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AEW Full Gear 2020 recap & reactions: Savage beauty

AEW Full Gear (Nov. 7, 2020) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. It featured Hikaru Shida stealing the show, Darby Allin taking his career to the next step, Hangman Page and Kenny Omega living up to lofty expectations, and Jon Moxley proving once again he is the king of AEW.

Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent live results and play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.

I Quit

Jon Moxley took his savagery to another level, and it was a thing of beauty. Once he realized what needed to be done, he made Eddie Kingston quit.

The I Quit main event for the AEW World Championship exploded with fisticuffs right away. Moxley and Kingston stiffed each other hard. Moxley softened Kingston up by breaking his finger. The message to quit was not received, so Moxley eventually took out his trusty barbwire bat. He swung away at Kingston’s midsection to damage internal organs. Moxley then mashed the barbwire into Kingston’s face.

Kingston recovered to take control. He wrapped a piece of barbwire around his hand for a spinning backfist. Kingston snatched Moxley’s arm for a kimura, but the champ wasn’t close to giving up. Time for thumbtacks. Kingston used a uranage to toss Moxley onto the pieces of metal. The action became demented when Kingston poured rubbing alcohol on Moxley’s wounds.

Kingston tried to get cute with a bulldog choke, but Moxley escaped. The champ rallied with a piledriver, bulldog choke of his own, and a Paradigm Shift. Kingston would not quit, so Moxley had no other choice but to do serious damage. He used a piece of barbwire to place against Kingston’s throat on a bulldog choke. Kingston hung tough, but finally uttered the two demoralizing words, “I quit.” Afterward, Moxley attempted to make peace, but Kingston pouted away to the back.

I loved the physicality of that fight, but it veered a little too hardcore for my taste. The rubbing alcohol and testicle stomping were a bit much. The finish was creatively brutal. Kingston went out on his shield and quit to avoid death. There was never any doubt that Moxley would retain, and yet the match kept a sense of unpredictability. Job well done.

#1 Contender

The long-awaited clash between Hangman Page and Kenny Omega delivered on expectations. Hangman set the tone by making a beeline to the ring and eschewing a handshake offer from Omega. The story was the two being so familiar with each other’s moves that there were plenty of escapes and counters. Intensity picked up on an explosive exchange of chest chops.

The first believable pinfalls came on two excellent back-to-back sequences. Hangman struck with a rolling elbow strike. Omega retaliated with a knee to the chin then a Tiger Driver 98. Hangman kicked out on the pin. Next were reversals by both men to escape German suplex attempts. Hangman blasted Omega with a lariat then hit Dead Eye. Omega kicked out.

In the end, Omega slyly ducked a buckshot lariat and hit two V-Triggers. Omega picked Hangman up for One Winged Angel. Hangman did his darndest to keep his head free, but Omega locked and loaded to finish it. Hangman did not kick out. Omega is the new #1 contender for the AEW World Championship. At the end of the show, he had a staredown with Moxley.

This was the best match of the evening. The action was hot and heavy, kept a quick pace without overdoing it, and told an interesting story. The contest was lengthy but never felt so. It even had a potential happy ending. Omega gave a subtle pat to Hangman after the match, but Page may have been too woozy to acknowledge it. Perhaps their friendship can be salvaged after all. Cue up the Cinderella song, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).”

It will be interesting to see the fallout for Hangman. Will he go back to the bottle after failing once again at singles success? Or will he learn a lesson from defeat and bounce back better than ever? The next step is one I’m most curious about.

Holy Shida

Hangman versus Omega was the best, however, Hikaru Shida versus Nyla Rose was my favorite. Both women went to battle for a classic David vs Goliath story.

Shida came out fierce with an early slugfest attack. She brought the thunder and lighting in her strikes. The tide turned when Vickie Guerrero cheapshot Shida’s knee from behind with a kendo stick. Nyla went to work on Shida’s aching joint. Shida fought through the pain to show her strength on a suplex to her larger opponent. Nyla regained control with a diving knee strike as Shida was hung over the ropes.

Later, Nyla went for the kill. She hit a powerbomb but pulled Shida up to dish out more punishment. Nyla bowed, flipped the double bird, then stole Shida’s running knee strike finisher. The champ refused to lose. Shida bounced back for a back drop, running knee strike, and an impressively awesome super Falcon Arrow. Shida flipped the script with a mischievous smile to pull Nyla off the mat.

Shida went for her running knee finisher, but Vickie caused a distraction. Vickie ended up being flattened by Nyla on a miscue. Shida capitalized with a Falcon Arrow and 4 straight knees to the face for victory.

Excellent intensity in that bout. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Shida may be the best babyface in wrestling right now. She’s likeable, easy to root for, and has a badass fighting spirit. Of course, it helps to have such a great heel to play off. Nyla definitely deserves credit for being so unlikable.

After the match, Vickie screamed at Nyla for failing. She slapped the Native Beast across the face. Nyla hung her head in shame. I don’t know what to make of that. Hopefully, Nyla gets TV time to explore that incident.

New TNT Champ

Darby Allin is the new face of TNT. He defeated Cody Rhodes to win the TNT Championship. Cody’s lack of discipline cost him in the end.

Cody started with the strategy of muscling Allin around. Cody played showboating mind games to get under his opponent’s skin, but Darby wouldn’t take any shit. Cody got the upper hand on a hammerlock toss onto the stage. Allin screamed in pain about his arm, so Cody shifted gears to focus on punishing pain.

Cody took it high-risk with a brutal avalanche shoulderbreaker. Allin still had gas in the tank and paintbrush slapped Cody to start a comeback. Cody crushed Allin’s momentum with an amazing avalanche Cross Rhodes. Unfortunately, Allin was too close to the ropes on the pin. The referee ceased counting after noticing Allin’s arm under the rope. Allin was out, and that was pure luck of positioning.

Cody went away from attacking the arm, and that was his downfall. Cody began losing his cool when Allin wouldn’t stay down from slams. Allin got his second wind by catching a Disaster Kick into a Last Supper pin. Cody escaped but then ate an over-the-top stunner and a Coffin Drop. Cody survived the three count. A rolling pin exchange followed, which resulted with Allin on top for three. Cody took a knee to hand over the TNT Championship.

Great match until the finish. It was more like Cody beat himself rather than Allin being better. Cody’s loss of focus didn’t jive well with me. Even the announcers were yelling at Cody to finish it with an arm submission. He should be too smart to make that mistake. Cody did the work but didn’t follow through with discipline to finish it. Despite that, the story was executed well for the intended goal and felt like a passing of the torch moment.

After the match, Taz came out insulting Darby and Cody for their displays of emotion. Taz wanted to vomit and urged them to take their asses to the back. It was all a setup for an ambush from Brian Cage and Ricky Starks. It led to Will Hobbs making the save from Team Taz trying to break Darby’s arm in a car door.

Since there was no actual consequences, this felt like a spot for TV and unnecessary for the PPV. On the plus side, tension was teased between Starks and Cage over wanting to own the TNT title. It also amped up possibilities for future matchups. I want to see all of the possible singles bouts of Team Taz against Allin, Cody, and Hobbs.

Let’s jam through the rest of the Full Gear card.

MJF defeated Chris Jericho. The best part was MJF stealing the light-up gimmick for his entrance robe. The match had a slower pace. It was heel vs heel, but the crowd was clearly behind Jericho. In the end, MJF caught a Judas Effect to counter for an armbar. Jericho managed to make it to the ropes, so MJF waved in Wardlow for the Dynamite Diamond Ring. As the referee was occupied with Wardlow, Jericho ducked the punch. Jake Hager tossed in Floyd the bat. MJF flopped to confuse the referee into a potential disqualification. MJF scored a roll-up victory in the confusion. Jericho welcomed MJF into the Inner Circle without any malice as Hager and Wardlow maintained menacing eye contact.

There was one major problem with this match. MJF did nothing to address concerns about being soft or lacking a killer instinct. The bit that made me excited on Dynamite was never really explored, so that was a letdown. I’m wondering if MJF is story bait to disband the Inner Circle in time. Rather than combust, members would break away instead of taking orders from MJF.

Matt Hardy deleted Sammy Guevara. The Elite Deletion was a cinematic affair from the Hardy compound. Guevara drove in on a golf cart. Hardy squashed it with a monster truck. Guevara came back with a moonsault off the top of the monster tire. The match saw appearances from Ortiz, Santana, Private Party, Gangrel, and Hurricane Helms. Oh, there was also a fireworks fight.

In the end, Hardy locked Sammy into a sealed dome away from help. The fight finished there. Guevara hit a swanton off a ladder through a table. Hardy came back with a Twist of Fate then speared Guevara off the apron through a table. Hardy bashed Guevara’s head with a chair for the win. Private Party loaded Guevara’s body into a garbage can to take out the trash.

The Elite Deletion was a kooky spectacle. It is definitely a match to rewatch just to soak in all the weirdness. The first half shifted too much away from the principal participants, so I’m glad they made a smart to choice to isolate Hardy and Guevara for the finish. That provided enough closure to move on.

AEW Tag Team Championship: Young Bucks dethroned FTR to win gold. This was a war of attrition. All four men ended up with injuries affecting their abilities. Due to the soggy story coming in, I wasn’t feeling this match. It took about 15 minutes until they hooked me hard.

That came when FTR hit a totem pole flying bulldog then Cash Wheeler exploded for a spear through to ropes to knock Nick Jackson off the apron. The fight continued with drama and nifty moves. In the end, Wheeler deviated from his no flips policy to miss a springboard 450. Matt Jackson kicked Wheeler in the face with his injured leg. 1, 2, 3, new champs. Omega came out to celebrate, while Hangman sheepishly stood off to the side hidden in the tunnel.

Orange Cassidy defeated John Silver. The first half had comedic flavor to work the crowd. OC used his antics to rile up Silver, so the little big man humorously ripped out the pockets of Cassidy’s pants. Silver also had an impressive single-hand gorilla press. The second half picked up the pace with legit moves. In the end, Cassidy ducked a discus clothesline to unload a Superman punch then Beach Break to win.

If you like Cassidy, then you’d probably be entertained by the match. If you don’t enjoy Cassidy’s stylings in the ring, then this bout would do little to change your mind. Cassidy solidified his evolution by leaving laziness at the door. His slothness was more a way to get in Silver’s head rather than not caring. Commentary put over Silver afterward as having high potential to do big things. I wouldn’t go that far with praise. He certainly has value on the roster but not as a title holder.

NWA Women’s World Championship: Serena Deeb retained against Allysin Kay. During the pre-show, Kay almost won with her AK47 finisher, but Deeb immediately rolled out of the ring to safety. That was part one of Deeb’s strategic plan. Part two came after Kay put Deeb back in the ring. Deeb pounced for a dragon screw leg whip in the ropes then a facebuster slam. Deeb finished it with the Serenity Lock submission.

That was a solid free match worth checking for fans of women’s wrestling. Deeb continued to impress. Afterward, Thunder Rosa confronted Deeb for a rematch. I’m wondering if the trade-off for Rosa losing to Shida is to promote a future NWA PPV bout for Rosa and Deeb. If so, then it worked on me to earn interest.

Notes: Don Callis, from Impact Wrestling, was on commentary to lend insight into Kenny Omega. Mike Chioda was the referee for the TNT title bout. QT Marshall and Dustin Rhodes hyped their contest against Blade & Butcher on Dynamite. It will be a Bunkhouse match. Lance Archer wants AEW to serve him competition. The Murderhawk Monster is coming to kill. Kip Sabian demanded an apology from Orange Cassidy for putting Penelope Ford in harm’s way. Cassidy obliged, then Sabian slapped him anyway. OC kept his cool and backed away.

Stud of the Show: Hikaru Shida

Shida came to kick ass, and that she did. She overcame pain to hit impressive power moves. Honorable mention to Cody’s Cross Rhodes off the turnbuckles.

Dud of the Show: Referee Rick Knox

Matt Jackson had a Sharpshooter on Dax Harwood. FTR’s baldie clearly grabbed the ropes. Jackson pulled him back to the center with the hold still applied. Knox saw it, threw his hands in the air, and didn’t do squat to break the hold. It was blatant incompetence. That doofus should have done his job. Tully Blanchard needs to beat up Knox backstage.

Grade: B+

The build going in had mixed effectiveness. That didn’t stop several of the matches from rocking hard. Half the show was great, and half was just okay. New directions were set, torches were passed, and, best of all, finishes were clear.

Share your thoughts about Full Gear. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

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