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AEW Full Gear 2022 recap & reactions: New world champ MJF

AEW Full Gear (Nov. 19, 2022) emanated from Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The PPV event featured MJF winning the world championship with a sinister turn from William Regal, the electric return of the Elite, Jungle Boy stealing the show, and much more.

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

Let’s run down the card from top to bottom.

AEW World Championship: MJF defeated Jon Moxley to win world title. Moxley manhandled MJF for much of the bout. MJF hurt his knee on a piledriver on the apron, and that gave Moxley a target to attack. Drama picked up on a piledriver through a table by Moxley. MJF barely beat the count back into the ring. Mox struck with a Paradigm Shift, but MJF kicked out. When MJF picked up momentum, Mox chop blocked the knee.

Down the stretch, Moxley hit a super Paradigm Shift off the turnbuckles. 1, 2, MJF placed his hand on the ropes for the break. The match broke down into two referee bumps. First, MJF pulled the referee in front of a running Moxley. When MJF dug deep for his Dynamite Diamond Ring, William Regal came out to chastise him. MJF gave in and tossed the foreign object aside. That’s when Moxley snatched his neck for a choke. MJF backed them crashing into the second referee. Mox kept his focus to secure a bulldog choke. MJF tapped out, but both refs were still unconscious. Regal advised Moxley to revive the primary referee. With Mox’s back turned, Regal slipped the brass knuckles over to MJF. Kapow! Ref awake. 1, 2, 3. New champ MJF.

The main event was arguably the worst match on the card. That’s not a reaction to the result. It’s not even so much what happened. It’s how it happened. If you told me William Regal double-crossed Moxley by sliding brass knuckles to MJF, I would be curious with a smile.

In execution, the match fell apart starting with MJF’s performance. It failed to mesh within the context of the feud. Moxley upheld his end of the bargain with his usual ass-kicking style. MJF treated it more like a clown show hamming up for the partisan crowd. His fighting effort didn’t match his promo material at all. MJF did not wrestle like winning the world title meant everything to him. I feel like he sold us wolf tickets. Then, AEW had to over-complicate the finish with two ref bumps, a tap out by MJF, and brass knuckles. The way this match played out did nothing to build eagerness into tuning in for Dynamite to see more of this angle.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: The Acclaimed retained against Swerve Strickland & Keith Lee. Billy Gunn was absent to start the match. Commentary explained that he didn’t want his heated emotions toward Swerve to cost his boys the contest. The story for the Acclaimed was Anthony Bowens with a tender shoulder injury. He grit through the pain and persevered to the end. The story for Swerve in Our Glory was a tag team explosion. Boom! Swerve grabbed pliers to break some scissoring fingers. Daddy Ass ran in and had to be restrained by officials. Swerve handed the pliers to Lee. When Lee declined to use them, Swerve slapped him across the face. Lee bounced to ditch his partner. The Acclaimed took control to pin Swerve on a teamwork slam.

Pump up the jam, pump it up. The action was rocking between the two teams. The way the finish played was disappointing. If AEW planned on breaking up Swerve and Lee, then they should have given the win to the Acclaimed as a strong victory with the breakup afterward. The Acclaimed still need to build their stock to rumble with teams on the level of FTR or the Young Bucks. The way this win played out didn’t do them any favors. Looking back on this feud, we can’t say the Acclaimed are the better tag team. The first win was due to Papa Billy’s help, and the second win was thanks to Lee leaving early. On the positive, Bowens was a stud with heaping amounts of intestinal fortitude. That helped build a rooting interest to see his success.

AEW Interim Women’s World Championship: Jamie Hayter defeated Toni Storm to win the title. Rugged fisticuffs throughout. The finish was overrun with shenanigans. Rebel sneaked down ringside to clobber Storm with the title belt. Hayter hit a sliding lariat. Kick out by Storm. Rebel argued with the referee while holding the title and was ejected. A short while later, Dr. Britt Baker DMD ran in to curb stomp Storm on the floor. That couldn’t get the job done either. In the climax, Baker was in the corner. Storm sent Hayter crashing into the dentist. On the contact, Baker ripped off the turnbuckle pad when falling down. Hayter shoved Storm into the exposed steel and blasted a ripcord lariat to earn the win.

This was a case of deflating overbooking. It was sizing up as an riveting match reaching its climax, then it went overboard with interference. I was excited at the prospect of Hayter running with the belt, however, it felt unsatisfying in the way she won. I hope AEW doesn’t repeat Baker’s irritating title run with overwhelming interference in every match. I want to see Hayter carve out her own identity as champion.

No DQ: Sting & Darby Allin defeated Jeff Jarrett & Jay Lethal. Sonjay Dutt and Satnam Singh were ringside. This was pure chaos. Highlights include Singh catching Allin on a ladder leaping Coffin Drop to slam on the ramp, Sting with a flying crossbody off the upper level, Sting with a Scorpion Deathlock on Jarrett then being goozled for a chokeslam by Singh, and Jarrett hitting Allin with his guitar on a Coffin Drop. The finish was just as wild. Sting and Allin neutralized Singh with a combo Coffin Drop Scorpion Death Drop. Sting countered the Lethal Injection into a Scorpion Death Drop. Allin sealed the deal with a Coffin Drop on the fallen Lethal.

It’s Sting! AEW knows how to book his matches as a blast of excitement. I was expecting a sports entertainment spectacle, and that’s what we were given. Thumbs up on this one. Jarrett played his role well getting his ass kicked. How can Jarrett haters not crack a smile at that? He also flashed a strut and guitar shot to play his hits.

TNT Championship: Samoa Joe wins title over Wardlow and Will Hobbs. Wardlow entered as champ for the hoss fight supreme. The contest was full of car crash collisions. Down the stretch, Hobbs tackled Joe into the guardrail. Powerhouse hit a spinebuster on Wardlow in the ring. Kick out by the champ. The two engaged in a dance of counter steps. Wardlow came out ahead for a powerbomb. He quickly added a second powerbomb. Wardlow warmed up the symphony for a third powerbomb. On the fourth, Joe ran in to smash Wardlow with the title belt. That was legal under triple threat rules. With Wardlow down, Joe choked Hobbs for victory. Powerhouse was pretty much already out of it after so many powerbombs. Joe is now a double champion with the ROH TV title.

Hosses, hosses, and more hosses. Oh, yeah. This was big men getting physical. Nothing fancy, and that’s the way it should be. Well, except for Wardlow. He did pull out a cool flying move by running up the turnbuckles to flip onto beef below.

I’d say Wardlow was the scene-stealer of this occasion. He also got the crowd rowdy with powerbombs. I don’t think there was a wrong choice as winner among the three. They all possess hoss magnetism and excel at kicking ass. Joe took this round, but I have a feeling we are far from over from this hoss feud. If Tony Khan introduces another new championship, then I hope it is for ultimate hoss fighting.

Saraya defeated Dr. Britt Baker DMD. The story was Saraya’s neck health for her first match in five years. Baker focused her offense on neckbreakers and curb stomps. Saraya milked the pain to create drama. Saraya rallied with a sunset flip powerbomb off the turnbuckles and a cradle DDT. Baker kicked out. They tussled a little bit more, then Saraya exploded for a running knee. She added two consecutive cradle DDTs to pin Baker for victory.

The special attraction of Saraya returning to the ring kept me glued to the screen. Now that I’ve seen her, I’m cool with it remaining an attraction. I don’t really know how much was telling a story and how much was Saraya looking average naturally. It would make sense in story and real life to be rusty after so much time away. AEW ran that tale with Punk working out the kinks by wrestling often. If they do the same for Saraya, then I expect her to open up a wider arsenal of offense. For this night though, it was a positive feel-good moment. Enjoy it for what it is, and deal with the rest later as it arises.

ROH World Championship: Chris Jericho retained against Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, and Sammy Guevara. The story was faction relationships. Blackpool Combat Club showed no animosity, but they also didn’t hold back when battling each other. Jericho Appreciation Society worked together as a unit early with only Jericho going for pinfalls. That camaraderie changed when Jericho landed a Lionsault on Danielson and hit Sammy in the process. Sammy went into business for himself after that. Le Sex Gods did share a hug, but that was a ruse by Sammy for a sneaky GTH followed by a shooting star press. Jericho kicked out like a true champion.

In the end, Claudio loaded up the giant swing on Sammy round and round and round. Jericho jumped in to strike Claudio with the Judas Effect. It didn’t land flush, so Jericho hit a second Judas Effect to pin Claudio clean for the win.

The action was marvelous as a fast-paced four-way. That aspect was fully satisfying. The dissension between Jericho and Sammy is fine in a nutshell. The problem is that we’ve seen this story before with Sammy twice, MJF, Santana, Ortiz, and Daniel Garcia. Pals turning on Jericho, even if deserved, is played out by now. I just wasn’t interested in that story element again. Another thing that is played out is Danielson absorbing head strikes like pitter-patter. It doesn’t help the believability factor that it is coming from someone with storyline concussion issues. As for the encounters between Danielson and Claudio, give me more, please. That’s a singles math I want to see. No feud necessary. Just serve it up.

Later in the show, Jericho chalked up Sammy’s behavior to competitiveness. He expected it and appreciates that attitude from Sammy. Orange Cassidy entered requesting an ROH world title shot for Tomohiro Ishii on Dynamite. Jericho still views Ishii as his young boy from days gone past. Challenge accepted. Also, Jake Hager scored a shot at OC and the AEW All-Atlantic Championship.

That ROH matchmaking shivers me timbers. I can’t wait for Jericho versus Ishii. I also appreciate Jericho being cool with Sammy. Le Sex Gods should never split.

TBS Championship: Jade Cargill retained against Nyla Rose. Hoss fight! Highlights were the competitors stealing finishers. Jade hit a Beast Bomb, and Nyla hit Jaded. Neither resulted in a finish. Nyla went high-risk and missed a flying senton. Jade pounced for a pump kick and Jaded to take back her burgled title belt.

This bout didn’t set the house on fire, but I enjoyed it. Hoss fights always put a smile on my face. I think this one lacked fiery aggression from Jade. I wanted to see an explosive burst of violence to let out her pent up frustration. The finishing sequence was typical for a Jade match.

AEW World Trios Championship: Death Triangle retained against The Elite. PAC, Fenix, and Pentagon entered as champions. Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks entered as challengers. Don Callis was back too with his magnificent glittery loafers. Callis is a true fashion icon. The Elite’s entrance was a spectacle to behold. Lights out to build drama in the darkness. The crowd noise increased with anticipation. Medium lights to reveal the Elite, and the crowd erupted as, “Carry on Wayward Son,” by Kansas blared on the speakers. That gave me goosebumps, and I’m not even that big a fan of the Elite. It was good to see them home in AEW though.

There was also an early chant of, “F—k CM Punk.” Got to love the AEW live crowd.

The match was a non-stop highlight reel. The Bucks & Lucha Bros and Omega & PAC have ‘fight forever’ chemistry. The finish came down to PAC’s illegal hammer. He tossed it to Fenix, but the luchador tossed it back. Fenix then turned around into a V-Trigger from Omega. Tiger Diver ‘98 followed, but Fenix was able to kick out of the cover. Later, PAC tried to hit Omega with the hammer, however, Nick Jackson made the save with a blindside superkick. The Bucks leaped for aerial assaults to the outside. Omega hit another V-Trigger on Fenix. In the hullabaloo, PAC placed the hammer in Fenix’s hand. As Omega picked Fenix up for the One Winged Angel, Fenix finally used the hammer to strike Omega in the head. The illegal contact was out of view from the referee. Fenix countered a dazed Omega downward into a roll-up to steal the win. Fenix was not happy with himself.

I’m not normally cool with cheap interference finishes, but I don’t mind this one. There was no real heated rivalry in place for this specific match, so I don’t feel cheated on the result. It also acted as a shocker to mix up obvious wins on the card as a whole. The fallout will be interesting. The Bucks and Omega may have other business on their mind beyond the trios belts, and that would be perfectly fine. It would allow Death Triangle to keep building a legacy as champs.

Well, scratch that thought about the Elite moving on to other business. AEW announced both teams will compete in a Best-of-7 series with Match 7 scheduled for January 11. I didn’t think they were going to take ‘fight forever’ literally. I like the sporting concept, however, it does seem a bit overkill. It is going to be a challenge to keep the matches feeling fresh.

Steel cage match: Jungle Boy defeated Luchasaurus. The only way to win is by pinfall or submission. Christian Cage was ringside. The story was power versus agility. Luchasaurus rammed JB into the cage, and there was blood. Christian snaked the keys from the referee to open the door. Christian was comically carried away by security. Luchasaurus tossed in chairs and a table. The objects were necessary for the climax. Jungle Boy choked the dino and whacked him with a chair to set up upon the table. JB climbed to the top of the cage for a huge flying elbow drop. Jungle Boy cinched tight the Snare Trap submission, and Luchasaurus tapped out.

Great PPV opener. Jungle Boy’s emotion was the key element. Firing up to paintbrush slap Luchasaurus in defiance was an epic moment. And then it was trumped by the super flying elbow drop from high above. That was a genuine ‘holy shit’ moment. It’s also worth mentioning Jungle Boy’s dramatic piledriver on his opponent. They milked the drama on the lift and showed mighty strength from JB. I also enjoyed him leaping around the cage with ease like Tarzan. It’s makes a ton of sense that a jungle boy could do that. Luchasaurus carried his load well with dominating power, creative offense, and receiving shots to make Jungle Boy shine. Bring on Christian for the grudge match.

Jumping over to the free pre-show.

Eddie Kingston defeated Jun Akiyama. This was Kingston’s personal dream match. Ortiz was ringside. Ring the bell for a slobberknocker. Back and forth heavy artillery all the way through. Kingston landed a spinning backfist. Kick out by Akiyama. The legend blocked a second backfist to counter for an exploder suplex followed by a running knee. Kick out by Kingston. The Mad King struck back with a Northern Lights Bomb. He sized up Akiyama for a spinning backfist flush to the jaw. Akiyama went down flat on his back for Kingston to earn the three-count. Kingston was in tears at the moment as respect was exchanged.

Smashmouth fight delivering on satisfaction. I appreciate AEW bringing in foreign stars for these showcase bouts. In this instance, it was a legend. Even though I’m not hip to Akiyama’s lore, it’s still interesting to observe the moment. Keep them coming.

World title eliminator tournament semifinal: Ricky Starks defeated Brian Cage. Prince Nana was ringside. Cage powered though with aggression. Starks fought with feistiness. Cage blitzed for a powerbomb, buckle bomb, and discus lariat. Starks kicked out on the cover. Cage went high-risk and missed a flying elbow drop. Cage regained control for an F5, but Starks somehow countered for a Canadian Destroyer. Starks seized the moment for a Roshambo for victory. Absolute advances to the tournament final versus Ethan Page on Dynamite.

When I mention Starks is the kind of wrestler that makes moments, this finish is what I mean. When he hoisted Cage on his shoulder for Roshambo, the crowd popped loud. Starks brings the energy, and the fans respond in kind. As for that counter Destroyer, I don’t understand the physics of motion on that one. Oh, well. Never doubt Starks. That’s the lesson here.

Best Friends defeated the Factory. Orange Cassidy, Trent, Chuck Taylor, Rocky Romero, & Danhausen represented Best Friends. QT Marshall, Aaron Solo, Lee Johnson, Nick Comoroto, & Cole Karter represented the Factory. 5 versus 5. Let’s rock. Danhausen was fashionably late. When QT plotted to piledrive Cassidy on the ring steps, Danhausen made his arrival. He received a special entrance carrying a jar of teeth and a spike. This was not very nice, very evil Danhausen. It was just very evil Danhausen.

Danhausen cleaned house with suplexes. Cassidy landed a superman punch to Comoroto. Danhausen poured teeth into Comoroto’s mouth and kicked him in the mush for victory. Afterward, Danhausen blasted QT in the head with the spike. Got to give the people what they want.

This was a fun warm-up for the evening. Very evil Danhausen was a hoot.

Stud of the Show: Jungle Boy

Jungle Boy is already a star. He stepped up to a higher level on this evening. JB showed himself as main event material. He still needs to improve on promos, but his ring product was top-notch here. Jungle Boy showed great emotion, fighting spirit, as well as ability to adapt and overcome.

Match of the Night: Jungle Boy vs. Luchasaurus inside a steel cage

I’m rolling with this one as the best finish of the evening.

Grade: B

Full Gear was in the A range for in-ring activity, electric atmosphere, and overall excitement of the event. It dips lower when factoring in the screwiest of screwy finishes. The show ended on a sour note for me with that main event.

Share your thoughts about Full Gear. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments and matches from the show?

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