Wrestling Review: AEW Full Gear (2022)

Championships, pride, and Honor will all be on the line in front of a sold out Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey for the 2022 edition of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) Full Gear. In the main event, arguably the greatest AEW Champion in the company’s history looks to continue his historic third title reign when Jon Moxley defends against Maxwell Jacob Friedman, MJF. While Mox believes that MJF is just a child playing in a man’s game, MJF looks to prove he is no longer an up-and-comer, but is instead already a generational talent. To do so, MJF has promised he will not need to cheat, and use his Dynamite Diamond Ring, but just how trutworthy that man who calls himself ‘The Devil’ really is remains to be seen. The AEW Tag Team Championships are also on the line when Max Caster and Anthony Bowens of The Acclaimed finish off their evenly split trilogy with Swerve in Our Glory, Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland, with the titles on the line one more time. This tag team rivalry has become deeply personal when Strickland damaged the hands of “Daddy Ass” Billy Gunn, a mentor and confidant of Bowens and Caster, so there is more than solely the Tag Team Titles on the line in this match. Not to be outdone, Jamie Hayter finally gets a singles match for the tip prize in the AEW Women’s division, when she faces former friend turned bitter enemy, Toni Storm for Storm’s Interim AEW Women’s Championship gold.

After disappearing from television, and being stripped of the Trios Championships following All Out, The Elite — Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson — rise above the noise and confusion to make their return to AEW to battle the new group to hold the three-man belts — PAC, Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo, known as Death Triangle — with the gold on the line. Meanwhile, Chris Jericho will put his Ring of Honor (ROH) World Championship on the line in a four way, against two members of the Blackpool Combat Club, and both former ROH Champions in their own right, Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli, as well as Jericho’s own stablemate in the Jericho Appreciation Society, Sammy Guevara. Tensions have flared between all four men in recent weeks, and their four corners match is unpredictable to say the very least. Finally, rounding out the title matches for the show, three monsters will share the ring when Wardlow defends his TNT Championship against both Powerhouse Hobbs and Samoa Joe in a three way match, and Jade Cargill and Nyla Rose will finally go one-on-one for Cargill’s TBS Championship.

Though no titles are on the line, several huge grudge matches look to define the future of AEW, including with the debut of Saraya, formerly known as Paige in WWE. Saraya returns to the ring after five years to stake her claim in AEW against the top star in AEW’s women’s division, Dr Britt Baker, D.M.D. Both women have declared that AEW is ‘their house’, but only one woman will leave New Jersey with a victory in hand. After weeks of back and forth verbal barbs, and a shocking and sickening attack by the debuting Jeff Jarrett, Darby Allin and Sting team up one more time to battle the duo of Jarrett and Jay Lethal in a tag team contest with no countouts and no disqualifications. Kicking off the show, a steel cage match between former best friends and tag team championship partners, as “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry and Luchasaurus go at it. Luchasaurus throwing his lot in with Christian makes things personal with Jungle Jack, but against The Right Hand of Destruction, Jungle Jack will need to have the match of his life.

On the Zero Hour show, following a fantastic tag team contest on Rampage, one Eddie Kingston will go to war with All Japan Pro Wrestling legend, Jun Akiyama, in what is a certified fream match for the Mad King. Also, the second semi-final of the AEW World Championship Elimintor Tournament finally takes place, as Brian Cage faces off with Ricky Starks in a battle of former tag team partners, with the man awaiting the winner, “All Ego” Ethan Page, on commentary. And finally, a huge 10-man tag team match as Chuck Taylor, Trent Beretta, Orange Cassidy and Rocky Romero team with a Very Mysterious, Very Evil tag team partner — who is definitely going to be Danhausen — to do battle with QT Marshall and members of his Factory.

+ Jon Moxley (c) vs MJF (AEW World Championship): as far as main events go, this wasn’t the barn burner that many others have been. I think it’s perfectly clear that AEW will be fine without CM Punk, especially an injury prone Punk in the main title scene, but you had to admit that he had some star power that MJF and Moxley just don’t have. MJF had a good showing, and Moxley just did what Moxley always does, which was drag a good match out of whoever he is with – though of course he was helped by the fact MJF is actually a good wrestler. There were some shenanigans you don’t often soo too much of in AEW, but in the end this was a good match and I await whatever comes next for both guys
+ The Acclaimed (Max Caster & Anthony Bowens) (c) vs Swerve In Our Glory (Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland) (AEW Tag Team Championships): the crowd reactions were the best thing about the previous two matches these teams have had, so I think it was wise to make this a much more story-driven contest. Swerve is a fantastic wrestler, and I enjoy every match he is in, and while Keith has not quite shown that spark that he had pre-WWE, I can’t help but think good things are coming for him too. The Acclaimed are a relatively young team, especially compared to their opponents here, but I think they held their own and made this a fun match to watch which importantly felt different to the trios titles and no DQ tag before it
+ Toni Storm (c) vs Jamie Hayter (AEW Interim Women’s Championship): this was great, and honestly perhaps even my match of the show. I’m a staunch defender of Toni Storm, and I think she often gets a bad wrap from some of the wrestling fans who didn’t want her to come to AEW and succeed (in other news, where is Ruby Soho lately? Injured, I presume, like half the roster). Jamie Hayter, meanwhile, has slowly and steadily been building herself up to become the fan favourite she surely now is, but I did get a kick out of the split crowd. The story between these two going in was simple but effective, and the match was greater because of it
+ Saraya vs Dr Britt Baker, D.M.D.: this was good but never quite great. There were of course the teases of just how Saraya would handle her first match back in five years, and overall she was fine, though not at the level that made her a standout on NXT back in the day. The story has made it unclear who is “meant” to be cheered over the other and in a way that made this match more enjoyable, but I think I would have liked some more clear cheating from the person we are meant to dislike. This was fine
+ Chris Jericho (c) vs Bryan Danielson vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Sammy Guevara (ROH World Championship): this was a really good multi-man match, specifically because of the intra-faction fights we expected and received. There was no doubt Danielson/Claudio going at each other would be great, and we have not really seen any Jericho/Sammy confrontations of any meaning, so this was a good way to make things happen. Any combination of these four was going to be special, and more so when they broke into three-ways or even full on four-person sequences. I liked this a lot
+ Death Triangle (PAC, Rey Fenix & Penta El Cero Miedo) (c) vs The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) (AEW Trios Championships): to the surprise of nobody at all, this was an absolute banger. Omega in particular looked to be in absolutely phenomenal shape, and I can only imagine the extra time off did him a world of good. But all six of these guys are in the top of their respective fields, and I stand by my assessment that PAC is one of the best wrestlers in the world, even as his nose got crunched sideways across his face
+ “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry vs Luchasaurus (Steel Cage Match): this was simple incredible, with Jungle Boy proving why he is going to be one of the biggest stars in all of wrestling. I think it’s also time we gave Luchasaurus his props for being as good as he is. Several moments had me gasping out loud, and the finish in particular is something I can imagine being replayed for years to come
+ Eddie Kingston vs Jun Akiyama: this was a good match, but I can’t help but believe that were it given more than a single day’s build, and not taken place on a pre-show, it might have been even better. Eddie is one of those hit or miss guys in AEW, but when he gets a match like this to really give his all, it’s great. Akiyama also looked fantastic considering his age, and I was surprised how physical both guys were getting. A fantastic post-match promo sealed the deal for this one
+ Brian Cage (w/ Prince Nana) vs Ricky Starks (AEW World Championship Eliminator Tournament Semi-Final): I find that both guys are underappreciated, and I enjoyed this overall. I don’t think this needed to be on this pre-show, however, and I would have instead have made Starks wrestle twice on Rampage, leading to the Starks/Page or Cage/Page match at this point. This felt short, but on a show already too full that is not necessarily a bad thing

Darby Allin & Sting vs Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett (No Countout, No Disqualification): this started off really well but ended up feeling like a TV main event. I hate no DQ tag team matches with tags, because why would you bother standing on the apron? And the crowd felt the same way, because they lost all interest once the teams got to the ring. The finish was fun, and I eagerly await Satnam Singh’s future, but overall this didn’t feel worth it
Wardlow (c) vs Samoa Joe vs Powerhouse Hobbs (TNT Championship): really messy meat match. Usually I am all for those, but on a show like this this felt sloppy and poorly done. There were lots of missed moves, which never helps things
Jade Cargill (c) vs Nyla Rose (TBS Championship): it was always going to be tough to follow the cage and trios match before it, but this was not good no matter how you slice it. I have no doubt that both women were trying their best, but this would ahve been far better as a two minute thing on the pre-show instead
Best Friends (Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor), Rocky Romero) & a Very Evil, Very Mysterious tag team partner vs The Factory (QT Marshall, Lee Johnson, Nick Comoroto, Aaron Solo & Cole Karter): I am such a huge fan of QT Marshall, and I truly believe that someone like him is invaluable in a young company like AEW. Overall this was a nothing match with an intentionally unsurprising surprise partner, even if say partner looked very nice, very evil, and very good

> this was a long show. WWE shows are long, but those are long because they have so many breaks and videos and advertisements between matches, which are often short. This was a long show that had ~30 second recaps before some matches, which were introduced as the winners were still celebrating in the previous match. AEW shows can sometimes be exhausting
> lots of the images above are from the Countdown to Full Gear show from after Rampage, which I’ve learned is a good course of clear images of the competitors

Should you watch this event: Just the ratio of good to bad above should prove this was well worth watching, but I think AEW needs to change the way it times out these shows. I know that Sting and Jarrett, for example, might be drawing cards for the show, but the match just didn’t stand out in any meaninful way. Seek out Storm/Hayter, the Jungle Boy/Luchasaurus cage match, and the trios title in particular.

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