So this has been the hot topic of the wrestling world for the last few months. Everyone knows what ALL IN is, and if you don’t, where the hell have you been?
Like seriously, were you banned from the internet? Do you live in Alaska? I really have to know.
Regardless, we’ve got the Zero Hour on WGN America, followed by the main show on a plethora of streaming services. So I guess we should get to it.
Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky vs The Briscoe Brothers
This is the worst town Scorpio and Kaz have ever been in. There, I referenced the gimmick, now on to the match.
Coming out looking like Rocky Balboa and Austin Creed, SCU were easily the babyfaces in this one. The Briscoes started off early trying to cut Kaz off from Scorpio, but Scorpio got in fairly quickly. However, Briscoes kept control over Scorpio for a few minutes before the Kaz hot tag really ramped up the tempo of the match.
Inside Out Frankensteiner from Kaz, Tope con Hilo from Sky and that was just the start. SCU then hit a double Cutters and transition into dual Dragon Sleepers before the Briscoes eventually break the holds. At some point Mark hits a Block Buster from the apron to the floor and The Briscoes look about ready to take the win. Jay Driller/Froggy Elbow combination gets broken up by Scorpio just in time.
Before SCU can mount any offense, they dump Scorpio out and go for the Doomsday Device on Frankie. Somehow, Frankie catches Mark into a Snap Power Slam off Jay’s shoulders and Scorpio slides in and connects a big Bicycle Knee to prevent any pin break up. So SCU beat the reigning ROH Tag Team Champions.
A few awkward spots, but an overall solid and fun curtain jerker.
Winner: Kaz via Avalanche Snap Power Slam
Rating: *** 1/2
Over the Budget Battle Royal
Intergender Battle Royal for a shot at the ROH Heavyweight Championship. Not a lot else to extrapolate from. At the very least, this should be fun.
Bully Ray immediately goes after Chico to put him through a table. Chico tries to fight through cause he never jobs, but Bully’s power gets it done. Billy Gunn and Tommy Dreamer do dive fake outs and just do Double Axe Handles from the apron. Everyone catches Moose, but he only goes to the apron, before a dropkick from Marco Stunt eliminates him.
Brandon Cutler gets eliminated by Ethan Page, Marco Stunt gets eliminated by Bully Ray. Rocky saves the Best Friends since they’re all CHAOS buddies, then the Best Friends hug gets a big pop…before Punishment Martinez ruins the fun. Forever Lariats from Rocky Romero before Brian Cage cuts him off with a Discus Clothesline and wipes out Rocky.
Cheeseburger tries and Cage says no, then Punishment and Cage square off. Cage counters the Chokeslam, pushes him into Hurricane Helms, and Hurricane goes on a Chokeslam spree of his own. Ethan Page and Hurricane both fight on the apron after being tossed over the top, so Page eliminates Helms before Colt Cabana hits a hip attack sending Page off. Dreamer with the Dusty Rhodes Bionic Elbow on Punishment before Bully Ray eliminates him.
Apparently Marco wasn’t eliminated and tries to go after Bully before Billy Gunn helps him out. Jimmy Jacobs does a 5 Knuckle Shuffle on Austin Gunn, but Billy makes a save again and eliminates the Zombie Princess. Austin Gunn then eliminates Punishment, before Bully takes out Austin. Billy hits a FameAsser for vengeance and then stares down Brian Cage.
Cage Gorilla Presses Billy Gunn out, Marco Stunt hits a Satellite Codebreaker before Bully Ray tells him to get out. Jordynne Grace and Cage square off, and Grace eliminates Cage. Bully tries to take out Grace, puts her on the top turnbuckle, Cabana helps her out and they WASSUP Bully Ray. Bully then reverses the whip and eliminates Jordynne, so it’s Cabana versus Bully.
Bully eliminates Cabana, thinks he won, but Chico slides in, hits a Superkick and reveals himself to be Flip Gordon. Flip wins the Battle Royal to face Jay Lethal.
It was entertaining, a lot of nice nostalgia moments, most people got their stuff in, but as we know, Battle Royals lack too many elements of a real wrestling match, so I only give out 3 if it was good and 2 or 1 if it was awful. This one was mostly good.
Winner: Chico El Flip Gordon
MJF vs Matt Cross
Oh great, I forgot Dollar Store EC3 was on this card. The most cookie cutter uninteresting character in wrestling…hooraay. Go Matt Cross.
Cross pulls off a gorgeous Sasuke Special early in the match, but MJF does have the advantage through most of this match. A rope assisted Piledriver and typical old school style heel tactics, so nothing flashy or special. Honestly, the match was very basic/typical from both men.
MJF gets frustrated, goes for a middle rope Moonsault, misses and tweaks his knee. Cross hits the Rebound Cutter, following up quickly with the Shooting Star Press, for the pinfall victory.
Winner: Matt Cross via Shooting Star Press
Rating: ** 3/4
Christopher Daniels vs Stephen Amell
‘The New Ref’n Show’ Jerry Lynn is refereeing this match. Curious if Amell stays undefeated through this, or Daniels puts an end to the streak.
The story coming into this helped drive the offense. Christopher Daniels even does a little reference back to his old Curry Man gimmick. And when push comes to shove, this match was better than I expected but still not surprising. Amell hits a Falcon Arrow and Coast to Coast but totally wipes out when he tries to put Daniels through the table.
Jerry Lynn goes out of his way to decide not to do a Double Countout, and grab both men and throw them back in the ring. This frustrates Daniels, so Jerry and Daniels square off a little as Amell tries to go for the School Boy to win fast, but Daniels kicks out. Angel’s Wings into a Best Moonsault Ever, gives Daniels the deserved win.
The match was sloppy, Amell was nearly emotionless and it made much of the match hard to swallow. Given the fact that Amell is an actor and not a fully trained wrestler, it’s not surprising the match was painful at times. He did what he could, Daniels tried to save moments, and it was good enough for the fans in attendance.
Winner: Christopher Daniels via Best Moonsault Ever
Rating: * 3/4
Chelsea Green vs Britt Baker vs Tessa Blanchard vs Madison Rayne
Britt Baker comes out to Adam Cole’s old ROH music. Tessa comes out with Tully and Magnum T.A. there to embrace her.
Ugh…I’m kinda sad honestly. This match was really good up until Britt Baker did a trifecta of Sling Blades, poorly. Then we get a sloppy top turnbuckle Bulldog thing from Madison Rayne, most of what Chelsea Green did looked bad…I just…come on. Numerous false finishes with sloppy moments, a lack of selling and just an illogical pile of bodies but somehow people can’t make a pin break up.
The most egregious no sell moment is Madison hits Tessa with a Cutter or something, and Tessa has to pop up, effectively no selling to eat a Missile Dropkick. Who thought that was a good idea? Like damn. Plus I swear if everyone hugs or shakes hands after every match with 27,000 false finishes and 800 moves, I’m gonna have a stroke.
This match had a lot of potential too, and just fell apart. Really disappointed. But Tessa won, so that’s nice.
Winner: Tessa via Hammerlock DDT
NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship Match: Cody Rhodes vs Nick Aldis (c)
Both men had their own teams accompany them to the ring, and we all know the story with Cody’s lineage and Nick Aldis reviving a dead brand. Let’s see how the match plays out, Dealer versus Nightmare.
Well this is what wrestling was and why we all watch. It’s not for flips and false finishes, it’s for a story being told like this. The best way I can describe this match is, it was a love letter from Cody to Dusty. If you don’t enjoy the old 70s/80s style of wrestling, you’ll feel that I’m way off base. But given the 70th anniversary of the NWA, the involvement of a Rhodes and how much we know Dusty meant to Cody, this was a deeply layered match.
We had the old school blade job moment, where we got to pop for Diamond Dallas Page hitting a Diamond Cutter on Shawn Daivari. We even saw a sweet moment between Brandi begging Cody that he didn’t have to continue and then throwing herself on top of him to absorb the Elbow Drop.
Let’s not undersell how good Aldis looked in this match also, especially when he accidentally hit Brandi, to prove he’s not a bad guy. Then he kicks out of the Crossroads, and the match hits that point where you’re not sure who will win. Aldis goes for a Sunset Flip, but Cody sits down and sinks in the Double Leg Cradle, and gets the pinfall victory to become the first ever second generation NWA Heavyweight Champion!
Can’t be upset with the match or the story. Could it have been crisper or could there have been a quicker pace, sure, but a faster pace would’ve hurt the story of the match. Just a tremendous story driven match, watch it, it’s hard to really convey the poignancy of this match.
Winner: Cody via Double Leg Cradle
Rating: **** 1/2
Chicago Street Fight: Hangman Page vs Joey Janela
Well…this match was every stereotypical indie match ever. Spots for the sake of spots, including a Donkey Kong barrel roll spot. Numerous tables, a terrible running down the ramp lariat and just…why.
The highlights of this match were basically everything Penelope Ford did because not only is she easy on the eyes, she seems pretty solid in the ring too. The nods to Being the Elite were amusing for people that follow them. Page’s cowboy boots that speak to him and the telephone he used to murder Joey Ryan all play a part into the finishing spot.
Finish being a Rite of Passage from the ladder through the table after hitting Janela with the phone a few times. I’m anticipating the ending getting sent to Jim Cornette because then people dressed as giant penises show up and Joey Ryan shows up alive. So ya…Dick Flip and an army of fallacies, I’m gonna look forward to Cornette’s reaction.
Winner: Hangman via Rite of Passage through Table
Rating: * 1/2
ROH World Championship Match: Jay Lethal (c) vs Flip Gordon
So Flip came out with Brandi and Lethal came out as Black Machismo with Lanny Poffo. So as we all know, if someone slaps Lethal’s left shoulder it switches him between personalities. So it should be interesting how that plays into the match.
It starts off a little goofy with Lethal thinking Brandi is Miss Elizabeth, so he keeps trying to keep her on one spot. Brandi eventually gets annoyed and slaps Jay’s shoulder, forcing him back to the Jay Lethal persona.
The match is actually okay but kinda uneventful for a while. Flip does his Kip Up dodges, Lethal gets one Lethal Injection countered and kicks out of Flip’s Falcon Arrow. It’s not until Lanny calls for the Macho Man Elbow and hits Jay’s shoulder to turn him back to Machismo. Three big Elbow drops only get a 2 count, as Flip does his best Hulk Hogan impression, hulking up, pointing, Big Boot and Leg Drop, only for 2.
Flip then pulls off most of his signature moves, Star Spangled Stunner, 450 Splash, quite flurry, but Lethal still kicks out. Jay then catches him and hits the Lethal Injection for the pinfall victory.
It definitely got a little too gimmicky at points, but it wasn’t a bad match at all.
Winner: Lethal via Lethal Injection
Rating: *** 1/2
Penta El Zero M vs Kenny Omega
This was the first “work rate” match of the night. It came off a little clunky early with Pentagon slowing down a bit before an exchange and just an overall odd pace.
Pentagon played some mind games more often than actually going for confident finishes. Pentagon Driver, Fear Factor, they were both hit, but the cocky covers may have cost him. Biggest spots being the Springboard Cross Body from Omega to the outside and Pentagon hitting a Fear Factor on the apron.
Oddly though, Penta countered the One Winged Angel a few times, even breaking Kenny’s arm. But Omega alters how he delivers the One Winged Angel to use his other arm to pick up the victory. It’s a good match, but overall a little underwhelming.
Thankfully though, the lights go out, when they come back on, Kenny forgets to sell the broken arm and gets attacked by Pentagon. Or…is it? Codebreaker?! It’s Jericho! Face paint and stealing luchadors outfits, Chris has come full circle.
Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel
Rating: **** 1/4
Kazuchika Okada vs Marty Scurll
This was just a story of no one giving Scurll a shot since he’s a Junior Heavyweight and Okada is…well…Okada. So will Okada send Marty to 205 Live, or will Scurll step it up?
Well now we get the best worked match of the night, and yes I’ll say that before the last match since 6 Man Matches usually always have a ceiling. Scurll had something to prove and he really did continue to bring it to Okada.
The Rainmaker was cocky early, under estimating Scurll, but he had a ton of close calls and good moves. The whole crowd popped for a Kawada style Powerbomb from Scurll which gave the first real false finish. We get a ref bump to set up a spot I haven’t seen in a while, with Marty getting the umbrella and then opening it up to stop Okada mid Rainmaker. Usage of the foreign object follows, but only a 2 count.
Scurll goes for the Chicken Wing a couple times, and looks to be close to getting Okada to tap out, before Okada does the Okada thing and fights through. An amusing reference to the 2-0-5 joke from BTE gives Marty a small glimmer of hope, but the adrenaline rush wears off, Rolling Rainmaker into proper Rainmaker and Okada wins.
Marty did prove he can hang with a heavyweight, and even though people tend to get on Scurll’s case about being a bad worker – this was a great match.
Winner: Okada via Rainmaker
Rating: **** 1/2
Fenix, Bandido & Rey Mysterio vs The Young Bucks & Kota Ibushi
My first take away is that Fenix brought his newly acquired AAA Mega Championship to the ring. Go figure, a champion, not in a championship match, bringing the belt to the ring! *glares at Kenny Omega*
Aside from that, this was a weird match, and I don’t just mean Mysterio dressed as Wolverine. After each person got in the ring once, we hear a very audible “Time to go home”, which puts this frantic sense of urgency on the match. After a few big dives from the luchador team, Mysterio can be seen going to each of them to prolly tell them to cut stuff and speed to the finish.
The moves were fun, and nothing seemed terribly off…but one moment really annoyed me. We see Fenix hit a Rolling DDT, Bandido land a high impact move, Fenix then kicks Matt Jackson, Mysterio hits the 619, Fenix and Bandido both do dives to take out the rest of the Golden Elite, which leaves Mysterio and Matt alone. Mysterio lands a Frog Splash from the top, most likely an homage to Eddie Guerrero since everyone was picking from the past, and Matt kicks out at 2. HOW DO YOU KICK OUT OF 2 THERE IN A TIME CRUNCH?! Yes I can see it’s cause the Bucks were supposed to win, but why go through all that, all of those signature moves/finishers, just to discredit them and kick out.
This then leads to what I can only expect to be a miscommunication. Golden Elite hit a modified More Bang for Your Buck and look to get the win over Bandido, but Fenix breaks up the pin. Quickly the Bucks hit a Meltzer Driver, and this time, Fenix realizes it’s the finish.
I say there was probably a miscommunication cause as soon as the match ends, music hits and Ian Riccoboni doesn’t even get through the entire sign off before the stream cuts. So it was fun, just extremely evident it was rushed, not counting the 3 or 4 times we can hear “go home”.
Winner: Bucks via Meltzer Driver
Rating: *** 1/2
Well talk about a mixed bag right? We had some kinda awful things, a few good things and two great moments with Jericho and Cody. I’m fully aware All In was a huge success, and a milestone for wrestling, but it’s not without glaring flaws.
Let’s not excuse this as a first show for Cody and the Bucks, when ROH’s finger prints were all over it, Callis is an executive with Impact and Billy Corgan has done TV before. The rushed second half of the show (literally, as soon as a match ended, the next one had music starting), on top of a few hiccups and sound issues, should’ve been ironed out. The announce team was not very good honestly. Callis’ bran of brash sarcasm didn’t really work with Riccoboni and Excalibur, especially when Excalibur doesn’t know what a Block Buster is and was just stepping all over the commentary in the most painful way. Anyone that complains about Michael Cole, couldn’t have enjoyed this without just being heavily anti-WWE. Those are just a couple of the things that came to mind immediately.
All of that being said, the show was still entertaining on a whole. Not perfect, not Elite and not even better than SummerSlam, but not bad. If I were to rate it, I’d probably say 6.5/10. The thing I found most commendable was that the Bucks trimmed their own match instead of the boys. Not sure if that’s why they were the main event, but the fact that what could’ve been a 25 minute match was probably more like 15, is good on them.
This show did give us a moment that most of us will never forget, and transcend wrestling and sports in general. Hard to understate how great it is to see Cody hold the same belt his father did.