All Elite Wrestling's upcoming Full Gear pay-per-view on Nov. 9 is the promotion's first since its weekly show on TNT began Oct. 2. The feuds developed over the first month of national television programming laid the foundation for Saturday's event, and expectations might just be at an all-time high for fans.
Although a couple of the feuds have gotten personal, none have as many layers to the rivalry as Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega.
The feud began on AEW's first show, Double or Nothing, where Moxley made his surprising debut last May. It's blossomed because of the intricate storytelling wrestling fans hoped to see from the upstart company, despite some unexpected wrenches being thrown into the mix during the buildup. It's maybe the best storyline that AEW has concocted up to this point.
Below is a breakdown of the rivalry until now. Watch their match and the rest of the Full Gear event Saturday on B/R Live at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Before Jon Moxley stepped foot in an AEW ring, he was WWE's Dean Ambrose. Most well known for being a member of The Shield, one of the most dominant wrestling factions in recent memory, Ambrose earned a world championship on seven occasions and became just the eighth wrestler in WWE's modern format to complete the Grand Slam (winning a primary championship, tag team championship and both secondary championships).
Ambrose was one of the most recognizable names in WWE for the better part of eight years, earning the reputation for being a brash "lunatic" willing to take matches and his persona a step further than most wrestlers would. However, his dissatisfaction with the path his character took toward the end of his time with WWE drove him away from the company that put "Dean Ambrose" on the map and into the arms of a fresh start with AEW.
AEW's promise of more creative freedom, a lighter workload and the ability to work the occasional independent wrestling show was enough to seal Moxley's signature. He became the first wrestler in his prime to leave WWE for the new promotion, and his move could potentially leave a lasting impact on the business.
Omega made a name for himself stateside despite primarily wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling. A nine-time NJPW champion, Omega was considered one of the best wrestlers in the world during his time in Asia after putting on numerous match-of-the-year candidates. His knack for five-star matches even earned him the nickname of "Best Bout Machine."
Close friends with fellow AEW wrestlers Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, the quartet were integral in the formation of the company as executive vice presidents. Now, Omega appears eager to show mainstream wrestling fans stateside who may not be entirely familiar with his work what he's capable of.
The Debut Heard Around the World
Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega had just finished a thrilling match at Double or Nothing to decide who would participate in the first AEW World Championship bout. After clinching his spot, Jericho grabbed a mic and demanded thanks from fans for putting AEW on the map. The crowd, already hot, completely melted at the sight of a debuting Moxley entering the ring through the audience.
It was a surreal moment for fans. Moxley had been one of WWE's top stars for the better part of a decade, and now there he was in the middle of an AEW canvas ready to take out anyone and everyone.
He began his demolition with Jericho, another former WWE icon. Then came the referee, who was also greeted with a Paradigm Shift. Lastly, Moxley stumbled upon a woozy Omega, who had just lost his grueling match against Jericho. The two men brawled all the way to the entrance ramp, where Moxley eventually got the better of Omega and threw him off a large structure on to the unforgiving floor.
Moxley was back and changing the wrestling landscape as we knew it.
Lead-Up to All Out
A match between Moxley and Omega was announced for All Out, set to take place three months after their altercation at Double or Nothing. This layoff gave each wrestler an ample amount of time to build on the impending rivalry through action and, perhaps even more importantly, their words.
After Omega retaliated against Moxley at Fyter Fest, the latter went into detail regarding his preparations for their match.
"Whether or not I buy the legend of Kenny Omega, believe me brother, I'm taking it very seriously. That's why I'm going all over Japan learning all your styles, all your tricks of the trade, what you do and where you come from," Moxley said.
Last July and August, Moxley participated in the historic G1 Climax tournament in Japan as part of his physical and psychological planning. During Omega's time at NJPW in 2016, he won the 20-man competition. Moxley believed that stepping into his opponent's shoes for a span of five weeks to take part in one of the most grueling wrestling tournaments in the world would give him new insight into the man he's going up against. That is some deep storytelling largely unheard of in wrestling today.
Soon after, Omega responded with a promo of his own that subtly touched on the G1 Climax.
"I know that you want to make a statement probably more than anyone, and that fuels me," Omega said. "You're willing to put your reputation on the line. That's great, but now you're going to have to step through the ropes, step in my ring and prove that you belong here. Are you ready, Moxley? Maybe mentally you are, but are you ready physically?"
It was this unexpected foreshadowing that would write the next chapter in their feud.
Jon Moxley @JonMoxley
I'm absolutely gutted to have to deliver this news but I'd rather it come directly from me. In a nightmare scenario, a serious case of MRSA has returned in my elbow. The timing couldn't be worse. In this circumstance I am forced to pull out of the fight 8/31 vs Omega at All Out .
On Aug. 23, less than two weeks after the conclusion of the G1 Climax, Jon Moxley pulled out of his match against Omega at All Out due to a staph infection. "This f--king sucks," the 33-year-old posted on his Twitter after the announcement.
In the span of a month, Moxley wrestled 18 matches in Japan ahead of All Out. Omega did not take kindly to Moxley pulling out of their match after wrestling as often as he did in Asia weeks prior. He had doubts about how Moxley would handle the physicality of Japan, and those doubts in some ways were warranted because of the injury.
"How did that tournament go in Japan," Omega sarcastically asked.
"Did you win? I know I did, got the shirt to prove it. Did I go to Japan and wrestle 24 days out of the month before fighting you? No, I did this thing, Jon, it's called being a professional. ... I was ready, I took you seriously, I never got myself injured. I got myself in the best shape of my life. You never took me seriously and you never took this pay-per-view seriously. ... You were careless. I blame you.
"You should really look in the mirror and ask yourself, 'What the f--k am I doing?'"
Instead of facing Moxley at All Out, Omega took on the debuting Pac. Moxley was nowhere to be seen for weeks while he recovered from surgery, that is until another important night in AEW's history.
On the debut of AEW's nationally televised weekly show, Omega and the Young Bucks faced Jericho, Santana and Ortiz in the night's main event. After the ring was cleared out during a brawl, the Best Bout Machine remained the only competitor left in it. Standing tall, Omega noticed the crowd growing louder despite nothing in his view happening. As he slowly turned around to see what was going on, an angry Moxley was there waiting for him.
Throwing him out to the ringside area, the two rivals fought through the crowd all the way to the suite areas. There, Moxley got the better of Omega and delivered a DDT that sent his enemy head-first through a glass table.
Two weeks later, Moxley and Omega got their hands on each other again when they met in a tag team match that included Adam Page and Pac. Omega and Page got the win after Moxley turned on Pac for stopping him from using a weapon on Omega, which would've automatically disqualified them. As a result, Moxley left his teammate to fend for himself.
On Oct. 30, Moxley learned from AEW president Tony Khan that his match against Omega at Full Gear is Non-sanctioned, meaning it will not count toward either competitor's win-loss record as the promotion does not want to take responsibility for what these men might do to each other during their bout.
Despite Moxley being unhappy with the news as he aimed for a legitimate win against what he believes to be the "top guy" at AEW, this leaves a lot of opportunity for Moxley and Omega's hardcore creativity to rear its head. In fact, both men teased the use of spiked clubs, chairs and even brooms in reference to Omega's old "Cleaner" gimmick from NJPW in the buildup to Full Gear.
The long-awaited match between Moxley and Omega finally happens on Saturday, and with the amount of compelling storytelling that came from this feud over the past six months, their in-ring encounter has a lot to live up to.