Wednesday, November 13, 2019

AEW Full Gear 2019

So "Full Gear" was a running gag on the Being The Elite show where Hangman Page always shows up in these videos in his gear and people comment on his physique. This led to the "Full Gear Challenge" that prompted Page to trim up or something... and then somebody remembered Full Gear and decided it'd be a perfect name for a PPV.

Sure, why not? WWE has had stupid PPV names like Stomping Grounds and Great Balls Of Fire. Impact Wrestling has an upcoming PPV named after a Steven Seagal film.

But yes, this is All Elite Wrestling's third PPV event following Double Or Nothing and All Out. I missed out on the live airing, but did catch the replay. So let's get into it.

For those who care, the Buy-In free show (nobody wants to call it a pre-show anymore) featured Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeating Bea Priestley via Lockjaw submission and then Bea got her hair cut by Awesome Kong... I didn't catch the show, but apparently the match was pretty good.

PRIDE and POWERFUL (Santana & Ortiz) defeated the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) in the opening tag match that was followed up by a run-in from the Rock N Roll Express, which included sixty-something year old Ricky Morton somehow pulling off a CANADIAN FUCKING DESTROYER on Santana. Fuck the match; this is the most mind-blowing thing I've seen all night and suddenly makes anything they do on NWA Powerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr seem trivial and tame by comparison.

Hangman Adam Page defeated THAT FUCKING BASTARD PAC in a pretty good little match that irked me for some reason and it took a while for me to figure it out. If Hangman is supposed to be doing "cowboy shit," why is he doing all the dives while THAT NO-GOOD ASSHOLE BASTARD PAC, who usually does the flying stuff, is more grounded and stuff?

Shawn Spears defeated Joey Janela in a perfectly acceptable wrestling match that involved distracting the ref with an exposed buckle while Spears and Tully Blanchard give Joey a spike piledriver for good measure. Hey, it wasn't anything special, but that one bit alone was enough to put this above being a thing that happened, so I'll take it.

AEW Tag-Team Champions Kazarian & Scorpio Sky defeated Private Party and Lucha Bros in a three-way to retain the title. Then we have a second Pentagon who beats up the first Pentagon and it's revealed to be Christopher Daniels, who was put out a couple weeks ago on Dynamite. This was a perfectly fine little tag-team match, so I'm not complaining.

AEW Women's Champion RIHO defeated Emi Sakura to retain the title. Backstory is that this was tiny student versus larger teacher and they've had many matches together, so here's another one. Mind you, Sakura isn't that large a woman, but RIHO is tiny in comparison. So this was alright. Not mind-blowing or anything like that, but I liked this match just fine. For some reason, RIHO is starting to grow on me and I'm fine with that.

Le Champion du AEW Chris Jericho defeated Cody via throwing of the towel by MJF to retain the title. As per his previously imposed stipulation, Cody can never challenge for the title again. And then MJF kicks Cody in the balls, completing the heel turn that everyone was waiting for and what perfect circumstance to do so. Yes, MJF costing Cody the title in some manner might've been bad enough, but cutting him off from further title opportunity? That earns you a drink from the crowd that the camera crew captures beautifully.

The match itself was a story in and of itself. It starts off slow, with neither man wanting to do anything stupid that costs them an advantage... but then things pick up and we start getting to some of the good stuff. The judges introduced beforehand - Dean Malenko, Arn Anderson, and the Great Muta (sans paint) - play a very minimal role with the closest thing to interaction being a spat between Jericho and Malenko; a callback of sorts to their old WCW rivalry from two decades prior. Most notably, there was an aura of gravity to this match. The match was fine for the story they were telling, but I appreciate the attempt at giving this a big fight feel so that it's a step above everything that came before.

And in our Lights Out match - Jon Moxley defeated Kenny Omega in almost forty minutes of pure fucking mayhem involving real barb wire, garbage cans, fake broken glass, mouse traps, fake barb wire bed things, and exposed ring wood... Oh, boy... how do I approach this in the kindest way possible? I guess honesty would do the trick, so here goes.

I didn't like the match. I didn't hate the match. I was just indifferent to it. It was a thing that happened.

This is not much of a match, but rather a spectacle and I'd imagine one that might not be for everyone. Watching this, you can almost understand why Moxley's former employers would balk at putting this sort of thing on their TV because it gets to a point where the props and weapons become so elaborate and dangerous that it goes beyond entertaining spectacle and into a rather uncomfortable setting. At least, that's what I first thought.

Thing is that the violence wasn't all that gruesome. Yes, there were some elaborate gimmicks like the spider web of barb, the board of mouse traps, and even minor things like broken glass from the coffee table or golden chains that would be considered callbacks, but this was probably the cleanest garbage wrestling match that I've seen and I've seen a bunch of these that were much more gruesome. Mox had a nasty gash on his head at one point and the puncture wounds were akin to the random blood wounds that would appear in the old WWF Attitude video game, but it never reached the bloodletting that Cody/Dustin reached at Double Or Nothing back in May. So while someone not used to this kind of spectacle would find such a thing exciting or abhorrent, I've seen so many of these that I've become desensitized by the whole concept and so the match as a spectacle did nothing for me.

It probably didn't help matters that I saw the matches Mox and Omega had with Joey Janela of a similar ilk (Mox's match at Fyter Fest, Kenny's match on an episode of AEW Dark) and both of those matches were much better than this one.

The ultimate irony of this match is that while something like this would probably never touched a WWE taping of any kind, I can't help but shake the feeling that I'm watching a typical WWE gimmick match, where the focus is on trying to make this a memorable spectacle with the introduction of elaborate gimmicks and harder-hitting weapons than trying to make this into a believable fight between two men who will do anything and sink to any depths to beat the other guy to a bloody pulp. Even with all the utensils at play, there was never any urgency at any point nor was there ever a time when either man's very being was on the line or in danger of being threatened. I wince and even cringe whenever somebody does a move on the ring apron or land on their head or neck... but Mox and Omega diving into a barb wire bed? No reaction whatsoever. Short of one guy shooting the other guy in the head point blank, I don't think anything done here would've garnered a sense of danger... then again, even if the other guy was shot, he'd still kick out at two.

But when all is said and done, Mox vs. Omega promised violence the likes of which we haven't seen in years and some could make the argument that it delivered on that promise while others would believe it went a bit too far. For me, it was just a thing that happened. Didn't like it, didn't hate it, just indifferent... but at the very least, it didn't bore me to tears and it didn't feel like a complete waste of time, so it had that going for it. Hopefully, this is not something they do on a regular basis, especially with Moxley who is capable of having decent straight wrestling matches - one only needs to see his New Japan output for proof of that - but if you're going to do it, might as well go all out... wait, wrong show.

In any event, that was Full Gear, a perfectly fine wrestling show that was worth the price it charged. A stunning thing to realize after sitting through countless PPV events offered for $9.99 a month that felt like a rip-off, but honestly, this was a pretty damn show with the weakest efforts being perfectly fine and the main events delivered what was promised... even if the mileage varies. A fine wrestling pay-per-view event in my book and a good show to end the 2019 run of PPV musings if there ever was one.

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