SoCal Uncensored (Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) vs The Briscoes
A white hot crowd at the Sears Center added a ton to this match, giving a definitive babyface backing to SCU while being very anti-Briscoe. I wasn’t too sure how that dynamic would work, but kudos to the work done on Being The Elite to build them up as redeemable faces for this despite taking verbal dumps on every town they make (outside of SoCal of course), including Chicago. Also, their Rocky montage parody and Rocky tribute gear was big win for me. For the first portion of the match, The Briscoes would play a bit dirty, double team both Sky and Kaz, and work to cut the ring in half. They worked over Scorpio, and just when Sky thought he was free, a Briscoe would drag him back to the corner. Eventually, Sky would make the hot tag to Kazarian, and the 41 year old ageless wonder ran wild on the Briscoes, even outmaneuvering one of their dirty tricks. Kaz tried to pin the wrong Briscoe, allowing the other to try and take a cheap shot, but Kazarian caught him and nailed a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. By hook or by crook, the Briscoes would regain control shortly after, however, leading to the action spilling to the floor where Mark Briscoe nailed Sky with a diving blockbuster, and the brothers would hit Redneck Boogie, but for two. As they looked for an Avalanche Redneck Boogie, Scorpio came back into the fold, hitting a rana on Mark. Kaz would follow this up with a tornado DDT, and then the two would hit an assisted lung blower for two. However again, the Briscoes battled back, disregarding the rules the whole way, leading to Jay hitting a Jay Driller on Kaz, but just before the ref’s hand hit for three, Sky made the save. The Briscoes dispatch of Sky and would look for a little Doomsday Device, but Kaz counters, catching Mark and turning it into a powerslam on the way down, pinning him while Sky would hit a running knee on Jay, preventing him from breaking up the count. A really great opener ***3/4
Flip Gordon wins the Over Budget Battle Royal
This was great fun all around with Marko Stunt shining oh so brightly as he should, and Jordynne Grace getting a chance to show she’s a total beast in the ring as well. However, the story of this all lies with the man who had to dress up as El Chico in order to get into this match without anyone – specifically Cody – knowing it was him. Early on, things looked bad for the masked luchador as Flip found himself lying broken after being put through a table by Bully Ray, but by the end, with Bully eliminating most every fan favorite left, including Dreamer, Stunt and Grace, it was all down to El Chico…until he took off the mask, revealing Flip Gordon! Gordon would throw out Bully and get himself a title shot later in the night against ROH Champion Jay Lethal. Not only did Flip get booked, he got double booked. Now onto some of the bright spots of the night. There was Jordynne Grace eliminating Brian Cage, Grace and Cabana hitting a vintage Dudley Boyz move on Bully Ray, and Marko Stunt hitting Brian Cage with the single most exhilarating Codebreaker I’ve ever seen, making this a very entertaining battle royal ***1/4
Matt Cross vs MJF
Despite this being a super late add to the card, these two did pretty well, all things considered. MJF heeled it up well throughout this match, but this was all about Matt Cross. His journey back from a broken leg a while back is a story worth telling a million times to the whole world, so to see a local Ohio boy not just win, but hit a Sasuke Special in the opening moments was truly amazing. A cutter followed by a gorgeous Shooting Star Press from Cross would get him the win **1/2
Christopher Daniels vs Stephen Amell
Amell should be proud of himself for his performance tonight. He, by no means is a professional wrestler anywhere near the level of Daniels, but he worked his ass off, as did Daniels, to make this work. Amell was fiery, demanding Daniels to chop him early on. He was resilient, kicking out of bigger moves, angering Daniels because Amell was a bit tougher to defeat than the Fallen Angel had thought. Amell was also defiant, flipping the birds to Daniels and then proceeding to fight him only to put himself through a table. It would take two spaced out Best Moonsault(s) Ever to do the deed, but the veteran Daniels would pick up the win in a very solid match ***
Tessa Blanchard vs Chelsea Green vs Madison Rayne vs Britt Baker
There isn’t a ton to go over here outside of it being a good straight forward match. Every woman got their stuff in, Chelsea’s character got a nice showcase, Rayne got the platform she’s more than earned, and Britt shined brightest, showing no rust at all from her time away while she finished college to become a dentist. Tessa picked up the win as expected ***1/4
NWA World Heavyweight Nick Aldis vs Cody
Emotion drove this match to levels not seen this year in wrestling. The match itself didn’t have a ton of substance, the run-in felt like a bit much, and it went about five minutes too long, but again, when emotion drives a connection from wrestler to fans like Cody did with that crowd, it kept them glued in, and when Cody pinned Aldis by countering his sunset flip, the roof damn near blew off the Sears Centre. It was so evident how much this meant for Cody. From the awesome entrances for both men to the placement of the match on the card with Cody not putting it last to secure the unpredictability, everything felt right during this moment. This was what ALL IN was for me. It was about Cody cementing his own legacy by winning the title his father Dusty Rhodes once held. It was about Nick Aldis, a guy who damn near retired but decided to pursue his dream, trying to prove that he’s a true champion. It was about them. At its core, wrestling matches are great, but when the matches can create moments like this, it’s truly the best thing in the world. There’s no doubt in my mind that Dusty was smiling down upon this match as the American Nightmare fulfilled his dream.
Chicago Street Fight ***3/4
Hangman Page vs Joey Janela
I’m going to try and get through this with as least profane as possible because oh my god, these two are insane people. We go from a high emotions, classic style heavyweight title match to this madness, but alas, I’ve seen both Spring Breaks and Lost In New York among countless other bouts, so at this point, not seeing Janela attempt suicide at least once would’ve shocked me. I knew Hangman could get a little hardcore, but he went balls to the wall with this one. Literally everything under the ring and at ringside played a part in this chaos. Janela got pumphandle fallaway slammed into a chair, Janela elbow dropped Hangman through a table, Hangman hit a BURNING HAMMER on Janela onto a ladder, and what was that ladder propped up by? The ring apron and an actual, real life, Donkey Kong style Cracker Barrel. But the madness didn’t stop there, oh no, it had only just begun. As we all know by now, Hangman Page a.k.a the Hungman, murdered famous dick wrestler Joey Ryan for indeed not being a penis pretender (it’s as strange as it sounds, believe me), and his downward spiral led to him getting hit with a stunner by the Bad Girl Penelope Ford, and her going for the jugular and giving Hangman his blood stained boots back. This whole thing led to the finish of the match where just after that happened, Hangman superkicked Penelope out of the ring only to turn around and eat one of the damnedest superkicks I’ve ever seen from a pissed off Janela. Janela went back under the ring, pulled out another ladder and table, and propped Hangman upon the table. However, As Janela climbed the ladder, Hangman met him at the top with the phone he used to kill famous dick wrestler Joey Ryan. He wrapped the cord around the throat of Janela and proceeded to hit the Rite of Passage from the top of the ladder THROUGH THE DAMN TABLE for the win ****
If only the craziness stopped after the three count…
The lights would go out as Hangman’s music cut out. The screen would show the scene of the crime, a dead Joey Ryan. Except he wasn’t dead (what am I even typing right now). Ryan became fully erect – weird – and then the camera went to the ramp as eight men dressed as actual penises lined up on the ramp as Joey Ryan’s music hits. Ryan emerges from the curtain, shocking absolutely nobody except Hangman who looks as if he’d seen a ghost. Ryan would make his way to the ring, lather himself up including his penis in baby oil and proceed to penis-plex Hangman Page.
Ring Of Honor World Champion Black Machismo Jay Lethal vs Flip Gordon
I don’t really care for Flip and sadly a lot of this match proved why. I don’t have a ton to say about this outside of seeing Black Machismo return alongside Lanny Paffo was my favorite moment of the whole night, but I have to give Flip credit for getting over with the crowd organically and really making a star out of himself despite still trying to find himself as a wrestler. It’s not an easy thing to do in general, but especially on a show of this magnitude, I give him props. Machismo would retain via Lethal Injection, but his celebration would be cut short by everyone’s least favorite Dudley, Bully Ray. Bully would attack and try to get a table involved, but Colt Cabana would rush down and make the save. Cabana, Machismo, and Flip would triple powerbomb Bully through the table for a pretty cool moment **3/4
Kenny Omega def. PENTA El Zero M
A definite dream match fulfilled, and it was damn good. Despite this admittedly not being the absolute best of either men, they delivered a really simple story incredibly well with Omega continuing to look for the OWA but failing to hit it while Penta would hit all of his big moves, but his covers would be flawed and overly cocky, allowing Omega to kick out before ultimately hitting the One Winged Angel for the win. At times it felt like Kenny was pulling a Naito in ROH and coasting a bit, and other times it felt like he was fully there. It wasn’t as consistent as I’d hoped it to be, but that certainly didn’t stop them from still having a great match.
Oh hey Chris Jericho ****
Kazuchika Okada vs Marty Scurll
*sighs* This match is going to get a ton of praise. I understand that. However, it didn’t click for me. For one, the prospect of someone who New Japan have portrayed as a mid level junior taking the best wrestler on planet earth nearly 30 minutes is mind blowingly bad, but even worse was the fact that had the match gone the initial time it’d been slated for, it would probably have been my favorite match on the show. For a very color by numbers story, 26:07 is ludicrous. Seek out Darby Allin vs. WALTER for a visual example. The work was good, but for it to take three Rainmakers from Okada, a guy who damn near got to the G1 Finals and just went to a draw with Tanahashi, to beat Marty seemed somehow less believable than Marty somehow winning the match. I get the story was Marty trying to prove himself as a heavyweight, and kudos to the two of them for going full send on the story, but it could’ve been done better by making it simpler and in half the time ***
The Golden Elite (The Young Bucks & Kota Ibushi) vs Rey Fenix, Bandido & Rey Mysterio
A terrific albeit rushed way to end the show. With the semi-main going way over time, these six only got half of the time they were initially going to, but that didn’t stop six of the very best from putting on a great main event to cap off a great show. It was very much a sprint with high flying spots galore, something I’m not usually fond of, but it was done well here. The Bucks and Ibushi would get the win following a Meltzer Driver to Bandido, but I’ll be damned if Bandido didn’t turn a lot of heads during this match. At just 23 years old, this kid is making huge waves internationally whether in Dragon Gate, PWG, PROGRESS, and now in front of 10,000+ in Chicago. Fenix’s star continues to brighten with every performance, and Rey Mysterio has found the fountain of youth. This was a truly awesome main event that made everyone look fantastic and sent the fans home happy ****
Show Grade: B- (7.6/10)
Overall, I thought All In was a really consistent show in terms of match quality with some crazy post-match situations going down. I’m no expert on production, but it seemed to be quite bad at times. The mics would crack at really bad times when people were talking and would just cut out at really random moments. However, with all of that being said, this event was history making. Cody, Matt, and Nick created something different, something unique, and something for everyone with this show. Do I wish there could’ve been another women’s match or two? Absolutely, but aside from that, I thought they totally knocked it out of the park here, giving their niche set of fans exactly what they wanted to see, creating one of the more successful shows this year.