AEW Full Gear is approaching fast. On Saturday November 17th, live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, All Elite Wrestling will present the fourth installment of the pay-per-view and it is looking like another fascinating card filled with title matches and grudge matches that should fill up a wrestling fan’s intrigue to pay attention on Saturday.
This will not be a preview of the 2022 event, this is a celebration of the matches that are considered some of the greatest matches in AEW history. Every Full Gear since it’s inception in 2019 has had at least one match that can be considered great to legendary, and it is time to give honor to those matches. In no particular order, here are my picks for the top five Full Gear matches in history.
#5: MJF vs Darby Allin, Full Gear (2021)
When AEW was born, there were the four pillars that were considered the cornerstones of the company. Two of those pillars faced off in the opening match of last year’s Full Gear. On one side, you had Maxwell Jacob Friedman aka MJF, a young man who can cut a promo with the best of them and on the other side, you had Darby Allin, a man who is known for attempting crazy stunts in and out of the ring. These two had a straight up wrestling match in which both men did the most to win the match. In the end, there was interference from MJF’s camp in the form of his then Pinnacle stablemates, Wardlow and Shawn Spears but was thwarted by Allin’s mentor, “The Icon” Sting and his signature baseball bat. MJF used his Dynamite Diamond Ring that he has won a few times behind the referee’s back and used a headlock takedown to defeat Darby Allin in 22:01.
#4: Chris Jericho vs Cody Rhodes, AEW World Championship, Full Gear (2019)
In the first Full Gear pay-per-view that AEW have produced, while everyone was talking about the Unsanctioned Lights Out Match between Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley, there was another match that had the crowd’s attention. Cody Rhodes earned an AEW World Title against then champion Chris Jericho. There was an added caveat to the match, as Rhodes proclaimed that he would never challenge for the World Title if he lost. With MJF in Rhodes’ corner and Jake Hager in Jericho’s corner, the two former WWE guys went at it. Even after a suicide dive gone wrong, interference from Hager, Rhodes kept fighting.
It was only when Jericho had Cody in the “Liontamer” submission, in which MJF threw in the towel to allow Jericho to retain his AEW World Title and solidify the notion that Cody would not challenge for the top prize in AEW again. After the match, MJF turned on his mentor and had the whole crowd engage in a chorus of boos which started the heated feud between student vs mentor.
#3: Christian Cage & Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) vs SuperKliq (Adam Cole & The Young Bucks), Full Gear (2021)
In my opinion, 2021, was the best version of Full Gear in terms of match quality (one of those matches will be talked about later). This trios, falls count anywhere match fits the bill as one of the greatest trios matches in AEW history. Before the group imploded a year later, Christian Cage and Jurassic Express were embroiled in a heated rivalry with the Young Bucks and Adam Cole for the majority of 2021 and it all came to ahead in this falls count anywhere match that went the full length of the arena. These six participants laid it all on the line, with chokeslams, BTE (Being The Elite) Trigger, near falls and to top it off, a conchairto by Jungle Boy to Matt Jackson to end the match. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter gave this match 5 stars and it was well deserved.
#2: The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood), AEW Tag Team Championship, Full Gear (2020)
In the short history of All Elite Wrestling, when you think of tag team wrestling, the Young Bucks and FTR can be considered two of the greatest teams in the company. Even before FTR was on AEW’s radar and they were known as the Revival, the social media beef was still there between the two teams. Around this time, FTR just turned heel and aligned themselves with Four Horsemen original member Tully Blanchard and were looking for their first AEW Tag Team title reign, the Young Bucks were one of the best teams and was rightfully placed as one of the top contenders for the belts.
Even before the match, the 1,000 fans at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida already knew this match would be great. FTR had tights with the green of the Boston Celtics while the Bucks, honoring their Californian roots, had their ring attire in colors that resemble the Celtics’ biggest rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers. This match was a contrast of styles and ideologies, with FTR’s no nonsense “Fists no Flips” style against the Bucks athletic and flippy ways. These two teams used moves from famous tag teams like The Dudley Boyz, The Steiner Brothers, The Hardys and DIY. In the end, Cash Wheeler tried to perform a 450 splash and failed, which made Matt Jackson capitalized with a superkick to capture their first tag team titles in AEW. Another five star match and it set up a trilogy of bouts between the two teams that spawned the past two years.
#1: “Hangman” Adam Page vs Kenny Omega, AEW World Championship, Full Gear (2021)
Now, we go to a match that was years in the making. On one side, we got Kenny Omega. A man who, ever since AEW’s inception, was ordained by the fans to recapture his New Japan glory. With Hangman Page, they became AEW Tag Team Champions and had the second longest reign in AEW history when it comes to tag teams. After losing the titles, Omega aligned himself with his mentor Don Callis and became the belt collector. At one point, Omega held the AEW World Championship, Impact Wrestling Heavyweight Championship and AAA Mega Championship. So, it was safe to say that Kenny Omega was at his peak of his powers.
Hangman Page, well, he was a different story. After losing the inaugural AEW World Championship against Chris Jericho, and losing the tag titles alongside Kenny Omega, Page went down a downward spiral. In majority of his matches, you could see Page drinking beers and not being his normal self. The Dark Order even tried to enlist Page into their ranks, but Page rejected their offer but became friends with the group and gained his confidence back. After handling personal issues and welcoming a child into the world, he returned to win the Casino Ladder Match to become no.1 contender for the AEW World Championship.
In the main event of Full Gear 2021, Omega and Page went 25 minutes going through all of their biggest moves. There was even an moment in which Hangman hit Omega with the One-Winged Angel finishing maneuver, Omega’s one hit punch and got a near fall. Page hit two Buckshot Lariats on Omega to capture his first and only AEW World Championship. This match was years in the making and it featured two men who have known each other since being a part of Bullet Club, so they each knew each other’s move-set and it made for one of the greatest matches in AEW history and gave us a feel good moment with Hangman Page celebrating his title win with the Dark Order.