Perhaps because the buzz around AEW has been huge even before it debuted on weekly TV, it’s almost impossible for the promotion to live up to its own expectations. Full Gear didn’t change the face of professional wrestling on Saturday night, but it did treat the fans at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore to an entertaining lineup that built steadily throughout the night before reaching a peak in its main event.

For a company that sells the idea that “records matter,” it was a bit of a strange call to have a bout between Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega that did not, in fact, count as it was billed as an unsanctioned showdown — the better to sell the idea that Moxley is an untameable wild card. That proved to be smart as the two men continually one-upped each other and put their bodies on the line in creative ways throughout their violent affair to end the show. It was the kind of encounter you grimace while watching but can’t help to admire both participants for the lengths to which they’re willing to go.

In a throwback to his Shield days, Moxley made his way down through the crowd to make his entrance. J.R. asked an interesting question about why a referee was even on hand since the bout was unsanctioned, but someone still needed to be there to make the count. Moxley hit a sidewalk slam and immediately began throwing plunder into the ring, smashing a trash can lid over Omega’s head before both men spilled to the outside.

Kenny Omega flips with a garbage can.

Sizing up his foe, Omega leaped over the barricade for a dropkick and hitting Moxley with a chair and a beer. A double foot stomp came next, delivered off a railing in the stands and onto a trash can. Moxley finally gathered himself, preventing a backflip off the barricade and suplexing Omega on the floor.

Perhaps surprisingly, the fight returned to the ring, where Moxley unearthed his trademark barbed wire baseball bat. Omega felt the spikes across his back multiple times, most painfully when Moxley drove them home with his foot. Omega gouged his foe’s eyes to keep the barbed wire from his face, then used a trash can to buy himself a respite, piledriving Mox into it before grabbing the bat for himself. Thinking better of it, Omega set a table across the barricade and getting his barbed wire broom just in time to halt a topa suicida. It was Moxley’s turn to bleed as The Cleaner swept the broom across his back and devised a few more creative ways to introduce Mox to the barbed wire.

Jon Moxley admires his barbed wire baseball bat.

Shouting that he “can do this all day,” Omega launched into a trash can-assisted moonsault for a near fall. He reached under the ring for a table covered in mouse traps — yes, really — only to feel their snaps after a body slam by Moxley. Hauling out a large length of metal chain, Moxley delivered a sidewalk slam onto it for a near fall, followed by a one count with a sidewalk slam. Moxley almost appeared to be delighted that Omega rose so fast, urging his opponent to punch him. Mox wrapped the chain around Omega’s face, but multiple shots from a trash can lid put a stop to that.

With Moxley turning to a screwdriver that eventually ended up embedded in the top turnbuckle, he dropped Omega on his back and wrapped the metal chain around Moxley’s neck. Two snapdragon suplexes freed Omega, with a third following after Moxley tried biting him in the face. Moxley ended up with the chain around his neck and hurled over the top rope, momentarily leaving him in danger before the chain slid out of Omega’s hands. A somersault plancha sent Mox through the table, almost an afterthought after sitting there unused for a while.

A match that had almost everything could only use a bag of broken glass, which Omega used to grind between Moxley’s fingers, then spread across the mat. Omega slammed Moxley onto it, and Mox crawled through it to help escape a Sharpshooter, bringing a round of applause in admiration from the fans.

After Omega tried to feed some glass to Moxley (literally), both men ended up feeling the sting of the glass again, and a V Trigger sent Moxley onto the ramp. Omega retrieved the screwdriver and scraped it across the forehead of Mox, then asked the Young Bucks and Page to “bring it.” The other members of the Elite tried to dissuade Omega from whatever he had planned but reluctantly carried out a huge spider web of barbed wire. Both men teased sending each other down into the steel, but Moxley’s suplex ended up in mutual assured destruction. The Elite and a number of referees and officials had to fish both combatants out so the match could continue.

“This is the damndest thing I think I’ve ever seen in my entire career,” said Ross after Omega’s V Trigger smashed Moxley through a plexiglass Full Gear sign. Finally back in the ring, a Paradigm Shift forced Omega into a desperation kickout, causing Moxley to start unfastening the mat from the ring. That exposed the wood beneath the canvas, but Omega back body dropped Moxley on the wood. He hit Mox with his own Paradigm Shift on the boards but still couldn’t keep his foe down for three.

A Phoenix Splash by Omega crashed and burned when Moxley rolled out of the way. A cover followed but was good for only two again. Mox lifted Omega for an elevated Paradigm Shift on the wood, and it finally brought an insane battle to an end.

A bloody Cody decides what to do with Chris Jericho.

The penultimate match of the evening ended in emotional fashion as well, with Cody coming up short in his challenge to dethrone AEW World Champion Chris Jericho, who spent his 49th birthday in style defending his title. The stipulation was that Cody would never challenge for the title again if he lost, and he did when his cornerman and supposed best friend MJF threw in the towel, dismayed by seeing him locked in the Walls of Jericho and stomped in the face. That came after Cody suffered a nasty gash above his right eye, landing on his face on the ramp while attempting a dive to the outside.

MJF has turned on Cody.

But MJF showed his true colors after the bell, kicking Cody in the groin and executing a very effective (though not unsurprising) heel turn. He marched back up the ramp with a smirk, despite getting hit by a beer that may or may not have been from a plant. Regardless, he’s now well-positioned for a hot feud with Cody that should carry through to AEW’s next big card.


The Young Bucks vs. Santana & Ortiz

It’d be nice if AEW decided definitively if Santana and Ortiz are officially called Proud and Powerful or if that’s just a nickname. Can’t imagine the Bucks will be in the opening match of a PPW for AEW all too often, but this should work to get the fans into the show. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express is seated in the front row, continuing their storyline with Santana and Ortiz, and getting a Young Buck dumped in their lap at one point. The narrative becomes how Nick Jackson can cope with the damage done to his right knee, and truly, no one does anguished limping like he does. Santana shows how crazy he is by chewing Nick’s gum, a phrase I promise I’m not making up. Just when it looks like the match might be headed to a time limit draw, Proud and Powerful manage to win it with the Street Sweeper. Sammy Guevara comes down to revel in the victory with his Inner Circle teammates, but the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express comes to the rescue with some surprisingly spry maneuvers for legends. That puts a whole new spin on OK, boomer.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express in the ring.

Winners by pinfall: Santana & Ortiz, or Proud ‘n Powerful, or whatever they decide on

Rating: 7.5/10

Adam Page tosses Pac from the ring.

PAC vs. “Hangman” Adam Page

This match makes it more than a minute without a “Cowboy Shit” chant, which is kind of an upset. Not too much more, though. Jim Ross puts over the fact that these men are No. 2 and 3 in the most recent rankings, which is delightfully good wrestling logic considering PAC is undefeated in AEW to date. He hits a brainbuster onto a steel chair outside the ring that looks like it could be a disaster if executed incorrectly, and Page barely crawls back into the ring before the 10 count. A series of counters building to the finish ends with Page hitting the DeadEye and getting a big win.

Winner by pinfall: “Hangman” Adam Page

Rating: 7/10

In case you missed it, Brandi Rhodes finally unleashed Awesome Kong during the pre-show in a match that ended with Kong cutting off part of her defeated opponent’s hair. OK then.

Shawn Spears has Joey Janela trapped.

“The Chairman” Shawn Spears (w/ Tully Blanchard) vs. Joey Janela

Spears wears a shirt to the ring that says “No More Garbage Wrestling,” which seems like a shot at Janela’s propensity for hardcore wrestling. Janela sure bumps like a champ even though this is a straight up wrestling match, so props to him. Spears uses the tag rope in one corner to tie Janela’s hair up, something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Excalibur mentions that Blanchard is “an important figure in Spears’ life,” making it sound like he’s adopted Spears or something, followed later by J.R. asking who the coach of the San Antonio Spurs is and then comparing Tully to Greg Popovich when his announce partner provides the answer. With referee Earl Hebner occupied, Blanchard comes off the steps to assist Spears with a spike piledriver on the floor, followed by the C4 in the ring for The Chairman to get the victory.

Winner by pinfall: Shawn Spears

Rating: 5.5/10

Kip Sabian confuses Goldenboy with an intern, but then graciously does a backstage interview anyway. Sabian announces his alliance with Penelope Ford as the Superbad Squad, so that’s apparently a thing.

Private Party (challengers) vs. Lucha Brothers (challengers) vs. SCU (champions) – AEW Tag Team Championship Match

This promises to be fun, as long as having three teams adds to the equation instead of making it more muddled. It takes a little bit but there is some creative stuff utilizing the extra men, even if some of the flashiest stuff seems just a half-step off at times. Fenix gets the fans to their feet with a double springboard aerial move to the floor and nearly wins it with a springboard cross-body on Sky. Marq Quen delivers a shooting star press and Private Party looks for the Gin and Juice, but SCU rallies to win and retain their belts. The Lucha Brothers try to beat up on SCU after the bell, but the lights go out and another man dressed like Pentagon Jr. takes them out. The mask comes out and it’s Christopher Daniels, so it appears SCU is back to full strength.

Christopher Daniels as Pentagon Jr.

Winners by pinfall … and still AEW Tag Team Champions: SCU

Rating: 7/10

A video package explores the student-teacher dynamic between Riho and Emi Sakura ahead of their title match.

AEW Women’s champion Riho.

Emi Sakura (challenger) vs. Riho (champion) – AEW Women’s Championship Match

Apparently Sakura and Riho have been in the ring together well over 200 times, which … damn. The in-ring chemistry between the two certainly comes through, even though the fans don’t seem to be completely engaged throughout. Excalibur compares Riho to “a more sane Darby Allin” at one point, which is both humorous and apt. The crowd does show the proper appreciation for the finish, which sees Riho outwit her teacher to retain her gold. Sakura pays her respects after the loss, also nice to see.

Winner by pinfall … and still AEW Women’s Champion: Riho

Rating: 7.5/10

Of course there’s a video recap of the build between Cody and Chris Jericho. Also, apparently if the title match goes the full 60 minutes, the decision will be up to the judges, Dean Malenko, Arn Anderson and Great Muta. That’s different.

Cody (challenger, w/ MJF) vs. Chris Jericho (champion, w/ Jake Hager) – AEW World Championship Match

Winner by corner stoppage … and still AEW World Champion: Chris Jericho

Rating: 8.5/10

Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley – Unsanctioned Lights Out Match

Winner by pinfall: Jon Moxley

Rating: 9.5/10

Total Event Rating: 8/10