AEW Full Gear 2023 Preview
All Elite Wrestling returns to pay-per-view this Saturday night, November 18th, for FULL GEAR 2023 live from the fabulous KIA Forum in Los Angeles, CA! AEW's return to the West Coast has already been an exciting endeavor, and now it comes to a head with multiple championship bouts, epic grudge matches, strained friendships, and the top shelf professional wrestling the world has come to expect from the athletes of All Elite Wrestling! Click here for all the details on how the AEW faithful around the world can watch our November tradition, then sit back, strap in, and get ready for a rocket ship of a ride in Cali!
AEW WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
MJF(c) vs. “Switchblade” Jay White
On November 1st, just four days after beating Kenny Omega on COLLISION, Maxwell Jacob Friedman became the longest reigning AEW World Champion in AEW's history, surpassing the 346-day marker set by “The Cleaner” between WINTER IS COMING 2020 when he beat Jon Moxley and FULL GEAR 2021 when he lost to Hangman Page. One week later, on the November 8th DYNAMITE in Portland, MJF defeated Daniel Garcia in a World Championship defense, thereby tying the mark of 9 successful defenses set by Moxley during his reign from REVOLUTION 2020 where be bested Chris Jericho to the aforementioned WINTER IS COMING 2020 loss.
These are two huge milestones in the history of All Elite Wrestling, as well as in the professional career of Maxwell Jacob Friedman, not to neglect his fifth consecutive victory where the Dynamite Diamond Ring is concerned, but unfortunately MJF has had to celebrate both this championship milestones without his precious Triple B, the AEW World Championship title. For weeks now “Switchblade” Jay White has been parading around with the physical title belt and using his possession of it to proclaim himself the real AEW World Champion. While White is certainly championship material, his status as a former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion is testament to that, he is not the AEW World Champion regardless of his physically holding the title belt.
While he's not champion, what “King Switch” has been is a thorn in MJF's side that he's been unable to remove, a foe Max has been unable to get a leg up on, and man surrounded by three other men willing to get their hands dirty in order to lend “Switchblade” an assist when it is need. Jay White is also one of just two people who've pinned MJF's shoulders to the mat since he returned to the fold at ALL OUT 2022, the other being Dax Harwood the night Better Than You BayBay challenged FTR for the AEW World Tag Team Championship. To say Jay White has the psychological edge heading into this fight would be an understatement, and though initially it seemed the Devil-masked individual, and their gang of black clad thugs, that have encircled this bout was MJF's balance to everything White had done, it became clear after White's victory over Mark Briscoe that they (a) The Devil was not MJF and (b) they were not on the side of the World Champion either. Even though their initial arrival on the scene was at the expense of Jay White, this time around they left The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass laying, even chucking Anthony Bowens through a window.
So after everything that has gone done between MJF, his allies, Jay White, and BULLET CLUB GOLD, the two men will finally go one-on-one for the AEW World Championship! It's MJF's chance to become the most successful champion in AEW history by breaking Mox's record, it's Jay White's opportunity to ascend to the throne in All Elite Wrestling just as he did in New Japan, and it plays out this Saturday night live on pay-per-view from the legendary KIA Forum!
AEW WOMEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
Hikaru Shida(c) vs. Toni Storm
Though it's been a little more than ten years since the very first time Toni Storm and Hikaru Shida stepped into the ring with one another, that fight from the REINA promotion is their lone fight away from All Elite Wrestling and a tag team one won by Storm and her partner.
It would be nine years before Storm and Shida saw each other inside the squared circle again, only now they were working as partners on DARK: ELEVATION #74, teaming with Willow Nightingale as their third to top Emi Sakura, Marina Shafir, and former AEW Women's World Champion Nyla Rose. The two women would actually team up several more times in 2022, actually proving quite successful both as a team and a trio, but the AEW Women's World Championship would enter the picture.
At ALL OUT 2022, with the title having been vacated as a result of Thunder Rosa's injury, Toni Storm bested Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D, Jamie Hayter, and Shida to win her first title, acquired by pinning Hayter, and since she was not the woman pinned, lining up Shida for a title fight of her own. That first singles bout between the women would go down on TITLE TUESDAY 2022, and end with Toni Storm still the reigning champion.
The two women would go their separate ways, reconnecting in May 2023, but unlike Shida who had stayed true to the side of angels, Toni Storm had aligned herself with Ruby Soho and Saraya to form The Outcasts. The alliance-turned-rivalry would blossom into a Women's World Championship match at the 200th episode of DYNAMITE and that fight would end with “The Shining Samurai” becoming a 2-Time World Champion. Sadly it was a short-lived title reign as Saraya would bring it to an end just 25 days later at ALL IN: LONDON, though not by pinning Shida, but rather by putting down Toni Storm to claim the victory. That pinfall on Toni would prove a breaking point for Storm's role in The Outcasts as she began to spiral out into the woman we see now, and the Women's World Champion defeating Toni at GRAND SLAM 2023 completely broke the camel's back.
The Women's World Championship would end up back in Shida's possession after TITLE TUESDAY 2023, making her the first 3-Time champ in the division, but as for Toni Storm, a week prior to Shida's win at DYNAMITE: 2023 ANNIVERSARY, we all witnessed Toni spiral out on RJ City before making her “Timeless” declaration.
Now lost in this “Timeless” Hollywood starlet delusion, Toni has declared this year's FULL GEAR event as her “Hollywood Homecoming” and “Quest for the Gold”, heaping a great deal of the blame for her woes on Shida's lap despite it being The Outcasts, Toni's former friends, who caused much of that misfortune. As for Shida, while Toni has been experiencing this break from reality, she has posted three successful title defenses against Ruby Soho, Willow Nightingale, and that unforgettable Fright Night Fight with Abadon on COLLISION. Meanwhile Storm has not been inside the ring since an October 7th victory over Kiera Hogan, which means she may be well-rested and healed up from any nagging issues, but heading into FULL GEAR 2023 is she ready for a fight, especially the type of fight Hikaru Shida will undoubtedly bring?
The defending Women's World Champion does not want this third reign to end as abruptly as the second, and thus she will throw every bit of her arsenal at “Timeless” Toni Storm to insure this go-round isn't a repeat of the second. While she may hold the spot as longest-reigning Women's World Champion of all-time at 372 days, so too does Shida hold the position for shortest with that 25 days reign, and if Toni beats her on Saturday night, she'll also have the second shortest time with the title as well. That's not the history Shida intends to make...
AEW INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
Orange Cassidy(c) vs. Jon Moxley
After 326 days and 31 championship defenses, Orange Cassidy had the AEW International Championship ripped from his waist by former 3-Time AEW World Champion Jon Moxley at ALL OUT 2023. It was a violent bout, one in which Cassidy was brutalized like never before in his career, but it was a beating that earned him the respect of Mox, not an easy thing to acquire by any means.
Unfortunately for Moxley, his time as International Champion did not come close to touching the records set by Cassidy during his reign because on his fourth defense of the title, just 17 days in, Rey Fenix dropped Moxley hard, and wrested the championship from The BCC member's grasp. It was a shock to be certain, a win many considered an upset despite Fenix's championship pedigree, and one that actually put Mox on the injury list for several weeks as far as AEW was concerned, though that didn't stop the man from fighting for OTT in England and Ireland, for NJPW in Osaka, and at NJPW STRONG's event at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, the home of FINAL BATTLE 2023.
Meanwhile, during the month that Moxley was kept on the sidelines before his OTT trip, Orange Cassidy had the opportunity to challenge Fenix for the International Championship, a one-on-one rematch of their 11/2/22 Three Way title fight early in Orange's reign, and just like that fight, it ended with “Freshly Squeezed” getting his hand raised in victory. So not only was OC the longest-reigning International Champion in that title's short life, not only is he the most successful champion in all of AEW history with those 31 defenses, but now he is also the only 2-Time Champion in the history of the International Title.
Seeming somewhat lost after losing the title to Mox, Cassidy seems rejuvenated by his reclamation of the championship, as if it helped salve the lingering injuries he'd sustained over those 326 days, and reinvigorated him for this second run atop the division. He's already bested John Silver and Mox's BCC brother Claudio Castagnoli in championship defenses, but this Saturday night at The KIA Forum, he's got to get back into the fight with the man who battered him not that long ago.
It's obvious that Cassidy wants this fight, why else would he have shoulder-bumped Mox after the show of respect Moxley gave him after their fight, provoking the man, almost rubbing it into his face that OC had taken the belt back from the man who beat Moxley. The situation began to blow up this past Wednesday on DYNAMITE as The BCC of Moxley and Yuta met Cassidy and HOOK in a tag team battle, and not only did The BCC defeat championship pair when Yuta pinned HOOK, but Moxley ate a straight shot from an Orange Punch and did not even go down to a knee! It very clearly shook OC to see his primary weapon have no effect on the man he's got to fight on Saturday night; will we see the same reaction if Cassidy scores with an Orange Punch in the championship match, or can it actually put the 3-Time AEW World Champion and former International Champion down?
Moxley says FULL GEAR 2023 will be a course correction, a moment where he shows the world that Cassidy is actually who Jon Moxley says he is, and he puts the 2-Time International Champion back in his place. Will this be the case when the final bell rings, or will Cassidy do what he has done repeatedly since coming to All Elite Wrestling and show Jon Moxley he is as real as The BCC?
“Hangman” Adam Page vs. Swerve Strickland
Swerve Strickland came into this entire ordeal with former AEW World Champion Hangman Page with the intent of proving he was worthy of a top spot in the AEW pantheon. A former AEW World Tag Champion, just like Hangman, Swerve has relentlessly pursued that top tier status ever since violently parting ways with Keith Lee and nothing has deterred those aspirations, not even being locked in a coffin by Darby Allin and Sting.
So when Page and Swerve went into battle at WRESTLEDREAM, Strickland viewed it as his opportunity to snatch the spot while Hangman saw it as his moment to get back on track with his own career after spending a great deal of 2023 wrapped up in Elite business with Blackpool Combat Club and then, surprisingly, winning the ROH World Six-Man Titles from Swerve's allies in The Mogul Embassy. But instead of Swerve proving his merits on his own, he resorted to an assist from Prince Nana and his crown to defeat Hangman, and shortly thereafter, when the opportunity arose to fight Bryan Danielson for a shot at TNT Championship, Swerve tried the same tactic. Thankfully Hangman was on the spot to stop that crime from being committed, but that only served to escalate the issues, and next thing Hangman knew, Swerve and Prince Nana were breaking into Page's house.
That disturbing scenario is best left untouched, suffice to say that Swerve committed the heinous sin of dragging family into this issue that started as a professional jockeying for position, making it as personal as any issues experienced in All Elite Wrestling. We heard Hangman speak his mind about this, tearing Swerve down to the core with every bit of personal drama Strickland has experienced, and capping it all off by assaulting Nana since the two Texas Death combatants were forbidden from any physical content on DYNAMITE.
But that rule doesn't extend beyond the borders of AEW...
At Pro Wrestling Revolver's UNREAL event, as Swerve and Nana stood in the ring talking about the FULL GEAR 2023 fight, Hangman attacked out of nowhere, and promised that he would beat Swerve's ass this Saturday night. Swerve chose to make this personal, messing with a man's family, so much so that it led others like Penta El Zero Miedo to fight the him, but once Hangman chose to oblige Swerve and join him in the muck and mire, it was bound to get ugly. Fans have seen the former AEW World Champion in Texas Death before, he's undefeated in that stipulation here in AEW, and that's because he's willing to get uglier and dirtier than anyone else when the fight comes.
Swerve led this into ugliness by his actions outside the ring, will he be able to get that ugly when the bell rings on Saturday night?
Adam Copeland, Darby Allin, & Sting vs. TNT Champion Christian Cage, Luchasaurus, & Nick Wayne
It was a huge moment at WRESTLEDREAM when “The Rated R Superstar” Adam Copeland arrived on the scene in All Elite Wrestling and stood side-by-side with Sting and Darby Allin in opposition to TNT Champion Christian Cage, Luchasaurus, and sadly also Nick Wayne. In the weeks since then, we have heard Sting announce to the world that he would bring his legendary career to its end at REVOLUTION 2024, we heard Copeland repeatedly say he would not fight his best friend, we saw Ric Flair come into the equation to ride this home stretch out with “The Icon”, and we've watched Christian Cage continue to be a horrible human being.
But after hearing Cage after being attacked by Cage's “sons”, after hearing Christian threaten to break his neck, Adam Copeland has agreed to ride into battle alongside Sting and Darby Allin this Saturday night at FULL GEAR 2023! We witnessed these three men get their first reps in as a trio against The Righteous and Lance Archer, and though they looked very solid in action, they are still new to the idea of working with one another. In truth, it's not all that different from the situation with Christian's Patriarchy, much like Darby and Sting, Christian and Luchasaurus have spent a great deal of time together and formed their own dynamic, and much like Adam Copeland, Nick Wayne is a new ingredient to that formula. Unlike the Darby/Sting/Copeland trio though, The Patriarchy all fall under the direction of Christian Cage, they do not think for themselves, they follow the direction of their erstwhile father figure, and only his direction.
Their opponents are individuals, allies, friends; it's not a case of Darby falling into a subordinate role just because of Sting and Copeland's seniority or being led by their direction. This will be a trio operating on the same page but making use of their varied levels of experience, pooling their assorted resources and knowledge, and applying each other's best attributes to the fights. There is obviously a concern about the history between Christian Cage and Adam Copeland, how all that friendship, those roads traveled together, those championships held as a team, the time spent with each other's families, how will all that play into this Trios fight at FULL GEAR 2023? All of it has to be nagging at the back of Copeland's skull, but will it effect his ability to fight? We will all see this Saturday night...
TAG TEAM BATTLE...
The Golden Jets (Chris Jericho & Kenny Omega) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
***TAG TEAM TITLE OPPORTUNITY VS. TAG TEAM BREAK-UP***
It was at WRESTLEDREAM that The Young Bucks earned a future shot at the AEW World Tag Team Titles at a moment of their choosing; they did so by defeating The Lucha Brothers, The Gunns, as well as the team of HOOK and Orange Cassidy. Since that PPV event, we've seen Nick Jackson lose to AEW International Champion Nick Jackson, The Young Bucks & Hangman Page lose the ROH World Six-Man Championship back to The Mogul Embassy after just one successful defense, and watched The Young Bucks completely lose their cool after that championship defeat.
Over the last few months we've also seen Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho form one of the most unlikely pairings in AEW's history, brought together by their mutual issues with Don Callis and his Family, putting aside their own sordid history in order to fight against Callis' relentless onslaught. Clearly this is not a situation that sits well with the brothers Jackson; call it jealousy over the relationship with Jericho or call it caution given that the history between Jericho and The Elite created Stadium Stampede, either way it is driving a rift between Omega and The Young Bucks.
Now we now from history that The Young Bucks do not deal well with their friends having other friends, we witnessed it many moons ago with Adam Cole and reDRagon, but when it's a man such as Jericho with whom there was so much bad blood from the first year of AEW, it's got to be infinitely worse. That is why this match is going down, after all when there's an issue between professional wrestlers the best place to settle it is inside the squared circle, and why not amp up the stakes when both teams have something to lose?
And what are those stakes? If The Young Bucks win, then the existence of The Golden Jets comes to an end. There will be no more team of Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho, no more fighting the good fight together against a common foe, they will just be quits as soon as that bell rings. But if The Golden Jets win, then Matt and Nick will have to say goodbye to the World Tag Team Championship match they earned at WRESTLEDREAM! That opportunity will belong to The Golden Jets, no Young Bucks championship match on the horizon, just Jericho and Omega maintaining their dynamic to challenge whoever wins Saturday night's Ladder Match. And what of the relationship between Omega and The Young Bucks? Well it has survived a great deal, and it has endured, but they haven't been at this point before where so much hostility has put them at odds.
Previously that was Hangman with Omega trying to keep the peace as best he could for as long as he could; only now there is no cooler head trying to prevail, just four men looking to fight, and we shall see if the friendship between The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega can survive the ordeal.
TBS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
Kris Statlander(c) vs. Julia Hart vs. Skye Blue
Kris Statlander is a breakneck pace as the TBS Champion; in the span of 174 days, Stat has successfully defended the title on 16 occasions against fourteen different women. For perspective, by that point in her historic TBS Championship reign, the longest title reign in AEW history across all divisions, Jade Cargill had only defended the title eight times while Orange Cassidy, the most successful champion across all divisions in AEW, was also heading towards his 17th defense against Dralistico.
This Saturday at FULL GEAR 2023, Statlander heads into her 17th defense against two foes she's already beaten in one-on-one contests, but who she now must contend with in a Three Way situation. To make matters more intriguing, there is an entire other dynamic between Julia Hart and Skye Blue that has little to do with Statlander. Ever since Hart misted Skye, the latter has taken a turn towards the dark, so much so that there was absolutely a concern she'd walk through the doors of The House of Black and be lost to her friends forever. Though Skye would repeatedly rebuke the handshake of help of the TBS Champion, when the moment came between choosing between Willow Nightingale and Julia Hart, Skye turned and sprayed her own blue mist into the face of The House of Black's Hart.
So with each woman's position set, the light of Statlander, the dark of Julia, and the chaotic middle of Blue, they will now collide on Saturday night with the TBS Championship on the line! This will mark the first defense for Stat that's involved multiple challengers, will that be the ticket to ending this potentially historic reign? Or will the strife between Julia Hart and Skye Blue be the key to the champion retaining her championship?
AEW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP LADDER MATCH...
Big Bill & Ricky Starks(c) vs. FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) vs. LFI (Dralistico & Rush) vs. The House of Black (Brody King & Malakai Black)
A Ladder Match, only one other time in the history of AEW have the World Tag Team Titles been at stake in a Ladder match, and that was the night The Young Bucks beat Jurassic Express to start their defenseless 28-day second reign, as well as the night Christian Cage first stabbed Jack Perry in the back.
But four teams fighting to climb the rungs to championship status? That is a whole new ballgame, and one likely to end up in plenty of pain, suffering, and punishment! Just yesterday the AEW faithful witnessed the chaos that erupted between these eight men, especially Dax and Rush as they battled to a No Contest, now put that into a situation with no rules, the freedom to use weapons, and with a title at stake. This will be an intensely physical situation, and even though Ricky Starks is the one who laid the stipulation on the table, not necessarily the best one for the champions to retain their titles. They may not have to worry about a pinfall or submission happening to someone else to lose their status, but Big Bill and Ricky Starks constantly have to be concerned about stopping someone else climbing the ladder. There are six bodies besides theirs all with the same goal, but only one has to ascend to the top of the ladder and pull down the belts.
Can the defending champions survive six other opponents, as well as the Ladder itself, or will they be hoisted on their own petard?
FULL GEAR: ZERO HOUR
ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
Eddie Kingston(c) vs. Jay Lethal
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
MJF(c) & Samoa Joe vs The Gunns (Austin & Colten)
Blackpool Combat Club's Claudio Castagnoli vs. House of Black's Buddy Matthews
All Elite Wrestling is back on pay-per-view this Saturday night with FULL GEAR 2023 coming to you live from the KIA Forum in Los Angeles! This PPV experience is loaded with multiple championship bouts, including a Four Way Ladder Match for the AEW World Tag Titles, as well as huge grudge matches, and all the elite class professional wrestling fans expect from an All Elite Wrestling pay-per-view! All the details on how to watch FULL GEAR 2023 can be found here, so if you can't be there in-person, you have to join us through your preferred method for the greatest PPV experience professional wrestling has to offer! And don't forget to join us for the FULL GEAR: ZERO HOUR prior to the start of the PPV where the ROH World Title and the ROH World Tag Team Titles will be defended!