|The face of a man who loves being violent
Screenshot via @TDE_Wrestling
All Elite Wrestling’s Full Gear emanated from Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena on Saturday night, November 9. This review is coming at’cha in the grand and easy to digest TH Style. It’s back, baybay.
- On the Buy-In, Britt Baker submitted Bea Priestley with Lockjaw (Rings of Saturn with Mandible Claw combo).
- After this match, Brandi Rhodes brought out Awesome Kong, who laid out Priestley and took a lock of her hair.
- Proud and Powerful (Santana and Ortiz) defeated the Young Bucks after they hit Matt Jackson with the Street Sweeper (powerbomb-blockbuster combo). The Rock n Roll Express mad the save after from an Inner Circle beatdown.
- Hangman Page bested PAC with the Deadeye.
- Shawn Spears took out Joey Janela after an illegal spike piledriver with Tully Blanchard’s assistance out of the ref’s view and his running Death Valley Driver.
- Kip Sabian announced a romantic alliance with Penelope Ford.
- SCU (Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian) retained the AEW Tag Team Championships over the Lucha Bros. (Rey Feníx and Pentagón, Jr.) and Private Party (Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy) when SCU hit the SCU-Later (Gory Special into a knee strike) on Kassidy. After the match, Chris Daniels returned from injury to save his buddies from the Lucha Bros.
- Riho retained the AEW Women’s Championship over Emi Sakura with a lucha headscissors into a pin.
- MJF threw in the towel while Cody was locked in a deep Liontamer, allowing Chris Jericho to keep the AEW World Championship. After the match, MJF kicked Cody low after pretending to be sorry.
- In the Lights Out main event, Jon Moxley prevailed in an all-out war over Kenny Omega. Moxley won with a high-angle Death Rider onto the exposed wooden planks after Omega missed a Phoenix Splash onto them.
- Not mentioned at the top of the show, but allegedly, Excalibur choked out Jimmy Havoc Friday night at Tony Schiavone’s birthday party at Jimmy’s Seafood. Havoc was drunk, ad he was getting belligerent. Although I don’t know the nature of it, the commentator took him into a headlock and subdued him, all in front of Tony Khan. Hell of a couple of days for Excalibur, I see.
- Commentary team on The Buy-In was Excalibur along with Taz and Goldenboy. Not surprising, but the call was infinitely smoother without Jim Ross there to deliver his banal musings about the rules. Taz in particular was impressive to me. Like Ross, he didn’t really apply story knowledge to the match he called, but unlike Ross, he actually had insight into why moves hurt the way they do. It’s not gonna happen, but a three-man booth with him, Excalibur, and Schiavone might be for the best.
- Schiavone, by the way, didn’t make it for the main card because he was busy calling the Georgia Bulldogs shutout victory over Missouri.
- Hey, did you know Britt Baker is a dentist?
- Britt Baker talks like a high school junior from the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. If you don’t get that reference, it was short, sassy, and with a thick accent. If you did get that reference, my people, that’s you.
- Bea Priestley’s tron saying “half-human, half-monster” shows she has about the same imagination as anything her boyfriend Will Ospreay puts into his character, which is to say not much good. It’s gonna be funny to see when Jamie Hayter makes her redundant, to be honest.
- Meanwhile, if you’re gonna give someone a gimmick like they were a mid-90s WWF occupational gimmick, you might as well go all the way, which is why I love that Baker’s tron says “OPEN WIDE.”
- Priestley throwing her jacket at Baker and then IMMEDIATELY begging off was just a solid stupid bullshit heel move. Even though she’s a dimestore Hayter, Priestley is an enjoyable watch. AEW has an embarrassment of riches in the women’s division, which makes their lack of focus even more baffling.
- No one in AEW really looks out of their depth as much as Baker did on the pin counter sequence in this match. She was incredibly loose, taking out all the drama latent in those kinds of exchanges. Even if you aren’t gonna end the match in that manner, you still have to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. If you can’t do that, then maybe you should be relegated to Dark.
- Still, I cant’ front on that finish, because the Lockjaw is an insanely cool finish.
- The spooky vignettes for Awesome Kong with Brandi Rhodes as the manager called for candles flickering and the lights going nuts. It was only the first appearance of Kong in this iteration, but I’d like to see how else they’re going to make her spooky.
- I was shocked that Priestley was the first target given she and Kong appear to be heels, but I think I need to give up on keeping track of longer term alignments in this company.
- All else though? Kong and Rhodes taking locks of hair is INSANELY badass. I’m all in on this gimmick.
- Main show time! Someone in the crowd brought a Bully Ray fathead, and I hope that he’s not allowed to operate heavy machinery, for safety’s sake.
- Proud and Powerful’s tron just featuring New York Police Department imagery felt to me that AEW brass still doesn’t really know how to sell them in a way that doesn’t make them look a little racist. That’s just me, though.
- And of course, the Rock n Roll Express, whom Santana and Ortiz beat the piss out of two Dynamites ago, were right there in the front row.
- Of course the Young Bucks started hot. I wouldn’t expect any less from them in a heated feud match.
- There was a point early on in the match where Rick Knox disallowed a tag from Proud and Powerful because the tag was made on the foot rather than the hand, which feels like an incredible breach of wrestling logic. People have made blind tags to the back since the dawn of time. All that action did was put an unnecessary story element in a match that didn’t need it. They’ve made it a point to say Knox knows the Bucks the most, and having that tag disallowed makes it look like he’s biased. Like, it’s probably not what they intended, but that’s what happens when you have letter of the law bullshit enforced.
- Santana and Ortiz got both the Bucks in this wild triple-double submission with a combo crab/Gory special/camel clutch. It was perhaps the most visually impressive thing outside of the main event.
- I tried not to pay too much mind to Jim Ross during the telecast, but man, he called Rick Knox, a short shaven-bald guy of slight frame Mike Knox, who is big and hairy, or at least he was both of those things as recently as his stint in TNA in Aces and Eights. Just another example of his brain not being completely on the ball. Aside, I’d love it if AEW signed Mike Knox. He was a pretty good big man wrestler back in the beginning of the decade.
- Ortiz is a trip. He’s always been one, to be honest, wrestling with a big floofy mane as Angel Ortiz way back when Proud and Powerful were EYFBO working Beyond matches during secret shows. But him doing the claw taunt and yelling “I’M A GENIUS” after okeydoking Nick Jackson on the outside gives him the kind of wild-eyed mania that acts as a counter not just for Santana, but for the rest of the Inner Circle.
- The first time they went over near the Rock n Rolls, Ricky Morton was raring to go while Robert Gibson was just standing there looking like he didn’t want any of that shit. It was a nice contrast that foreshadowed the end of the match for them.
- The Young Bucks keep getting this rap that they’re not good wrestlers because they like to do flips. I tend to like their version of flipping, so I don’t mind it, but the way Nick Jackson was selling his leg all night makes me think they took some of that to heart. I loved the way that the injury kept recurring all the way through the end of the show. It’s those little things that stand out in the end.
- The Bucks pulling out Santana’s and Oritz’s team finisher wasn’t weird without context since finisher theft happens all the time, but the fact that Proud and Powerful didn’t try the Meltzer Driver or More Bang for Your Buck during the match felt a little jarring, given that if one entity steals a finisher, the other one returns in kind. It’s not a big thing, but it’s still something you notice when it doesn’t happen. Wrestling has literary tropes just like any other storytelling art.
- The Bucks really pulled out all the stops to make themselves look like underdog warriors despite the fact that the reality wasn’t true. Both Nick and Matt had stretches in the match where they were left to fight one-on-two, and between Nick’s selling of the leg and Matt taking the Ziggler bump (shoulder first into the ringpost). They really did feel like they were the ones struggling to win.
- The Street Sweeper is such a visually impressive move. It’s a great finisher for Proud and Powerful.
- Overall, the match had a slightly weird pace, and the Bucks heeled it up a little bit early in the match which made it feel even stranger. That being said, down the stretch, all four guys went hard and opened the main show the way that AEW usually opens Dynamite on a weekly basis: strongly.
- Of course Sammy Guevara came out afterwards to pick the bones, which drew the RnRs in the ring. I was only expecting some punches and maybe a dropkick, but Morton hit both a Canadian Destroyer AND a tope suicida to the outside, and now I want him to be my grandfather. Sure, the destroyer was a bit slowly pulled off, but I mean, the fact that he hit it even slightly cleanly feels like a victory.
- PAC and Hangman Page started out with Page just, for lack of a better term, shithousing the Bastard King. For as impressive as PAC can look even against larger opponents lording over them as a heel (and he did in this match, no doubt), the fact that he bounces around the ring so well bumping for the babyfaces gives him an extra bit of oomph as a top baddie.
- PAC missing a Phoenix splash in this match was a lot less dramatic than the one that would come later. Maybe wrestlers should just stop doing this move in America since I haven’t seen one connect since, uh.
- The match kinda felt weirdly paced like the prior tag match until they got to the outside when they brawled over towards the timekeeper’s area. Then PAC hit a brainbuster on Page onto the set-up chair. Again, outside of the main event, that probably was the most violent planned spot of the night.
- I love a match with callbacks, and if you remember from their match earlier in the year on Dynamite, PAC beat Page after mule kicking him low while they had the referee tied up. PAC tried it again, but Page caught it before it landed at ground zero. It’s the kind of obvious psychology that’ll get the less nerdy viewers noticing these things.
- The finishing run of the match was really good, but you could tell even with the camera angle that PAC’s head came nowhere close to the mat on the Deadeye. THAT BEING SAID, I’m not gonna complain about clearance between head and mat on a piledriver-like maneuver.
- Overall, the match should be defined by the finish, but honestly, you can’t blame people who will hold the slow start against it. Sometimes, you need to have a match grab you early.
- I’m generally for cheesiness in wrestling, but it can’t veer on corniness. Shawn Spears has the makings of at least a great upper midcard heel, but the lights-out entrance with the smoke machine isn’t working for him.
- Conversely, Joey Janela seems to be affecting “Macho Man” Randy Savage a lot more lately. It’s not a bad route to go down, and I think Janela has the same manic energy that Savage did.
- Janela power-walking right into the ring and ripping Spears’ shirt off was the perfect start to the match. Spears’ shirt, which said “NO MORE GARBAGE WRESTLING” in the Game Changer Wrestling logo font, is probably his reason for going so hard on sadism. If you didn’t see on Dark or on the recap on this past Dynamite, Spears was caught on camera trying to rip Janela’s tongue out with a pair of pliers. So yeah, if I were Janela, I’d want to murk him right away.
- Janela got onto the apron and tried to PK Spears in the face, but Spears just caught it and yanked him down, face first on THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. One of the best non-serial killer type moves that a character like Spears’ can do is catching a body part and just wrenching their opponent’s body on hard onto the apron.
- Spears started talking shit at one point, which is great, but I think if you’re gonna be a guy who does body horror with hand tools, you gotta watch Jessica Jones season three and just study everything Gregory Salinger says.
- So Spears whipped Janela into the corner and instead of following it up with a strike or a gouge, he undid the turnbuckle laces and tied Janela’s long hair into the ring. It was by far the most brilliant act of using the environment to entrap a poor little know-nothing babyface since the first time I saw Damien Sandow catch a baseball-sliding Ricky Steamboat Jr. in the ring apron watching Florida Championship Wrestling on YouTube. That’s the kind of groove that Spears should definitely cultivate.
- Tully Blanchard up to Full Gear had kinda had no effect at best on Spears. However, if they have him doing stuff like a double-team spike piledriver on the outside, then you’re getting somewhere. I’m not sure how many people in the AEW audience really know about the Horsemen, Blanchard especially. He really was the shitheel of the group. Ric Flair was always hated because he was the best. Arn and Ole Anderson were curmudgeonly technicians. But Blanchard, man, he was the real POS of the group. They should do some kind of build for him, a video segment or something that really introduces why he’s the perfect guy to guide Spears to villainy. Of course, that’s probably hard since WWE owns most of the footage of him being just the worst. However, they’re a creative bunch.
- Overall, the match as effective at doing a full face vs. heel contrast. Janela is so much better as an unhinged fan favorite (for D and D nerds, think Chaotic Good or Neutral) than he is as a super worker anyway. It was the most like a WWE pay-per-view match in that it wasn’t the finish of a story that had just started within the last two weeks but a continuance, but I’ll allow it.
- Of course the Kip Sabian/Penelope Ford segment happened as Janela was leaving the ring. While he’s moved on from the breakup with Ford, it was still serendipitous timing to say the least.
- That interview segment wasn’t clear whether his alliance with Angelico and Jack Evans was still valid though. Honestly, I like those three together.
- Tag Team Championship three-way was the next match, and while the crowd was either sleepy for the first four or so matches or just mic’d poorly, they came alive for anything the Lucha Bros. did in this match.
- High-flying tag teams can be feast or famine. When it’s a feast, you get stuff like the Young Bucks vs. Private Party and the PRISTINE delivery on the Gin n Juice (corner rana launching the victim into a cutter halfway across the ring). When it’s famine though, you get loose execution on lucha holds, kicks that don’t connect 100 percent, and just a creeping malaise across the entire match. It wasn’t just any one wrestler either; it felt like everyone was slow out of the blocks.
- The match kinda picked up at the end when Rey Feníx did an implausible but visually impressive triple springboard off three different sections of rope before hitting a tornillo. You gotta admire luchadores’ drive and desire to be as extra as possible at all times.
- I really wanted to like this match more than I did, but it felt like everyone was off their game to start and the match never really recovered. The Luchas looked the best on the whole, and singularly, Scorpio Sky was on point most of the match. However, I’m not sure this was the title match that the division needed at the first PPV the championships existed at.
- I have to admit, when Christopher Daniels first came out, I couldn’t tell who he was. Also, baiting Penta into doing dueling CERO MIEDO hand gestures was amazing.
- I caught Emi Sakura getting a bit misty before her title match against her student Riho. I thought it was sweet, but I don’t like that women are the only ones who cry in a wrestling ring. Like, the last time I remember a guy crying was Shawn Michaels as he was superkicking Ric Flair’s career away. It should be natural for anyone to feel a swell of emotion that brings tears, but hey, I’m shouting at the abyss on this one.
- Honestly, I never get tired of seeing Riho doing Matrix escapes out of pins, especially because her timing is just so crisp but fluid. It’s something Sakura tried to ape later on in the match, but no one does it like Riho.
- Excalibur noting that most joshi are taught the single leg crab as their very first move while Riho hd it on Sakura was a nice touch. It’s also pretty telling that even the first moves of a joshi are hardcore compared to the rest of trainees worldwide.
- Speaking of joshi learning, it seemed like a lot of the time Sakura was in control in the match, she was violently ragdolling Riho, which feels like it was a reprise of their time at the wrestling academy.
- I really wish that the commentary would stop calling moves by their WWE names. For example, Excalibur correctly called the swinging kick in the ropes made famous by Rey Mysterio a “tiger feint kick” when Riho caught Sakura with it in the face, but then couldn’t help himself from saying “619.” JR is bad too especially when someone does a uranage and he has to say it’s a “Rock Bottom.” Like, part of establishing an identity is coming up with unique move names and not leaning on WWE terminology.
- Riho spent a good part of the match wrestling a clean technical style but her teacher’s bullying causing her to go into a fists-a-flying frenzy towards the end was a great touch.
- I’m not sure what Riho was going for on the pin. It started out as a headscissors, but it went a little janky on the climax of it. The concept is solid. I think someone of her size winning matches just by continually finding big leverage pinning combinations is the smartest way to go until either Nyla Rose or Kong just overpower her down the line.
- Your judges for the World Championship match were Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, and Keiji Mutoh. Justin Roberts identified the last one as “The Great Muta,” but when there’s no paint on the face, it’s just Keiji. It’d be like calling Jushin Liger Kishin when he’s still got the big mask on. There’s nuance to this shit, guys.
- That being said, I had a guttural belly laugh at Mutoh being decked out in an AEW logo shirt and hat. It felt like he was treating this excursion into America like a Northeast Philly family would treat one to the Jersey Shore.
- MJF came out with Cody, in case you needed any more proof a turn was coming.
- In case you needed to pick her out of the crowd, Cody’s mom, Michelle Runnels, was wearing a windbreaker that said “mom” on it.
- Meanwhile, Chris Jericho came out already looking about as half as red as Shane McMahon.
- Excalibur swore the crowd was wishing Jericho a happy birthday, but I’m sure they were chanting “Fuck your birthday!” Feels like if the latter’s the case, Baltimore’s the first city to openly rebel against Jericho, who has been getting babyface reactions from the fans mostly despite being the shittiest shitheel who ever shitted so far.
- Jericho has perfected the Larry Zbyszko stalling routine, but one of his excursions to the outside landed him face to face with an old rival in Malenko. For people not as ancient as I am, back in the day, Malenko branded himself as the Master of 1,001 holds, to which Jericho branded himself the Master of 1,004 Holds, which led to this promo, one of the finest ever. Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jericho calls into question the validity of the judges this Wednesday on Dynamite.
- I know that the AEW crew loves itself some World Championship Wrestling, but as it turned out, their tribute in bringing the ramp all the way up to the apron might have nearly killed Cody. I cringed when he landed forehead-first at a sharp angle on that ramp. I knew Cody would try to bleed in this match; I didn’t think it would happen hardway.
- Cody’s strategy of working over the arm to prevent the BRAIN DAMAGING JUDAS EFFECT was great psychology though. Cody going from SUPER WORKER to a cerebral old school Crockett-territory style brawler has been the best part of his evolution as a wrestler.
- Wrestling assumes that babyfaces have a sense of naivete, which is why MJF loudly complaining to Aubrey Edwards that Jake Hager was helping Jericho cheat was a believable cover to his later actions. Wrestling has layers to help keep people watching obvious foreshadowing surprised when the shit goes down.
- It turned out that Mrs. Runnels was there for a reason, to slap the taste out of Jericho’s mouth. You don’t mess with any of a good mother’s children, you know.
- This match was already going long when the momma slap happened, but Jericho held his wind even to the end. That being said, his heat segment before the momma slap was almost interminable.
- There was a sequence where Jericho brained Cody with the title belt but Cody kicked, and after it, I swear, Cody’s dad must have possessed him. He was throwing punches at Jericho that may have well been with fire fists, they were so hot and heavy. I really think he’s found a great groove, and that plucky brawling style must be genetic.
- So about the MJF towel-throwing, you could believe at first that he did it for his friend’s safety and health. Jericho had the liontamer in DEEP and Cody had no way of getting to the ropes. I thought immediately after that it would lead to a slower burn, especially with MJF begging and pleading. Of course, then MJF went and kicked Cody in the nuts, and the good finish with a “wait-and-see” angle to it became an eminently great one. Again, everything from the beginning of the match until now started to make perfect sense.
- Look, I don’t want to condone people throwing things at the wrestlers, but the fan who nailed MJF with their soft drink? That’s a sign of the old school kind of heat that had fans wanting to wait for the heels in the parking lot. Regardless of how good you think MJF is, AEW’s intention with him worked.
- I know a Lights Out match is akin to a streetfight, but that didn’t mean Jon Moxley had to show up wearing pajama pants.
- If you remember, Paul Turner was the referee from when Mox and PAC went to a television time draw on Dynamite a few weeks back, so naturally Mox gave him a little shove before getting into a BRAWWWWWLLLL with Kenny Omega.
- So the plunder came out early and often, and they brawled into the crowd, but the match didn’t really start to heat up until Mox brought out the barbed wire bat, which he used to grate Omega’s forehead. Omega followed it with an eye gouge and a piledriver on a trashcan. I think they were both feeling it from jump.
- Omega shortly thereafter pulled out a board with mousetraps on them, an unorthodox weapon no less. I give him credit for being creative though, even if a mousetrap glued to a board is one of those things you have to suspend disbelief for. Of course, it wasn’t Mox but Omega who ate shit on it, as Mox put him on the traps with a suplex-bomb.
- Right after the mousetraps, Mox pulled out a big brass chain. I think the build included the line “there won’t be any chain wrestling,” but I don’t think they accounted for it literally.
- I gotta commend Omega’s creativity and intelligence, especially since one of his weapons was a bag filled with the shards of the table Mox put him through on the first episode of Dynamite. Dragging the big shard across Mox’s face was probably the most gruesome-looking spot, but I also appreciated the various times when someone would get dragged across the glass.
- Of course, Mox brought out an icepick. Much like with Triple H’s sledgehammer, when a weapon like that gets brought out, you know they have to hold back because you can’t really work someone getting stabbed much like you can’t work hauling off with an overhead shot with the hammer.
- Omega had Mox hanging over the ropes with the chain around his neck, maybe the gnarliest spot of the whole match. He let go before Mox’s face turned blue (thankfully), and Excalibur had a clever cover for it on commentary, saying the blood on Omega’s hands was lubricant enough to have the chain slip off.
- They worked up the ramp and Omega called for the Elite to bring out whatever it was he had in store, with his buddies refusing at first. When they acquiesced, they brought out what looked like a bedframe that was adorned in all kinds of barbed wire. Again, the corollary of the person who introduces the big weapon gets put through it, and Mox suplexed Omega off the ramp into the bed. Surprisingly though, the barbed wire didn’t really leave that much of a mark on either guy’s back.
- That being said, the Omega V-Trigger knee of Mox through the Full Gear stage set was probably the more visually violent spot.
- Making their way back to the ring and Mox starts to cut the ring canvas and expose the lumber underneath. I’d say it was shades of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, but I think they exceeded their earlier usage.
- In keeping with the theme from his Undertale entrance on Halloween, Omega once again went to Kota Ibushi’s well, his Golden Lovers partner, by doing a Phoenix splash. He missed it of course, because the point had to be driven home that that was in the past, I suppose.
- I will never, EVER call Mox’s finisher the Paradigm Shift. It’s the Death Rider, and the high-angle version he used to put Omega away was fan-fuckin’-tastic.
Match of the Night: Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley, Lights Out Match – Moxley has been unleashed since getting out of his personal prison. You knew he was going to come correct for the most violent match that AEW has produced this year so far. The linchpin was how Omega would respond to a bloody, weapon-strewn brawl that was far out of his personal style that I would probably call “prestige wrestling.” He foreshadowed what he might do with the broom wrapped in barbed wire, but you wouldn’t be blamed if you thought Omega would be able to meet the bell. As it turns out, The Cleaner overdelivered and then some, making this technically unofficial main event one of the best matches of the year, full stop.
You knew what Mox was gonna bring to the table: barbed wire bat, chairs, a big brass chain. He went back to his roots, even further than he did against Joey Janela at Fyter Fest. But it was Omega’s whimsical take on a deathmatch that really made the thing standout. Obviously he had the barbed wire broom again, but it was the board with the glass from the table Moxley put him through on the first episode of Dynamite, the mousetraps and the barbed wire table that was the centerpiece for perhaps the most viscerally impressive spot in the match that really stood out. It wasn’t just the props either; Omega felt natural in a bloody and gory environment. He felt at ease dragging Moxley across the bat or dragging barbed wire across his forehead.
Of course, you can hand-wring over whether it was a deathmatch. I don’t watch Game Changer Wrestling or Big Japan Wrestling a whole lot when they run them, so I won’t say either way. I’m not sure putting discourse on whether it is is relevant though. It was violent at its core, and it conveyed the kind of animosity they wanted to put forth. There was blood. There was a big spot where they went through the stage. There was plunder. And in the end, it also built Omega’s story, that he’s trying to get over past entanglements with him missing the Phoenix splash on the planks. It was everything you’d want in the last match of the night and more, regardless of whether it was a technical deathmatch or not.
Overall Thoughts: When AEW began, it had all the trappings of being a vanity promotion. Kenny Omega and Cody and the Bucks would reign supreme and do the thing where they emphasized themselves as American wrestling royalty the way the McMahons do in WWE, with everyone else playing the role of fungible cogs in a machine meant to put the heads of state over. Sure, that cadre of wrestlers along with their young running buddy Hangman Page are all really good wrestlers, already making that gambit a little more tolerable than a septuagenarian pushing his bloated fifty-something son as the Best in the World and his daughter expecting to be the most important person in a company where she appears once a month. But that past-present-future in AEW would’ve still sucked like a broken airlock on a spacecraft.
Being so refreshingly surprised at all four of those Executive Vice Presidents losing at Full Gear is probably a function of how political an arena wrestling is and how all the wrestlers with “stroke” get their way over the up-and-comers or lovable veterans who get to be on the losing end of the deal. But it appears that they’re ready to build an actual wrestling promotion rather than a pleasure dome where everyone pays respect to them before they can get a paycheck, let alone win a match. No one expected them to be jobbers of lowliest stock, and everyone should expect that they have their moments in the future. That being said, allowing themselves to have major interstitial points where they suffer defeats in service of building someone else to stand with them is absolutely a call for which they deserve credit.
The power dynamics were always going to make or break the company. The wrestling was a given, and Full Gear had decent matches top to bottom at the very least. The worst matches on the card were either sloppy or slow at worst but they were at least engaging. When the best matches on the card are Emi Sakura/Riho and the Lights Out main event though, you’ve put on a great show. Most people think a good pay-per-view has to have all-killer, no-filler, but the shows like In Your House, Canadian Stampede are few and far between, and even WrestleMania X-7, XXX, and Extreme Rules 2012 all had filler stuff. Not everything lands, but when you have at least two super-memorable matches on a show, you’re on the right path.
The lesser matches had explanations for their lack of entertainment value. Britt Baker/Bea Priestley had the latter, a capable bruiser with a few careless tendencies, against the former, a mediocre talent with a slick reboot on a WWF New Generation gimmick. The Tag Championship match had three teams that had high-flying oeuvres, which is hard to get 100 percent snugly all the time. The rest of the matches hit some kind of stride. The Young Bucks/Proud and Powerful match had a weird pace, but it was a solid story of the younger heels trying to get one over on the older ones. PAC and Hangman Page had maybe the hottest finish of the night. Shawn Spears really has found his groove as a sadistic heel, and it makes all his matches enjoyable from an old-school point of view. Who doesn’t love a couple of joshis wailing on each other? And the nominal main event before Lights Out was a lot better than I expected it to be. I wasn’t sure about Chris Jericho’s cardio, but he and Cody occupied the time well and the angle at the end was brilliant. Full Gear was a far-above-average show and I’m not sure it’s AEW’s ceiling, I would go out of my way to try and catch the replay.