AEW Full Gear takes place tonight in Jacksonville and will be the company's last PPV of the year. The event is headlined by Jon Moxley defending the AEW World Title vs. Eddie Kingston and it also features the long-anticipated match between FTR and The Young Bucks.
AEW President Tony Khan discussed the Full Gear card when he joined Busted Open w/ Bully Ray & Tommy Dreamer. Full Gear will be the third AEW PPV since the pandemic and since they were forced to hold all events in Jacksonville. Double or Nothing had no fans while All Out had a couple of hundred, but Khan says Full Gear will have the most fans they've had for an event.
"It feels awesome. We have such a great group of wrestlers. It's tremendous and for me, I'm so happy that we were able to put this card together and that we're going to have a great crowd. If people worry that it's going to be an empty stadium show, it's not. It won't be packed irresponsibly, but we're going to have close to a thousand people here at Full Gear and it's only going to be a 20 percent stadium capacity because that's all I feel comfortable doing at this point. But it will be the most tickets we released for a show and it's going to be a hot crowd," stated Khan.
"I'm really excited and I'm glad that for all the people coming in live and for the huge audience we're going to have Saturday on pay-per-view."
After being a part of the Casino Battle Royale at All Out, Eddie Kingston will be making his AEW PPV debut as a singles competitor and it couldn't come in a bigger profile match. He will challenge someone he's known for over a decade in Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship.
Khan discussed Kingston's AEW performance so far and why the fans have gotten behind him so quickly.
"What a great job he's done since he's been here and now, he's delivered and he's been a top TV performer on Dynamite and he was great at All Out. He got to the end of the battle royal and I really tried to push Eddie strong on TV," said Khan. "I always have liked Eddie. I think anybody that has followed independent wrestling loves Eddie Kingston. For the most part, I think anybody who loves independent wrestling certainly followed Eddie closely and he's got a huge international fanbase. To me, Eddie would be a great champion and Mox has been a great champion. The personal history between the two guys is so strong. I think it's going to be a great match."
Kingston may be a newcomer to the mainstream wrestling audience but he's no wrestling newbie as he's been competing since 2002. Khan talked about what led AEW to reach out to Kingston and what other indie stars sparked his interest.
"When Cody and I were doing the TNT Open Challenge and planning it out, he came in with a list of people he'd like to wrestle and there were a lot of people on the list. The two names that really stand out to me were Ricky Starks and Eddie Kingston," said Khan. "Those are the two that got hired and ended up being successful and there were so many other ones.
"The first one with Jungle Boy. I did the battle royal with Jungle Boy and Orange Cassidy and that was really fun. The finish was designed to throw people off. That was a cool one because of the finish with Orange Cassidy where he came out of nowhere. Then, we got into it with outside people coming in. Ricky and Eddie were by far my favorites on that list. I had an idea for Ricky and he nailed the tryout match. Before the match was over, I knew what Ricky could do."
Kingston fell to Cody in a TNT Championship match in what was essentially also an audition for Kingston. About a month later he was then signed to AEW and Khan talked about their initial plans for him.
"When Eddie left, he was great. I definitely wanted him to come back. After Eddie was gone, a couple of weeks later I realized what would be great for Eddie is what we built for Fyter Fest with The Lucha Bros. and Butcher and Blade and we put them strong with FTR and The Young Bucks. I thought we should follow up on it and everyone agreed and that's when I thought I'd like to bring Eddie back with them as the leader. He did such a great job," stated Khan.
"I was laying out the battle royal again for All Out and had all the big heels not getting along where you had Team Taz and Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Lance Archer and you had Eddie Kingston and his family.
"It was bringing in outside people for the TNT Open Challenge where who else we could have, but haven't brought in? That's when Cody and I sat down and looked at people he could wrestle. Eddie was definitely one of my top two people."
With the addition of the Orange Cassidy vs. John Silver match, the Full Gear card now has nine matches including the pre-show. Khan talked about the bouts on the card that most interest him.
"It's probably Kenny [Omega] and Hangman [Adam Page]. We put so much story into it, but they're also two of the best wrestlers. They've been the best tag team. They've gone back years before there was an AEW and before I knew I would get into the wrestling business, they worked together. The team of Kenny and Hangman is something new and it's something I wanted to do for Dynamite for the early episodes to have another great team for The Elite," revealed Khan.
"Because at the time, you had The Young Bucks, you had Cody, Hangman, and Kenny. With Hangman and Kenny, I thought there was a great chance to have some great matches and maybe tell a great story down the line, and the more they did together, the more I think this made sense. Like everyone else, I'm personally invested in Kenny vs. Hangman for seeing them be the greatest tag team, and having worked with them, I think as individuals, they can both be the champion.
"I think that we have a great champion with Mox, a great challenger with Eddie in this match. Whoever comes out of it, I think they're going to have something really cool in front of them. So, we just talked about Mox and Eddie. I think it's going to be awesome and I also think Kenny and Hangman could steal the show."
Even though AEW has been successful in its nearly two years of existence, there are always areas in which one can improve. As the president and CEO of the promotion, it is precisely Khan's role to find those areas for improvement.
He was asked what AEW can do better and he pointed to marketing and exposure.
"I would like to make sure our great roster and all of our great stars get as much exposure as possible. We have such a loaded roster of big stars and I can't wait until we get to our third hour of television on TNT and expand our programming and there's another platform we can expand to. I just want to make sure we get more exposure for all the great women and men we have here because we have a great roster of people. I think once we build more platforms beyond Dynamite, Dark and our four big pay-per-views, I think there are a lot more chances to showcase to everyone," said Khan.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.