All Elite Wrestling presented its Full Gear pay per view on Saturday night, crowning two new champions and reinforcing Jon Moxley as the most dominant champion in all of pro wrestling.
The Young Bucks had a match of the night performance in their tag team title victory against FTR, and Darby Allin won the TNT Championship from Cody Rhodes. For the first time since his WWE departure in 2016, Cody Rhodes—and not just Cody—was listed on the card. WWE just lost control of the “Cody Rhodes” trademark, allowing Rhodes to use that legendary surname at Full Gear.
That news caught the attention of wrestling icon Terry Funk, who spoke from his home in Texas about Cody restoring the Rhodes name back to his work.
“They took the name away from him, and that definitely hurt Cody, but they could never take away his talent,” said Funk. “Cody is making his dad proud.”
For the majority of his career, the late Dusty Rhodes innovated outside the WWE realm, adding an edge, realism, and excitement that did not always exist within the world Vince McMahon created.
“It’s almost like all this was predetermined,” said Funk. “His pop was very, very close to me. He loved what he did and he did what he loved. Cody going off and paving his own way, that’s the way it should be.”
Rhodes was defeated by Allin at Full Gear, starting Allin’s first run with gold in AEW. The story saw the bigger Rhodes underestimate Allin, and a lack of focus cost him the title. That victory marked the biggest moment of Allin’s career, and his cradle was magnified by the star power of the opponent he pinned.
“Cody came out of that [WWE] environment and found himself,” said Funk. “That’s not an easy thing to do, but he keeps working to get better. He’s part of a proud wrestling family, and it shows when you watch him wrestle.”
There is a considerable amount left for him to achieve in wrestling, and regaining his name is certainly an important step. But Funk cautioned the manner in which a heralded family name can serve as a band-aid for lesser talented wrestlers, noting that the run as solely “Cody” helped prove his worth within the ring.
“With Cody, it’s more than a name, it’s the bloodline,” said Funk. “Just like Dory Funk Jr. and Terry Funk were the sons of Dory Funk Sr. The name is special, but then it’s up to you to get the job done. If you can’t, then it loses its meaning.
“Right now, Cody is doing the hardest thing he can possibly do. It would have been a lot easier to stay where he was [in WWE]. Vince is a very tough competitor. But Cody has charisma. There is something special about him that’s in his system, and he’s doing the right thing, even though it is the hardest thing to do in wrestling.”
Here are the full results from the Full Gear card:
— NWA Women’s Champion Serena Deeb defeated Allysin Kay by submission on the pre-show
— Kenny Omega defeated “Hangman” Adam Page in the finals of the World Championship Eliminator Tournament
— Orange Cassidy defeated the Dark Order’s John Silver
— Darby Allin defeated Cody Rhodes to become the new TNT Champion
— Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida defeated Nyla Rose
— The Young Bucks defeated FTR to become the new Tag Team Champions
— Matt Hardy defeated Sammy Guevara in an “Elite Deletion” match
— MJF defeated Chris Jericho
— World Champion Jon Moxley defeated Eddie Kingston in an “I Quit” match
And here are my takeaways from AEW’s final pay per view of 2020:
Full Gear was a long show that lasted over three-and-a-half hours, but the blood was saved for the main event.
A crimson-faced Jon Moxley defeated a bloodied Eddie Kingston in an “I Quit” match, closing out the pay per view in familiar fashion—with Moxley’s hand raised.
This match was not for the weak-hearted. The bout started out as a slugfest but quickly turned gory, with barbed wire playing an integral role. Moxley took more than his share of punishment, withstanding getting dumped onto thumbtacks and his open wounds getting doused with rubbing alcohol. This was an example of a match that would not be seen in WWE, highlighting Moxley’s strength and refusal to quit.
Moxley forced Kingston to quit by using the barbed wire in a chokehold, shattering any dreams Kingston had of becoming AEW Champion. But Kingston, who wore a shirt on his way to the ring that paid tribute to the recently passed Tracy Smothers, made the most of his time in the main event. Though not quite on Moxley’s level, Kingston is now a player in AEW.
Moxley will now be challenged by Kenny Omega, who was victorious in an outrageously good opener with “Hangman” Adam Page. That match was a fantastic battle between the former tag partners, and it is amazing that Page—who was never a key player during his time in Ring of Honor—is now a legitimate threat to Omega in AEW. The focus now shifts to Omega-Moxley, which will build to a pay per view match in February.
Hikaru Shida worked an underdog style to overcome Nyla Rosa and retain the Women’s World Championship. Shida worked the match with a storyline knee injury but found a way to overcome Rose and Vickie Guerrero, who appears headed to a split and eventual face turn for Rose.
Shida is a talented wrestler, but this match never reached the level of her last pay per view title defense against Thunder Rosa.
The pre-show featured NWA Women’s Champion Serena Deeb defeating Allysin Kay, who was making her AEW debut. Deeb retained the title, and then had a post-match staredown with the returning Thunder Rosa. AEW’s women division has received its fair share of criticism, but I like the decision to have two women’s singles championships. Ideally, more women from the roster will also challenge Deeb for the NWA belt, and I hope that Kay—who can go in the ring—sticks around long enough for a two-or-three week build to a match with Shida.
Courtesy of a barefoot superkick from Matt Jackson, The Young Bucks defeated FTR to begin their first run as AEW Tag Team Champions.
The Bucks and FTR went back-and-forth in a phenomenal wrestling match that continued to pick up steam throughout the majority of its 28-plus minutes. The match featured a number of spots that paid tribute to tag teams from the past, including the Hart Foundation, Hardy Boyz, Dudleys, and even DIY. There was also a litany of near-falls, highlighting the importance of the tag titles.
This is a match that deserves an immediate replay. Like Matt and Nick Jackson, Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood work so well together as a team. Despite having previously stated that I would have preferred the Bucks to become AEW’s inaugural tag champs, they were wise to wait. The victory also served as FTR’s first loss in AEW, adding even more meaning to the win.
Following the win, the Bucks celebrated in the ring with Kenny Omega, who is now the next member of The Elite in line for a title shot.
A year ago, Darby Allin was left off the Full Gear card, an exclusion that still drives him.
“I sat in the crowd, and that ate me alive,” Allin told Sports Illustrated earlier this year. “I sat there and watched the show, and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to put in as much work as I ever have, whether it’s video or matches, to be on the next pay per view.”
Allin defeated Cody Rhodes to win the TNT Championship. The finish was a surprise, as Allin picked up the win with a cradle following a story arc in the match that saw Rhodes continually underestimate his opponent. Allin has been underestimated throughout the course of his five-year career, so it was a fitting story, especially in the manner it ended.
Allin’s next feud will be with Brian Cage and Ricky Starks, who attacked Rhodes and the new champ after the match before Will Hobbs put a stop to the violence. There are so many options for Allin with the belt, and a program with Starks should be fantastic. There is also the potential for a rematch with Rhodes, which is a program that first started in the summer of 2019 with a time-limit draw at Fyter Fest.
Chris Jericho was outsmarted by MJF, which cost him their match. Per the stipulation of the match, MJF now joins The Inner Circle.
The loss marks Jericho’s second consecutive pay per view defeat, which shows his commitment to building younger talent into stars in AEW. After dropping a Mimosa Mayhem match to Orange Cassidy at All Out, Jericho fell to MJF after getting rolled up from behind when referee Aubrey Edwards believed Jericho had used a baseball bat in the match. There was even a nod to the presidential election, as Jericho celebrated after the match as if he had won, even though he’d been defeated.
This story is set to continue, which is a positive, as MJF in The Inner Circle has lots of potential.
After a disappointing All Out pay per view in September, Full Gear was a much better indicator of AEW’s talent level. The show highlighted a different type of pay per view than is normally on display in WWE, especially in a bloody and violent main event.
Impact executive Don Callis also joined the broadcast booth to open the show. Callis shared that Omega, who is a longtime friend, requested him to be on commentary for the Omega-Hangman match. Surprisingly, the four-person booth had a decent flow to it, aided by the fact that Callis is so smooth on commentary.
John Silver and Orange Cassidy met in a rematch from Beyond Wrestling, which main-evented an episode of Uncharted Territory from November of 2019. As in that match, Cassidy emerged victorious.
Silver is incredibly entertaining, but his size hurts him and it appears AEW has cast him in a role to put over other stars. For Cassidy, who is now working a feud with Kip Sabian, the next step needs to be a program against MJF.
The Matt Hardy-Sammy Guevara “Elite Deletion” saw some familiar faces in “Hurricane” Shane Helms and Gangrel, as well as the tongue-in-cheek nature that has defined Hardy’s “Broken” run. Hardy won the match, and Guevara was then stuffed into a garbage bin and driven off by Senor Benjamin, while Reby Hardy played the piano and Hardy celebrated to close out the scene. While it was not the best piece of content in Hardy’s “Broken” anthology, it played a role in breaking up the card in between the tag title match and the final two matches of the night.
Overall, Full Gear surpassed expectations. And though the Bucks-FTR match was certainly worthy of main-eventing the show, it made the most sense for AEW to highlight Jon Moxley to close out the show.