“Hangman” Adam Page finally realized his dream by becoming the AEW world heavyweight championship by defeating his ex-partner and friend Kenny Omega in the main event of Full Gear at Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday night.
The story of Page’s two-year journey to becoming champion ended in a satisfying way as the fans were treated to a great match and a fantastic finish.
But that wasn’t all. MJF and Darby Allin showed the world what the future of the business holds as they tore down the house in the opening match, while CM Punk and Eddie Kingston engaged in a fight between grizzled veterans.
MORE: How to watch AEW Full Gear 2021 wrestling pay-per-view
Sporting News provided results and grades for every match on AEW’s Full Gear 2021 pay-per-view card.
MJF def. Darby Allin
Two of the four pillars of AEW kicked off Full Gear in front of a white-hot crowd. While MJF has been lauded for his exceptional mic skills, some questioned whether his work between the ropes could match. Well, that question was answered as these two set the bar high for the rest of the show. An exceptional opening grappling sequence set up a fantastic showdown where Allin often had to find ways to work from underneath the bigger and stronger MJF. But when Darby had those moments, he took full advantage. A suicide dive where Allin went full speed into MJF served as a sign of the physicality to come.
Other highlights included a second-rope stunner by Allin and MJF countering a leapfrog into a powerbomb backbreaker; a tombstone piledriver by MJF on the edge of the ring apron; and a Code Red reversed by MJF into another powerbomb. The story told here was Allin slowly working over MJF’s left knee to compromise his opponent. But a more important story would play out later as MJF promised that he could beat Allin with a side headlock. He did just that, but only in a way that MJF could.
An insane sequence of pinning combinations brought the crowd to its feet as Allin finally hit a Code Red for a near fall. Allin attempted to hit the Coffin Drop but MJF rolled to the outside. What did Allin do? Hit the Coffin Drop on the outside of the ring. Another attempt was countered by a knee from MJF. Wardlow and Shawn Spears attempted to interfere for MJF but were thwarted by Sting. It was a clever spot to make sure that they didn’t get involved with the finish.
MJF dared Allin to hit him with a skateboard. But when Allin thought better of it and had the referee discard the skateboard, MJF used the ring from his trunks to punch Allin and pin him with a, you guessed it, side headlock.
This match was incredible for a number of reasons. MJF continues to be the best heel in professional wrestling, but he showed that he could be part of a well-put-together match. As for Allin, he bumps like a madman and gives it all he has at every turn. Losing didn’t hurt him at all. The future is bright with this company.
The Lucha Brothers def. FTR to retain AEW world tag team championships
It was always going to be impossible for The Lucha Brothers to follow up on the absolute classic they had with The Young Bucks at All Out. But this was a great follow-up that had a minor blemish with an awkward finish.
FTR beat The Lucha Brothers recently for the AAA titles, which set the stage for this match.
If there was a complaint to be had, it’s that the referee had absolutely no control over this madness as all four men routinely ran in and out of the ring for double-team efforts. It looked great, but you’d like to think that the referee would need to gain control with a threat to disqualify either team if it continued.
Nevertheless, it was a great match as The Lucha Brothers got their revenge and retained their titles. It was a tale of two matches. Whenever FTR was able to slow down the action, they were able to grind on Pentagon and Fenix through tag team wrestling reminiscent of the 1980s with mat work and power moves. The Lucha Dragons sought to pick up the pace with a variety of acrobatic offense. It must be said that Fenix is an absolutely phenomenal talent who never fails to impress.
There were too many great tag team spots to mention, but you should go out of your way to watch this match. During the final stretch, Cash Wheeler landed a shot with the AAA title on Fenix and Harwood hit the brainbuster for the nearest of near falls. Moments later, we were treated to an absurd sequence that saw Fenix spring off Dax Harwood, who was eating a spike piledriver to splash Wheeler. Difficult to explain and something that needs to be seen
The end came when FTR attempted to use masks to disguise the legal man but Penta and Fenix sniffed out the scheme, then hit Wheeler with the spike piledriver and picked up the win.
Bryan Danielson def. Miro
Two men who have been absolutely phenomenal in their respective roles since joining AEW met in a match that they probably wouldn’t have had in their old workplace. While most assumed that Danielson would come out on top, it didn’t take away from an excellent wrestling match that put Danielson in position to challenge for the AEW world championship.
With Jon Moxley taking a hiatus from professional wrestling, Miro stepped in and found himself in the final of the tournament. With only one loss between the two wrestlers, they met in this match at their strongest.
This match was brute strength meets technical wrestling. For much of it, Miro used his physicality to cut Danielson off or thwart his attempts at submission wrestling. It was well-booked as Miro continues to be one of the most distinctive talents on the roster. It will always be baffling how WWE botched his time with the company. Fortunately, he’s reaching his potential with AEW. Despite the loss, Miro remains a threat to everyone on the roster. And the best part was that a call back to Miro’s neck being his weakness ended up doing him in.
After a great back-and-forth, Miro countered a running knee with a powerbomb for a near fall. Miro asked his wrestling god how to finish his opponent and sank in the Game Over submission. Danielson made his way to the ropes for a break but Miro dragged him back to the center of the ring for another attempt. Danielson escaped and then slapped on the LaBell lock. But Miro powered out and dug into his opponent with ground and pound. Danielson threw up a triangle choke and Miro gouged the eyes to escape. Danielson made the mistake of exchanging strikes with Miro and found himself kicked to the canvas.
Miro carried Danielson to the corner and attempted a superplex. But Danielson reversed and planted Miro on his bad neck with a tornado DDT for the sensible pinfall and finish. Again, an excellent match. These two will probably see each other again at some point.
Jurassic Express & Christian def. Superkliq
With this being a street fight with falls counting anywhere, there was no question the action between the six wrestlers would be non-stop. It was full-fledged chaos that could have benefited from a few minutes being shaved off. There was a lot going on with everyone getting in their moments of violence. Tables, ladders, chairs and tacks were all brought in, and both teams found creative ways to get in their offense.
Jungle Boy’s reluctance to use weapons would be the story here, and AEW managed to find a way to make this pay off in a satisfying way.
Adam Cole was the first to bleed and was busted open. Christian gave Jungle Boy a chair to hit a Con-Chair-To but Jungle Boy hesitated, which led to the Young Bucks taking over.
A step-up hurricarana sent Cole through a table while Matt Jackson sent Luchasaurus through a table with a flying elbow. Meanwhile, Nick Jackson and Christian battled through the arena until Christian dived off the upper level of the arena onto Jackson and his crew.
With the Superkliq getting the upper hand, they introduced thumbtacks to the fray, shoved them in Jungle Boy’s mouth and stereo superkicked him. Christian broke up the pin and nailed a tornado DDT from atop a ladder on Nick Jackson. All six battled up the entrance ramp, but Cole hit a Panama Sunrise on the stage for a near fall.
Cole retrieved three thumbtack kneepads for a three-way BTE trigger. But that didn’t end it, as Jungle Boy broke up the pin. More madness ensued with Luchasaurus hitting a shooting star press on the Superkliq from off the stage. Christian took out the Young Bucks and set up another Con-Chair-To. This time, Jungle Boy had been pushed to his limit and mustered up the gall to hit Matt Jackson with the Con-Chair-To to pick up the win.
This was a busy match that wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it went a hair too long. But the finish was well-done and it gave Jungle Boy a great edge and story as this feud is unlikely to be over.
Pac & Cody Rhodes def. Andrade El Idolo & Malachi Black
This story was built around three great wrestlers and an individual. The question is no longer if, but when, the Cody Rhodes heel turn will happen. The longer it goes on, however, the more uninteresting it gets. The fans are revolting, but it’s difficult to decipher whether AEW is reluctant to turn Rhodes heel, because this has been dragging on for some time. It’s clear that Cody is at his best when he’s a heel, but the rationale behind this has been baffling. And it ultimately hurt the match.
Rather than these four wrestlers showing out, we had a strange story centered around Rhodes constantly involving himself in the match, causing a rift with tag partner Pac.
When Rhodes wasn’t involved, the match was fine. But you knew that it wouldn’t be long before the match would orbit Planet Cody. Pac was able to turn back Black and Andrade long enough to go for a tag, but Cody was nowhere to be found. An unwitting Pac was nailed with a slingshot pendulum DDT for a near fall. Black and Andrade had their own altercation, and that allowed Pac to take out Black and get the hot tag to Cody.
Cody got the upper hand with a figure four on Andrade but Pac tagged himself in to hit a 450 splash for a near fall. Black pulled Cody into a diving Pac. You would think that would cause a rift. Nope. The match just played out with Pac eventually hitting a poisonrana and Black Arrow on Andrade for the pinfall.
This match just didn’t click and whatever story they were trying to tell didn’t make much sense. Too much talent to have an average match. But, alas. Here we are.
Dr. Britt Baker, DMD (c) def. Tay Conti to retain the AEW women’s world championship
Seeing Conti go from just a worker in NXT to working herself into a title fight has been impressive. But with the PPV entering its second hour, the crowd was burning out, and, unfortunately, these two had a difficult time bringing it back into the event. Strangely, though, the problem wasn’t Conti but Baker.
Conti worked her tail off to prove that she belonged in this moment while Baker’s offense often felt disjointed and sluggish.
An absolutely brutal air raid crash on the edge of the apron nearly broke Conti in half and reinvigorated the dying crowd.
Conti escaped a Lockjaw attempt to hit a Tay-KO and a Gotch-style piledriver for near falls. But Baker’s crew got involved and slowed things down. Interference led to a curb stomp by Baker to the steel steps followed by a second stomp and a Lockjaw. But Conti got to the ropes, avoided another curb stomp and bicycle-kicked Baker to the outside. Conti hit a moonsault to the outside onto Rebel and Jamie to even the odds.
A DDT-Tay for another near fall followed. Conti sought the finish but an extremely slow pinning sequence saw Baker pick up the victory.
Baker might be champ, but she can’t afford to have matches like this. This one definitely could have some time shaved off and the constant interference became egregious. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Conti.
CM Punk def. Eddie Kingston
A fantastic build led to a great brawl that moved Punk away from the white-meat babyface and more into a tweener role because, as everyone knows, Punk is best when he has an edge. Rather than waste anyone’s time with wrestling, this ended up being a fight with some wrestling moves sprinkled in.
But Kingston wasn’t interested in wrestling at all and met Punk’s face with a spinning backfist before the match even began. From there, it was war. These two wailed on each other from the opening bell with stiff strikes and power moves. Punk found himself getting a smattering of boos from a crowd that warmed up to Kingston, who continued to pummel Punk until he busted him open.
With much of the show’s matches going long, the brevity here was appreciated because they cut to the chase and had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Not to mention, Kingston’s phenomenal column in The Players’ Tribune couldn’t help but make everyone a fan.
They told a great story of respect and made sure to keep everyone engaged. Punk called back to his rivalry with John Cena with a five-knuckle shuffle setup, but Kingston met him with a middle finger (there were plenty of those). Punk hit the Three Amigos in honor of the late Eddie Guerrero. A great visual followed of Punk and Kingston meeting in the middle of the ring with fists and more middle fingers.
Punk eventually hit the GTS but was physically spent and couldn’t make the pin. Kingston missed a desperation spinning backfist and Punk realized that he needed to put the wounded dog down for good.
Punk clobbered him with elbows and knees as the crowd booed. But the boos weren’t so much for Punk as they were in support of Kingston. Punk hit another GTS to put an end to the match. In the aftermath, Kingston refused a handshake and left while Punk smiled as blood streamed down his face. Just a very well-done match with excellent storytelling that was unlike anything else seen on the card.
Inner Circle def. Men of the Year & American Top Team
This match was unnecessary but it served as a bit of a breather before the main event. One thing is clear: It’s time to move Sammy Guevara, Santana and Ortiz away from the Inner Circle. And if this feud was supposed to help elevate the Men of the Year, it hasn’t. At all. Dan Lambert ended up getting over the most with it and has a future in this business as a heel manager if he wants it.
The match was full of plunder and weapon spots. Junior Dos Santos shined with a moonsault and a power slam. Lambert, who looked absolutely ridiculous in a velour sweatsuit, finally tagged himself in and thought he was going to sneak in some offense. Instead, Inner Circle recovered and chased him down. It was all silly. It wasn’t great but the match had some decent spots.
Guevara hit a senton bomb off the top of a ladder and sent Scorpio Sky through a table as LAX took out the rest of the American Top Team.
Lambert was left in the ring with Chris Jericho, who tore into the ATT leader with chops. Dos Santos was extremely late to interrupt a Lionsault attempt, which led to an awkward botch. Jericho hit Lambert with a kendo stick and stapled his nether regions before hitting Lambert with an Eddie Guerrero-inspired frog splash for the finish.
This match served no purpose and didn’t get over the talent it needed to. We should all be glad this is over so we can move on.
The best thing about this match happened afterward, when former ROH champion Jay Lethal announced he had joined AEW and challenged Guevara to a TNT title match on “Dynamite.”
‘Hangman’ Adam Page def. Kenny Omega (c) for the AEW world heavyweight championship
From the first official AEW event, the company has focused heavily on building Page into the ace of the promotion. By denying him the inaugural AEW championship against Chris Jericho and having him lose to Omega in the No. 1 contender tournament last year, it managed to slow-play Page into becoming someone fans would salivate over to become champion. It did a fantastic job of this. The only thing left was to finally put the title on him.
And AEW did just that in finally giving Page his crowning moment in a match that built toward a fantastic and surprising finish: the Young Bucks giving their approval to Page to finish off their friend.
Page and Omega knew each other too well for them to fall for their old tricks, so it was up to one of them to pull out something new to get the upper hand. Omega struck first with a ridiculous springboard Liger bomb that shifted the power dynamic and opened the champion up to running his offense. But it wouldn’t last long; Page hit an avalanche blockbuster to swing the pendulum in his favor.
Page continued to find new ways to put Omega down. He landed a flying lariat off the ring post that sent Omega through a table. Omega pulled the referee into a buckshot lariat attempt.
Page thwarted Callis and Omega’s attempts at using the title and nailed Omega with the Deadeye. Aubrey Edwards raced down to count the near fall. Page intercepted a V-Trigger and went on the offensive until he was cut off with a knee. The two followed with a furious exchange that was capped by Page starching Omega with a clothesline.
A Buckshot attempt by Page was countered by a V-Trigger. Omega went for his finisher but Page ended up nailing Omega with a One Winged Angel for a startling near fall.
The Young Bucks hobbled to the ring and it was expected they would interfere. Instead, they watched and even nodded their approval as Page clobbered Omega with a pair of Buckshot lariats to finish the job and finally realize his dream of becoming champion.
It may not have been a classic, but it told a great story between former friends needing to find something new to get the upper hand. Page wasn’t going to be denied on this night and AEW made the right decision to not hold off this coronation any longer. But with Bryan Danielson waiting, how long will Page be able to hang onto the title?
AEW Full Gear 2021 card
- Kenny Omega (c) vs. “Hangman” Adam Page for the AEW world championship (25:35)
- Dr. Britt Baker, DMD (c) vs. Tay Conti for the AEW women’s world championship (15:24)
- Bryan Danielson def. Miro to become AEW world championship No. 1 contender (20:06)
- The Inner Circle def. Men of the Year and American Top Team (19:52)
- The Lucha Brothers def. FTR to retain AEW tag team championships (18:36)
- MJF def. Darby Allin (22:06)
- CM Punk def. Eddie Kingston (11:00)
- Cody Rhodes & Pac def. Malachi Black and Andrade El Idolo (16:52)
- Christian Cage and Jurassic Express def. Superkliq (22:35)