AEW Full Gear 2020 Review
AEW Full Gear was the final pay-per-view for the company of an exceedingly strange 2020. It was an unforgettable year for the world, pro-wrestling in general, and definitely AEW. Trying to keep a brand spanking new promotion running without fans was, and is, a challenge to say the least.
Many of the matches at Full Gear were about ending old storylines between a variety of wrestlers. Some of them have been better developed than others, but the feuds were still there and ready to come to a conclusion.
On the upside, there were two solid women’s matches on this pay-per-view. One was on the pre-show while the other was a title defense on the main card. But it was an evening filled with unexpected matches that delivered big and big matches that didn’t live up to the hype.
AEW Full Gear Buy-In
If you want to give AEW credit for one thing, it’s having great pre-show matches. And Full Gear was no exception to this. The company’s partnership with NWA has delivered some interesting matches and crossover talent.
The Buy-In match featured the new NWA World Women’s Champion Serena Deeb defending her title against an always game Allysin Kay. Both wrestlers are incredibly talented and rarely get the respect they deserve. Deeb winning the championship was well earned.
Kay and Deeb put on a great match, though the outcome wasn’t a surprise. It was unlikely that an NWA title was going to change hands at an AEW event. The big twist of the night was the always incredible Thunder Rosa showing up after the match. What that means for the future of either NWA or AEW remains to be seen.
Eliminator Tournament Finals
AEW’s ranking system means less and less every week. The company keeps inventing new ways to get around it and give people who aren’t on the top of the pile title shots. That was the entire point of the Eliminator Tournament.
It started with eight competitors. The problem was Adam Page was on one side of the bracket and Kenny Omega was on the other. Everyone watching knew this tournament would end with Page versus Omega in the finals, which is exactly what happened.
The expected conclusion of the tournament was Omega winning and going on to face the AEW World Champion. Again, that’s exactly what happened. AEW didn’t bring The Cleaner back to not put him in the main event scene.
Page and Omega’s match was great, but it certainly wasn’t the match of the evening. Part of the problem was there was never any doubt about the finish. As such, there wasn’t much tension in the match. The only mysterious aspect is where Page goes from here.
Orange Cassidy vs John Silver
Without a shadow of a doubt, Orange Cassidy is one of the most popular wrestlers AEW has. And they have been pushing him accordingly. But a dark horse that’s come out of the shadows of the Dark Order in recent weeks has been John Silver.
His talent in the ring is undeniable, but Silver’s overly exuberant attitude and constant flexing is over with the fans. It’s also the perfect counter to the King of Sloth Style. Plus, they have a solid storyline going with Silver interfering in Cassidy’s TNT Championship matches.
Naturally, Cassidy came out and did his usual laid back schtick in a match originally scheduled for the Buy-In. Silver’s over the top response was absolute perfection. At one point, he actually tore the pockets out of Cassidy’s pants and tried to eat them.
The match itself great, as well. Both men are solid athletes and talented performers. Cassidy ultimately won but this was also a great step for Silver on his growing push. It’s a path that will inevitable carry him away from The Dark Order.
TNT Championship Match
As odd as this sounds, one of the biggest moments of this match was Cody being introduced for the first time in years as Cody Rhodes. WWE let the trademark on the Rhodes name lapse, allowing Cody to recover it. That announcement was an almost tear-inducing moment.
It was also amazing to hear referee Mike Chioda get a huge pop for this match. WWE letting him go continues to make no sense. The move made about as much logic to it as all 50 members of The Nightmare Family coming to the ring in tracksuits. They looked like extras from a mob movie made in 1989.
Cody Rhodes has held the TNT Championship for most of its existence. There was a brief interlude that saw Brodie Lee carry the belt. Unfortunately, that was only because Cody needed time off to be a judge on a reality competition.
Darby Allin was Cody’s challenger at Full Gear for the TNT Championship, and it was a hell of a bout. There’s a huge chance that it was the best match Darby has ever wrestled. That made it even more satisfying when Darby walked away with the belt.
It was a smart move to put the strap on him. Doing so prevents the TNT Championship from becoming Cody’s personal accessory. It will also add some fuel to the feud between Darby and Team Taz. Considering Will Hobbs came to Darby’s rescue again at Full Gear when Team Taz attacked, it’s safe to say that he’s got the new champ’s back.
AEW Women’S World Championship
There honestly wasn’t much build up to this Women’s Championship match. But that’s par for the course at AEW. According to Cody Rhodes, it’s the fault of the fans for being brainwashed by other wrestling companies into thinking that any kind of story or character development is required in professional wrestling.
Nyla Rose was the second woman to hold the title but her title reign was interrupted by the pandemic. When she made her return, Nyla almost immediately lost the title to Hikaru Shida. But it’s hard to argue with that move given how talented Shida is.
There’s an argument to be made that Shida is one of the best female wrestlers in the world. She hasn’t gotten anywhere as many matches during her tenure as champ as she deserved, but every one of them was outstanding.
David and Goliath is the classic wrestling story, and this match told it well. It was a solid match with Shida actually managing to toss Rose around the ring a few times. She definitively won the match, straight up beating the crap out of Nyla Rose.
Hikaru both earned and deserved the win. The problem is that this booking continued to bury Rose as a monster. To make matters worse, the relationship between Vickie Guerrero and Rose imploded after the match. Where Rose goes from here is confusing at best.
AEW World Tag Team Championship
Once again, the AEW rankings do not matter at all. Four teams entered a lottery to be in a Fatal Fourway tag team match to determine the number one contenders to #FTR’s titles. That’s how fans finally got #FTR versus The Young Bucks at Full Gear.
The problem was that The Young Bucks walked into this match at less than 100%. Matt Jackson has been wrestling through some pretty serious injuries lately. Him needing time off after Full Gear might be why they added the last chance at the titles stipulation for the Bucks.
Then, the Bucks threw that theory in the garbage when they won the titles. How this plays out given Matt’s injury should be interesting. It will also be interesting to see if #FTR are with AEW for the long haul or if they’ll move on now that they’re not the champs.
Regardless of all the speculation, #FTR and The Young Bucks still put on a great match. Each team borrowed finishers from some of their favorite tag teams. It was actually pretty cool to see #FTR bust out DIY’s old finisher considering their best matches were in NXT with them.
The Elite Deletion
Before his return to WWE a few years ago, Matt Hardy established himself as one of the most creative minds in wrestling. Unsurprisingly, WWE drained the creative lifeblood right out of him. Hardy made the leap to AEW to find an environment that would let him run loose.
Despite the pandemic, Hardy found ways to express his in ring creativity. Sammy Guevara actually became his muse. The two of them have been at each other’s throats in one form or another for months.
It all culminated in an Elite Deletion match at the infamous Hardy Compound. Trying to explain this match to someone who didn’t see it might be impossible. A monster truck crushed a golf cart. Matt and Sammy shot fireworks at each other in the woods. And a lot of tables got wrecked.
Naturally, Santana and Ortiz interfered in the match. Matt planned for that, calling in Private Party to back him up. A solid tag team match actually broke out in the middle of everything. Then, Gangrel showed up with a kidnapped Hurricane Helms.
After brutal beating Sammy, Matt won the match. Private Party then helped him load Guevara in a garbage can and put that in the back of Senor Benjamin’s truck. Listening to Excalibur, J.R. and Tony Schiavone try to make sense of the whole thing was outstanding.
Chris Jericho vs MJF
This wasn’t going to be a high flying match. It wasn’t going to be a technical masterpiece. This wasn’t even going to be an insane gimmick match. It was always going to be two of the best heels in the business beating the crap out of each other, and that’s what they did.
The crux of this match was MJF wanting to join The Inner Circle. To do so, he needed to beat Chris Jericho, who proposed that stipulation. It made no sense as MJF had to prove he’s better than Jericho to join his group. An Inner Circle power struggle is coming.
Honestly, Jericho wrestled a great match and pulled out some classic Jericho moves. MJF looked good, as well, especially since he won. Not unexpectedly, MJF tried to cheat by using that ridiculous ring to hit Jericho. The Demo God responded with his bat, Floyd.
MJF then pulled an Eddie Guerrero and faked being hit by the bat when Aubrey Edwards turned around. While she questioned Jericho, MJF slapped a surprise pinfall on him for the victory. MJF said he’d do what it took to win, and he did just that.
Jericho then welcomed MJF and Wardlow to The Inner Circle. Neither Ortiz nor Sammy Guevara were happy about this idea when MJF’s membership was proposed. This could be the beginning of the end of The Inner Circle.
“I Quit” AEW World Championship Match
This match might have the best build-up of any match in the short history of AEW. Eddie Kingston deserves a large amount of the credit for that. He may be the best wrestler on the mic out of anyone currently in the business today.
Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston have a real-life history together that proved to be incredible fuel for this feud. It all built up to the “I Quit” match at Full Gear for the AEW World Championship. Given both men’s propensity for violence, this match was inevitably going to be a brutal one. And it was.
Both wrestlers pulled out all the stops, beating the holy hell out of each other. Like the Page/Omega match, the outcome of this one was inevitable. It was unlikely that AEW was going to hand their big belt to Kingston, and they didn’t.
While Eddie may have said the words, he put on a massively epic performance. He proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a main event player by any company’s standards. In the wrestling world, Kingston is a household name, now.
Naturally, Omega made his way out to the ring staring down Mox as he celebrated his win. Full Gear was in part designed to be the beginning of the build towards Omega taking the belt from Moxley. That moment sealed the deal.