Around The Loop: Full Gear 2022 Predictions

The big story about AEW over the last few months has been about its many setbacks. Backstage drama with its (former) top star CM Punk, a litany of injuries to top talents like Adam Cole, Thunder Rosa, Kris Statlander, Kyle O’Reilly, an extended hiatus for Malakai Black, The House of Black, and The Elite (though that’s soon to be over), and what seems to be dwindling attendance in some of the markets around the US that have burned out have cast a cloud over the company. 

The story of Full Gear 2022 is how, or if, AEW adapts and changes as a result of these challenges, and how it can rise to meet them. Based on the build to this show, owner Tony Khan has taken many company criticisms to heart and gone all in (so to speak) on AEW’s ‘homegrown’ talents – folks like MJF, Ricky Starks, The Acclaimed, Britt Baker, Jade Cargill, Wardlow, and Will Hobbs – to pick up the load instead of relying on a seemingly-endless parade of new hires to draw eyes to the product.  This show also attempts to erase the unpleasantness of the All Out fallout, which is a black mark in AEW’s short history.  

With that in mind, your faithful fucking marks – Andy Burns, Jeromme Graham, Josh Wallen, Jeffery ‘X’ Martin, and Sachin Hingoo – at Biff Bam Pop have come together to run down the 13-match Full Gear card and to give our predictions of how this will all go down. 

Zero Hour Preshow: Best Friends, Rocky Romero, and a Very Nice, Very Evil Partner vs QT Marshall and The Factory

AB: Do The Factory ever actually win? And do we want them to? And you’re telling me Tony Khan can find room for this match but not anything with FTR? Best Friends for the win. 

JW: I’m sure this will be fun, but it will just be a centerpiece for Evil Danhausen to show his range more than anything. I’ll be curious to see if the Very Evil part can play on a big stage. Given some of the vignettes, he seems like he’d be more at home in the House of Black than the Best Friends. Whatever the reaction, there’s no way The Factory gets the win. Give me Evil Danhausen and the Best Friends.

SH: I’m a big advocate for wrestling to be akin to a variety show, giving a little taste of all the things that wrestling can offer – comedy, violence, drama, and exciting physical feats. Full Gear is full of serious-face wrestling and dramatic advancement of feuds, and this match seems like the perfect palette cleanser for all of that. Best Friends are a crowd-pleasing act, especially Danhausen, and I think they pick up the win here. More importantly, I think it’s time to use Danhausen a little – just a little – more.  

JXM: The Factory are AEW’s eternal third stringers. Despite the fact that winning is a rarity for those guys, they never fail to make their competitors look good. History indicates that they won’t win this match, but let’s consider that this could be a match where Danhausen could truly shine. His Twitterhausen has been growing darker in nature and what was that promo with the jar of teeth? Please tell me we’re getting the jar of teeth! I am down with the down with the down with the Best Friends, Rocky Romero and Less Nice, More Evil Danhausen to win.

Zero Hour Preshow: World Title Eliminator: Brian Cage vs Ricky Starks

AB: There’s a jet pack attached to Ricky Starks right now so look for him to somehow defy the odds of two weeks of beat downs by Lance Archer and win this one. That being said, I wouldn’t be let down to see Brian Cage get the win. He’s been doing solid work and would be a good challenge for a new AEW champ.

JW: Ricky Starks has got to get back that momentum that he had going into the Powerhouse Hobbs match and the booking leading into the tournament finals seems to indicate Ricky will win it all. Cage is one of those quality workers that only impresses when given the opportunity, but has yet to get a crowd reaction that would lead to more favorable results in the W column. I hope ROH is able to get established because Cage could be a monster on that brand.

SH: This match, and possibly this whole tournament, is Ricky Starks’ to win. Of course, that depends heavily on how the main event of Full Gear shakes out, which is probably why the finals against Ethan Page were moved to Dynamite. Against Brian Cage, though, this result is Absolute. Ricky is poised for a big push in 2023, and this is just the beginning. Ricky Starks FTW (for the win). 

JXM: I’m a Ricky Starks guy, especially when he’s battling the Thrift Store Wolverine, Brian Cage. Cage is okay, but like some of the other big guys in AEW, he just does Big Guy Things. Starks is a crafty little devil, and I expect him to run rings around Cage. Good thing for us the revolution will be televised, because Ricky Starks is moving on to the finals.

Zero Hour Preshow: Eddie Kingston vs. Jun Akiyama

AB: Eddie’s dream match, and one he doesn’t necessarily have to win. I could see him putting over Akiyama as a show of respect.

JW: I just love the fact that Eddie Kingston goes down YouTube rabbit holes of The King’s Road at all hours of the day. He has carved his spot on the roster by shooting his shot with his own personal dream matches. I don’t think he cares about winning at all. To him, this is getting to be in the ring with guys he respects and admires. Akiyama gets the win and bows in respect to the Mad King as he heads back to Japan.

SH: Like my pals here, I’m just happy that Eddie is getting a match that he’s always dreamed of. Much as he’s got to look mean and determined out there, you can practically feel the joy Eddie has to be sharing a ring with one of his heroes. It honestly doesn’t matter who wins this match, because the heart and soul of AEW is getting to go out there and do it against one of the best, in front of a huge crowd (even if it’s on the preshow). Just for fun, I’ll say that Eddie wins, and gets to soak in the adoration of the Prudential Centre. I kind of hate the “you deserve it” chant, but if ever there were a time for it, it’d be after this match. 

JXM: One of the best things about AEW is that you get to see your favorite wrestlers be happy. This match with Akiyama, which was sanctioned by Jon Moxley, is bound to make Eddie Kingston happy. When Eddie is happy, we’re all happy because he puts on a different kind of performance. We’ll get the slaps and the chops and all the stuff we’re used to, but I expect Eddie to be violent and respectful. That’s a strange dichotomy, isn’t it? I don’t care who wins. I just want Eddie to be happy. But I don’t see Kingston going over on his dream opponent, so I’m predicting Jun Akiyama gets the victory.

Sting & Darby Allin vs. Jeff Jarrett & Jay Lethal

JXM: Jeff Jarrett is here. Why is Jeff Jarrett here? That is a mystery I cannot solve. I suppose there’s unfinished business between Jarrett and Stinger from, what, thirty years ago? Despite his age, Sting has caught up with modern wrestling. I’ve watched that guy take table bumps and dive off of balconies. Lethal is a solid worker. Darby is a wiry daredevil who doesn’t know how to quit. Oh, and also, Jeff Jarrett is here. I don’t want Lethal and Jarrett to win this match, but Sting and Darby can absorb a loss to further progress this storyline. It’s not time for it to end. Close, but not yet. Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett will get the win. Jeff Jarrett. I can’t even believe I just wrote that. Good grief.

SH: A famous singer once wrote, in one of the most staunch anti-capitalist anthems in modern history, “spendin’ my days working hard on the go, while the hands on the clock keep spinning too slow.” That singer was working-class hero J-E, Double F, J-A, Double R, [ha ha!] E, Double T. Seriously though, what are we doing here? I didn’t and still don’t want to see Jeff Jarrett in my AEW, but he’s here, so let’s skip to the part where Sting no-sells a guitar shot, Darby knocks out Jay Lethal’s lights, and we all move on, possibly separating Darby from Sting for a while to refresh both. I’m going with father-and-son freaks Sting and Darby

JG: Jeff Jarrett making his in-ring debut for AEW. Who would’ve thought? Jarrett and Lethal really don’t need the win, so expect to see Sting and Darby Allin victorious here.

AB: I’m well-aware that I’m the only person here that likes Double J and don’t mind seeing him in the ring and in AEW. That being said, give the people what they want, which is some cool moves from Sting and Darby Allin.

JW: I loved J-E Double F back in the day. I was singing ‘With My Baby Tonight’ before they even revealed the real singer to be a better sports entertainer than Bret Hart. I was yelling “Slap Nuts” before this generation’s smarks figured out how great he really was. That being said, there’s no reason for Jeff Jarrett to be taking up TV time when there’s so many talented individuals not on this card. If you’re bringing the likes of him and Madison Rayne in to help in the back, great! Keep them in the back! There isn’t a nostalgia rub with these two. They don’t even have “go away” heat. They’re just roadblocks in the way of younger talent getting an opportunity to show me something new vs something I’ve already seen and left in the past. If this is the one and only match Jeff Jarrett has in AEW, fine. If it goes on past tonight… why? Who benefits?

Steel Cage Match: Jungle Boy Jack Perry vs. Luchasaurus

JXM: Steel cage matches are great, especially when you have a David v Goliath situation like this match. Jungle Man Jack Perry moves with a quickness and he’s not afraid to hurl himself through the air and into solid objects. Luchasaurus may be the most agile big guy on the AEW roster, even more so than Samoa Joe. This is great booking and it’s going to lead to a good match. Expect shenanigans from the injured Christian Cage, but not enough to prevent Jack Perry from getting that pin on the dinosaur who is a man who is millions of years old or something. I don’t know. It’s wrestling.

SH: This is the feud and the blow-off that should catapult “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry to the next level as a star. He’s always been a great performer, but there’s always been something missing. You know what else has been missing from AEW all summer? Many tons of steel! This should be a sleeper hit on the show, and you know Jungle Jack won’t, uh, hold back. 

JG: This feels like it has the potential to be a breakout star making moment for Jungle Boy. A much-needed strong win over Luchasaurus and thwarting any interference from Christian should set Jack Perry up to get to the next level especially now that he’s been showing a more serious side.

AB: This feud has been going on waaaaay too long, and it’s not doing anyone any good. It’s time for Jack Perry to get the definitive win and move on to something new.

JW: I feel like I should care more about this match, but I just don’t. For a team to have been together so long and been as beloved as Jurassic Express was to just kind of fizzle out during the break up feels like a miss. Not all that surprising when the big guy’s gimmick doesn’t allow for much speaking. Throw Christian into the mix to serve as Luchasaurus’ mouthpiece and now it feels less like the end of Jurassic Express and more Jack vs Christian with Luchasaurus as Christian’s proxy. I’m sure the match will be fine, but this ain’t Shawn vs Marty. Give me Jack Perry as I pray this feud is finally over.

Saraya vs. Dr. Britt Baker DMD

JXM: This gets my vote for the low-key Match of the Night. Saraya has been out of the ring for years, but she had the audacity to march into AEW and call it her house. This incensed Dr. Baker, who rightly claims that she is the bedrock of the women’s division. The quality of this match will depend on how rusty Saraya is in the ring. Britt Baker can go like crazy. There’s a strong possibility that Britt could work circles around Saraya and totally embarrass her. However, I’m not averse to a long term feud between Saraya and Baker. That would require Saraya to win this match, and I think that’s going to happen. What new name will Excalibur give to Saraya’s finishing move? I’m voting for the Saraya Slayah.

JG: Saraya. This one feels like a no brainer for me. Saraya’s time in AEW has gotten off to a bit of a limp start, in my opinion. It’s largely consisted of promos that feel like warmed over versions of her WWE microphone work. That said, I fully expect Saraya to get the win over Britt and that should hopefully get her on the right track.

SH: Saraya has a lot to prove here, having been out of action for about five years. We forget, though, that she’s a long-tenured veteran and has wrestling in her blood. I don’t see her losing this all-important match back, and she needs to prove why it’s still her house. This match also needs to over-deliver because it feels like the beginning of a new focus on the women’s division that I’ve been pining for for the last three years. When even New Japan is introducing a women’s title and even struggling companies like the NWA and Impact’s women’s divisions have been keeping them afloat creatively, AEW has some catching up to do. That’s a lot of pressure on Saraya and Britt, but I think Saraya relishes that challenge.  

AB: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Britt Baker gets the win via a lot of shenanigans that taint her victory. Hopefully Saraya looks good in her first match back and doesn’t take too many moves that make us cringe, but being overwhelmed by the odds of Rebel and Jamie Hayter at ringside could mean Saraya needs to bring in some friends of her own. 

JW: I’m really happy to see Saraya return. For someone to have their livelihood and the thing that they love doing taken away from them at such a young age is heartbreaking. A good comeback story is always an easy sell. Unfortunately for Saraya, she’s already shown some ring rust by trying to get into verbal fisticuffs with the DMD. She claimed that AEW was her house one too many time’s for Britt’s liking and the Good Doctor took advantage with the best promo of her career. She told no lies, she made the case for why she is AEW, and when a fanbase is as fickle as the AEW fanbase is, once you turn it into us vs them; them is always the heel. Saraya might be looking for a feel good moment, but she made herself just another former WWE talent coming in to take away a spot from an AEW original. I’ll take Saraya, but I won’t be shocked if she gets booed out of the building.

AEW TNT Championship: Will Hobbs vs Wardlow (c ) vs Samoa Joe 

JXM: Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Hoss Match of the evening. Samoa Joe is a veteran, agile for his size, and a monster in the ring. Powerhouse Hobbs has shown tremendous improvement over the last few months, extending his moveset and becoming a viable threat in the ring. That leaves Wardlow. He can powerbomb people. That’s about it. I like the guy, but he’s a one-trick pony. There’s no reason Joe shouldn’t stomp his way through both of his competitors. Look for Samoa Joe to pick up the win.

SH: To quote the best North American performer not currently in AEW right now, BIG MEATY MEN, SLAPPIN MEAT! The three biggest boys not named Satnam or Archer on the active roster are on a collision course for the TNT title. It’s been a circuitous route to build this match up, including the breakup of the dominant WardJoe team, but I think it’s still Wardlow’s World around these parts, and I’ll look for him to perform an XXL-sized Powerbomb Symphony on one or both of his opponents. 

JG: Wardlow has cooled down a bit for me, so a triple-threat match would be the perfect opportunity to put the TNT Championship on the much-deserving Powerhouse Hobbs. A big win over Wardlow and Samoa Joe at Full Gear would do wonders for Hobbs.

AB: This is a tough match for me to predict. Samoa Joe is a legend who can still go, and could beat anyone on any day. Wardlow has been poorly booked since winning his freedom from MJF months ago, and while fans are still behind him, he doesn’t have the vibe he once did. Powerhouse Hobbs’ star is still rising, and I’d hate to see him take a pin here, but in a competitive match it doesn’t have to be an issue. Who needs the win here? I’m going with Wardlow, who should start dominating everyone in his way again and see if he can get back on track.

JW: The coronation of Wardlow has been lackluster at best. Those crowd reactions are nowhere near where they were prior to him capturing the title. I think this is a classic case of some guys just not needing the strap. They’re better chasing than being chased. That being said, titles used in the right way can elevate a guy to the next level. This would be the perfect opportunity to see Powerhouse Hobbs grab the TNT title by beating Samoa Joe. Have Joe cost Wardlow the title, leading to a further feud between those two and taking Wardlow out of the title picture. Allow Hobbs to run roughshod over the division and let him earn the respect of the AEW fans that he deserves.

TBS Championship: Jade Cargill (c) vs. Nyla Rose (“c”)

JXM: The build-up to this match has been a riot. Jade has been trying to retrieve her belt, stolen by Nyla. Meanwhile, Nyla has been taunting Jade and forcing her way back into the title scene. I’m pretty sure Jade is going to defeat Nyla, but this could be a situation where we get surprised with a new member of the roster. [It’s probably not Mercedes Varnado/Sasha Banks or Naomi/Trinity Fatu. What’s Cameron doing now? Somebody call her mama.] Anyway, when the glitter settles, Jade Cargill will still be the TBS Champion and, presumably, that bitch.

SH: I love Nyla and her shenanigans, but I think this match should and probably will be short. Jade is done with that shit, and should make easy work of Nyla. The question is, where does the dominant champion go from here? She’s run through most of the division, with the exception of some of the talent in the women’s world title picture, so does she graduate to that tier? 

JG: How do you solve a problem like Jade Cargill? One of the few women in AEW that comes off like an actual star but her undefeated streak has been underwhelming. Nyla Rose breaking the streak doesn’t seem like it would be the right move, so I’m going with Jade retaining the TBS Championship.

AB: Someone is going to eventually beat Jade Cargill, but it’s not going to be Nyla.

JW: Nyla Rose has done all the heavy lifting in this feud. A lot of what I said about Wardlow applies to Jade as well. Being on top of the mountain and not having anyone else on that same level is a lonely place. I don’t think we get to see more real growth out of Jade until she starts to take some L’s and we can see what she does with adversity. Nyla Rose may be one of my favorites and I would love nothing more for her to be the one, but her stealing the championship was the closest she’s getting to it any time soon. It’s not what I want, but they’ve really painted themselves into a corner with Jade and this ridiculous undefeated streak. There’s no real competition in sight and that’s a big problem.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: The Acclaimed (c) vs. Swerve in Our Glory

JXM: Both of these teams are firing on all cylinders right now. The Acclaimed has never been hotter and Anthony Bowens is a delight to watch. I’ll probably bite on every near fall because I’m a sucker. To me, this match isn’t about who wins. It’s about what will happen to Swerve In Our Glory. We’ve been seeing signs of an implosion between Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland. There’s no better time for that turmoil to come to a head than this match. I can see Swerve going full heel and turning against Lee, leading to confusion that will allow The Acclaimed to retain.

SH: It’s hard to find a better success story in AEW than The Acclaimed. Max Caster and Anthony Bowens were two guys that were thrown together on a pandemic Dark card, and clicked in the way that only pro wrestling allows – with incisive freestyle raps and a catchphrase with origins in queer sex culture. Max and Bowens have got over bigger than practically any other act in the company, and (in kayfabe) that’s gotta cheese off the former tag team champions Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee. In fact, it seems to have driven Swerve a little crazy in the last few weeks, resorting to kidnapping Billy “Daddy Ass” Gunn and breaking his fingers. While a betrayal of Lee seems like the obvious direction for Strickland, I can’t help but think that Sneaky Swerve has something even more dastardly up his sleeve. The Acclaimed win, but Swerve is driven further into madness. 

JG: This should be a solid win for The Acclaimed. Probably going to see further descent from Strickland and Lee after suffering the loss that should hopefully culminate in either Lee getting fed up and powerbombing Swerve or Swerve attacking Lee. Give us that feud!

AB: Yo, listen! The Acclaimed are one of the best things going in wrestling right now and, much like Jamie Hayter, its all come about organically. They pick up the win, SIOG implodes, and Daddy Ass scissors fans on the way out. 

JW: I would have liked to see Swerve and Keith keep the belts longer than they did, but when lightning strikes like it has with The Acclaimed, it’s tough to turn a blind eye to. This will more than likely be the blow off match and see the split of Swerve in Our Glory, but what if it wasn’t… What if Keith finally saw that Swerve was right and embraced the Sneakiness? What if Keith Lee and Swerve Stickland became the monster heel tag-team that this division is sorely lacking? What if they held those titles long enough for a couple of Top Guys to close out the monster year of 2022 by becoming the AEW Champs at New Year’s Smash on December 28? Wouldn’t we all win, then?

AEW Interim Women’s World Championship: Toni Storm (c) vs. Jamie Hayter

JXM: Toni Storm has a great look, but she’s been a middling interim champ. Her in-ring work lacks the kind of smoothness a champ needs to inhabit that role. Her tendency to hulk up while on the verge of tears undercuts her believability. Jamie Hayter, on the other hand, could chew nails and spit out thumbtacks. Hayter backs up her vicious streak with an intense moveset that could decimate most opponents. Besides, listen to the fans. Toni Time is over. Jamie Hayter will win the interim championship.

SH: Toni is a great competitor and one of the best in-ring sellers in the company. When she takes a particularly brutal move, it looks like it damn near kills her, and that gets people like me invested in her matches. Unfortunately, that recipe doesn’t really make for a strong, dominant champion. You know what does, though? Big muscles and hard-hitting lariats, and that’s what Jamie Hayter serves up week after week. When that terrible-but-great euro-dance theme hits like it’s 1:01am at the club and the good drugs are starting to kick in, you know it’s clobbering time. Jamie Hayter for new champ, and long may she reign. 

JG: It’s no secret that Jamie Hayter has become a bit of a fan-favorite among AEW fans, especially here at Biff Bam Pop!  A strong win over Toni Storm and securing the AEW Interim Women’s Championship would definitely be a great way to elevate Hayter and cement her place in the hierarchy of the women’s division.

AB: I’ve really grown to enjoy Toni Storm, but I don’t think she’s connected with the AEW audience in a significant way. Jamie Hayter, on the other hand, has organically become a crowd favourite and always delivers the goods. It’s her time to shine.

JW: Jamie Hayter should have won the interim title to begin with. I say this as someone who for the longest time didn’t see it in Jamie Hayter, but all she’s done is show me time and time again how she is at the top of the women’s division. Her work is undeniable. She is never out of place in the ring. A problem that plagues many on this women’s roster. Her timing is impeccable. Where previous champions have been caught standing around waiting for a spot, taking you out of the match, that’s not the case with Jamie. She’s always ahead of the competition working circles around them and making them pay with power moves usually reserved for men’s matches. Unfortunately, TK and Co. have yet to see the same thing that I see, which is why she’ll take the L to Toni Storm. Prove me wrong, Tony.

AEW Trios Championship: Death Triangle (Penta 0M, Fenix, PAC) vs The Elite (Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega)

JXM: Please. The Trios Title was made for The Elite. Their return at Full Gear is going to get a ginormous pop from the crowd. Look for a fun match with all the flippy-floppy shit Road Dogg hates. Death Triangle may go into the match all zeros up, “M”s down, but The Elite is going to leave the match as the new Trios champs.

JG: For me, this could be the match of the night. With The Lucha Bros and The Young Bucks in the mix, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a spectacle. Adding in Kenny Omega and Pac will only take that to the next level. Definitely expecting The Elite to get the AEW Trios championship win here.

SH: I’m just happy to finally hear the Battle Cry after the unpleasant events of the last few months. But the Bucks and Kenny never disappoint, and the Lucha Bros and PAC are the ideal opponents for the Elite to show the audience exactly what they’ve been missing since All Out. Match of the Night at minimum, but these guys are gonna shoot for Match of the Year, which is very achievable for the talent involved. I think The Elite get their titles back, and we pretend that the last two months never happened. 

AB: I know my colleagues are all in on The Elite, and while I find them entertaining talents who always deliver high spots, the events following All Out have soured me on them to a certain degree. Their win here seems like a foregone conclusion, and I hate that it makes Death Triangle appear like placeholders. What I’m looking for here is a match that makes me believer that Death Triangle have a legit chance and pulling out the win. If they actually get it, well, I won’t have a problem with that either.

JW: This feels like the most predictable match on the card. The Elite return, vindicated now that the scourge of the earth has been expunged (and his little dog too)! Just kidding. Love you, Larry. The only thing that would make this more of a defining statement and turning the Page on the Punk Era of AEW would be to have Kenny superkick the old Fight Forever cover art to reveal the new one with his mug front and center during the post match celebration.

ROH World Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Sammy Guevara

JXM: Jericho’s run as Ring of Honor champion has been excellent to watch. His campaign to destroy the ROH legacy, including breaking Ian Riccaboni’s glasses, has been both violent and impish. I’m not sure why Sammy Guevara has been booked for this match. He seems to be the odd man out in a match filled with legends. Expect swings to be big, heads to be kicked in, and uppercuts to be European. Just don’t expect the title to change hands. Chris Jericho will remain the ROH Champion, because he’s a wizard.

SH: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Ring of Jericho storyline, in which The Ocho is systematically racking up victories over former ROH champions, and even beating up former ROH referees and announcers. This four-way at Full Gear might be his toughest challenge yet, as he takes on wrestling machines Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli, and has his most impetuous protege Sammy Guevara in the mix too. Will Sammy go rogue on his mentor? Will we see even more cracks form between Blackpool Combat Club members Claudio and Bryan? I think we could get some or all of the above, but Jericho still wriggles his way out of this one. 

JG: The Wizard has really been positioned as the centerpiece of ROH and I can’t see that changing anytime. Chris Jericho will find a way to fend off Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, and Sammy Guevara to retain the ROH title.

AB: The Ring of Jericho storyline is far from over, which means Chris Jericho should retain his championship here. Let’s just hope Bryan doesn’t take any cringe-worthy chairshots like he did a few weeks back. 

JW: Jericho having the belt has always felt like a way to get a tv deal for ROH. If that’s the case, I hope they get that deal soon, because I’ve seen this “Jericho and a guy on his squad might have some dissension” angle every other week of TV since AEW debuted on TNT. Jericho is still worthy of tv time and is the King of Wrestling Reinvention, but the repetition of it all is killing me. It’s not different just because you pull out The Painmaker or The Lionheart in the middle of a Sammy or Daniel Garcia or MJF or Santana and Ortiz are questioning his leadership decisions storyline. You can make a case for all 3 of his opponents to win this match and I’d welcome all of them in favor of Jericho retaining, but without the TV deal locked up, I don’t see it happening.

AEW World Championship: Jon Moxley (c) vs. MJF

JXM: Jon Moxley has proven himself to be the greatest champion in AEW’s short history. That’s precisely why Mox has to lose. With Mox out of the picture and MJF holding the title, room is created for utter madness to descend upon the ring. Will MJF be a face or a heel champ? Will Lord William Regal turn his back on Mox and the rest of the Blackpool Combat Club to stand behind MJF? What will happen to The Firm, and do we care? Will Mox finally get to take a friggin’ vacation? There’s still a chance that, despite conventional wisdom and a heavily telegraphed outcome, Mox could win. However, it would be a lot cooler if he didn’t. MJF will take that title and hell will follow with him.

SH: There’s lots of ways the main event can go, and nearly all of them are very compelling, but I think they all end in one key way – with MJF as the new champion. How this involves The Firm, William Regal, and who turns on whom, I feel like I change my mind on what I think will happen and what I want to happen with each passing day. The reign of MJF is coming, though, and while it’s exciting to see what that means for AEW, let’s not forget what a great goddamn soldier Jon Moxley has been over the last year. To call him a workhorse doesn’t do him justice. Mox threw this company on his back during a period of intense setbacks and carried it over the line. Don’t you dare forget that, because it’s a championship legacy that should be etched in every history book about wrestling that’s ever written. 

AB: By all rights, MJF should win this match. He’s over with the audience, he does great in-ring work, his promos are outstanding. Is it possible he loses, though, thanks to shenanigans from The Firm or even William Regal? I’d say yes, though one would hope it’s unlikely. MJF as a tweener champion opens up the title scene, and gives Mox a much-needed break after carrying the company for a good chunk of the year. 

JG: I gotta go with Moxley on this one. It feels like a lot of people think now should be the time to pull the trigger and put the title on MJF. The build hasn’t been that great, so I feel like the more compelling move would be to have someone cost MJF. Maybe see Regal throw someone in MJF’s path? That gives him someone a big name to slay before getting back to the chase. Either way, this should be awesome.

JW: I haven’t liked the build to this match at all. The mic work has all been stellar, but whatever hijinks are going on with Max being a good guy, Max being a bad guy, The Firm’s involvement; it’s just not something that needed to be there for me. Max is Max. Mox is Mox. They’re both so great on their own that whatever bullshit you’re trying to add to the mix just seems to take away from that greatness. Max has been talking about this being his crowning moment, but if it comes with the involvement of The Firm, a group that will more than likely be this year’s Pinnacle in terms of relevance a year from now, was it really that great of a crowning moment? I’ll take Max because I think Mox deserves his vacation, but not because I think this build has earned Max the victory. If he wins with The Firm’s involvement, it will be like getting a can of Fancy Feast instead of a Tomahawk Ribeye.

Possible Surprises, Returns, Debuts or Controversial Events

JXM: It’s amazing that AEW has been able to function at the high level it has with all the injuries that have plagued the company. It would be great if Adam Cole and Hangman Adam Page came back to underscore the return of The Elite. Those head injuries are tricky, though. There might be an appearance by one or both of them, but don’t look for any in-ring action. In my dark little fanboy heart, I want ODB to show up and attack Jade Cargill. I’ve always loved her, and you don’t get to make fun of me for my fantasies.  William Regal is going to turn heel, and I don’t know how that will affect his relationship with Excalibur. I am also hoping that Jon Moxley shows up at the scrum, eating a chicken sandwich and talking about how he’s old, hurt, tired, and works with fuckin’ senior citizens. 

AB: I want to see William Regal and MJF together, so I’m hoping for that. I can’t believe FTR isn’t involved in this PPV, so let’s see if they show up and challenge The Acclaimed. Is the former Sasha Banks free and clear yet? If so, now would be a good time for her to arrive in AEW. And hey, how about a freakin’ release date for Fight Forever???

SH: Like I said before, I’m appreciative of the fact that AEW is pulling back on the crutch of surprise debuts to pop ratings and to get attention. We’ve got some one-and-done surprises like Shawn Spears, Stu Grayson, and ROH’s The Kingdom over the past couple of months that never really went anywhere. But if Tony’s got something truly attention-getting in his back pocket – the artist fka Sasha Banks, perhaps – this is a great time to play that card. Really, the surprises I want for this show are mostly story-based. Give me a Regal or Mox heel turn, or something really messed up with Jungle Boy, and perhaps the return of the House of Black or one of the talents that are on the shelf, bay-bay. 

Most of all, and what would be a pleasant surprise to me, I want to see the whole AEW roster – one that’s seen some shit over the past year – come together to move past their setbacks, and to be stronger than ever as a company no longer defined by how bad their competition is, but by a roster that’s full of talent operating at their highest level. One that embodies the spirit of being Elite.

All Elite Wrestling’s Full Gear will stream live in the U.S. from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. ET on the Bleacher Report app, website and connected devices for $49.99. Internationally, the show is available on FITE and on Youtube PPV.


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