Apologies for the late review. I spent Sunday and Monday recovering from the ALL IN event, and then Tuesday I got slammed with work. But I’m here, and I’m happy to say that not only was I a part of history in the best way possible, ALL IN changed the way I view wrestling.
For the record, if you haven’t seen ALL IN yet, you can find it on Honor Club and New Japan Pro Wrestlings On Demand service! But seriously, I’m going to spoil pretty much every match here…so be ready.
If you somehow don’t know the story behind ALL IN by now, it’s very simple. A man named Dave Meltzer (who has been a part of the wrestling business for a while now) noted that wrestling promotions like Ring of Honor would NEVER sell out a place that had 10,000 seats. Cody Rhodes (former WWE superstar and now a prominent member of both Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling) took that “bet” and set out to make a full-on indie wrestling show. Teaming up with fellow Bullet Club members the Young Bucks, as well as Kenny Omega and other AAA wrestling talent, they went all out to make this show a success, and as a guy who has watched a lot of wrestling, and seen a lot of bad ideas from various promotions…this wasn’t one of them.
From the moment I entered the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates (near Chicago, a BIG wrestling town), I knew that this would be successful. The fans outside (many of whom I talked to before being let in) were pumped for what this meant. Not just for Bullet Club, but for wrestling as a whole. If this worked, it would change things, we all knew it. When I got to my seat and looked at the ring and the screens and everything in between it was clear, they had everything visually done, they had the press and hype, now they just needed the wrestling to deliver.
SPOILER: It did.
So, let’s break down the matches, ok?
SCU vs Briscoes
One of the biggest things ALL IN had going for it was the news that the “Zero Hour” would be on WGN America, which meant that (potentially) 88 million people could be watching. So, how to start off the show? Easy, with two of the best tag teams in the world.
SCU and the Briscoe Brothers are two of the most famous teams in Ring of Honor, and they have a LOT of wrestling experience between them. Just as perfect is that SCU (SoCal Uncensored) is one of the most over teams in the world, and the Briscoes are one of the most hated.
Sure enough, this was the perfect way to get everyone into the event. “SCU!” was the most popular chant at ALL IN, which is saying something, and the experience of these teams shined through to deliver a very solid match to show that this event was going to be wrestling epicness.
Also, tying into Bullet Club’s “Being The Elite” Youtube series, Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian (SCU) came out dressed like Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa, which they mimicked plotline wise for an episode of BTE.
After a fun match, SCU got the win.
“Over The Budget” Battle Royale
The “joke” of this match was that Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks funded the show themselves (and they really did) and they wanted to keep it “under budget”…but…they didn’t. And thus to bring in as many wrestlers as they could they would make the “Over The Budget Battle Royale”, featuring around 20 superstars to battle for the chance at the Ring of Honor World Title later in the night. The fact that Ring of Honor allowed this to happen was huge.
As for the match itself…well…battle royales are tricky. Because there’s a lot of guys who have to know their spots and get the job done without looking “fake”, and as my sister (who watched the battle royale to see if I would get a TV spot from the crowd) noted…it looked fake at times.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of spots that worked. Like “Best Friends” doing their thing, numerous wrestlers showing off their skills, and Bully Ray being a jerk to everyone.
One of my FAVORITE spots came from the sole woman in the Battle Royale, Jordynne Grace, who showed why she’s called “Thick Mamma Pump” by powerbombing one of the biggest guys in the match. Here…you can watch it….
I have slept for two days straight. Guess now it’s time to be productive?
Where should I toss people around next? pic.twitter.com/vYE9MHhV65
— Jordynne Grace (@JordynneGrace) September 4, 2018
But the biggest shocker, and easily one of the biggest pops of the night, was when Flip freaking Gordon arrived to win the Battle Royale. For those not in the know, Flip Gordon is one of the most talented up-and-comers in the world today, having only made his debut in 2015. He’s part of Being The Elite, and his “storyline” for the past few months on both that show and Ring of Honor was trying to get into ALL IN, but Cody wouldn’t let him.
So what did he do? He dressed up like a luchador, got powerbombed through a table, came back into the match at the end, unmasked himself, and won. The Crowd. Went. Nuts!
— Brian The Guppie (@briantheguppie) September 2, 2018
MJF vs. Matt Cross
Cody Rhodes noted that ALL IN wouldn’t reveal its entire card, so when Zero Hour ended, the show kicked into high gear, and it started out with two popular indie wrestlers via MJF and Matt Cross.
MJF is still very young to the industry, but he’s made a name for himself as a mega heel in the promotion he’s in, even winning its championship recently. He impressed Cody and got in. Meanwhile, Matt Cross has had a long career, and is on Lucha Underground as Son of Havoc. He also created the phrase “Wrestling Is Forever”, which I used for this review because it’s accurate for ALL IN.
Putting these two on first was smart. For not everyone is familiar with them, and it was a good way to build up the momentum of the show now that Zero Hour was over and the “loyal” fans would be watching.
If I was to rank the match, it’d be near the bottom, but only because the majority of other matches deserve to be put above this. That being said, both MJF and Matt Cross impressed both me and the crowd. MJF played his heel persona perfectly, taunting both Cross and the crowd numerous times. But he also proved his mettle in the ring, even showing off some moves I’ve never seen before.
And Matt proved why he’s a great performer in the ring, showing off his wrestling skills in both grappling and high-risk manuevers. Sure enough, a Shooting Star Press from the top rope when Matt the match.
Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell
No, your eyes don’t deceive you, that IS Arrow from the CW. He’s a big wrestling fan, and is basically best friends with Cody Rhodes, which led to him getting matches in WWE and Ring of Honor, and now, ALL IN. However, both of his previous matches were tag team matches, this would be his first singles match.
Not going to lie, this match was one of the ones I was excited for the most, I even wore my “Vigilante Club” shirt as you saw above.
Granted, this was NOT the best match of the night. Daniels is a two-plus decades experience wrestler, Amell isn’t. But that doesn’t mean Amell wasn’t ready to bring it…
— Matt Fowler (@TheMattFowler) September 1, 2018
Amell and Daniels made the match work, and the hype leading up to it thanks to BTE made it work even more, including Amell flipping off Daniels after he tried to insult him.
In the end though, Daniels won the match, and rightfully so, but Amell proved that should his acting career end (which it won’t soon given the popularity of Arrow), he could do wrestling full-stop. And I will be watching when that happens.
While WWE is claiming to have the “evolution” of Women’s Wrestling, many other promotions have been making their own strides, especially in the indies, so having a match at ALL IN between Madison Rayne, Tessa Blanchard, Britt Baker and Chelsea Green was significant on many levels. These women are all experienced in the ring, and have made names for themselves with their skills. Granted, some people were disappointed when it was announced they would all be in the same match (which goes to show the love for Women’s Wrestling that they wanted to see two matches featuring the women), but it actually worked out in their favor.
The match was LIT, not the least of which was because of the different personas and wrestling styles that these four women had. Each got their own moment to shine and perform some great moves. Including one time when…
-` all in 2018 – madison rayne, chelsea, tessa blanchard, britt baker competed in a moty candidational four corner survival, this match had some legendary and memorable moments from all female athletes involved @MadisonRayne @Tess_Blanchard @RealBrittBaker @ImChelseaGreen pic.twitter.com/jGYeyZYpJ4
— jj ✨ (@jjthestan) September 4, 2018
Yeah, it was awesome. Truly. In fact. This match was the first of the night to get the beloved “This is awesome!” chant. There was also a great “Women’s Wrestling!” chant at the beginning of the match…that I helped start!
But what I loved about the crowd was that they embraced all the women in the match. Which made it all the more epic when the chant of “Hot Mess” rang out for Chelsea Green, who was without a doubt one of the best performers in the match.
By the time the match ended, Tessa Blanchard pulled out the victory, but all four women joined hands and thanked the crowd afterwards, which is too cool for words.
Cody vs. Nick Aldis
Without a doubt, THIS was the biggest risk of ALL IN. Why? Because it was for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship. A belt that hasn’t had significance in years, and was only now being put into the spotlight because of this show.
Many were uncertain if Cody would win this match (and take heat for winning at his own show), or if Aldis would take it and show the “strength” of the NWA brand. It could’ve gone either way, and while not the most technical match, it was one that had a true story behind it. Cody wanted the belt both for himself, and for his late father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, who held the belt previously. Aldis wanted to prove that he was the “National Treasure” that he felt he was, and that the NWA title still meant something.
The battle had some interesting spots, including Cody’s wife Brandi getting a top rope elbow for interferring in the match. As well as one spot where Cody got busted open and the crowd thought that the match would be called off…only for Diamond Dallas Page and Daivari to have a fun altercation during the “downtime”.
But at the end, Cody got the victory, got the title, and got one of the biggest pops for a victory I’ve seen in a LONG time.
— Cody Rhodes (@CodyRhodes) September 3, 2018
Hangman Page Vs. Joey Janela
As ironic as it might sound, this match was the only match that had a stipulation in it. It was a “Chicago Street Fight”, and it was GOOD!
Adam “Hangman Page” is one of the more recent entries to the Bullet Club, but if you listen to Cody and the Young Bucks, you’ll hear them say Page is the next major star. As for Joey Janela, he’s a star in the indies, and is famous for his “Bad Boy” persona. So this match not only made sense, it was a lot of fun to watch for many reasons. Both of them got to showcase their insane wrestling ability, and we got some great story drama too. Oh, and the lady on the left? That’s Penelope Ford, who showed off her own wrestling skills many times over, including…
— … (@thebookofrob) September 3, 2018
The match was great, and Page won with a reverse piledrive…off the top of a ladder…onto a table! And the thing wasn’t over yet! For Joey Ryan…well…you should really just watch it for youself.
Jay Lethal Vs. Flip Gordon
To be honest, of all the matches on the show, this was the only one that could be 100% predicted. Because while the Ring of Honor World Championship would be on the line…there was no way ROH would have the title change hands here. They supported the show no doubt! But they had plans for Lethal who only recently won the title.
Still, the match was great, and Lethal even came out to his old “Black Machismo” persona from TNA, along with the brother of Macho Man Randy Savage, Lenny Poffo! As for Flip, he came out with Brandi Rhodes as part of Team FriendZone. And these two put on a show, with many great moments, and numerous tributes to Macho Man.
Lethal won the match, and Flip got his moment by not just having the match, but helping Lethal and Colt Cabana put Bully Ray through a table.
Kenny Omega vs Penta El Zero
Seriously, if you DON’T KNOW Kenny Omega and Penta El Zero (also known as Pentagon Jr. and Pentagon Darhk depending on the promotion he’s in)…LOOK THEM UP!
This was a true “Dream Match”. Kenny has been killing it over in Japan, and is pound-for-pound one of the best wrestlers in the world, and he’s the current IWGP champion (that’s the main belt from New Japan). As for Pentagon, he’s the champ in Lucha Underground, but also a big star in Impact Wrestling, known for his brutality and his hardcore style of wrestling.
So needless to say these guys put on one of the best matches of the night. This match had it all, impact moves, OMG moments, taunting, arrogance, crowd pleasing slaps that were REALLY loud, and so much more.
And when all was said and done Kenny Omega was victorious…and then the lights went out…and Chris Jericho showed up!!!
— Roxy (@ButIAmRoxy) September 3, 2018
Yep, the crowd lit up once again, and Jericho basically started a feud with Omega by attacking him, and it was great. No one knew he would be there, which made it all the more epic.
Marty Scrull vs Okada
In every wrestling match, there’s a big desire to have the crowd be “into it”. Like they’re feeling the power of the match from start to finish. For ALL IN? That match was Marty Scrull versus Okada. This was another dream match of sorts, as it was “The Villain” vs. “The Rainmaker”. Okada is one of the best wrestlers in the world, bar none. As for Scrull, he’s a fan favorite wrestler who not only looks like a villain via his ring gear, he’s a villain in the ring too, and he gets the crowd going every time.
The “story” here via BTE was that Okada is a heavyweight wrestler, while Scury is under 205, and the joke was that Marty was “screwed” because he couldn’t match power with Okada. The match proved that to not be a factor though, and the crowd erupted every time that Scrull got the upperhand. The crowd was so invested in the match it was insane.
Which…might explain how the match went 12 minutes over its scheduled time. Not that the crowd minded, we ate up ever second of it. But it did affect the main event as you’ll see.
Still, the match was epic, and another “match of the night” contender”, but Okada won in the end despite Marty’s valiant effort.
It may seem odd that a 6-Man tag match would wrap up ALL IN. But let me put this into context for you. The Young Bucks are one of the most popular tag teams on the planet. Kota Ibushi is one of the best wrestlers in the world. Pair them together against lucha legends Rey Mysterio, Fenix and Bandido, and you got an all-star match that was guaranteed to deliver.
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) September 2, 2018
Ironically, the only thing that didn’t deliver was the time for the match. It was supposed to be 28 minutes, but it only last 12 because of two matches running long earlier in the night. Still, everyone got to show off their stuff, and those who didn’t know Bandido…they know him now!
This was high-flying greatness and though the Bucks and Ibushi got a rushed victory, it was still awesome.
ALL IN 2?
With the night over (with 3 seconds to spare on the PPV, no joke), the “Coda” as I like to call it happened. The entire Bullet Club came out to thank the crowd, and proclaim that they were going to stick together, and that they would continue to try and bring the people good professional wrestling.
Or as Cody put it, “No one brand owns wrestling, WE OWN WRESTLING!”
And with the crowd chanting “ALL IN 2!” they closed out the night. Oh, and if you were wondering how many people were in attendance…
Thank You pic.twitter.com/zNNUZ4EPoV
— All In (@ALL_IN_2018) September 4, 2018
This was my first live wrestling show despite being a wrestling fans for about 15 years now. And there was something about ALL IN that was so special, so unique, and so thrilling, that I hope that more shows like this happen. This show changed the game, no joke, no lie. How far will it push things? We’ll have to wait and see. But it’s going to be great, and whether you were there live like me, or watching it from home, I would bet just about anything that you were smiling by the time it was over, because you had witnessed something historic.