Things aren’t looking too great for AEW. The current state of the promotion is nothing new though. Despite all sorts of storm warnings that ship has been sailing through rough seas for quite some time now. The roster is so bloated it is rupturing the hull.  North American ticket sales are languishing taking the wind right out of AEW’s sails. The core problem is that the booking and utilization of the talent is so unfocused that even a set of gyro compasses couldn’t put the S.S. AEW back on course.

That being said when it comes to pay-per-view events the roster does bring it. They do everything they can in the ring to subvert expectations based on the feeble, slipshod angles. The exceptional talent like Keith Lee, Lance Archer, Miro, Pac, etc, who reappear and disappear like the wind making it difficult to even follow or stay interested in the product or its angles.

AEW: Full Gear 2023

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AEW talent pulled it off once again with Full Gear but that isn’t to say it was a solid show because it really wasn’t. Up until the Sting, Darby Allin and Adam Copeland versus Christian Cage, Luchasaurus and Nick Wayne match the card was very mediocre. Even that match didn’t really live up the hype. Then there were two absolute stinkers in a row too. Both Orange Cassidy versus Jon Moxley and Hikaru Shida versus “Timeless” Toni Storm were embarrassments. Two of the very worst matches of the year.

Full Gear finished strong though with “Hangman” Adam Page versus Swerve Strickland putting on phenomenal Texas Death Match that will surely go down as one of the best hardcore matches ever produced while MJF and Jay White brought the show to a solid close.

The best thing about the Texas Death Match wasn’t just the merciless brutality of it all but that Swerve Strickland showed how unbelievable his wrestling range is. He is without a doubt one of the greatest of his generation and if booked right could be a future Hall of Famer. This Texas Death Match was a hybrid Last Man Standing Match as either man could only lose if they couldn’t get to their feet by the count of ten.

Page attacks Strickland before the bell can even ring. He lands the Buckshot literally seconds into the match. Strickland rolls to the floor. Hangman bounces Strickland off ringside barricade after ringside barricade. Hangman throws a chair into Stickland’s face before he tapes Strickland’s hands together. Hangman pick up a staple gun. He staples Strickland’s arm and chest.

He staples a piece of paper to him and his other arm right in front of the camera. Strickland takes a chair right to the head. Hangman attempts to staple a child’s drawing or painting to his face but it falls off. Strickland’s forehead is streaming, dripping with blood. Page staples it to the other side and this time the piece of children’s art sticks.

Page leans below Strickland so his blood can drip into his open mouth. Nope. Not kidding, folks. Man-O-Man. I have seen everything in wrestling but nothing like this.

Page swings a barbed wire steel chair at Strickland. Strickland kicks him in the “lower abdomen” and Prince Nana cuts through the tape binding his wrists, hands together. Page staples Strickland’s chest again. Strickland just stares blankly at him. Page staples him again two or three more times. No reaction at all. Strickland bends Page’s hands back. Page is stapled in the head.

Strickland takes the staple gun and gleefully staples his chest a few more times. He laughs as blood pours from his head. Strickland sets up the barbed wire steel chair in a corner. He rams Page’s head into it. He rakes Page’s forehead with the barbed wire. Strickland brings a cinderblock out from under the ring. Strickland and Page battle on the ring apron. Strickland bites Page’s forehead and gives him a Death Valley Driver on the cinderblock.

Strickland lines up Page on the the guardrail. He piledrives him on it. Strickland pours a bottle of water over his bloody face. Pages comes up bleeding from the back of his head. The official checks on him.

Page climbs to the top rope with the barbed wire chair. He moonsaults onto Strickland. Strickland halts Hangman’s Buckshot Lariat. He kicks the barbed wire chair into his face. Page reverses Strickland’s Tombstone Piledriver on a chair driving him down instead. The official lays the count on both men. Page is up and Nana assists Strickland to his feet.  As Strickland batters Page’s back with the barbed wire steel chair Nigel McGuinness cries out: Someone has to stop this match! Strickland powerbombs and stomps Page onto the chair from the top rope.

“There are no words to describe this,” says an exasperated McGuinness.

Strickland pulls out a bag of broken glass and pours it onto Page. Strickland splashes Page from the top rope driving the glass into himself and into Page. A JML Driver has Page up at the count of nine. Nana pulls a barbed wire board from under the ring. Strickland puts the board between two chairs in the ring. The board reads: Swerve’s House. Swerve and Hangman fight on the top rope. Page slams Strickland onto the board twice and drills him with a Deadeye. Hangman wraps a piece of barbed wire around Swerve’s mouth and face. He hits Swerve with the Buckshot Lariat. Swerve cannot get to his feet to beat the count. Nana pulls him out of the ring and onto his feet. The crowd goes insane.