By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW All Out Hits
The Young Bucks vs. Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix in a cage match for the AEW Tag Titles: An outstanding cage match. The free for all format played to the strengths of both teams and negated any of the usual complaints (including my own) about the teams blowing off traditional tag team rules. Fenix taking a suplex on his head on the apron was frightening yet obviously accidental. More than anything, it was good to see these teams show some level of restraint by not going ridiculously overboard with spots off the top of the massive cage. It was an awesome match with great work from both teams.
CM Punk vs. Darby Allin: A terrific return for Punk. This was a strong pro wrestling match that didn’t require Allin to do any of the over the top stunts that one might have expected to help distract from any Punk ring rust. And while I’m sure there some some rust after a seven-year layoff, it wasn’t blatantly obvious. Punk and Allin produced a really good match that somehow lived up to the massive expectations of Punk’s return. Forget the loss, Allin is a bigger star for having a competitive match with Punk in his return match. There are plenty of big money singles matches for Punk, but I could see him and Allin forming an occasional tag team alliance built on the mutual respect developed between their characters.
Kenny Omega vs. Christian Cage for the AEW World Championship and the post match debuts: A well worked match that suffered a bit from the outcome feeling so predictable. At the same time, the company did what they could to change that by having Cage beat Omega for the Impact World Championship and I’m not sure what else they could have done beyond that.
Adam Cole debuts: The fans were chanting “Yes” for Bryan Danielson and yet they still popped huge when Cole came out instead. Cole being slotted with The Elite is logical, but it’s hard think of his character as playing second fiddle to Kenny Omega given his own history of leading Undisputed Era and The Kingdom. I wonder if the long term plan is for there to be a power struggle between Cole and Omega for control of The Elite.
Bryan Danielson debuts: The double whammy of having Cole and Danielson debut back-to-back was an amazing way to close the pay-per-view. Jim Ross stated on commentary that the game has changed. Indeed. The recent additions of Danielson, Cole, Punk, and Malakai Black are huge for this company. The time is now for Tony Khan and/or TNT to launch a massive advertising campaign to show off all of the company’s star power.
Britt Baker vs. Kris Statlander for the AEW Women’s Championship: A good match with a clean finish that legitimately surprised me. I assumed that Baker was going to retain, but I thought they might go with a cheap finish to protect Statlander. The clean finish was the right call because Baker appears to be moving on for a feud with Ruby Soho. And here’s hoping that the loss leads to a transformation moment for Statlander’s character. AEW has thankfully pulled back on her alien gimmick, but they haven’t defined who Statlander is now. She is very talented and has a ton of upside, and this feels like the perfect time to develop her character.
Women’s Casino Battle Royale: Going into the show, I felt pity for any match that had to follow the cage match if it wasn’t going to end up in the main event slot. This was the perfect choice because all of the entrances and eliminations kept the fans engaged and avoided the show having a big comedown moment. AEW continues to tweak the entrance formats for the Casino Battle Royales and they get better with each outing. I didn’t pick up on a lot of storytelling throughout the match in terms of making new stars or creating new feuds, but they did focus on existing feuds by having rivals go at one another. Ruby Soho being revealed as the Joker was expected and yet super satisfying. Her final two fight with Thunder Rosa was strong and dramatic, and I like the call to go with Soho as the match winner to establish her right out of the gate. Soho is a fantastic addition to the women’s division roster and I like that she’s been slotted as a babyface. She was really starting to click as a babyface in NXT when they called her up to the WWE main roster and opted to turn her heel and form the Riott Squad.
Chris Jericho vs. MJF: It was wise to put this match in front of the Punk vs. Allin match. Jericho and MJF worked at a slower pace than the previous matches. It worked for them and it turned out to be a very entertaining match, but it also allowed Punk and Allin to follow with their own slower paced match and not have it stand out as jarring compared to the undercard. The false finish was great. Jericho was the heavy favorite due to the stipulation that he would have to give up his AEW in-ring career if he lost, so seeing the referee’s hand hit the mat for the third time was a shocker. The second referee explaining what happened to set up the restart was laid out nicely by having him be part of the crew that tried to break up the Wardlow and Jake Hager fight. I’m not sure why the match referee Aubrey Edwards would be so consumed with watching this brawl that she missed what was happening in the ring, but I still enjoyed the way it all played out.
Miro vs. Eddie Kingston for the TNT Championship: It was a good night for Kingston even though he lost the match. The fact that his character pushed the typically dominant Miro for over 13 minutes combined with Miro resorting to a low blow to steal the pin all made Kingston look like a strong contender for the TNT Title. I assume we’ll get a rematch soon and I wonder if that match will feature the AEW debut of Miro’s wife CJ Perry (a/k/a Lana), whose WWE 90-day non-compete has expired. If AEW is going to use Perry, it was smart not to debut her on this show where she would have been lost in the shuffle because of the bigger debuts.
Jon Moxley vs. Satoshi Kojima: The match was well worked and pretty much what one would envision from these two. The real fun was the post match angle that featured a surprise appearance by Minoru Suzuki. Moxley and Suzuki had a great match at the NJPW The New Beginning event in 2020 and Wednesday’s rematch should be a blast. If you’re not familiar with Suzuki, I encourage you to do your best to catch up between now and then.
Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, Wheeler Yuta, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus vs. Matt Hardy, Marq Quen, Isiah Kassidy, Angelico, and Jack Evans: A good spot-fest pre-show match that got the live crowd going. The post match return of The Butcher came off well and he appeared to be in great shape. Hardy expressing his desire to cut Cassidy’s hair afterward seems to suggest that someone will be losing their hair soon.
Paul Wight vs. QT Marshall: I came close to putting this in the Miss section, but the match actually served its purpose. This was a buffer match between Punk vs. Allin and the main event. It gave the fans a breather and was what it needed to be with Wight going over in quick and decisive fashion.
AEW All Out Misses
None: All Out rates as one of my favorite pro wrestling pay-per-view events. The crowd provided a great atmosphere and the company gave the fans plenty to be excited about. I would have been satisfied with Punk having a passable match in his return and a good overall show. Rather, Punk truly shined in his return, the company delivered some huge surprises, and this was just an excellent event from top to bottom. AEW set the bar high with this event and the amazing thing is that it actually could have been better had they been able to deliver the planned Omega vs. Hangman Page main event, and the Pac vs. Andrade El Idolo match that was postponed. The major pieces are in place coming out of this show and now the hard work begins for Tony Khan in terms of writing strong television shows that utilizes his new stars, his regular stars, and his rising stars while also managing a growing locker room full of strong personalities. I am beyond excited to see what comes next.