Full Gear and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan
While technically being the fifth AEW PPV (sixth if you count All In which was basically AEW Zero), this is the first one since they’ve gotten the TV series and have started to focus more on long term storylines. Not only that, but it’s coming off of a MASSIVE amount of success from Dynamite which has consistently beaten NXT in the ratings, so there’s a lot of hype and high expectations surrounding this PPV which is always a double edged sword as it means more people are interested in seeing it but that they’re also much more easy to disappoint. Can AEW continue their streak of high quality wrestling action with their latest PPV? Let’s find out!!
Britt Baker Vs. Bea Priestly
The only match they had on the pre-show for Full Gear was this match against Britt Baker and Bea Priestly which I GUESS is supposed to be the blow off to a feud, but they never HAD a feud to begin with. They had one match all the way back before they got on TV and I think they were on a tag team match a few weeks ago, but at no point did they interact in any meaningful way to sell this supposed rivalry between them. There’s a video package before the fight where Britt talks smack about Priestly and I just don’t think it works because Britt brings up stuff we’d NEVER heard of until now about her being possibly injured in the Fight for the Fallen match and it’s also completely one sided as Priestly doesn’t even show up in the video, so for all we know she’s just out there doing her thing and being respectful towards everyone while Britt is off to the side seething for no good reason! Now all that having been said, when the two of them actually DO get in the ring they are fighting like this match means something. Britt is definitely all scowls and fury which is a far cry from the babyface she often portrays, and Priestly is definitely relishing just how much she’s gotten under her skin. The moves as well are less coordinated and flashy as they are just slugfests and pain clinics which is how you definitely want to pay off a feud even if this particular one still didn’t feel properly set up.
AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another week of AEW action, and with the Tag Team Tournament coming to a close as well as the ever closer PPV on the horizon, they’ve got more than enough momentum to put on a dazzling display of wrestling glory! Will they continue to capitalize on their runaway successes, or will this be the week that everything starts to derail? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with SO much stuff before we even get to the opening credits! Essentially they’re trying to build up the PPV Full Gear which will be on 11/9 with a couple of scripted promos, which is basically the opposite of last week which started out with a match that didn’t even get proper ring entrances, and I personally really liked this approach. I’m all about the storylines when it comes to wrestling and while this might not be THE MOST AMAZING PROMOS OF ALL TIME, it’s just another example of AEW showing off that they are on top of EVERYTHING when it comes to the wrestling business. Last week they started us with amazing tag team action and now they’re giving us a reason to care about the upcoming show. So what exactly DID they show us? Well there’s a scene with Cody Rhodes and Tony Schiavone chatting at the airport about his upcoming match against Jericho at the PPV where he will try to strip the heel champion and leader of the Inner Circle of his title. Last week Jim Valley gave an interesting argument as to why Cody is the best wrestling at this period of time and I kind of see it. He comes off like a genuine superstar; one who’s larger than life but not quite a cartoon. He has a great balance of innate charisma and strong showman sensibilities that makes even the obviously staged action of this show come off as something much more real. After that we get reminded that Pac and Hangman have a match as well with a montage of their interactions. No new footage here, but it’s a solid enough package. The BIG promo though comes with Jon Moxley who we see go into a room and we hear a conversation between him and Tony Khan where we learn that the match between him and Kenny Omega has been changed to a Lights Out match; i.e. an unsanctioned match which means that the results will not go on either person’s record and Moxley is VERY upset about this. I think this is a good SETUP, but they definitely need to give Moxley and Omega more time to talk about it for it to really be something special.
Sammy Guevara Vs. Hangman Adam Page
I liked this one right off the bat because it was telling a story other than the one about how awesomely two dudes can beat the crap out of each other. Adam Page is the frustrated face going up against the cocky heel that’s getting a too big for his britches since joining up with the other bad guys. They just let Adam Page go to TOWN on Sammy and it’s EXACTLY what the dude needs to be taken seriously at this point. The reason I initially had a problem with Jericho winning the title is that it made Adam Page (and to an extent the newer guys on the roster) seem lesser than the old school legend they were elevating to the top which is a trap many bad wrestling promotions can fall into. Since then Adam Page really hasn’t done much to impress me, but here it feels like they finally get it and are giving him a real chance to stake his claim. He fights clean but aggressively while Sammy can only get an edge in with underhanded tactics. It makes Adam Page look like an absolute BEAST (especially after two AMAZING spots where he lifts up Sammy like he’s a loaf of bread) but it also continues to show how smart Sammy is who has GREAT ring awareness on top of his already impressive athleticism. Hangman eventually wins with a buckshot lariat (that is SUCH a devastating looking move!) and he gives a brief promo where he acknowledges his slump but vows to show us what he’s REALLY made of at Full Gear! THAT’S how you sell a PPV, THAT’S how you tell a story in a match, and THAT’S how you turn a face into a superstar! I still think they mishandled Page a bit leading up to this moment, but this has turned me around quite a bit on the Hangman!
AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another episode of WWE’s Worst Nightmare! For three weeks straight, this upstart little company with just one measly billionaire behind it managed to outdo NXT in the ratings and it doesn’t look like that momentum is about to stop anytime soon! Ratings momentum is just one piece of the puzzle however as a terrible show can still get good ratings for at least a little bit before everyone gives up on it. Can AEW maintain its high quality as well as its high viewership? Well let’s take a look at the latest episode to find out!!
Private Party (Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy) Vs. Lucha Bros (Pentagón Jr and Fénix) – Tag Team Championship Semi-Finals
Right off the bat, with zero preamble or even ring entrances, both teams are in the middle of the ring as the show begins. Now sure, I’m a huge fan of the pomp and circumstance so it’s a bit disappointing that we don’t even get to see them walk to the ring, but we’ve got a full card ahead of us so I’m not really bothered by it. Besides, if it means we get more of these two teams fighting it out, then I’m fine with it as long as they don’t do it TOO often. Quen and Kassidy are still somehow impressing more and more with every match as their chemistry only gets better and better. Now I will pump the breaks just a LITTLE bit here as I wonder where the ceiling ultimately is for these guys as they are starting to take some really rough bumps. They’re professionals of course and I trust them to know what they’re doing, but I do worry that with this promotion (and particularly its tag teams) burning so brightly right out of the gate that they’ll eventually burn themselves out either through injury or just straight fatigue. I mean Quen takes what I can only describe as a flying pile driver from Pentagon Jr, and it was absolutely terrifying to watch. Even with tha though, it couldn’t have been too bad (hopefully) since the match went on for several minutes after that with Quen taking even MORE bumps throughout. Lucha Bros eventually won after Quen takes some sort of stomp/pile-driver combination, but that was to be expected considering how much they’ve built up their feud with SCU. Both teams looked great here and Private Party has a bright future ahead of them as long as they don’t shatter their spines before year’s end!
AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with even more AEW action! With Chris Jericho’s stable running roughshod over the AEW locker room and the Tag Team Tournament well underway, AEW already has a lot of balls in the air to keep track of this early into its run. Can they keep up this balancing act while continuing to put on great matches? Let’s find out!!
SCU (Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian) Vs Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta) – Tag Team Tournament
You may be wondering why I listed Scorpio Sky as a competitor when he made it clear he would NOT be in the match last week. Well before the match can even begin, SCU gets jumped by The Lucha Bros before they can even make it to the ramp. Christopher Daniels gets injured badly enough that Scorpio Sky has to sub for him. I’m sure I made this clear before, but I really don’t like injury spots on wrestling shows. It’s VERY clear here that it’s a work and that Daniels isn’t injured, but I really don’t think it makes for good television to have a guy being dragged out on a stretcher like this. Sure, if you’re REALLY goofing it up you can get away with it, but it just feels too real in an industry where that kind of thing can ACTUALLY happen. The match itself is as solid as AEW tag matches tend to be. SCU is one of my favorite teams there and their presence alone is enough to overcome the utter apathy I have for The Best Friends. The former team definitely come off as the underdog considering Kazarian was attacked just before the match and Scorpio Sky wasn’t prepared to fight tonight, and sure enough the get the hot tags and then ear falls while The Best Friends are the somewhat incompetent heels (Chuck Taylor dives right on top of Trent Beretta by accident) and it ends with SCU going to the next round of the tournament. While I would have preferred a straightforward match with Daniels instead of putting him out of the tournament so early (at least save it for round two!), it was the ending I wanted and I’m glad that we’ll see more of SCU in the coming weeks.
All Out and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan
Well here it is! After months of trial and error, big announcements, and no real response from WWE, it’s the last show before the AEW experiment goes to prime time television! Starting in October we will be getting a weekly show from them on TBS and while I doubt they could IMMEDIATELY crash and burn considering how much money there is behind them, it’s still something of a risky venture to go into Vince’s backyard and try to claim a piece for yourself. WCW failed, TNA failed, and the other guys just kept off of TV altogether. It’s kind of a big deal, but we’re not really here to talk about all that! We’re here to find out if this show had any good wrestling on it and if it’s worth your time and money to see it! Can AEW end their PPV run on a high note as they head to the big leagues, or will this end up as a foreboding vision of things to come? Let’s find out, and we’ll start with the pre-show!!
Casino Battle Royale
We start the night off with another Casino Battle Royale, but unlike the one in Double or Nothing this one is with the women’s division. What IS like last time however are the overly complicated rules for how the groups are populated and ordered which amount to absolutely nothing because we don’t end up seeing the process; just the result. With WWE’s Royal Rumble, they don’t make a big deal out of it and just make it a simple lottery system which is easy enough to get across to an audience but also allows for a bit of drama and tension as well; especially if someone tries to cheat it. The wrestlers here have to draw from a “special deck” but we don’t see the drawing which determines their group, and apparently the don’t determine the group order prior to the match; they shuffle the deck right when the timer goes off and whatever suit is selected goes next. Again, we don’t actually SEE anyone draw a card to determine the next group, but I like to imagine Cody’s in the back after having called 2 suits and has to pick the third one, but he keeps getting the first two suits over and over and over again until half the deck is on the floor before a new one comes up. See, THAT might have justified this nonsense! Anyway, that’s all rather immaterial as it basically boils down to a staggered Battle Royale match, so how is it? Well I think the problem here is that it’s a Battle Royale that FEELS like it should be paced like a Royal Rumble because of those staggered entrances which are the defining feature of a Royal Rumble. Sure a Royal Rumble can go on for a rather long time which is whole PPVs are built around them, but the benefit is that the pacing allows for multiple storylines to play out in the ring. Contrast that with a Battle Royale which are MUCH better for pre-shows where everyone is in the ring at the start and it usually devolves into chaos until the last five or so competitors are left. The latter is basically what happens here; it’s not until everyone has made it to the ring that it stops being about random spots and constant eliminations to play out into something more substantive; all of which is fine, but the fact they stagger the entrances makes it feel like more should be happening throughout. It also isn’t helped by the camera work which missed a few eliminations, and while I would normally cut them some slack considering how chaotic this was (some of the more prominent wrestlers got thrown out with little fanfare during other team’s entrances), this is a problem that ended up persisting throughout the entire show and I’ll make sure to point it out when it happened during other matches.
Fight for the Fallen and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan
We’re back for Part 3 of the AEW saga which will hopefully be better than Alien 3, but probably not as good as Back to the Future Part 3. Will it be better than the last PPV Fyter Fest? Well we’ll find out soon enough, but can I point out that twice in a row now they’ve given these shows out away FOR FREE which, even with the TNT deal approaching fast, STILL feels like it’s riding the line between confidence and foolishness. All I’m saying is that I came to peace with having to pay money for these things, and it’s feeling kind of weird that the moment I do they decide to give them away! I’m usually not that lucky with these kinds of things, but I guess I’ll ride this no charge train until it derails!
So before we get started, let’s talk about the setup of the show itself. There’s a slight change to the ring here in that there’s a ramp leading directly to it rather than a ramp to the outside where they have to then climb in. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of a raised platform on the outside of the ring, but I never noticed it hindering anyone and they managed to sue it effectively a few times throughout. The open air theater is fine even if I’m usually not a big fan of it as natural lighting feels a bit dull, but they do it late in the day so most of the matches are at night under controlled lighting anyway so it works out fine and it ends up feeling like a casual affair rather than a full on Double or Nothing production. It’s good that they kept things on a much lighter note here because I’ll tell you right now, this is the worst show they’ve done so far even if it’s still a solid wrestling program. We’ll get to why soon enough, but if it has an edge over Fyter Fest they at least set the tone right with this almost picnic vibe to keep it all feeling more casual. That also extends to the announce table though as our three announcers feel like they’ve regressed back to Double or Nothing; struggling to find things to talk about; especially in the lower key matches that really could have used the boost. Matches like, just for example… the first one on the preshow!
Peter Avalon “The Librarian” vs Sonny Kiss
“The Librarian” is accompanied to the ring by Leva Bates “The Librarian”
First things first! The last time we saw Sunny Kiss was when he was shoving her butt into Tommy Dreamers face back in the Double or Nothing Battle Royale and on top of that, I referred to him as a woman. I did in fact assume their gender and it turns out that I was wrong. According to a tweet from Sonny Kiss, he uses He/Him pronouns so I will use those going forward. ANYWAY! The Librarians have gotten quite a bit of flak in the short amount of time and while I DO appreciate what they’re going for and just how much heat they’re willing to take from the audience, I honestly I don’t think this match is doing them much favors. First major problem is that Peter Avalon shouldn’t take off his librarian costume. Wearing traditional wrestling trunks as he does in this match, he looks like a dork and not in the good way. Certain heel gimmicks need to carry into the ring for them to work; particularly ones where the gimmick is that they are not in fact wrestlers. Just look at Baron Corbin who is a pretty effective heel and never takes off his “manger” outfit when he’s in the ring, at least as far I’ve seen, and it helps convey his status as a sniveling authority figure. Sonny Kiss on the other hand projects style, grace, and attitude through every costume choice, every move he makes in the ring, and every appeal to the audience whenever Peter’s on the ground. I think the gimmick can work, but there’s certainly room left to tweak it.
Fyter Fest and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan
We’re back with another PPV brought to you by the throne smashers themselves, AEW! Things have certainly changed since Double or Nothing, haven’t they? For one, WWE has completely lost the plot from what I’ve heard and responded to AEW with nonsense, bad story lines, and an overabundance of Shane McMahon. With their primary rival of sorts doing such a poor job of responding to the new challenger, which is surprising in its own right, it only got stranger when AEW announced that THIS PPV would be completely free; a move that still baffles me considering how successful they’ve been up to this point. Sure, Double or Nothing MIGHT have been a bit pricey at fifty bucks, but they could have at least charged twenty or even ten for it which would have gotten them a heck of a lot more money than ZERO! I guess TBS and the Khan family have the money to throw around, and I’m not about to complain TOO much about not having to pay for a show like this. The bigger question is what’s different in this show and have they improved since Double or Nothing? Eh… sort of. As far as commentary, Excalibur has improved but JR still sounds a bit rusty and out of touch; especially when he referred to Cima as “an Oriental.” I mean look, we can argue about how much of a slur that is or whether JR has any genuine ill feelings about Asian wrestlers (and I can think of WAY worse people they could have gotten as an announcer where the answer to those questions wouldn’t even be debatable), but it really does make him seem like an awkward fit for what is supposed to be a very modern and forward thinking wrestling company. While the announcing has improved, sadly the camera work still has a few rough patches that will hopefully get ironed out before they go to TV. I only mentioned this very briefly in my last recap, but the editing sometimes misses spots or more often will miss whenever there’s drama at the end of a match. Someone does a low blow, someone else enters the ring, stuff like that will almost go by unnoticed because whoever is running the cameras is focusing on something else an nearly misses the action. Again, this is the kind of thing that can be easily fixed with experience and I’m not gonna begrudge them this learning curve, but it is even more noticeable here than it was last time. In fact, I’d say that’s the overall vibe I’m getting from Fyter Fest. It’s still really good stuff, but I think the high from Double or Nothing has started to wear off and so it’s easier to see and evaluate its flaws. The big one that MOSTLY stayed in the pre-show but kept coming back to annoy me was the show’s theme where they didn’t JUST name it after something topical but had to do little skits to make sure we ALL KNOW that they saw the documentaries too. Kenny Omega is trying to find instruments for bands that don’t exist, The Young Bucks lost their luggage and need to find new costumes, and they even brought models out before swiftly replacing them with mannequins. It all just felt so corny and unnecessary when they could have used that time to put up a few promos for the matches which frankly were desperately needed as many of them seemed to have a story but one that we weren’t informed of ahead of time. Let’s put all that aside though and just focus on the matches! So how did the pre-show kick things off?
Six-man Tag Team Match
Private Party: Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen
vs. SoCal Uncensored: Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky (Schuyler Andrews)
vs. Best Friends: Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta
There’s a lot going on in this first match which is good because you want to get the crowd on board right away so they can carry that energy for the rest of the show. We’ve got Private Party as the newcomers who I think AEW is trying to push as future superstars of the company considering they got a whole episode of Road to Fyter Fest dedicated to them. We’ve got two thirds of SCU who had one of the best matches in all of Double or Nothing, and while I wasn’t really impressed with The Best Friends last time (definitely a victim of the last show running long), they get a pretty good pop from the crowd so I was willing to give them another chance. The only thing that I didn’t like right off the bat was the fact that this was a Triple Threat tag match and they always use this weird rule where only two compeitors can be in the ring at a time; leaving one team to just sit on the sidelines while the other two actually fight. I don’t understand why they don’t have one member of each team in the ring like say… an ACTUAL Triple Threat, but we’ll get back to this later on in the match. For now, I just want to point out that everyone in this looks great and does some very impressive acrobatics! SCU continues to be the best tag team as far as I’m concerned as they can take already impressive wrestlers like Private Party and Best Friends and make them look even better than they already are! There’s this really impressive spot where Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen go back to back on Kassiran in beautiful and brutal fashion! If I could say one thing about the match it’s that it FEELS a bit too much like an exhibition; like everyone is here to help the other team show off their moves instead of win the fight, but frankly that’s a rather minor complaint when the moves are THIS impressive!
Double or Nothing and all the images you see I this recap are owned by All Elite Wrestling and Shahid Khan
Welcome to all you Marks, Smarks, and everything in between, to my very first recap of a wrestling show!! Now I’ve been watching WWE pretty consistently for the past year as wrestling is something I’ve always been interested in but I always felt there were barriers to entry that kept me away from it. Well thankfully WWE solved that problem right away with the amazing WWE Network that only costs ten bucks a month, had more or less up to date content (the shows there are a month behind the live broadcast) AND it had the ENTIRE BACKLOG OF CONTENT stretching back to its earliest broadcast days in case you wanted to catch up on anything that you didn’t know the full story of! Even so, becoming a fan of this stuff has also let me in on some of the more pernicious things about the company that can sometime temper my enthusiasm. Vince is still a MASSIVE jerk, the Saudi Arabia deal is a total disaster, healthcare for the talent is still a problem, and the company keeps scumbags like Hulk Hogan and Randy Orton on their payroll. It’s almost like there should be a viable alternative brand out there or something, but where are we gonna get one of THOSE!? Anyway, let’s take a serious look at what Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and a couple of billionaires managed to put together in what is no doubt the most hyped and anticipated wrestling show of the year!!
Before we get to any of the matches, I wanted to point out two key points that apply to the show as a whole. First, the production is FANTASTIC! I’ve seen a couple of TNA shows and a bout or two of Ring of Honor, and they always looked like the lesser version of what WWE can put together; what with their massive screens, multi-camera setup, and detailed set design to really give them a flashy and professional presentation. Fortunately AEW has realized that this is gonna be a key thing to figure out right off the bat because if they LOOK like a second rate company then people will TREAT THEM like a second rate company, and after this show I don’t think anyone will be doing that! Sure, it’s not WRESTLEMANIA or even some of the higher end PPVs as far as production, scope, and sizzle, but its right up there with what Raw and SmackDown pulls off each week. Where it DOES lag behind WWE however, is the commentary; particularly that Excalibur guy who doesn’t have a particularly commanding voice and seems to fumble over his lines a fair bit. It’s not just him though; the other guy (I don’t even remember his name) and even JR seemed a bit rusty here and they seriously need to work the kinks out of this before they get to their television deal. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s start with the Pre-show matches!!
Casino Battle Royale
The Clubs: Dustin Thomas, MJF (Maxwell Jacob Friedman), Sunnny Daze (James Dylan), Brandon Cutler, and Michael Nakazawa The Diamonds: Brian Pillman Jr, Orange Cassidy, Jimmy Havoc (James Mcahren), Shawn Spears The Hearts: Billy Gunn, Glacier (Raymond Lloyd), Jungle Boy (Jack Perry), Marq Quen, and Ace Romero The Spades: Luchasaurus (Austin Matelson), Marko Stunt, Sonny Kiss, and Tommy Dreamer The Joker: Adam “Hangman” Page
Now the thing about Battle Royale matches is that while they can be flashy and fun, they’re also kind of a mess to stage and so a lot of the time you have people hanging out in corners for a long time or someone getting a bit of momentum before being stopped in their tracks so someone ELSE can have the spotlight. With the right timing and a lot of flexibility on the participants though, it CAN be great. This one? Eh… I wasn’t all too into it. The first thing that felt odd was that they set up these rules about people going out in waves and how it was ALL random, but it still felt incredibly staged so why not just say that AEW management set up four groups themselves? Why the elaborate explanation about a deck of cards; especially when we don’t SEE anyone draw from it? I guess that’s the benefit of a weekly show where you can spend ten minutes having your wrestlers dramatic draw cards and set up the dynamics for each bracket, but on a PPV it felt needlessly complicated. Ignoring that though, the Battle Royale itself felt like it moved at a snail’s until at least three of the brackets came in, but there were some highlights! MJF cemented himself as the de-facto heel right off the bat by kicking Dustin Thomas in the face and calling him Lieutenant Dan. In case you didn’t know, Dustin Thomas is a wrestler with no legs, which proves that MJF hasn’t seen a movie since the late nineties. I bet at some point he’s gonna shout RUN FOREST, RUN at someone who’s running to the ring or maybe even do a SHOW ME THE MONEY gimmick. The other great thing that happened very early in this match is Michael Nakazawa busting out a bottle of baby oil and just COVERING himself with the biggest smile you could ever imagine! I mean it DID help him out of a jam at least, but you’d think someone would want to do that BEFORE they got into trouble!