What All Out Says About AEW

I wrote about it before the broadcast went on the air that I thought All Out from Chicago might be a defining event in the history of professional wrestling when fans and pundits reflect on the event. Hindsight is merely 24 hours, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that the industry shifted as a result of All Out on pay-per-view. I’m going to try to condense the discussion about the bell-to-bell action, particularly because there wasn’t a bad match on the card, but also to give more of a context as to what the results translate to in the grand scheme of things. Although, one of the talking points to consider from the actual line-up is how the card was structured to avoid the show dragging at any point, something that can be almost unavoidable with a longer broadcast.

Eddie Kingston vs. Miro was a really great opener and it was physical enough to standout on a show that had many aerial wrestlers. As a viewer, it will take you away from the investment of a bout when the wrestlers are working too light, but trying to sell a strong style contest. Granted, I’m not the one taking forearms to the face, but if a wrestler is going to attempt to present that type of style then they have to accept enduring the stiff strikes to make it look good. Again, if you can see through the strikes, there’s just a disconnect with the story and the viewers. Don’t get me wrong, there are valid arguments against the risks of the classic All Japan type match, but the point being, if a wrestler wants go that path then a certain level of physicality goes along with it. Thankfully, Kingston and Miro really presented a physical and entertaining out, and in truth, Miro showed another set of skills in his playbook throughout this contest. In some ways, the opening bout can’t be as memorable as other matches on the card during a four-hour broadcasts, but this contest was really entertaining. I understand why Miro retained, but I still think that Kingston has the potential to become one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster so it would be wise for him to get a title run at some point in the future.

Jon Moxley vs. Kojima was a solid match, there wasn’t anything wrong with it at all, but it wasn’t necessarily anything over-the-top either. One of the very few criticisms of this event, if there is one, would be to place this bout directly after the TNT title match, mostly because it was basically a less physical version of the same style. Kojima is absolutely a legend, but I’m not sure how familiar even the Chicago crowd was with him because he’s one of the secondary figures in New Japan since he’s in the latter part of his career. Along with that, the prime of Kojima’s run in All Japan was during an era when the entire Japanese pro wrestling scene almost collapsed so he doesn’t have as much exposure to American fans as some of the others on the New Japan roster. That being said, one of the more featured performers on the NJPW roster, Minoru Suzuki showed up after Moxley got the victory to set up a match on Dynamite this week. Suzuki and Moxley had a memorable match for the IWGP US title before the pandemic shut the world down, and you can bet that their match on TNT will be “must-see” TV. In some respects, it’s almost disappointing that Suzuki didn’t get more US exposure until this point in his career because he has the skills and the persona to translate to any audience. When a performer is as believable as Suzuki, there’s money to be made for everyone involved. I know Suzuki will be in the United States for a tour, but I’m not sure the time frame he will be in America. All things considered, I think it would be wise for All Elite to book him for more than a one-off while he’s in the United States. Granted, I know some will mention the fact that Suzuki isn’t as well known to the general audience in America, but viewers can look at the guy and know that he’s somebody, which goes back to the believability that can translate to any audience.

Britt Baker defeated Kris Statlander to retain the Women’s title, a decision that wasn’t really in doubt at any point in the match. The in-ring work was completely fine, but with title matches, part of the drama is to attempt to create a moment where the result might be in doubt, but that wasn’t reached in this contest. That’s not meant as a criticism necessarily either, but rather with the momentum that Baker has, if a match doesn’t have major build up then it’s difficult to “sell” the potential of a title switch. Since it’s within the women’s division, battle royals, especially on pay-per-view can be tough. There’s a reason the Royal Rumble is only once a year and the fact that it sets up Wrestlemania is more of less the reason it’s deemed important, not the in-ring action. That said, while I think the women’s battle royal went a little too long, it was booked perfectly. The reaction that Ruby Soho got proved just how much of a star she can be, and just how much WWE missed the boat on her. A debut like that with the drama of Thunder Rosa and Ruby as the last two entrants was great stuff. The way it was booked was very well done because it used the history of Rosa and Baker to create some question about who would win the battle royal. It made sense for Rosa to win to set up the anticipated rematch with Baker, and there was also the logical option for Ruby to get the victory for her debut. Ruby getting the win provided for a memorable moment.

The tag team title cage match was a wild stunt show and it worked. I’m not sure I would join with those that have said it was “the greatest cage match ever” but it was thrilling and entertaining. Most importantly, for a company that has to make sure it differentiates itself from WWE, you simply won’t see anything like this cage match on WWE programming. The Lucha brothers got the win, which made sense because they are too talented not to have a main role in the product, and more importantly, I really think both of them still have the potential to be AEW world champion in the future. Considering the conclusion of the show, The Young Bucks don’t really need the titles based on their next storyline anyway.

Chris Jericho/MJF was fine, but outside of the drama of the last few minutes of the match, I think this contest went a little too long and dragged at certain points. In some ways, AEW booked themselves into a corner with the stipulation because either an all-time great wasn’t going to be in the ring again or one of their best heels wasn’t going to get the bragging rights to get a push to the next level. This specific result isn’t necessarily that important, but rather MJF’s next angle must be a meaningful storyline to keep him within the AEW conversation. In my opinion, unless Jericho was actually going to retire, this wasn’t the stipulation to book for this match. Jericho wins, but is set to go on tour with Fozzy so I’m not sure where the upside is at the conclusion of the feud.

CM Punk vs. Darby Allin was good, but not great and it didn’t need to be. CM Punk looked a little rusty, which is completely understandable, but considering the scenario and the crowd, the match was very successful. Punk needed the win because a defeat would suggest that he’s past his prime, and Darby was elevated with the endorsement from Punk. Sometimes, a wrestler can get over more with a defeat and that was Darby in this scenario. More importantly, CM Punk brings a tremendous buzz to the AEW product.

Paul Wight vs. QT Marshal was just there to pace the card and it accomplished it.

Similar to Punk/Darby, the main event was good, not great. Christian is a true pro and everything in the match was solid, but nobody in the building believed that he was going to win the title. Similar to the women’s title match, the main event didn’t have a moment where the result was in doubt. Considering the arrivals of Punk and Bryan Danielson, the fans know that the money matches ate against Omega for the title. Christian vs. CM Punk and Christian vs. Daniel Bryan happened in WWE in 2012 so there’s no reason to book it again. Obviously, Omega retained the title.

The arrival of Adam Cole was a surprise, despite the rumors because there were still rumblings he might’ve re-signed with WWE after he was advertised for a Mattel event. I’ve already discussed Cole’s potential exit from WWE so I’m not going to repeat it here, but will emphasize this point, while there will only be one Shawn Micheals, Adam Cole could be the HBK of his generation. Cole has all the skills and all the talent to be a top star for any company. The fact that WWE wasted a few years of his prime on the third-tier brand or at the very least didn’t see the potential he had as a main stream star is something that is almost mind-boggling. The debut of Bryan Danielson was known, but it was still a tremendous moment. The bigger story is the message that was sent about AEW at All Out, All Elite Wrestling is the place to be right now. One of the biggest stars of the modern era that swore off wrestling was willing to make a comeback for AEW, one of the most popular stars of the modern era didn’t want to re-sign with WWE to be able to work with the AEW roster, and one of the young stars of the industry that has the most potential declined a WWE contract offer, even after reportedly meeting with Vince McMahon to sign an AEW contract.

This were two decades when Vince McMahon controlled the narrative of professional wrestling in the United States, and if the general public wanted to watch sports entertainment then they would watch WWE. TNA might’ve tried, but ultimately, TNA was never a place to be and never garnered more than a minimal following in the grand scheme of things. Wrestlers went to TNA if WWE released them, very few wrestlers left WWE specifically to go to TNA. Obviously, the story is very different for AEW because some of the biggest stars in the industry decided to sign a contract. The most important statement that All Out made was, All Elite Wrestling is a major player in the sports entertainment business.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta
E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta