By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW All In Hits
MJF vs. Adam Cole for the AEW World Championship: As much as I hoped they would pull the trigger on one of these wrestlers turning on the other, it’s also hard to blame the company for choosing to stretch out their hottest storyline to date. If they don’t do it this weekend at AEW All Out, I just hope they have enough material to keep things interesting. The actual match was highly entertaining with some strong teases of both men turning. The post match angle was also nicely done with Cole getting over the frustration of his defeat and maintaining his rocky friendship with MJF.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson for the AEW Tag Team Titles: A very good match. It wasn’t as hot as any of the FTR vs. Briscoes matches or FTR vs. Jay White and Juice Robinson in the best of three falls match. But the fact that this match is being compared to those stellar matches says a lot. FTR going over was a mild surprise if only because of Wheeler’s legal drama. The Bucks blowing off the post match handshake was a welcome move. I had no interest in seeing these teams hug it out. It wouldn’t have made sense given what they had planned for the main event, and it’s better to keep the storyline friction between the two teams alive for future matches.
Will Ospreay vs. Chris Jericho: A better than anticipated match. It wasn’t a match of the year contender like Ospreay is known for having, but he and Jericho meshed pretty well and produced a quality match. Ospreay going over clean was the right call, especially given that Jericho’s character has been down on his luck after everyone other than Sammy Guevara walked away and Don Callis turned on him. The post match angle with Jericho blowing off Guevara was interesting. Is Jericho a babyface? He wanted to join the Callis Family because he said Callis is a lowlife like he is, and now he blew off the one person who had his back. If the plan is for Guevara to turn heel, then it’s going to be tough to blame him or to have any sympathy for the Jericho character.
Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, and Hangman Page vs. Jay White, Juice Robinson, and Konosuke Takeshita: A very well worked match. I couldn’t have cared less when the heels framed this match as being about which team meant more for Bullet Club, so I was happy when they put that aside and had a heated brawl on Dynamite. Takeshita pinning Omega was the right call, but they really need to double down on that. Takeshita rolling up Omega didn’t feel like a star making moment, so hopefully that occurs when Takeshita faces Omega in a singles match at All Out. Ibushi looked better than he did in the Blood & Guts match, but he’s still not back to his pre-injury level. While it may be a case of him just needing more reps, there is a lot of mileage on that 41 year-old body. Finally, it’s time to get Page back in a meaningful singles program.
Darby Allin and Sting vs. Christian Cage and Swerve Strickland in a coffin match: The Allin and Sting pairing continues to be a big hit with the fans. Allin going over was logical given that he’s challenging for the TNT Title at All Out. Here’s hoping that there’s a plan for Swerve to bounce right back after taking another high profile loss.
Eddie Kingston, Penta El Zero Miedo, Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, and Trent Beretta vs. Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta, Santana, and Ortiz in a Stadium Stampede match: This lived up to expectations in terms of being a wild hardcore brawl. The production team did an admirable job of keeping up with ten wrestlers who were spread throughout a stadium. Here’s hoping that this is the last time we see one of these big hardcore brawls. We just had Anarchy in the Arena and the Blood & Guts match. Less is more with the hardcore. It’s time to pull back or risk having the audience become even more desensitized to the carnage. By the way, Penta’s injury angle followed by him returning in red gear clearly meant more to him than it did to the vast majority of the audience.
CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe for the Real World Championship: A good opening match. Unfortunately, word of the the backstage drama involving Punk and Jack Perry came out during the match and was a distraction for many of us watching at home. There were other things working against the match. In hindsight, it was a big mistake to hold their first match in 18 years during the Owen Hart Cup tournament. This match would have felt so much bigger had they held off and made this their first meeting in AEW. And there was just no reason to think that Joe would win Real World Championship, which no one other than Punk even seems interested in. So while the match was entertaining, it could have and should have felt bigger than it did.
Hikaru Shida vs. Toni Storm vs. Saraya vs. Britt Baker in a four-way for the AEW Women’s Championship: A crowd pleasing moment with Saraya winning the title in front of friends and family. I wish they had told a better story by turning Saraya babyface weeks in advance, but I did enjoy the fallout from Storm striking Saraya’s mother. Looking back, I have no idea why Shida beat Storm for the championship. Was it simply meant to give a milestone show a feel good ending? More than anything, I’m happy the Outcasts appear to be finished and I hope that means we’re done seeing bad spray paint finishes.
AEW on the big stage: The moment wasn’t too big for them. The production team did a nice job of showing off the size of the crowd and the stadium. If any of the younger wrestlers were nervous about performing in front of such an enormous crowd, they never showed it. Music played a big part in making this feel like a special event. Everything from the Bush song used in the opening to Fozzy’s live performance to Swerve being rapped to the ring to the licensing of Metallica and Queen songs really helped make the event feel big time. I was hoping that All In would become AEW’s big annual WrestleMania-like show. And perhaps it will be, but the questionable decision to move forward with All Out one week later again next year really takes away from All In feeling like the marquee event that this company needs. On a side note, the pre-show matches were both fine. It felt a little premature to have Hook regain the FTW Title and I’m not really sure why MJF and Cole need the ROH Tag Titles, but the matches were fun.
AEW All In Misses
Mercedes Mone’s first appearance: There were a couple of brief shots of the former Sasha Banks sitting in the crowd. I get that she can’t wrestle due to an ankle injury, but it felt like her first appearance on AEW television should have felt bigger than this did.
“House of Black” Malakai Black, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews vs. Billy Gunn and “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens in a No Holds Barred match for the AEW Trios Titles: The Billy Gunn retirement story never clicked with this viewer because it felt way too obvious that he would return and his team would win the trios titles. It doesn’t help that I could not care less about the AEW Trios Titles. I really hope that Malakai Black moves to singles matches now that HOB have dropped the titles. Black was so over when he arrived in AEW that his popularity played a big part in the live crowds turning on Cody Rhodes. Anyway, the live crowd loved the scissoring schtick, so it’s not like this match was all bad by any means.