All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite: All Elite Wrestling: FULL GEAR 2023
November 19, 2023 10:09 AM - Season 5 (Specials) - Subscribe

The Young Bucks face their friend Kenny Omega, both women's titles are in contention, Sting has his last ever (?) match in Los Angeles, and AEW World Champ -- and relatively new babyface -- Maxwell Jacob Friedman must reclaim his stolen belt from Bullet Club Gold's sleazy leader Jay White.

(Some post-match recaps excerpted from The Wrestling Observer.)

ZERO HOUR PRE-SHOW (Free to watch)

Ring Of Honor World CHampionship Match: Eddie Kingston (c) defeated Jay Lethal (w/Sonjay Dutt, Satnam Singh, Jeff & Karen Jarrett)
It boggles my mind a little bit that Eddie, who is massively over with crowds, has to be the first match while crowds are still filing into the Kia Center. Eddie manages to fight off the interference of Team Jeff Jarrett and the rest of the entourage thanks to the timely appearance of Ortiz. Apparently he's forgiven Eddie for taking sides in the breakup of Proud & Powerful, because he kabongs! Sanjay Dutt with Jeff's guitar. There was a scary moment when Eddie was celebrating his win, and turned his back on Ortiz (who had his butter sock out and ready), but nothing came of it.

Later Eddie announced that he'll be joining the Continental Classic tournament, and just to make things spicier, he'll be putting up his ROH and NJPW Openweight titles on the line every match??? Weird announcement that alters the booking outlook for the whole thing, hoping for some Tony Khan clarification next week.
Claudio Castagnoli defeated Buddy Matthews
"Exactly the kind of match you’d expect from both of these two in their first singles meeting against each other. Castagnoli showed off his power, while Matthews used his speed to offset the striking game for a while. I hope this is the start of more singles matches for Matthews, who has been very underutilized as a singles wrestler pretty much everywhere he’s been."

IMO, this could have been shifted to a TV episode to give Eddie's match more time.
Ring Of Honor Tag Team Championship Match: MJF (c) & Samoa Joe defeated The Gunns (Austin & Colten)
"The match was more storyline than anything else, as the biggest question now is, will MJF make it back after having his ankle shattered post match? If he somehow returns, he not only has to deal with Jay White, but also now owes Samoa Joe as well."

Given how the rest of the night went (see below), it's a weird plot hole that Joe didn't bother to stick around and defend MJF from the post-match beatdown. Did he expect Jay White to honor the same agreement he had with MJF?

Adam Copeland, Sting & Darby Allin (w/Ric Flair) defeated The Patriarchy (TNT Champion Christian Cage, Luchasaurus & Nick Wayne)
"An action packed opener for the PPV, as the crowd was loudly into this from the jump. The heat on Allin built to Copeland wanting to ultimately get his hands on Cage, who bailed multiple times before it could happen. This story is just beginning between the two, so it’s no surprise Copeland has to wait to make Cage pay."

Wisely, AEW booking prevented Adam Copeland and Christian Cage from locking up on this show, to save for December's PPV. Interesting that Cage abandoned his "sons" to take the pin, rather than the other way around. Now if they abandon him, it's possible he could seek out mercy from Copeland so AEW might briefly reunite the Brood as a tag-team. Christian actually gave Ric Flair a low blow, so Flair has now taken a bump in every major American wrestling promotion in of the past 60 years (and others too).
Tony Schiavone is about to announce that Jay White is awarded the AEW World Championship by default, when Adam Cole hobbles out to say that Tony Khan has permitted him to replace MJF in the match to defend on his friend's behalf.
Why would Tony Khan allow a guy, who just had ankle surgery a few weeks ago, to wrestle? (IMAGINE CUT TO: Tony Khan leaning back in an office chair somewhere saying "Eh, I'll allow it.") Also, shouldn't the precedent be that White would be "interim" champion, or is that not done anymore? Shouldn't Samoa Joe have shown up to object?
AEW International Championship Match: Orange Cassidy (c) (w/HOOK) defeated Jon Moxley (w/Wheeler Yuta)
"While I thought their main event at All Out was a better overall match, this was an excellent story with Cassidy finally being able to slay the dragon he’s been unable to conquer for so long. He had to throw everything to put Moxley down for three, as I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a rubber match in the future."

Actual quotes from Orange Cassidy's post-show media scrum: "Jon Moxley is one of the best professional wrestlers in the world... His skull hurts when I punch it."

"(After being told it took six Orange Punches to knock down Moxley) Was it that many? I thought it was, like twenty-five."

He also intimated that he'd learned a few tricks to a harder fighting style from Hook, which I would have loved to see in a montage.
AEW Women's Championship Match: "Timeless" Toni Storm (w/Luther) defeated Hikaru Shida (c)
"It took the crowd a little bit to get into this, but once they did, they were in it for the rest of the match. Storm absolutely had to win the title here, as Shida has unfortunately had her title reign cut short as a result. I’m anxious to seeing what they do next now that Storm has become a three time Women’s Champion... Storm’s chest is beat red thanks to her match with Emi Sakura last night on Rampage. Shida trapped Storm between the ropes and unleashed chops as Mariah May was watching backstage, horrified. [Nigel] McGuinness is making Buster Keaton references on commentary and it left Taz speechless... Storm grabbed Luther’s tray he brought ringside, hid it in her trunks and hit a stalling German suplex. Storm ran to the corner, had to readjust where the weapon was in her trunks and hit Sweet Cheek Music for the win and the title, as I have no idea how referee Aubrey didn’t see the tray, but regardless, Storm regains the title and it was the right call."

It may very well have been the right call since Toni's new gimmick is super-over, but it sucks that Shida has once again become a transitional champ. Also, this continues the trend of the main women's title being the "shenanigans and gimmicks" division while the TBS Championship is the super-workrate division.
AEW Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: Ricky Starks & Big Bill (c) defeated FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood), Kings of the Black Throne (Malakai Black & Brody King) & La Faccion Ingobernable (Rush & Dralistico)
"This was a fantastic ladder match with everyone getting their time to shine and having their moments. The most violent of which was the Gonzo Bomb that Brody King hit on Dralistico onto a ladder bridge. Everyone did an excellent job in this one."

Probably the most spotfest match of the show. Dralistico and Cash Wheeler seemed to me the ones taking the gnarliest bumps, for example Wheeler piledriving Black onto a bridged ladder, then Brody King walking onto that same ladder and hitting a Gonzo Bomb on Dralistico which actually dented the thing.
AEW TBS Women's Championship Match: Julia Hart defeated Kris Statlander (c) & Skye Blue
"The crowd really got into the second half of this match, as all three ladies did a great job drawing the fans into it. The story was simple here with Statlander having the power game in her favor, so Blue & Hart had to work on the same page at times before Hart picked the right moment to capitalize and win her first singles gold in AEW.

Blue has new entrance music and threw away the baseball hat she’s worn prior to every match, as Excalibur said this was the metamorphosis... Statlander ate dueling thrust kicks in the ring as Blue & Hart had a long stare down. Blue offered a handshake, as Hart smiled, accepted, but dropped Blue with a forearm."

Important that Statlander was not pinned, which gives her ample reason to challenge Hart again, depending on how AEW feels this month on "rematch clauses." Skye Blue's new evil-sorceress look contrasts nicely with Hart's "Stevie Nicks meets Agatha Harkness" gear. Even if Blue is no longer in the title picture, she can go interesting places from here.

Hart's post-show media scrum is partly in and partly out of character, but she talks about being upset with Skye and Willow Nightingale for having refused the "gift" of her mist. She is not only the youngest champ in AEW history but also the only member of House Of Black to ever hold a singles title.
"Will Ospreay comes out to a massive ovation and officially signs his AEW contract. Ospreay said he’s happy to be part of the team, but said a little bad news first, that he’s not coming in just yet, as he begs the crowd to let him finish up with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Then, it can be the Road to Revolution, as he is All Elite. Ospreay asked Tony Khan to line up the best he’s got, especially for Wembley Stadium, as he’s going to show everyone what Elite really looks like."

Texas Death Match: Swerve Strickland (w/Prince Nana) defeated Hangman Adam Page
"One of the most violent matches in AEW history, as these two gave everything they had. As I wrote in the recap, it included one of the grossest visuals I’ve ever seen and never want to see it again on AEW, that being when Page essentially became a vampire with Strickland’s blood. I can’t believe that was early in the match, as it only got more violent from there. I’m surprised Strickland came out on top here, but with his biggest win in AEW to date, they need to capitalize on that momentum going forward."

I don't know if I could ever watch that match again. Staple guns, blood spray, barbed wire, cinderblocks, drinking a dude's blood? Plus the heartbreak of seeing Hangman lose in a match where he was getting righteous babyface vengeance. Poetic that Hangman was choked out in the exact same way he won his earlier death match with Moxley. There should definitely be a third match, but it should simmer for a while so that Swerve can make his play for a big championship.
The Golden Jets (Kenny Omega & Chris Jericho) defeated The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
"The crowd was simply exhausted following the previous match, but they really got into the second half of this. Once this picked up, this turned into a fun one. With this win, The Golden Jets officially have the AEW Tag Team Title shot that The Bucks won a few months back."

Hitting low blows on their former Elite teammate, The Bucks heel turn is nearly complete (again). Nick Jackson becomes the third person in history ever to try using the One-Winged Angel against Kenny Omega (Kota Ibushi and Hangman being the other two), and of course it fails until Kenny uses it on Nick to win. (OWA is the most protected move in wrestling, folks.) Insane that three Executive VPs booked themselves to be the cooldown match in this PPV. These developments are bad news only in the sense that it prevents Kenny from a singles run.
AEW World Championship Match: MJF (c) (w/Adam Cole) defeated Switchblade Jay White (w/The Gunns)
"I must admit, I feared this would be a storyline heavy match with a lot of bells and whistles, but thankfully it wasn’t. What it was, was a fantastic main event, with MJF selling his ass off with that injury, all while White played the heel perfectly. I really enjoyed they got The Gunns out of there early on, as Cole cheering on his best friend was all that was needed ringside. This was another huge title defense for MJF, who continues having an incredible title reign, which is now at one year."

Kind of disagree with the above, this match was overbooked in the way WWE would overbook Roman Reigns title defenses. Between MJF riding back in the (stolen?) ambulance, having a taped up leg even though his ankle had been Pillmanized, and then interference from the Gunns, the ejecting?

And then the commentary team starts talking about Cole as though he's a distraction to MJF -- he did talk Max into attempted a Panama Sunrise, which is stoooopid for someone with a busted leg -- I started distractedly wondering if a heel turn for Cole was incoming. Once they started making drama over whether Cole would throw in the towel for Max -- like, where the hell would he have the authority to do that anyway? -- I was already sadly preparing myself for MJF to lose through some sort of chicanery.

And then the ref bump, the Gunns return, Adam Cole accidentally -- or "accidentally"? -- gives Jay White the Diamond Ring to use. It honestly seems like the story became MJF retaining despite having an idiot for a friend. Also to repeat, why is Samoa Joe not involved here?? While the last five minute sprint to the finish was excellent, the match did not reward anyone for paying attention to the story being told, instead it took an approach that "the ending pays for all" which is a very McMahon thing to do.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta (3 comments total)
Also, I have no other place to put this, but apparently Ronda Rousey showed up to be Marina Shafir's tag partner in a Ring Of Honor dark match? Tony Khan says it was a one-off but the door is open to her.

Audience video here
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 10:15 AM on November 19, 2023

Also, I didn't realize until I finished this writeup that both women's titles changed hands at Full Gear but none of the men's titles did.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 10:18 AM on November 19, 2023

I was there! Way, way up in the nosebleeds but the Forum doesn't really have any bad seats so it was still amazing. The distance did result in some delightful optical illusions, though; the coloring of FTR's gear made Wheeler's trunks look assless and every time anyone performed the AEW favorite of biting their opponent on the head it looked like they were kissing passionately.

The audience seemed to be having a blast. I was surprised at how little "cheer this wrestler / boo this other wrestler" there was; for most of the matches everyone around me seemed to be cheering for all of the participants.

Apparently Roderick Strong's gimmick is very over? Every time one of the Adams (Copeland, Page, Cole) showed up there were a million Aaaaddddaaaammmm shouts.

My opinion may be swayed by the fact that I was there but I don't think there was a single bad match on the card.

My match by match thoughts:

The crowd really loves Eddie Kingston but they really, really love Sanjay Dutt getting hit on the head with a guitar. If Tony Khan booked a PPV that was nothing but a series of wrestlers hitting Dutt with a guitar it would top All In London's attendance without breaking a sweat.

I came into Claudio and Buddy's match thinking it might low-key steal the show. It didn't, but that's more a testament to how wild the rest of the show ended up being. A very good match from two of the most reliably good wrestlers working today.

Samoa Joe is popular everywhere he goes but this was Southern California; the love he gets here is cranked to 11. You can tell that Max's face turn is complete because he now comes out in the colors of the local sports team he would have previously disparaged.

I felt really weird about cheering when the words THE PATRIARCHY appeared but here we are. Christian might be the best wrestler in terms of getting exactly the audience reaction he wants working today. The constant teases and denials of a Copeland/Cage fight were :: chef's kiss ::.

Orange vs. Mox felt subdued, especially compared to their previous bout. With the benefit of hindsight I can now see that they were keeping the ultraviolence level low in order to make the later Texas Death Match stand out. Probably the right decision and the right guy won the match, so I'm happy with it.

I was worried the audience was going to treat the women's matches as bathroom breaks (as happened when I attended Double or Nothing 2022) but people felt invested. The crowd seemed to be behind both Storm and Shida and they went bananas when Storm won. Many, many fun spots in this match and the post-match dance ending with Luther carrying her offstage was, well, timeless.

People were cheering for all four teams in the tag ladder match. Why did I fail to predict that Los Angeles loves Rush? We would have cheered no matter who won, and we did. Chekov's Ladder getting placed horizontally on the outside during the opening of the match and just sitting there for most of the match made the eventual payoff feel particularly sweet.

Again, everyone was cheering for all of the participants in the TBS Championship match. We would have been happy with any of them winning, and we were.

Will Ospreay! Fuck yes, please and thank you.

If the Undertaker can be a Cowboy Zombie Biker Wizard there is no reason why Adam Page can't be a Cowboy Vampire. With the exception of the ill-fated exploding barbed wire match between Omega and Mox, AEW protects the shit out of their stipulation matches. Hell in a Cell has seen some decidedly tepid affairs over the years but I have yet to see an AEW Texas Death Match that didn't make me wince. Good golly, what a match. I did laugh at the difference between the real cinder block onto which Page bumped on the ring apron and the obviously gimmicked one that exploded when he got hit with it.

If you ever need to hide a body you could do a lot worse than getting the AEW ring crew to help you hide it; the turnaround speed for their cleanups and replacements impressed me greatly.

Why have we not yet received a dance off between Prince Nana and Daniel Garcia?

The audience still loves singing 'Judas'; I still don't want to watch Chris Jericho wrestle.

I enjoyed the closing match. It was the end of a five hour wrestling show. I was tired. The entire audience was tired. It may have been overbooked or it may have been exactly the number of silly carny tricks necessary to get the crowd hyped after a marathon of an evening. Either way, I went home happy.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:35 AM on November 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

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