Preview: AEW – Full Gear (11/9/19)

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AEW Full Gear
Photo: @RoFoArena

When All Elite Wrestling was last on PPV for All Out, the show marked the final AEW card that was presented prior to the era of AEW Dynamite. Now, with the benefit of weeks of TV building to this event, AEW returns to PPV for their fifth-ever major card and last scheduled PPV of the year, “Full Gear.”

Named after one of the running gags from Being the Elite, Full Gear features the first defense of the newly crowned tag team titles, a huge world title bout with even bigger significance, two of the company’s hottest feuds finding headway and a women’s championship that could very well be the match of the night. There is a lot to look forward to this Saturday. Here’s a quick rundown of the card and the stories that have built to the matches.

Buy In: Britt Baker vs Bea Priestley

From the beginning, it felt clear that Britt Baker was someone AEW planned to build their women’s division around. She was the first woman announced for the roster earlier this year and while Baker didn’t win the women’s title right off the bat, she was the first opponent new champion Riho faced in her first defense. The Britt Baker train had left the station but at Fight for the Fallen, it had to make an unexpected stop thanks to Bea Priestley.

Priestley threw an errant boot that led to a concussion for Baker and ever since, these two have been at each other’s throats. After featuring in a tag match on Dynamite’s second episode that was won by Baker and current women’s champ Riho, Baker picked up her second victory the following week against Priestley’s Stardom tag team partner, Jamie Hayter. Meanwhile, Baker and Prestley’s feud has continued on AEW Dark including Baker cutting a promo on her Full Gear opponent about professionalism and Priestley’s lack of it.

The feud between Priestley and Baker is arguably the most developed women’s feud that AEW has had thus far. And to think it came about as the result of real-life being turned into kayfabe. In their AEW matches so far, Baker has picked up two of three wins. This will be the first time in their entire careers, that these two are meeting one-on-one.

Joey Janela vs Shawn Spears

Full Gear

Unique to Full Gear, perhaps compared to AEW’s other PPVs, is the presence of a built-out midcard feud in the form of Joey Janela vs Shawn Spears. Built-up in more recent episodes, Janela and Spears first crossed paths in a segment where the Bad Boy disrespected Spears manager, Tully Blanchard, by putting his trademark signature out in the Horseman’s beer. This didn’t sit well with the newly reborn and violent Spears, who along with Blanchard, attacked Janela, pried his mouth open with pliers and shoved a cigarette inside.

A feud that mainly developed on AEW Dark, Spears and Janela had their go-home moment on Wednesday. After Spears defeated Brandon Cutler, one of Janela’s earliest opponents from his time with the company, Janela stopped his Full Gear opponent from inflicting unnecessary post-match damage.

As far as midcards go, this one feels pretty at home. It’s had a nice build and there is a reason to be invested. It also feels more than just a one-off as some of AEW’s lesser PPV matches in the past have been. This very well has the makings of a nice feud and it all starts this Saturday. While these two did face off as opponents at Fight for the Fallen, this will be their first-ever career singles match against each other.

Women’s Championship: Riho (c) vs Emi Sakura

Looking around professional wrestling, AEW certainly has one of the better women’s division, at least on paper. But despite the talented roster, the division has lacked in proper build leading to this match, which could have had a great narrative, merely feeling rushed in order to have a women’s championship defense on PPV.

On the first episode of Dynamite, Riho, who was brought to AEW from Japan due to Kenny Omega’s excellent scouting, defeated Nyla Rose to become the promotion’s first champion. She’s held the belt ever since, successfully defending it in her only defense thus far, against Baker. But in the meantime, Riho has emerged as a real star with AEW and has quickly shown fans why she was such a fantastic signing.

At just 22, Riho has already made a name for herself in Japan and continues to do so with AEW. Her talent is unmistakable and that’s where Sakura comes in. A 43-year-old veteran, Sakura actually trained and mentored Riho so Saturday’s match up will pit the student vs the teacher. So far, the two are 1-1 in matches against each other on AEW TV. They are no strangers to each other however, having shared a ring, as either teammates or opponents, over 300 times in their careers.

Tag Team Championship: SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) (C) vs Private Party (Marq Quen & Isiah Kassidy) vs Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. & Fenix)

On the third episode of AEW Dynamite, the Lucha Brothers (Pentagon and Fenix) made a big statement. Prior to SCU’s (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) match in the tournament to crown the first-ever tag team champions, the brothers brutally attacked and injured Daniels, forcing him to leave on a stretcher. SCU had decided among themselves that due to their experience as a team, Daniels and Kazarian would compete in the tournament, but with the veteran’s injury, Sky stepped up to fill in. And fill in he did as not only did SCU win their match against Best Friends (Chuckie T and Trent Baretta) that night, they went on to win the whole tournament, defeating the Dark Order (Evil Uno and Stu Grayson) and finally, the Lucha Brothers in the championship match.

So it makes sense that their first defense of the titles would come against the Lucha Brothers, but AEW changed up the formula a bit. Having defeated the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), in their first-ever AEW showcase, the duo of Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy, Private Party, finished the tag team tournament with a strong showing. In a very real-sports esque final, Private Party even had the chance to, and ultimately won, what was billed as the bronze medal match.

On Saturday, arguably AEW’s best division, and one of the best tag team divisions in all of pro wrestling, will be on full display as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams from the tournament to crown the first champions, will be on full display. And, if given the time, this match could really set the bar and contend for the distinction of match of the night as all three of these teams are incredible in the ring and have shown that these past several weeks.

Proud-N-Powerful (Santana & Ortiz) vs Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson)

Full Gear

One of the biggest stories that has dominated weekly TV, has been the rise of Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle. The new AEW champion wasted no time in debuting his crew, which went right to work targeting the Elite. Among those chosen for Jericho’s Inner Circle, the duo formerly known as LAX (Santana and Ortiz), who had made their AEW debut at All Out, immediately targeting the Bucks after their loss to the Lucha Brothers.

In AEW’s debut, Proud-N-Powerful as they were newly named, served as Jericho’s mystery partners in his match against Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks. The Inner Circle was victorious as were Proud-N-Powerful a few weeks later, in a squash of Alex Reynolds and John Silver. But their feud with the Bucks goes beyond match results as the Inner Circle has targeted the Bucks and the rest of the Elite at every chance they’ve gotten. And with Jericho battling with Cody over the world title, these two feuds have largely been tied together.

For those who were afraid that the Bucks, as co-executive VPs of the promotion, would book themselves over strong, it’s actually been much of the opposite. While they have wrestled on all but two episodes of Dynamite thus far, the duo do have two losses, including to Santana and Ortiz from the six-man tag on episode one, and a first-round loss in the tag team tournament.

The excitement in this showdown at Full Gear lies with its dream match narrative. And while it is true this won’t be the first time the Bucks and Ortiz/Santana have done battle, it is the first that people who weren’t aboard the Jericho Cruise will have a chance to see. And given how both these teams elevated themselves in their respective promotions over the past few years, there is no doubt this is near the top of the list for tag team dream matches. Just above, it was noted that the tag team championship could steal the show. So could this match. And that in a nutshell, is why AEW has the best tag team division in all of wrestling, a division that will be fully on display this Saturday.

“THE BASTARD” PAC vs Hangman Page

Full Gear

Hangman Page, the man whose gimmick from Being the Elite leans itself to the Full Gear PPV name, will get another crack at his bitter rival as Page faces Pac for the second time in AEW, first time on PPV.

It was the first feud AEW ever built as at the press conference announcing Double or Nothing, the seeds were planted for Pac and Page, as both staked a claim as wanting to be the promotion’s first-ever world champion. That honor ultimately went to Jericho, who defeated Page for the title. But all the while, the Bastard lied in wait. It seemed like Page was the guy AEW had meant to elevate as a top name, but Pac is the one with the undeniable star power. This came off from the beginning as Pac defeated Page on the first episode of Dynamite via referee stoppage. In their second meeting, where Page teamed with Omega against Pac and Jon Moxley, the match was decided in favor of the Elite due to Pac and Moxley coming to blows and the latter leaving his partner high and dry.

When AEW has developed feuds, they’ve done it well. They’ve done it thoughtfully. Pac vs Page is no different.

Lights Out/Unsanctioned Match: Kenny Omega vs Jon Moxley

When Double or Nothing went off the air, the last image that people were left with was Jon Moxley, after having attacked Kenny Omega, standing atop a pile of casino chips. The paradigm shift had begun.

In the ensuing weeks, Moxley made it clear that he did not choose to attack Omega by accident. Rather, it was an intentional decision to target one of AEW’s top guys. Moxley wanted to position himself at the top of the ladder and going after Omega was exactly how he planned to do that. Making his AEW TV debut on the second episode, Moxley’s road to the top has been somewhat bumpy due to the involvement of Pac. But with the Bastard off handling his own business, Moxley will have Omega all to himself. And he’ll have him in a lights out match, something that seems could become a staple for Moxley as this will mark his second one in AEW in its short run.

Omega’s storyline on AEW so far has been compelling and surprising. It’s been almost a year since we last saw the Best Bout Machine doing what he does best, which is, you guessed it, putting on the best bouts. Instead, Omega has seemingly been an ancillary character in AEW, mainly used in tag team matches thus far. In fact, this feud with Moxley is really his first big feud and even then, its on Moxley’s terms. The unsanctioned, lights out element certainly favors Moxley but it will be interesting to see how Omega fares with a weapon in his hand as its been some time since he’s been in that kind of match environment. But barbed wire brooms and barbed wire baseball bats as opposed to technical wrestling will tell the story at Full Gear and as mentioned, that’s an outcome that favors Moxley’s sadistic and unpredictable nature.

World Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs Cody

Full Gear

The problem with having two of your top singles wrestlers as co-executive vice presidents is that at some point, one or both of them are going to enjoy runs with the title. That first shot, and Jericho’s first feud opponent since winning the belt, belongs to Cody. But this past week, Cody showed us that maybe just maybe, the EVPs in the title chase isn’t a bad thing at all.

Known more for his mic work than his ring work, something that should come as no surprise given who his father was, Cody cut arguably the best promo of his career and the best of the year in wrestling when he presented an honest, passionate and heartfelt view of AEW and his role in it. It was his “Hard Times,” and it finished with a major statement. If Cody loses on Saturday, he’ll never challenge for the world title ever again.

In its short run, Cody has emerged as AEW’s top babyface. He’s made the fans care about his title chase, which has been wonderful and has minimized concerns about the brass winning gold. He’s really been the face of the promotion, but here’s the thing, he’s not Chris Jericho. Continuing to reinvent himself, even at this late stage in his career, Jericho is a bonafide star and one of the best names you could have leading the cause as the first champ. He’s made the Inner Circle work. He’s been a masterful heel with his various attacks on Cody and the Elite. He was the right man to crown and he’s the right man to walk away, with the belt still around his waist. Now, how he goes about that is another story as Cody will have to watch his back as the Inner Circle looms. Not to mention, Cody will be cornered by his protege, a man who’s own top heel run doesn’t feel that far off. And with a similar penchant for scarfs, MJF could find a home in the Inner Circle as Jericho’s protege as soon as this Saturday.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.  AEW Full Gear will air on PPV on B/R Live and Fite.tv.

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