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Pantoja’s AEW Full Gear 2021 Review

November 14, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Pantoja’s AEW Full Gear 2021 Review  

AEW Full Gear
November 13th, 2021 | Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Hey, I’m ordering an AEW PPV on a Saturday night for the second straight time! $50 is still a lot for wrestling but at only four times per year, it’s doable.

To start the Buy-In, hometown boy Dante Martin was brought out to talk to Tony Schiavone and give his answer to Team Taz but was interrupted by The Acclaimed. Mid Dante Martin rap again outside of the Lio retirement line. They went the odd route of badmouthing Minnesota and Dante, so he obviously declined and sent them packing before hitting a plancha onto them.

Hikaru Shida (42-5) and Thunder Rosa (29-3) vs. Jamie Hayter (4-2) and Nyla Rose (23-5)
This could be really good. The idea here was to preview Hayter/Rosa and Rose/Shida in the TBS Tournament. Rosa was way over. I wish this card had at least three women’s matches instead of eight bouts with just dudes. The babyface duo started hot but that turned around and Rosa started to take the heat as her larger opponents beat her down. Shida got a hot tag but got lowbridged and ended up as the new face in peril. Serena Deeb watched from ringside. You could tell that Hayter and Rose haven’t worked together before as some of their tandem moves came off awkwardly. We got the Rosa hot tag but after a dive onto Hayter, Shida argued with Seeb outside. That allowed Vickie to hit her with the kendo stick in the bad leg. Hayter hit a superplex and Nyla did a frog splash in honor of Eddie Guerrero on the anniversary of his passing. That looked like it could end things but Rosa interrupted the pin. Shida then countered Rose and used a creative rollup to win in 12:04. A good start to the show. Nothing special and a few sloppy moments but it did what it needed to and was entertaining. [***]

Orange Cassidy will face Matt Hardy and the Blade in a tag match on Dynamite and said he’d be bringing one of his dogs from CHAOS. ISHII?

Darby Allin (28-3) vs. MJF (28-7)
MJF had a ridiculous robe and demanded he be announced as the man who can beat Darby with a headlock takeover. Darby had an opening video package dedicated to the car accident that left him “half-dead.” These two had a really good opening exchange and it wasn’t just done for the sake of it. It played into the story as MJF has insinuated that Darby isn’t on his level as a wrestler but Darby proved he could go toe-to-toe with him on the mat and in a back and forth battle. Of course, Darby took risks first and MJF used that to get in the driver’s seat. There were surprising dueling chants here. I know people appreciate MJF as a good heel but that’s not what I expected given that Darby is super popular. MJF worked the back a lot and some of the bumps Darby took on backbreakers were wild. On the other side, MJF’s knee was his issue and there was a hiccup where the wrong one was attacked/sold. Just when Darby seemed to get going, MJF hit a Tombstone on the apron, though it hurt his knee as well. Back inside, they went into a wild series of counters on pin attempts, headlock takeovers, and a Code Red. After Darby hit a wild Coffin Drop outside and MJF got his knees up on one inside, Shawn Spears and Wardlow tried ot interfere but Sting took them out. MJF tried to get Darby to use the skateboard as a weapon and when Darby declined, MJF used the Diamond ring gimmick to knock him out behind the referee’s back. Then, he used a headlock takeover to win in 22:01. Excellent match and a masterful ending. They built the majority of that around a damn headlock takeover and made it the finish while keeping Darby strong and being sure that MJF remained a clear villain. I didn’t care about this match/rivalry coming in but I loved that and they totally hooked me. [****½]

AEW World Tag Team Championship: The Lucha Bros [c] (13-1) vs. FTR (27-3)
The two best tag teams on the planet. This opened with a brawl but quickly turned into a more traditional tag. FTR had knee pads with the American and Mexican flags. Things were evenly matched for a while but FTR took control by catching some dives from the champions. It has been discussed to death but FTR is so good at the classic heel stuff like the assisted abdominal stretch and tying Penta’s mask to the ropes. The Lucha Brothers would find hope spots to hit some of their cool offense but FTR never wavered in their strategy. We got a great false finish after FTR used the AAA Tag Title as a weapon. I much prefer that for a near fall than doing finisher kick outs. There was another major Eddie tribute after Penta turned Harwood’s Three Amigos into his own and then Fenix hit the frog splash. It was pretty hilarious to see how inept the AEW refs are. FTR attempted to cheat multiple times from using the ropes for leverage to the illegal man in action with the Super Ranas mask. That backfired as Cash Wheeler ate the pin while illegal to the Lucha finisher in 18:36. A very good match that may have gone a bit overboard with some of the false finishes. [***¾]

World Title Eliminator Tournament Finals: Bryan Danielson (8-0-1) vs. Miro (16-1)
This show is not letting up. What helped here was that this was worked at a slower pace after the previous two matches. Danielson was looking to strike and move, cutting Miro down to size. Of course, he got caught and thrown around with ease at points. Miro dominated until Danielson sent him into the ring post and hit a running knee off the apron. He then started working the leg and doing grounded strikes like his driving knees to the head. Miro deadlifted Danielson out of a kneebar and it was incredibly impressive. Miro also pointed up to his God, which was a good bit of storytelling. Danielson escaped Game Over but Miro wouldn’t let up and went for it again. Danielson rolled back and countered into a pin for two that he rolled into submissions until Miro gouged his eyes. Miro challenged Danielson to kick him in the ribs and weathered the storm but then fell victim to a tornado DDT off the top an da triangle choke of sorts. Miro passed out in 20:00, continuing the storytelling around his neck. Your winner, Bryan Danielson. That was a slow burn but one that worked well and everything paid off. Danielson’s great run continues and Miro is awesome. [****]

Falls Count Anywhere Match: Christian Cage (7-1) and Jurassic Express (11-3) vs. Adam Cole (3-0) and The Young Bucks (10-2) (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)
The SuperKliq came out in ring gear, while Cage and Jurassic Express were in jeans. I automatically side with them for dressing properly for a fight. As expected, this got off to a wild start with chairs, dives from Luchasaurus, and lots of moving parts. Jungle Boy made the first huge mistake as a dive ended up being hit with a trash can, which set up a string of spots involving that weapon, capped by Luchasaurus using it for a big boot. Christian offered up Jungle Boy the chance to do the Con-Chair-To to Adam Cole but they wasted time and got cut off. I love how Schiavone was like “DO IT!” Cole got busted open within a few minutes. They started with the table spots, including JB putting Cole through one with a rana off the apron and Matt with an elbow off the top through one on Luchasaurus. Meanwhile, Christian busted out a dive in the crowd. They continued with the big spots involving ladders and thumbtacks, while also delivering close calls on finishes. The fight moved to the stage with more big offense (I’m eating as I watch now so not as much detail) before the SuperKliq brought out thumbtack knee braces and used them for BTE Triggers on Luchasaurus but the pin was interrupted. Soon after, Luchasaurus chokeslammed Cole off the stage onto the Elite boys and then did an SSP onto them. Jungle Boy took the chair on the stage to hit Matt with the Con-Chair-T, taking that next step into viciousness. That ended this in 22:19. A bit too long but that was a wild match and I enjoyed it. Plus, I didn’t expect that result. [***½]

Andrade El Idolo (4-2) and Malakai Black (6-1) vs. Cody Rhodes (34-8-2) and PAC (21-7-2)
I love how Andrade, Malakai, and Cody have huge entrances (especially Cody) but PAC just walks out angrily. Very anti-Cody crowd including “Fuck you Cody” chants. This got off to an interesting start with Cody and PAC blind tagging themselves in aggressively at points. There were also unexpected bling tags and communication issues between Andrade and Black. Jose the Assistant got involved a few times until Arn beat him up to the back. He’s lucky he didn’t get shot. Once they got into the actual action, it was great as these are some of the best in the world. PAC took a beating as Cody got checked on by the referee and PAC seemed annoyed by this. Cody finally got back on the apron and received the hot tag as he went after Andrade with basic babyface offense to a chorus of boos. Cody busting out a reverse superplex was pretty phenomenal though. As Cody applied the Figure Four, PAC tagged himself in and hit a 450 splash but Andrade got his hand on the ropes. Malakai pulled Cody in the way of a PAC dive, potentially causing further friction. We got a surprise result as PAC hit the Black Arrow on Andrade to win after 16:50. A really good tag that was made better by the character work from everyone involved. [***¼]

Post-match, FTR hit the ring and attacked both Cody and PAC but things were broken up way quicker than you’d expect, making you wonder why it even happened.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Britt Baker [c] (18-1) vs. Tay Conti (38-5)
Conti arrived with a big flag that was half Brazil and half USA. Britt had her music played by a guitarist from Fozzy. That band only ever gets shine on wrestling shows. Commentary did a good job of playing up how Tay Conti showed nerves in her biggest match while Britt has been here time and time again. After some back and forth to start where each went for their finisher, Tay attacked the arm but got knocked off the top rope when Jamie Hayter shook the ropes. Tay got going again after a bit with a trifecta of boots and a springboard cross body. When Britt couldn’t put her down, she got frustrated and retrieved the glove from Rebel. The Air Raid Crash on the apron felt like a bit too much for that point in the match but it did kind of get the crowd back into this. I also didn’t really like Britt kicking out of the TayKo. It’s not her main finisher but still. She did bust out a Minoru Suzuki Gotch Piledriver for two as well. Tay seemed to have a shot but a distraction from Rebel changed that. Tay took a Curb Stomp on the steel steps and one inside. Britt could’ve won there but wanted the Lockjaw and Tay slipped free. I loved Tay selling the Curb Stomps inside. She sent Britt outside but was still in trouble. Tay did a moonsault to the outside onto everyone but Britt avoided it. Jamie took a shot on that spot. Back inside, Tay again avoided Lockjaw and tried a pin but Britt countered into her own pin to remain champion in 15:12. That started off so well but really hit the point of diminishing returns. Tay survived too much and they seemed ready for the finish a few times. Tay showed fire and looked great but again, a bit too much. Also, no Anna Jay made no sense. [***¼]

CM Punk (5-0) vs. Eddie Kingston (28-8)
No frills from either guy here. No big entrance or CLOBBERING TIME from Punk. He was also in MMA style shorts. Bryce Remsburg tried to keep them apart before the bell and Eddie just laid him out with a back fist. Eddie’s proud reaction was great. Once the bell rang, they went right after each other and this felt like a fight. Punk would fire off shots and Eddie would just hit an exploder. Punk kicked Eddie, who flipped him off and mocked him before just poking him in the eye. Fantastic. Punk got busted open and Eddie rubbed the blood on himself. The blood seemed to trigger Punk, who started to get going. He teased going for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but flipped off Eddie instead, who did it right back. Punk’s stretch of offense was followed by the two of them trading shots, including Eddie faking like he was going down on a punch and just laughing at Punk. Eddie mocked the GTS call in hilarious fashion but then got hit with one only for Punk to not be able to cover. As Punk got going again, he was getting booed. He hit GTS a second time and Eddie sold it like death. That got Punk the win in 11:08. That was everything I wanted. They packed so much into that 11 minutes. It was intense, came off like a legitimate war, and didn’t do any of the nonsense overkill and false finish stuff. Just an absolute battle that fit the storyline so well. Post match, Eddie declined a handshake from Punk. [****½]

Minneapolis Street Fight: American Top Team and Men of the Year vs. The Inner Circle
Lambert’s sweat suit look was hilarious. Though dubbed a street fight, this had traditional tags and started pretty slowly. Junior dos Santos hit a moonsault press which was welcome. Things broke down and Dan Lambert escaped an attack by running away, leading to Page whacking Chris Jericho with a hockey stick. That signaled the start of the brawl as other weapons were brought into play, Jericho used a Prince symbol as one, and Jake Hager hit a dive onto a big pile. They went into the goofy realm quickly and I actually appreciated that. This feud deserved something goofy that included toasters as weapons. Sammy Guevara hit a big dive off a ladder as the highest spot of the match. Ethan Page taunted Hager’s wife at ringside and she was sitting next to Baron Von Raschke, who put him in the Iron Claw. That got a pop. With everyone out, it left Jericho to attack Lambert. He went for the Lionsault and a spot was missed as Dos Santos took too long to hit Jericho so he awkwardly stood there too long. Lambert tried to pin Jericho and go for the Walls but they failed and he got beat with a kendo stick. Jericho beat him with a Frog Splash in 19:38. That was fun enough for what it was. Again, a match that went too long but it was fine. [**¾]

Jay Lethal was brought out as a debut. I missed the segment as I had to take care of something. Apparently he’s getting a TNT Title shot at some point. Also, Ishii was confirmed as Cassidy’s partner.

AEW World Championship: Kenny Omega [c] (22-3-1) vs. Hangman Page (12-1 in 2021)
Their match at Full Gear last year was great (****) with Kenny winning to earn the title shot for the gold he holds now. Plus, they ruled as a team. Adam Page had a big entrance with a video of him riding a horse and the graphics team said they’re proud of him. That’s so wholesome. There was a big fight feel here. Kenny was up to his usual antics early, having Don Callis interfere a handful of times. That was the setup for the first third or so of this match. Hangman would get going, Kenny would cut him off and then distract the referee as Callis got in cheap shots. Kenny still got in his signature shit like the Terminator dive but Hangman got his feet up on a moonsault and hit a sweet fallaway slam. Still, you always got the sense that Kenny was in control. He hit a ridiculous sunset flip bomb off the top and snapped off V-Triggers but Hangman survived. Hangman rallied and clotheslined Kenny through a table before signaling for the Buckshot Lariat only for Kenny to back away from it. He finally hit it but Kenny pulled the referee in the way. CUE SHENANIGANS! However, Hangman beat up Callis and hit the Deadeye on Kenny. Aubrey Edwards ran out to count but Kenny kicked out. They began trading big shots and offense with Hangman firing up despite eating knee strikes. As we neared 25 minutes, the Young Bucks strolled out. The Buckshot Lariat was met with V-Trigger but Hangman escaped One Winged Angel and hit Kenny with it for two. Hangman hit the Buckshot Lariat to Kenny’s back as Nick didn’t grab the leg like he did in the past. He went for it again to the front and stared at Matt, who nodded at him. Hangman connected and won the AEW World Title in 25:11. A great match and remarkable finish to some quality long-term storytelling. A true feel good moment. [****¼]

Dark Order came out to congratulate Hangman, who called them down to the ring. He embraced them all with a hug and they hoisted him and his new belt on their shoulders.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Another masterpiece from AEW. My only real gripes with the show were the order of the matches and that some went into overkill mode. Other than that, this was a huge series of hits. Nothing was bad, everything ranged from mildly entertaining to phenomenal. Two matches at 4.5+, others at 4+, and only one under 3. There was a little bit of everything and it was capped with a legitimate feel good moment.

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AEW Full Gear, Kevin Pantoja