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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

3721 - ALL IN


So this past Saturday, Cody (Rhodes) and the Young Bucks (or Young Fucks) held their much-hyped self-financed independent wrestling show ALL IN, featuring a showcase of the very best that the independents had to offer as well as two World championship matches being contested. What seemed like a big gamble paid off considerably as the show sold out in 22-ish minutes and genuinely felt like a big deal going in.

This is the first wrestling PPV that I've bought in years and I was slightly pissed off because shortly after I paid the forty bucks for the show, NJPW World announced that they would have the show on their 999 yen per month streaming service. Not to mention there were some other minor issues with the live stream that I'll get into after the break, but when all was said and done, I think I got my money's worth and thensome.





So, I bought the PPV on Fite and had the page loaded Saturday so I'd remember that the show was on. 7:00 rolls around and I get a video error. Tried refreshing the video several times and gave up. Tuned back in about a few minutes later and the PPV was up and running, so sadly I didn't catch the National Anthem being played or the card being run down by the announcers (including Don Callis - fuck me, this guy is suddenly everywhere all of a sudden.)

Unfortunately, trying to watch the video full-screen caused the streamer to stutter horribly, so I'm left watching the show on my television from a tiny window while the Young Bucks stare into my soul the entire time. Clearly, not a promising start to this first time running Fite.TV.



In any event, let us begin...

The arena looks pretty good for the most part; a simple yet nice looking set for the entrance, good lighting, and the ring looks fairly decent for the most part. A common complaint I've heard is that the crowd wasn't that audible on air and going back, I did notice they were a bit quiet sounding, but you could hear some of the louder reactions at least. Also, they need to work on their graphics a little more so that more than one name could appear on their template. Still, it's a first effort and these sorts of snafus tend to happen. Stuff they could fix for whenever they decide to do another All In, but for the most part, presentation is strong.

Matt Cross defeated Maxwell J. Friedman in the opening match. I only vaguely recall Matt Cross as that guy who was in that one Tough Enough with Stone Cold, but I don't know the other guy at all. The story being told is that Cross is the veteran while Friedman is the spoiled cocky rich kid. Pretty simple fare and an otherwise entertaining little opening match that told the story it wanted to tell well enough within its short time slot.

Sean Mooney (yes, THAT Sean Mooney) interviews NWA Worlds Champion Nick Aldis in the most competent interview on a wrestling show that I've seen in years. This is a positive, by the way.

Christopher Daniels defeated Stephen Amell to give the Arrow star his first loss in wrestling. Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Former ECW World champion Jerry Lynn is your special referee for this match and even got into a brief scuffle with Daniels that ultimately went nowhere. Look, I'm not going to lie; I was apprehensive about this match when I first heard about it, but it turned out to be pretty good. This Amell kid actually looked pretty decent out there - or at least faked it really well - and Daniels remains one of those guys who could work miracles... and we certainly got that here.

Don Callis bails commentary to check on Kenny Omega, which leaves an opening for Tenille "Emma" Dashwood and some other girl I don't know.

Tessa Blanchard defeated Chelsea Green, Dr. Britt Baker, and Madison Rayne (or is it Ashley Rayne) in a four-way match. Baker is an actual dentist, by the way... not a fake one like Isaac Yankem. The finish seemed a bit screwy, as if someone fucked up royally and it was supposed to go a little longer. Despite that, this was a fairly enjoyable little match with faces I was remotely familiar with and I thought this was

We get a camera shot of some guy named Chico and a guy in a mask called Fat Ass Masa. We then get a music video pushing the NWA title match... they're having this match already? Oh, okay.

The American Nightmare Cody Rhodes defeated NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis to win the title on a show he promoted and paid for. Like father, like son, I suppose. Some would say the end result smacked of self-indulgence, but it's not like Dusty didn't do the same thing himself when he was booking. And you know what? Considering the story being told here, Cody winning the belt on the show he promoted and financed as a result of a dare made sense.

There was a moment where Cody was on the floor and it seemed like a legit injury, bringing out DDP and eventually Shawn Davari, who ate Diamond Cutter. Then Cody got up and was bleeding a bit... so it takes five minutes for Cody to do a blade job; fine. Match later saw Aldis go to the top while Cody's wife Brandi is pleading with him to not go through with it... and then covers up Cody to take the brunt of Aldis' top-rope move, drawing MASSIVE BOOS from the crowd and even a mild ASSHOLE.

And hey, it was an old-school world championship match with the entourage, the intros, the pagentry, and an honest-to-god clean finish that didn't feel screwy or anything of the sort - it was a sunset flip countered into a cradle for the pin. And the crowd was into it; they didn't hijack the show with stupid chants, they didn't play with beachballs, they didn't throw trash into the ring, and when Cody won the belt, they weren't being smart-asses. They gave proper respect because they were given a story that they could get into and made sense. Why is this such a fucking hard concept for the monkeys at WWE to grasp?

Hangman Adam Page defeated Joey Janela in a Chicago Street Fight with a piledriver off a ladder through a fucking table, Jesus Christ! Safety First, according to the crowd! Okay, that legit scared me a bit because a piledriver is a dangerous enough move on its own without the fucking ladder and table and... holy fuck. Um, yeah... this was a thing that happened involving haunted boots, an actual honest-to-god Cracker Barrel, some girl gets superkicked, there's a Stunner in there, tables be wrecked... hey, stuff happened and it wasn't boring. I like crazy stupid brawls when done well and this was fine until the fifty-foot piledriver from the ladder.

And then the lights went out, out walks a bunch of dicks, followed by the returning Joey Ryan, who was "killed" by Hangman Page on the Being The Elite web series. If I hadn't been watching said web series or if I had no idea who Joey Ryan, I'd be wondering what the fuck was going on with all these walking penises. And then Page falls victim to the Dick Suplex and the "phalanx of phalluses" as Don Callis had dubbed it carried Page to the back while the crowd was chanting REST IN PENIS.

Meanwhile, Jim Cornette is having a conniption fit.

The Joey Ryan stuff is not everyone's cup of tea... and it's stuff like that has me shaking my head a bit. In a vacuum - i.e. a random Youtube video or two - I chuckled at the visual. As part of a one-off wrestling show, I got a good laugh out of the walking penises and just the overall absurdity of the whole thing. I suppose it has more to do with my lack of exposure to that gimmick and I'd imagine the joke wears itself out and I'd be over that sort of thing. It's happened before.

But killing the business, this is not. Wrestling is, has always been, and always will be full of stupid shit that has people questioning their love for this form of sportive entertainment, whether it'd be wrestling plumbers and boogeymen or having guys giving up due to getting a sock stuff down their throats. One of the most popular stars in the WWF's hottest period had a ridiculous elbow move that we're supposed to believe wins championships. We've had wrestling penises and porn stars, foreign and racist stereotypes, hardcore matches spilling into bars, lakes, and other places outside the wrestling arena. Cowabunga the Wrestling Ninja Turtle, the Shockmaster, the Gobbledy Gooker, celebrity wrestling matches and appearances, untrained interchangeable magazine models being put into competitive wrestling matches, ladder matches where it takes a guy ten years to climb a fucking ladder EVERY SINGLE TIME, approximately 95% of anything and everything conceived by Vince Russo throughout his entire career, THE UNDERTAKER AND HIS BULLSHIT WRESTLEMANIA STREAK...

And all of a sudden... Joey Ryan's Dick Suplex and his Dick-Tourage is the thing killing the business. It's one thing if you don'r care for this sort of thing or are embarrassed by this sort of thing; that's perfectly fine. But saying that this is killing the business when there have been MUCH WORSE THINGS come along... whatever, moving on.

ROH Champion Jay Lethal (paired up with Lanny Poffo and wearing one of Macho Man's old ring jackets while Pomp And Circumstances blares in the background in a rather nice touch) defeated Flip Gordon to retain the title. I didn't catch (nor could I have caught) the pre-show, but Flip apparently disguised himself as someone else to win the Over-The-Budget Battle Royal to earn him a title match and finally get himself booked at All In. Well, that was a fun pay off.

The match itself was interesting, as Lethal was undergoing this gimmick where he switched between being plain ol' Jay Lethal and reviving his ol' Black Machismo gimmick. He chased around Brandi as if she were Liz, even doing the Mania IV pose before Brandi slapped some sense back into Lethal. Lethal did the three elbow drops to Flip before Flip pulled a Hogan. Much like Lethal did, this match suffered a bit of an identity crisis, not knowing whether it was playing for laughs or trying to be a legit wrestling match.

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega (who did NOT bring his championship to the show) defeated Pentagon Jr. a.k.a. that hardcore guy from TNA. This was a non-title match. Nothing I say about this match can properly convey how so fucking great it was... so you know what? I am not going to say anything other than... Kenny was great, Pentagon was great, the match was great, please don't go to WWE because I don't see these guys being allowed the canvas to do stuff as wonderful as this, How many stars? Who gives a fuck? This was the best match by far on the card.

Then the lights went out and the hardcore guy from TNA gave Kenny a Codebreaker and unmasked to reveal himself as Chris Jericho. A genuine surprise if there ever was one and a neat way to promote the Jericho Cruise.

Kazuchika Okada defeated The Villain Marty Scurll. Again, another really awesome match that I can't put into words. This DID feel a bit long at times, but for the most part, I enjoyed this match tremendously.

And in the main event, IWGP Tag-Team Champions the Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi defeated Bandido, Fenix, and REY MYSTERIO in a six-man tag-team match. And then literally ten seconds after the bell rings, the show ends without so much as a goodbye from the announce team or folks involved with the show. The on-air feed caught someone in the back telling them to go home, implying that they were short on time and if they didn't get to the finish in time, the show would've ended prematurely. Fortunately, they were able to bang out a finish just in the nick of time and produce a quality match to send the people home happy. Even without the audible call, this felt like a sampler of a longer showcase. Just the tease of a Rey Mysterio versus Kota Ibushi bout was an example of lost potential due to being short on time. Still, a good note to close the show on... literally.

All In ran at four hours, which should've been a huge, colossal warning sign from the get-go. However, while it may have been a long show, it certainly didn't feel it. And if you didn't like something on the show, it mostly applied to your individual tastes rather than the quality because even the stuff that I wasn't really into was due to lack of familiarity or just plain not working for me in terms of tastes. None of the matches are what I would call "dull" or "boring" and the worst match on the card could be best described as fairly decent fare. If nothing else, there was always something happening and there was always a nice even pacing to keep the show from falling off the rails.

All In felt like a big deal in terms of the build-up and the hype. All these interviews and promos about All In being the thing that is going to change the face of wrestling. And people bought into that hype with the thirty-minute sell out. And All In selling out quickly may have been the first domino tipping over that allowed ROH and New Japan to host a G1 Supercard at Madison Square Garden on Wrestlemania weekend in 2019 and also selling out rather quickly.

At the end of the day, All In was a showcase of the independents and some of the top stars within that realm of professional wrestling that has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. Did it change the face of wrestling as many people have claimed? I am neither inclined or qualified to make that determination... but I will say this: All In is one of the few wrestling shows that I've genuinely enjoyed watching. The matches were great, the commentary complimented the action rather than detract from it, the stories told made sense regardless of how seriously or how hokey they were, the crowd were SUPER into the show rather than entertained themselves, and it was a fun show to watch.

All in all - no pun intended - this was a tremendously good show and I do hope that Cody and the Bucks consider another show down the road because we need more stuff like this.

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