The SmarK Rant for AEW Full Gear 2021 – 11.13.21

The SmarK Rant for AEW Full Gear 2021 – 11.13.21

Hey, big thanks to the pretty significant amount of people who not only bought the show through my Fite affiliate link, but also signed up for Surfshark today and gave me about a year and a half of free subscription time in the process.  That’s a lot of trips to Finland!

Live from Minneapolis, MN

Your hosts are Jim Ross, Excalibur & Tony Schiavone

MJF v. Darby Allin

Someone in the front row has an “MJF Eats Sloppy Steaks” sign, which is so amazingly perfect.  Everyone thinks he should leave.  MJF indeed tries for his dreaded headlock takedown a few times, but is unable to secure the victory with it to the shock of no one.  They trade hiptoss attempts and Darby gets a springboard takedown, and we get a cool double knucklelock and bridge for two. They trade pinfall attempts for two and battle to a stalemate, but MJF smacks him down in the corner and tosses him.  And as always, there’s always time to strut.  But he spends too much time strutting and Darby fires back with a tope suicida with tremendous aim, but then he tries the Coffin Drop on the apron and misses.  In case you haven’t heard, the apron is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING.  Back in, MJF goes to work on the back and drops an elbow for two, and a backbreaker gets two.  Darby whips him into the corner as the crowd is actually SPLIT between these two.  Who could possibly be stupid enough to cheer for MJF?  Probably did their own research on the internet too.  MJF continues on the back with another backbreaker and bites him in the corner, but they fight to the top and Darby returns the bites and tries the stunner from the top.  MJF teases a top rope tombstone, but Darby manages to hit the stunner and both guys are down.  Darby tries for the Coffin Drop and MJF rolls away from it and returns to his headlock takeover for two.  Darby tries a rana and MJF counters with a powerbomb onto his KNEE for two.  Oh shit, that looked like it sucked.  Darby does a zombie situp, however, and makes the comeback, but MJF counters the Code Red with another sick powerbomb for two.  MJF with a Scorpion Deathlock to further hurt the back, but Darby beats on the knee to escape and then clips him to take him down again.  MJF does the double stomp on the arm and tries the armbar, but Darby takes out the knee again and gets a figure-four this time.  MJF reverses it and Darby makes the ropes as they both retreat to the apron.  They slug it out and MJF hits a GODDAMN TOMBSTONE on the apron.  That boy ain’t right.  Darby somehow manages to beat the count and suckers MJF in with a cradle for two, and a backslide for two.  Small package gets two, but MJF reverses for two and they roll around the ring like that in an amazingly creative spot.  And then MJF takes him down with the headlock again and they trade near falls off that until Darby hits the Code Red for a CLOSE two.  Darby goes up for another try at the finish, but MJF rolls to the floor this time and so Darby hits the move out there.  Back in, another one hits knees, but that injures MJF’s knee even further.  Shawn Spears tries to come out and interfere, but Sting takes them both out while they trade near-falls in the ring off a rollup.  MJF steals the skateboard and dares Darby to hit him with it.  I feel like it’s worth the DQ.  But in fact it was a ruse, as the ref takes it away and MJF uses the ring to knock out Darby and pins him with the HEADLOCK TAKEOVER OF DEATH at 22:00.  I mean, you can’t PROVE it wasn’t the headlock that beat him, I suppose.  An amazingly great opener to the show that WAY overdelivered.  ****1/4

AEW World tag team title:  The Lucha Bros v. FTR

Big brawl to start and Cash gets backdropped to the floor, and then Dax slugs it out with Penta.  Dax with a rollup for two, but Penta gets his own for two.  Cash comes in for a double-team, but Fenix suddenly dives in from the other side and chases him back.  Cash puts Fenix down with chops, but the Luchas double-team him and chase him to the floor.  FTR suckers Penta into a baseball slide attempt and runs him into the railing, and then catches a dive from Fenix and tosses him into his brother as well.  Back in the ring, FTR Takes over in their corner with an assisted abdominal stretch, but Penta gets a tag and cleans house.  Sling blade on Cash and they run FTR into each other and then cannonball them in the corner and hit a double superkick for two.  We get a very wacky four-way submission hold, but FTR traps Penta in the corner and goes to work on him, including tying the mask to the ropes to hold him down.  Dax with a legdrop for two.  FTR cuts off a tag to Fenix and Dax clotheslines Penta down, but he fights back with a roll into a DDT on Dax and makes the hot tag.  Double cutter from Fenix gets two on Dax, and a ropewalk kick gets two.  Dax blocks a DDT, but Fenix accidentally collides with Penta and Cash hits Fenix with the AAA title, setting up a brainbuster from Dax for two.  Thought that was the finish.  Fenix manages to fight back, but Dax tosses him into a backdrop suplex from Cash that gets two.  Fenix breaks up the Big Rig and Penta comes in to mouth off Tully, but that results in Tully tripping him up to set up an Eddie tribute from Dax that gets him booed out of Minnesota.  So then Penta does the suplexes himself to a better reaction and Fenix hits a frog splash for two.  They try the Fear Factor but it’s broken up and FTR hits Fenix with the stuff piledriver for two.  FTR double-teams Fenix, but he rolls up Dax for two and the Luchas double-team Dax with a Fear Factor that results in Fenix springboarding off Dax and hitting Cash with a bodypress for two, while Penta also piledrives Dax for two.  Next up, FTR do the Killer Bee switch with the Super Ranas masks, but the ref catches Cash cheating and the double-piledriver finishes at 18:48 to retain.  Finish was a bit weirdly flat, but after a rough start with a style clash they just got more and more awesome so it all balanced out.  ***1/2  Really though, the frog splash should have been the finish if they were going to do it.

AEW Eliminator tournament final:  Bryan Danielson v. Miro

Bryan offers a handshake and Miro offers him DISDAIN.  They trade chops and Bryan goes for a cravat and then decides to just beat on him in the corner, but Miro sends him to the floor.  Back in, Miro misses a charge and Bryan beats on him with chops again and tries the DDT to go after the neck, but Miro fights him off and slugs him down.  Bryan fights up again and Miro clotheslines him to the floor and then suplexes him out there and runs him into the stairs. Back in the ring, Miro hits suplexes for two and goes to a chinlock on the mat.  Miro chokes him out in the corner, but Bryan fights back with more chops and the running dropkicks, until Miro catches him with a samoan drop for two.  They head to the floor and Bryan runs him into the post and follows with the running knee off the apron and back in for the missile dropkick.  The Intellectual Property Kicks follow and he tries for a kneebar, although the pathological need for wrestlers to work left is weird when Miro has his right leg bandaged up.  Miro powers out of that with a suplex and follows with a german suplex, but Danielson hits him with a kick for two.  Bryan with the knee strikes and curb stomps, but Miro catches the running knee and powerbombs him for two.  Miro seeks advice from his God, and that advice is apparently “go for the Game Over”, which seems solid.  So he does so, but Bryan makes the ropes.  Miro has another try at it, but he leans back and Bryan rolls him up for two and then hooks the Lebell lock  and Miro has to power out of that with some ground and pound.  So Bryan reverses THAT into a triangle and pounds on him with elbows, but Miro gouges the eyes in desperation to break it up.  Danielson slugs away and Miro is NOT AMUSED and fires back, then offers a free shot to the ribs and laughs it off.  So he drops Danielson with his own kick and they head to the top and slug it out, where Danielson hits a DDT to bring him down and hooks a guillotine to finish at 20:20.  Finish was awkward AF but still a great match.  ****

Falls Count Anywhere:  The Young Bucks & Adam Cole v. Christian Cage, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus

The Elite are all in hot pink, which JR compares to a “Bret Hart meet and greet”.  And of course it’s a big brawl to start as the Bucks threaten to blow out my TV’s contrast settings with their gear.  Cage and Cole immediately trade finisher attempts, but the Bucks save Cole and a chair gets involved.  Jungle Boy manages to hit Adam in the face after a neat sequence, but his powerbomb onto the chair is foiled by the Bucks.  So the Bucks try to suplex him onto the chair, but JB just sits on the chair to counter, and Cole hits him with a knee strike and stops to pose.  This allows Christian to hit the DDT on the chair, but the Bucks make the save and it only gets two.  Luchasaurus takes out the Bucks, but Cole hits him with a trash can and Jungle Boy chases him out of the ring and follows with a pair of dives before landing on a trash can.  Luchasaurus boots Nick down for two out there and sets up another chair, as the Jurassics team up to drop Cole on it.  This triggers a patented Tony Khan Bladejob (Bay Bay) and Jungle Boy tries a Conchairto in the ring to end things, but the Bucks make the save.  Nick and Christian fight to the back while we get a weirdly awkward period in the ring with nothing going on while Matt sells and Luchasaurus sets up some stuff.  And they suddenly explode with Jungle Boy putting Cole through a table on the floor with a rana while Matt puts Luchasaurus through a table with a flying elbow.  Meanwhile, up in the concourse, Christian dives off a balcony onto Nick Jackson and gets two.  They fight down the stairs, but Matt whips Cage into the steps and Cole suplexes Jungle Boy onto the apron.  So into the ring, the Bucks break out the thumbtacks as Tony outs Cole and Britt’s relationship.  Huge if true.  JB gets a mouthful of tacks to set up the SuperKliq kiss for two, and now a ladder gets involved.  Christian fights back and DDTs Nick onto the ladder, allowing Luchasaurus to hit them all with corner kicks.  Cole tries the Panama Sunrise, but Luchasaurus blocks and hoists him onto the ladder, and then moonsaults Nick for two.  Matt beats on him with a trash can and superkicks him for one, but you can never count out a dinosaur, apparently.  Well unless there’s a meteor, I guess.  Matt tries to run away, but JB catches him with the Snare Trap on the ramp and Cole has to save that.  The Bucks hit Cage with a superkick to stop a Killswitch and Cole goes low on everyone and superkicks Christian off the ramp.  But then Jungle Boy tries to climb the set, and Cole brings him down and hits the Panama Sunrise off the scaffolding for two.  It’s a SUPERKICK PARTY from the Bucks and Cole busts out a trio of thumbtack-infused kneepads for them to use on Luchasuarus with a BTE Trigger for two, as Jungle Boy saves.  Thought that was the finish.  Jungle Boy fights off all three and that goes badly for him, but Luchasaurus revives and chokeslams Adam Cole onto Cutler on the floor and then follows with a shooting star press off the ramp and onto the pile of geeks!  Christian wants the Conchairto on Matt to finish, but Jungle Boy calls him off and then does it himself and pins him to win at 22:15.  This was a wild Attitude Era brawl, although not quite the five star classic promised by the Bucks and it was too long for what it was, but it sure wasn’t boring.  ***3/4  But I think we can relate to having to crush a man’s skull between two chairs to truly grow up and be an adult for the first time.

Andrade el Idolo & Malakai Black v. Cody Rhodes & Pac

Cody is not particularly popular in Minnesota either.  Cody tags himself in to start, but Pac tags back and takes Andrade down with a headlock.  The heels double-team Pac for a bit, but Cody tags himself in again and slugs it out with Andrade on the apron.  He hits Jose the Assistant with a tope and back in for a powerslam on Andrade.  Over to Pac, but the heels work him over in the corner as there’s a really awkward energy to the match due to the crowd hating Cody so much.  Cody comes in and gets a cutter on Black, but Black fires back with the spinkick.  Pac comes in and cleans house, but Jose gets in Arn’s face and gets beat all the way back to the dressing room.  Andrade takes out Pac with a dive and they go to work on him in the ring.  Slam gets two for Black.  Andrade goes up with a moonsault for two.  Pac tries to go for a tag and Cody is selling on the floor, and that allows Andrade to hit a pendulum DDT on the apron.  Pac dodges a kick from Black, however, and Cody miraculously recovers from the kick delivered 10 minutes ago and makes a “hot” tag.  The crowd continues booing him as he takes Andrade to the top for a reverse superplex that gets two.  Cody dives onto Black and gets the figure-four on Andrade in the ring, but Pac tags himself in with a 450 on Andrade for two.  They fight to the floor and we get more miscommunication from the faces, leading to Black hitting Pac with a german suplex for two.  Back to the floor as Black kicks Cody into the front row, but Pac cradles Andrade for two.  Reverse rana sets up the Black Arrow to finish at 16:49.  Woof.  Well this was kind of a disaster and ended the string of good-great matches with a thud.  **  Really the whole feud is so weird and they just keep going in circles as it’s incredibly obvious that Cody needs to turn heel and he just won’t.

AEW Women’s title:  Dr. Britt Baker DMD v. Tay Conti

This show kind of needs a 3 minute quickie at this point.  Rich Ward of Fozzy plays Britt down, which is pretty awesome.  They trade rollups to start and Tay goes with a surfboard and tries the DDTay, but Britt reverses out of it.  Tay goes up and tries for a hanging armbar from there, but Britt’s crew run interference and Britt takes her down for two.  Britt slugs away with forearms on the ropes to put Tay down and chokes her out on the ropes to set up the neckbreaker for two.  She tries the Lockjaw but Tay fights out and makes a comeback with the pump kicks in the corner.  She goes up with a bodypress for two and a german suplex for two.  She goes up to the middle rope, but Britt takes her down with a neckbreaker for two.  Curb stomp gets two.  Britt loads up the glove, but Tay hits a stunner for two.  They fight to the apron and Britt hits a terrifying Air Raid Crash on the apron, but that only gets two.  And she goes into the Lockjaw, but Tay is in the ropes.  They fight over a backslide and Britt gets two, but Tay reverses to the TayKO for two.  Britt superkicks her and Tay fires back with the Gotch piledriver for two.  Rebel provides more interference, allowing Hayter to yank Tay to the floor and run her into the stairs, where Britt stomps her onto the stairs and puts her away with the Lockjaw, but then Tay rolls to the ropes to break.  She boots Britt to the floor and follows with a moonsault onto the whole group of heels, but Britt dodges it.  So Tay slams her on the floor and back in for the DDTay for two. Tay tries again, but Britt reverses into a rollup for the pin at 15:19 to retain.  This ended up good but there wasn’t much heat most of the way through and it felt like it was too long.  That was likely the fault of Cody’s deal killing the crowd off, to be fair.  ***

 CM Punk v. Eddie Kingston

Kingston hits him with the backfist before the bell, knocking Punk on his ass like he’s in the UFC again, but Punk flips him off and they go fighting to the floor.  And the heat is already off the charts for it, as Eddie bites and gouges him and then Punk fights back and slugs away in the corner until Eddie gives him an exploder.  Eddie fires back with his own shots in the corner, but Punk comes off the middle rope with a clothesline and does his own ground and pound to a chorus of boos!  Punk pounds him with kicks, but Eddie pokes him in the eye and takes him to the apron, where Punk kicks him down to the floor.  They fight out there, where Eddie sends him into the post and Punk is busted open for our second color of the evening.  So Eddie paints himself in Punk’s blood and tries a piledriver on the floor, which Punk reverses.  Punk clotheslines him off the apron and back in for some Cena shoulderblocks in the ring and then he actually GOES THERE and hits the backdrop suplex before teasing a Five Knuckle Shuffle as the crowd is like OH NO YOU DIDN’T.  So he hits the rolling suplexes instead and goes up for a frog splash, but Eddie has had enough and follows him up for a superplex after delivering a very pointed FUCK YOU.  This is quite the deal.  And we get the Frye-Takayama showdown, which Punk loses, and Eddie promises a GTS, but Punk hits the real one instead.  Well that was a mental lapse from Kingston.  He might as well have pointed to his head to indicate intelligence.  Eddie lands in the ropes to save himself, and Punk hits him with elbows instead and then pounds him with Muay Thai knees and another GTS to finish at 11:08.  This was a better fight than anything Punk had in the UFC, for sure, and we get some poor sportsmanship from Eddie afterwards to ensure that the feud continues.  ****

Minneapolis Street Fight:  The Inner Circle v. The Men of the Year, Junior Dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski & Dan Lambert

Biggest news out of the show thus far:  Baron Von Raschke is STILL ALIVE and sitting ringside for this one.  Lambert is ENSCONCED IN VELVET for this one.  Despite the buildup, this appears to be a standard tag match with no DQs instead of a cinematic crazy spectacle.  Sammy hits Sky with a corkscrew dropkick and an armdrag for two, and Santana & Ortiz double-team him and hit a senton for two.  We get the suplex handoff from Santana to Hager, and Arlovski comes in and slugs it out with Jake, then hits a samoan drop.  Junior comes in and tries a slam, but Hager slips out and brings in Jericho for a hockey fight.  Junior manages to powerslam him and then adds a nice suplex and a damn standing moonsault for two.  Who had Junior Dos Santos doing a standing moonsault on their bingo card?  So it’s time for DAN LAMBERT, and he really milks before delivering a slap, at which point everyone runs in and the heels get chased off.  Sammy dives onto them and then Santana & Ortiz hit their own dives and even Hager hits one.  Lambert produces a lead pipe from his velvet jumpsuit, but Jericho counters with a Prince symbol and the crowd chants “Purple Rain”.  Velveteen Dream to AEW confirmed?  Huge if true.  Back in the ring, the MOTY double-team Santana, but he fights back until Ortiz saves with an enzuigiri on Page, setting up the trash can and hockey stick spot.  Then we get a double submission hold before Sammy spikes a football on Sky.  Arlovski gets involved again and hits Ortiz with a spinebuster, but Hager makes the save with a toaster and then Jericho naturally adds a water ski for the natural contrast of toasted bread and uh, water skis I guess.  Sammy hits Page and Sky with a double cutter and Santana & Ortiz double-team Sky to set up a flying Sammy splash for two.  Everyone fights on the floor again and Hager cleans house with a cake pan while a table gets set up, and Santana & Ortiz team up for a superplex on JDS.  And then a ladder gets set up and Sammy goes 100 feet in the air and puts Sky through the table with a senton.  Meanwhile Ethan Page challenges the Baron and takes THE CLAW, and then Ortiz sends him into the crowd and dives off a passing security guard.  Why not?  In the ring, that leaves Jericho alone with Lambert and things go badly for Dan, but Jericho goes for the Lionsault and Junior punches Jericho out from the floor, WAY missing his cue on that one.  That gets two for Lambert and he goes for the Walls of Top Team, but Jericho escapes with a kendo stick and delivers a beating with it before delivering a stapler to the groin.  Jericho goes up with a frog splash and that ends it at 19:32.  This was the metaphorical clown car filled with explosives driving off a cliff and landing on a fireworks factory, but it certainly wasn’t boring, I guess.  But the show already had one crazy brawl and we didn’t need another “Hey Remember the Attitude Era!” tribute filled with MMA fighters wandering aimlessly around ringside for 20 minutes.  **

Apparently on Dynamite we’re getting Orange Cassidy teaming with Tomohiri Ishii, which is another one to cross off the bingo card.

Meanwhile, Tony introduces us to JAY LETHAL, the first rescue signing from Ring of Honor.  Yeah I think that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin for them.  And he immediately challenges Sammy to a TNT title match on Dynamite, as that’s sounding like a batshit crazy show already.

AEW World title:  Kenny Omega v. Hangman Page

They trade chops to start and Page puts him down with a shoulderblock and beats on him with forearms in the corner and follows with a corner clothesline.  Callis trips him up and Omega chokes him out in the corner, and so does Don.  Hangman dumps Omega, however, and dives onto him, but Page gets distracted by Callis and Kenny runs him into the railing until Page fights back with a suplex.  Back in, Page with a crossbody for one from Hangman.  Kenny pokes him in the eye and takes him down with a sling blade for one and tosses him for some more punishment from Callis.  Back in the ring, Omega teases a springboard move, but Hangman fights back with forearms until Kenny takes him down and to the floor with a rana.  This sets up the Terminator Dive, but back in the ring the moonsault hits knee.  Page comes back with a big boot and throws the chops to set up the fallaway slam, and he puts Kenny on the floor for a tope.  Page follows with a moonsault, and back in for a brainbuster that gets two.  They fight to the top and Omega brings him down with a vicious sunset bomb, and he follows with the snapdragon to really wrench the neck.  Another one puts Hangman down again and he retreats to the apron for a third one.  Page crawls back to the ropes and Omega hits the V-Trigger, but Page reverses the Angel into a victory roll for two and comes back with a german suplex.  Omega counters the Deadeye with a Tiger Driver for two.  Omega bites at a small cut on Page’s forehead that’s Luger ’88 territory, and hopefully that’s the only such comparison tonight.  Kenny goes up and Page crotches him and brings him down with a blockbuster slam for two.  Omega bails to the floor, so Page pulls the camera off the ringpost and dives off with a clothesline that puts Omega through a table.  Back in, Omega collapses to evade the buckshot lariat, so Page decides to V-Trigger him instead and misses.  They trade forearms and Page powerbombs him, but the ref takes the lariat and he’s out.  What is this, New Japan?  Hangman decides to beat up Callis and then hits Omega with the Deadeye, and Aubrey comes out for the two count.  Hangman debates using the belt and thinks better of it, and they slug it out instead.  Omega actually wins that one and delivers a knee strike while Page flips him off, but he tries another V-Trigger and Page catches the knee and makes the comeback.  Omega hits another V-Trigger, but Page hits the forearm and they’re both knocked loopy.  Kenny with the KAWADA KICKS and Page gets all fired up and puts him down with a lariat to fold him over and they’re both out.  So this brings out the Young Bucks (“Aw, dipshit alert!” notes Tony) and Omega hits him with a backdrop driver, but Hangman hits his own as they’re just spiking each other.  Hangman with the Buckshot, but Omega hits the V-Trigger, and then Page hits his OWN One Winged Angel for two.  Back to the apron and Page hits another buckshot, as the Bucks just think it over and opt not to interfere, and then Page goes to the other side and hits one more Buckshot Lariat and WINS THE GODDAMNNED TITLE at 25:20.  FUCK YEAH!  And finally we get the celebration with the Dark Order we’ve all been waiting for.  And the monkey is officially off his back once and for all.  ****1/2

This certainly didn’t have the epic feel of All Out, but it had the big main event culmination and one of the all time great babyface triumphs to end the show, leaving it as a strong thumbs up from me despite some disappointing stuff in the middle.  Hangman Page is the AEW World champion and everything is all right with the world for a while.