Previously on All Elite Wrestling: Wrestling Superstar Virgil and Chris’ Aunt’s Friend From Church stopped in for analysis on the AEW Championship match at Full Gear. Also, PAC won by pinfall AND submission somehow, and Cody Rhodes cut the promo of his life.
If you’d like to keep up with this column and its thinly veiled Best and Worst format, you can keep tabs on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite tag page. Elle Collins is also covering AEW Dark for us, and you can keep track of all things All Elite here. Follow With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter, where everything and everyone is terrible.
And now, the Ins and Outs of All Elite Wrestling Full Gear pay-per-view®, originally aired on November 9, 2019.
All In: Dentist The Menace
Up first on the Buy In, a dentist ends her issue with an irate British woman by pulling her teeth.
I think a lot of folks were worried about this one, as Baker hasn’t been particularly impressive in the ring in any regard and Priestley’s only real moments of note in All Elite Wrestling have centered around her actually hurting Baker during matches. Plus, they ran that video package beforehand that’s centered around, basically, Britt Baker saying, “this wrestler isn’t safe.” Which isn’t really something you should be announcing as part of your story, you know? In your universe, the illusion is supposed to be that wrestlers are hurting each other. That’s the entire point. Baker getting pissed off because Priestley stomped her in the head is a bridge too far when your main event involves a guy suplexing his opponent onto a circus net of barbed wire, you know?
Regardless, this one held together well and was a perfectly acceptable pre-show match. It got us from point A to point B without anything dramatic happening, Baker had pretty much her best match so far in the company — not a super high bar, but it’s a compliment — and Priestley showed anyone busy yammering on Twitter about how Shoot Dangerous she is in the ring that she knows what she’s doing, and sometimes shit just happens. You can see Bea kinda visibly trying to adjust to a North American style as well, though, as AEW women’s matches don’t really flow like Joshi matches so her transitions are super awkward. It’s like when Jewel stopped being folksy and tried to be a pop star. She can do it, it was just gonna seem weird for a while.
All … Something: The Hair Scare Bunch
After the match, Sudden Voodoo Priestess Brandi Rhodes shows up alongside the Awesome Kong, and they attack Bea for some reason. Britt Baker just wanders to the back to read her art books, or whatever. The story here is that Kong is using a knife to cut off people’s hair and wear the clippings on her belt like trophies, which is solid, but you’d think trophy collecting would be related to matches she competes in/wins, and not 2-on-1 post-match attacks against tired people who just wrestled. Especially when she’s the biggest and strongest and most famous person in the division. I dunno.
All Out: Gummo
An important message: I don’t care if you’re trying to “send a message” or they spit it at you first or not, you should not pick up somebody’s chewed chewing gum from the floor and put it in your mouth. The worst part? In a now deleted tweet, Cody Rhodes mentioned that Britt Baker was competing at Full Gear with the “full blown flu,” and she just wrestled before the show opening tag. So Santana’s not only putting a man’s discarded gum in his mouth after it’d fallen onto a dirty wrestling ring, it was potentially coated in the flu virus. If next week’s Dynamite is full of people you’ve never seen before because everyone at Full Gear got sick as shit, please refer back to this moment.
Anyway, we open the pay-per-view proper with Los Young Bucks against “Proud and Powerful,” which is the woke equivalent of calling your team “Vicious and Delicious.” It’s a fun tag match that effectively melded modern DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF match planning with some classic tag team storytelling, built around one of the Bucks accidentally injuring his leg on a missed kick and The Artists Formerly Known As LAX capitalizing on it. I liked that the Bucks toned it down a little and were visibly holding back as to not completely nerf the rest of the show. Honestly, my only complaint here is that they went 21 minutes. With the AEW title match going 30 and the garbage fight main event going goddamn 40, they probably could’ve leaned into the injury plot a little harder and accomplished the same thing in 12-15. Especially if you remove a guy with an injured leg superkicking everybody over and over with the injured leg. Going “ouch” at the end of a daisy chain of leg-centric offense is something, I guess.
All In: Morton’s Mind Blowers
After the match, we revisit the PNP vs. RNRs feud from two weeks ago Dynamite when Sammy Guevara shows up to help his Inner Circle jerks beat down the Young Bucks 3-on-2, only for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express to hop the rail and even the odds. Between Full Gear and last Tuesday’s episode of NWA Powerrr, it’s been a good week for the resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll.
I love that like 30 years past their primes, the dynamic of the team is still the same. Robert Gibson’s role is to briefly get into the ring and throw some punches, setting up Ricky Morton to be the low key deadass greatest of all time. Yeah, a Canadian Destroyer is just doing a sunset flip and hanging on while your opponent randomly backflips, but that’s a 63-year old man pulling it off. You can’t rely on most wrestlers in their early to mid-50s to get through simple spots they’ve been doing for decades without hurting themselves and others — Bill Goldberg, I’m looking in your direction, bro — but Morton can still go. I feel like 100-year old Ricky Morton could still get up for the double dropkick, even if he doesn’t have the lucha libre skills (!!!) of his younger, sexagenarian self.
Give the RNRs a match on Dynamite already. I want to see Jack Evans selling a weak right hand to the top of the head from Robert Gibson like he’s getting sacrificed by Matanza Cueto.
All In: Hang In There
You know, I had a well-observed apathy for the idea of another PAC vs. Adam Page match, but this turned out to be my favorite match of the night. They really went for it here and beat the shit out of each other. That’s all I can ask for in my heated, under-card blood rivalry.
This is the match Adam Page needed, I think. He looked strong, withstood a ton of offense from a guy with tons of offense — I especially liked him escaping the Brutalizer by inadvertently falling into the ropes, a la Shayna Baszler — and won, clean, with a flurry of big offense of his own. I don’t necessarily buy the Buckshot Lariat as a finish and the Dead Eye doesn’t look as effective when your opponent is too short to be on your back like that and have their head anywhere near the ground, but I think Page will eventually settle into his role as the workhorse (pun intended) hero of the company once the newness has worn off and the wrestling world at large has figured out what the hell the rest of the Elite are going for.
Also, PAC and Hangman need to team up and call themselves PAC-man. I suck, thanks for reading.
All In: AEW On Spike TV
Joey Janela vs. Shawn Spears was another perfectly fine match they probably should’ve cut from the pay-per-view and run on Dynamite, because (1) it didn’t really have a lot going for it story-wise, and Spears hasn’t accidentally busted anyone open lately so he’s increasingly irrelevant, and (2) it was mostly just 12 minutes of cooldown. That said, Tully Blanchard busting out the spike piledriver on the outside got a HUGE pop from me. I spend 100% of Shawn Spears matches thinking about Tully, and wondering what Tully’s gonna do. If LA Park never shows up in AEW to reclaim his “chairman” gimmick and nickname, I hope Tully eventually gets tired of Ben Ten Ten Ten and slingshot suplexes him out of Tully Blanchard Enterprises. If AEW’s never getting Tessa, they need an NWA-style LEMME TELL YA ONE THING kind of tough guy for Tully to truly get behind.
Maybe you guys don’t watch NXT UK as much as I do, but I loved the pay-per-view more or less grinding to a halt so Kip Sabian could get interviewed backstage and introduce his new extremely NXT UK character. Soft-spoken but arrogant white guy who’s shorter than the person announcing him? He might as well be headed into a match with Gallus, up next. Love it. The only thing that would’ve made it better is if he’d ended the interview, and we’d panned back over to see the interviewer nodding for no reason.
Sabian and Penelope Ford’s not a bad idea — more Penelope Ford is never a bad idea — but “why be bad when you can be super bad” is some “the extraordinary man who does EXTRA ordinary things” level material. We don’t just set the bad, we are the bad! What’s super bad? Bad off the top rope? Are we gonna get a segment where Marko Stunt uses a fake ID to buy alcohol?
Anyway, looking forward to Sabian’s match with Saxon Huxley on AEW Dark.
Mostly In: Angels Vs. Skeletons
I was a little let down by the triple threat Tag Team Championship match, honestly. I expected it to be full-on bonkers, especially with how into Private Party everybody’s been lately and how good the Lucha Bros (and Fenix in particular) have been, but … I think SCU just kinda drags it down. I hate saying that, because I really like those guys, but of the three, they’re the team I want to see the least right now. Maybe that’s why they’re the champions? Because they need it more?
Anyway, it wasn’t bad, but it started a little slow and clunky and ended once it started getting good. I do, however, love them bringing back Christopher Daniels via the Groucho Marx mirror gimmick from Duck Soup.
AEW loves goth wrestlers a lot — Jimmy Havoc, Darby Allin kinda, Bea Priestley, Jamie Hayter, technically Pentagon, Brandi Rhodes all of a sudden, etc. — so I hope they keep Christopher Daniels doing the “Fallen Angel” thing while he’s in SCU. They’re goofy guys from southern California who get cheered for saying they hate having to come to your town, and also their friend is a cult leader who might poison and kill everyone! It’s a completely normal friendship!
All In: Riho, Grand
While it might’ve been the easiest match of the night to predict, I liked Riho vs. Emi Sakura. I’ve seen it before … a lot before. Riho’s only 22 years old, but she’s wrestled Sakura an astounding 268 times, so you kinda know what you’re getting. It’s student vs. mentor, with Riho once again having to overcome a size differential and get creative to win. I know a lot of folks have a problem buying offense from a 98-pound champion, but the 50 pound weight differential between her and Sakura is no harder for me to buy than the 80-pound differential between Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho back in the day.
I do hope the women’s division gets actual characters and stories soon as promised, as I think we’d be able to focus less on how unbelievable Riho looks as a professional fighter if we were told (on Dynamite) who she is, how she feels about things, and why we should cheer for her beyond “cute,” “Japanese,” and “Kenny Omega’s friend.”
All In, But, You Know: The Assassination Of Cody Rhodes By The Coward MJF
Oh boy. This.
So, as expected, Cody Rhodes continued to the two things he’s been a true master at since forming AEW: complexly emotional story-based and epic old school wrestling matches, and accidentally (?) bleeding all over the goddamn place. Rhodes blood just can’t seem to stay inside their bodies these days, although I imagine they got it honest, as Dusty Rhodes probably stepped out of the shower in the morning wearing a crimson mask.
First of all, the judges for this — aka the guys positioned at ringside to give the match a decision should it go to a time limit draw, a good thing to establish early so it’ll be there should you ever need it — were hilariously biased toward Cody. Especailly notable after Cody mentioning on Wednesday that he’s management. You had Dean Malenko, a man who is everyone’s answer to the question, “which wrestler do you think hates Chris Jericho the most?” You had Arn Anderson, who recently helped Cody win a match, and you have The Great Muta, who I assume has some remaining loyalty to Dusty Rhodes thanks to their allegiance in the nWo. When you’re nWo, you’re nWo for life. Cody should’ve just run out the clock. But in all seriousness, that confrontation between Malenko and Jericho at ringside made my WCW-loving heart explode, and I’m forever thankful for it. Even if Malenko looks more like Dean Malenko’s Ghost these days. [“one more match” chant intensifies]
The larger story of the match, unfortunately, is that Cody goes all in on a dive onto the classic WCW-style (and New Japan, I guess, shuffle shuffle) ramp, pulls an Undertaker at WrestleMania 25, and without a Sim Snuka camera man to break his fall ends up going face-first into the tread plate. It’s brutal. The first angle makes it look really scary because Jericho’s body blocks the impact, but the second angle is somehow worse. Did Cody “blade” himself hardway but on purpose by face-planting onto jagged metal? Because if so, Jesus Christ, dude.
Cody, now with gunmetal scars on his forehead and gushing blood, is at the mercy of Le Champion. The story gets super dramatic and super good here, of course, because nothing kickstarts a match’s internal drama like some gory southern-style wrestling pathos. Cody looks like an actual dead man trying to keep up with Jericho and keep that inner fire burning, but Jericho keeps shutting him down, by hook or by (mostly) crook. Ultimately, a “concerned” MJF at ringside throws in the towel — he really should’ve thrown in the scarf — and “saves” Cody. Jericho wins and Cody avoids a much more serious injury, but now he can never again compete for the AEW Championship, based on a wager he made on his own accord, but lost because of something completely out of his control. That alone would be great storytelling, but we of course find out that Fantastic Max has been a sleeper agent (or just a colossal dickhead) all along and fucked on Cody at the worst possible time to guarantee his career is curbed forever. He puts an exclamation point on this by kicking Cody in the Johnson. Pure evil.
As an added bonus, we get to see AEW truly become WCW when a “drunken fan” (or a plant, either or) throws a drink on MJF on his way out. You should never throw unsolicited objects at wrestlers under any circumstance, but when it’s invited — like when Jimmy Rave used to get rolls of toilet paper thrown at him in place of streamers in Ring of Honor — it can be a lot of fun. If this is their way of communicating, “let’s all throw garbage at this garbage human,” let the garbage rain.
The Worst Quidditch Accident Of The Season
I can’t say AEW Kenny Omega is the “best bout matchine” yet, but after this, he’s certainly the most bout machine.
Your enjoyment of Full Gear’s main event may vary. AEW’s doing a very good thing by presenting all kinds of wrestling in their promotion instead of just doing one basic match type over and over — hi Ring of Honor, hi Evolve, hi NXT recently, even — and giving us a death match style brawl on the same pay-per-view as a gutsy southern title match, some spotfest tags, a Joshi mentor vs. student match, and so on. As it stands, though, if you don’t like watching guys attack each other with increasingly ridiculous weapons for 40 minutes, and you don’t like the image of, say, someone filling their opponent’s mouth with broken glass, you’re gonna have a bad time.
I personally didn’t like this at all, but I can see why many people did. Death matches have always been the polar opposite of my bag, which is hilarious considering how much I love bloody ’80s NWA shit like Magnum T.A. vs. Tully Blanchard. It’s a fine line, I guess. I watched this with someone who never watches wrestling, and their read of the main event was that it was “hard to watch,” and that death match wrestling doesn’t make a lot of sense because it invovles a bunch of corny crafting from the competitors before the matches. Like, who spent all night gluing mouse traps to a sheet of wood to make their wrestling moves hurt? Did Jon Moxley stay up turning his old bed frame into a circus net of barbed wire? Aren’t there more effective ways to hurt someone than by doing comedic back rakes with a broom covered in barbed wire? And you’ve gotta love the video game tendency to abandon and forget your weapon after you’ve used it once. Why not keep using it? It worked.
Omega putting a new meaning to the nickname "The Cleaner" pic.twitter.com/m1VlyOPMya
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) November 10, 2019
As wrestling fans we just kinda suspend disbelief for matches like this because the entire point is watching guys creatively hurt each other, but it does make you wonder if their time wouldn’t have been better spent buying a pair of brass knuckles or like, a police baton at a local pawn shop before Full Gear and just beating the shit out of their opponent from beginning to end.
And again, that said, I get why people dug it. It was 40 minutes of two guys taking time off their careers for our entertainment, and that should be respected in context. Personally, I would’ve loved to have seen a 40 minute Moxley vs. Omega match built like one of Omega’s New Japan Classics. I think both guys would’ve gotten more out of it, unless “Dean Ambrose got sugar glass poured in his mouth” is the kind of thing that sells replays. Plus, there was a bit of a Fiend problem going on as well. If a suplex into a barbed wire circus net, a V-Trigger through the stage, and more doesn’t get the pin, how am I gonna buy it in the future when Moxley gets pinned with a Buckshot Lariat or whatever? And then there’s the wins and losses thing. The next time Mox gets put in an unsanctioned match, he should just refuse, take a “sanctioned” match against like, Kip Sabian or whoever, and get an easy win with his DDT. What’s gained getting your back raked with a barbed wire broom if the result’s not even gonna count? Do you get a Bragging Rights trophy?
All In: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
End of AEW full gear:
Baron Von Raschke
Dean Ambrose one year ago: Vince, I would crawl through broken glass to stop working for you.
Vince tonight: He actually did it….Son of….
Excalibur: “This is hard to watch, JR”
JR: “Why is there a replay of Smackdown on your monitor?”
Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer
Omega forcing sugar into Moxley’s mouth when he knows full well he’s on the keto diet. WHAT A MONSTER!
Son of Tony Zane
I’m disappointed MJF didn’t throw in his scarf instead.
If anyone is there live, do me a favor and punch that hipster jackwagon thumbs downing the entire entrance and introduction of both women. I’ll even post your bail.
Dave M J
Johnny Gargano: SOMEONE LOSE ALREADY!
Omega clearly is a fan of Mainway toys bestseller – Bag O Glass
Beastmode Ate My Baby
Britt Baker leaves a card in Moxley’s locker.
That was awesome. Thank you idiot, drunken mark for making the turn more memorable!
That’s it for All Elite Wrestling Full Gear. A soda-throwing good time!
Make sure to drop down into our comments section below to let us know what you thought of the match, give us a share on social to get more eyes on the column — you’d be surprised how many more people still just wanna read about the same bad episode of Raw and Smackdown over and over — and make sure you’re here on Wednesday for the fallout. And remember, folks: don’t eat another person’s gum. You might get the flu. And a staph infection?