SteelChair Magazine was invited to take part in AEW’s post-Full Gear virtual media scrum, just after the show went off-air. Here are some highlights of what AEW World Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks, NWA Women’s World Champion Serena Deeb, AEW World Champion Jon Moxley, and AEW’s CEO Tony Khan had to say just after an epic night at the Daily’s Place.
The Young Bucks
- On being able to watch the other matches while preparing for theirs:
Matt: “We had the television monitor on in the EVP’s office. We watched the entire thing, and it was so encouraging to see everybody just going out there and killing it. It really motivated us, and we were match five, so there were so many good matches before us. We were looking at each other like, “We really gotta bring it tonight.”
Nick: “At some points, though, it actually became distracting because we’re trying to focus on our match, but then you get so invested in the action that’s going on. It brought a lot of nerves because they’re still in the show, and you’re like, “wait a minute, I want to steal the show, we got to go out there and kill it.”
- On how important winning that belt is compared to all the belts they have won in their career:
Matt: “This is the biggest accomplishment of our career. I didn’t know that it would feel as special as it does. It’s hard to think I teared up. I’m not a very sentimental or emotional person when it comes to wrestling. When it comes to family, I’m a baby, but it hit me when I heard the count of three, and I had tears wealth in my eyes. It took so long, this was really two years in the making, and it was surreal. All the other titles, all the other accomplishments, they were huge, the IWGP Junior Tag Team belts we won those seven times, we were PWG Champions four times, but this was everything for me. This was like winning the Super Bowl. It’s hard to compare, it really is. This is so special because AEW’s our baby.”
Nick: “We don’t lie when we say that we have the best Tag Team division in the whole world of wrestling. We got such a hard-hitting competition here. We were on a losing streak and just to climb that hill and finally get what we deserve and what we wanted for so long, so happy.”
Matt: “A lot of what you saw throughout the year reflected our real lives. The story was we really couldn’t pull it off, and we just couldn’t do it, but a lot of that was a reality, a lot of that felt like us. Maybe we weren’t selling the same amount of merchandise that we once were, maybe we were having the same matches that fans were used to us having, it felt real, and it was real.”
Nick: “We actually had a conversation on Wednesday after wrestling Private Party because we had lost to them in a tournament match about a year ago. Last Wednesday, we wrestled and we beat them. After the match, Matt and I got to our locker room and we said, “Man, we still got it, we’re still the best tag team in the world, let’s show the world this Saturday.” That was a huge confidence booster, and it gave us momentum riding into Saturday.”
Matt: “I feel like that’s what we needed.”
- On fulfilling everything in the business
Matt: “Is this the biggest thing we’ve ever done? Yeah, I think so. I’m definitely the most proud I’ve ever been.”
Nick: “What is next is to keep these championship belts, obviously. We want to have a hell of a tag run, so we don’t want to lose them.
Matt: “We don’t want it to be a fluke. Like, we had a great match, we won them, and then nobody remembers our run. Now it’s time to put in the work.”
Nick: “It was such a big moment tonight, so if we drop them Wednesday, that would be a nightmare. Our goal is to make it as big as possible. When we started this company and helped build this company, we always said tag team wrestling could be the main event. We proved that tonight. That’s probably one more goal that we would like to do, is to make the next pay-per-view, or whenever, the next Dynamite, a massive tag title match.”
Matt: “I think clearly we should have a big main event, and after tonight, there’s a big rematch down the line.”
Nick: “FTR, those guys are machines. It was surreal being in the ring with those guys, they’re great. It was insane getting in there with them, it was like an out-of-body experience wrestling those guys.”
Matt: “They were aggressive and hard-hitting. I told Nick afterwards, they reminded me a lot of back in the day when we would work guys like Roderick Strong, the Briscoes, and Claudio (Cesaro) and Chris Hero. It’s the same rugged, smash-mouth style.”
Nick: “They’re probably the best tag team I’ve ever been in the ring with.”
- On Matt’s knee
Matt: “It’s a very real injury that I have been dealing with. It’s been a rough year for me. I come back, after all that time off and the lockdown, and the first thing I do is break my rib when I jumped out of the dugout. I dealt with that for a second. That sucked. Then, we did that ‘Falls Count Anywhere’ match between The Butcher & The Blade, and I decided it would be a good idea to jump off the entrance set. There is only concrete, not a good idea. For a while, I was having a hard time walking at home and hobbling around. I thought I may have had a hairline fracture in my fibula or something. My amazing wife, who is also watching this, noticed that I was having a hard time getting around, and Doctor Sampson ordered me an MRI just to see what was going on.
“Turns out, it wasn’t my fibula, it was soft tissue. It was the back of my knee, my MCL, and after we looked at the MRI, I had a slight tear. Nothing at the time that needed surgery. The most interesting part was that I had thinning off my ACL, which they also considered a slight tear. I haven’t had any pain in my ACL, just wear and tear. I remember thinking back, ‘Have I ever hurt my ACL?’ I remember watching back in 2008, I banged up my knee, and I had a hard time with it for a second. That’s the only time I can recall ever hurting my left knee in that area.
“The MCL [injury] is brand new. It’s something that I have been dealing with and rehabbing. I have been taping it before every match, and this was my ninth match with the injury. Honestly, I felt pretty good, all things considered. Our medical staff is amazing. They would never send me out there if they weren’t confident with me and how I felt, and I know my body as well. All things considered, I feel pretty good about. The doctors feel pretty good about it. I’m going to take every precaution possible. If it starts bothering me, we’ll see what happens, and we’ll do the right thing, but I’m not too worried about it.”
- On being in AEW, becoming the NWA World Women’s Champion and having this level of success
“It’s been 15 years. It’s hard to believe. It’s been surreal. I spent three years coaching and five years out of the ring. I loved coaching, but l always felt like I wasn’t done wrestling, and that was a feeling that was just persisting, it never really went away. I always wondered if I would wrestle again. Just the turn of events of like the pandemic, then losing my coaching job, just wanting to wrestle but shows not running and all this stuff. AEW just came out of nowhere, and it was like everything’s just been moving so quickly, and it’s been awesome. I’m having more fun with wrestling right now than I probably have ever had. I’m having so much fun in the ring. There’s nothing in this world I love more than wrestling, and it’s an honour to be at AEW. It’s an honour to be representing NWA as their Women’s Champion. Historically speaking, the NWA Champions are some of the most incredible names in pro wrestling history, so it’s really amazing.”
- On the NWA/AEW relationship and getting more women involved in prominent positions
“If you think back on pro wrestling, in the territory days, people were just swapping around, travelling here, working there, and working with different people. When wrestling became really monopolized and separated, I think to the detriment of talents and the fans too. ‘So-and-so is here, so-and-so is there, you can’t see that match.’ As understandable as it is, this partnership between NWA and AEW is super powerful, and I think it’s going to change wrestling. From a women’s standpoint, I’m really excited about it because I think the AEW women’s roster is really growing, and it has so much potential. With people coming in from the outside — when you’re in wrestling, it only helps you to wrestle other people, other women, and other men. It just helps you the more you get in the ring with different people. You become a more well-rounded wrestler. I think with this partnership and different women coming in and different women going elsewhere. It’s going to benefit everybody. I think the fans are really excited about it, too, and it keeps it very interesting.”
- On her next challenger
“The first name that comes to mind is Shida, definitely. She’s been a pretty long-reigning AEW Women’s World Champion, and I think she’s incredible. Some of the best times of my career were in Japan, and I just love the style of Japanese wrestling. It really resonates with me, so when I see Shida perform and wrestle, I just know we would have an awesome match. She’s somebody that I really want to get in there with. I am the NWA World Women’s Champion currently, but showing up at AEW and joining this roster, I without a doubt have my eyes on the AEW Women’s World Championship without a doubt, Shida is one of the most incredible female competitors I’ve ever seen, so I am really looking forward to that match.”
- On making AEW Women’s Division more prominent
“From a personal standpoint, my objective is to be a leader here. I came from a position where I had to be a leader. The thing I’m striving for the most right now is just to be the example and try to help this division forge forward to be what I know it can be what everybody knows it can be. Everybody works so hard here, the girls are training all the time. There’s quite a bit of inexperience, and the only remedy for that is time and energy and working towards making changing that. So I think the inexperience is a really good thing, a really positive thing because there’s so much room for growth, there’s so much potential. I know in the women’s division here, everyone has a really amazing attitude, and that’s something that I haven’t seen in other places. AEW’s only been around for a little over a year, so there’s so much growth still to be had. I’m just hoping to be a leader, and I hope that my matches help elevate other people. I want to bring everybody up, that’s definitely my intention, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this division can do.”
- On the match and the feud with Eddie Kingston
“I loved the whole thing. I think it was good. The whole thing with Eddie has been really awesome. I guess I can say good things about him now because our beef is squashed for the moment. The way this all came about was kind of, I get called at 2:30 in the afternoon [on the] day of Dynamite, I had a whole other set of plans for Lance and ideas I had pitched that was gonna go in a whole different direction. And get two calls, Lance tested positive. Then, it was, ‘So what do you think about you and Eddie.’ Hm, interesting. I jumped right into this, and then the fact he never choked him out, he never tapped, and he’s like I didn’t tap, it just made perfect sense. I think we can do it, me and Eddie, he’s kind of new, he hasn’t had a big name on a big stage for very long. I was like, I know this guy, I know me and Eddie can sell the match in four weeks, I know we can. I just had all the faith in the world.
“I’ve not hand-picked any opponents. Whatever Tony’s put in front of me, whether it be every single title defensive, whoever he wants me to work with, I work with that person and do my absolute best to get them over and make them better than they came in with. I have a different style of match, so I can wrestle any style. I just show my versatility. The thing with Eddie was like, ‘Yeah, man, I think we can do this,’ Tony was like, ‘let’s do it’ and we’re talking about it so easy. After we do the thing where he attacks me, and he’s talking all his trash, I was like, dude, all we need to do is promos, we don’t need to do any crazy angles, he doesn’t need to hook my foot while I’m running the ropes or anything stupid. We don’t need to overthink it. All we need is promos. He’ll talk a bunch of shit for a couple of weeks, I’ll talk a bunch of shit for a couple of weeks, and then the week before, like the go-home episode, we’ll have a face to face.
“It was like effortless because, I mean, you’ve got to think about it and get into the mindset, but if I know the story, and you know the story, and we become that person, we just go out there and talk and sell it, and I absolutely knew we could. And it just worked out great. Eddie and me, we don’t put on the uniform in the morning and take it off at night. Eddie Kingston is the exact same person outside the ring that he’s in, and I am pretty close in the ring as I am in real life. There’s not much difference with me and him, and we have so much history, and there’s so much real emotion there between us that it’s just been easy and just a pleasure. I love wrestling, but I love the storytelling. It’s like the most satisfying thing.”
- On Kenny Omega as the next #1 contender
“Obviously, he’s one of the best in the world, and sharing a ring with a guy that good is always awesome. We have a whole new thing that’ll be a whole different set of circumstances than the last time we had a rivalry together. Now we’re at two different places. We’re in completely different places as characters, as wrestlers. To be a whole new thing, that’s a completely open book and a completely open chapter that we’ll get down to work on.”
- On his recent storylines with Darby Allin and Will Hobbs
“I’m sure I’ll always circle in the orbit of Darby Allin as a partner or an opponent over the future. I am a big fan of Will Hobbs, too. I was looking forward to giving him some spotlight and shine in that little six-man match that never came off. I had a whole plan for that match that it all went to the weight side, but directions would have gone a whole different way. But, if next week, we want to do a tag match, I would love to partner with Will Hobbs. I think he’s got a bright future and a lot of potential. I love the chance to work with newer guys, and kind of help guys get along and get whatever rub I can give people, whatever I have to offer, whatever my ass can do for somebody.”
- On the COVID context for indie talent and AEW
“Indie talents were hit really, really, really hard with all of this. It’s another reason I did [GCW Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 3] the other week. I felt like I really had a responsibility. I’d been booked for it twice. Josh Barnett hit me up, and he’s one of the smartest guys I know, so he’s not going to be running some two-bit operation. Everybody on Bloodsport was tested, as far as I knew. All that group was separate. I took extra steps myself. I stayed at my own hotel. I made sure I had my own space, do everything I can.
“I guess that’s the thing I can tell people, as far as staying safe, not just in wrestling, but for anything. If you’re going to do anything — go to the grocery store, try to attend an event, or come to an AEW show. We can make the show as safe as possible, and put all the rules into place, but if you don’t follow them, what can we do? You have to take personal responsibility, you do the things you need to do, social distance. I do everything possible. I try to stay in my own bubble as much as possible everywhere in life. As far as getting noticed, I’d say just — that’s a tough question. Take every opportunity, if you’ve got to drive 15 hours, or got a dark match at NXT or AEW, or wherever it’s going to be. You just have got to keep your nose to the grindstone.
“This is a tough time for an independent wrestler, but do everything you can, as safely as possible — now you’re gonna have to work twice as hard because the way the world is now, it sucks, but it is what it is. You see a guy like Eddie Kingston, 18 years grinding, almost quit, but if he had quit after 17 and a half years, he was like less than a year away from main eventing a PPV. If it takes 11 years to make it, you can’t quit on the tenth year, no matter how tough that is. You can’t win in the eleventh hour if you quit in the tenth hour.
“I’m the World Champ around here, and it’s not my job to get frustrated. It’s my job to take every opportunity and make it as best I can and tell stories. I think me and Tony have a good relationship, everybody here does, and it’s a team effort. Since the beginning of all this crap, when I was stuck at home for a while or whatever, and they’re filming in Atlanta, it was all weird, and we didn’t know if we’re gonna do this pay-per-view. He was explaining to me the situation and the direness of the situation, from the get-go no pressure whatsoever. If you want to come, that’d be great, but if no, I’m 100% with you, I’m ride-or-die with you, let’s do this because it’s vital to the industry that AEW be a success for the whole industry for all the good things that have come from it across the board.
“It’s been my job in 2020 to try to bring stability in a very unstable world, and when you tune in for a distraction and inspiration, just fun is what you tune in to us. Wrestling for, that’s the best we can provide, so I’m trying to be like the Rock of Gibraltar. Jon Moxley, no matter what is put in front of him, no matter what challenge he faces, he’s going to find a way by hooker and by crook. I’m the World Champion, and I’ve been kind of the one stable thing over the last few months, so that’s kind of how I take the ticket. It’s not my job to worry, it’s my job to get the shit done.”
All pics, screencaps and videos courtesy of AEW