AEW Full Gear: Fantastic All Out could look like a community board meeting compared to this

AEW Full Gear: Fantastic All Out could look like a community board meeting compared to this

We tell you why this could be wrestling’s marquee 2022 event

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Get ready.
Get ready.
Image: AEW

I’m not sure how AEW has put together a card that is the equal, or maybe even better than All Out in September. But this Full Gear one could easily surpass it. The stories are a little more fleshed out, and it also has Bryan Danielson in the ring instead of just making his debut. This has a chance to be wrestling’s show of the year... which we said about two months ago. Just an incredible run. Anyway, my comrade in arms Tom Laforgia and I will run you through the card!

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2 / 12

Buy-In: Nyla Rose and Jamie Hayter vs. Thunder Rosa and Hikaru Shida

Buy-In: Nyla Rose and Jamie Hayter vs. Thunder Rosa and Hikaru Shida

Image for article titled AEW Full Gear: Fantastic All Out could look like a community board meeting compared to this
Image: AEW

Sam: Kind of annoying that this got added to the Buy-In on Wednesday night, right before Cody added himself to the main card. You couldn’t crystalize my and a lot of others’ complaints about Cody and the women’s division better than that right there. Anyway, this does have a nice, NJPW-style preview tag feel to it, where we’ll get a glimpse of Shida and Nyla, who face each other down the road in the TBS title tournament, and have an established rivalry. More Shida on the TV is never a bad thing. Feels like Shida and Rosa get a win here to boost Rosa’s eventual chasing of Britt Baker, and then Nyla will turn the tables on Shida in the TBS tournament.

Tom: This one is mostly fodder for the inevitable Britt-Rosa super-duper showdown. These two teams don’t really have any logical reason to be slapped together, but they serve as a preview of where these four will go from here. Britt-Rosa II is all but guaranteed at this point, but to get to Britt, it makes sense that Rosa will first need to go through Hayter, who since her return has been a great enforcer and a wonderful addition to the women’s division. Nyla Rose and Hikaru Shida will be wrestling a singles match soon in the quarterfinals of the TBS Title tournament, and while I still think that’s ultimately Jade Cargill’s belt, this will serve to build some story as we progress through those brackets. Expect an archetypal “power vs. speed” tag matchup with some stiff shots and high flying.

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3 / 12

World Title Eliminator Tournament: Miro vs. Bryan Danielson

World Title Eliminator Tournament: Miro vs. Bryan Danielson

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Image: AEW

Sam: Very curious how AEW will set up the whole show. Because you could argue whoever wins this tips who’s going to win between Hangman Page and Kenny Omega in the main event. If it’s Miro, he makes a lot more sense to face Hangman. If it’s Danielson, it’s obvious that Danielson-Omega II is the path forward. Which makes it very hard to call. My gut tells me it’s Miro with some sort of swerve in the main event and who Miro will face eventually. Danielson is obviously on a ridiculous run, but something just tells me it’s a little earlier than the company would want to have him wrestling for the top title. Either way, this will be brutal and awesome and I will probably froth at the mouth watching it. Which I’m going to say about four other matches on this show.

Tom: Danielson will win this match but at the cost of his chest, which will look like ground turkey when Miro is finished chopping the hell out of it. This match is where we probably would have gotten the culmination of Jon Moxley’s heel turn (and maybe even a Moxley win?) but with that angle on hold for now we’ll likely a see Miro loss push him over the edge, very neatly setting up his next main-event program against God.

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4 / 12

Tag Team Championship: Lucha Brothers (c.) vs. FTR

Tag Team Championship: Lucha Brothers (c.) vs. FTR

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Image: AEW

Sam: I can’t believe how buried this match feels on this ridiculous card, because it’s going to be great! You could not have two more diametrically opposed teams, and FTR’s existence is basically based on not being and utterly loathing teams like the Lucha Brothers. FTR’s best matches generally come when they face the opposite — high-flying acrobats like Fenix and Penta. Penta will get into some hard-hitting segments too. The Lucha Bros’ championship win was too satisfying for their reign to end already. They retain here in a banger.

Tom: Watching FTR take the AAA belts off the Lucha Bros was a perfect example of what makes AEW feel rewarding to watch. Other companies would have belabored the point — the “Super Ranas” challenging for that belt were clearly Dax and Cash in silly green suits — but that reveal elsewhere would have been treated as some massive surprise. Instead AEW commentary was in on the joke, with CM Punk, whose time at the booth is always a treasure, immediately calling out the ruse. AEW doesn’t treat fans like they’re stupid! This is a very low bar and it’s absurd that we should celebrate it! As for the outcome here, I can’t see FTR beating the Lucha Bros twice in a row, but there will be hijinx from Tully and quality wrestling all around. FTR will still be AAA champions, and watching them defend those belts in Mexico — quite possibly against the Lucha Bros — will be fun.

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5 / 12

Darby Allin vs. MJF

Darby Allin vs. MJF

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Image: AEW

Tom: This one is interesting because both guys are coming off losses at All Out — Darby to Punk, MJF to Jericho. Darby is one of those guys who can lose without the stench following them around. But with a heel, even one as transcendently talented as MJF, it gets harder to regain the heat with every loss. The solution? This is where we finally get the Wardlow split. Maybe an interference spot goes sideways for Wardlow, it costs MJF the match — allowing him to keep the heat, since he’s not losing clean — and boom, shit hits the fan in the aftermath. Wardlow bounces with a chip on his shoulder and leaves Shawn Spears as MJF’s new goon. Or, perhaps more interestingly, MJF browbeats Wardlow mid-match, Wardlow says “fuck this”, and actively costs MJF the win. Either way, we’re in position for Wardlow-Spears in the short term and Wardlow-MJF in the long term, and we get there without it costing MJF too much. Can’t ask for more than that.

Sam: I think Tom has this one pretty nailed-on. The only alternative I see is an MJF win, and he finally gets a shot at the TNT title against Sammy, in his quest to take down the three other “pillars.” And MJF needs a title and soon.

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6 / 12

Pac and Cody Rhodes vs. Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo

Pac and Cody Rhodes vs. Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo

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Image: AEW

Sam: Well, I love three of these guys, but this match does not belong on this card. It has a story, but not to the heat of the other ones on the show, and we’re all so done with Cody-Malakai, and I can’t believe I have to say I’m done with anything involving Malakai. This is a pre-show match, and everyone except Cody needs to move on to bigger and different things. Feels like this should be a launchpoint for Malakai and Andrade... which means Cody will win.

Tom: Sam, who is always right about Cody’s bullshit, made a profound point recently: Cody doesn’t need to turn, because he’s already a heel. When a wrestler is being booed consistently and without relent, he doesn’t need to kick a puppy and shout “I’M A BAD GUY NOW” to make things official. The choice was made for him long ago. Either way, this match is overbooked and confusing. Why is Andrade evil-teleporting into the ring with Malakai now? Wasn’t the Cody/Malakai feud already settled after their unnecessary third match? This would have been much more interesting as a third and final singles match to cap off the Andrade/Pac program.

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7 / 12

Minneapolis Street Fight: Inner Circle vs. Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page, and American Top Team

Minneapolis Street Fight: Inner Circle vs. Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page, and American Top Team

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Image: AEW

Tom: This whole thing is a thinly veiled set piece for Dan Lambert to get his ass kicked, and that’s fantastic. Lambert has been one of AEW’s most effective heat magnets since he debuted, starting out as “guy screaming Jim Cornette podcast talking points ” but evolving into a character more closely resembling Cornette the manager than Cornette the podcaster. And it works without feeling derivative. It’s immaterial how much of the “scrawny AEW dweebs yada yada” stuff Lambert actually believes, and how much of it he throws out to get the crowd riled up, because damn, it really does get the crowd riled up. The MMA crew he’s brought with him is also paying off. Junior dos Santos looked good in his first match ever a few weeks ago, and there’s no reason to think he won’t look that much better in his second. Maybe we’ll even see a spot involving Jorge Masvidal. Paige VanZant is great on the mic and a natural heel. Inner Circle wins this one, Lambert gets brutalized, everyone walks away happy.

Sam: My mileage doesn’t go as far as Tom’s for this, as I’m not an MMA fan and any attempted crossover always makes my eyes roll. That said, watching Lambert get crushed is going to be satisfying for everyone, and I hope VanZant gets a big spot somewhere because she’s clearly the real star in ATT.

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8 / 12

Superkliq vs. Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Christian Cage

Superkliq vs. Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Christian Cage

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Image: AEW

Sam: The addition of Bobby Fish to all this last night makes this interesting, because boy does it feel like we’re going to get a relocated Undisputed Era in AEW with Kyle O’Reilly jumping ship in the new year. Does that mean a Cole split from The Elite? Does that start here? I’m thinking that’s how this plays out causing a Jurassic Express win.

Tom: Doesn’t it seem like some combination of these six guys have wrestled a hundred times already since August? It’s feeling dangerously close to (gasp) WWE booking — singles matches to set up tag matches to set up singles matches, ad infinitum — a pattern AEW has otherwise been very good at avoiding. That said, I’m still looking forward to this. Adam Cole has been a great addition to the mix (and now with Bobby Fish as his proxy!) If the company plays its cards right — read: avoiding frivolous rematches — they’ll be able to do great stories with Cole and Jungle Boy for years to come. Cage and Jurassic Express can probably lose this one without it hurting their shine, but I’m not convinced the opposite is true. Particularly after the Halloween stuff, where The Elite got embarrassed by a dude dressed as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Cole and the Bucks need to reestablish themselves as actual scary threats, not just mildly intimidating goofs. I think they’ll accomplish that here.

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9 / 12

Women’s World Championship: Britt Baker (c.) vs. Tay Conti

Women’s World Championship: Britt Baker (c.) vs. Tay Conti

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Image: AEW

Sam: And here’s my problem. Both these women are great, but this is just about the only match on the card that doesn’t have a layered build to it. They just announced Conti as the No. 1 contender and off we went. Britt deserves better. Tay deserves better. Anyway, this will be sneaky good as both women have massively improved their in-ring work in the past year, and Conti can take the loss while establishing herself as a star. Let’s get Baker a real feud for the next couple months though.

Tom: Tay Conti has gotten noticeably better over the past few months, and has been presented as much stronger, but I don’t think anyone expects her to beat Britt Baker. Guessing what we will get instead is a good 10-15 minute match where Tay looks solid, Britt narrowly wins, and post-fight heel shenanigans give way to a brawl that ends in Britt and Thunder Rosa standing toe-to-toe. After the Page/Omega program wraps up in the main event, I don’t think there’s a hotter feud in the company right now than Britt and Rosa. Anything short of angling those two toward a rematch, with the belt up for grabs, would be a disappointment.

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10 / 12

CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston

CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston

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Image: AEW

Sam: Now this is how you build a feud in short order, though you rarely have two people as talented at mic-work as these two. Most everyone is most looking forward to this match, as they’re going to beat the absolute piss out of each other. And I think Eddie takes it. He doesn’t really have a signature win, and you can only take so many losses before you kind of neuter your character. Punk will take credit for raising Kingston to his level, Kingston will claim he proved that Punk is past it, which they can always come back to at a later date. Depending on how this goes, I highly doubt these two are done. Again, frothing.

Tom: Can these two just talk for an hour instead of (or in addition to) the physical violence? The Rampage segment that set up this match was exceptional. It’s a shame the feud will probably end here, because I’d love to see these guys cut promos on each other for a few more weeks. An interesting wrinkle is that Punk seems to be the heel in this matchup. At least for the time being, the “aw shucks, glad to be back” stuff is gone. He was kind of a dick last week! And he’s always been great in that lane, so hopefully he’ll lean harder into that as time goes on. As for the outcome here? I would not mind if Eddie gave Punk his first AEW loss, and I don’t think I’d be alone. But I doubt they’re ready to go there yet — especially not to cap off a story that spun up in the course of a week — and that’s the more responsible route in the long term. Eddie will beat the shit out of Punk, but Punk will win, and if I had to guess, he’ll do so by baiting Eddie into losing his composure. Unless they plan on turning one or both of these guys heel for a while, don’t be surprised if we see this end with a handshake or some other wholesome display of newfound mutual respect.

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11 / 12

World Championship: Kenny Omega (c.) vs. Hangman Adam Page

World Championship: Kenny Omega (c.) vs. Hangman Adam Page

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Image: AEW

Tom: No way Page doesn’t win this, right? AEW has always buttered its bread on the very simple tactic of giving fans what they want, and there might not be anything fans want more than to see Page kick out of Omega’s finish and win the belt. Whether Kenny wants to give him the rub of an OWA kickout is, presumably, up to him, but the writing’s on the wall as it concerns the outcome here. It’s been a great run and Kenny Omega will go down in the books as AEW’s Pandemic Champion — the face of the company through the brunt of absolutely grueling times — but this is where it ends. The only conceivable reason to have him retain here would be to set up a Danielson rematch with the title on the line, but there was no belt at stake for Omega-Danielson I at Arthur Ashe, and it still ruled. Expect a banger of a match to cap off Full Gear, with Page beating Omega clean.

Sam: Everyone wants the catharsis of a Page win here, as do I, but everyone would also mourn the end of Page’s arc. I honestly can’t call it, but I lean toward Page’s culmination. What I don’t want is a kick out of the One-Winged Angel, as Tom proposes. That should be protected. Maybe a rope break is fine, or Kenny should just never get to it. Either way, this is going to be a 25-30 minute classic with the kind of pathos that only the best professional wrestling is capable of. There may be shenanigans between The Elite and Dark Order, adding a “friends always have your back” angle to Page’s story even after he left The Dark Order behind. Or they could just play it straight. They could do anything and no answer is wrong. If Page wins I might once again cry during a wrestling show, once again nullifying any chance I had at being useful to society.

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12 / 12