Regardless, I finally had a chance to sit down and watch the transcending event that is ALL IN, and it was everything a pro wrestling fan would want it to be; everything a pro wrestler dreamed it would be; and really, everything the changing landscape of pro wrestling needed it to be.
Much props to Cody [Don't you dare call him Rhodes] and Nick and Matt Jackson of the Young Bucks. Forget pro wrestling for a second, having an spirit of entrepreneurship is one thing, but to actually act upon it, invest in it, and put everything on the line for a vision takes some guts. In this age where there are so many people who criticize behind a keyboard and a screen, especially when it comes to pro wrestling, taking a road less traveled can't be easy.
Nonetheless, with that said, here are some of my quick notes and thoughts on everything that was ALL IN:
- From the fade-in, it was clear that this event really had some production oomph and focus put into it. After all, in today's world of pro wrestling, that's a huge piece of the presentation pie.
The set was gorgeous, the video display screens were unique, the ring lighting was perfect, and the audio was spot on. That's not something every company gets correct (Looking at you Impact). As a viewer, you heard and felt the crowd's presence in the buidling, and an often overlooked part was the amplified notes of every wrestler's entrance music.
Again, quality stuff all night.
Those back stage segments were rough. Just a bit awkward.
- My days of diving into all sorts of pro wrestling are over. I just don't have the time to discover and engage into the deepest and darkest parts of the pro wrestling waters. So whenever events like this come around, I feel like it should be part of the presentation to tell me who these people are, and why they are in the ring. NXT does a tremendous job of this during their Takeover events. But again, that's the WWE machine. They do that stuff better than anyone.
I had a few moments throughout the event where I felt lost and wished I got a bit more backstory on a few guys.
I knew nothing about MJF and/or Matt Cross. However, their opener definitely was a solid bout. MJF clearly stuck out here as a guy who isn't long until the WWE snatches him up. Whether he makes it out of NXT purgatory is another question, and another topic, for another day.
- The Sean Mooney appearance was absolutely awesome. The little kid in me jumped out at this. Such a nice touch in adding him to the broadcast. Sort of wished he did a few more interviews throughout the night.
- Who knew Stephen Amell was a wrestling? Huh?
So much props to Amell on this performance. Even more love to Christopher Daniels on making the dude look like a million bucks. With that said, it's amazing the longevity and career Daniels has put together. And even then, the guy is still easily super entertaining. I really would like to see him have one more run in Impact. But eh.
- Speaking of Impact, the outright mentioning of promotions - MLW, PWG, ROH, New Japan, Impact, Shine, and on and on - during the broadcast really gives you a further sense of how deep and how awesome pro wrestling is in 2018. There are so many options, and so many products for a fan to dive into.
- The women's match was absolutely awesome. And yes, calling it a "Survival Match" when it is one fall for a finish is very confusing. I'm glad they pointed that out.
Again, the use of legends on the show was a nice touch with TA Magnum and Tully Blanchard awaiting Tessa Blanchard. Chelsea Green adopting her Impact crazy gimmick as a new split personality/Harvey Dent sort of deal is interesting. Who knew Britt Baker was with Adam Cole (Bay! Bay!)? Surely explained the use of his old entrance theme. And boy has Madison Rayne's veteran status snuck up on us or what? Still feels like yesterday she joined the Beautiful People.
Very much a big fan of this match. All of the near falls and big spots down the stretch were fun. Again, showing my bias, Tessa is legit. Tessa is so incredibly legit.
And yes, I'm a Tessa Blanchard fan.
And yes, I'm a Tessa Blanchard fan.
- The build up was nice for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. But, maybe it's me - other than the story of Cody winning the legendary title, I wasn't really into this at all.
I liked the entrances, the big fight feel of having camps accompanying the wrestlers to the ring and all the pageantry involved. But honestly, as soon as the bell rang, this just fell off the tracks for me. The spot of Cody on the outside felt awkward. Having Brandi get involved felt...well, in the way of a feel-good story.
I liked the finish! I wish wrestling had more old school spots like that. I guess that was part of charm.
Again...I don't know, I just didn't feel it.
And if I'm being honest, Nick Aldis, Magnus, or whatever - just not a fan. Just something missing there for me. Always have.
Regardless, it's nice to see the NWA Title be important since the days of NWA-TNA.
- Remember what I said about letting casuals in on why these guys are fighting - I was lost on this street fight. Everything from the "murdering" of Joey Ryan, to why we are in a street fight - I just felt like I was in catch-up mode. But you know what, it was a great bout, and a damned good finish. I'll take it.
As for the Joey Ryan stuff. I don't mind it. It's just not for me.
- The ROH World Championship, much like everything on this card, was solid. It was a good match that really never once led me to believe Flip Gordon was walking away with the ROH Championship. But I did walk away with two hot takes from this bout:
1. Jay Lethal will always be way more entertaining as "Black Machismo", or any impersonation of "Macho Man" Randy Savage than as well, Jay Lethal.
2. For all the ridicule TNA received (and probably still does - sometimes, deservedly), it sure is funny how some of their gimmicks have helped the connection and over-ness of some wrestlers.
- Kenny Omega and Pentagon Jr. was easily the match of the night for me. I became introduced to Pentagon from his work in Lucha Underground and really have grown to love the dude from his exposure on Impact. And Kenny Omega is just insanely talented.
This match was everything, and then some. That Package piledriver on the apron is something that continuously comes to mind, even as I type this review. Just two guys who are on an elite level right now and flat out proved it.
It isn't said enough, but even in 2018, Chris Jericho is still relevant, and still insanely a draw.
How WCW let this dude go and didn't see this, is still a mystery to me.
- For me, it's always a pleasure to watch Okada wrestle. I try to forget the G1 goofiness with the balloons and such, and think of The Rainmaker as the can't miss wrestler that carries that cool vibe to him. Yes, let's please forget that G1 madness. Please!
Nonetheless, this was another good one. Haven't seen much of Scurll before, but he is really entertaining and embodies an interesting persona. I enjoyed the story of proving to be more than a junior heavyweight.
- I'm pretty sure The Bucks and Cody have "pacing and timing" on the whiteboard of fixes for the next ALL IN event. While I enjoyed the main event, it was just a bit obvious that this one was being rushed. For the sake of pomp, circumstance, and really, just for a moment, I wished the end of the night had a moment to let it all sink in and encapsulate what kind of history had just been made. Instead, because of the timing, it rushed to an end.
All of that aside, this was the kind of car crash action you would expect it to be. Lots of flips. Lots of "ohs!" and plenty of insane athleticism. All with another awesome Rey Mystero outfit thrown in.
Because it was rushed, this felt more like those random "X-Dvision multi-man" matches from back in the TNA hey-day rather than a match that should headline a pay-per-view.
But really, it doesn't matter. In the end, this whole thing was entertaining, and from the perspective of what it accomplished, it was thoroughly welcoming. ALL IN was everything it should have been and needed to be.
The even more exciting part is that it wasn't everything it could be. The sky is the limit for what Cody, Bucks, and company can pull off in the future with some experience and now, tons of interest as brand equity.
The pro wrestling world is changing, man. 2019 is going to be awesome.