All Elite Wrestling has a new top man. "Hangman" Adam Page pinned Kenny Omega in the middle of the ring to win the AEW Championship in the main event of Full Gear 2021. It was the culmination of AEW's longest-running storyline, and the end to one of AEW's best pay-per-view events.
While the main event produced a new champion, perhaps the best match of the night was that between CM Punk and Eddie Kingston. They had a gruff fight that stood out from the rest of the card, and it's arguably what the crowd was most into on the show. Other highlights include the opening bout between MJF and Darby Allin, Bryan Danielson defeating Miro to become the number one contender for Page's AEW Championship and the AEW Tag Team Championship bout between The Lucha Brothers and FTR.
Scroll below for a full recap and match analysis for Full Gear 2021.
Hangman Page wins the AEW Championship
Daniel Van Boom
The fourth ever AEW Champion has been crowned. Hangman Adam Page pinned Kenny Omega in the main event of Full Gear to win the AEW Championship.
The crowd was alive as the bell rang, moreso than anything else on the show with the exception of Punk versus Kingston. Omega got the advantage with the help of Don Callis, who tripped Page and later attacked multiple times when the ref's back was turned.
There were many big spots, including a sick springboard Liger Bomb that Omega planted Page with when Page was perched on the top rope. Mostly, though, this was a back-and-forth action match with little in the way of psychology until the final minutes.
We got a ref bump about 16 minutes into the match, with Page attempting a Buckshot Lariat but Omega pulling the referee into the clash instead. Callis tried to smash Page with the AEW Championship belt, but Hangman knocked him out. Omega then took a swing with the belt, but Hangman countered and hit his Deadeye signature move. A new referee slid in and we got our first great nearfall of the match.
After another exchange between Page and Omega, which saw Omega land many V-Triggers and Page counter with a huge clothesline, The Young Bucks limped to the ring.
Page attempted a Buckshot Lariat but Omega countered with a huge V-Trigger. Omega attempted a One Winged Angel but Page reversed it into a One Winged Angel of his own for a two count. Page then barraged Omega with two Buckshot Lariats -- one from behind and a second from the front -- to win the match. The Bucks didn't interfere, but rather nodded in approvement as Page struck his winning blow.
After the match, The Dark Order came to the ring to celebrate with the new champ.
Rating: 4 stars. A good main event with a great final few minutes.
Jay Lethal is All Elite
Daniel Van Boom
Before the main event, we got news that former Ring of Honor champion has joined All Elite Wrestling. He issued a challenge to Sammy Guevara for the TNT Championship, which Guevara accepted.
The Inner Circle beats Men of the Year and American Top Team
Daniel Van Boom
The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana and Ortiz) were victorious in their Minneapolis Street Fight against Men of the Year (Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page) and American Top Team (Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski and Dan Lambert).
The culmination of the match was Jericho landing a Frog Splash on Dan Lambert, in a tribute to Eddie Guerrero, who died on Nov. 13 in 2005, to win the match for his team.
It's hard to fairly appraise this Street Fight. If you watch it in isolation, it would be a bunch of fun. The problem is that it was another car-crash match, similar in spirit to the Young Bucks falls count anywhere bout earlier in the night. That problem recurred with the ending. Jericho and Guerrero were great friends, but we saw Guerrero tribute spots in multiple matches tonight, so Jericho's Frog Splash felt less special than it should have.
Still, there were many crazy spots to keep you entertained -- the craziest of which was Guevara chanelling Jeff Hardy with a Swanton off the top of a huge ladder.
Rating: 3 stars.
CM Punk defeats Eddie Kingston
Daniel Van Boom
This. Was. Awesome.
Eddie Kingston and CM Punk beat the hell out of each other. This felt completely different from anything else on the show. At 11 minutes, it was shorter than the other marquee matches. There wasn't any flips or acrobatics. It was gritty, and it felt like a fight.
The crowd was split, and mega, mega into this. It began with Eddie Kingston surprising Punk with a spinning backfist before the match started. The crowd popped huge, cheering for Eddie, but as Punks stirred we got defeaning duelling chants. Throughout the bout the crowd was 65-35 in Eddie's favor, which was surprising.
Kingston threw Eddie into the turnbuckle on the outside early, which cut Punk open -- he bled profusely. The dynamic of the match was that Punk was the big star, and Kingston was the scrappy underdog. In essence, a reversal of Punk's famous match against John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. That was best exemplified when Punk did Cena's shoulder blocks and teased doing a "You can't see me" taunt, which got heat from the crowd.
At the end of the match, Kingston taunted Punk with the "Go to sleep" sign Punk does. Punk surprised Kingston with a GTS, but Punk was too beaten down to capitalize. Both men got back to their feet, Kingston attempted a wild spinning backfist but Punk ducked and hit a second GTS for the win.
Rating: 4.5 stars. Best thing on the show.
Britt Baker retains her AEW Women's Championship
Daniel Van Boom
Britt Baker defeated Tai Conti with a cradle pin to retain her AEW Women's Championship.
These women were put in a tough spot. They were on late in the show, and the audience has seen several amazing matches. Further, Britt Baker is a heel, but she's one of the most popular stars on the roster. That puts Tai Conti in a hard spot -- she's meant to be the hero, but she's going up against a bigger and more popular performer.
With that said, this ended up above average. The crowd was largely not interested until about 8 or 9 minutes in, when Britt Baker landed an Air Raid Crash to Conti on the apron. After Conti kicked out, she managed to turn the tide by planting Baker with a Gotch Piledriver. That caused the hitherto apathetic crowd to get into a duelling chant, one side for Baker and one side for Conti.
Jaimie Hayter and Rebel ran interference for Baker, but Conti took them out with a huge moonsault. Back in the ring, Conti hit a DDTay for a two count. She attempted another, but Baker countered into a Lockjaw attempted. Conti turned that into a cradle, but Baker reversed that into a cradle of her own for the win.
Rating: 3.25 stars.
Cody Rhodes and Pac beat Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo
Daniel Van Boom
Cody Rhodes and Pac managed to team together and not implode for long enough to defeat Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo. The victory came when Pac landed a Black Arrow on Andrade.
It was a bit of a sloppy match, with some noticeable awkwardness, but these four are so talented that even on their worst day they'd put on a solid performance. The story going into it was that Cody and Pac distrusted each other, which shone through when Pac would repeatedly tag himself in, to Cody's frustration.
Early into the bout, on one such occassion, Cody was distracted by Pac's tag for long enough for Malakai Black to surprise Cody with a Black Mass kick. That put Cody out, and allowed Black and Andrade to work over Pac. Eventually he was able to tag Cody back in. Cody ran wild, which annoyed the notably anti-Cody crowd, and eventually Pac and Andrade were the legal men.
Black and Cody brawled to the outside, with Black kicking Cody over the barricades, which left Andrade and Pac to decide the match. Pac hit his Black Arrow for the win.
Rating: 3 stars. It was good, but was disadvantaged by following the car-crash match that came before. It also had essentially no stakes, which is an issue at this stage of the show.
Christian Cage and the Jurassic Express beat Adam Cole and The Young Bucks
Daniel Van Boom
This was just bananas. It reminded me in a lot of ways of the TLC matches that made Christian Cage -- alongside Edge, The Hardys and The Dudleys -- so famous. Not because there were crazy ladder spots, but because it was just a nonstop car crash.
It would be pointless for me to try and recap everything that happened. Here are a few snippets:
After much chaos, the end began when The Young Bucks stuffed thumbtacks inside Jungle Boy's mouth then clocked him with a double superkick as Adam Cole held him in a Camel Clutch. Christian interrupted the pin to save the match.
A creative sequence followed, where Matt Jackson aggrevated Luchasaurus with a superkick, leading to Luchasaurus chasing Matt up the rampway. Matt was cutoff by a recovered Jungle Boy on the ramp, where Jungle Boy put him in a Snare Trap. The six men then exchanged big moves up by the entranceway. It culminated with Cole and the Bucks putting thumbtack-studded straps around their knees to hit a three-way BTE Trigger on Luchasaurus. Jungle Boy broke up the pin, and then his team fought back against the SuperKliq.
After Luchasaurus chokelammed Adam Cole off the ramp onto Nick Jackson and stooge Brandon Cutler, he took them all out for good with an impressive Shooting Star Press. Jungle Boy landed a Conchairto on Matt Jackson for the win.
Rating: 3.75 stars. A lot of chaos and excitement, but with some ridiculousness too. The thumbtack spots were unbelievable and really broke the suspension of disbelief -- stuffing thumbtacks in someone's mouth and kicking them twice led to no bleeding, and Luchasaurus popped up fine mere moments after getting triple BTE Triggered with thumbtack kneepads. Still, it was undoubtedly crazy.
Bryan Danielson defeats Miro
Daniel Van Boom
In what was guaranteed to be a strong match, Bryan Danielson beat Miro in... a strong match. Danielson and Miro played their parts perfectly: Miro is a beast of a man, and Danielson is the plucky wrestler that fights from below.
After the opening minutes where Danielson hit Miro with some stiff-looking uppercuts and kicks, there was a great sequence where Danielson stacked Miro for a pin attempt. Miro kicked out and Danielson transitioned into a nice kneebar. After a dramatic few moments in the submission, Miro rolled onto his side and muscled Danielson with a gutwrench throw. This essentially exemplified the dynamic: Danielson is technically proficient, and Miro is the brute that repeatedly knocked him back.
Miro would get a solid submission in of his own when he locked Danielson into the Game Over, his version of the Camel Clutch. Danielson got to the ropes, and when Miro tried to put it on again, Danielson countered into a Labelle Lock. Danielson's integration of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into his wrestling style is fantastic. Miro managed to break Danielson's hold, then Danielson transitioned into a Triangle Choke, a throwback to how he beat Eddie Kingston a few weeks ago, but Miro was able to break out again.
After a strike exchange where Miro absorbed all of Danielson's kicks, the two found themselves atop the turnbuckle. Danielson landed a top-rope DDT and then locked on a guillotine choke. Miro passed out.
Rating: 4.25 stars. Snug strikes, believable wrestling. Great stuff.
Lucha Brothers retain AEW tag titles
Daniel Van Boom
In the second match of the night, The Lucha Brothers defeated FTR in an unsurprisingly exciting bout. Like the opener though, there was some unnecessary funny business towards the end.
Watching The Lucha Brothers wrestle is just so fun. Their offense is so explosive and acrobatic. I can't do it justice via description, so here are some examples.
The flow of the match was essentially that Fenix and Penta would do crazy fun stuff, but then Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood would cut them off, often with underhanded tactics. It's a great dynamic, one familiar to FTR matches, that lets both teams shine. Lucha Brothers got to look like superheroes, FTR looked shrewd and expert in tag team tactics.
There was a great nearfall where Fenix was running wild but was cut off by Cash, who hit him with one of the AAA Tag Title belts when the ref wasn't looking. Fenix kicked out at two, but the crowd bought it as a finish.
Dax got megaheat moments later when he mimicked Eddie Guerrero's taunt and attempted the Three Amigos. Penta countered at number three and did his own Three Amigos, which got a huge applause from the crowd. Fenix then landed a Frogsplash, which lit the crowd alight with "Eddie!" chants and got another awesome nearfall.
The finish brought the bout down a bit. FTR put on their Lucha masks, which they've taken to doing to mock the Lucha Bros, and Cash Wheeler tried to cheat a victory by rolling up Penta and putting his legs on the rope. The ref stopped caught him, then Penta hit him with a superkick and Lucha Brothers planted him with their Magic Killer tandem finish. The whole mask spot slowed the pace down, and felt completely superfluous.
Rating: 4.25 stars. Like the opening match, this featured excellent action and an overbooked finish.
MJF pins Darby Allin
Daniel Van Boom
The clash between two of AEW's biggest stars of tomorrow kicked off the main show. After a terrific bout, MJF hit Allin with brass knucks and then pinned him with a side headlock, as he said he would. It was a so-so- finish to an outstanding match.
It began as a wrestling contest, with Allin and MJF trying to prove who the better professional wrestler is. As noted, the story going into the contest was that MJF said he could beat Allin with a side headlock. Though it grew into a dynamic match with wild moves, the two started out with chain wrestling and fun athletics. MJF would tweak his knee early on, and would sell said knee throughout after Allin exacerbated the injury with a chop block and a brief Figure Four.
The Minnesota crowd was very into this match. MJF is a dastardly villain but, as often happens with charismatic bad guys, a lot of the audience loved him. The match opened to an even split, with dueling chants for Darby and MJF. Towards the end we got a "fight forever!" chant.
As you'd expect with a Darby Allin match, there were several wince-inducing moments. Early on, with MJF splayed across the apron, Allin attempted a Coffin Drop. MJF moved, and Allin crashed his spine into the apron. It was brutal. Later, MJF caught Allin in midair and did a modifed Atomic Drop: Imagine a Powerbomb into MJF's knees. Maybe the most gnarly one was MJF's Tombstone Piledriver onto the apron. It was a great spot, as MJF did huge damage to Allin but couldn't capitalize due to his knee issues.
The match was looking like an instant classic, but then we got to the finish.
Wardlow and Shawn Spears tried to come interfere on MJF's behalf, but Sting made the save. In the middle of it all, MJF brought Allin's skateboard into the ring and dared Allin to hit him with it. The announcer's played it up as mindgames, that MJF was trying to get Allin disqualified. Allin was tempted, but gently gave the ref the skateboard. While the ref was distracted, MJF pulled brass knucks out of his tights, clocked Allin with them and then pinned him with a side headlock takedown.
Rating: 4 stars. The ending was a bit silly and contrived, which was disappointing because these two did such a great job at making this feel like a serious athletic contest. Still, the action leading up to it was stellar. The future is bright.