Solid show leaves AEW in a better place
All Elite Wrestling needed a really strong showing at Full Gear after the All Out debacles. The company hasn’t made a home run, but it’s leaving New Jersey focusing on what’s happening in the ring, the new champions, the returning elite and the person it thinks it needs at the top.
The 26-year-old MJF defeated Jon Moxley in the main event to become AEW World Champion for the first time at the Prudential Center on Saturday. The Plainview, Long Island native thinks he’s pro wrestling’s next megastar and he’ll get the chance to prove it. Here are six takeaways from the solid AEW Full Gear.
There were so many history paths that AEW could have taken with MJF’s rise to the top of the company as world champion, among the youngest in pro wrestling history. After a lot of babyface bends, he opted to keep him a dastardly heel with a new ally. Friedman has William Regal to thank for turning on fellow Blackpool Combat Club member Moxley.
MJF wrestled the majority of the main event worthy match as a babyface, doing the “Come on!”, stomping the mat to get the fans behind him and Moxley’s smugness having him booed. Everything changed when MJF pulled the referee in front of him, knocking him out. Friedman then went to use his Dynamite Diamond ring after saying he wouldn’t. Regal then came out to restrain him.
MJF, after dropping the ring, got caught in a bulldog choke by Moxley and tapped out, but the referee didn’t see it. As Regal told Moxley to wake him up, he grabbed the ring and threw his brass knuckles at MJF. He used them on the champion to get the 1-2-3. Friedman celebrated by making snow angels on the ramp and delivered a tirade full of heels and profanity in the post-event media melee. MJF is back in all his glory, he’s champion and has a new story to tell with Regal.
Happy to see you again
If this is where Saraya starts after a five-year absence from the ring due to a neck injury, we’re in for some fun. Saraya, formerly known as Paige in WWE, delivered a solid first outing in AEW with Britt Baker doing a great job helping her through it. Saraya pinning the former AEW Women’s World Champion in the middle of the ring after back-to-back Rampaiges. It wasn’t perfect, but she certainly looked like she belonged at the top of the division, but she will need a better story around her considering the lukewarm crowd reaction at times to the game.
Saraya slowly got up from her first live bump in five years and gave a fun sassy little leg to show people she was okay. Baker worked Saraya’s neck early and often in the clear story of this match when things got rightly slow. Things turned halfway when Saraya started to find her place after so long due to her neck injury. There was a clumsy powerbomb from Saraya where he realized it wasn’t great and somehow forgot to pin Baker quickly, but other than that she looked like she still belonged.
The Elite came back using “Carry on Wayward So” to a big ovation. Somehow, AEW went two months without giving a real on-screen explanation for their absence, but the crown told you why by loudly saying “F—k CM Punk!” and “Colt Cabana” chants. The circumstances surrounding the All Out press conference and subsequent suspension clearly turned Kenny Omega and Matt and Nick Jackson into babyface.
These six never disappoint and they engaged in another beautifully frenetic clash. The end came when Rey Fenix was initially hesitant to use a hammer thrown by PAC as he had been in the past. The ending changed when Fenix fought off a One-Winged Angel by hitting Kenny Omega in the head with the hammer and rolling him up for the pin so Death Triangle could retain the titles.
After the match, AEW announced that the match would be the first in a series of seven that could – and probably will – culminate on January 11 at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles, which is home of the Young Bucks. As good as the chemistry of these teams is, we’ll see if they can tell a gripping story six more times.
Friends become enemies
The story of the Ring of Honor World Champion match was what teammates could help and trust each other the most. In the end, it was neither of them in any of the evening’s matches. The bond between Sammy Guevara and Chris Jericho didn’t last too long as Guevara hit a Spanish fly on Bryan Danielson, but Jericho went straight into a Lionsault to try and take advantage. This prompted Guevara to pull Jericho off a pin from Castagnoli. Guevara fully turned on Jericho after a hug, but couldn’t get the three count after a shooting star pressed on him. Then it was Danielson who turned on Castagnoli, hitting him with a flying knee after his Blackpool Combat Club partner threw Guevara out of the ring.
A ton of false finishes followed with the crowd entirely behind Danielson or Castagnoli. It ended with Guevara in a Big Swing and Jericho leaping over him to hit Castagnoli with a Judas Spin and then a second to retain the belt. Great story, great match, and we’ll probably get a Jericho-Castagnoli rematch at ROH Final Battle in December.
Samoa Joe is your new TNT champion in the show’s biggest surprise. Joe, who had recently turned against his former partner Wardlow, hit “Powerhouse” Hobbs with the belt just as the champion had completed his Powerbomb Symphony. Hobbs passed out in the Coquina Clutch to make Joe the TNT and Ring of Honor TV Champion. I liked that very much. Removing Wardlow’s belt without him actually being beaten should spark a huge feud between him and Joe. Wardlow will be much better in pursuit of the belt.
On the women’s side, we could have had a riot in Jersey if Jamie Hayter hadn’t beaten Toni Storm for the AEW Interim Women’s World Championship. Luckily, she did in one match exceeded expectations.
All of the false finishes were really effective, starting with Rebel over Storm with the belt, but the champion managed to get her shoulder up. Then Baker, wearing a hoodie, stomped on Storm outside, but she kicked again. This drew boos from the crowd until Hayter emerged from a Storm Zero, bringing chants of “Jamie!” Storm, who may have broken her nose, managed to knock Baker off the top rope, but she took the turnbuckle pad with her. Hayter threw Storm into the exposed turnbuckle. She hit Hayter-assist for the 1-2-3 and a huge pop. This means AEW is keeping Hayter a heel for now and slowing down any breakup with Baker.
Darby Allin and Sting vs. Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal (No Holds Barred)
It was the most confusing and messy match of the night and it feels like watching one of those contests of pure chaos with Sting and Allin at almost every pay-per-view. They went from brawling outside the ring for two-thirds of the match to looking for tags once back in the ring. Satnam Singh got involved when he wanted to and Jeff Jarrett’s best moment was hitting Allin with a guitar slam as he attempted a Coffin Drop. The match ended when Sting countered a lethal injection into Scorpion Death Drop and Allin delivered a coffin for the spit. The result looks like it cut Jarrett and Lethal’s legs into heels before they even started. It also seems long overdue for Allin to do more than that.
Jade Cargill on Nyla Rose to retain the TBS Championship
Cargill never disappoints with their PPV outfit, breaking a Cheetara-themed Thunder Cats outfit this time after Rose ran over an Eddie Guerrero-like car. When they tried to wrestle more technically it was a bit slow and clunky, but the power was impressive. Cargill had to kick Rose off by landing their own Jaded finisher on her. The champion eventually struck out herself to keep the game strong at best. With all the history surrounding the TBS Championship itself, it would have been nice if the belt played a role in the match itself.
“Jungle Boy” Jack Perry on Luchasaurus (Steel Cage)
Apart from an odd sequence where Christian Cage stole the away referee’s key and opened the cage door to reverse the away action, this game accomplished everything it needed to. He told a quality story about the resilience of babyface for Jungle Boy. He won with a dipping elbow from the top of the cage with Luchasaurus prone on a table, then had him submit into the Snare Trap. Now the question is whether this story will end for Jungle Boy or if AEW will match him with Christian Cage when he is fully healthy.
The Acclaimed over Swerve in Our Glory (AEW Tag Team Championships)
Swerve Strickland mercilessly attacked Anthony Bowen’s “injured” right arm throughout the game, giving his side the lead for most of the game. Despite Strickland’s order, Lee refused to use Bowens’ finger trimmer. Strickland slapped his partner and Lee left him alone for The Acclaimed to restrain him. This breakup seemed long in coming and necessary as Strickland can become one of the top heels in the business.
Zero hour results
- Chuck Taylor, Trent Beretta, Orange Cassidy Rocky Romero and Danhausen on The Factory (QT Marshall, Aaron Solo, Cole Carter, Lee Johnson and Nick Comoroto
- Ricky Starks vs. Brian Cage (World Title Eliminator Semi-Final)
- Eddie Kingston vs. Jun Akiyama
The biggest winners: MJF Jamie Hayer
The Biggest Loser: Darby Allin
Mcatch of the night: Ring of Honor World Championship Match
To note: B+
New York Post