This past Saturday, Newark, NJ’s Prudential Center played host to AEW’s November classic, Full Gear. Featuring the big-time main event match between Jon Moxley and MJF for the AEW World Championship, plus The Elite’s return to the ring, AEW capped off its 2022 pay-per-view lineup in style with a tremendous event from start to finish. We’ve got the rundown of the big things that happened at Full Gear below:
Give The Devil His Due: The MJF Era Begins
The time had finally come for the long-awaited main event for the AEW World Championship between reigning champ Jon Moxley and challenger MJF, which had the appropriate big fight atmosphere.
MJF was the clear sorta-hometown favorite in this match as fans booed Moxley at every turn during the match. The World Champ had the clear advantage for most of this one, putting the hurt on MJF as much as possible. A knee injury incurred from a Tombstone Piledriver to Mox gave MJF a bit of a struggle to overcome, as any good babyface would need to do.
Moxley was an unrelenting foe, seizing the opportunity to strike at the injured knee of MJF. Despite anguished cries from the challenger, Mox refused to back down, even locking in a particularly-painful figure four leglock at one point. To his credit, MJF endured the pain to fight out of this submission, then barely touching the rope to force a break on a pin after the avalanche Paradigm Shift.
Things perked up when the referee was KO’d by an errant strike from Mox. MJF attempted to introduce the Dynamite Diamond Ring, but was stopped by William Regal, who lambasted him for going to that well. Mox applied the Bulldog Choke, but the second referee had been knocked out in the ensuing struggle. There was a visual tap out from MJF, and in the ensuing chaos, Regal slid in his brass knucks to Maxwell (with an unaware Moxley none the wiser). One strike to the head later and the 1,2,3, and we had a new AEW World Champion.
With how things went down in that finish, there’s no hiding the fact that MJF is still very much the Devil that AEW wants us to boo. The crowd reaction to that finish might indicate that it could still be the case, but how Regal’s betrayal of Moxley and MJF’s win is followed up on Dynamite is going to be the big indicator of how this will go down moving forward.
An Elite Return
Weeks of cryptic teasers depicting The Elite being erased from AEW history finally paid off as the trio returned with all the expected fanfare. They were set to face The Death Triangle in a match for the Trios Championships, looking to reclaim the titles that they never officially lost in a match.
The Elite entered to the sounds of Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son” and a raucous Newark crowd that sorely missed their presence for the past few months or so. A very loud “F— CM Punk!” chant broke out early on in the match, perhaps letting us know how these fans felt about the infamous post-All Out melee between Punk and The Elite.
The greatest hits from both teams were on full display in this fun Trios encounter. Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks looked as good as ever. PAC and the Lucha Brothers were fitting dance partners for The Elite to face in their return match. This was AEW Trios action at its best.
One of the recurring plot threads over the past month or so was PAC getting his two Death Triangle allies to finally cheat in order to win. The hammer that has been adopted by PAC as a weapon of sorts was once again the focus.
“The Bastard” tried to get Penta and Fenix to play dirty more than once in this match. Ultimately, it would be Fenix who would seem to take to PAC’s advice, using the hammer to strike Omega in the head as he was lifted up for the One-Winged Angel. That gave Fenix the chance to get the pin that allowed Death Triangle to spoil The Elite’s return.
Later in the night, it was revealed that the Full Gear encounter between these two teams was only but Match One in a Best of Seven series that’ll play out in the next few weeks of AEW programming. It’ll be interesting to see how this series will feel fresh in every encounter, as it’s more than likely going to make it to the full set of seven matches.
The Acclaimed Retain as Swerve in Our Glory Crashes & Burns
The third in the trilogy of tag team matches between The Acclaimed and Swerve in Our Glory may not have been to the standard of the previous two matches, but it still delivered in terms of storyline aspects.
Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland’s fracturing alliance due to the latter’s descent into madness was the main story, as well as Anthony Bowens having to fight from underneath with a bum shoulder. This shoulder would become a big target for the challengers, who attacked it at every turn.
Swerve’s obsession with putting an end to The Acclaimed’s scissoring antics would manifest itself late in the match, as he tried to break Max Caster’s fingers with a pair of pliers. “Daddy Ass” Billy Gunn emerged from the back to save Caster from grisly finger pain.
Breakdown for Swerve in Our Glory happened as Strickland tried to force Lee into using the pliers on a prone Bowens. Lee refused to compromise himself, and got a slap to the face for his troubles. Rather than take further abuse from Swerve, Lee walked out on him. Caster & Bowens finished Strickland off to retain their Tag Team Championship.
While The Acclaimed successfully defending their titles was the final result here, the bigger story was the Swerve in Our Glory breakup. Whatever feud we get between Lee and Strickland should be a great one.
Hayter Captures Interim Women’s Title
Toni Storm faced a tough challenge in defending her Interim AEW Women’s Championship in the form of Jamie Hayter. This match delivered in terms of hard-hitting action as there was no love lost between Storm and Hayter.
The match would see its finish come when Rebel and Dr. Britt Baker attempted to interject themselves on Hayter’s behalf. However, Storm endured these interference attempts, looking very credible in the process. Dr. Britt’s final bit of interference with ripping out the turnbuckle pad would prove pivotal, allowing for Hayter to push her champion foe into it, then ending with a lethal lariat for the pinfall and big victory.
While it was great seeing Hayter finally get her moment, I wasn’t so sure about the way they went about it with the interference bits to end the match. That, however, didn’t seem to be enough to deter fans from cheering a well-deserved title win for Hayter.
The Best of the Rest
- Sting and Darby Allin defeated Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett in an incredibly entertaining No DQ tag match.
- Samoa Joe captured the TNT Championship in a triple threat match against reigning champ Wardlow and Powerhouse Hobbs. This was Big Meaty Men Slapping Meat action at its best.
- Saraya’s in-ring return was a victorious one as she beat Dr. Britt Baker in her first match back after five years of retirement from the ring.
- Chris Jericho retained the ROH World Championship by defeating Sammy Guevara, Claudio Castagnoli, and Bryan Danielson in a four-way match.
- Jade Cargill defeated Nyla Rose to retain the TBS Championship, pushing her win streak to an impressive 42-0 record.
- “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry outlasted Luchasaurus inside the steel cage, avenging the betrayal he experienced from his former best friend.
- In the Zero Hour pre-show, Eddie Kingston won his dream match by beating Jun Akiyama in the main event of the hour; Ricky Starks advanced to the finals of the World Title Eliminator Tournament, defeating Brian Cage; The Best Friends and a very evil version of Danhausen humbled The Factory in the opener.
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.