So after months of build-up, announcements and dream match scenarios, All In finally happened. There was a lot to live up to as the venue sold out in minutes before most of the card was ever announced. It was a stacked show with the Bullet Club bringing in some of the best talent from around the world. This review may be a little late but that is down to having to wait for the PPV coming to NJPW World. This does mean I missed Zero Hour where Flip got powerbombed through a table and went on to win the Over Budget Battle Royale. With that out of the way let’s get on with reviewing Cody and the Young Bucks own grown PPV.
Matt Cross defeats MJF via Shooting Star Press
So this was the starting match to the main show and it did its job perfectly. This was probably a lot of people’s, myself included, introduction to MJF. He was the perfect starting match heel. He was arrogant, self-aggrandising and trying to use his age and power to belittle Matt Cross. Matt Cross on the other hand was endearing to the crowd as the grizzled veteran proving his worth against some new blood. This would be reflected in their match as for a large portion, he was in control. A lot of his attention was focused on the arm of Cross trying to soften it up for the Armbar. His own arrogance and hubris would cost him though as Cross would reverse and mount a comeback. He would eventually get MJF into position for the Shooting Star Press and would pick up the win. The veteran gets to prove his worth and MJF gets an introduction to a new audience.
Christopher Daniels defeats Stephen Amell via Best Moonsault Ever
Following on from Cross and MJF, we see a match use the same story in a different way. Christopher Daniels is a legend of the wrestling business. The man has done almost everything there is to do and as such was showing disrespect toward Amell for his lack of experience. This attitude was thrown back at him though as Amell used his age against Daniels. This would be the whole crux of the match as Daniels would start of outwrestling Amell and countering everything he would try. This would devolve into brawling and Amell would take the upper hand and try to introduce a table. This would be his undoing as he would end up going through it trying to Elbow Drop Daniels. It wasn’t the most perfect match on the card but it felt like a personal proving match for Amell and Daniels putting the Arrow star in his place. In the end Amell would keep asking for punishment, much to the guest referee Jerry Lynn’s request, Daniels would indulge him and eventually hit Amell with the Best Moonsault for the win. There was a show of mutual respect and both wrestlers were cheered off.
Tessa Blanchard defeats Chelsea Green, Britt Baker and Madison Rayne via Hammerlock DDT
So it’s safe to say the women killed it in this fatal four way match. It was a shame this was the only women’s match on the card but my God did they make the most of it. All four women destroyed each other as it would start off with Britt and Green fighting whilst Madison and Tessa were fighting on the outside. All four women would be given their time to shine. Britt got to outsmart her fellow wrestlers, Chelsea Green played up her dual personalities unpredictably lashing out and showing off, Madison was the savvy veteran taking advantage of any situation and Tessa was a straight up powerhouse. She was throwing her opponents like they weighed nothing. She was on top for a lot of the match but like any good multi person match, momentum shifted on a dime. Every woman would hit her finisher and there was even a reference to Zack Ryder’s Broski Boot from Chelsea Green. The eventual finisher saw Tessa lock Chelsea Green in a Hammerlock DDT and get the pin. It was a shaky victory though as it felt like some kind of breakup was meant to happen but it didn’t quite work. Finish aside though this was as much fun as you could want from these four super talented wrestlers. There were also plenty of comments from Tenille Dashwood and Mandy Leon who were on commentary for the match.
Cody defeats Nick Aldis via Roll Up
I imagine a lot of people were surprised this wasn’t the main event. The next match on the card was the NWA Title match between Cody and Nick Aldis. This was the first announced match and certainly one to receive the most hype. This was the story of Cody trying to get the title his Father held multiple times. It was a big and blatant celebration of classic wrestling in a modern age. Both men were escorted to the ring by crews of wrestlers which included Tommy Dreamer, DDP, Glacier, Shawn Daivari and Jeff Jarrett. The match itself started off slow with Aldis out powering Cody and taking control.
There was a lot of back and forth until a moment that stopped the match. Cody went to the top turnbuckle to leap on Aldis outside only to eat an anti-air elbow that looked like it clipped Cody right in the face. He was out for a good few minutes. The ref through up the X and DDP came to check on Cody. Shawn Daivari would come out to try and get the match thrown out, he put hands on the ref, who I should mention was Earl Hebner and ate a Diamond Cutter for his actions. Cody came to, busted open in a brutal manner. We’d get more back and forth including a Figure 4 Leglock, Aldis’ Cloverleaf and an eventual spot that saw Brandi eat an Elbow Drop as she tried to stop Cody hitting it. Aldis would kick out of the Crossroads and the eventual finish saw Cody reverse a Sunset Flip into a deep roll up and get the three count. This was probably the biggest feel good moment of the show as Cody teared up. It must be big to win a legendary belt on a show you’ve made yourself in front of one of the wildest crowds at a wrestling show yet. It’s easier to see this as a self-congratulating move on Cody’s part but the amount of passion on show was obvious and once again it felt like a celebration of old school NWA wrestling.
Hangman Page defeats Joey Janela (with Penelope Ford) via Rite of Passage
This match was pure madness which is almost what you’d expect if you’re in the know about Joey Janela. The man is insane and pulls off some of the most outrageous spots in modern wrestling. Hangman Page was going into this match haunted by his murder of Joey Ryan and fuelled by his intent to murder another Joey. This was a Chicago street fight and it lived up to his name as chairs, tables, ladders and even a Cracker Barrel barrel was brought into play. They started out brawling and it descended into weapon spots and as many painful moves as possible. The first big spot was Janela running up a chair, onto a barrel to hit a cannonball onto Page in the crowd. There was a spot where Page hits Janela with a Burning Hammer onto a ladder.
Penelope Ford would get involved to help set up spots and attack Page. Janela would gain the upper hand and try to take it to the stage. He set up a table on the entrance ramp only to end up going through it himself after Page recovered and powerbombed him off. Ford would once again interject by bringing a trash bag into the ring. It should be stated that she first interfered when it looked like Page was about to suffocate Janela with a trash bag. She emptied the bag to reveal that it contained Page’s haunted cowboy boots and this freaks him out. He superkicks Ford and then eats a boot assisted Superkick from Janela. He then sets up a table and ladder, lies out Page and ascends. The crowd is chanting “safety first” as Page jumps up and empties the other trash bag to reveal the phone that murdered Joey Ryan. He smacks Janela with the phone and then hits a Rite of Passage off the ladder and through the table to put Janela away. Page murders another Joey in brutal fashion and looks set to leave.
That is when footage after Ryan’s murder airs and the famous dong (a phrase I never thought I’d use) stirs to life and the All In stage is filled with people in inflatable penis costumes. Joey Ryan’s music hits and the King of Dong Style has been resurrected. He saunters to the ring and gets in Pages face. He oils himself up and gets ready to fight. Page tries to fight back but gets hit with the Penis-plex and a sucker pop Superkick and is carried out of the arena by this procession of penis clad people. The best part of all this is that the crowd is chanting, “Rest in Penis.” This was probably the most over the top and divisive segment of the show but it was so damn funny.
Jay Lethal defeats Flip Gordon via Lethal Injection
This has to be the second most feel good moment of the show as Flip Gordon was finally booked for All In. This also saw him facing the one and only Black Macishmo as someone had handed Jay Lethal some Macho Man glasses and hit him on the shoulder, the trigger to summon Machismo. Lethal would come to the ring accompanied by Lanny Poffo, in Macho man gear and to the Black Machismo music. He starts the match like Savage and even drags off Brandi Rhodes to his corner. He wrestles with Flip for a bit before trying to go after Brandi again. She runs away from him, enters the ring and hits Lethal on the shoulder to snap him out of it. We now have regular Jay Lethal back and he mixes it up with Flip. We get all the good bits we get from Flip and he certainly had the crowd on his side. Poffo would try to bring the Macho Man back and this caused Flip to Hulk out at one point no selling punches and hitting the Big Boot. There was no Leg Drop though as he would have probably had to win the match with it. The eventual end saw Jay Lethal hit a cutter then win with the Lethal Injection. This was an excellent match with some classic references and an excellent throwback to Lethal’s Impact Wrestling past.
So after the match, Bully Ray runs out and starts attacking Flip and Lethal. He is clearly pissed at the fact Flip cost him his title opportunity and even low kicks Lanny Boffo. Commentary is selling everything about this and almost begs someone backstage to come out and make the save. After that comment comes Colt Cabana. He attacks Bully Ray and the trio set up a table to put Ray through. In an ode to the Shield the trio hit a Triple Powerbomb onto Bully Ray through a table.
Kenny Omega defeats Penta El Zero via One Winged Angel
So this was predicted match of the night. This was the match I expected to shine brightest and I was definitely not disappointed. The match starts out with stiff strikes as Omega disrespects Penta by slapping him during the Cero Meido chant. Penta hits a stiff kick to the midsection and starts brawling outside. He takes it to Omega for a lot of the opening part of the match hitting multiple stiff chops and Lungblowers. Omega tries to mount some offense but is constantly beaten back down by Penta. Eventually Omega starts coming back and brings out the power moves. This was an incredibly brutal match.
There were plenty of head bumps as Omega eats a Fear Factor Package Piledriver on the apron. Omega gets some vengeance by hitting Penta with a Package Piledriver of his own with added spin. There would be trades of power moves as Penta would strike and Omega would hit V Triggers but neither man would show any signs of give. Penta would hit the Arm Breaker on Omega and this would feature through the rest of the match even changing how Omega gave the eventual one Winged Angel as he had to land on the other side. Penta would reverse several One Winged Angels but would eventually succumb after a Poisonrana, V-trigger and One Winged Angel combo. This was an exciting match that just kept piling on the head drop spots.
After Omega won, the lights went out for about 20 seconds. During this time it appeared that nothing had changed. Then “Penta” jumped to his feet look remarkably different. He lunges at Kenny and beats him down and hits a Codebreaker. He removes his mask to reveal that it is Chris Jericho in disguise. He keeps attacking Omega and tells Omega that he’ll see him at the Jericho Cruise after laying him out with another Codebreaker. This was one hell of a surprise as no one expected Jericho to show up on this show or to attack Omega. People want to mention the animosity this may create between Jericho and Vince but at the end of the day, would Jericho care? Jericho has done everything there is to do in WWE and is creating a storm in the world outside of WWE. He did this to hype his cruise but he did it in dramatic fashion attacking one of the crowd’s favourites after an impactful match.
Kazuchika Okada defeats Marty Scurll via Rainmaker
This was probably the match of the night. A proving ground match for Marty Scurll to show he can hold his own against the heavyweights. Unfortunately his opponent in this match happened to be one of the best heavyweights on the planet, the Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada. Throughout the build up to this event, we have seen Okada mocking Scurll for his weight and even mocking him with 205 Live chants. This went on through the opening stages of the match as he would flex every time he out powered Scurll and was continuously finding ways to show him up. However Okada would soon be taken by surprise as Scurll would start to hit power moves and reverse some of Okada’s biggest moves. This didn’t stop Scurll eating a DDT on the outside and other moves from the Rainmaker. Scurll would hit a Brainbuster and several other power moves.
Eventually, Okada would be pushed into the ref and Scurll would hit him with the Umbrella and his own Rainmaker which Okada would kick out of. The crowd popped for this as almost everyone expected that to be the finish for the match. There was a point in the match where Okada would have hit a Rainmaker but stopped to make another 205 Live reference but Scurll would grab the hand and break the fingers. Okada battled out of the Chicken Wing twice too. The finish saw Okada hit Scurll with the Rainmaker for the win. Unfortunately neither man would really get to celebrate as the match overrun but it did deliver the most compelling story of the show and offered one of Scurll’s best matches to date.
The Golden Elite defeat Rey Mysterio, Ray Fenix and Bandido via Meltzer Driver
This was a slight shame as it was cut to about 11 minutes but holy hell was it a manic 11 minutes. Both teams had excellent attire with The Young Bucks coming out in Kota Ibushi’s colours and Rey Mysterio coming out dressed as Wolverine. This was my first time seeing Bandido and I was more than impressed with what I saw. He was on fire from the moment he started the match hitting multiple high-flying and Springboard moves. The tags were fast and the moves were faster as every minute was milked for the maximum value. Everyone got to shine and it’s a shame each competitor wasn’t given more time to shine. Fenix was electric, Nick and Matt got to show off their tag team tandem and their solo work and Mysterio and Ibushi were their usual show stealing selves. Team Lucha hit a devastating combo that saw Rey hitting a Frog Splash that was only broken up by one of the Bucks making the save. The finish saw Bandido singled out and hit by multiple moves before eating the Meltzer Driver for the three count. This was an excellent tag match with no dead weight as the time constraints would not allow it.
So there you have it, my review of All In. I couldn’t do a good, bad and weird because it would be an incredibly one-sided article. The good outshined everything in this PPV as the only negatives are all technical issues that were bound to happen during a first time broadcast. Sure a lot could be said that this PPV relied heavily on fan service and being tuned into Being the Elite but then again what did you expect? This was a Bullet Club branded PPV designed for fans of that type of wrestling. Some people will take umbrage with some of the storyline features like Ryan’s resurrection and the abrupt ending was such a shame but let’s face it, this was amazing. Everyone got to be shown off, everyone got their chance to shine and the crowd treated everyone as a star.
In a show with so much hype and pomp to live up to this was amazing. This shows what the indie brands were capable of. There were plenty of nods and winks to their competition, WWE. There may have been a few things missing and some rumours that led to nothing but overall this was a celebration of classic and modern wrestling for crowds of passionate wrestling fans. Hopefully we see All In 2 announced, bigger, better and back for more.
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