By Will Pruett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@itswilltime)
Hey y’all! I had a ton of fun listing MVPs for WrestleMania this past year and have been meaning to do so again for other live shows. Here’s some most valuable players from AEW’s Full Gear.
Jon Moxley: This man was amazing at playing heel to a crowd who would, in almost every circumstance, love him. Moxley stood in the way of the title change these fans craved, thus they hated him. Moxley has been the rock solid stabilizing force AEW needed and, for the second time in AEW history, put the company on its back when it needed a leader.
Moxley was the world champion through the worst fears of the pandemic, giving AEW heated main events in front of almost no fans. Moxley was the pivot option when CM Punk got hurt, then the pivot option when CM Punk flamed out. Jon Moxley was an MVP on this show and is AEW’s MVP.
MJF: A new world champion is always a big deal. MJF’s path to this title was never linear. I’m sure the promises made to him six months ago ended up being very different than the story he was able to tell. This was a moment he was supposed to share with CM Punk, but that story was crushed. While MJF and Moxley are natural enemies, this feud did not feel entirely natural.
With this said, MJF more than delivered in the ring and as a character on this show. He was the attraction fans came to see and he delivered like a centerpiece shining star. While the finish of the match points to MJF being a heel longterm, I do have to wonder how AEW will keep fans from cheering for him. AEW’s babyface roster of opponents for MJF is far deeper than its heel roster, but this is a choice we’ll be looking back at in a year.
MJF and William Regal could be a great partnership, if it lasts. MJF has now started and been pulled from manager relationships and factions multiple times in AEW history. Will this inconsistency continue?
Jack Perry: ”Jungle Boy” Jack Perry had the best match on this show in the opener. He was violent, aggressive, and everything a babyface out for vengeance should be. This cage match should be a major launching point for Perry going forward, who has the charisma and ability to be a major star for AEW.
The trick is the details there. AEW has a long history of building wrestlers up, giving them signature wins and moments, then forgetting about them when they should be at their peak. We’ve seen it with Powerhouse Hobbs, Darby Allin, Hangman Adam Page, and Wardlow in the past. Will “new toy” booking hurt Perry, who should see himself launched into a major storyline quest for gold soon?
Jack Perry and Luchasaurus tore the house down in the opening match and had the kind of cage match AEW should be proud of and replay for years.
The Elite and Death Triangle: This entire match, from the entrances to the pinfall, was a blast. I know the spot-heavy style of these teams won’t please everyone, but I jumped out of my seat multiple times during this one match. Finding out we get (presumably) six more contents between these teams has me even more excited.
Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks love storytelling over time and episodic professional wrestling. They’ll bring something different and exciting to each of these six coming matches. While they can be heavy-handed with their storytelling, I believe this will play out great on TV.
Pac, Penta, and Fenix all deserve a ton of credit as well. These six feel custom made for each other and knowing we’ll see this matchup six more times has me optimistic about the end-of-year Dynamite episodes.
Sting: What more can be said about the New Jack era of Sting’s career? He’s a delight every time he steps into the ring for AEW.
Jamie Hayter and Toni Storm: I can get behind this match being declared the best women’s match in AEW history. The only potential rival I can think of it the Lights Out Match between Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa.
Storm and Hayter worked perfectly off of each other with counter after counter. This was not a match dominated by one women, but a story about a champion fighting everything she could to keep her title and ultimately failing. The babyface and heel alignment here was broken, but that should be temporary. I see Hayter being a full babyface in the next month.
Toni Storm is a wrestler AEW needs to as a central focus, even without the championship. She’s too good to let fade into the background like so many women have in the past year.
Sammy Guevara: This man was the MVP of the Ring of Honor Championship four way. While I stand by my argument that nothing compelling has happened involving ROH on AEW TV and it shouldn’t exist, Guevara almost had me questioning myself.
The one-night temporary babyface turn was great from Guevara, especially given the heat magnet Chris Jericho tends to be. The fire Sammy showed here was another example of his potential as a major star for AEW.
Saraya: This match was a great comeback effort from Saraya and was really strong on its own. The problems with it were all in the build. Britt Baker and Saraya made the argument for scripted promos by undercutting each other constantly and confusing these fans until they didn’t know who to cheer for. Saraya deserved better in her comeback match. Hopefully she gets away from Britt Baker and gets the opportunity to be the clear babyface in a feud.
The Acclaimed: The most popular act in AEW continues to be popular. Being in the semi-main event of an AEW pay-per-view is a thankless job. The crowd has seen almost everything and has sat in uncomfortable arena seats for five hours. It’s hard to get anyone to cheer anything.
It was not hard for The Acclaimed to get love from this tired crowd. Their match was fine with a predictable story of Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee’s partnership dissolving. What mattered more was how into them the fans are. AEW struck gold with these two and continues to ride high.
AEW Production: Congratulations to AEW production for finally delivering a unique set on pay-per-view. This should be the standard for AEW, but is sadly often ignored. This show was shot like a big show with a big crowd and felt lively. More of this needs to happen.
While overall I believe AEW is in major need of a production refresh, on this night they looked and felt major league.
We did it! That’s a list of the MVP’s for All Elite Wrestling’s Full Gear 2022. If you see someone missing from this list, let me know. Maybe you love seeing Bryan Danielson wasted in a four way match. Or maybe you really love belt theft angles that last two months. You can! That’s the magic of pro wrestling y’all. I just hope the next AEW pay-per-view is a little better and doesn’t continue AEW’s absolutely awful storytelling luck (of their own making) the we’ve experienced since May.
Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at prowrestling.net. Of particular interest to him is wrestling as a theatrical art form. To see his video content subscribe to his YouTube channel. To contact, check him out on Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email him at email@example.com.