SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
•Hangman Page vs. Wardlow – HIT
Wardlow sure feels like a future star in the making. After a quality match against Jungle Boy last week, he showed even more promise in his bout against Hangman Page. He’s quick, athletic, and he’s huge. Despite being on a winning streak, Wardlow was able to take the loss in a predictable finish that sent Hangman Page into the finals of the title tournament. Page is working to build himself back up as a singles competitor and by putting on great matches, he’s working back towards being a popular star like he was pre-pandemic.
•Eddie Kingston vs. Matt Sydal – MISS
I’m not sure what the purpose was of putting Eddie Kingston in a competitive match against Matt Sydal before the PPV. Sydal is a fantastic wrestler, but the way he’s been framed to this point is less than ideal with his most notable moments being slipping off the ropes in his debut and losing to Shawn Spears on Late Night Dynamite. Kingston left with the win, but he appeared vulnerable against a much lesser opponent which doesn’t portend well as he prepares for Jon Moxley.
•Young Bucks and FTR Interview – MISS
More confusion about how to feel about The Young Bucks. When both teams teased this match years ago, I don’t think anybody thought their first meeting would feel as flat as it does going into Full Gear. The match will probably be great, but it’s going to take a hail mary next week to re engage fans and give them a reason to see one team win over the other. The Bucks did add the stipulation if they lose that they will never challenge for the Tag Team title again. That’s the same stipulation Cody put on himself one year ago before Full Gear. One would think that would make it exceedingly likely that The Bucks take the gold, but as the booking has shown that isn’t necessarily so.
•MJF-Inner Circle Town Hall – MISS
I could have sworn that NXT was the one doing a WCW nostalgia show this week. AEW couldn’t help themselves, but put Chris Jericho, Tony Schiavone, and a surprise appearance from Eric Bischoff in a comedy segment. This was more of the same with Jericho and MJF giving quality performances, but the content itself feels like a fabricated story outside the confines of the show. The segment concluded with Jericho offering MJF an opportunity to join the Inner Circle if he can beat him at Full Gear. Their first meeting is coming much sooner than many predicted, but it will hopefully take them in more directions than the constant cuteness winking at the camera.
•Cody vs. Orange Cassidy – HIT
The Lumberjack stipulation has never been my favorite, but Cody and Orange Cassidy found another way to have a creative match. The work between these two was great and the finish sets up a title match between Cody and Darby Allin at Full Gear. Cassidy can absorb the loss given that Darby and Cody feels like the bigger match. However, Cassidy has taken a number of losses since beating Jericho. I’m concerned about defining him after AEW spent the majority of 2020 making him into a star. Whoever is his next major opponent, it may be wise for Cassidy to prove he can still compete with the best.
•Serena Deeb vs. Leyla Hirsch – HIT
Good showing for Serena Deeb and Leyla Hirsch. Deeb is one of the veteran female wrestlers who can help elevate the rest of the division. Hirsch proved she could hold up her own as well. She isn’t the typical female athlete body type which works in her favor to differentiate herself. On top of that, she has experience from working around the world. AEW is getting creative with bringing in lesser known female talent and it seems to be working.
•Shawn Spears vs. VSK – HIT
Shawn Spears squashed VSK in less than a minute. Spears attacked a masked fan and dragged them to the ring. The fan took off the mask as Spear was distracted by Tully Blanchard and revealed it was Scorpio Sky. Sky hit a spear to end the segment. Shawn Spears shows value when he’s portrayed as an over confident heel. His feud with Sky feels like it’s meant to elevate both guys, but AEW has burned fans over start and stop pushes.
•Kenny Omega vs. Penta El Zero M – HIT
In their rematch from All In, Kenny Omega and Penta El Zero M delivered. Penta proved why he is more than capable of being a major singles star. He has the charisma, mic skills, and he can back it up in the ring. Of course this wasn’t Penta’s time as he stepped in for his injured brother, Fenix, but now Omega is in the tournament final against Hangman Page at Full Gear. The match everyone expected to be the final, but being obvious isn’t a bad thing. The story is coherent albeit predictable, but that doesn’t diminish the investment. It lets fans look forward to what they hopefully want to see.
RECOMMENDED: 10/28 AEW DYNAMITE TV REPORT: Keller’s report on Cody vs. Orange, Town Hall for Inner Circle regarding MJF joining, Semi-Finals of Title Elimination Tournament, NWA Champion in action, FTR and Young Bucks interview