By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW All Out Hits
Jon Moxley vs. CM Punk for the AEW World Championship: Putting the post show drama aside, Moxley and Punk produced a great main event that featured the crowning of Punk as the undisputed champion. Only time will tell whether Punk is around long enough to defend the championship, but the actual match was strong and the mixed crowd reaction in Chicago was a lot of fun. The early tease of Punk avenging his three-minute loss to Moxley with a two-minute win was nicely done. Moxley did a great job as the aggressor and Punk’s blood loss and injured foot made him a sympathetic figure who fought through advertisty. The post match angle with MJF coming out to “Sympathy For The Devil” was cool. It was painfully obvious that it would be him, and yet still a very satisfying moment.
Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee vs. “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens for the AEW Tag Titles: The unexpected gem of the night. The live crowd’s love for The Acclaimed and their scissors gag with Billy Gunn was far more over than I ever thought it would be. Caster and Bowens felt underutilized at times, but that shouldn’t be a problem any longer. Strickland and Lee did a really good job of leaning into the boos, and it seemed like everyone involved saw the crowd’s reaction coming. It would have made for a hell of a moment had The Acclaimed won the match, but there will clearly be interest in a rematch as long as the follow-up is strong. I’m anxious to see if Strickland and Lee will turn heel coming out of this match or if they will end up moving on to a different program with the goal of keeping them slotted as babyfaces.
Kenny Omega and “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson vs. Hangman Page, John Silver, and Alex Reynolds in the finals of the tournament to crown the first AEW Trios Champions: There were plenty of great near falls for both sides and this was an enjoyable big spot match. The storytelling with Page costing his team the match was nicely done. I just hope that it doesn’t give his character another reason to be mopey. I was intrigued by the story of Omega coming back too soon. There was a lot they could have done with that story, including giving him a couple of upset losses to overcome once his character was healthy. But they rushed to him being 100 percent so quickly that I’m not even sure that the point of the storytelling actually was.
Eddie Kingston vs. Tomohiro Ishii: The highlight of the pre-show. Tony Khan stated that he wants the pre-show to feel like a separate show for fans who can’t afford to order the pay-per-views. It’s a nice thought, but it’s not like there isn’t pro wrestling on television five nights out of the week. Anyway, this was a fun slug fest that got really over with the live crowd. I preferred Gunther vs. Sheamus on the WWE Clash at the Castle show, in part because they sold more, whereas this was more about dropping bombs without selling for long. Still, it was a good, physical match that lived up to expectations.
Chris Jericho vs. Bryan Danielson: A soft Hit for a quality match that suffered from a lackluster build and a weak finish. The bulk of the friction between Jericho and Danielson had to do with Daniel Garcia rather than some type of a personal issue between the two. It was still a treat to see two iconic wrestlers working a match together, but it just should have felt bigger than it did. The low blow finish followed by the Judas Effect was really underwhelming for a pay-per-view finish.
Wardlow and “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. Jay Lethal and “The Motor City Machine Guns” Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin: A soft Hit for an oddly thrown together six-man tag with the Guns coming in from Impact and working as heels for no good reason. The popularity of Wardlow and FTR kept the crowd fully engaged, but FTR and MCMG sharing the same ring should have felt so much bigger. Here’s hoping the two excellent teams will meet in a traditional tag team match.
Christian Cage vs. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry: The match was reportedly brief due Cage nursing an injury. It actually worked out just fine, as Cage winning with ease thanks to help from Luchasaurus plays in nicely to Cage’s persona. For that matter, it left viewers anxious to see Perry get his hands on Cage in a fair fight. The reveal that Luchasaurus was still aligned with Cage was hardly surprising, but I don’t think it ever reached the point where Perry looked like the only person who didn’t realize that Luchasaurus wasn’t truly back on his side.
Miro, Sting, and Darby Allin vs. “House of Black” Malakai Black, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews: The House of Black act continues to be a disappointment. Black, King, and Matthews are so good in the ring and would have been my choice to be the first AEW Trios Champions. Rather, they lost in the opening round to Dark Order and then took another loss in this match. If Black has truly asked for his release or time away, then the recent losses are understandable, but the bad booking of his character since the Cody Rhodes concluded is not.
Hook vs. Angelo Parker for the FTW Title: A solid pre-show match that lasted longer than Hook’s previous matches. It was odd seeing Parker sell less than most wrestlers do for Hook’s offense, but Hook still went over strong in the end. The post match angle with Action Bronson got a good reaction from the live crowd and it will be interesting to see if this becomes more than a one off appearance for him.
AEW All Out Misses
Ricky Starks vs. Powerhouse Hobbs: As much as I appreciated the way that some of the shorter matches helped the pay-per-view flow better than some past events that had one long match after another, Starks and Hobbs getting just five minutes was disappointing. On the bright side, I was curious to see how Tony Khan would book the match considering that both wrestlers are on the rise and need wins. Rather than take the easy way out with a copout finish, Khan went the clean and decisive route by having Hobbs go over strong with a spinebuster. I’m not sure what that means for Starks, but hopefully Khan can avoid the other trap of taking the parity booking approach by having Starks get his win right back.
Toni Storm vs. Britt Baker vs. Jamie Hayter vs. Hikaru Shida for the Interim AEW Women’s Title: A soft Miss. This just didn’t feel like a crowning moment for Storm. It’s hard enough to be excited about an interim championship, but the match wasn’t laid out in a way that made her feel like the featured player. In fact, the crowd rallied behind heel Hayter rather than babyfaces Storm or Shida. I also find myself more interested in what comes next with the Baker and Hayter relationship than I am in seeing what comes next for the interim champion.
Casino Ladder Match: While I enjoyed the return of MJF, the idea that a bunch of wrestlers were allowed to interfere and just hand him the chip is silly. Yes, we’ve seen similar things in other No DQ matches. I hated it then and I hate it now. All those crazy spots for a bad finish, albeit one that was necessary for the story told with MJF.
Sammy Guevara and Tay Melo vs. Ruby Soho and Ortiz for the AAA Mixed Tag Team Titles: What the hell was Ortiz wearing? Anyway, Soho had a rough outing through no fault of her own. She was dropped on her neck at one point and then Melo broke her nose with a TayKO. I actually care less about the AAA Mixed Tag Team Titles than the AEW All-Atlantic Championship, which is really saying something.
Pac vs. Kip Sabian for the AEW All-Atlantic Championship: Sabian spent months wearing a box on his head just to lose his first match back? And now he talks to the box? And apparently the box gives him shitty advice because it was all downhill for him in this match once he sought its counsel. I have no idea why they felt the need to rush into this match rather than take the time to build up Sabian.
Jade Cargill vs. Athena for the TBS Championship: An underwhelming match. Athena was defined down by being fed to Cargill so quickly and decisively. I didn’t think Athena would win, but the match could have been laid out in a way that made her look more competitive in defeat.