Wrestling opinion is somewhat predictable when you’ve been around as long as I have. I have a pretty good idea of what people are going to like & what people won’t like. I know who will like certain things. On the other side, there’s always going to be dissenters that either don’t like the thing, don’t like the fact that people like the thing, or usually both. It all applies to ALL IN.
I knew that All In was going to get positive reviews from most of my fellow writers & online personalities. For one thing, a lot of them were there.
Everybody in the IWC is watching or attending #ALLIN. Except me, who is watching Louisville football & WWF Invasion. I'm odd.
— Steve Cook (@stevecook84) September 2, 2018
(For the record, I lasted three quarters through that debacle. The Louisville football game, not Invasion, which seemed better by comparison.)
When you’re at a wrestling event & you’re a wrestling fan, you typically end up enjoying it. Shocking, right? I’ve attended events & watched matches that I thought were great, then watched them on DVD later and wondered what the heck I was thinking. For example, the Triple H/Shawn Michaels Hell in a Cell match at Bad Blood 2004 did very, very poorly on the rewatch. I thought it was great live, but on DVD you could see all the laying around & time-killing in lieu of doing anything. Being a few rows back from the Cell colored my live opinion. It’s natural.
All In doubled as the biggest non-WWE event in ages & the largest gathering of wrestling media/IWC personalities/podcast hosts that I can recall. This felt more hyped than the WrestleReunions & WrestleMania weekend conventions. Everybody from Dave Meltzer to Eric Bischoff to Maffew the Botchamania Guy was in attendance. Wrestling Twitter showed up in full force. It was a veritable who’s who.
The show itself was set up to celebrate independent wrestling while paying off a number of angles on the Being the Elite YouTube series. The goal was to make the audience happy, and it seems to have done just that. Catering to your fans makes sense for a one-time event. If you don’t, you’re not going to have a second.
The anti-All In reaction was predictable too. We knew the crowd of people that refuse to watch anything other than WWE wouldn’t be impressed. The “anti-smarks” that hate whatever the top IWC taste makers like weren’t going to like it. We knew Jim Cornette wasn’t going to like it because Joey Ryan was on it doing his dick stuff. Then there were the other fans that don’t mind Indy wrestling but simply don’t care for what this group was presenting.
The show didn’t win over any of these people. Nobody online was saying “Man, I wasn’t sure about these guys before. But that show was awesome baby!” There don’t seem to be any converts, at least not from those already familiar with the talent involved. The goal wasn’t conversion. All In was all about serving their fanbase. The people that watch the BTE series, the 10 Pounds of Gold series and anything else they can find with Cody, the Bucks & the others. This show was a reward to those fans to shore up their loyalty.
I didn’t get to watch the show live, but I will soon. I already have an idea of what I’ll like and what I won’t like, as I find my opinions predictable to me. I’ll like Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon, as I’m a fan of those guys & the reviews make it sound good. I won’t like Joey Ryan’s appearance, as that’s one of the things I think Cornette isn’t too far off on. Not my cup of tea. Unlike Jimmy, I won’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch.
One interesting take I’ve seen out there is that All In & the Starrcast convention was simply a way to get wrestling media on the side of Cody, the Bucks, and even good ol’ Conrad Thompson. If so, you really have to admire Thompson’s game. He has Meltzer eating out of one hand while selling “FDM” t-shirts with the other. Roll Tide, indeed.
They claim that wrestling media is co-opted now, and can’t be trusted for fair & balanced analysis due to their friendships with these folks & the fact that some got press passes & some got paid to be panelists at Starrcast. This is where I admit that I’ve been guilty of favortism in the past. In my defense, I’ve only showed it to beautiful women, which is a well-known weakness of mine that crosses genres of entertainment. (You won’t see me giving Insatiable a bad review, for example. Sup Debby Ryan?)
My question to these folks is simple. How is this different from Triple H doing NXT conference calls & giving winking interviews to the likes of Ryan Satin & David Shoemaker? Trying to get the press on your side is good for business. Trying to get anybody on your side is good for business. Putting your best foot forward for critics instead of offering up a shitshow seems to make sense. Having a show that somebody wants to watch is typically a good thing.
Wrestling media liking the show doesn’t mean they’re going to fall in line behind anything these guys do from now on. If they put on a All In 2 and it ends up being the drizzling shits like many sequels are (including WrestleMania 2…yeah, I said it), people will point it out. Heck, starting out on a high level means you can only go downhill. Unless Dave wants to add more stars, I suppose.
I guess what I’m saying is everybody needs to chill the heck out. Yes, the people you expected to like All In liked it. The people you expected to not like it didn’t. Nothing’s changed…except we have more evidence that professional wrestling without WWE’s name on the marquee can succeed.
That can only be a good thing. Especially for wrestling media folks like me looking for things to write & talk about.