I'm obviously registering these thoughts incredibly late, but such is the current state of pro wrestling right now - there is just so much going on, and so much to enjoy. It's a great time to be a fan, regardless of where your tribalism fandom falls - if you carry such allegiances.
I'm sure no matter what product you find entertaining, you circled AEW's All In event from Wembley Stadium as a must-watch. I don't care about someone else's "take" on the attendance total - I couldn't care less if it was the record for a pro wrestling event or not - what AEW was able to accomplish is absolutely amazing! Four years in, and the company produced an event on the levels of Wrestlemania in terms of attendance and business - that's damn impressive!
Tony Khan and the entire company deserve loads of credit for taking that leap because it very much could have failed. They took a chance, and absolutely delivered (and so much more), and proved there is a substantial market share for an alternative in the UK. Again, 81,035 is hard to dispute.
And I'm very sure that the WWE, a company that loves expressing its accomplishments and business benchmarks, took notice. After all, the most surreal thing was seeing this large of a crowd for an event that wasn't the WWE.
As for the event, here are some quick thoughts on AEW All In:
- After applauding the event and its lofty attendance, I might be in the minority on this, but the build-up felt pretty thrown together. Don't get me wrong, they got there, but so many of the feuds and matches felt like - hey, All In, me and you at Wembley Stadium, let's do it!
And the opponent following up with - yeah, let's do it, I accept!
While credit is surely deserved as the event pushed tickets without one match even being announced, I would have liked them to go with either NOT announcing one single match and making it all feel special as the night went along or going "All In" (get it?) and building toward the event for at least six weeks.
That was my biggest issue with All In.
- Having MJF and Adam Cole wrestling on the pre-show for tag titles was such a head-scratcher for me. Why water down your two biggest stars and your main event? I wasn't a fan of this at all.
Plus, I have all sorts of opinions on ROH, but I'll save that for another time.
- Ditto for the "FTW Championship"
- We can't chat All In without everything surrounding CM Punk, right? It's so unfortunate that this event will be marred by this drama backstage. Especially when it broke well before the event began. Tony Khan has to figure out who is leaking all of this information within his company.
Nonetheless, Punk no longer being with AEW means the end of all this drama (whether it is him, or not) and at the same time, the end of a comeback run for the company's biggest star.
Nevertheless, the opening contest with Joe was a good bout. It's always good when these two are linked, unfortunately, as noted before, I would've liked to see more build-up rather than the reliance on the past rivalry.
Punk gets the win in what we now know as is his last AEW contest.
This should be said, Joe remains one of the more believable wrestlers still active. How his TNA run still feels like his best time (in my opinion) is unfortunate. I definitely would like to see AEW give Joe the ball.
- How many versions of the Bullet Club are there? My goodness.
This six-man tag match was what you expected it to be - non-stop action and chaos. Kenny Omega continues to prove that he really is a special gem in this industry. My guy just has another level in the ring! I like Takeshita getting the pin on Omega and furthering everything within that storyline.
They must really believe in Takeshita considering the Don Callis association and the win over Omega.
Jay White just hasn't felt special since arriving at AEW.
- One of the "Hey let's fight at All-In!" matches was the AEW Tag Team Champions. Don't get me wrong, it's a match that looks great on paper. Luckily, both teams were able to make me forget about any lack of build-up or story and delivered a gem of a tag-team contest. In fact, it was my favorite match of the night.
I think AEW really has the potential to have a kick-ass tag-team division. It needs more direction than what we've seen.
- I know that the Stadium Stampede match is an AEW trademark at this point, but this one felt like just another brawl and hardcore deal from the company. I'm not sure why, but it was just there for me. For show. It just lacked emotion for me.
The Blackpool Combat Club really hasn't hit with me since Regal left, and quite frankly, they've lost quite a bit of big faction feuds/matches recently that probably causes this lack of connection. Also, Castagnoli seems right where he was in the WWE - so I'm not sure what to make of this group.
Wrestling needs more Eddie Kingstons. As I said about Joe and believability - Kingston is right there.
Nonetheless, this was there. Ehhh.
- The women's match was a shocker and it was very cool to see Saraya pick up the win in the UK. The entrance did feel special with her family, and the entire ordeal felt like we were likely watching the end of what is a tremendous comeback story.
Toni Storm is gold in this new role of hers! Absolute gold!
And with that, is the new faction with her, Saraya, and Ruby Soho now over? Just some of the annoying storytelling from AEW that bothers me.
I feel like as a two-time champion, we've really yet to know Hikaru Shida.
- Tony Khan has lots of money for music rights, huh? While Metallica's Seek and Destroy was cool - and it was for those who remember the brief WCW run - I'm not sure why AEW is unable to brand their version of Sting. I'm no booker, but I would like to see Sting used less. He should feel special. A legendary attraction.
I'm a big Darby Allin guy. He's unique and different, and of all the "four pillars "talk, he's easily right there with MJF as a legitimate block for the company. Several years from now, MJF vs. Darby Allin can be what I think it can be with some time, seasoning, and company equity.
Please give more time to Christian Cage. Same for Swerve Strickland who also has another unique feel to him.
I wasn't a fan of the "coffin" gimmick, but it served its purpose.
- Yooooooo! Will Ospreay is THAT dude. Not that I didn't think so before, but I do feel like he's hitting another level. He's definitely top-five in the world right now. Ok, top three? Maybe two?
Sorry, Roman Reigns is just in another universe. But I digress...
I enjoyed what Ospreay and Chris Jericho delivered. It's definitely not Ospreay vs. Omega from Forbidden Door (but, what has been this year?), but it was a great story. Even more impressive was Jericho once again proving he can hang and still create a gem on these big stages.
Going back to Ospreay, besides Punk, Ospreay felt like the biggest star on the card. Just from the entrance, feel, performance, etc...
- AEW has way too many titles. Another criticism I have, but ehhh, whatever.
This Six-Man could have been cool if we hadn't already seen an awesome one earlier in the night, or also seen another multi-man match with no rules. The Acclaimed picks up the win. More impressive here is that Billy Gunn can still go, and legit looks the part. The man deserves major props.
- I've enjoyed the MJF and Adam Cole storyline, and they very much worked it into the storyline of the match. Seeing Adam Cole go the lengths to really hurt MJF stopping just short of using the title belt, was great stuff.
The entire ordeal was drama-filled and ultimately ended with a feel-good moment as MJF and Adam Cole remain genuine friends and big-time babyfaces.
It wasn't the ending I was expecting, considering what should have been a mega-event, but it was still cool nonetheless.
Adam Cole has to think about how close he's been to becoming Champion, right? That's twice now! Cole, heel turn in the long run? Yeah?
I'm also VERY interested in Roderick Strong's character, and how he plays into all of this. The neck brace gimmick is likely the best thing character-wise that Roderick Strong has done.
Looking forward to more of this playing out.
Not a bad event. It had its moments and felt special all night because of the size of the crowd. I hope AEW decides to learn from its mistakes as it'll be going back in 2024.
All the props to Tony Khan, he's going for it again.
Photos courtesy of allelitewrestling.com