So last night, All Elite Wrestling put on their Pay Per View event titled All Out in front of a sold out crowd at the 11,000+ seat Sears Centre Arena in Chicago, IL. Leading up to this event, they boasted that the event had sold out in record time. As I’ve stated in earlier writings here, I’m not a huge fan of many of the wrestlers of AEW, but I figured I’d give the promotion another shot. I watched the two free shows they produced for streaming on Bleacher Report Live (Fyter Fest & Fight For The Fallen), which I declined to write about simply because I felt that the promotion was still getting it’s legs under them and I didn’t want to be super critical and come off in the same way that Jim Cornette often can. But now that they’ve had a few — let’s call them “dress rehearsals”, I would expect a lot of the kinks to be worked out and production should be up to snuff for last night’s show. This clearly wasn’t the case.
First off, I’d like to say that everyone who wrestled for the company last night did a generally good job at putting on some entertaining, high-flying, hard-hitting athletic performances. So when you get down to it, what I’m about to write in the following paragraphs is all easily correctable to make this new brand of professional wrestling compete on an even level with the established NXT brand of WWE which it will be going head to head with on Wednesday nights, come October 2nd.
With that being said…from a production standpoint, AEW looks pretty slick. Their entrance stage looks great, I also like that they have two separate entrance tunnels for heels and babyfaces to enter through ostensibly leading to separate heel & babyface locker rooms. TNA used to do this, however they used to position said tunnels on opposite sides of the arena, thus killing off two sides of the arena’s seating areas, and reducing the total number of fans that could attend the show. AEW also used their lighting structure in a very cool way to create a special entrance for Cody Rhodes which was unexpected and welcome.
However, in the third match of the night, a hardcore match between Darby Allin, Jimmy Havok & Joey Janella, they messed up the chyron (the name being displayed on the lower third of the screen) for Darby Allin, stating that it was Jimmy Havok entering. I mean do the guys in the back who are producing the event not know the difference between the competitors in the match? Also, since there was no lead-up to the match, why was their first match so brutal? Typically these types of matches are used to further feuds that get out of hand and can’t be settled via “normal” means.
Justin Roberts is the ring announcer, which I think was a great decision…the guy is a terrific ring announcer that I still don’t understand why WWE moved on from. The commentary team is made up of the legendary Jim Ross, Alex Mendez who has worked for NBC Universal in the past and a retired lucha wrestler who goes by the name of Excalibur and wears a mask while commentating. I mean to me, seriously, this comes off hokey as all hell. If you’re not wrestling anymore and are going to be featured as part of a commentary team, lose the mask & let us see your face. The guy’s from Detroit, and it’s not a family thing that’s been passed down from generation to generation. Also, that name…why’s the guy named after a mythical sword? They also had the commentators wearing these black sport coats with the AEW logo on them…if they were powder blue or maroon, I’d say they stole them from the WWE warehouse! Their commentary is passable, however I still feel that Jim Ross is a voice from the past, and listening to him call matches in 2019 just doesn’t fit anymore. At one point last night, during the Cody Rhodes/Shawn Spears (the former Tye Dillinger) match, Spears gave Cody a Death Valley Driver on the entrance ramp and JR called it as being “RIGHT ON THE CONCRETE.STEEL!” What’s concrete steel & where can I get some? It’s time to hang up the black cowboy hat, JR.
Also, one of my major gripes with the show was that it was clear that the referees knew exactly when the actual finish was to occur and when they were only to make 2-counts. This is usually the case as the referee is the 3rd man in the performance happening in the ring and often is the guy who informs wrestlers how they’re doing time-wise and when it’s time to “go home”. Well in WWE, there’s an edict when it comes to counting pins, that if a wrestler does not kick out prior to the referee counting 3, that the finish of the match will be changed and that the referees are specifically told to count pins as if they don’t know the predetermined finish, thus putting the responsibility of making sure that count is broken completely on the wrestlers. And here’s why they do that…I counted at least 4 to 5 times last night when the referee was counting pins and stopped after two, not slapping their hand on the mat a 3rd time for NO REASON WHATSOEVER! Whoever was supposed to be there to break up pins or the wrestlers themselves, who were supposed to kick out, did not do so within the referee’s normal cadence of counting the pin! This came off as VERY sloppy from my perspective as a viewer! Why did the referee stop his count? Also, there were a number of instances where counts were started when the wrestler who was supposedly getting pinned…one of their shoulders was not even close to being on the mat! Again, just very sloppy! And when it comes to referees, the name Earl Hebner is just about as notable of a name as there is in that world. However, when your referee has problems getting up and down for counting pins, again…it’s time to hang up the zebra stripes. Sorry Earl, I’ve always loved your work, but it’s time.
They also had this Casino Battle Royale on the preshow (the Buy-In, as they call it to stick with the gambling theme originally set with All In) where it semi worked as a Royal Rumble with set time intervals with new combatants entering at different times. But it was such a cluster that I couldn’t tell who was still in the match and who was eliminated since at each of these intervals, they’d have 5 new people who I mostly didn’t know entering the match. It was nice to see ODB, Tenille Dashwood (the former Emma), Awesome Kong, Ivelisse Velez (from Lucha Underground & Tough Enough), Jazz (who’s now bald?!?) and Mercedes Martinez get some time to shine. Mercedes Martinez specifically is someone whose matches I especially enjoy. Her work in the Mae Young Classic and subsequently on NXT television was fantastic, I’m really sad to see her not signed to NXT. But this thing — which was won by Nyla Rose, was such a cluster for most of the match that until it got down to the final 4-5, I really had no clue who was in & who was eliminated since a lot of eliminated competitors didn’t immediately leave ringside.
Nyla Rose ended up winning the debacle and will be facing Riho, who defeated Hikaru Shida later on in the night to determine the first AEW Womens’ Champion. Why Riho needs to face Nyla again (who she defeated at Fyter Fest) to win the title is beyond my understanding. However it seems this is AEW’s way to determine title matches: one person wins a one-on-one match while another needs to win a battle royal to earn their spot in the match since I believe Adam Page also won one of these “Casino Battle Royales” to face the winner of Jericho/Omega from Double or Nothing. Hardly seems fair.
Speaking of Kenny Omega, his match with PAC (the former Adrian Neville) was quite good and ended with a surprising, yet welcome outcome. PAC & Omega gave us a good fight with some really pretty aerial maneuvers from PAC, however Omega tends to rely on his running knee strikes far too much in my opinion.
As stated before, Cody Rhodes took on Shawn Spears. Spears was accompanied to the ring by Tully Blanchard for some reason while Rhodes was accompanied to the ring by his wife Brandi, the couple’s dog(?), MJF & Diamond Dallas Page. They were all dressed up in Star Trek: Voyager cosplay uniforms for some reason. Brandi was Seven of Nine, MJF wore an operations top, DDP wore a red command uniform & Cody wore a command red top with the sleeves cut off (I’m pretty sure that goes against the Starfleet handbook’s uniform requirement specifications). I’m obviously a big Star Trek fan, and I get that these guys like to alter their entrance attire to make their matches unique. Hell…Johnny Gargano has altered his ring attire theme to Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Star Lord & Wolverine while Ricochet has done Nightwing & Seth Rollins has also had Thanos & Avengers: Endgame themed gear. There’s a difference here though…most of the ones I listed here for Gargano & Rollins are major current pop culture references. Star Trek: Voyager is a show that hasn’t been on the air in 18 years! It’s not current and isn’t even one of the more popular Star Trek series! Also, the rest of the wrestling gear that he wore had NOTHING to do with the Star Trek theme.
And while I’m on the topic of Cody’s entrance…that poor dog! Cody & Brandi decided to include their dog, Pharaoh into Cody’s entrance. The problem here was the idiots in production who blew off pyro 3 feet away from the dog, scaring the shit out of the poor thing. He must have thought his owners were walking him into a warzone. I’m amazed PETA wasn’t contacted! Even when the dog turned to walk back down the entrance tube away from the stage, Brandi made absolute sure this terrified animal went all the way out to the ring. Just despicable!
Another couple of things I didn’t love about this match: I was told that MJF is only a babyface when palling around with Cody, otherwise he’s a deplorable heel character. How can you be both? This desperately needs to stop. One or the other — you can’t confuse fans with being a good guy just because of a friendship! Also, during the match, Arn Anderson made his way down to the ring to hit Spears with a spinebuster to offset the cheating that Blanchard had been doing on Spears’ part. THESE GUYS ARE IN THEIR 60s!! Stop with this stuff already! I don’t want to see 60-year old Arn Anderson hitting any credible offense on a current main event star in 2019 when the last match he competed in was 22 years ago! Aside from hitting that spinebuster on Undertaker at WrestleMania 18 (still 17 years ago!), he hasn’t done a single move in the ring on anyone on television. Diehard wrestling fans complain when guys like The Rock, Batista & guys from the Attitude Era come back and lay out current stars, yet the fans in Chicago popped HUGE for Arn & Tully’s interactions. Just stop it already!
I decided to leave prior to the Lucha Brothers/Young Bucks match because by then I had already seen enough and was also rather tired & still had close to an hour’s drive home. I also had a pretty good idea that I wouldn’t like the Young Bucks’ match since I typically don’t. I’m just not a fan of the “Superkick parties” and the general silliness that typically happens during their matches. At Fyter Fest, their opponents had to sell an imaginary fireball being thrown at them à la the Street Fighter video games. It’s garbage like this that really takes me out of a match. There also used to be a tag team in CHIKARA years ago called The Osirian Portal that used to hypnotize their opponents. I just don’t have the patience to sit through garbage like this, so it was time to leave.
And by leaving, I knew I would be missing the crowning of the first ever AEW Champion. The match was to be Chris Jericho vs. Adam “Hangman” Page, and while I’m sure Page is a good wrestler, there was no doubt in my mind that Chris Jericho would be walking out with this title. Jericho is clearly the one with the bigger name who is more marketable to television entities and prospective sponsors. Since day one of the announcement of the creation of AEW, Chris Jericho has always been the guy they’ve hung their hat on acquiring, so it only made sense that they would make him their first champion. Unfortunately though, I haven’t really seen Jericho much lately, and in the shots I’ve seen online, he just doesn’t appear to be in the greatest of shape these days. I’m sure he’s good to go in the ring and all, but from a purely aesthetic aspect, he looks to be out of shape and the years seem to be catching up with him. Granted…he’s almost 50 and has had a whole lot of years on the road, but man does that dude look rough these days!
As I’m sure you can guess, I probably won’t be eagerly awaiting the debut of their weekly television series. I’ll keep an eye on reports and maybe give them a shot again down the line, but for now…I’m All Out.
Thanks for reading!