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Solid show leaves AEW in better place

All Elite Wrestling needed a very strong showing at Full Gear after the debacles of All Out. The company didn’t get a home run, but it leaves New Jersey with the focus back on what’s happening in the ring, new champions, The Elite back and the person everyone it believes it needs at the top.

The 26-year-old MJF defeated Jon Moxley in the main event to become AEW world champion for the first time at Prudential Center on Saturday. The Plainview, Long Island native believes he’s pro wrestling’s next megastar and he will get his chance to prove it. Here are six takeaways from solid AEW Full Gear.

To the Max

There were so many story paths AEW could have taken with MJF’s ascension to the top of the company as world champion, among the youngest in pro wrestling history. After plenty of babyface leans, it chose to keep him a dastardly heel with a new ally. Friedman has William Regal to thank for as he turned on Moxley, his fellow Blackpool Combat Club member.

MJF wrestled the majority of the main-event-worthy match as a babyface, doing the “Come on!”, banging the mat to get the fans behind him and Moxley’s smugness was getting him booed. That all changed when MJF pulled the referee in front of him knocking him out. Friedman then went to use his Dynamite Diamond ring after saying he wouldn’t. Regal then came out to hold him to that.

MJF, after dropping the ring, got caught in a bulldog choke by Moxley and tapped out, but the ref did not see it. As Regal told Moxley to wake him up, he grabbed the ring and tossed MJF his brass knuckles. He used them on the champion to get the 1-2-3. Friedman celebrated by doing snow angels on the ramp and delivered a full-heel and profanity-laced tirade in the post-event media scrum. MJF is back in his full glory, he’s champion and has a new story to tell with Regal.               

Welcome Back

If this is where Saraya is starting from after a five-year absence from the ring because of a neck injury, we are in for a fun ride. Saraya, formerly known as Paige in WWE, delivered a strong first outing in AEW with Britt Baker doing a great job helping her through it. Saraya pinning the former AEW women’s world champion in the middle of the ring after back-to-back Rampaiges. It wasn’t perfect, but she certainly looked like see belongs at the top of the division, but will need a better story around her considering the crowd’s tepid reaction at times to the match.

Saraya faced Dr. Britt Baker at AEW Full Gear on Saturday.

Saraya slowly got up from her first live bump in five year and gave a fun little sassy strut to show people she’s OK. Baker worked Saraya’s neck early and often in the clear story of this match as things rightfully started slow. Things turned midway through as Saraya began to find her footing after so much time away because of her neck injury. There was one clunky powerbomb from Saraya where he realized it wasn’t great and kind of forgot to pin Baker quickly, but other than that she looked like she still belongs.  

Seven Heaven

The Elite returned using “Carry on Wayward So” to a big ovation. Somehow AEW went two months without giving a real on-screen explanation for their absence, but the crown told you why by letting out loud “F—k CM Punk!” and “Colt Cabana” chants. The circumstances around the All Out press conference and the suspension that followed clearly turned Kenny Omega and Matt and Nick Jackson babyface.

These six never disappoint and they turned in another beautifully frantic clash. The end came when Rey Fenix was reluctant at first to use a hammer tossed to him by PAC as he had been in the past. The changed in the finish when Fenix fought off a One-Winged Angel by hitting Kenny Omega in the head with the hammer and rolling him up for the pin so Death Triangle could retain the titles.

After the match, AEW announced the match will be the first of a best-of-seven series that could culminate – and likely will – on Jan. 11 at the Kia Forum on Los Angeles, which is Young Bucks country.  As good as these team’s chemistry is, we will see if they can tell a compelling story six more times.

Friends become Foes

The story of the Ring of Honor world champion match was what teammates could help and trust each other most. In the end, it was none of them in one of the matches of the night. Sammy Guevara and Chris Jericho’s bond didn’t last too long as Guevara hit a Spanish Fly on Bryan Danielson, but Jericho went right into a Lionsault to try to take advantage of it. It prompted Guevara to pull Jericho off a pin of Castagnoli. Guevara fully turned on Jericho after a hug, but could not get the three-count after a shooting star press to him. Then it was Danielson turning on Castagnoli, hitting him a Flying Knee after his Blackpool Combat Club partner tossed Guevara out of the ring.

A ton of false finishes followed with the crowd fully behind either Danielson or Castagnoli. It ended with Guevara in a Big Swing and Jericho leaping over him to hit Castagnoli with a Judas Effect and then a second one to retain the belt. Excellent story, excellent match and we probably get a Jericho-Castagnoli rematch at ROH Final Battle in December.     

New champions

Samoa Joe is your new TNT champion in the biggest surprise of the show. Joe, who had recently turned on his former tag team partner Wardlow, hit “Powerhouse” Hobbs with the belt just as the champ had completed his Powerbomb Symphony. Hobbs passed out in the Coquina Clutch to make Joe both the TNT and Ring of Honor TV champion. Liked this a lot. Taking the belt off Wardlow without him actually being beaten should ignite a huge feud between him and Joe. Wardlow will be much better chasing the belt again.

One the women’s side, we might have had a riot in Jersey had Jamie Hayter didn’t beat Toni Storm for the interim AEW women’s wold championship. Thankfully, she did in a match the exceeded expectations.

All the false finishes were really effective, starting with Rebel clocking Storm with the belt, but the champ was able to get her shoulder up. Then Baker, wearing a hoodie, stomped Storm on the outside, but she kicked again. It drew boos from the crowd until Hayter kicked out of a Storm Zero, bringing chants of “Jamie!” Storm, who may have broken her nose, was able to knock Baker off the top rope, but she took the turnbuckle pad with her. Hayter launched Storm into the exposed turnbuckle. She hit Hayter-aide for the 1-2-3 and a huge pop. It means AEW is keeping Hayter a heel for now and slow burning any breakup with Baker.    

Other Matches

Darby Allin and Sting over Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal (No Holds Barred)

This was the most confusing and messy match of the night and it feels like we watch one of these pure chaos contests with Sting and Allin at nearly every pay-per-view. They went from brawling outside the ring for two-thirds of the match to looking for tags again once they got back to the ring. Satnam Singh got involved whenever he wanted and Jeff Jarrett’s best moment was hitting Allin with a guitar shot as he was attempting a Coffin Drop. The match ended when Sting countered a Lethal Injection into Scorpion Death Drop and Allin delivered a coffin drop for the pin. The result feels like it cuts the legs out of Jarrett and Lethal as heels before they even got started. It also feels long overdue for Allin to be doing more than this.

Jade Cargill over Nyla Rose to retain the TBS championship

Cargill never disappoints with her PPV attire, breaking a Cheetara-themed Thunder Cats outfit this time after Rose road in on an Eddie Guerrero-like car. When they tried to wrestle more technically, it was a bit slow and clunky, but the power stuff was impressive. Cargill did have to kick out of Rose landing her own Jaded finisher on her. The champ eventually hit the move herself to retain in a solid-at-best match. With all the story around the TBS championship itself, it would have been nice for the belt to play a role in the match itself.   

“Jungle Boy” Jack Perry over Luchasaurus (Steel Cage)

Outside of a weird sequence where Christian Cage stole the key from the outside referee and opened the cage door to spill the action outside, this match accomplished everything it needed. It told a quality story of babyface resiliency for Jungle Boy. He won with a diving elbow off the top of the cage with Luchasaurus laid out on top of a table and then got him to submit in the Snare Trap. Now the question is will this story end for Jungle Boy or will AEW match him up with Christian Cage when he’s fully heathy.

The Acclaimed over Swerve in Our Glory (AEW tag team championships)

Swerve Strickland mercilessly attacked Anthony Bowen’s “injured” right arm throughout the entire match, giving his team the advance for most of it. Despite the behest of Strickland, Lee refused to use the clippers on the finger of Bowens. Strickland slapped his partner and Lee left him all by himself for The Acclaimed to retain. This breakup felt a long time coming and needed as Strickland can become one of the best heels in the company.

Zero Hour Results

  • Chuck Taylor, Trent Beretta, Orange Cassidy Rocky Romero and Danhausen over The Factory (QT Marshall, Aaron Solo, Cole Carter, Lee Johnson and Nick Comoroto
  • Ricky Starks over Brian Cage (World Title Eliminator semifinal)
  • Eddie Kingston over Jun Akiyama

Biggest Winners: MJF, Jamie Hayer

Biggest Loser: Darby Allin

Match of the Night: Ring of Honor world championship match   

Prediction: 7-3

Grade: B+

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