All-In: Review

What a monumental night this is for professional wrestling.

From the moment that everyone’s favourite journalist, Big Dave Meltzer, dismissed the idea of an independent show selling 10, 000 seats, the challenge was on. Then very quickly, that pipedream became a reality.

It took over a year to put the show together, and just 30 minutes to sell it out. Wrestling fans are actually awesome. The reward for investing into a show without knowing the card?

A bountiful smorgasbord of the best talent in the world from all the major promotions; barring the one whose name we shall not speak of on this night. Tonight is bigger than that tired, money-hungry monopoliser.

Tonight…the fans matter.

Enough talk. Let’s checkout the action!

*I didn’t watch the Zero Hour pre-show as Fite TV didn’t show it.

Matt Cross vs MJF

Now, I do know my indie wrestling well; but sometimes names will elude me. Matt Cross is one of those names, I did have the chance to see MJF during a CZW show during Wrestlemania weekend though.

This was just a good mix of everything really. MJF is just a typical scumbag heel, flipping off the crowd, spitting in Matt Cross’ face etc. But Cross stood up to him well, pulled out some great high-risk spots and as the face, he went over to get the main card underway. Solid start.

Winner: Matt Cross

***

Christopher Daniels vs Stephen Amell

Lots of the stories for this show came as a result of the popular YouTube channel, ‘Being The Elite’. It follows the crazy adventures of Cody, The Young Bucks and others with a mix of kayfabe stories and real-life antics. One of the stories has been between these two men.

I saw Amell wrestle a few years back, against his friend Cody, at Summerslam 2015 in a tag match. Nearly 3 years on, and it’s time for Amell’s first, proper singles match.

Daniels is the perfect guy to pull something resembling a presentable match from the actor, but to the shock of many, he didn’t need as much help as some people might have thought.

He MORE than held his own, he’s clearly worked hard and lots of his in-ring work was great. That coast-to-coast was impressive, and as for that table bump? Well, that’s testament to the nature of the man. You can just tell when someone loves pro wrestling, and he was willing to take that hard landing. Nothing wooden about this performance as he brought it all to the table.

In the end, Daniels experience shone through. I really hope Amell can maybe wrap up Arrow soon, and maybe think about pursuing a full-time wrestling career; he’s more than capable.

Winner: Christopher Daniels

***1/2

Four Corner Survival Match

Tessa Blanchard vs Chelsea Green vs Madison Rayne vs Britt Baker

Save for a couple of sloppy looking transitions and a damaging ending, this was solid wrestling from all four women. I didn’t know who Britt Baker was, I know Chelsea Green from her time as Laurel Van Ness in Impact, she plays ‘crazy’ perfectly. Madison is a TNA veteran and Tessa is the future of women’s wrestling. The current Impact Wrestling Women’s Champion may already be an established star, but this woman is the complete package. Power, speed, intimidation; Tessa has an aura.

In just over 10 minutes, these women threw a lot of stuff at us. Dives, high spots and lots of near-falls. As the only women’s match on the card, they needed to impress, and they certainly did. As I’ve said, if you can overlook the muddled and confused ending, you have a great representation of what the women can do too. Given a bit more time, we really could’ve hit the heights with this one.

Winner: Tessa Blanchard

***1/2

NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Nick Aldis (c) vs Cody w/ Brandi Rhodes

I’m not going to lie, I was completely shocked that this went on so early, it must’ve only been an hour into the show. We knew in the build-up that this wasn’t going to be the main event; but maybe second from last? Third from last?

In any event, this had the feel of a main event boxing match or UFC match. Each wrestler came out with their respective entourage of wrestling legends. Tommy Dreamer, Jeff Jarett and DDP to name a few, OH and Cody’s adorable ball of fluff husky, Pharaoh.

The noise in the arena had been a constant throughout the show thus far, but for this match, it’s like someone had given out complimentary shots of adrenaline. The arena was bouncing, it had a big fight feel, and the anticipation of Cody finally winning the illustrious and prestigious NWA Title that his father, the late, great Dusty Rhodes, had famously held was palpable.

Being perfectly honest, the match itself was good. It never felt like it hit those starry heights that some may have hoped. But like The Rock vs Hogan Wrestlemania match, the occasion was special, the crowd was amped, and the tension was felt in the air.

Aldis dominated for lots of the match, but the turning point was when Cody leapt off the top rope to the outside, and Aldis smashed him in the face. Earl Hebner threw up the famous ‘X’ signal, and thus began the shenanigans. DDP came out to aid Cody, Davairi came out on behalf of Aldis, and took exception to this by pushing DDP away.

He ate a Diamond Cutter for his troubles. All this allowed Cody to cut himself open for a nice, juicy bladejob that Dusty would’ve been proud of.

The home stretch was quite gripping with near-falls aplenty. The ending came quite suddenly when, in classic 70’s/80’s fashion, Cody managed to hook the legs and trap Aldis for the 3-count. That pop was something special, and I’m sure that it meant the world to Cody. Some people may complain that Cody booked himself to win this match, but how couldn’t he?

The wrestling business works because of storytelling. This was that AND then some.

Winner and NEW NWA World Champion: Cody

****

Chicago Street Fight

Joey Janela w/ Penelope Ford vs Hangman Page

I presumed that this would be the one to go on after an intense title match. A nice, fun match to sit back and enjoy…

This…this was violent to say the least. Without blood, barbed wire etc, this is as hardcore as it gets. Joey Janela must’ve needed multiple ice baths after this encounter to heal the many wounds he got from this match.

Metal ladders (not wooden), chairs, Crackerbarrels (whatever the hell that is), tables, tables and yet more tables. There were some horrible bumps in this match, not least Hangman Page powerbombing Janela off the stage through two tables. Only, Page had no momentum and basically just kind of threw him at the tables and missed badly.

Page eventually won after using the phone he murdered Joey Ryan with (I’ll get to that soon) and performed a modified Gringo Killer, off the top of a ladder, through a table. A fittingly barbaric way to end a straight-up evil match. Another Bullet Club win.

Great stuff.

Winner: Hangman Page

****

Joey Ryan Segment

Going back to Being The Elite, another running story was between Hangman Page and Joey Ryan. Basically, Page murdered Ryan, Page was haunted by it, and spooky things kept happening to him as a result.

After the Street Fight, one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in wrestling transpired.

We had an Undertaker’s Druids style congregation in the aisleway, only…the druids dressed as massive, inflatable penises. The commentators sold it PERFECTLY with constant innuendos.

Then out came the undead penom, Joey Ryan. As with all Joey Ryan skits, I’m sure you can guess what happened next. On this night, we heard the chant ‘Rest In Penis’. Jim Cornette would’ve popped every blood-vessel in is body watching this segment.

ROH World Championship

Jay Lethal (c) vs Flip Gordon w/Brandi Rhodes

For months, Flip Gordon has been trying to get himself booked for All-In, Cody has kayfabe refused. So he appeared in the battle royal, won and earned a title shot against Jay Lethal.

Jay Lethal was confronted backstage, got slapped, and just like when a bull sees red, Jay channelled his inner Macho Man and transformed into his classic Black Machismo persona for this match. This show literally had everything.

Again, I’d never seen Flip Gordon before, although I had a funny feeling that his move set would be of the aerial, rotation variety. I was not disappointed. I don’t think anyone for a second really believed that Flip would win, even with his friend Brandi at ringside.

It was a good back-and-forth match with Jay Lethal’s zoning in and out of Macho Mode being a particular highlight. At one point he stole Brandi and hoisted her up into the air, a la Miss Elizabeth. It was gold.

This was generally just another solid outing.

Winner and STILL ROH World Champion: Jay Lethal

***

Kenny Omega vs Penta El Zero

It’s been a very good show so far. Nothing bad at all. But now…now we’re moving into A-list match territory. The current IWGP champion against the devastatingly brilliant Pentagon Jr. On paper, this is an absolutely mouth-watering clash.

The reality? It was gorgeously good. I don’t even know if that’s a thing, but it is now. These are just two of the best professional wrestlers in the world, and world-class entertainers.

Once again, the excitement in the air was turned up a couple of notches. These two just went balls to the wall as you’d expect, and delivered a superb wrestling match. It was short of the 20-minute mark, a baby as far as Omega matches go, and even at around 18-minutes, it still felt like they were rushed.

Yet, the action was unrelenting AND devastating. I’m still wincing just picturing Pentagon Jr’s package piledriver on the apron. There were several dicey manoeuvres that involved heads hitting or nearly hitting hard on the canvas.

Either way, you should go out of your way to see this match. Omega continues to excel and produce one spellbinding performance after another.

Winner: Kenny Omega

****

Post-match beatdown

Lights go out. Punk? Nope. Just Omega and Pentagon Jr. still…or is it? Nah, I noticed the tattoos straight away. But the individual realisation of the audience is a moment to behold. Then Jericho’s unmasking is a pop that almost rivals Cody’s title win.

Jericho will see Omega on the Jericho cruise show for part II.

Kazuchika Okada vs Marty Scurll

Now we come to one of the most interesting matches of the night. Despite being the other ‘massive’ match, it felt like a foregone conclusion before it started.

The story going into this, is that the junior-heavyweight, The Villain, couldn’t topple the heavyweight, the Rainmaker. If Scurll could somehow defeat the almost untouchable Okada, then suddenly weight divisions may not matter in NJPW, the ramifications could be huge.

This is wrestling though…so what if?

Boy, did Okada beat on Scurll for a lot of this match. Okada was nonchalant in parts. Yet Marty carried himself with great pride here. He really took it to Okada and proved why he is such a valuable commodity in the wrestling world; a million miles away from party Marty. So many moves were used in this match from lariats, to high-impact DDT’s, Okada tried to crush Marty’s ribcage with several intense, shotgun dropkicks.

There was a glorious moment during the match in which Okada was setting up Scurll for the Rainmaker, but Marty grabbed his finger and snapped it. It crescendoed into an extraordinary finish with a ref bump, which lead to Scurll delivering a very stiff umbrella shot to the head followed by a RAINMAKER!

1…2…3.NO! It must’ve been two and ninety-nine hundredths. Unbelievable.

But Okada recovered and hit Scurll with a Rainmaker salvo. Three consecutive shots that incapacitated Scurll and ended the dream. For a split second, they had me, and they had you. This match delivered in every way.

Winner: Kazuchika Okada

****1/2

The Golden Elite (The Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi) vs Rey Mysterio, Fenix and Bandido

To finish off a resounding night of memories, a six-man tag team sprint full of outrageous spots, seriously, I’m not even going to bother to list them. I think the match was about 12 minutes, and they crammed more moves into this match than The Expendables crammed their films with action heroes.

I think we had serious timing issues which led to the match being cut short. But it was surreal. I was in a constant state of bewilderment. I kept questioning how each spot could be topped, only to grab and knife and fork and get stuck into my own words.

There wasn’t much in the way of a story, this was just a demonstration of world-class athleticism and it was a hell of a spectacle. This is the kind of match that will divide people.

To me? It’s just a hell of a lot of fun. I’d like to have seen the Luchadore team go over, but I get why they didn’t. A vicious Meltzer Driver brought this historic night to an end. Even with less time to work with, they managed to adapt and get their own stuff, whilst performing it to perfection, I can’t recall a single botch amidst the chaos.

Winners: The Golden Elite

****

Post-match

I’ll briefly discuss a slight downside to the night, and that’s the timing issues. All-In had a massive 4-hour timeslot and certainly made the most of it. As soon as the Okada/Scurll match ended, they basically had to get everyone out the ring and quickly get everyone out for the tag match.

Then it wasn’t so much of a sprint finish for the match as a bullet (club) train to the end. I’ve checked the post-show on YouTube and Cody, Brandi, Kenny, other wrestlers and family members all came out to celebrate. It was a 15-minute segment with the Bucks and Cody discussing All-In, thanking the fans and even saying that they finished the PPV with 3 seconds left to spare!

Conclusion

What is there to say about this show? All-In went all-in and above and beyond. Before the show, it was a good-looking card, I’d say it overdelivered.

From top-to-bottom, there wasn’t a single bad match. I think my lowest rating was ***. Everything had ALMOST the right amount of time, people got there their time to shine and the crowd were energetic and boisterous, even 5 hours into the show.

All-In churned out lots of moments from Cody’s poignant title win to Jericho’s surprise appearance to the penis parade; it was just a great celebration of professional wrestling.

This was a statement. It doesn’t have to be about the WWE; with a bit of motivation and can-do attitude, a few wrestlers managed to put together a supercard that has been hyped for a year. It displayed great unity by having NJPW, ROH, Impact, Lucha Underground etc, all come together to make this happen.

During the aftershow speech, Cody basically hinted at All-In 2. With the success of this show, I think it’s only natural that it will get another instalment.

In-all, All-In needs to be watched. It’s up there with Slammiversary and Takeover: New Orleans this year. So go watch it and enjoy being a wrestling fan.

– Andy.H. –

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I'm a nerdy, tattooed 25 year-old. I'm a lifelong wrestling fan that's been playing video games since birth. I'm a football fanatic who's in a relationship with Liverpool Football Club, I love many sports, a whole variety of TV and Film (especially Red Dwarf) and this bio probably doesn't even cover half of it. Soooo yeah. Read my writing you beautiful person who took time out of their day to read this.

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