All Elite Wrestling capped off its 2021 stable of big pay-per-view events with an excellent Full Gear that saw the end of a two-year journey that began at AEW’s inception. We’re here to take a look at the big matches and moments that took place inside the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN in this special rundown of events.
MJF def. Darby Allin (21:56)
Setting the tone of the evening with an excellent opener, two of AEW’s Four Pillars engaged in a match that could arguably be deemed as the Match of the Night. Heading into this bout, one of the main thrusts of the story between MJF & Darby was that Max believed that Darby was incapable of wrestling a straight technical contest.
Darby made his entrance with a pretaped video depicting him driving a car with a man wearing a MJF mask and crashing it before setting it on fire. It was said that this was meant to evoke the accident that killed Darby’s uncle (which MJF brought up to start this feud).
The match itself started off with both competitors showcasing their technical wrestling skills in an incredible chain wrestling sequence that ended in a stalemate. That was a sign that we were in for a wild ride coming up.
The scars of war were evident as Darby’s back and MJF’s knee were really hurting throughout the course of this match. A particularly dangerous spot where MJF planted Darby with a tombstone piledriver seemed to hurt the braggadocios grappler more than it did his opponent.
Max proving himself a man of his word (by way of a cheap shot with the Dynamite Diamond Ring) by actually scoring the victory with a side headlock takeover was a deviously heelish way to get the win, which now gives him victories over the other three Pillars of AEW. That, of course, will make for prime promo material in the coming weeks and months.
The American Dragon’s Wrath
Bryan Danielson def. Miro (19:59) to win the World Title Eliminator Tournament
This match saw Bryan attempting to match Miro’s raw power with his technical prowess, which made for a contrast of styles that worked so well to bolster this match. For every hold Danielson had, Miro would respond with crushing slams that targeted the American Dragon’s back.
The end came when Danielson seized upon Miro’s weakness for DDTs by landing a tornado DDT from the top rope, then immediately locking in a dragon sleeper to put the ex-Redeemer to sleep. This finish was tremendous in continuing to establish Danielson being able to win matches with a variety of moves, as he has done for nearly all his matches in AEW so far.
With Danielson’s win, he now moves on to face Hangman Page for the AEW Title at a yet-to-be-revealed date. It’s a safe bet that this match will headline a major TV card like the first Dynamite on TBS or the planned Battle of the Belts special taking place in 2022. Whenever it happens, you can be sure it’s going to be one hell of a match.
The Jungle Boy Becomes A Jungle Man
Jurassic Express & Christian Cage def. The SuperKliq (22:20)
Serving as a capstone to an intense rivalry between the babyface trio of Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) and Christian Cage against the heel Elite’s SuperKliq (Adam Cole & the Young Bucks), this match offered a satisfying conclusion to their feud by way of many, many wild spots between the two teams.
The spot of the match has to go to Luchasaurus doing a goddamned shooting star press off the stage onto a mass of humanity. A very close second goes to the SuperKliq equipping themselves with thumbtack kneepads to perform a brutal triple BTE Trigger.
The finish came when Jungle Boy finished off Matt Jackson with a Con-chair-to following Christian’s blessing, ending the match and giving one of AEW’s young pillars a bit of a needed edge to him. With the win for the babyface team, the Elite came up short in their bid to silence their enemies. Would that be a recurring theme for tonight?
A Goddamned War
CM Punk def. Eddie Kingston (11:07)
The anticipated showdown fifteen years in the making between CM Punk and Eddie Kingston did not disappoint as it really did feel like clobberin’ time. Right away, things started off hot when Kingston flattened Punk with a spinning backfist before the bell even sounded. From there, the action turned into the wrestling equivalent of a back-alley brawl.
The crowd was electric for this encounter, with dueling chants for Punk and Kingston from the Minneapolis fans, to the point where Punk even got some very audible boos.
Punk had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hands when he invoked John Cena’s “Five Moves of Doom” in one sequence against Kingston, ending with a tease of doing the multiple-time world champion’s signature “You Can’t See Me” taunt.
Kingston entered this match with the expressed intention of hurting CM Punk as payback for passing him and never seeing anything in him fifteen years ago. He might’ve not picked up the victory for the record books, but he did manage to indeed hurt Punk by way of making him bleed after a ringpost shot.
In the end, though, it was Punk who ended up in the win column after two GTSes on Kingston, putting an end to this match after eleven minutes of pure brutality. Kingston’s refusal to shake Punk’s hand after the match indicates that we’re in for more of this feud down the line, and we can’t wait to see that happen.
“Hangman” Adam Page def. Kenny Omega (25:11); Adam Page wins AEW World Championship
Two years worth of long-term storytelling and fan investment finally paid off — fittingly enough, at a PPV event named after a Hangman skit from Being The Elite — as Hangman Page fulfilled the destiny he set out for himself at the dawn of AEW’s creation.
In a 25-minute bout that emphasized the intricate backstory between Page and Omega as much as it did the in-ring action. Prior to the match, the challenger entered to a video showing a horse-riding Hangman roaming the streets of downtown Minneapolis as clips of his past were shown. Once Page was on the stage, his lower-third graphic had the message of “‘We’re proud of you’ — Graphics Team”.
One of the recurring elements of Hangman’s character in AEW has been his lower-third graphics, which usually have a hilariously self-deprecating remark about him written on it, so that instead having a heartwarming message really helps make it a full-circle moment for Hangman.
Meanwhile, the AEW World Champion entered and was confronted with a fan sign stating “What would Kota think?”, referencing Omega’s longtime friend from New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Kota Ibushi. Once the introductions were out of the way, it was time for the bell to ring for this World Title bout.
The Adam Page that Kenny Omega faced at Full Gear was a more confident one than the Page he defeated in last year’s iteration to win the World Title Eliminator. For this chapter in the rivalry, Page was more than ready to meet Omega at every turn, with the goal of being a champion now closer than ever.
Tense moments were certainly not in short supply for this encounter as Omega and Page were, for lack of a better term, in full gear for this main event. Omega’s manager/confidante, Don Callis, got himself involved on more than one occasion, but eventually found comeuppance when Page decked the “carny piece of shit” when he tried to attack while the referee was down.
Speculation leading into this match was whether or not we’d see someone kicking out of the One-Winged Angel for a very close near fall. Turns out we did see it… just not the person we were expecting. Just as Omega had Page ready for his killshot maneuver, Hangman countered and hit him with the OWA himself. Omega would kick out of it at a very close 2.9999, as Excalibur put it. With the aforementioned Kota Ibushi being the only other person to kick out of the OWA, perhaps it’s only the Golden Lovers who are able to do so successfully?
The finish to this main event came when Page took down Omega with two Buckshot Lariats in the presence of the Young Bucks, who opted not to interfere on Omega’s behalf (perhaps heeding Page’s promise of ruining them if they got involved). The Bucks’ choice not to help Omega in the end will definitely figure into the eventual implosion of the Elite after so many months at the top.
All that being said, the emotional resonance of the journey of Hangman Page — through its peaks and valleys, its many highs and lows — finally reached its destination. After failing to become the first AEW World Champion, losing the trust of the friends he had in the Elite, and losing in big matches when it mattered, the Hangman dug deep and stayed true to himself as his former friends descended into darkness.
And for that moment of triumph, Page was joined by his new, true friends in the Dark Order, those lovable band of misfits who stuck by Hangman, even through the roughest of storms. Page choosing to refuse a beer handed to him and instead finding comfort in celebrating with his Dark Order friends made for a wonderfully high note to close out Full Gear on.
The story of Adam Page as the “anxious millennial cowboy” is one unlike any other main event wrestling babyface has had before, and yet, it’s a perfect one for these perilous times we live in today. Just as the 80s had larger-than-life superheroes as the top stars and the 90s had defiant no-nonsense badasses as its heroes, Page as someone who’s own worst enemy is self-confidence issues is emblematic of this decade. It’s made him easily relatable with the AEW demographic and allowed him to connect with fans in a way that no other top good guy in wrestling has ever been able to before.
If there’s one thing that All Elite Wrestling excels in it’s in their ability to just give fans satisfying payoffs to their storylines and letting their heroes win without issue when it comes time for it. That was on full display here with Page’s big triumphant World Title victory.
All The Rest
- The Minneapolis Street Fight went as expected, with the Inner Circle defeating Men of the Year & American Top Team. The match itself was standard street fight fare, with a Minnesota flavor to it. Andrei Arlovski & Junior Dos Santos didn’t look out of place with the ring veterans of the match. While Chris Jericho hasn’t exactly endeared himself well during this Inner Circle/ATT feud with his iffy promos, getting the win with a frog splash in tribute to his friend Eddie Guerrero was a heartwarming gesture — especially with Full Gear falling on the 16th anniversary of Eddie’s tragic passing.
- The reign of AEW Women’s Champ Dr. Britt Baker DMD continues on after she beat Tay Conti in a decent match that had a lofty challenge of keeping pace with the high-quality matches that came before it. To her credit, Tay Conti was able to keep pace with Dr. Britt, proving herself a worthy challenger for the DMD’s championship.
- In an excellent tag team bout for the AEW World Tag Team Titles, the Lucha Brothers foiled FTR’s cheating ways to retain their gold. Per usual, these two teams provided a thrilling contest that showed why AEW has one of the best tag divisions in all of wrestling. The finish wherein a mask-wearing Cash Wheeler was pinned despite not being the legal man is certainly designed to build towards a future match — specifically a match at AAA’s upcoming Triplemania Regia show on December 4th.
- The big story that surrounded the Cody Rhodes/PAC vs. Malakai Black/Andrade el Idolo tag match was that neither team really worked together as a team. Cody & PAC came away with the victory after PAC pinned Andrade. Arn Anderson also made his presence known by pulling out the Glock and laying a beating on Andrade’s assistant Jose.
- On the Buy-In, Hikaru Shida & Thunder Rosa bested the team of Nyla Rose & Jamie Hayter in a possible preview of the next round of the TBS Championship Tournament.
Marc Quill is the editor of RingCrashers, GateCrashers’ home for all your All Elite Wrestling and indie wrestling needs. He’s also the web novelist behind Skye Emery: Bluebird, which you can read here. You can chat with him about wrestling, comics, and stuff in general on @MarcQuill on Twitter.