malakai Black: Another match that fell below my high expectations. Rhodes was booed by a good portion of the fans during his entrance. He seemed to win over some of those fans throughout the match, and some seemed to be booing him because it’s the thing to do. Still, he is fighting an uphill battle. It might be a fun challenge for him, but I still believe the best thing for AEW business would be to lean into the boos and turn him heel. I was a bit surprised by the heels losing, but their bickering prior to the finish likely means that Andrade and Black are not going to be aligned long term. In fact, with Black getting so many cheers, it’s even possible that he turns babyface and feuds with Andrade.

Britt Baker vs. Tay Conti for the AEW Women’s Championship: The problem with the match was the build rather than what transpired in the ring. The booking never sold viewers on Conti as a strong threat to actually win the championship. Yes, she’s won a lot of matches going in, but her character feels a notch below Thunder Rosa and Ruby Soho in the babyface pecking order. So while the match was entertaining, the predictability of the outcome really worked against the crowd being fully invested.

Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Santana, Ortiz, and Jake Hager vs. Dan Lambert, Andrei Arlovski, Junior Dos Santos, Ethan Page, and Scorpio Sky in a Minneapolis Street Fight: This started off as a Minnesota Nice Street Fight given that both teams oddly adhered to the tag team rules despite the match stipulation not compelling them to do so. It broke down quickly and turned to the expected big brawl. Guevara and his big spots were over huge with the live crowd, and the fans were also invested in seeing Jericho get his hands on Lambert. But this felt like it went on a few minutes longer than it needed to, and it was a questionable call to have Dos Santos throw the late and lousy looking punch from the floor to prevent Jericho from performing a Lionsault. This was more of an “in the middle” match for me, but it seemed to be a Hit with the live crowd.

Jamie Hayter and Nyla Rose vs. Hikaru Shida and Thunder Rosa: A fine pre-show match. It wasn’t at the level of the actual pay-per-view matches, but the live crowd was hot for Shida and Rosa, and this got the night off to a good start.

AEW Full Gear Misses

None: While some matches were more enjoyable than others, this show had more than its share of great matches. In fact, it’s the best show that I’ve attended in person. That might seem like over the top praise, but I’m not a traveling fan. I haven’t attended a WrestleMania or a Royal Rumble event, let alone made the trip to Japan for a Wrestle Kingdom show. But I have been attending pro wrestling events locally since the eighties, which includes SummerSlam, Elimination Chamber, Raw, Smackdown, WCW Nitro, ROH, ECW, Impact Wrestling, and many other shows. So while I actually enjoyed the All Out event more, that doesn’t change the fact that Full Gear was the best show that I witnessed in person.

Despite that praise and no misses, it doesn’t mean there are not some things to pick apart. I still feel that four and a half hours (including the pre-show) is too long for the average fan. There was a stretch during the pay-per-view where they started to lose the crowd a bit and I assume it’s due to fatigue. Keep in mind that most of the fans who attended the pay-per-view were also present for AEW Rampage the night before. There’s something to be said for leaving the fans wanting more and that just doesn’t happen enough in pro wrestling these days.

I also feel that it would really help the show to break things up with a shorter match or two. Granted, CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston went just eleven minutes, but it feels like the fans assume that most of the matches will go at least fifteen minutes, so they settle in after the initial rush and then don’t take most early near falls all that seriously. I’m not suggesting that they short the fans on one of the top matches. But if they pick the right match, a surprisingly quick finish would really grab the crowd’s attention, help the overall card, and help create the feeling that matches can end at any time. It’s not the first time I’ve written something like this because it’s something I’d like to see other pro wrestling companies do as well. All in all, it was a highly enjoyable two-night experience between Rampage and the pay-per-view.

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Readers Comments (5)

  1. The obvious miss is that almost every match went way too long. At some point you can’t let a comedy six man match go over 20 minutes and you can’t have ATT vs The Inner circle go just a shade under 20 minutes. I had college friends during the Monday Night Wars whose favorite worker was Goldberg, specifically because he got into the ring, kicked someone’s ass as quickly as he could, and left.

    Appealing to the hardcore wrestling fan, which is most of AEW’s fan base, is why the business is getting such terrible overall viewership. Somebody needs to book wrestling the way it has always been successful instead of letting everyone do every move they know in every match.

    4 of 11 matches going over 20 minutes is bad booking. It’s not a coincidence that the only match of the night to go less than 15 minutes, Punk vs Kingston, is the one that woke the crowd back up. Those two guys did what was needed and got out of there before wearing out their welcome. The rest of the roster could learn something from that.

    • Miro needs to go on a long winning streak now. More than anyone else on the roster, his character depends on in-ring dominance.

      • Yes, and his promo work has been so good since going into this gimmick that he can easily get heated back up and face Danielson again in a few months, whether it’s for the title or not.

        The more I see of it, the more it feels like a bit of a modern take on what Taz was for ECW. Intense, slightly crazy badass who can take a loss here or there but needs to go over most of the time to maintain his status.

        If they’re bringing in Lana to be with him, then hopefully that sparks having him spend the next month beating guys like Janella, Yuta, etc in 2-3 minute squash matches, before moving to his next feud. He also needs to win that feud or they risk killing him like WWE did Bray Wyatt.

    • Did you read what I wrote? That’s covered.

      • Yes, I just think it’s an actual miss and not just an aside. I’m also of the opinion that it’s not just shortening 1 or 2 matches, but 75% of them or more.

        The pre-show match and Punk/Kingston are the only two matches on this card that got less time than Benoit/Angle at Wrestlemania X-Seven. There is no way that things like Baker/Conti and the street fight should have gone longer than two of the best who ever did it.

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