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AEW Full Gear 2021 recap & reactions: Hangman, world champ

AEW embarked on their final PPV of the year with Full Gear (Nov. 13, 2021). The show emanated from the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN and featured MJF and Darby Allin in a show-stealer, CM Punk and Eddie Kingston bopping a slugfest, as well as Hangman Page ending Kenny Omega’s reign as world champ.

Get caught up on all the Full Gear details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.

New world champ

Hangman Page did it! He defeated Kenny Omega to win the AEW World Championship. Hangman fulfilled the cowboy shit prophecy.

Victory did not come easy though. Omega is the Best Bout Machine for a reason. Omega hit the switch for three snap dragon suplexes, with the third being on the apron. A V-Trigger set up for a One Winged Angel, but Hangman punched his way out to escape.

The action intensified when Hangman launched for a flying lariat crashing into the timekeeper table. Hangman teased a buckshot lariat, however, Omega collapsed in pain to prevent liftoff. Hangman continued his momentum by flipping out of a German suplex to bash Omega with a rolling elbow then a pop-up powerbomb. Buckshot lariat! Except Omega pulled referee Paul Turner in front to take the hit.

Calamity ensued. Don Callis tried to wallop Hangman with the title belt. The Cowboy spotted Callis and sent him packing on a punch. That distraction allowed Omega to take a swing with the gold in hand. Page ducked and executed the Deadeye piledriver. Could there be a new champ? Not with the referee still incapacitated. Hangman had a solid ten-count on the cover before referee Aubrey Edwards arrived in the ring. 1, 2, kick out by Omega.

The contest reset with a striking exchange. Kicks to the head only fired up the cowboy to unleash a hefty lariat.

That’s when the Young Bucks decided to make their presence ringside. After a pair of back drop drivers from each competitor, Hangman gained the upper hand to hit the One Winged Angel. Omega surprisingly kicked out of his own finisher.

Hangman had Omega wobbly. The cowboy waited to explode for a buckshot lariat. Nick Jackson was below in his line of sight. Nick didn’t attempt any treachery, but he was clearly trying to get in Hangman’s head. Page didn’t take the bait and took to the air for a buckshot lariat to Omega’s back. Hangman exited the ring again hoping for another buckshot lariat. This time, Matt Jackson circled Hangman below. Sensing the inevitable, Matt gave a nod of approval for Hangman to rise to the top. Buckshot lariat, 1, 2, 3, new champ. The Dark Order ran out to celebrate with Hangman.

The main event was excellent all the way through. It started on a high note with an entrance video of Hangman riding a horse on the streets of Minneapolis. The big fight feel increased as Omega made his way to the ring. The action escalated to a fever pitch at the end. Throw in a convincing false finish, such as Hangman’s One Winged Angel, to elevate the drama. Omega never really had that one moment to make me believe he would retain, but it didn’t matter. The story was all about seeing Hangman succeed, and he did just that to close the show on a happy note.

There was also a lot going on to bring the story full circle once the Young Bucks arrived. Of all people, Matt was the one to provide emotional support. He had always been the hardest on Hangman throughout their soap opera friendship. His nod was subtle and yet it spoke volumes. The rise of Hangman is over. Now it is time for cowboy shit to carry AEW.

Let’s run down the rest of the show from top to bottom.

Minneapolis street fight: Inner Circle defeated Ethan Page, Scorpio Sky, Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski, & Dan Lambert. The pieces of plunder included hockey sticks, pipes, chairs, tables, ladders, a toaster, one water ski, a cake pan, and a Prince symbol sign, which coerced ‘Purple Rain’ chants from the crowd. Chaos was all over with notable moments including Santana & Ortiz using a double submission to Men of the Year as Sammy Guevara threw a football at Sky,

Guevara jumping off a tall ladder for a senton through a table,

and Baron von Raschke giving the Iron Claw to Page.

The finish came down to Chris Jericho and Dan Lambert face to face. As Jericho went for a Lionsault, dos Santos popped him with a punch. When Lambert went for a Boston Crab, Jericho grabbed a kendo stick and went wild on Lambert and dos Santos. Jericho nailed a frog splash in honor of Eddie Guerrero to win.

The street fight was all over the place with a hectic pace. The unique touches relating to Minneapolis were loads of fun. The MMA fighters looked good in their roles. Arlovksi worked well as a brawler, and dos Santos showed amazing athleticism for a man of his size on a standing moonsault. Dos Santos took his share of punishment by taking a superplex and kendo shots. If this is the end of the ATT experiment, I think they held up their half of the action. Credit to AEW for putting them in positions to succeed.

Jay Lethal is All Elite. After the street fight, Lethal was brought on stage stepping through the figurative Forbidden Door to arrive in AEW. He requested a TNT title shot on Dynamite, and Sammy Guevara accepted.

Lethal is a good hand to add roster depth. I’m not sure how much he adds to the big picture. I’d venture on not much, but AEW has surprised me in the past with effective use of talent. Whatever the case, Lethal should have a dandy in his debut against Guevara.

CM Punk defeated Eddie Kingston. Kingston threw a cheap shot spinning backfist before the bell rang. Punk dominated the wrestling aspect, while Kingston uglied it up trying to inflict pain. He succeeded in making Punk bleed. When Kingston called for a GTS, he was too slow and Punk hit that signature move on him. Punk was too exhausted to make the pin, but he managed to dig into his energy reserves to take Kingston to pound town. Punk ducked a Hail Mary spinning back fist to hammer Kingston with a variety of furious strikes. A second GTS finished the job.

Slobberknocking slugfest all the way. Punk showed Kingston isn’t fit to hold his jock. Kingston started with the advantage of a cowardly cheap shot and still couldn’t fully achieve his goal. Kingston entered with a loser’s mentality of admitting defeat before the match took place, so he proclaimed that he would hurt Punk instead. Punk took some rough shots, but he was never in true danger. That’s why I’d say Kingston failed in his mission. Kingston showed he was a sore loser by not accepting Punk’s offer for a handshake afterward.

I think it is time for Kingston to take a vacation. He needs to reinvent himself a bit. Kingston was already reverting back to previously played notes when he was a clear bad guy. From the sporting aspect, recent losses showed he has a clear ceiling. I don’t know how he can achieve a higher level along his current path.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Dr. Britt Baker DMD retained against Tay Conti. Peak moves were Baker with an Air Raid Crash on the apron and a curb stomp onto the ring steps. Conti unloaded the Gory Knee Strike, Gotch piledriver, and hammerlock DDT throughout the course of the contest, but she could never keep Baker down. The finish was an exchange of reversals with Baker emerging on top for a roll-up.

Solid match on the surface. Digging deeper, there were a few things I didn’t like. Where was Anna Jay? Baker’s goons predictably interfered. This is a new age of wrestling where the victim looks stupid to not be prepared for such tactics. Technology is readily available for easy scouting. It’s not the territory days where grainy video footage was hard to come by. Also, Baker was too superhuman. She took all of Conti’s finishers and kept on ticking. To make it even worse, Baker was being kicked in the head repeatedly before magically recovering for the roll-up finish sequence. The overall effort was good, but I wasn’t feeling the flow. On a positive note, I did enjoy Conti’s ring awareness for escaping several Lockjaw attempts.

Cody Rhodes & PAC defeated Andrade & Malakai Black. Arn Anderson had a funny moment pulling his finger gun to punch Andrade’s assistant. That was the only extraneous activity that Cody matches usually employ.

The story was two tag teams acting more like four singles wrestlers. Cody and PAC did self-tags frequently. Cody gets the blame for doing it first and starting their teamwork out on a bad foot. Their loss was our gain when PAC tagged himself in for a 450 splash as Cody had Andrade locked in a figure-four. That spot was very cool. Andrade was able to reach the ropes to break the pinfall. For the bad guys, they started cohesively then slowly became unglued tagging themselves in.

The closing sequence began with Cody suplexing Black out of the ring. Black responded with a clothesline over the guardrail into the seats. PAC turned up the heat on Andrade to win via Black Arrow.

Interesting turn of events with the tag team malarkey. PAC is a Bastard, so it makes sense for him to be cranky. I’m not sure why Cody felt the need to one-up him. With Andrade and Black, I didn’t catch why their partnership would start to deteriorate. Even with those questions in my mind, the match delivered enjoyment with entertaining wrestling.

Falls Count Anywhere: Christian Cage & Jurassic Express defeated Young Bucks & Adam Cole. Crazy spot festival. Chairs, tables, thumbtacks. One trashcan was used so often that it was horribly contorted by the end. Top three spots were Christian with a flying crossbody off the upper level, a BTE Trigger with special thumbtacked kneepads, and Luchasaurus with a shooting star press off the stage onto bodies below.

Jungle Boy picked up the win with a conchairto to Matt Jackson.

Wild, wild fun. Seeing as there was an actual street fight booked, the foreign objects felt a little too similar to the street fight concept. After watching both matches, they were executed different enough to feel fresh. All six men carried the load evenly taking hard bumps along the way. With the overall high quality of matches and length of the show, this one might be overshadowed, however, it should have a strong replay value. It might even age better upon repeated viewings.

World Title Eliminator tournament final: Bryan Danielson defeated Miro. Danielson worked hard trying to chop down the monster. He finally made leeway by ramming the menace into the ring post and then connecting on a flying knee off the apron. Danielson kept up the pressure, but Miro would find a second wind for crushing slams.

At one point, Miro reached to the sky to harness energy from his God. That didn’t last when Danielson escaped the Game Over camel clutch. Danielson was close to victory when he hooked the LeBell Lock. Drama intensified as Miro broke free. Danielson transitioned to a triangle choke. Miro escaped by gouging the eyes. Miro found his groove by eating strikes from Danielson only to deliver powerful shots as Danielson’s defense was down. Miro took a gamble aiming for a power move out of the corner. Danielson countered for a flying DDT. He swiftly applied the dragon sleeper for Miro to pass out in defeat. Danielson earned a future world title shot.

Great take on big man versus little man. The little man in this case used his savviness to seize the moment on a DDT to Miro’s weak neck. I went in assuming Danielson was a lock to win, however, Miro did well with his displays of aggression to make me think twice toward the end. Danielson versus Hangman is going to be epic. Danielson’s reputation and career achievements add an element of unpredictability in the outcome. If Hangman can win, it would cement his status as top guy.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: Lucha Bros retained against FTR. This match delivered as expected with cool lucha libre maneuvers and sneaky tag team tactics. A pair of great false finishes precluded the final pinfall. FTR went back to how they won the AAA tag titles. Dax Harwood kicked out on a roll-up with force sending Fenix crashing into the AAA belt held by Cash Wheeler. Harwood planted Fenix on a brainbuster. 1, 2, kick out. That moment had me hook, line, and sinker with feelings of ‘this is bullshit’ gurgling up.

The second false finish involved the memory of Eddie Guerrero. Harwood mocked the Lucha Bros with a Guerrero shoulder shimmy then Three Amigos. Boos rained down loudly. On the third suplex, Pentagon escaped to show him how it’s down. Shoulder shimmy, two suplexes, then Fenix flew in on a frog splash. ‘Eddie’ chants were thundering. 1, 2, kick out. That would have been an appropriate ending, however, it was not meant to be.

Down the stretch, Harwood was gone after taking the Fear Factor. Wheeler put on the Super Ranas mask to enter the ring posing as the legal man. The referee caught him with feet on the ropes during a roll-up. The Lucha Bros quickly pounced for a teamwork double underhook piledriver to win.

Fun action with good call backs to previous moments in this feud. The Eddie spots popped hard on par as loudest of the night. It was fitting that FTR went down cheating in their last grasp.

MJF defeated Darby Allin. Match of night material right off the bat, and my personal pick for that honor. Highlights include an energetic mat wrestling stalemate to start, a suicide dive from Allin as MJF was strutting, Allin with an over the top stunner off the turnbuckles, MJF with a powerbomb backbreaker over the knee, a vicious Code Red counter into a powerbomb by MJF, and Sting using a chair and a bat to beat up Wardlow and Shawn Spears.

The story was Allin hurting his back on a missed coffin drop onto the apron and MJF hurting his knee. Both men targeted their opponent’s weak spot often. Both men also did damage to themselves, such as MJF’s knees dropping on a pilediver and Allin’s back impacting on a Coffin Drop down to the floor. Pinfalls were available a few times, but the pain hindered movement for timely covers.

The finish came down to whether Allin would give in to angry impulses. MJF handed a skateboard to Allin begging to hit him for a DQ. Allin was tempted but passed it to the referee instead. As the ref was occupied, MJF landed a Dynamite Diamond Ring punch. MJF secured a pin with a headlock takeover.

Outstanding match. From the technical wrestling to extended pinfall exchanges to selling pain to the closing drama, it all flowed magnificently. Even squeezing Sting in made sense. The finish was both genius and hilarious. I thought teasing Allin to snap was a little hokey. MJF hadn’t baited Allin enough during the actual match to make me believe Allin would give in to rage. MJF cheating afterward to win with a headlock takeover as he had proclaimed was a master stroke. MJF was two moves ahead on the chess board plotting multiple ways to steal a win. His dastardliness made me crack up with laughter.

With this match, MJF has shown once again he has the ability to rock the ring. His big matches with veterans have been decent, however, he truly shines against his contemporaries. MJF’s matches with Allin and Jungle Boy were excellent. Once the four pillars run AEW, the main event scene will be in good hands.

Thunder Rosa & Hikaru Shida defeated Nyla Rose & Jamie Hayter. The good gals had momentum on tandem flying crossbodies down to the floor. Shida lost focus to get in the face of Serena Deeb, who was sitting in the front row. Vickie Guerrero came from behind to whack Shida’s tender knee with a kendo stick. Shida was victim to a superplex from Hayter followed by a frog splash from Nyla. Thunder broke the pinfall with a flying missile dropkick. As Thunder and Hayter brawled on the floor, Nyla picked up Shida for a Beast Bomb. Shida countered for a jackknife pin to win.

Three moments in particular stood out. First, Shida did the mounted punches in the corner for ten then added a dropkick on her way down instead of simply stepping off the ropes. That was a neat twist. Second, Nyla pulled the ropes down for Shida to tumble to the floor. She said she was going to help Shida up then humorously clobbered her with a clothesline. Third, Thunder’s flying dropkick to break the pin was badass.

Nyla lost the match, but damage was done to Shida for the greater purpose of winning the TBS Championship. It was good to go back to that injury, because enough time had elapsed that Deeb’s beatdown would have heeled. Now, Shida and Nyla can use that story as part of their match.

Hometown pop. The pre-show kicked off with Dante Martin addressing Team Taz’s offer. Before he could speak his mind, the Acclaimed interrupted with an offer of their own. Join them or have his legs broken. Martin answered with a punch to the kisser of Bowens then a springboard cannonball onto the bad guys.

Quick segment to pump up the crowd. They were rowdy at shouting down the Acclaimed after Max Caster dissed Minneapolis. Martin received support as the hometown wrestler. The end result was fun fluff.

Grade: A

Full Gear rocked all night long. There were no weak spots. Every match was entertaining in its own way. The cherry on top was Hangman’s story climaxing as world champ.

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

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