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AEW All In London Review (28/08/2023)

By Mick Robson

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Boy, was this a weird one to review. The common refrain for years, when answering why WWE didn't do more international PPVs, was the issue of time zones. I used to scoff at that, thinking, "it's no big deal." Then this Aussie tried to alter his sleeping pattern so he could watch All In live. So it starts at 2am local time, so I'll go to bed at 5pm, sleep a smidge under 7 hours, and wake up in time to see MJF & Adam Cole face Aussie Open for the ROH tag straps. Easy.

The reality? Woke up at 9PM, was too buzzed to sleep but also didn't get enough rest, so all the food and caffeine in the world wasn't enough to stop me from crashing at about 4am, just as FTR and the Young Bucks were about to work their magic. So I watched the rest of the show later that day, and the fallout from trying to be a dedicated super fan and watch live had me feeling less than ideal until about yesterday. So here we are.

But why was I so excited? Well, this is a huge undertaking for AEW. That "pissant", "t-shirt company" sold over 80,000 tickets in Wembley Stadium in the UK. They were on track to shoot beating records set by WWE with WrestleManias. How would AEW look on such a big stage?

I was excited but also curious. The main event of All In was set to be MJF vs. Adam Cole for the AEW World Championship. And I'll be honest, I've never been a massive Adam Cole fan. People rag on his physique a lot, and I don't want to pile on too much, but he's one seriously small framed fellow- without the crazy athleticism of a Rey Mysterio or the daredevil attitude of a Darby Allin. And cosmetics aside, his wrestling style often veered into self-indulgent video game territory for me- his series with Johnny Gargano in NXT particular felt like they were messing around on WWE 2K with all the settings up then said, "hey, let's do that on Takeover!"

Even with my misgivings about Adam Cole, I couldn't deny that the MJF/Adam Cole rivalry/bromance has been one of the most compelling storylines AEW has done in quite some time. Seeing Maxwell display emotion and vulnerabilities throughout this run really has been something... but he's the self-proclaimed Devil, so this could all be a giant ruse to sucker Cole in. Or vice versa... the former leader of the Undisputed Era is no saint.

Elsewhere on the card, we have a lot of bodies thrown in multi-mans- the nature of the beast when you have a loaded roster and only so many places on a show like this. Then, a little last minute, Chris Jericho vs. Will Ospreay gets added. Perhaps my all-time favourite wrestler in Chris Jericho against one of my current favourites, a man who I largely credit for my fandom of Aussie wrestling, Will Ospreay. They had an excellent verbal exchange in the contract signing on Dynamite that was probably one of the better pieces of build across this entire show build up.

Let's do this!


Zero Hour Pre-Show

The Zero Hour pre-show actually started an hour earlier than advertised, with Renee Paquette, Anthony Ogogo, Kip Sabian and Paul Wight serving as studio analysts. Renee opens by quoting the recently departed Windham Rotunda (Bray Wyatt)- "Wrestling is not a love story, it's a fairy tale for masochists." RIP Bray. Article coming soon, that's one wrestler death that's really impacted me a lot.

Our first time seeing the ring at Wembley Stadium and it features a contract signing between Powerhouse Hobbs and Miro, as they are set to fight at All Out in Chicago, one week after this event. Yep, AEW are running PPVs in back to back weeks. Ballsy move. There's a ton of security in the ring to try and prevent physicality between the two monsters- one of whom is Mr. Ups & Downs, WhatCulture's Simon Miller. He's a man I have a lot of respect for- calls things as he sees it, but tries to be as positive as possible in his reviews. Unfortunately, the power of positivity doesn't get him far, as he and the rest of the security get battered while Miro and Hobbs swing at each other. Good little segment to give the early arrivers in Wembley something to watch, while also building their next PPV event.

We get a bit of hype videos and discussion over the main All In matches as we head towards the top of the hour. Of note, Kip Sabian is surprisingly good in this studio analyst role, very comfortable, articulate and insightful.

Jeff Jarrett's music hits and he comes out with Jay Lethal and Satnam Singh to shit on Wembley and the UK fans. He calls American fans and American wrestling way better, and cites American promoters such as the Gagnes, the Von Erichs, and the Jarretts as being responsible for everything we have here today. He's interrupted by the music of Paul Wight, who comes out with Anthony Ogogo... and popular Scottish star Grado! Wight delivers chokeslams, Ogogo throws some punches, and Grado hits Jarrett with a guitar. Good for Grado fans, I didn't really know anything about him beyond coming out to Madonna at an indy show and it going viral. I guess old Mads didn't want to cough up the rights for this one.

Match 1: ROH Tag Team Championship- Better Than You Bay-Bay (MJF & Adam Cole) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) (c)

So awesome to see PWA alumni kicking off such a massive event! As MJF and Cole look to pose as the crowd roars, Aussie Open waste no time jumping them and starting the action. MJF was the legal man to start, raising the question- would Cole tag in, or would he allow Aussie Open to soften up his opponent for the main event?

MJF looks for the Kangaroo Kick but Fletcher & Davis cut him off. MJF does manage to tag Cole, who gets a bit of a run. MJF is scared to dive, but eventually commits and hits it, to his own shock. The Aussies hit MJF wiith a double superkick and the Aussie Arrow double team finish, but the champ kicks out. MJF calls for the Kangaroo Kick yet again and this time hits it on both members of Aussie Open! He tags in Cole and they hit the DOUBLE CLOTHESLINE! to end it. We've got new champs!

Winners: Better Than You Bay-Bay (at 7:45)

Star Rating: **1/2. This was never going to be a classic, being the first pre-show match and with two of the participants wrestling in the main event, they stuck to the KISS principle- keep it simple, stupid- but it all worked. The Wembley crowd erupted for everything, which bodes well for the rest of the show.

Match 2: FTW Championship- Hook vs. Jack Perry (c)

This is contested under 'FTW Rules", meaning anything goes. Good old JR jumped in on commentary for this match. He'd be happy- he was trying to call Jungle Boy "Jack Perry" for years, and now they're finally doing it. Young Mr. Perry enters Wembley in a limousine. Classy.

They fought on the stage near the limo, then Perry hits Hook with a Rolling Thunder on the windshield- he beat Rob Van Dam on Dynamite in the build-up to this match. He yelled into the camera, "Real glass! Go cry me a river!" That's a reference to backstage heat with CM Punk, that apparently led to more problems behind the scenes right after this match. Hook puts Perry through the windshield with a fisherman's buster, and they both come up bleeding.

In the ring, Jack gets a near fall after a German suplex. Hook soon comes back using a trash can as a weapon, followed by some forearms, followed by Redrum for the tapout win.

Winner: Hook (at 8:20)

Star Rating: **. Well, baby got back the FTW title. But that one jab by Perry about the glass managed to overshadow the fact that the match even happened in the aftermath.

Main Card

Nigel McGuinness joined JR and Excalibur to get things going on PPV. And we're starting with clobbering time!

Match 1: The "Real" World's Championship- CM Punk (c) vs. Samoa Joe

Early on, Joe tries to avoid a Punk dive, but Punk fakes him out and dumps him on his head with a hurricanrana. Soon after, Punk attempts a plancha and this time, Joe smoothly steps away, causing Punk to splat on the floor. Punk looks for another hurricanrana, but Joe catches him in a powerbomb position and slings him through the front of the announce table. Punk re-emerges a bloody mess.

Back in the ring, Punk starts to hit Cena's Five Moves of Doom, but instead of doing the Five Knuckle Shuffle, he cups his hand to his ear and does the Hogan Leg Drop. Joe kicks out at one and does the Hulk Up. You can just feel the fun these two are having, kinda mocking the Hulkster, who's been in the news this past week for bullshitting again, talking about wrestling in Wembley Stadium when he never did.

Joe looks for the Muscle Buster but Punk fights out of it. Punk also bites the forehead of Joe in an act of desperation, which draws some boos. Punk hits Joe with the Pepsi Plunge off the ropes for the win!

Winner: CM Punk (at 14:00)

Star Rating: ***1/2. A fun opening match with two pros that had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Unfortunately, all anyone wants to talk about is a backstage confrontation between Jack Perry and CM Punk right before this match that apparently got physical. Punk apparently said, "I hate this place" and his AEW status is up in the air. Again. Jesus Christ.

Match 2: The Golden Elite (Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi & Hangman Page) vs. Bullet Club Gold (Jay White & Juice Robinson) & Konosuke Takeshita (w/ The Gunns)

An all-star six man here. Ibushi is looking in better shape here than he did at Blood and Guts. Let's see how he performs. Omega is fired up early with a big flip dive wiping out the Bang Bang Gang. Ibushi and Takeshita throw down, strong style, and Takeshita really appears to rock Kota's shit on one of those forearm strikes.

The heels isolate Omega and work on his legs, trying to negate the speed of the Best Bout Machine. Just as Omega makes it to his corner, the Gunns stop Ibushi & Omega from tagging in. Eventually, Hangman tags in and is a house of fire, hitting a fall away slam on White, kipping up and diving onto Juice at ringside. More dives, more chaos, more cowboy shit.

Ibushi tags in and shows fire in throwing kicks and landing a standing moonsault. Kenny gets back in but falls victim to a Takeshita Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. We get strikes thrown from all directions, and Omega comes out on top spaming V-Triggers... well, for a moment, anyway, until Takeshita rolled him up for the win!

Winners: Bullet Club Gold & Konosuke Takeshita (at 20:30)

Star Rating: ***3/4. Wow. Never expected to see Kenny Omega lose at this event. Fun, non-stop action, but really it's a weird filler match, as it's building to Omega vs. Takeshita at All Out... but it almost seems mad that we're using Wembley matches to hype up bigger matches coming to Chicago- a place where AEW's been 500 times.

Match 3: AEW Tag Team Championship- The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs. FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler)

Big fight feel between these two teams. We see dueling hurricanranas and fists flying on both sides early. No feeling out process here! The Bucks get the advantage with dropkicks and clotheslines to the floor. Nick hits a corkscrew dive perfectly to follow up.

The Bucks isolate Wheeler. Matt drapes him over the ropes while Nick hits a Swanton. Matt comes off the second rope with a Bret Hart elbow, seriously angering their Bret fanboy opponents. Wheeler almost tagged out but Matt superkicked Harwood off the apron. Soon after, he tagged in and started suplexing everything in sight. Look out ref!

Matt comes back with the locomotion Northern Lights, and Harwood counters with an inside cradle for a great near fall. The Bucks fire up with superkicks then hit Harwood with a spike piledriver- but he kicks out! They continually steal each others moves as FTR hit the BTE Trigger before hitting the Shatter Machine for a great near fall. In a callback to their Full Gear match a couple of years ago, Wheeler misses the springboard 450 before walking into a superkick for a near fall.

The Bucks hit the Shatter Machine for a near fall. By the way, I'm not sure if they're making a conscious choice to call it the Shatter Machine, or if it's a mistake, as it was the WWE name for that finisher. The Bucks set up for a Meltzer Driver on Wheeler, but Harwood intervenes and they hit another Shatter Machine for the win.

Winners: FTR (at 21:45)

Star Rating: ****1/2. Again, highly shocking to see members of the Elite in the Bucks taking a big loss on their biggest show. This one is even more surprising than Kenny losing given the recent legal troubles of Cash Wheeler. I expected the Bucks to win and FTR, or Wheeler at the very least, to be written off TV.

Match 4: Stadium Stampede- Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta, Santana & Ortiz vs. Trent Berretta, Chuck Taylor, Orange Cassidy, Penta & Eddie Kingston

This was every bit the wild brawl that these kind of matches are expected to be, but admittedly it was more Anarchy In The Arena style, whereas the original Stadium Stampedes went all over the stadium, there's probably issues post-COVID in getting too close to fans and bleeding on them- looking at you, Mox.

We get a fun cameo from Trent's mum- "it's SUEEEEEE!" screamed Schiavone. JR's off the headset for the night. Good stuff. Sue provides some cookie sheets, but things get considerably more hardcore in different spots, particularly involving Moxley- Penta ends up driving wooden skewers into his head in a grotesque visual. Penta gets taken out with a powerbomb on a couple of chairs by Santana, giving the BCC and friends a man advantage for a little while, until Penta re-emerges in a red outfit (I guess his "evil" version?) and he sunset powerbombs Santana off a ladder through a couple of tables.

Some glass and barbed wire is introduced to up the ante even more. There's an argument between frenemies Moxley and Kingston, as Eddie is trying to destroy Castagnoli, and ultimately Kingston drives Mox through a barbed wire board. Orange Cassidy, of all people, gets hardcore by wrapping glass into his hand and smacking Claudio with the Orange Punch to end it.

Winners: Trent, Chuck, Orange, Penta & Kingston (at 21:30)

Star Rating: ****. I might be getting a little fatigued with these kind of arena brawls, particularly involving the same players- take a shot every time Mox bleeds in a multi-man gimmick match. It was good, it was violent, but it didn't hook me in the same way the other Stadium Stampede and even the Anarchy In The Arena did. Just didn't feel as inventive as the rest.

Match 5: AEW Women's Championship- Saraya vs. Toni Storm vs. Britt Baker vs. Hikaru Shida (c)

By Tony Khan's own admission, the booking of this match was a bit of a homage to the original All In show in 2018, which also featured a Fatal 4 Way that included Dr. Britt Baker. We get a couple of cool entrances with Saraya entering to Queen's "We Will Rock You", accompanied to the ring by her family. Toni Storm came out to God Save The Queen, playing into her new manic starlet gimmick.

The match started with an alliance between Saraya and Toni of the Outcasts, but it didn't take long at all for things to break down, as they argued over who would get the pin. Dissension continued when Toni got Saraya's mum to hold Britt's arm so she could hit her, but Britt moved and Toni struck Mrs. Knight instead, infuriating Saraya.

The champ Shida has a moment with a big Meteora then nails the Katana Kick on Saraya. Britt breaks it up then puts Shida in the Lockjaw. While that's happening, Saraya sprays Toni with the spray paint and hits the Goodknight DDT for the win!

Winner: Saraya (at 8:50)

Star Rating: ***. A big moment for Saraya after her career ending injury and improbable return. Along with the pagentry of her entrance with her family, that elevated this as a spectacle for me. The actual match wasn't anything great and was rather short, which speaks to what TK thinks of the women's division. Over a few years of AEW now, and the women's division has always been a weak spot. It feels like if Khan could get away with not having a women's division at all, he would. Still, good for Saraya.

Match 6: Coffin Match- Swerve Strickland & Christian Cage vs. Darby Allin & Sting

Sting and Darby came out to Metallica's "Seek and Destroy". Damn, Tony Khan is really not averse to paying for music rights, is he? Made for an awesome spectacle for sure.

Everyone was legal at once in this one. Darby produced a pair of thumbtack jackets, and both he and Sting wore them while delivering corner splashes. Ouch. Sting put Swerve through a table with an elbow drop off the apron. Not as crazy a spot as Sting has done in the past in AEW, nice to see he's not trying to kill himself at Wembley.

Luchasaurus comes down to save Christian's ass at one point, and lawn darts Darby into the coffin. Nick Wayne shows up to even the odds, but Luchasaurus slams him onto a skateboard (zero give there) and takes him to the back. Sting puts Christian in the Scorpion Deathlock, Swerve breaks it up with a chair, which Sting no-sells. Then Christian hits Sting with a low blow. No no-selling that.

Sting gets the better of Swerve and tries to close the coffin lid on him, but Swerve blocks it. Darby flies off the top, hitting a Coffin Drop on the lid, and that's enough to end it.

Winners: Sting & Darby Allin (at 16:00)

Star Rating: ***1/2. A fun outing, but not the best Sting/Darby outing in AEW. It didn't need to be though, the crowd were hot for Sting playing his greatest hits, as well as Darby flying around the place. Swerve looked like a bigger star, seeming to fit well here, and Christian was an excellent choice to put into this match. No disrespect to AR Fox, who was originally meant for that spot, but Christian, knocking on the door of 50, has completely revitalised his career over the past several months as the despicable heel to end all heels, and more than deserved this showcase spot.

Match 7: Chris Jericho vs. Will Ospreay

Jericho channelled his inner Freddie Mercury, performing his theme song 'Judas" with his band Fozzy during his entrance. He didn't sound as good as Freddie, but hey, good for him, he can say that his band played in front of 80,000+ at Wembley Stadium. Ospreay also got the big entrance with an orchestral tune leading into "Elevated", which is an absolute banger of a theme song!

Heavyweight Will Ospreay is no longer a spotfest machine, but he can still take to the skies when need be. And credit to Chris Jericho, another legend over the age of 50 who can still go, and obviously prepared well for this, hitting a sick hurricanrana counter to the Stormbreaker at one point. Ospreay hit a sick shooting star press at one point with Jericho draped on the ropes which looked like it hurt a good bit.

We get some trading of finishers and kickouts, setting that big match WrestleMania-esque tone. Kickouts of Codebreakers, Oscutters, Stormbreakers, it's all going down. Jericho got a bit too cute at one point doing an Oscutter of his own which didn't look good. Still, 52 years old trying an Oscutter, fair play to the lad. Sammy Guevara, who seconded Jericho to ringside, even got involved hitting Ospreay with a bat, but it still wasn't enough.

Ospreay hits a Judas Effect of sorts then a Stormbreaker, and a defiant Jericho kicks out and gives Ospreay the middle finger. Big Willy smashes him with the Hidden Blade- normally his "Limit Breaker" move, followed by another Stormbreaker for the win.

Winner: Will Ospreay (at 14:55)

Star Rating: ****1/2. Thought this was exactly what it needed to be. Any longer and Jericho probably would have blown up at the pace they were going. Could they have done a 25 minute battle at a slightly slower pace? Sure, but this accomplished the goal of making Jericho look like he still has it athletically against a marvellous athlete more than 20 years his junior. And importantly, Ospreay got the clean win over Jericho, despite being a NJPW star. Ospreay did mention on Dynamite that his New Japan contract is up in six months. Presenting Ospreay as a huge star, as they did here, probably goes a long way towards the Aerial Assassin signing on the dotted line with AEW in early 2024. A phenomenal match!

Post-match, Sammy Guevara tries to console Chris Jericho, but Jericho shoves him away and walks to the back alone. Sammy is the one person that's stuck by Jericho after the rest of the Jericho Appreciation Society walked out on him recently on Dynamite, so we've got some story development to keep an eye on going forward.

Nigel McGuinness gets in the ring with a microphone. For a brief moment, I thought he was there to issue an open challenge- rumours were abound of Nigel returning to the ring on this show, potentially facing Bryan Danielson. Nigel fed into that by posting a picture of himself in his gear the day before All In, looking in great shape, and referring to Bryan as "Brittle Danielson" on commentary earlier in the night. But no, McGuinness was just there to announce the attendance-81, 035 paid. Apparently the number including comp tickets etc came up to around 90,000, but they wanted to announce the legitimate paid number.

Match 8: AEW Trios Championship- The Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens &

Max Caster) & Badass Billy Gunn vs. The House of Black (Malakai Black, Brody King & Buddy Matthews) (w/ Julia Hart)

During the House of Black entrance, Wembley put the fireflies up. RIP Bray.

Early on, Julia Hart stopped Gunn from hitting a big move, so the Acclaimed took her out with Scissor Me Timbers. Pro wrestling, ladies and gentlemen! House of Black score with big kicks and a cannonball by Brody King, but Bowens kicks out.

Gunn almost puts away Matthews with the Fameasser, but the pin gets broken up. Black smashes Gunn with the spin kick, but Gunn kicks out. The Acclaimed hit the Arrival/Mic Check combo on King, but the big man kicks out. So Gunn hits a Fameasser, followed by another Arrival/Mic Check combo, and they've done it!

Winners: The Acclaimed and Badass Billy Gunn (at 10:50)

Star Rating: ***1/4. Bit of a filler match here honestly, but EVERYONE LOVES THE ACCLAIMED! A feel good moment to be sure, and Billy Gunn goes from being "retired" to being a reigning champion in AEW.

Post-match, Bowens says, "I know you brought the Badass to London, but SCISSOR ME DADDY ASS!" Gunn obliges. The world rejoices. End scene.

Main Event: AEW World Championship- Adam Cole vs. MJF (c)

Both men have their newly won ROH Tag Team Championships at hand. MJF has an awesome entrance on a throne as The Devil with hot chicks bowing to him. Living his best life.

They both wear their "Better Than You Bay-Bay" t-shirts as a sign of solidarity and show sportsmanship to start the match. After a little while, MJF hits a thumb to the eye- hey, he's honest about being a scumbag. As time goes on, though, it's Cole who's more willing to break the rules and be a bit more violent/aggressive than MJF is. Cole rips off the t-shirt, which really seems to upset Max. They fight to the outside and Cole hits the brainbuster on the steps. That looked absolutely brutal.

Later, they fight over to the announce table and MJF wants to Tombstone Cole through it, but can't bring himself to do it. Cole has none of that conflict though, and hits the move, no problem. Back in the ring, they yell at each other- "double clothesline!" Both men clothesline each other, and we get a double pin!

But no. Cole grabs the microphone, and asks for "five more minutes", just as he did on Dynamite a couple of months ago. MJF responds, "No... we're going until there's a winner in f**king Wembley!" Desperation sets in as they grab a steel chair and try to Eddie Guerrero each other- even though Cole winning by DQ wouldn't give him the title. They up the ante as Cole hits a Panama Sunrise on the floor. He tries to hit another in the ring, but manages to hit it on the referee instead! Suspend your disbelief a little there, but it looked pretty cool.

Roderick Strong comes down and low blows MJF! Cole looks conflicted, but does follow up with The Boom- and we get a kick out! Strong slides the AEW title belt to Cole. Cole thinks about it, then tosses it aside. MJF then hooks Cole with an inside cradle for the 3 count!

Winner: MJF (at 29:00)

Star Rating: ****1/2. A worthy main event. The storytelling in this was off the charts, and it succeeded where other Adam Cole matches have failed for me- it wasn't just big moves for the sake of moves, there was a clear narrative and conflict on both sides, and interestingly it was Cole who was more willing to bring the edge and be more violent. Roderick Strong played his role well too, and MJF comes out of this... someway, somehow... as something of a sympathetic figure?

Post-match, MJF looks to console a dejected Cole. "It's alright, buddy, we've still got these!" and passes him the ROH Tag Team Championship. An angry Cole tosses the belt aside, and MJF flips his lid. "You never cared about us, it was all about this?"- referring the AEW World Championship. "Have it then." He throws the world title at Cole and turns his back, allowing a free shot. Cole thinks about it, but instead hugs MJF and they celebrate together to close the show. Better Than You, Bay-Bay lives!

Excalibur sends us off with one final announcement- AEW returns to Wembley Stadium in 2024 on August 25! Huge!

Overall Thoughts

I believe that AEW All In London was a success in every conceivable way. Ticket sales, atmosphere, the quality of the event. There's haters of AEW that are always going to move the goal posts. Oh, it doesn't count because it's the UK. Oh, they'll never do it again. The same people said they couldn't get 40,000 in Wembley when it was announced.

Are AEW perfect? Hell no. They don't always build cards correctly, their treatment of the women's division is atrocious, and they seem to have a hell of an issue managing dramas backstage. But even if it's not a wrestling utopia, the fact that a company besides WWE can put on a wrestling show of that size and quality... it's a good thing for the wrestling business. It's good for the fans, it's good for the workers, and it blows my mind that there's a section of the wrestling community who are actively rooting for AEW to fail.

All In London was an excellent show, and I look forward to seeing them follow it up in Wembley next year!

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Until next time, keep killing it as always!


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Who's Behind The Blog
Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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