AEW Full Gear Preview and Predictions
Welcome to Pro Wrestling Musings' Preview and Predictions where a different team member previews and predicts the finish of each match. Full Gear should be one of the best Pay Per Views of the year and is probably the most narratively-rich of the year. From two year stories to industry titans clashing, Full Gear is brimming with possibility. Let's dive in...
Kenny Omega vs Adam Page
[Craig] The Anxious Millennial Cowboy is a transcendent character, over the last few days you will have seen the Twitter threads and the magazine articles. Adam Page has created a character and been part of a story that is breaking through the wrestling bubble to the mythical 'casual fan'. Not only that but what we are looking at is a two plus year story from Page announcing he was going to be the first AEW World Champion at the AEW launch to him now attempting to be the fourth champion and more than two years on from his initial failure. If this story didn't need another wrinkle, Kenny Omega actually bested Page at Full Gear 2020 to earn a shot ay Jon Moxley's AEW World Championship.
Last year's match saw the two men throw the exact same amount of Strikes and be separated by only one Reversal. The match was fought without as much of an edge as you should expect tonight; neither man went overboard with the fouls. Omega utilised a wider spread of offence with Page only leading in the Strikedown category. The match was controlled by Omega with a Match Offence gap of 14%.
A year on, I expect a very different match. It is unusual that Omega is bettered in the Strikedown category especially as matches go longer and he has to bust out V-Triggers in more and more vicious ways. My prediction would be for Hangman to get in more simple Strikes and utilise more Dives. I'd expect Omega to dominate in terms of Grapples and Strikedowns.
The Match Offence will be in Omega's favour; I'm not sure about the margin, it could be anything from a 4% advantage to a 10%, I don't see it being as wide a gap as 2020. Omega will have more failed Pin Attempts as he seeks victory more and more desperately which will also result in more Fouls. You will also see the Omega character attempting to convince himself he is in control via a ridiculous plethora of Taunts.
Expect Adam Page to become the 4th AEW World Champion.
Britt Baker vs Tay Conti
[Anthony] - The build to this has been very disappointing. During the 6 women tag the commentary said Thunder Rosa was the #1 contender then really put her over and barely talked about Tay. It was disappointing. This could have been a really good feud, but it hasn’t been given time, which is a common and ongoing issue with the division. I really like Tay but AEW has already moved past her.
She will be a champion one day but not yet.
Winner – Britt Baker
Lucha Bros vs FTR
[Huw] It feels appropriate that FTR are finally back in the title picture. It’s fitting, also, that they challenge for the gold on the same stage that they lost the straps to Young Bucks last year. Belts look good on these guys, as evidenced by their parading of the AAA hardware to their sublime synthwave entrance theme.
Despite this, it would be cruel to poop the Lucha Bros’ party while their reign is still in its relative infancy. After winning the belts in such phenomenal fashion, do Penta and Fenix not deserve to savour the spoils for a little while longer? It’s a tough one to call, perhaps the toughest on the card, but I wouldn’t bet against a title switch here.
Winners - FTR
CM Punk vs Eddie Kingston
[Peter] The beauty of the story of this match and its build up has been the mental pysche of both guys in the past month and how “wrong place, wrong time” has been a big part of this feud.
CM Punk is finally happy and content in a professional wrestling ring. From The Last Dance when it was visible that the weight of the world was finally off his shoulders to the October 29th episode of Rampage, we have seen a CM Punk that has stage dived into the audience, high fived fans and given away his shoes to young fans. When Tony Schiavone was interviewing CM Punk who was very visibly in a good mood started to talk about his happiness at being in Boston and started talking about Halloween, Eddie Kingston could be heard in the distance ranting and raving.
Eddie had lost to Bryan Danielson in the Eliminator Tournament, yet again a heart-breaking defeat in AEW for Kingston. But this was different to the loss to Miro and Cody. In the week before the semi-final match against Danielson, Bryan talked about Eddie’s lack of work ethic, a regular criticism of Eddie throughout his career and when Danielson got the victory, the last person Eddie Kingston wanted to see was a smiling CM Punk.
After Eddie and his tag partner Blackjack Marciano had accidentally injured Delirious in a match at an IWA: Mid-South event in 2004, Punk tore into both calling the pair fat, lazy and unsafe and 17 years later after losing to a man who had questioned his work ethic so publicly saw Punk smiling and happy and Eddie snapped at Punk.
Punk despite his happy demeanour lately, is still an egotistical p***k when triggered and when Kingston interrupted his interview time, the Mad King committed the biggest sin possible in Punk’s world, he prevented Punk from talking. Punk wanted an apology from Eddie for his behaviour and suffice to say, he didn’t get one.
All this backstory can only lead to one thing. Eddie Kingston has to lose. I love Eddie to bits, but he has to lose. Now is not the time for Punk’s 0 to go in AEW and with the coronation of Hangman Page seeming likely when the closing credits hit the screen on Saturday night, AEW needs a new “nearly man” and Eddie Kingston is the perfect person to be that guy.
Bryan Danielson vs Miro
[Tim] This isn’t Daniel Bryan vs. Rusev. Both men have honed their craft and are at the peak of their careers. This is the apex form of both individuals, fighting it out for a chance at AEW’s top prize. I would say this has a chance to steal the show, but with a card this loaded we could see Danielson and Miro pull out a four-star classic and it may still end up being out of the top three matches for the night.
Since joining AEW, Danielson hasn’t faced anyone like Miro. The Redeemer is larger and more vicious than anyone else that Danielson has squared off with. It’s a neat detail that Danielson has won matches with a variety of finishes. My prediction is that he’s going to repeat all these previous match-enders only for none of them to work. Danielson is an incredible athlete and worker, but I think it’s understated just how good he is at putting opponents over. I believe that will be the case tonight.
The winner of this match-up is very dependent on the winner of the main event. While Danielson can work well with anyone, the more intriguing storyline would be Miro vs. Hangman (who I believe will win the belt). Miro certainly deserves it. His promo work has been outstanding since he’s taken on the Redeemer persona and he brings legitimate menace to his matches. I want to see him beat Danielson and while I don’t want to see him put a quick end to Hangman’s reign, I like the idea that Miro is doing all this for the love of his wife. He will crush his enemies, spite the God who gave him a neck of sand, all so he can return home to his sexy double-jointed wife. I guess I’m just a romantic.
American Top Team vs Inner Circle
[Greyson] When I first saw Inner Circle feud with American Top Team and the Men of the Year, I was optimistic about the possibility of Inner Circle’s aggressive attitude, experience, and fighting expertise being an effective mirror reflection counter-reaction to their attacks on AEW as a movement and the fan base. However, lately their tactics have come up dry and shallow with too much leaning on needlessly coarse insults and limited in-ring results.
Sammy Guevara, who did prevail against Ethan Page to maintain his TNT championship, has been my favorite throughout, and as one myself I am entertained by his expressions of the second generation Latino experience, but I feel like his expression here is stymied and backed into the corner of Inner Circle’s mirroring strategy toward ATT’s attitudes. The problem with mirroring, though, is that you have nothing different to offer. As much as I desire Inner Circle to win, it feels like it is time for another opponent with a true counterpoint to American Top Team and their ideas, showing the new “AEW-style conscious strength” I have referred to in my past columns as victorious and effective over “conventional” masculine norms or an Attitude Era-type strength.
Winner: American Top Team.
Super Kliq vs Christian/Jurassic Express
[Gareth] This match is an interesting one. It’s essentially there to be a popper for the crowd and, likely, opens the show. Young Bucks has been an ever-reliable combination for AEW, adding Adam Cole and Christian Cage guarantees it’ll be fantastic, as it was at Grand Slam.
With the Super Kliq winning the first match and the increased animosity over the last few weeks, it seems set up for a babyface win. What I find most interesting is how this happens. What would be fascinating is if Jungle Boy stole the show. Christian carrying the match for his team, but Jungle Boy coming in with huge spots, and the pin over one of the Bucks, to get the win. The match being falls count anywhere means there is plenty of opportunity for Jungle Boy to do this.
This does two things. 1) Gets Jungle Boy over huge and 2) allows Christian’s frustrations with Jungle Boy to grow. Those hints of Christian turning heel have quietened down in recent weeks, but AEW didn’t sprinkle them in over the last six months for nothing. It would be nice to see that string picked back up, in a subtle way. And Jungle Boy stealing the show with flashy moves, whilst Christian does the heavy lifting, would be a great way to breed resentment within Christian.
Darby Allin vs MJF
[Sergei] In many ways, this is the most important feud in AEW. While Hangman vs Omega is about the present, Danielson vs Miro is about the next few months, and Punk vs Kingston is about the last fifteen years, but Allin vs Friedman is about the next fifteen years. Since instigating this feud, Maxwell has introduced and continues to go back to the idea that the future of AEW is a structure supported by four pillars: Jungle Boy, Guevara, and the two of them. Friedman believes, and feels that he needs to prove, that he is first by far among these equals.
From a booking perspective, a case can be made that MJF should come out the winner here. Friedman needs to win over credible opponents in order to be a threat, while Allin relies on his fans having faith in him coming back stronger after tough losses. But from a storytelling perspective, I feel that it’s clear that Maxwell has already beaten himself before ever stepping into the ring. He has been playing mind games, attempting to get into Darby’s head, and foolishly assuming he has succeeded. But every time, he actually has only gotten into his own head.
Every case Maxwell tried to make about being a level above Darby only makes it clearer how much the relentless one intimidates him. He Freudian slips and accidentally praises him with faint criticism: “You will always be second best to me and me alone.” And I was shocked he made the unforced error of admitting that it bothers him that fans cheer Darby and not himself. Meanwhile, Allin looks at Friedman not as some fated rival, but merely as a type: “I’ve seen guys like you a hundred times in my life.” It brings to mind the classic Don Draper line: “I don’t think about you at all.”
Darby has already won the mental game, and Maxwell doesn’t even realize it yet, which in my view means Darby has the match won before the bell even rings.
Winner: Darby Allin
Cody/Pac vs Black/Andrade
[Brian] The final addition to the card is, in many ways, simultaneously one of the most intriguing and least predictable, particularly to those who read previews such as this. In contrast, to the casual observer, at first glance this quartet might have been better served in a four-way match but TK was smart to avoid that as I cautioned against a few weeks back.
In that same piece, I mused about the NXT overtones of Cody’s interactions with three past champions of the former Wednesday-night competition, which in case you’ve forgotten is the same place his father was booker and producer at during some of its early heights (c. 2013-2014 - the same time PAC ascended to the championship there). The uneasy alliance between these two dates back to the summer of 2015 when Rhodes, known as Stardust at the time, engaged in opposing sides of a WWE feud that had its biggest stage at SummerSlam 2015 in a tag match. This was also Rhodes’ first PPV outing after the death of his father and now sees Cody returning to PPV for the first time after becoming a father himself. Coincidence? More like circles within circles.
As for Black and El Idolo, their background has also been both overtly and indirectly alluded to. Listening to the latest episode of AEW Unrestricted, Khan is well aware of the shared history and present-day connection (ie. Zelina Vega) of this pairing as well as the fact that the former defeated the latter for the same championship noted above. This interweaves layers and nuances to the overarching story that are not lost on me but may fall flat to the uninitiated. With all that said, what’s to be done? I can’t get past the thought that there’s more to be gained from a Cody loss. Yes, Black has beaten him twice already so let’s let Idolo even the score while PAC looks angrily at the grandson of a plumber.