wrestling / TV Reports

Hawke’s AEW Full Gear Review

November 10, 2019 | Posted by TJ Hawke
Chris Jericho Chris Jericho AEW Full Gear
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Hawke’s AEW Full Gear Review  

For a long time, I thought the concept of a wrestling television show was outdated and near-impossible to be good. Dynamite has largely proven this idea wrong. The show has been on for over a month now and has been a consistently enjoyable week-to-week watch. My interest peaked with the skateboard ramp ride heard around the world and the Darby Allin world title challenge. My “hype” for the show has slowly diminished with each passing week though, and you just have to look at this PPV card to understand why.

The push for this card has been so top heavy that I have grown less interested with all the non-main players as a result of the television show. For all the miraculous success of a 2019 world title program between Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes, you have a lot of half-baked and ignored stories going into this show.

The women’s division seems to be operated on the idea if they just throw the wrestlers out there and have clean matches, it get over. No meaningful time has been invested in the division. There have been no serious angles. The tag division meanwhile has one angle: people attack each other from behind. It’s obviously at least something, but there has not been any substance to grab anyone. The fact that the title match on this show is a thrown-together triple threat does really inspire the heart to care. Don’t even get me started on Joey Janela vs. the ten guy somehow making it onto this card.

These issues in themselves are not the end of the world at all. Right now, the company is hot, and there’s really only so much they could to piss that away. AEW should really be capitalizing on how hot they are for now and laying a foundation that sustain them for the long haul. Because eventually, they will no longer be hot and they will have to lean on what they have built up in order to sustain momentum when that time comes.

This review is “sponsored” by the only AEW podcast. There are no others.

Baltimore, Maryland
November 9, 2019

Commentators: Excalibur & Jim Ross

The Young Bucks vs. Santana & Ortiz

Why on earth was THIS match in THIS spot used to teach the audience that the referees in AEW are suddenly going to be extra as fuck about tag rules? First off, clearly it has been the house style of AEW to be very “relaxed rules” when it comes to tag matches. It’s so much so that Jim Ross can’t shut up about it on Dynamite every week, as he is so incensed about the lack of power that the referees are exerting. The only possible explanation was that this match was a reaction the complaints of Jim Ross or a way of making fun of him. I’m more inclined to believe the latter given that they clearly did not clue him in because even Jim Ross was confused by Rick Knox insisting that the tags be made by hands as opposed to any other body part.

The second half of this match ended up being much more interesting. Nick tweaked his knee at one point, and then things just kept progressively getting worse for him the longer he was forced to work. Matt kept trying to end the match quickly but to no avail. Nick had no choice but to get heavily involved again. This only made things worse for Nick’s knees as he collapsed to the floor on a Meltzer Driver attempt. Nick tried to endure and fight back, but it was fruitless. P&P eventually took him down with the Street Sweeper.

It’s admirable that these dudes went for a different type of match that they are known for working. It’s called a house style for a reason though, and the crowd mostly did not know how to react to any of this besides booking Rick Knox. The story of the match also really just did not play to the strengths of the wrestlers quite frankly. The wrestlers often looked goofy and uncomfortable as there was some forced goofiness in response to the sudden application of the rules.

The bigger issue is the decision-making process that leads to the first Dynamite era PPV opening with a 20+ minute reeducation of what tag team wrestling maybe will be in the company. Maybe long term, this match will be seen as an uncomfortable but necessary beginning to a new era of wrestling in the company. (**1/2)

After the match, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson got their heat back on P&P for some reason. Morton hit a Canadian Destroyer and tope suicida though which made the crowd happy at least.

Adam Page vs. Pac

“JR, would you consider Adam Page to be “Country Strong?” “Oh, absolutely.” It’s actually economically efficient that AEW is recording the video game commentary during the actual shows.

Unfortunately, Pac was in Chinlock City mode here, and the match ended up being not terribly noteworthy. It was just sort of dull and tedious, and it was not really clear why.

Between this following a 20+ minute match on the show and it being a grudge match, it seemed like this one required more urgency and violence. Instead, just felt uselessly plodding.

Despite the victory, this was step back again for Page in regards to his presentation. They keep insisting Page is the best guy from The Elite, but it so rarely shows. (**)

Joey Janela vs. Shawn Spears

Janela is a prime example of a guy who could probably seem like a much bigger star if he was more heavily promoted on the weekly national cable show that the company has. Instead, he kinda just randomly appeared twice and lost a fine television match and has also appeared on their webseries.

Spears on the other hand has probably received an excessive amount of promotion given his abilities. He probably can get up to Brandon Cutler’s in-ring ability level if he keeps working hard, but it just seems a little too soon for him to have video packages and a legend managing him.

Given these self-imposed difficulties, the crowd was not really primed to care about this one. The match needed to be worked in a manner that got the crowd’s attention. Instead, it felt very weak (largely due to the ten guy being on top for so much of it) and lifeless.

The finish was at least pretty funny, as before Spears hit the C4, he and Tully Blanchard hit Janela with a spiked piledriver. That was a genuinely hilarious image. This was some garbage pro wrestling though. (*)

SCU vs. Lucha Bros. vs. Private Party

This was for SCU’s AEW Tag Team Championship.

The issue with crowning the first champs so recently was that they did not really have time to set up a meaningful challenger. So, they tried to throw a couple of hot teams in there and just have a good match. That did not really happen either sadly, as there was not much reason to care until the flips started down the stretch. The flips were good though! SCU’s victory kind of fell flat after that though. This division could use some refocus after this PPV. (**1/2)

Christopher Daniels returned after the match and took out Pentagon and Fenix.

Riho vs. Emi Sakura

This was for Riho’s AEW Women’s Championship.

Now, sometimes I do get distracted (ADHD is fun), but I have watched every episode of AEW’s two-hour cable television show, and I am pretty sure I have never seen the excellent Riho/Sakura video they aired before this match. That is just baffling. Given that they really ran no angles for this division beyond Brandi Rhodes becoming a witch, this match really could have used the hype video before tonight!

Luckily, these two wrestlers are obviously quite fucking good. They did not get the reaction you would want for the women’s title match, but they produced a compelling enough battle to compensate for that. They also worked the closing sequence so that it left room for rematches. Solid stuff! (***)

Chris Jericho vs. Cody Rhodes

This was for Jericho’s AEW Championship.

The stakes had never been higher in AEW. AEW put all of their eggs for this show in this match’s basket. All the big angles and best video packages went to this one. It was the story that received the most television time. It needed to deliver HUGE. There was an underwhelming component to the match right away though.

In the previous weeks, Cody had punched out a window to get to Jericho, and then Jericho had Goldust’s arm broken. These two hate each other, and they are for some reason having a regular match despite there being SO much evidence from the last few years that these two need smoke and mirrors to make their matches work.

It was initially very concerning, but then at least Cody Rhodes burst open his skill after the funniest failed dive in professional wrestling history. Blood is always good and always makes things better. Cody’s skull exploding was just great professional wrestling.

The match then at least had a good story to lean on throughout. Cody was in ROUGH shape. All he could do after that was taking chances and go for enough big stuff and hope any of it made a big enough impact to give himself a chance to win.

The WHAT they were doing was good. The HOW they did it though was where they ran into trouble. The slow/plodding pace continued and really is just not compelling stuff. They luckily had the crowd very invested though so the nearfalls sequence at least felt authentically dramatic.

At the end of the day though, they just did not take enough shortcuts here. There needed to be more plunder. More blood. More interference. More shenanigans. More tomfoolery. The more this was done as a “straight” match, the more it suffered.

Then the cherry on top of course was MJF was throwing in the towel to save Cody. They built to this moment just about as well they could have in total and complete fairness. The MJF/Cody friendship has always been an excellent commentary on class alliances and how the rich always value their fellow rich more than any issues of morality. Everyone expecting a MJF “twist” turn at any point is missing the point.

That being said, throwing in the towel here was

Whoops! I was giving a wrestling company way too much credit and was actually writing about something good they were doing only for them to ruin it! Won’t happen again!

Lol this show sucks. (**1/4)

Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega

This was a LIGHTS OUT match. There is a unique set of rules for the match. In lieu of physical competition, the winner will be determined by who has the most Holt McCallany knowledge.

At one point in the match, Jon Moxley was lying in a pile of broken (supposed and apparently not very sharp) glass, and he took a moment to readjust his pants. That, my friends, is professional wrestling. (***)

Anyway, if you want some actual raw shit, you need to watch Zona23.

My list of 5-Star Matches

Select Dynamite Reviews

Jon Moxley & Pac vs. Kenny Omega & Adam Page
The Young Bucks vs. Private Party
The Inner Circle vs. The Elite
Cody Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara

The final score: review Poor
The 411
The big takeaway from this show is that AEW has somehow become a company that produces infinitely more fun television than the PPVs they put on. It was bizarre to see how little energy this show had given how lively Dynamite is pretty much every week. There seem to be two clear issues that caused the unfortunate contrast. One, the matches were just not worked in a manner to appeal to the audience. The matches continually left the audience cold (especially that mystifying opener), and the company needs to reevaluate how the matches were worked. The second and more concerning issue is that most of the matches were not given the cable television time to be properly hyped up. So much of the company's focus is so obviously on Cody vs. Jericho that other things suffered as a result. Where were the angles for the women's division? Why the rushed triple threat tag title match? Where are the video packages of Joey Janela falling off of buildings and being treated like a god on the indies? If AEW wanted to put all of their energy into one match for six weeks in the hopes of that being the most efficient manner to sell the PPV, fine. Then the rest of the matches on this show should have been worked in a manner that assumed the crowd was not going to automatically care. Because this show made AEW seem cold, and the biggest thing that AEW has going for it right now is that it seems hot.

article topics :

AEW Full Gear, TJ Hawke