AEW has made a habit of subverting its audience’s expectations. Throwing a curveball nobody saw coming, a surprise debut in the era of spoilers or simply a result we weren’t expecting. Think Spears nailing Cody with a chair, Moxley debuting and throwing Omega off giant poker chips or Private Party defeating Young Bucks.
These moments aren’t just done to pop the fans. They’re meticulously placed to tease exhilarating feuds or steeped in consequence for story development meaning they can live far beyond the few seconds the occur for.
Whether AEW drops the ball or not is another question. But the intentions and purpose are always there in these moments. So, without further ado I give you ten hot-takes for AEW Full Gear, why they could happen and what it’ll mean moving forward.
1: Anna Jay and Tay Conti attack Serena Deeb.
Serena Deeb becoming the NWA Women’s World Champion is huge news for the NWA, but it might be better news for AEW. With both former and current champions Thunder Rose and Deeb both defending the title on Dynamite it’s clear both companies are happy to use this title as a way to justify random matches in AEW.
With that said, Anna Jay and Tay Conti should identify and seize this opportunity that is clearly laid in front of them to provide some competition in the lower card of the women’s division.
Earlier in the night on the “red carpet” YouTube show we see Anna Jay arrive with Dark Order. She hints of making a big statement and hints to her relationship with Tay Conti inviting her to join in.
After Deeb defeats Allysin Kay in a respectable match, Anna Jay puts champion Deeb in her sleeper hold. Allysin Kay attempts to break it up before Tay Conti comes down to take her out also. Jay and Conti stand tall and united.
The reasoning being simply that both Anna Jay and Tay Conti are super-promising young performers in the women’s division who have everything to succeed. Their training and education would go a long way in matches with veteran Serena Deeb in heightened spots. Both due to a semblance of a story and the stakes of a title opportunity.
AEW have been teasing in Conti’s character on Dark that she’s unsure of whether she wants to align with Anna Jay and here you get a partial pay-off to that angle. From there you have various narrative threads you could explore.
2: Cody Rhodes defeats Darby Allin.
Every list of predictions I’ve seen for Full Gear has got Darby Allin defeating Cody Rhodes for the TNT Championship and for good reason. There is an 18-month story dating back to Darby Allin’s debut in AEW in a time-limit draw with Cody.
The story of that match had Allin so desperate to beat Cody, so much so that he brought a body-bag for Cody. Allin’s failure to win in that match defined his character moving forward.
It’s for this exact reason why Cody winning potentially makes the most sense. The TNT title is used here more as a motivation for Darby. But when Cody stops him from progressing once again, it becomes personal.
Darby defeating Cody is his true break-out moment. Do you want the significance of this very personal feud muddied by Darby achieving a bigger milestone in winning a championship?
Or do you want Darby to have two star-making performances. AEW haven’t played into the personal story between Cody and Darby anywhere near as much as they should have in the build-up to this match. It’s been all about the title. Perhaps this is because they have that grudge match planned for another date?
3: Wardlow costs MJF.
The MJF vs Chris Jericho match has so many potential directions. Does MJF joint he Inner Circle? What part do Wardlow and the Inner Circle play? Will the Four Horsemen be established?
One question which is unlikely is whether Wardlow costs MJF the match? Intentional or unintentional. That would lead one of two ways. If Wardlow unintentionally cost MJF the match, you see MJF turn on Wardlow.
But, if we saw MJF call for the Dynamite Dozen Diamond ring and Wardlow nail him with it, before a Judas Effect, you see a pro-active rather than a passive face turn for Wardlow.
Decisions are what make characters interesting and this decision would allow Wardlow to achieve his babyface potential, keep Jericho and MJF both looking strong whilst giving MJF motivation for his next feud. A build to Revolution in a match between MJF and Wardlow that could see MJF form the Four Horsemen in order to defeat Wardlow as a consequence for his actions and a replacement of his services.
From there you have MJF, Shawn Spears and FTR. Two of Cody’s former close friends who betrayed him and the tag team he called out for years. Almost perfect for Cody’s babyface family faction to feud with.
4: Hardy teaches Guevara a lesson.
Back when Matt hardy vs Sammy Guevara was actually a feud and not just a collection of accidents and disappointments, Hardy mentioned Guevara’s potential of breaking out on his own and turning away from Jericho’s ways. Hardy essentially suggested a face turn.
Given the history of Deletion matches also, we have to expect some kind of change from Sammy Guevara. Unless Sammy manages to win, I guess.
However, after what Hardy suggested, Guevara’s opposition to MJF joining Inner Circle and Sammy’s hinting on the go home episode of Dynamite, there seems to be enough room to suggest that this leads to a face turn.
The Elite Deletion may be the perfect stage for this to take place and the potential for the future of this is already set. Feuds with MJF and Jericho are already on the table and a breakaway group with Proud & Powerful who have huge babyface potential is real. I’m not even sure this is even a hot-take. This is just what I want.
5: Kenny Omega toys with Adam Page.
Now, I need to preface this take with; I DO NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN.
But imagine how worked you’d get if Hangman turned up tipsy for his match, trying to drown his nerves and Omega came out with zero remorse and just toyed with him. A five-minute match rather than five stars.
Sure, it’d be a huge disappointment but the narrative value it would hold would be huge. It is absolute rock bottom for Hangman. His fears have been realised and worst of all, it’s the drink, his one solace, that cost him. If that doesn’t give him the motivation to cut back and finally prove himself, what will?
For Omega, it would be the underlining of his heel character. He isn’t your typical ‘heel’. He doesn’t need to cheat or attack you from behind. He just doesn’t care. Because he’s better than everyone, and he knows it.
They’ve hinted at this possibility in Omega’s interview on Dynamite where he spoke about not taking passes to the final, reaching it on merit. They were also there in Page’s interview with JR’s warning to keep everything in moderation.
One main reason AEW could get away with this is because we all expect Hangman to have the comeback and get the win back. It will increase the appetite for that match whilst also protecting Hangman and force fans to ask, “what if his mind was right?”
6: Nyla Rose vs Hikaru Shida is a turning point.
The state of the women’s division in AEW at the moment is awful. It’s a big discussion that I won’t go into now, but bottom line is that it’s not where it should be.
This match and show needs to be a turning point for AEW’s women’s division. The roster is a good size and with the arrival of Allysin Kay (it seems) and potentially Thunder Rosa in the future AEW can start planning positive moves.
This could start with Shida defeating Nyla Rose for the second time and simply stating, “I’ve beaten you all. Who’s next?”
Leave it at that for the PPV but over the next few weeks of Dynamite start establishing a few women who can step up. Build two TV title challengers, have Shida looking on every week and picking her opponents when they stand out. She is a competitive, fighting champion. So, make it her character and build stories, feuds and matches around that.
7: Hangman costs FTR the titles.
Whatever happens between Omega and Hangman in their match, one major development on the go-home episode of Dynamite was Hangman coming to the aid of the Young Bucks. This showed that when they really needed him, Hangman will still be there for the Bucks.
What that means for the long term is anyone’s guess. But what it shows for this match is that if needs be, Hangman will be there for the Bucks.
Especially in this match as FTR are the ones who manipulated Page to cost the Bucks so that they could face Omega and Page at All Out. They’re the ones who used Page and Page was the one that wronged the Bucks. In Hangman’s mind this will be him getting his payback at FTR as well as a stretched arm to the Bucks.
Matt and Nick however don’t need to like this. They likely wanted to prove themselves. Hangman has ruined the dream match to make it all about his personal drama again. The Bucks just want to move on. That is a justifiable but also potentially heelish attitude the Bucks could take.
Given that this hasn’t had the build we’d hoped for, this may not be the dream match we all hope it to be. Perhaps this is because they plan to run it back with The Bucks as champions?
8: John Silver defeats Orange Cassidy.
This match seems a forgone conclusion. Orange Cassidy is coming off beating Jericho and competitive showings against Cody and Brodie Lee. John Silver meanwhile is one half of a lower-card tag team. This match purely exists as comedic relief.
But what if John Silver pulled off the win? And I’m not talking a clean win. I’m talking about the beginning of a storyline between Silver and Brodie Lee. Brodie helps Silver get the win here as he has a history with Cassidy and wants his stable to get one over the other guys.
The potential for this feud is rich with the potential combination of matches between Dark Order and Best Friends with Orange Cassidy. The BTE segments would be amazing and the combination of comedy wrestling amongst the talent would be fantastic. Brodie and Silver could even go on a run in the tag division beyond this and that could lead to a larger story between the two.
9: Eddie Kingston turns face.
I Quit matches are difficult because ultimately it is the ultimate humiliation. It’s not just tapping out, it’s saying “I Quit”. The best matches of this kind are used when it’s necessary or when there’s a great ending in mind.
Jey Uso taking a beating but only giving up when his injured brother is in danger is a great story to tell. Batista quitting the match before walking out on the company as a whole made sense because that match broke him.
For Eddie Kingston it feels like this either makes or breaks him. The Mad King ultimately won’t be back in the title picture soon, if ever. So, it won’t ruin him. But peep this.
Kingston, after pouring his entire career into a brutal match, comes up short and is forced to quit. This is a humbling experience and Moxley understands this and holds his old friend in his arms saying things like, “I told you” and “I’m sorry”. Have Mox sob if you want to lay it on thick.
Purely through Moxley’s reaction we as fans will have sympathy for Eddie Kingston. He became a monster for that championship but now it’s gone, there’s no real reason for Eddie to act like that. But it’s what happens next that really seals Kingston’s face turn.
10: Pac returns.
Pac returns and lays out Moxley before putting Eddie Kingston in the Brutaliser. Pac has been isolated for seven months and he’s waited all night for this moment. He has obvious motivation against Kingston who took his Death Triangle stablemates from under his nose. But he is motivated against Mox who defeated him to earn his title shot against Jericho, not to mention the gold itself.
Penta El Zero M comes down to stop Pac but Rey Fénix stops him. Fénix is mad that Eddie forced him to forfeit his spot in the tournament to his brother and wants to step out on his own. He can also cite Eddie calling Penta his “best friend”. Rey’s alignment to Pac is more or less dead. This is more about getting one over Penta and that match is incidentally set for next week’s Dynamite.
So there you have it. Ten hot-takes for Full Gear. Do you have any of your own? Put them down below in the comments or let me know them over on Twitter @RHWGareth.
Release the hounds and let your mind run wild on me.