The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of WrestlingInc or its staff
While AEW has run PPV events before, Full Gear will be the first event that has been aided by weekly television to build up the PPV. While Double or Nothing and ALL OUT were built through YouTube videos and a few special events, Full Gear will represent what a typical PPV should look like moving forward.
So how did five weeks of AEW Dynamite build up Full Gear? Let's look at each match and grade how much momentum each feud appears to have before Saturday's show:
Match: Chris Jericho vs Cody Rhodes
AEW really got things right at the top of the card with the AEW World Championship match. Jericho has done everything correctly since entering the company, and his segments have been the most entertaining part of Dynamite so far. The brawls between The Inner Circle and The Elite have been enjoyable and the promos are excellent. Things culminated on Wednesday when Cody cut an emotional promo about how important this match was for him; and Jericho replied with a snide video that made fun of Cody and obnoxiously promoted himself.
There may be some people who still don't want to admit that Cody is a big star in wrestling, but he is the most popular wrestler in AEW. Omega may be more talented, but to this audience Cody is their favorite. This has been about as legitimate of a major match AEW is going to be able to produce given the star power in the angle. Throw in Cody saying that if he doesn't win he will never challenge for the world title again and you have an interesting wrinkle for fans to think about heading into the match.
Match: Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega
This certainly feels like a major match as it was originally supposed to take place at ALL OUT, but had to be delayed due to Moxley's elbow injury. Since Dynamite kicked off it has been a focal point each week and some of the segments, particularly the first one when Moxley gave Omega the Death Rider through a glass table, have been extremely good.
That being said, I do think the delay of the match from ALL OUT has hurt the build to this feud. Omega cut his best promos leading up to ALL OUT, but that was months ago and I think fans have forgotten about it, or since they have realistically added new fans since Dynamite kicked off, never saw it in the first place. The match has a lot of hype just given the names that are involved, but I thought a little bit more could have been done promo-wise to make this match feel even more special.
Match: The Young Bucks vs Santana and Ortiz
This is the secondary match between The Elite and The Inner Circle. Santana and Ortiz have been good in their segments since their debut, but it is going to be tough since the crowd sees The Young Bucks on a different level than a new-to-AEW team like Santana and Ortiz. To me, this is the kind of match where you put Santana and Ortiz over strong to further establish them, and then you run the feud back with a stipulation match and that is the match that is really going to pop for these two teams.
Match: Adam Page vs PAC
This was another match that was supposed to take place earlier this year, but was delayed due to PAC's commitments to Dragon Gate. PAC beat Page on the first episode of Dynamite, and AEW has really pushed PAC as a major star. To his credit, PAC has emerged as the total package for AEW, an excellent wrestler and a superb heel who flexes his attitude wonderfully.
Page's run in AEW has been less successful. I'm a fan of his, but so far he reminds me an awful lot of Roman Reigns. A guy that a lot of people believe is going to be a major star and is pushed like one, but at the same time hasn't shown that he is quite capable of being the biggest star in the company. He hasn't been pushed quite as hard as Reigns, but I don't think so far he has shown himself to be as complete of a star as a guy like PAC has. Hopefully, unlike WWE, the rumored heel turn for Page is actually in the works and if that is the case, it makes all the sense in the world for PAC to go over here.
Match: Riho vs Emi Sakura
I think this will end up being a good match, but AEW really didn't do much to build up the match. It was not until the most recent episode of Dynamite that Sakura and Riho faced off, and Sakura did pin Riho clean, so at least there was that. However, Riho is the AEW Women's Champion and there have been episodes of Dynamite that she hasn't even appeared on. This felt like a last minute, thrown-together match and I don't think it would have been difficult to do a few segments over the past week to get fans more invested in Sakura.
Match: SoCal Uncensored vs Lucha Brothers vs Private Party
All things considered, they have done a good job for the tag title match. SoCal Uncensored vs Lucha Brothers is a feud that took place throughout the tag team tournament and featured the angle where they injured Christopher Daniels (I suspect Daniels returns this Saturday). SCU won the tag titles in a really good match on Dynamite, but the Lucha Brothers will get another crack at it on Saturday. Private Party have already gotten over thanks to their upset win in the tournament over The Young Bucks and should shine in this kind of match. Their presence adds a different aspect to the match than the tournament final, and I could see one of the Lucha Brothers pinning one of Private Party to "steal" the titles from SCU.
Match: Bea Priestley vs Britt Baker
This has been a solid feud that has been building up in the background. Obviously, AEW officials are really high on Baker and Priestley has done well so far, emerging as kind of a female Tomasso Ciampa. The feud dates back to Fight for the Fallen, where Priestley gave Baker a real-life concussion. Some of the little aspects, like AEW bringing in Priestley's tag team partner from Japan, Jamie Hayter, to rough up (but ultimately lose to) Baker, have been well done. The grade would be higher if more of their stuff took place on Dynamite and not on AEW Dark or social media.
Match: Shawn Spears vs Joey Janela
This is really the last match on the card, so expectations for its build are pretty minimal. They did an angle last week where Spears and Tully Blanchard criticized Janela's wrestling style, which led to Janela coming out and saving Brandon Cutler on Dynamite on Wednesday. So they have done some stuff, but it hasn't gotten a ton of attention. Janela has gotten somewhat of a push in the sense he has worked with a lot of the top names in the company, but he feels kind of directionless.
Must Watch Matches
Jay White vs Hirooki Goto: **** - NJPW Power Struggle 2019