Super Wrestling: AEW – Full Gear 2020

Full Gear and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan

For months we have been waiting for this day to arrive, and now that it’s here I’m not sure how to even feel about it.  TRUMP LOST THE ELECTION!!  Oh yeah, and we’ve got an AEW PPV to watch, BUT TRUMP ISN’T GOING TO GET A SECOND TERM!!  Frankly the world being saved from the brink of everlasting doom is a big break for this show as even I probably wouldn’t have felt up to watching it if facing four more years of this chaos had become a reality, but aside from it being the big event to occur mere hours after this country realized it could breathe easy again, does AEW have a solid lineup of great matches to justify being on of the four big shows of the year, or is their last PPV of 2020 going to be the last big disappointment of what is already the worst year in recent memory?  Let’s find out!!  And as always, we start with the Buy In match!

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Serena Deeb Vs. Allysin Kay – NWA Women’s Title Match (Buy In)

The issues with AEW’s women’s division have been well documented and I’ll have PLENTY more to say when we get to the match that ACTUALLY pertains to this company, but the NWA talent coming in and trying to liven things up has been a net positive for AEW and hopefully for NWA as well.  Thunder Rosa may not have knocked it out of the park EVERY time (her PPV match with Shida wasn’t all that great), she brought life and vitality to the division that was stuck doing nothing for months.  Now we’ve got another Serena Deeb title defense after her match against Leyla Hirsch two weeks ago was such a bright spot on the show, but can Allysin Kay hold a candle to her?  Perhaps not, but Kay is still VERY impressive with a great look and a huge advantage in regards to her height.  It’s practically a Monster Match where the Baby Face has to overcome an overwhelming force and Kay plays the part quite well with a suite of big moves that she unleashes on Deeb.  You’ve got your Powerbombs, your Spine Busters, there’s even a point where she just throws Deeb into the air and she lands her neck on the top rope!

“This is REALLY not gonna end well for you.”     “I CAN SEE THAT!”

The match IS a bit on the slow side though as they do a lot of holds throughout, and Deeb doesn’t come off as good once she starts in on her counterattack but I think that has more to do with Kay’s selling than anything else.  In fact, while I have checked and she’s been wrestling for over a decade, Kay came off as a bit green to me with Deeb carrying a lot of the match for her.  Kay has the height and the power to do the big moves, but it’s up to Deeb to sell them and to keep the rest of the match on track with Kay’s shortcomings being highlighted whenever she’s the one who has to start doing the carrying.  Perhaps I’m over analyzing things as it IS one of the better matches the division has had in some time so let’s give them a bit of slack here on the Buy In.  Deeb’s entire strategy is to try and get Kay in her Serenity Lock as she’s unlikely to keep her down long enough for a three count so in between throws and bombs from Kay she keeps trying to roll her up into the submission hold.  What eventually gives her the advantage though is when Deeb lands a Dragon Screw on Kay while she’s in the ropes which messes up her knee and leaves her vulnerable for a Face Plant.  For whatever reason she tries to go for a pin despite Kay still being right next to the ropes and of course she does a rope break, but then Deeb drags her away and THEN does the Serenity Lock which Kay taps to.  I’m not sure why they did that spot between landing the Face Plant and putting on the submission, but in any case Deeb is still the NWA women’s champion… BUT FOR HOW LONG!?  As soon as the match ends, Thunder Rosa’s music hits and she comes out to menace Deeb; clearly indicating that she wants a rematch sooner rather than later.  It was a decent match, but still felt a bit clunky at points as Kay seemed a TINY bit lost from time to time and that weird spot at the end where Deeb should have gone right into the submission, but I still had a good time watching it.  And with that, we head straight for the PPV!

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Kenny Omega Vs. Hangman Adam Page – AEW World Title Tournament Finals

The tournament has been quite a boon to Dynamite as it was a solid foundation to book fun and interesting matches while also moving forward with the Omega/Hangman feud as well as the future of the World Championship.  Both men are at the top of their game with a darn good story to tell and even something close to a crowd watching them go at it!  Is it the fantastic clash of champions that we love to see when everything lines up just right in this industry?  Pretty much, yeah!  Just from the opening minutes you can tell that these are guys who are far above so many other wrestlers out there as they feint, counter, and go for their finishers mere seconds after the bell rings.  Page stops just short of Kenny’s Drop Kick, Kenny ducks and is just barely able to dodge a Sliding Lariat from Hangman (straight up looked like a scene in the matrix), and after Kenny misses with a V-Trigger Page manages to land a chop to Kenny’s throat.  They trade chops for a while before Kenny knocks Page out of the ring but then Page runs back in and tosses Kenny back down to the map.  Kenny then goes for the top rope, but Page runs up there and lands a Superplex, and this is like three minutes into the match!  Now realistically no one would be able to keep up this pace so things slow down a bit as Page throws Kenny into the outside barricade like launces off of it into a Moonsault which was VERY impressive to see!

“How did you do that!?  ARE YOU A WIZARD!?”

There does appear to have be a flub right after this where Kenny does that Rolling Fireman’s Carry thing that leads into a Moonsault, but where he’s supposed to roll and land back on his feet, he trips and has to get back up to do the Moonsault.  It’s not a big thing, but if we’re looking for ANYTHING to find fault in here this is really the only thing that wasn’t fully knocked out of the park.  There are simply too many great moments in this match to mention, like when Page is on the ramp and Kenny comes flying at him with the V-Trigger or when page lands TWO Powerbombs and Kenny somehow manages to kick out of it.  At one point Kenny lands something called a Tiger Driver 98 which looks absolutely TERRIFYING but even that only gets a two count.  All these moves, including a Dead Eye from Page are not enough to put an end to this match, so they start going for their finishers more and more and neither can land a decisive hit.  The turning point in the match is when Kenny lands a Dragon Screw on Hangman through the ropes (just like Serena Deeb did in the Buy In match) and this gives Kenny the opening he needs.  He hits Page with 2 V-Triggers and goes for the One Winged Angel which Page fights valiantly against, but eventually succumbs to and takes the three count; giving Kenny Omega the win and earning him a future match for the AEW World Title.  I’m usually one who thinks these matches go on just a bit too long, but I kind of wanted this to have ONE more twist.  I wanted Page to somehow kick out of the One Winged Angel and for Kenny to come up with one more creative way to take him down for good, but aside from that and the ONE move Kenny didn’t nail, this match is pretty much flawless and is going to be a tough act to follow!

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Orange Cassidy Vs. John Silver

Orange Cassidy was a guy who ALWAYS clicked for me so when people were dubious of him working on television I just thought they were underestimating someone who’s simply unorthodox.  I now know how they feel because not in a MILLION years would I have seen John Silver take off the way he has, and yet here he is on a PPV show in a match with one of AEW’s top talent!  John Silver starts by getting RIGHT up into Cassidy’s face and just screaming at him; talking about how jacked he is compared to this lazy slob with cool glasses!  Cassidy then goes to put his hands in his pockets and Silver is FLABBERGASTED!!  He is AGOG at this development and DEMANDS that he NOT do it… and then he does!  That’s not the end of it however as they start to go back and forth for a bit before Silver manages to rip the pockets right of of Cassidy’s pants, and he is so proud of himself!  He’s beaming at the crowd while holding those pieces of fabric high in the air!  It’s a straight up Bugs Bunny Vs. Daffy Duck story where Cassidy stays cool as a cucumber while Silver is just LOSING IT at everything Cassidy does and Silver plays the role perhaps better than anyone else.  He gets it, and he gets where he is on the card so that “dignity” isn’t a problem, but that’s what makes him endearing as a character and why he’s gotten so over recently!  He’s got a great look, he’s game to do anything his opponent needs him to, and he’s a genuinely strong athlete on top of that!  What more could you want!?

“I HOPE MY MOM IS WATCHING ME RIGHT NOW!”     “You Suck-diddly-uck!”     “Mom!?  When did you get to Jacksonville!?”

Well… I guess I WOULD want a bit more action in the middle of the match as Silver eventually gets the advantage and he spends far too long getting the heat on Cassidy.  This oddly enough seems to be a running theme with Cassidy’s matches as I remember some of these seeping into his match at Revolution with Pac and at least one of his Jericho matches, but it’s mitigated here by Silver showing some impressive moves like when he throws Cassidy CLEAR ACROSS THE RING!  It might have just been the camera angle and I’m sure Cassidy was a big part of it, but for a moment Silver looked like a straight up superhero as Cassidy goes flying so far and so high and skids across the mat like he was ejected from a catapult!  Eventually Cassidy gets back into it and throws Silver into a few corners before he lands a Diving Cross Body and a Swinging DDT.  It looks like Silver’s done for but he manages to kick out at two which is great because you don’t exactly want to BURY Silver and letting him get a few kick outs from the guy who beat Chris Jericho will definitely help.  At here the match becomes very competitive as they both start trading big moves, counters, and near falls; all of which are fun to watch but are too numerous to start listing.  The definite highlights were when Cassidy manages to land a Stundog Millionaire to get a two count which is almost immediately followed by Silver landing a Spin Doctor (a move that looks kind of like an F10) and gets a two count as well.  However, Silver’s folly comes at the end when he tries to pay homage to The Exalted One Brody Lee by attempting to take out Cassidy with a Discus Lariat.  Orange manages to dodge it and lands an Orange Punch followed by a Beach Break to get the three count and to win the match!  I probably would have cut down a bit Silver getting the heat, but other than that I loved this match!  It was so wacky, so impressive, and so much fun to watch these two slug it out with Silver putting everything on the line to try to get one over on that rascally Orange Cassidy!  I’d honestly make it a Dreamer/Raven feud where Silver is always chasing Cassidy for that ONE win that he can never get as it’s definitely a dynamic that plays to both of their strengths, but we’ll see what the future holds for Silver who sure as heck isn’t going to fade back into obscurity any time soon!

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Cody Vs. Darby Allin – TNT Title Match

Cody is accompanied to the ring by The Nightmare Family

This has been a feud that’s been simmering in the background since Cody and Darby got the time limit draw back at last year’s Fyter Fest, and while Darby has felt a bit distant from all of the buildup (it’s mostly been about Cody fighting dudes and cutting promos), it’s still a match that has some strong gravitas behind it.  So much so that it seems to have spooked Cody as he’s very cagy and unwilling to engage with Darby Allin for the opening minutes of this fight.  Even when he gets an advantage he quickly backs off to keep Darby at arm’s length, but Darby is not nearly as hesitant and tries to goad Cody into a proper fight with a slap to the back of the head.  Eventually Cody gets into it and maintains a strong advantage for the most part with his main strategy being to try and work Darby’s left arm.  It proves effective, but is simply not enough to keep Darby down for good and at one point he goes to do his push-ups which gets Arn Anderson PISSED!  He starts screaming at Cody who stops doing them and gets back to work, but it’s clear that this is less to intimidate Darby than it was to encourage himself. 

“GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME AND STOP TRYING TO GET INTO HIS!”     “I’m not doing this for Darby, I’m doing it for me!  IS THAT OKAY, ARN!?”

In his frustration, Cody goes for a Moonsault but Darby rolls out of the way and so Cody lands flat on his stomach like a nasty belly flop which is just the opportunity Darby needs to launch a flurry of offense ending with a Yoshi Tonic and a two count on Cody.  The only spot throughout all of this that felt clunky is right after the two count where one of the middle turnbuckle pads is removed and Cody VERY OBVIOUSLY goes face first into it.  It looks cheesy in a match that otherwise has felt rather grounded and quite brutal already, but thankfully it’s not a BIG spot as Cody regains the advantage almost immediately.  The two of them are on the top rope and SOMEHOW Cody lands an Avalanche Cross Rhodes which I have NEVER seen before, and it would have been enough for him to get the three count if Darby hadn’t rolled under ropes after landing.  They go back to the top rope and Darby lands hard on the mat before rolling outside which Cody and Arn are hoping will lead to a ten count, but Darby makes it back into the ring just at the count of nine.  Darby seems like he is utterly spent and Cody is just throwing him all over the mat, but Darby just won’t stay down for the three count.  In yet another spot that we could have done without, Cody goes for his weight belt but then gets talked down by the ref.  It’s sill that they even ALLOW him to have it there when he hems and haws about using it in almost every match, but the spot is almost saved by Cody dropping the belt and Darby IMMEDIATELY grabbing it to trip Cody.  Possibly something worthy of disqualification, but WOW did it look good!

Top Ten Wrestling Betrayals: Cody’s weight belt!

Darby lands a Coffin Drop on Cody and goes for the pin but only manages to get a two count.  I guess they thought this would have been TOO definitive of a finish because what they do instead is start trading pin attempts back and forth, rolling from one to the other, and Darby Allin just barely gets the three count to win the TNT title.  It’s not exactly a CROWNING MOMENT for the young superstar as the finish was done in a way that could have easily gone in the other direction, but EVERYONE is stunned and the crowd goes wild as Cody putters around the ring trying to figure out what to do.  He has the belt in his hands just as Darby is barely standing back up and he calls for Darby’s music to be cut off.  The two of them stare at each other as the crowd cheers for Darby… and Cody does the honorable thing by handing the TNT title to Darby; going so far as to get on one knee as he presents it.  It was a very good match, and an emotional one at that with Cody’s fear driving so much of his actions throughout, but I think the finish felt a LITTLE bit underwhelming and there were a few spots they could have done without.  Still, this is a HUGE paradigm shift for the company and I’m curious what the future holds for BOTH of these guys now.

Before things can get too touchy feely however, Taz comes out with a mic and starts threatening to puke his guts out at the emotions flowing out in the ring.  He then orders both Darby and Cody to head to the back so that Taz can get the ring to himself.  They don’t of course and Taz saw this coming, so Cage and Starks sneak into the ring and lay them both out.  Cage then drags Darby to the ringside area and is thrown into what I THINK is a light fixture.  THEN they drag him to Darby’s car where they threaten to smash his arm in the car door, but Will Hobs comes running at them with a chair and all three members of Team Taz GTFO as fast as they can.  Hey, he may not have had a match but getting to see WILL HOBBS on a PPV was awesome and I hope he has another match on Dynamite very soon!

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We cut to QT Marshall and Dustin Rhodes being interviewed backstage by Dasha Gonzalez where they spend most of their time yelling at Allie through the camera.  Dustin confirms that he and QT have a match against The Butcher and The Blade in something called a Bunkhouse Match.  I have no idea what that is, but Dustin cuts an AMAZING promo about it which is certainly a better use of their time than having him and QT whine about a duplicitous woman.  I’m still uneasy about Allie being the target of their anger and her act of betrayal being to max out QT’s credit cards which plays into misogynistic stereotypes about women, but these two can put on some great matches and I’m very interested to find out what the heck a Bunkhouse Match is.

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Hikaru Shida Vs. Nyla Rose – AEW Women’s Title Match

Nyla Rose is accompanied to the ring by Vickie Guerrero

If there was one match I was dreading on this show (aside from Elite Deletion), it was this match because there was literally no build up between these two to set it up and all it does is devalue the belt in my eyes.  Shida Vs. Rose AGAIN for no reason.  No one else is getting built up in their women’s division aside from Britt Baker despite the deep bench of talent that they have available to them.  Perhaps some of it is outside of their control with Kris Statlander still being out of action and Abadon getting an unfortunate injury just a week ago, but it’s been depressing to see how little they’ve come up with during Shida’s entire run as champion.  Shida goes through her usual set with the knee strike on the apron and the knee strike after launching off the chair, and Nyla is… well she’s just kind of there.  She goes for a chair just like Shida did but Ref Aubrey decides to call HER out for it, and Vickie gets a quick shot with a kendo stick behind the refs back, but it’s the same kind of match we’ve seen from them already.  Perhaps the most impressive moment is when Shida manages to lift Nyla up for a suplex and Nyla doing that REALLY scary move where she drapes her opponent across the ropes and then jumps on them from the turnbuckle, but aside from that there’s not much more to talk about.  Both do a solid job and it MIGHT be the best match they’ve ever had but there’s no heart to it because the buildup was lackluster and the moves feel repetitive.

“Okay, let’s do the same match again, but this time… I LIFT YOU!”     “BRILLIANT!!”

 It does start to come to life in the final minutes where Nyla manages to land an Avalanche Falcon Arrow on Nyla Rose, but when the ref starts counting she lifts Rose’s head up; a tactic Nyla often employs that Shida is doing here with absolute glee!  After lifting Nyla back up she goes for the running knee but is tripped by Vickie which allows Nyla to toss her to the outside.  Rose has Shida held in place while Vickie goes to get the Kendo stick, but before she can use it it’s taken by Ref Aubrey.  Shida then breaks free and knocks Nyla into Vickie before throwing her back into the ring and landing a second Falcon Arrow.  Nyla kicks out of the pin so Shida goes for the Running Knee which Nyla kicks out of as well.  THEN she goes for like five more knee strikes and finally Rose stays down.  Shida leaves and Vickie gets in the ring to yell at Nyla and slap her across the face which, surprisingly, Nyla cows to.  I wouldn’t have expected Nyla Rose to put up with something like that, but perhaps they’re building up a story there and might even try to turn her to a Baby Face at some point.  In any case, this was… not a GREAT match, but it definitely got better in the second half and is perhaps the best we could have hoped for given how poor the buildup has been.

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FTR Vs. The Young Bucks – AEW Tag Team Title Match

If The Young Bucks don’t win, they cannot challenge for the AEW Tag Team Title again

The tone of this feud has morphed from DREAM MATCH to NIGHTMARE in a matter of weeks.  Matt Jackson is hurt yet is still going through with this match, the last few promos have been mediocre, and the last minute addition of the stipulation railroaded the entire thing when it’d probably be best to change course at this point.  They didn’t though, either through fear of disappointing people or hubris thinking they can pull it off, and while the end result isn’t TERRIBLE, it is most certainly disappointing.  I’m not personally invested in the whole WHO’S THE BEST TAG TEAM OF ALL TIME narrative surrounding this so I couldn’t tell you if it’s extra disappointing for those who have waited YEARS to see these two lock it up, but the fact that everyone has to work around Matt Jackson’s injury means everything is slower and the moves aren’t as spectacular.  At least when Nick Jackson is alone in the ring they can start kicking things into high gear, but Matt Jackson injury is ALSO part of the story and ends up being the primary thread around the match itself, so we keep finding reasons to put him back in and to have him sell his LEGITIMATE injury while FTR have to pretend they are losing an ass kicking contest with a one legged man.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Dax Harwood actually got injured in this match as well.  At first I thought it was a Kayfabe injury to try and make things seem a bit more even between the two (it very well COULD have been and Dax just blew the spot), but his hand starts to bleed at one point and the doc has to wrap it up before sending him back in.  You know how some places have started to open in the middle of COVID but they’re kind of a shell of their former selves because they can’t do it fully and yet it’s STILL a huge risk to people?  This match feels like that.  In defiance of Matt Jackson’s injury and the whole feud going off the rails, they are putting in the maximum risk for minimal reward as Matt Jackson is still trying to fly around the ring but he can only do so much and every jump looks like it’s taking years off his life.  This could all be selling and his injury isn’t actually being affected here, but I genuinely hate it when wrestling companies try to blur the line when it comes to these kinds of things as the health and safety of the wrestlers shouldn’t be part of a game. 

“How you doing bro?”     “GAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!”     “Heart of a champion, that one!”

Things do start to slow down at about the halfway point which is good because Matt isn’t compelled to throw himself as hard into everything and it becomes more believable that everyone is on an equal level now that they’re all tired.  Still, even this isn’t to be taken for granted as things get goofy in a bad way as he head into the ending.  First, there’s a spot where Matt threatens to hit Dax with a chair.  I have no idea why he would think this is a good idea, especially since he’s not even TRYING to hide it from the ref, and he doesn’t end up going through with it so it felt like a waste of time.  Not long after that FTR take off Matt’s shoe and start working that ankle in a way that made me shudder.  Again, I understand that wrestling is a performance and that they aren’t ACTUALLY hurting each other, but there’s always going to be pressure and impact that can be just enough to make an injury worse, and there’s ALWAYS the chance of something going wrong which could end his career if they’re not careful!  At some point Nick Jackson comes in just in time to take out Dax Hardwood but then is almost immediately taken out by Cash Wheeler; leaving him and Matt alone in the ring.  For whatever reason, perhaps to mock The Bucks, Cash Wheeler goes for a 450 splash which is FAR from his and his partner’s forte; hence their slogan Fists, Not Flips.  Matt manages to roll out of the way and gives Cash a very light looking Superkick to get the pin.  After EVERYTHING that these two teams dished out to each other, it ended on a move that looked slightly more believable than Matt Hardy’s punch to Sammy at the last PPV, and this is how The Bucks become the tag team champions.  Kenny Omega comes out to celebrate while Hangman Adam Page looks sheepishly from the tunnel before losing his nerve and just heading back.  I can’t say that I enjoyed much of any of this match.  I went into it dreading the fact that Matt Jackson was injured, they shoved that concern right into my face by having Matt do all sorts of dangerous moves for the kind of injury he has, and the ending just go silly with characters doing unbelievable things; going for chair shots, doing a flip despite NEVER doing flips, and so on.  I doubt that this was ANYONE’S idea of how this first match between them should have gone, but honestly that’s not what bothers me as much as they felt the need to TRY and make that legendary match despite the pieces not being in place.  The next one between these two, barring of course ANOTHER injury, should be a spectacular event.  This one though?  This one feels like a folly that will someday end up on one of those Top Ten Worst or Biggest Mistake lists on YouTube.  Probably rather low on the list as the two teams did the best they could to put on a professional show, but definitely not a bright spot for either of them either.  If it was up to me I’d have The Bucks drop the belts on the next Dynamite and let Matt Jackson recover, but they didn’t listen to any of my ideas in the buildup to this match so why would they start listening to me now?

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Matt Hardy Vs. Sammy Guevara – Elite Deletion (Cinematic Match)

Okay.  Let’s put EVERYTHING about this feud aside.  No more superstitions, no more mentions of this being a CURSED FEUD, let’s even forget about the intervening weeks after Hardy’s terrible injury.  Let’s just assume that THIS is the continuation of the feud we got instead of the Last Man Standing match from All Out.  Is it a good match and do Sammy and Hardy redeem themselves here?  No, not really; at least in my eyes.  The match is primarily separated into two parts; a wacky romp through Hardy’s back yard with a bunch of cameos and silly set pieces, and then a final bout with some truly sickening moments that are utterly tasteless given what has ACTUALLY happened during this feud.  We’ll go in order here and start from the beginning as Sammy is driving a golf kart to the Hardy compound in the dead of night.  His presence does not go unnoticed by Matt Hardy’s drone (NEO 1) who projects a holographic version of Hardy giving Sammy a STERN WARNING that he is about to get his butt kicked!  As soon as the drone is done delivering the message, Matt Hardy comes out in a MONSTER TRUCK and crushes the golf kart.  Sammy manages to avoid dying and finds a trash can to smack Hardy over the head with which is when the ref shows up and the bell is rung.  They fight for a bit before Santana and Ortiz come out to make the save which forces Hardy to call in HIS backup team Private Party.  All six men start to brawl in and around the ring (which again is in the middle of the Hardy Compound) until Matt peels off from the melee and goes to a fireworks shed at which point he and Sammy start to shoot Fireworks at each other for a few minutes.  I’m not going to lie, it WAS pretty cool to see as there is some genuinely good camerawork and the fireworks make for a fun visual, but considering how accident prone this feud has been I don’t think shooting off these fiery blasts at each other (without even wearing protective eyewear!) was such a good idea.

“MY BROTHERS, WITH WHICH I AM IN A BAND OF, FACE YOUR FEARS AND MARCH! IT’S BETTER TO DIE A HERO THAN TO BE DELETED!!”

Matt Hardy gets the upper hand as his fireworks drive Sammy into a mud pit, but before he can finish him off, out of nowhere some dude holding another dude hostage shows up and demands that Hardy stop and… I guess let Sammy win?  The man in question is Gangrel who I’ve never heard of before and is apparently the guy in The Brood who WASN’T Edge or Christian, and he’s holding hostage a dude name Hurricane Helms who I’ve also never heard of before.  It’s mostly a moot point as Private Party rush in and take out Gangrel, and then Helms and Hardy have some sort of joke about long term storytelling.  I’m assuming this has to do with The Broken Universe which I just don’t have time to get into, but for those in the know I guess this was a fun moment.  This would prove to be the last fun moment for me though as everyone brawls for a bit longer before Matt drags Sammy into a garage and locks the door so they can finish this.  The garage has a ring and a bunch of wrestling accoutrements, and they start jumping off of ladders, breaking tables, and taking chair shots; all of which are staged but are no less grotesque.  Sammy jumps off a ladder into a table and sells his neck.  Matt spears Sammy off the apron onto a table that his head misses; just like what happened to Matt himself at All Out.  With fake blood streaming from the back of Sammy’s face and in his mouth, Matt takes a chair and gives him a (staged) HARD chair shot where the implication is that the literally smashed a chair into the back of Sammy’s head as it was resting on concrete.  At this point he and Private Party take the CORPSE of Sammy Guevara and put it in a garbage can which leads to another cameo I didn’t recognize and a bunch of people on Team Hardy celebrating outside.  I don’t get it.  Why would you not only call attention to your mistakes but try to outdo them?  Does anything we LIKED seeing Matt Hardy struggle to stand up after he took the bump off the scissor lift?  Did anyone think it’d be a joy to see him take revenge on Sammy by pretending to give him a concussion or worse?  There were moments that I appreciated in the first half, but nothing there was even as CLOSE as entertaining as the Cassidy/Silver match, and the way it ended just sapped away any goodwill I might have had otherwise.

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We get a Jake Roberts/Lance Archer video where once again Roberts goes off on a tangent that I can’t possibly follow but is delivered with eloquence.  Archer at least manages to be more coherent with his speech, but it’s still unclear what he wants exactly.  He wants to beat everyone up which is clear, but does that mean he’s going after Moxley again?  Will he be facing Darby Allin?  Who knows with these two; as long as they do SOMETHING soon I’ll be happy.

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Chris Jericho Vs. MJF

If MJF wins, he joins The Inner Circle

One of the unwritten rules of wrestling is that you don’t want to book a Heel Vs. Heel match because if the crowd genuinely dislikes BOTH of them, then they won’t get into it and the match will be dead in the water.  If there was ever a time, a place, and two wrestlers who could pull it off, it’s going to be these two at this show!  They’ve had a GREAT build up to this and the reason why it’s engaging is that it’s not just a simple Good Guy Vs. Bad Guy situation.  The dynamics at play, ego Vs. Humility, Sincerity Vs. Deception, Heart Vs. Calculation, are all in play and every single move of this match will reflect those and uncover deeper truths about the two men competing in it.  Does the match live up to that?  Not exactly but it was still a good match!  I guess the problem I have is that it’s still fought like any other match despite there being lots of room for nuances throughout, and on top of that I think that MJF doesn’t come off as well as he should considering he wishes to join Jericho’s group and therefore has to prove himself instead of just getting in on a technicality.  For the first half of this match it’s basically Jericho’s show as he maintains a strong control while MJF barely gets any offense with the only progress he makes is that he dodges a Judas Effect that caused Jericho to hit his elbow into the post.  This was actually a pretty good stroke of luck as MJF then tries to work since the Judas Effect is an instant killer whenever it’s used, but where MJF’s best matches show that he’s a craven jerk wad AND an unstoppable force, this one falls a bit short on the second point.  Still, it is fun to see the guy eat moves from Jericho and then sell them with the whiniest screams imaginable as this is one of the rare matches where Jericho is the clear Baby Face despite MJF fighting VERY hard from underneath.

“OH THE PAIN!  OH THE PAIN OF IT ALL!”     “This dude bruises faster than bananas!”     “HOW DARE YOU BESMIRCH ME GOOD SIR!  I am at least as tough as a coconut!”

The two go back and forth for a while with MJF having enough stamina to withstand the utter trouncing he gets and Jericho eventually getting tired of wailing on the dude.  Eventually MJF calls for Wardlow who runs out with the Diamond Ring and hands it to MJF before distracting the ref.  With the ring on his hand he lines up for the shot but then out of nowhere Jake Hager tosses Jericho his bat Floyd and the two have a standoff.  MJF though, finally managing to outwit his opponent, flops to the floor like Eddie Guerrero would do and Ref Aubrey turns around to see MJF on the mat with Jericho standing over him with a bat.  While Jericho argues with the ref, MJF jumps up, rolls Jericho into a pin, and he actually manages to get the three count!  After a tense moment between the two, Jericho shakes MJF’s hand; making it official that he as well as Wardlow will be joining The Inner Circle!  I was kind of hoping this would be a much more evenly matched bout considering how good MJF has been in his other matches, but the finish was brilliant and I can only imagine what Jericho and MJF will get up to now that they’re officially working together!

.

Orange Cassidy and The Best Friends are being interviewed in the back, When Miro, Kip, and Ford roll up and Kip starts demanding an apology from Cassidy for last week’s show.  In the match between Miro and Trent, Cassidy was… around I guess when The Dark Order attacked and Ford was in the vicinity so she could have gotten hurt, so Kip wants an apology.  Cassidy, being a stand-up guy, says he’s sorry but Kip slaps him and says that it isn’t good enough at which point Cassidy and The Best Friends just walk away.  I guess he’s a part of the feud too, but will they actually try to do a six-person tag match with Ford as one of the wrestlers against Cassidy and The Best Friends!?

.

Jon Moxley Vs. Eddie Kingston – AEW World Title Match

I Quit stipulation.  The only way to lose is to verbally say “I Quit”.

Where the Young Bucks feud went from pretty good to utter tedium in a matter of weeks, this match had almost the opposite trajectory as Kingston’s feud with Moxley didn’t exactly do it for me at first (and was REALLY getting tedious when it just kept dragging on), but the last few weeks of promos have done a lot to build it into something to get excited for; especially with the promo from Wednesday which was practically a work of art!  Similar to the Jericho/MJF match though, I can’t help but feel like SOMETHING is missing here.  Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by WWE in this regard as the one I Quit match I’ve seen is the one between The Rock and Mankind which went to some REALLY extreme places including handcuffs, chair shots, and even a fake electrocution.  More importantly though, there was a microphone.  It wasn’t just the ref who was going to hear someone say I Quit; we heard it every time The Rock told the man to give it up and every time Mankind defied him each time until he finally shaky proclaimed his defeat.  Without that element to it (which for all I know is very unique to WWE or even that ONE specific match), it feels a bit too much like a straight up hardcore match and reminded me of the Moxley/Omega match only without as many fancy tools.  There’s no bed of barb wire that they take a dive into, but there are tacks, chairs, and a barb wire bat that they both use to beat the heck out of each other, and how about a bottle of rubbing alcohol for good measure? 

“Clean yourself up, you piece of trash!”     “Takes one to know one!  OH GOD IT BURNS!!”

Things get interesting towards the end when Kingston is barely able to move and Moxley pleads with him one last time to give up before things get REALLY nasty!  Kingston in response flips him the bird and so Moxley puts him in the Bulldog Chock with barb wire wrapped around his arm.  Kingston fights for a bit, but then he tells Ref Remsberg that he quits; ending the match and continuing Moxley’s reign as the World Champion.  Moxley tries to help Kingston up but he refuses the gesture and is barely able to shamble out of there under his own power, leaving Moxley to raise his belt to the crowd… until Kenny Omega comes out to have a stare down as the PPV comes to an end.  The promos between Moxley and Kingston are what got everyone excited for this match so having them speak throughout it would have been a HUGE boon, but even without that I thought the match was perfectly fine.  It didn’t drag on the way the Moxley/Omega match did, but it wasn’t the emotional rollercoaster I was expecting from the buildup.

.

I’m either clairvoyant or hopelessly biased because the matches I liked are the ones I was looking forward to and the ones that didn’t work were the ones I was very ambivalent about.  It’s probably no surprise that the women’s title match wasn’t much of a highlight considering how little focus it’s gotten since Thunder Rosa went back to NWA, but the Bucks match felt completely undercut in all the ways I expected it to be and the Elite Deletion match, while not a disaster, was pretty tasteless in how it flaunted the real life injuries that came about during the feud.  The only ones that I was surprised weren’t as good as I was hoping where the semi-main and the main event as the buildup for those have been fantastic, but even if they aren’t perfect matches they were still pretty good matches that did an effective job of clearing the slate and getting us ready for the new round of stories.  The highlights for me were definitely the opening match with Hangman and Omega as well as the Orange Cassidy match, both of which were perfectly executed for what they were trying to do and are easily my two favorite matches of the show for whatever that’s worth.  We’re all facing unique challenges in the COVID era so I don’t begrudge AEW for having to work around certain issues and not always getting it right, but it’d be nice if they weren’t so cavalier about it like say turning a serious injury that could have ended a man’s career (as well as the AWFUL decision to let him keep fighting afterwards) into a part of a silly story with fireworks and cameos.  That or maybe intentionally blurring the line between fiction and reality by someone selling an injury that is technically real but may or may not be worse than what we’re being told it is in storyline.  Cut back on that stuff (and give more time to Will Hobbs), and I think we’d have something closer to a perfect PPV!

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