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AEW Full Gear 2021 Review: Hangman & Omega Deliver on an All-Time Storyline

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

A loaded card. Stories built from weeks, to months, even years reach an apex.

Could AEW deliver on promises for a memorable pay-per-view event in Full Gear 2021?

Let’s not forget, this marks 16 years since the passing of Eddie Guerrero. There were a number of tributes in his honor tonight.

The pre-show begins with video packages highlights all the feuds going into the event. Production gets a big A+ on the level of detail and kudos to all staff and wrestlers in presenting a show worth investing in. The pre-show match has an interview with Dante Martin interrupted by The Acclaimed, as individuals, teams, and stables appear to want to draft the young star. We have seen Lio Rush meet success, however prior to the PPV, Team Taz appeared to extend an offer. Now, Bowen and Caster attempt the same. However, the pressure for decision turned out to backfire on The Acclaimed, who were driven off by an irate Martin. 

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

The pre-show match sees Hikaru Shida and Thunder Rosa defeat Jamie Hayter and Nyla Rose. I have no objections to a Women’s Tag Match kick off a PPV, especially when it’s a really good match to heat up the live crowd. Also spotted at ringside is Serena Deeb, my guess either recruitment or revenge is on her mind. 

The Full Gear Pay-Per-View begins with MJF defeating Darby Allin, two staples of AEW in a wrestling contest which came close to a time-limit draw. Leading up to the match, MJF brought reality in, using the death of Darby’s uncle and family history, all the while Allin appeared to never flinch at all. In fact, rather than the story be of the heel using it to make the babyface doubtful, it only turned Darby into a ruthless wrestling machine. Allin and MJF would go back and forth, hold-for-hold, and counter-for-counter until reaching a standstill. Respectfully, the crowd erupts in an ovation. 

It’s amazing how two wrestlers who appear to have such different methods pull off a fluidly solid match with breath-stealing moments, such as a Tombstone on the ring apron, and a Coffin Drop to the floor. 

The end, fits with MJF’s style of being a very dirty player to win. Using the distraction of Darby’s skateboard, the “Salt of the Earth” is able to knock out Allin using his concealed Dynamite Diamond Ring, and then pinned him following a… Headlock Takedown.

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling 

Also of note, Sting prevented Shawn Spears and Wardlow from interfering. But here’s the real tale – During the entrances, MJF forced Justin Roberts to say “MJF will beat Darby Allin with a headlock takedown.” Lo’ and behold. He did. 

I let my kids stay up to watch The Lucha Brothers retain he AEW Tag Team Championships FTR in a fantastic matchup. The love the high flying from Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero M. Beginning with a brawl was logical. The initial feelings of competition turned into fiery hate with FTR winning the AAA Tag Team Championships in controversial fashion, plus FTR constantly rubbing the victory in their faces proclaiming to be the best “Lucha Libre” tag team ever. FTR’s countering the high flying arsenal from the Luchas were impressive, even more so when FTR managed to completely ground the champions. 

Fantastic spot was a double-submission lock on FTR, tying an abdominal stretch with a leg-vice. Dax attempts the “three amigos” to the disdain of the live crowd, which is stopped by Penta, who triumphantly delivers his own, which is followed by Rey Fenix hitting a classic Eddie Guerrero Frog Splash. 

Some chaos ensues thanks to the antics of Tully Blanchard who tosses the green masks to Cash and Dax, resulting in the pinfall of the illegal FTR member. However, the ref’s decision stands and the Lucha Brothers retained. Great match, although the finish appeared to be used as an argument in an effort to prolong the feud, seemed to have been rushed. [Editor’s Note: During the Media Scrum Tony Khan made reference to being “rocked” towards the end of the match.]

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

Bryan Danielson defeats Miro

What is this? An episode of New Japan? It sure felt like it, both figuratively and literally. This was no Rusev vs. Bryan rematch. I’m convinced while preparing they agreed “Sure, let’s just kick the hell out of each other.”

This describes the match. Wrestling plus very hard hitting. Not a brawl, but a test of who can withstand more punishment. Danielson kicked, Miro didn’t try to protect or block. Maybe a few flinches, but would not budge. During the match, Miro dominated with some stiff shots and bigtime slams which had the feel of an epic powerbomb. As they traded shots, they also traded some vicious looking suplexes. 

Near the end of the match, Danielson was locked in the Game Over, yet somehow finessed his way out and reversed into the LeBell Lock. However, Miro would not tap out. Instead, multiple strikes followed up with a corner DDT would weaken “The Redeemer” as Danielson would then cinch a Gulliotine Choke for the win. 

It’s not always a finisher folks. This makes it great. 

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

Jurassic Express and Christian Cage defeated The SuperKliq in a Falls Count Anywhere Match

This got crazy fast. In a good way. I’m just going to fast forward to the highlight of this, Luchasaurus leaping with a Shooting Star Press off the entrance stage ramp onto the SuperKliq standing below. The cameraman on Jungle Boy having a “holy s***” look on his face was brilliant. I almost believed for a moment he didn’t even know this spot was coming. Table spots, a con-chair-to delivered to Matt Jackson by Jungle Boy, not Christian Cage was a very intriguing moment. 

It’s as though this was a moment of maturity and growth for the normally clean-cut super-babyface to resort to a violent act such as this. 

The story between Jurassic Express and Christian Cage’s battle with the Young Bucks and Adam Cole was built perfectly to produce this type of outcome. This was a well produced fight. 

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

PAC and Cody Rhodes defeated Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo

Strange, I enjoyed members of both teams being unable to cohesively work together. This was more of an arrangement of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Granted, both teams managed to work decently together, portraying a reluctance but yet willing to work together for a common goal. I’d call this a solid cool-down match after so many intense matches in the last hour. 

PAC and Black stook out as the highlights of this one. PAC hitting Black Arrow is always a beautiful sight. Malakai dropping Cody with a Black Mass is also a sight to behold because Cody sells it as the move should always be sold. By dropping in a heap. 

PAC pinning Andrade makes sense. Black clearly triumphed over Cody, despite losing their third match. Black beat Cody twice already, and the promo cut following his loss negated any celebration Rhodes would have embraced. 

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. retains the AEW Women’s World Championship against Tay Conti

Ana Jay was not present, however the champ has Rebel and Hayter in her corner. Odds already against the challenger, which presented an interesting notion of being able to overcome these odds. Early stages of the match saw Baker egotistically showing off and having control, with some help on the outside tipping things in her favor. However, Conti gradually shrugged off each offensive with some defense on her own. 

Conti then began to completely dominate the bout, drilling Baker with drivers and some big time German suplexes. Conti is just so impressive when she gets on a roll. The challenger was able to spike the champ with the Tay-KO, but a kick out at two shocked everyone. Conti hit move after move, but none to victory. Ultimately, Baker managed to counter into a roll-up pinning combination for the three count and surprise victory without the use of a finisher. 

Once again folks, finishers do not always come into play. I’ll repeat, this isn’t a video game where you must hit the finisher in order to win. Sometimes wins come at unexpected times and this will make viewers pay attention. 

Baker the most dominant and successful current Women’s Champion in any company today. 

Tay Conti will be Women’s Champion one day. 

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

CM Punk defeated Eddie Kingston

This feud will continue. The match is very easy to describe. An all-out, brutality-filled slugfest. Sure, we got some exploder suplexes and a few actual wrestling moves. This was anything but a civil discourse in mat-skills. This. Was. A. Fight.

Kingston enters the ring to a massive live-crowd ovation and instantly drops Punk with the Spinning Back-Fist. I kid you not, it was the best sell of this strike I have ever seen. Punk just dropped in a heap. 

He gets up, and then the bell rings. Fists. Kicks. Strikes. Headbutts. 

Kingston excels at emotion in and out of the ring. You can see it, you could feel it. His portrayal had the live crowd boo Punk. He had the live crowd rallying. He has AEW and wrestling fans all over watching his every move. Kingston brought it out in CM Punk. He brought out Punk’s anger, his hate, his drive. 

This, while nothing more than a showcase of anger and brutality, deep down, was a work of art. 

My gripe is having Kingston lose. However, if this is a feud which continues, then when Kingston wins, and oh yes he will… The reaction will be explosively epic. 

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

The Inner Circle Defeats American Top Team/Men of the Year

I might be in the minority, but I enjoyed this “cool down” match. It had to be. The next and final match would be the AEW World Championship match. 

I was a little confused at the start, as it appeared despite it being billed as a Street Fight, everyone stood in the corners and tagged in and out as though it was a traditional tag bout. 

Inevitably, the match broke down into said street fight rules. Lots of action, Santana and Ortiz busting out their unique style of double-team maneuvers are always a highlight. However, the big highlight saw Sammy Guevara going skyward and leaping off a super-tall ladder, crashing down on Scorpio Sky.

Junior Del Santos, he held his own pretty well, and pulled off some good wrestling moves. Not bad at all sir. 

The final moments were a bit comical, but I supposed given the feud it would end up with Chris Jericho going to town on Dan Lambert, pummeling him with a kendo stick, and then a tearful tribute to Eddie Guerrero with a Frog Splash for the pinfall victory. 

After the match, Jay Lethal came out and it was announced he has signed with AEW, and before you know it, he challenges Sammy Guevara for the TNT Championship.

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

The Main Event: “Hangman” Adam Page challenges Kenny Omega w/ Don Callis for the AEW World Championship

Earlier in the night, Page found Matt and Nick Jackson backstage, and offered his apologies and took his share of the responsibility for the dissolution of their friendship.  It seemed as though before Hangman would go to war against his former friend Kenny Omega, he pulls one out of the 12-Step program and seeks out forgiveness and takes ownership of his role.

Would this lead to something? 

Justin Roberts with a fantastic championship intro. “Hangman” Adam Page with a beautifully produced entrance, seeing clips of his rise and fall, seeing the Dark Order running through a corridor to get to the arena, and this all taking place while Page is riding a horse down the street to the arena. Kenny Omega in some fancy duds for his main event bout. The announce team trash Don Callis from his suit to his choice of shoes. Love it. 

This has been my favorite build. Two years of Adam Page trying to get back to the top after failing to become the first AEW Champion, having lost to Chris Jericho. We have watched Hangman become a tag champion with Omega, only to not only lose the titles, but lose friendships and teammates along the way. This is a story of a man who lost faith in himself, lost confidence, and took a dark turn in hitting the bottle, losing the will to care, and worst of all hitting rock bottom. 

Then some new friends came along, the Dark Order embraced Page, perhaps initially with selfish intent to recruit, but this turned into an absurd comedy routine which spawned a new type of friendship, one which produces a family bond. This bond gradually helped Hangman find himself, and set out to rekindle the fire of his goal. To be number one. To be the AEW World Champion. While Page was rebuilding himself, his former Elite teammates fell to the dark and sinister manipulations of The Good Brothers and Don Callis. 

It was clear from here, Page is on the rise, while it was now his former teammates and friends who have lost their way. 

This my friends, built a long-term story not seen in over 20 years. I guess I am just this old. 

From bell-to-bell, Omega and Page tore into each other. We got a war which consisted of wrestling, some damn fantastic wrestling, some brawling, and of course, emotional verbal outburst which only enhanced the level of this intense bout. Omega tried going early with some heavy striking, but Page shrugged most of it off and would hammer Omega down over and over, seemingly instilling frustration and possibly fear into Omega. Action spilled to the floor, and the damned Don Callis wound find ways of slithering interference when the ref wasn’t looking. 

Page countering a One-Winged Angel brought the crowd to its feet. Hangman sought Deadeye but was unsuccessful in an early attempt. Later on Omega and Hangman exchanged overhead back suplexes, each man being parked on their heads. It was brutal to watch. A huge Tiger Driver 98 elicited a huge gasp from the live audience and I Imagine from those watching at home. 

Action intensifies as Hangman parked Omega near the timekeeper’s table on the outside, with Page dismantling the ringpost camera to use it as footing for a huge elbow splash through the table. What a crash! As Page planted Omega with a Pop-Up Powerbomb, he geared ready for a Buckshot, only to inadvertently annihilate the referee thanks to Omega’s trickery. Page finally connects with Deadeye, but for a few moments the match was without a ref, until Aubrey Edwards charged in but it would only be a two count. Arena audience popped huge and let Audrey hear their appreciation by chanting her name loudly. By then, it was V-Trigger time and Omega started laying them in, and lay them in hard. Hangman even tried one but was ineffective. At this point they started catching each other’s strikes, as Omega went for one-too-many, and fell to his own One Winged Angel courtesy of Hangman! Would we call it the One Hungover Angel? 

Matt and Nick Jackson hobbled their way to ringside, live crowd booing, likely in fear they would somehow contribute to the outcome. However, after Hangman planted Page with a huge overhead back suplex, he scored with one Buckshot, and as Page set up for number two, he stares down Matt Jackson… Who does a slight nod! Hangman winds up and levels Omega who crumples to the mat, Aubrey makes the count, and we have a NEW AEW WORLD CHAMPION!

The Dark Order rushes the ring, hoisting Hangman on their shoulders to celebrate with a live crowd on their feet giving a huge ovation to a well-deserving champion. 

So much to unpack from this one. 

Will the Young Bucks now distance from Don Callis and Kenny Omega in favor of aligning with Adam Cole and Bobby Fish? 

So much to look forward to this week on both Dynamite and Rampage. 

I am very excited, as once again, I have scored tickets to AEW Dynamite and Rampage at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. I just hope this time I won’t have to sell my tickets due to rescheduling the show on Yom Kippur. 

AEW Full Gear 2021 is now streaming on BR Live.

 

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