WrestleWatch: AEW All Out 2019
The anticipation is building. We are a few days away from the official launch of a new era in professional wrestling. This coming Wednesday (or Thursday in Australia), All Elite Wrestling (AEW) goes live on TNT. Its weekly 2 hour live broadcast now has a name- Dynamite. For the first time since WCW closed its doors and was bought out by WWE in March 2001, a viable competitor is here for Vince McMahon's company. And that has me all kinds of excited.
I haven't written a blog post in a while. My physical health is at the worst it has ever been. For those that don't know, I have Cerebral Palsy. It is a condition that affects all my muscles, and I am prone to bouts of severe pain and fatigue. Pain and fatigue that makes it difficult to live a normal life. I have worked one day in the past 3 months. I haven't had a whole lot of opportunities to be social and be amongst my friends and family. So besides the physical pain, my disability is having a really big effect on me mentally and emotionally.
So, I don't know if anyone really reads these reviews I put together. I've been feeling down and wondering if anyone really pays attention to me at all. If you do and you're reading this, thank you. My reason for writing this personal stuff here is partially to purge a little, but also to say that I'm slowly starting to feel better, and part of that has to do with embracing the things I still enjoy in life. One of the biggest things I love is pro wrestling. And AEW specifically is doing a lot of good things. In the lead up to AEW Dynamite next week, I've decided to re-watch their last PPV offering, All Out. And while I'm here, I might as well do a good old WrestleWatch review!
A quick little guide to my star ratings. They're not meant to be taken as gospel, I don't sit here deliberating on how many many moves, minutes, or pieces of great psychology merit an extra half star or not, it's just an easy way to indicate how enjoyable I found a match.
Below 1 star- bad/not worth watching
1 star- just there/mediocre
2 stars- decent/good
3 stars- very good
4 stars- great
5 stars- outstanding/classic
Excalibur and Goldenboy are the commentary team for the pre-show. We waste NO TIME getting to the action, as Justin Roberts is already standing by in the ring with the first 5 entrants in the Casino Battle Royale. I like it. No mucking about, just straight into the wrestling, let the wrestlers sell the product, don't start things by just yammering on about it incessantly.
Match 1: Nyla Rose wins the Casino Battle Royale
Thoughts: Even though this show is occurring in Chicago and not Las Vegas, we're sticking with the Casino theme from Double Or Nothing. I actually think this was/is a very interesting concept, rather than completely jacking WWE's Royal Rumble. The main issue with the first one was more production issues than anything else, with cameras frequently missing big spots and not clearly identifying the wrestlers. They had that under control much better this second time around. The powerhouse of the division, Nyla Rose, was part of the first 5 entrants. The others tried to gang up on her, but she showed her power and managed to dominate fairly quickly. This was a great showcase for Rose, continually being a powerful threat throughout the whole match. The entrants were comprised of talent both signed to AEW and women working from the indies on one-shot deals. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Tenille Dashwood (fka Emma in WWE), who is currently contracted to Impact Wrestling. Also, was great to see PWA star Shazza McKenzie get an opportunity as well. Smooth action throughout, never dull, and with the win, Nyla Rose is one half of the match that will crown the first ever AEW Women's Champion on Oct 2 on TNT. (***)
They air a nice video package on the Hangman vs. Jericho main event for the AEW Championship, featuring highlights and soundbites from the feud, followed by a close-up shot of the beautiful new AEW Championship belt. Following the KISS formula- keep it simple, stupid. Highly effective hype that took all of about 2 minutes.
Match 2: Private Party def. Angelico & Jack Evans (at 11:35)
Thoughts: The level of athleticism rose exponentially with this match. AEW has presented a lot of action in its young history featuring spots I've never seen before. I used to think this was a huge deal, considering I've been watching wrestling for over 20 years, but thinking about it more- most of those 20 years have been exclusively WWE, with forays into other promotions like NJPW only occurring in the past 2 years or so. Private Party, character-wise, are very reminiscent of NXT's Street Profits, but in-ring, they're like two Montez Fords, which creates a much different feel in their matches. Angelico and Evans can keep up, considering Angelico's history in Lucha Underground and Evans, being an indie staple for the last decade plus, getting exposure all the way back in 2006 in MTV's short-lived Wrestling Society X. Private Party hit some astounding tag team moves, including a crazy assisted flipping Tornado DDT called "From The Window To The Wall" (that popped me). Marq Qwen hit a jaw-dropping Shooting Star Press, with the kind of height and hangtime that would make Evan Bourne blush. Great near falls on both sides, including a really close call with an assisted standing 450 splash by Angelico/Evans. Consecutive poison ranas by both members of Private Party, following by a top rope rana/Diamond Cutter combo called Gin & Juice ends it. Wow! (***1/2)
Angelico & Evans establish themselves as heels with a post-match attack. The crowd chant "party poopers" at them.
With the win, Private Party find themselves opposite the Young Bucks in the opening round of the tournament to crown the first AEW Tag Team Champions. I don't think they'll get past The Bucks, but they could definitely have a star-making performance in defeat. And it speaks to the strength of the tag division AEW are building that a team the calibre of Angelico & Evans didn't make it into the tournament.
A cinematic vignette airs of a muscular man kicking ass in a parking lot. His name is apparently Wardlow (or WARDLOW). The production value of this really sets AEW apart from TNA in the past and ROH. Wouldn't look out of place on a WWE broadcast.
MJF promo. He's his usual cocky brilliant self. The interviewer asks him about not having a match on All Out. MJF says he didn't want a match, he wanted to be there to help his best friend, Cody, in his match on the PPV with Shawn Spears.
Jim Ross makes his entrance for PPV commentary. I like that they don't have JR mess around with the pre-show stuff. One, he shouldn't have to, and two, it saves his energy for the big matches. He's getting more and more invested as each event in AEW happens, and he alludes to that himself in his introduction. They talk about the big matches on the card, including Kenny Omega vs. Pac, Cody vs. Spears, and Bucks vs. Lucha Bros.
The national anthem is performed, and pyro shoots off. Can't state enough how much I miss pyro in the presentation of pro wrestling shows. Heightens the excitement factor that much more.
Match 1: SCU (Christopher Daniels, Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) def. Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt (at 11:45)
Thoughts: SCU are the perfect act to kick off the action on any AEW PPV. Veteran performers that can handle themselves on the mic and in the ring. Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy have something special with their tandem. Can't stand Marko Stunt, he feels like an unnecessary hanger-on. I don't mind an undersized underdog- Daniel Bryan & Rey Mysterio are among my favourite wrestlers ever... but Stunt is just way too much. He's genuinely smaller than the children I teach in primary school. SCU isolate Jungle Boy for an extended period of time- because it's not remotely believable that Stunt could last 2 minutes on his own in the ring- and eventually the hot tag is made to Luchasaurus to a MONSTER reaction. He cleans house and the crowd loves it. Stunt is tagged back in (ugh) and hits a tornado DDT after being spun around by his partners. The action breaks down with a lot of dives and spots, and SCU get the advantage, hitting both Jungle Boy and Stunt with a double Best Meltzer Ever. Very good opening action. Did I mention I hate Marko Stunt? (***)
Match 2: Pac def. Kenny Omega (at 23:20)
Thoughts: Was shocked to see this match go on second. Pac (fka Neville in WWE) was a late replacement for Jon Moxley (fka Dean Ambrose) who contracted a staph infection days before the event. Despite the late notice, these two men put on an absolute clinic. A couple of scary spots where both guys messed themselves up by getting caught up in the steel barricade with dives to the outside, and it got messy towards the end with a couple of botched poison ranas. It was still an absolute war of attrition, and a marvel of a match, despite the circumstances. Omega is positioned as a top star in need of redemption, and Pac gets a massive statement win in his official AEW debut to position him as a top player in the main event scene going forward (****)
Match 3: Jimmy Havoc def. Joey Janela and Darby Allin in a Cracker Barrel Clash (at 15:00)
Thoughts: This was a car crash, in a great way. Lots of weaponry and big crazy spots... all with the product placement of Cracker Barrel. Also, the first time I've ever seen a skateboard used in a match, so there's that. All three guys had very little, if any, regard for their bodies. Going all out (no pun intended) to entertain the crowd. An extremely different style to the first two PPV matches, which were more about refined, athletic wrestling. This was just a crazy spectacle. (***1/2)
Match 4: Dark Order (Stu Grayson & Evil Uno) def. Best Friends (Trent & Chuck Taylor) to earn a Bye in the Tag Tournament (at 13:40)
Thoughts: Timing was really off throughout a lot of this match, leading to some awkward spots. Best Friends tried their best to keep this one together but Dark Order seemed to struggle. Particularly egregious was Evil Uno being late to break up a pin attempt (as in a 3 count was made and the ref had to ignore it). The Fatality finisher was cool, but I can't help but feel like the wrong team won this one, Dark Order need a lot of work. (**1/2)
Post-match, the minions (Creepers?) of the Dark Order attack the Best Friends. The lights go out for a moment, and when they come back on- it's Orange Cassidy! He takes out the Creepers with a flip dive- with his hands still in his pockets! Best Friends hug him and the commentators suggest that Cassidy could be joining the Best Friends, forming another trio in AEW.
Match 5: Riho def. Hikaru Shida (at 13:35) to earn a shot at the AEW Women's Championship
Thoughts: Riho is 22 and has 13 years of pro wrestling experience. To quote Boy In A Band, that's insane, that's absolutely insane! She's only 98 pounds, so she plays the David to Shida's Goliath. Shida works the back really well, and Riho times her kickouts extremely well for high drama. Both ladies hit the NOS button down the stretch for a series of rapid fire counters and pin attempts, until Riho finally gets the better leverage. Very slick, technical match, absolutely flew by (***1/2)
Match 6: Cody w/ MJF def. Shawn Spears w/ Tully Blanchard
Thoughts: This had all the hallmarks of an old school main event that you might have seen in the old NWA, with a little Attitude Era mixed in, and touches of the modern. The personal aspect of the rivalry was shown immediately with Cody performing a dive onto Spears to start the match, before brawling through the crowd. From there, Spears got the advantage primarily through underhanded tactics and interference from his manager, Tully. MJF took a while to get involved, but ultimately ended up tussling with Tully and taking a Spears boot. A chair came into play, because of course. Cody wins with a Disaster Kick into the chair and the Cross Rhodes. Nice bit of poetic justice, and this big PPV win cements Cody as a main event star in AEW heading into the TNT era (***3/4)
Match 7: The Lucha Brothers def. The Young Bucks in a Ladder Match (at 21:00) to retain the AAA Tag Team Championship
Thoughts: These four guys are absolutely insane. They actually told a nice story in the beginning by having each other scouted by avoiding signature moves early on. Then the big spots. They did a nice job conveying how they were willing to do absolutely anything to each other and sacrifice their well-being for the greater good- the double spears through the tables, the double ladder dives through tables... and a fucking Canadian Destroyer off the ladder through a table! That might be the single most dangerous looking spot I've ever seen. Not to be outdone, Nick gets pushed off a ladder and falls through a table on the outside face-first. Absolute insanity. But damn, it was super fun to watch! (****3/4)
Post-match, two men in president masks attack the Lucha Bros and the Bucks. They un-mask to reveal themselves as Santana and Ortiz, a team that were part of the LAX faction in Impact Wrestling. I haven't seen this incarnation of LAX, but judging from the crowd reaction they're quite a big deal. Intrigued to see how they fit in to the loaded AEW tag division.
Match 8: Chris Jericho def. Hangman Page (at 26:25) to become the first AEW World Champion
Thoughts: As Jericho's gotten older, he's relied on more brawling, weapons and gimmicks to deliver in big main event situations. This match saw him stick to straight up wrestling more often, and it worked really well. Father Time gets everyone, and he's absolutely lost a step athletically, but Jericho and Page delivered nicely. The Shooting Star counter into the Codebreaker was excellent, as was the way the Judas Effect was hit for the finish. Page had his moments, and a particularly convincing near fall with the Dead-Eye, but ultimately, Chris Jericho adds to his Hall Of Fame career by making history as the first ever AEW Champion. (****)
Nothing of note happens after the main event. A big part of me thought Cult Of Personality was going to hit, considering we were in Chicago and CM Punk appeared at the Starrcast convention the day before. Punk seemed very open to returning to wrestling if the offer was right. But no luck at All Out. I'm holding out hope that AEW are saving him for their debut episode on TNT. Then again, he's allegedly had talks with WWE recently, so who knows. However, Punk or no Punk, AEW are in a great place heading into their television debut.
Returning to the arena where it all began a year ago, AEW All Out was an exemplary show that delivered a lot of promising content, setting themselves up as a great alternative wrestling company in advance of their debut on TNT next week. The loss of Jon Moxley days before the show was a significant blow, but they handled it well, with Pac and Kenny Omega over-delivering in their short notice spot. The Young Bucks and the Lucha Bros delivered the most dangerous and thrilling ladder match I can recall, and Chris Jericho proved that he can still go, dad bod and all. AEW truly had something for everyone here.
Until next time, take care,