The first PPV event for All Elite Wrestling (AEW) since their explosive debut on weekly network TV, AEW presents Full Gear, live from the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. Officially, the main event will feature Chris Jericho defending his AEW World Championship against Cody, in a match where Cody has vowed to never challenge for the AEW title again if he is not successful. For this championship bout, if the 60 minute time limit is reached, three judges will decide the winner. Unofficially, once this match has concluded, AEW will have an unsanctioned Light Out match between The Best Bout Machine, Kenny Omega, and the demented Jon Moxley. Anything goes in a Lights Out match, with no disqualifications or countouts, and AEW management will have no responsibility for what the two men do to each other.
Elsewhere on the card, the AEW Women’s Champion, Riho, will defend her hard-won title against the woman who trained her, Emi Sakura. The current Tag Team Champions, SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) will have a busy night, as they defend their gold against both the teams of The Lucha Bros (Rey Fenix & Pentagon Jr) and Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen). Rounding out the card are three huge grudge matches, as Shawn Spears seeks to put down Joey Janela, The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) face off against Pround N Powerful (Santana & Ortiz), and PAC and Hangman Page square off with potential championship contention ramifications for the winner.
+ Kenny Omega vs Jon Moxley (Lights Out Match): in the end, this was definitely enjoyable, but it was kind of strange; it was not extreme enough to be a Game Changer (hilarious pun intended) but it was too extreme to be a ‘I’m the better man than you’ situation for the winner, so it almost felt like it was only on the card because they didn’t have any other hardcore stuff. I strongly prefer Omega as the marathon man, and as much as I love seeing CZW’s Moxley back in hardcore action, this never reached the heights he is known for. Still, this was enough to send the crowd home happy with an interesting if somewhat unnecessary ending
+ Chris Jericho (c) vs Cody (AEW World Championship): as far as championship matches go, this was really, really good. It was absolutely not a NJPW-eque marathon, nor was it the kind of plodding affair WWE has become known for, so frankly if AEW keeps up this sort of pacing, story, callbacks and ending sequences, they may carve out a niche of their own. Jericho is the best bad guy in the world right now, because as much as you may love him, you still want him to lose. Cody, meanwhile, isn’t quite the underdog hero I think he wants to be, but against Jericho, anybody would look like a good guy
+ Riho (c) vs Emi Sakura (AEW Women’s Championship): except for the length of the match, this was great (note: I mean it went on too long). Riho looked good, and she got the crowd in the palm of her hand by the end, as she always does, but it’s interesting that she is the underdog in the AEW Women’s division, because she is the champ. Sakura was an obvious choise for Riho’s first PPV defense, and it did make for an engaging match. There are some clear similarities in style between Riho and Kenny Omega, if you look closely
+ PAC vs Hangman Page: Hangman has really been lacking in AEW so far, despite being one of the first contenders for the top title. PAC is a long time favourite of mine, and Hangman has slipped a bit as of late, following his loss to Jericho. Ostensibly, the winner here is probably going to challenge for the AEW title in the near future, and both were good options, and it made for a good match overall. I’ll keep saying it: PAC is so good at all aspects of wrestling
+ The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs Proud N Powerful (Santana & Ortiz): this was pretty good overall, and one way or another, I am glad there was a clear winner. Matt Jackson once again seemed to be the standout for me, and while I do enjoy the former-L.A.X. team, this whole match was a pretty standard ‘good tag team match’. I never felt like it was the grudge match AEW wanted it to be (see my two thoughts in the third section below)
– SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky (c) vs The Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr. & Rey Fenix) vs Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen) (AEW Tag Team Championships): overall, I did enjoy this, despite a fair bit of sloppy stuff. Fenix was an absolute star, as he always is, and Kazarian is really underappreciated in my view for how solid, if not particularly flashy, he is. Most of the untidy offence did come from either the Lucha Bros trying some fancy offense, or simply the relative inexperience of the Private Party duo. The hit-and-miss accuracy of the movies does stop this from being listed as a positive, but it was not quite as bad as that may make it sound
– Joey Janela vs Shawn Spears (w/ Tully Blanchard): didn’t really do it for me, despite the fact I do like both guys in their current roles. Spears has not quite clicked as the big bad guy they clearly want him to be, but at least the association with Blanchard is starting to be a bit more effective. Still, middle of the road match for a mid card feud
> It was somewhat strange to have a Bucks/PNP match treated as a blood feud (in the same way Cody/Jericho was treated as this really big deal) when really, they have only been feuding on TV for some five weeks. Of course there is all the supplementary stuff like the Youtube shows and/or past history, but it kind of felt like making a big deal out of very limited stuff.
> It may sound like a strange complaint, but some of AEW’s matches are too good. By that I mean, as much as the Bucks/PNP match was an important one for their story, they did too much cool stuff, and it took away from the (in my opinion, objectively) more important Tag Team Championship match later. Similarly, PAC/Hangman was good, but they did so much stuff they could save for either the main event guys to do, or another PAC/Hangman meeting somewhere down the road
Should you watch this event: Overall, this was a very good show, with lots of easy to watch matches, most of which had some big implications. Even the two matches I didn’t enjoy as much were good in one way or another, but it is the non-match quality related issues I am still having trouble adapting to.