Sports

Hangman Page steals the show

Grading every AEW Full Gear match from the CM Punk-Eddie Kingston slugfest to the much-anticipated Hangman Page showdown with Kenny Omega.

AEW Full Gear absolutely delivered the goods on every single level.

If you wanted high-flying mastery, you got it at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN on Saturday night. If you wanted an absolute mauling brawl between two wrestling legends, that was in store as well. If you wanted the culmination of top-tier storytelling on the biggest stage, AEW Full Gear delivered that as well.

From start to finish, this was an absolutely great PPV for AEW to cap off the 2021 year in terms of their biggest events. And we’re going match-by-match through the card in chronological order to hand out grades for the show.

AEW Full Gear match grades and results

Buy-In: Hiraku Shida and Thunder Rosa def. Jamie Hayter and Nyla Rose

This might be a bit harsh, but this match honestly just felt like AEW needed something to put on the pre-show and this was the best they had.

These are four talented women in the world of professional wrestling and, all told, there wasn’t anything necessarily bad about the performance that they put on at AEW Full Gear for the Buy-In portion of the programming. It just didn’t really do all that much to build excitement for the main card or even seemingly get the crowd all that hot — though they didn’t need much help with that once the show started.

Grade: D

MJF def. Darby Allin

If you’ve ever seen anyone question MJF’s ability as an in-ring worker, tell that person to kick rocks.

Whether it was the grappling showdown that started the match between him and Allin, the countless near-fall combos that the two men combined for, or basically anything in this match, these two guys brought the goods.

And the finishing sequence was terrific work as well, with Allin continuing to not give into MJF’s mind games with trying to get him to use the skateboard as a weapon but then that backfiring as the best heel in pro wrestling used his Dynamite Diamond Ring to score the win.

Grade: A

Lucha Brothers (C) def. FTR – AEW World Tag Team Championship

Simply in terms of the wrestling that took place, there’s not really a big shock that FTR and the Lucha Bros are able to absolutely tear it up in the squared circle. There were too many great spots to count in this match, which is to be expected, but these four men brought their best matches to the table.

Where this match gets slightly docked for me is with the storytelling. With the FTR masks and some pretty jumbled sequences at points in the match, things got a bit convoluted at times when they truly didn’t need to be. That was unfortunate to see as this could’ve been another A-grade match if it weren’t for that.

Grade: B

Bryan Danielson def. Miro – World Championship Eliminator Tournament Final

Truth be told, this felt like Chapter One in a long story that’s going to be told between these two exceptionally talented veterans of pro wrestling. Danielson was at his peak in terms of his technical prowess and Miro did the job beautifully of being an absolute monster. Moreover, the two told a fantastic story with Miro’s neck being his one “weakness” that ultimately allowed Danielson to score the victory.

Who knows where Danielson goes from here in terms of his now-earned title shot. However, the story that this match told, especially with an intentionally odd finish, seemingly indicates that there is more to come between him and Miro. What we saw on Saturday should have fans excited for that.

Grade: A-

Jurassic Express and Christian Cage def. SuperKliq

Bonkers spots. High-flying antics. Thumbtacks in Jungle Boy’s mouth. This match was completely out of its mind, but in the most fun ways possible.

It would be understandable if this wasn’t the match for you as it was definitely a wild and raucous spot-fest (which the crowd certainly ate up) and there were a ton of extra-curricular activities throughout. Also, it went on just a hair too long if we’re being honest.

Still, it was highly entertaining and the right team picked up the win in the right fashion with Jungle Boy getting the pin. Having said that, I would still like to see these two three-man tag teams have a legitimate match without all of the falls count anywhere madness, which factored into how I graded the contest.

Grade: B-

Cody Rhodes and PAC def. Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo

Grading this match was the toughest one on the AEW Full Gear card. Just from watching it, there were a lot of seemingly disjointed spots that didn’t quite land the way you would’ve liked them to and, frankly, it felt sloppy at times.

On some level, though, that might’ve been the point. Cody and PAC were supposed to be the team that just couldn’t make it work together and, if they were trying to make it seem that way, they did so brilliantly.

However, I’m not sure this loaded card with nary a bad match on it was the place to tell that story as it stood out glaringly and not in a positive light.

Grade: C

Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. (C) def. Tay Conti – AEW Women’s Championship

Especially if you look around on social media, it seems that how you felt about this match largely depends on how you feel about Baker as champion and how she’s working right now.

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle on that debate, which is where I fell with this match. There was too much interference and the match definitely dragged at points, unfortunately seemingly whenever the champion was on the offensive. Tay Conti, for her part, was phenomenal as she clearly put her best foot forward for the event.

Still, I’m intrigued enough with Baker to see where this goes forward but recognize that she and AEW need to do a bit better in terms of the storytelling with her title run.

Grade: B

CM Punk def. Eddie Kingston

You would think that there would be a lot to say about this match but, at the end of the day, there really isn’t.

This match was billed on Punk and Kingston just wanting to tear the other man apart and they went in the ring and did exactly that. These two veterans beat the crap out of one another for 11 minutes in an old-school brawl that felt drawn straight out of the 1980s archives of pro wrestling.

And that, frankly, was exactly what the match needed to be and let’s hope this isn’t the end of these two trying to destroy each other.

Grade: A

The Inner Circle def. American Top Team and Men of the Year

First, I want to say that the Chris Jericho tribute to Eddie Guerrero at the end of the match before he pinned Dan Lambert was emotional and wonderful.

I want to say that first because, well, I’d have been totally fine if this match wasn’t on the card and this long-standing feud had been settled on Dynamite or something.

There were some fun spots, sure, but that’s going to happen when you have a ton of talented guys in the ring. On the whole, though, this felt like what would happen in an old wrestling video game when you have too many characters involved in a created match at once and then you can’t follow any of it.

Grade: C-

Hangman Adam Page def. Kenny Omega (C) – AEW World Championship

Hopes were high for the likely culmination of a years-long character arc with Hangman Page and his shot at Kenny Omega and the title didn’t disappoint.

Page wrestled arguably one of the best matches of his career — which is definitely saying something — while Omega delivered on a big stage once again. Whether it was Omega kicking out of having the One-Winged Angel used against him, the big spots to the outside, or the beautiful finish involving the Young Bucks, this match was perfection.

For such a highly anticipated match to live up to the billing is something truly special. AEW is telling pro wrestling stories better than anyone in a long, long time and this was a pristine example of exactly that.

Grade: A+

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