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411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Was AEW Full Gear a Home Run?

November 13, 2019 | Posted by Jake Chambers
Chris Jericho AEW Full Gear

Welcome back to the 411 Fact or Fiction – Wrestling Edition, I’m your host, Jake Chambers. Every week, Fact or Fiction poses statements on pro-wrestling history, culture and current events and then challenges writers to explain why they believe each statement is totally factual or completely fiction. No middle ground will be tolerated!

This week’s guest is: Steve Cook.

If you’ve clicked on a cool sounding column headline here at 411mania, it was likely a Steve Cook article you’ve ended up on. From his always fun Botched! series, to his Top 7 regular feature (a recent favourite was Top 7 Mark Henry Matches), and his probing opinion pieces on the hot topics of the day, such as this one about the topic of the day this week, AEW, Steve always delivers with a quick and fun read.

Steve is a writer with a great sense of humour, unique style and a very level-headed view in a world of pro-wrestling opinion that is often hyperbolicly gone mad. And if you’ve heard his regular appearances on The 411 on Wrestling with Larry Csonka podcast, his wise and fun-loving personality translates from page to ear.

As a regular viewer of AEW, I asked Steve to join me this week to deal with the fallout of Full Gear, while I get to pay tribute to one of my favourite writers here at 411 for many years. So let’s see what he’s got in store for us today!

Statement #1: For $50+ US, an AEW PPV needs a home run every time; Full Gear was a NOT a home run show.

Steve Cook: FACT – I’m not saying Full Gear was a bad show. The fact of the matter is that we are spoiled millennials that have grown accustomed to paying $9.99 per month for wrestling streaming services. Maybe some of us have multiple services, but even added up they probably don’t equal the cost of one AEW show. If we’re going to be expected to pay that much for one show on television or streamed through our computer or whatever, we’re going to need perfection. As awesome as Ricky Morton doing a Canadian Destroyer & a dive was, the price point was still a little high for most of us.

Jake Chambers: FACT – I also agree with Steve that it wasn’t a bad show, but it was a double – triple at best – and if that’s all you get for $50 these days then AEW are being jerks. I’m sure blue collar guys like Tony Khan and Cody Rhodes understand having to choose between a wrestling PPV and a healthy meal, right? I mean, it’s not really the fault of hard-working entrepreneurs that the PPV marketplace for mediocre wrestling had been adjusted to scale before they got into the business. Considering I wouldn’t pay $50 for Wrestlemania, or Wrestle Kingdom, or every Takeover event for a year, or even the entire G1 in the pro-wrestling marketplace of 2019, asking $50 for that Full Gear show is Apple levels of arrogance.

Statement #2: You approved of the ending of the Jericho/Cody AEW Championship Match at Full Gear.

Steve Cook: FACT – I was going to be happy with either Jericho or Cody getting the win. Cody was the hottest babyface in the company heading into the show, and his winning the title would have been a feel-good moment. On the other hand, Cody’s great at feuds with personal issues and doesn’t really need a belt involved. Jericho as Le Champion is tremendously entertaining, but in a way that makes you want to see him get beat. You can drag it out for awhile & build interest. The thing I kind of wondered about was the MJF heel turn. Was it too soon? Could they have gotten more mileage of him as Cody’s friend? Probably. The thing I keep thinking about to defend it is this: Had Cody fallen for MJF’s act too much longer, he would have come across as an idiot. Sure, wrestling babyfaces are traditionally too quick to trust untrustworthy scoundrels, but Cody was on the verge of becoming a Sting-level buffoon when it came to MJF. The guy was a dick to literally everybody else in the world, typically for no reason. Cody needed to see through that. Now MJF can really turn up the annoying level, and that’s going to be good shit.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – That ending was basic and predictable, straight out of the mainstream 2019 pro-wrestling WWE-style storytelling syllabus, and I’d hoped AEW was going to be better than that. In the first place, I don’t think the logic of why Cody and this obvious jerk MJF were friends ever made any sense, and so Cody sticking with his friend despite the decision to throw in the towel (PS. throw in the towel though, c’mon) would have added a layer to a long-term story between the two. Considering they just had Omega and Moxley spend 40 minutes trying to pantomime-murder each other for no real reason, how do you escalate a personal feud like MJF and Cody now anyways? It just seems like they had started a unique story with that friendship and then took the most obvious route possible to the eventual feud.

Statement #3: Jon Moxley made the right decision to leave the WWE and sign with AEW.

Steve Cook: FACT – I remember back when Moxley got signed by WWE. There was so much hype about how he was going to change the game & revolutionize the industry like no other. Don’t get me wrong, Mox had a good run in WWE. Won some championships. Was one-third of one of WWE’s greatest factions of all time. Made a lot of money. But he never really had the chance to change the game. He played the game well, but it wasn’t anything new. Dean Ambrose was a sanitized version of what many of us saw from Jon Moxley in the independents. Now, the chains are off. Yes, there’s some ultraviolence involved. Yep, there’s some cursing. That’s what he wants to do with his life, and heck if I’m going to judge him for it.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Dean Ambrose showing up in AEW was not their Hall & Nash moment. For Moxley to leave WWE for more creative control, but then to be just another guy again is kind of lame. In New Japan he’s had a couple of good moments, winning one of their numerous lower tier titles but barley threatening for the G1 or the IWGP Title. Let’s remember that AJ Styles showed up in New Japan and won the IWGP Title in his first match and had a Match of the Year candidate with Minoru Suzuki in the G1. Moxley headlined a few AEW shows, including Full Gear, but was it in matches that were really any better than his best WWE marquee matches, of which there were many? Personally and professionally, he may have his reasons, but creatively, I don’t see much difference for Ambrose/Moxley.

Fact or Fiction – Quick Hits
– one sentence is all you need for this FoF lightning round!

1. Botched!: Titus O’Neil’s fall on the way to the ring at the Greatest Royal Rumble is a better botch than the Ringmaster introduction.

Steve Cook: FICTION – The Shockmaster botch killed a character that was supposed to mean something, Titus already meant nothing.

Jake Chambers: FACT – The Shockmaster’s legendary clumsiness in that scene makes it less embarrassing than Titus’ perfectly clueless smoothness.

2. Report Card: You would give the WWE Crown Jewel PPV this Grade: F

Steve Cook: FACT – I had no desire to watch the show, which makes it a failure by definition.

Jake Chambers: FACT – On paper, all of these Saudi Arabia shows look like they’re going to be A+s, but, yet again, they found a way to make the event mostly a boring disaster.

3. Ask 411: Can you explain the difference between a beell and a hip toss?

Steve Cook: FACT – Somebody delivering a beell is moving, a hip toss involves the practicioner standing in place.

¡SWITCH!

Statement #4: The NXT “invasion” angle is like every other WWE invasion angle in the last 10 years or so.

Jake Chambers: FACT FICTION – Seems the WWE has one basic way of writing these invasion angles, and it pops up every November. One side shows up at an arena and ambushes the other. There’s never any real motivation or connection between the wrestlers and the brands that are feuding, and the WWE sees it as more just like a pick-up game of shirts vs. skins. Granted, this NXT version does invoke some brand-loyalty, but we’re only like 4 weeks removed from being vaguely told that NXT is a equal to RAW and Smackdown. Ultimately, they did have a chance to make HHH provide some kind of context for all of this, but in general WWE fashion, any kind of story was laid out in bravado, grunts, confusion and rah rah that made little sense when you try to put all the pieces together. 

Steve Cook: FACT – But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have some positive aspects. We got to see Daniel Bryan wrestle Adam Cole, which was pretty cool. It also helps the Survivor Series “brand supremacy” thing in a major way for this year for one key reason: Raw & SmackDown just had a draft. Why would these WWE Superstars be so loyal to a show/network that they’ve been with for a couple of weeks? At least you can sell the NXT Superstars as being loyal to the brand and to their father, Triple H. It also seems to have helped NXT build some viewership, which is a good thing. Sure, it is pretty much the same thing they do every year, with one brand invading the other and folks going back & forth. The NXTness of it all makes it a little fresher, especially if NXT’s the one show you pay the most attention to.

Statement #5: This is the correct ranking of the Top 7 Wrestlers Born in November

7. Nikki Bella
6. JBL
5. “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith
4. Christian
3. Chris Jericho
2. Jerry “The King” Lawler
1. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

Jake Chambers: FACT – There’s a good case to be made for The King being #1 based on his dominance over Memphis wrestling during the Golden Age of pro-wrestling, and his longevity since, but I think Macho Man inhabits a sacred place in the mind of all true wrestling fans that places him above scrutiny for any faults he may have possessed. Jericho is the clear 3rd then, never having really occupied the top spot in a promotion the way Lawler did, but having an incredible career of great angles and matches. That’s the same reason I use to put Christian over the Bulldog, but this is the most interchangeable spot on my list. JBL was unfairly maligned during his infamous Smackdown championship year, but I do think he’s had a better career than most give him credit for. And finally, I chose Nikka Bella over names like “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Joey Ryan and Billy Gunn, because I think she was such a key, almost martyr-like figure in the transition of mainstream women’s wrestling going from cheesecake to workrate.

Steve Cook: FICTION – That’s a brutally tough top 3 to break down. I could make an argument for Jericho going above Savage & Lawler due to his own longevity & success in various environments. He’s certainly had more range in character than Lawler, who basically has had two characters for most of his career: Good King & Bad King. I love Lawler, but others would use the old Dusty Rhodes/Verne Gagne management cudgel against him. Savage switched things up a little bit in his later WCW years by revamping his look & adding some new beautiful women to the mix, but nothing like what Jericho’s been doing for the past decade. I might keep the top 3 the same, but I’d definitely have to bump Davey Boy over Christian into the #4 slot. Sure, Christian held the world championship on SmackDown, but I have no doubt Davey would have been a world champion if they had dual brands during his era. Also, he put 80,000 people in Wembley Stadium for SummerSlam 1992, and I can’t credit Christian with anything like that. To wrap up the Davey/Christian discussion, I’d rather watch old British Bulldogs matches than old Edge & Christian non-TLC matches. Then I’d rank Nikki over JBL simply because I like Nikki more. Sue me. And if we’re counting Bobby Heenan even though he obviously found his fame as a manager/broadcaster, I might just bump everybody down a spot because nobody was ever better at what he did than he was. I haven’t seen enough of his in-ring work but the old heads speak very highly of it.

Thanks again to Steve for bringing his signature flair to the FoF proceedings this week. Be sure to follow Steve Cook on Twitter for all of his great insights and updates on what this busy dude is up to!

You want some more of his wrestling opinions, you can get it over The Chair Shot, you want Fantasy Football picks, then he’s got your covered over at Three Point Stance Magazine, and always be on the look out for him to pop up again on the great Larry Csonka’s podcast!

And I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Wrestling Fact or Fiction. And you know, these columns aren’t just one offs, there’s some evergreen content out there that you can always go back and check out, such as:

Reviewer extraordinaire Kevin Pantoja discussing whether Survivor Series is the best of the Big 4 PPVs, among other topics.

And RAW Recapper Tony Acero contemplating whether or not that show is actually terrible.

Just to name a few! If you’re looking to get on the FoF train one day, follow me on Twitter and let me know!