At the AEW panel at New York Comic Con in October, one of the fan questions was whether the promotion would ever look to make one of its pay-per-views an “event like WrestleMania.” Before the fan clarified that he meant an AEW show in an outdoor stadium, Tony Schiavone, ever the company man, suggested that the card coming up, Full Gear, could be seen in a similar light.
The question of what show most deserves to be called AEW’s signature event is still an open one (yours truly thinks it might be All Out, considering its predecessor, All In, gave birth to the company), but Tony Khan and crew did their best to load up Full Gear like its competition does with WrestleMania annually. Multiple title matches, the bout to determine the number one contender to the world title, and a very heated showdown between CM Punk and Eddie Kingston were all nice draws, but the centerpiece to the lineup on Saturday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis was the end of Hangman Adam Page’s long, winding road to attempt to wrest the AEW World Championship from the hands of his former tag team partner, Kenny Omega.
For anyone who prefers longform storytelling in pro wrestling, it’s hard to argue that this particular feud hadn’t been well crafted. Forced to work through his self-doubt and the shifting loyalties of Omega and the Young Bucks, Page’s journey has in some ways been in progress since the earliest days of AEW. It all led to this particular moment, and while his victory was anything but assured, there was a feeling going into Full Gear that this would be his moment.
True to his gimmick, Page rode in on a horse while a Western whistle played in a great cinematic entrance that also featured the Dark Order, who have proven to be more loyal friends than the Elite ever were, excitedly running across one of Minneapolis’ skywalks to get to the arena. Omega made his ring walk in fairly understated fashion by his standards, though there was an impressive speed effect for his large Omega symbol on the video board, and Don Callis was by his side, as always.
When the bell rang, the two former friends turned rivals cautiously explored a lockup before exchanging chops. Page ran over Omega with a shoulder block, then followed with chops in the corner that were reversed several times, leading to a lariat from Page. Callis grabbed a boot, smartly stealing his man some early momentum.
Omega choked Page with a boot in the corner, with Callis eagerly taking over using the ropes while the referee was otherwise engaged. A springboard clothesline knocked the champ to the floor, and Page hurled himself over with a slingshot splash before menacing Callis.
Content to battle it out on the floor, Page suplexed Omega and climbed up top to deliver a high cross body back between the ropes. That was barely good for a on count, suggesting the bout could go on for a while. Omega’s first cover was also a quick one as “Kenny No Balls” chants began ringing out.
The announcers expressed their dismay as Callis stomped away on Page near the barricade, leading the fans to tell the ref he sucked. An almost gleeful Omega teased a springboard move from the apron but stepped back through the ropes instead to find that Page had mostly recovered. Undeterred, he flung Page back to the floor and his his Terminator dive to keep the pressure on.
Omega tried for a corner moonsault next, but Page got his knees up and dropped the champ with a boot to the face. After a fallaway slam, Excalibur called out the tope suicida, but Page didn’t stop there, firing into a moonsault to the floor that left both men down. A brainbuster set up another pinfall attempt for the challenger, with Omega kicking out at two.
After a bit of a battle atop the turnbuckles, Omega showed his creativity with a springboard Liger Bomb, followed by a snapdragon suplex. On a night of hard apron bumps, Omega gave Page another one with a full nelson suplex. The V-Trigger connected as well, but Page used a victory roll to avoid the One-Winged Angel and get a two count.
Omega got a long two count of his own with a Tiger Driver ’98, causing the fans to once again try to inspire Page to rally. The champion used his teeth to gnaw away at his challenger’s headline, but Page responded in kind and hit an avalanche blockbuster for another near fall. Omega grabbed at his ribs in pain and regrouped on the floor with Callis. That proved no haven when Page took the camera off the top of a ring post so he could propel himself into a clothesline that knocked Omega through a table.
With Page lining up the Buckshot, Omega’s knee seemed to give way, taking him out of the line of fire. Page hit a popup powerbomb and looked for his finisher, but Omega grabbed the ref and the man in stripes took the bump. Callis tried to get the belt into play but ate a right hand from Page, who hit the Deadeye but had no ref to make the count. Aubrey Edwards sprinted down as a replacement for Paul Turner but only got to two as Page covered.
Fatigue was now a factor during an exchange of strikes, which Page won thanks to multiple knee strikes. Page fought back by catching the V-Trigger, and the two men went back and forth with big blows. After eating a series of kicks that only seemed to fire him up, Page scored with a big clothesline that flipped the champ onto his back.
The Young Bucks limped their way down the ramp to watch as Omega countered the Buckshot, but Page pulled off a slick counter of his own, hitting Omega with his own One-Winged Angel for two. Page hit one Buckshot, then got a silent nod from Matt Jackson before hitting a second Buckshot and making the cover. Edwards counted to three and Page was overcome with emotion as he finally got to raise the AEW World championship above his head. The Dark Order filed out onto the ramp, then joined Page in the ring in celebration.
The next AEW pay-per-view is likely to be Revolution in early 2022.
AEW FULL GEAR 2021 FULL RESULTS
MJF vs. Darby Allin
MJF gets himself announced as “the man who can defeat Darby Allin with a headlock takeover,” causing me to chuckle. Allin’s entrance video features him wrecking an already beaten up car, then setting it on fire, perhaps inadvertently proving some of the things Darby says about him, though Excalibur says it’s a reference to a real life accident that claimed the life of his uncle in his youth. Sting accompanies Allin to the ring but then leaves him to fight this fight solo. As advertised, there is plenty of mat wrestling to open up this contest, and did I just imagine it, or did J.R. just call them two of the four “pillows” instead of pillars? Might just have been me. A more high impact middle section makes way for a little more mat wrestling, with Allin locking in the Figure Four and MJF reversing it. The referee’s arm has to be getting tired as they (literally) roll through a ton of pinfall attempts, with neither wrestler able to grab any sustained momentum. Allin finally prevails and lands a Coffin Drop to the floor, but MJF gets his knees up on a second attempt inside the ring. Shawn Spears and Wardlow attempt to come down the ramp to lend a hand, but Sting is having none of it, taking both of them out with his baseball bat. Still playing some mind games, MJF retrieves Allin’s skateboard and begs Darby to hit him. Allin refuses, but when the ref’s back is turned, MJF gets his Dynamite Diamond Ring out of his trunks, smashes Allin in the face and lives up to his word by finishing the bout with a headlock takeover. This has been a
Winner: MJF by pinfall
FTR (challengers) vs. Lucha Bros. (champions) – AEW World Tag Team Championship Match
Two matches in a row with a clash of styles, I’d say, though it’s always interesting the wrinkles that FTR comes up with while staying true to their old school ethos. Certainly, every time it seems the champs are about to kick it into high gear, FTR manages to slow the pace down. often with their trademark teamwork. That includes Cash Wheeler getting in a shot with one of their AAA belts and Dax Harwood hitting a brainbuster, but Rey Fenix manages to kick out. Harwood mocks the Eddie Guerrero shoulder shimmy and tries for Three Amigos, but Penta recovers to show him how it’s properly done. Fenix hits a big frog splash but it’s still not enough. Eventually, the champs are able to wear out FTR, despite Wheeler donning his mock luchador mask, and they retain their titles.
Winners … and still AEW World Tag Team Champions: Lucha Bros. by pinfall
A short video package hypes up the tourney final between Miro and Bryan Danielson, with the latter noting he has never pinned the former.
Miro vs. Bryan Danielson – AEW World Championship Eliminator Tournament Final
If this is a battle of pec pops. Miro has this hands down. His strength makes it difficult for Danielson to get any offense in early on. Actually, this is more than early on now and Miro is still in control, though Danielson finally hits a running knee off the apron to get things going his way. He works over Miro’s leg, but strangely not the one the big man has taped up. Not that he wasn’t physical during his time in WWE, but Danielson definitely seems to be enjoying wrestling an even more MMA/catch style in AEW. Miro gets the camel clutch applied, forcing a desperation dive to the ropes by Danielson. The LeBell Lock is applied in return, but Miro fights through the pain and escapes. The announcers put over the idea that Danielson went through a bunch of tough matches just to get to this final, either seeding a reasonable rationale for Miro winning or making the American Dragon’s eventual triumph that much more spectacular. It turns out to be the latter, as Danielson hits a DDT and locks on another submission and it that’s it for Miro.
Winner: Bryan Danielson by submission
Young Bucks and Adam Cole vs. Jurassic Express and Christian Cage – Falls Count Anywhere
You know it’s Falls Count Anywhere when someone comes to the ring in jeans, as Jungle Boy does. Not so much for the Bucks, who are sporting pants that are a retina-searing shade of hot pink. It takes a minute before anyone brings weapons into play, but pretty soon there are chairs and trash cans in the mix. Adam Cole is busted open and seems like he’s a sitting duck for another Con-Chair-To, but the Jacksons bail him out. Members of both teams are driven through tables, and Cage has his mind set on something even crazier: diving off one of the entrances to the concourse onto one of the Bucks and both of the Elite’s stooges. That only earns him a two count, so he battles Matt Jackson back to the ring area. Cole goes under the ring for a black bag, and you know what that means. The Superkliq put a bunch of tacks into Jungle Boy’s mouth before hitting him with dual superkicks, but they can’t get the three count as Cage hustles to make the save. Since we’ve already seen chairs and tables, it’s only right a ladder is brought into the match, and Luchasuarus bounces Cole’s spine off of it. I’m not even going to try to recap all the moves that get busted out on the ramp, but suffice it to say there are plenty of crazy maneuvers. Cole gets another black bag and starts handing out thumbtack-studded knee pads, the better for hitting Luchasaurus with an enhanced BTE Trigger. Alas, Jungle Boy makes the save, and the announcers are now incredulous that this match is still going. Luchasaurus chucks Nick Jackson off the side of the ramp and looks like he’s going to jump after him, but no one expects him to hit a Shooting Star Press down onto four men. Jungle Boy mouths “holy s–t” before connecting on a Con-Chair-To that finally brings this to a close. Good stuff but it did border on being too long in the end.
Winners: Jurassic Express and Christian Cage by pinfall
Andrade El Idolo and Malakai Black vs. Pac and Cody Rhodes
There’s a little elements of WWE-style “can they co-exist?” with the face duo, but the heels are tagging themselves in too so maybe no one is on the same page. There were rumors this was originally going to be a four-way bout, so maybe this is fitting. It does make the action disjointed, which might be why the crowd cheers loudest when Arn Anderson goes after Jose the Assistant. Things do perk up later, and Pac wins it for his side with the Red Arrow. Right after the bell, FTR hit the ring and lay out the faces, obviously still on Andrade’s payroll.
Winners: Pac and Cody Rhodes by pinfall
A video package airs to promote the women’s title match, touting Conti’s multi-disciplinary combat sports skills.
Tay Conti (challenger) vs. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. (champion) – AEW Women’s World Championship Match
The guitarist from Fozzy plays Baker’s entrance theme live, which is fun. The crowd doesn’t seem too into this one, perhaps because Conti has had such a low key push compared to other recent women’s title contenders. It’s also tricky when the champ is allegedly a heel but gets a lot of cheers anyway. Things perk up just a tad when Baker hits a painful looking move on the apron, which is kind of redundant but still. She looks for the Lockjaw (and has the glove on for it, thanks to Rebel), and the fans finally come to life a bit with dueling chants for both women. Some boos break out as both Rebel and Jamie Hayter get involved, setting up a pair of stomps from the champ. Conti twists to reach the ropes to prevent Baker from getting the Lockjaw applied. After hitting a big moonsault to take out the Doctor’s goons, Conti hits the DDTay and nearly steals the win. But it wouldn’t really make much sense for Baker to lose here, and she doesn’t, scoring the pin to keep her gold.
Winner … and still AEW Women’s World Champion: Britt Baker by pinfall
Another short hype video airs, this time for CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston.
Eddie Kingston vs. CM Punk
No pun intended, but Kingston punks Punk before the bell and looks awfully proud of himself. The announcers note that he could have won the match if he had waited for the bell, but Kingston wants to beat Punk up, not just beat him. There are loud dueling chants going, so plenty of support for both men. Punk has no qualms about fighting fire with fire and just going toe to toe with the Mad King, even after he gets cut and ends up wearing the proverbial crimson mask. He successfully pulls off the Three Amigos, to the delight of the fans. There are some wrestling moves in here as well, including the two-piece serving of Go to Sleep that finally bring this to a close. Lots of fun, but maybe not the absolute barn-burner some people seemed to expect this would be. Punk offers a handshake after the bell, but Kingston isn’t about to accept that.
Winner: CM Punk by pinfall
Hey, Baron von Raschke is in the house! Looking spry for 81, as I definitely wouldn’t want the Iron Claw from him, even today.
Men of the Year and American Top Team vs. Inner Circle – Minneapolis Street Fight
Part of the fun will be seeing what moves the MMA guys have learned while prepping for this match, and Andrei Arlovski doesn’t disappoint, hitting a Samoan Drop early on. Chris Jericho ends up squaring off with Junior dos Santos, who executes a powerslam and seems pretty psyched about it. JDS also hits a standing moonsault, so I’ve giving him full credit for studying up. All 10 men end up brawling when Dan Lambert first tags in, and suddenly bodies are flying everywhere. That includes Jake Hager leaping off the top turnbuckle onto a pile of competitors out on the floor. Along with sports equipment as weapons, Jericho finds the symbol that the late Prince used for a chunk of his career and uses that, prompting a “Purple Rain” chant from the fans. Santana and Ortiz get the Men of the Year into a four-man, simultaneous submission hold, and Sammy Guevara adds injury to insult by chucking a football at the heels. A few minutes later, that same trio is hitting aerial moves all over the ring while Lambert tries to sneak in some shots on Jericho on the floor. Ever fearless, Guevara does a somersault senton off a tall ladder and puts Scorpio Sky through a table. Did I mention a Bundt cake pan was used as a weapon? The Baron puts the Iron Claw on Ethan Page, dudes are flipping into the crowd, and I’ve sort of lost track of everything going on now. In any case, Lambert gets isolated in the ring with Jericho and almost gets to pin the Demo God thanks to a shot from JDS. Almost is the key word, as Jericho grabs a kendo stick and starts unloading on Lambert and Dos Santos. After dropping Lambert with a stapler shot to the groin and a clothesline, Jericho points to the sky in another tribute to Guerrero and finishes Lambert with a frog splash.
Winners: Inner Circle by pinfall
Before we get to the main event, Tony Schiavone says he has someone to talk to, and that someone is Jay Lethal. He says he found the Forbidden Door, stepped through it and it’s now official, Jay Lethal is All Elite. He goes on to challenge Guevara for the TNT title on Dynamite, and Sammy comes over to accept.
“Hangman” Adam Page (challenger) vs. Kenny Omega (champion) – AEW World Championship Match
Winner … and new AEW World Champion: Adam Page by pinfall
TOP PHOTO: Adam Page as the new AEW World champion. Photo by Matt Bishop
AEW Full Gear 2021 - November 13, 2021
Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Full Gear wasn’t a disappointment by any means, though it interestingly ended up as a show that was more than the sum of its parts rather than one that felt like it had multiple all-time great matches. It showcased AEW’s greatest strength as 2021 comes to a close, which is its ridiculously loaded roster, which allows it to put together PPV cards with no filler. Full Gear succeeded in large part due to that strength, as well as the the moment Adam Page fans have been anticipating for a long time.