AEW Full Gear is now in the books and it was a fun night of wrestling that contained both tremendous in-ring action and some excellent booking decisions from Tony Khan.
We saw some significant steps forward taken by some of the young, homegrown talents in All Elite Wrestling, as well as the further development of some exciting storylines that should send the promotion into 2023 with some regained momentum that was lost following the events of the All Out press conference.
While there were a number of moments that should be considered as the top three moments of AEW’s final pay-per-view of 2022, these are the three that stood out the most.
What were the top three moments from AEW Full Gear?
Jamie Hayter wins the interim AEW Women’s World Title
Jamie Hayter’s ascent in popularity among AEW fans in recent months has been fun to watch but at the same time a bit of a headscratcher.
AEW did not seem to be doing Hayter any favors in trying to build her up. The promotion had teased getting Hayter out of the extremely large shadow that Britt Baker casts but never quite pulled the trigger. Because of this Hayter looked like she was going to end up staying as the muscle that Britt Baker called on when she needed that little bit of help to put her over the top.
However, that association with Baker might have been the exact reason for Hayter’s explosion in popularity. Baker is easily the most featured female in AEW, and Hayter’s alignment with Baker gave her television time, in some capacity, every week to get noticed. And the AEW fans took notice.
Hayter’s stiff work and ability to sell inside the ring make her matches easy to get invested in. She carries herself with self-confidence and a charisma that has allowed her to both stay aligned with Baker and yet still get fans to notice her based on her own merit.
At Full Gear, Hayter was properly rewarded for all the amazing work that she has turned out in AEW over the past year. And while the title win was great for Hayter it also elevates the entire women’s division. With Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, Toni Storm, Saraya, Hikaru Shida, Jade Cargill, and an eventually returning Thunder Rosa, there is more depth than ever at the top of the AEW women’s division. It is now on Tony Khan to better utilize this talent.
The devil gets his due
At long last, the era of MJF is upon us. And it’s about time.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman has been the most interesting thing about any wrestling promotion for a very long time, and now he is also wearing the most coveted title in all of AEW.
This most likely wasn’t the way that Tony Khan and the creative minds at AEW wanted to crown MJF. A win in a rubber match with CM Punk most likely would have been option A. But in 2022, not much has gone as planned for AEW. Whether it has been dealing with injuries, suspensions, or backstage brawls, this has been the most challenging year for the promotion, which says a lot since it also went through the Covid pandemic very early in its existence.
Tony Khan deserves a lot of credit for his ability to pivot and make the most out of whatever cards he has been dealt the past year. And as Full Gear came to a close on Saturday night, despite the roundabout path that was taken, the final destination, and the best thing for the promotion had been reached, with MJF doing snow angels on the ramp at the Prudential Center as the AEW World Champion.
The return of Saraya
As great as the crowning of two new champions that have evolved under the AEW banner was, the top moment of Full Gear was the return of Saraya, after a five-year absence from in-ring competition.
Last night’s match between Saraya and Britt Baker transcended wrestling. This contest was about so much more than that.
Saraya’s last match before Saturday night took place in 2018 at the age of 25 years old. It has been well-documented how Saraya grew up in the world of professional wrestling and how it was the Knights’ family business. It was all Saraya had ever known.
So to have that unapologetically ripped away from her at age 25 was a brutal reality that she had to learn to deal with. And she, as most any of us would have, struggled to cope with that loss. But like the fighter that she has always shown herself to be, Saraya picked herself back up off the mat and persevered.
Last night wasn’t just a wrestling match for Saraya. It was the culmination of broken dreams, addiction, doubt, hope, recovery, and sheer will all rolled up into a twenty-minute performance in which Saraya tried to prove to the world, and undoubtedly herself, that she could still do this.
And she passed the test with flying colors, and more importantly with her health. With every match Saraya wrestles moving forward, the doubts and the pain she has experienced over the last five years will begin to dissipate as she works her way back to the competitor we remember her being, the flagbearer of the women’s revolution into the world of professional wrestling.