September 1, 2018
-From Chicago, IL, in front of a sold out crowd of roughly 10,000 "internet wrestling fans." Our hosts are Excalibur, Ian Riccaboni, and Don Callis.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Matt Cross
MJF is an arrogant "better than you" kind of heel, while Cross is playing grizzled veteran babyface. Cross falls for the oldest trick in the book when MJF offers respect but cheap shots. Cross sends MJF to ringside for a handspring plancha. MJF uses referee Todd Sinclair as a shield to gain the advantage and work over the arm. Cross counters with a top rope headscissors takedown. Cross sells the arm just enough to satisfy me while rallying, scoring a crossbody for 2. MJF cuts him off with a double stomp to the bad arm and hits a package shoulder breaker for 2. The crowd is behind Cross as he fights in survival mode, but MJF gets him in the cross armbreaker. Cross escapes but suffers a nasty pendulum DDT for a good 2 count. MJF misses a moonsault and Cross hits a cutter and Shooting Star Press for the win at 10:05! Really fun opener that told a basic, yet effective story, ***.
Winner: Matt Cross
-Sean Mooney interviews NWA World Champion Nick Aldis backstage. Aldis takes all the credit for ALL IN's success and frames Cody as trying to latch on to his brand.
Stephen Amell (with Josh Segarra) vs. Christopher Daniels (with Kazarian and Scorpio Sky)
Special Guest Referee: The Whole Ref'n Show, Jerry Lynn
John Mayer is enjoying ALL IN from the front row. Your move, WWE. Bell rings, Amell shoves, and Daniels knocks him down and mocks him with a Curry Man dance. Amell wins a chopfest and delivers a takedown. Amell has been eating his Wheaties and lands a drop-kick and clotheslines Daniels to the floor. Amell sets up a table but Daniels escapes into the ring, so we'll see that table later… Lynn has to remind Amell of the rules, inadvertently letting Daniels hit a suplex. Fans chant "Fallen Angel" as Daniels works Amell over. Amell blocks a suplex through the table and hip tosses Daniels into the ring, and manages a Falcon Arrow! Amell attempts, and connects, Coast to Coast! Daniels only had to lean into it a little. Daniels shakes it off and nearly misses the Best Moonsault Ever. A struggle on the top rope results in Daniels conveniently draping himself on the table, resulting in Amell putting himself through it with a top rope elbow drop! Fans chant "Broken Arrow" while they're both down. Lynn doesn't want to see a count-out and drags both guys into the ring. Daniels is up and furious, so Lynn throws the ref shirt at him. Amell low blows and botches a roll-up for a quick 2 count. Daniels pummels, but Amell flips the bird defiantly. Desperation suplex by Amell gets 2, but Daniels hits a true Best Moonsault Ever for the win at 11:40. Pretty good by celebrity match standards, but still really sloppy and rough around the edges that petered out in the late going, **¼.
Winner: Christopher Daniels
-Mandy Leon and Tenille Dashwood (Emma) join commentary for the women's match.
Four Corner Survival:
Tessa embraces her father and Magnum T.A., making her the sentimental favorite to win here. Green has a schizophrenic gimmick and can't decide to shake hands or not, so Tessa loses her patience and attacks Rayne. Green and Baker feel each other out. Green does her own sultry version of Undertaker's "old school" rope walking, but Blanchard storms back to clean the ring. Blanchard drops Baker with a codebreaker and gorilla presses Rayne over the ropes onto the field. Green's lovable side shines as she wipes Baker out with a suicide dive. Blanchard gets caught on the ropes while diving onto the others, and stumbles up for a Rayne crossbody off the top. Back to the ring, Baker gets some shine with a series of sling blades. Rayne hits a neckbreaker on Baker, Blanchard hits a delayed suplex on Rayne. Green hits the Bro-ski boot but the match breaks down with rapid fire moves knocking them all down like dominoes. The spectacular spot-fest earns them a "This is awesome" chant. Green hits the Destroyer on Blanchard for an excellent 2 count that earns a standing ovation. Then they seemingly botch the finish as Blanchard hits Green with a Hammerlock DDT for the pin at 12:45, and there's a bit of confusion over whether or not Rayne and Baker broke the cover or not. Blanchard rolls with it, so the finish doesn't hurt that much, ***½..
Dr. Britt Baker vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
Winner: Tessa Blanchard
-Brent Tarring joins commentary for the NWA Championship match. Tarring called Cody's first match in OVW. They cut to a pretty cool Adlis vs. Cody hype video, full of clips from RIng of Honor, and footage of Dusty Rhodes as NWA Champion. The song is unfortunately some nu-metal holdover garbage, but I digress.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship:
Cody is surrounded by his wife, legends including DDP and Tommy Dreamer, Glacier, and his dog, Pharoah, and his entrance is one of the most authentically emotional moments in wrestling I've ever seen. Please, please, PLEASE let this match be good. Nick Aldis has quite the entourage as well, including Jeff Jarrett and Shawn Daivari. ROH ring announcer Bobby Cruise provides introductions and Earl Hebner is wearing the referee stripes.
Nick Aldis © vs. The American Nightmare Cody (with Brandi Rhodes and the Nightmare Family)
Bell rings and they shake hands before locking up to loud "ALL IN" chants. The fans boo Aldis when he hits a shoulder tackle and cheer for Cody's chops. Cody delivers a crisp suicide dive. Reverse suplex by Aldis on the floor! Aldis drives Cody into the ring post and directs him to the ring for chops and a hard Irish whip. Fishermen Suplex by Aldis sets up a chinlock. Desperation headbutt by Cody, who flings to his back for a Goldust punch to the face. A sequence of counters results in a double crossbody attempt. Cody's springboard dive is countered with a mid-air uppercut! Hebner checks on Cody and makes the X signal, seemingly indicating that the match needs to end. DDP comes down to will Cody on, but Daivari knocks him over and attacks Hebner. Diamond Cutter on Daivari! Hebner sends DDP away, and Aldis drags a bloody Cody back to the ring. Cody mounts a comeback, but Aldis casually ducks a moonsault. Aldis delivers an overhead press slam off the second rope! Cody kicks out after a splash and locks on the Figure Four! Aldis reverses the hold and hits a running power slam on the floor. Back to the ring, Cody can't hit the Alabama Slama, with Cody selling a back injury to cover the botch. Cody spins Aldis but misses the Disaster Kick, allowing Aldis to powerbomb him into place for a loose Sharpshooter. Cody is willed on by Brandi to make it to the ropes. Piledriver by Aldis, but Brandi enters the ring to plead for mercy. She shields Cody, but Aldis drops a flying elbow on them anyway! Aldis plays it up like an accident as the fans chant "a-hole." Cody pops up with the Disaster Kick and Cross Rhodes for a great nearfall. Aldis slips out of the vertebreaker, Cody counters a sunset flip into a pinning predicament for the win at 21:57 to a monster ovation from the fans! This match suffered some pacing issues, as well as some bells and whistles to help fill the time, but featured great emotion throughout. This was on the low end of what it needed to be, ***.
Winner and new NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Cody
-They take a break to highlight just how big the crowd is. Kudos again to Cody and the Young Bucks for making this happen.
-A campy and bizarre video package highlighting Hangman Page's ongoing feud with Joey Ryan airs. At one point there is a talking boot. I feel like I'm missing out on a really amusing inside joke.
Chicago Street Fight:
I have a high opinion of Janela after seeing him live at EVOLVE shows this summer, though he's a controversial figure due to his proud lack of fitness and history of being thrown off of buildings through burning tables. My opinion of Page has improved greatly as of late, as he's been thriving in New Japan, and it's taken a lot to make me forget how green and sloppy he was when he was first featured on EVOLVE shows.
Joey Janela (with Penelope Ford) vs. Hangman Page
Bell rings and Page aggressively takes the fight to Janela. Page hits a suicide dive and nonchalantly throws Janela into the ring, where he answers with one of his own. Page answers with a top rope moonsault to the floor. Page brings in a chair for a nasty overhead slam! Janela reverses a throw into a Cracker Barrel ™ barrel at ringside. Janela leaps off the barrel onto Page in the crowd! I would say Cracker Barrel is getting their money's worth as Janela rolls the barrel at Page, who leaps over it and nails a decapitation lariat! Page positions a table near the ring post, but Janela counters with a fireman's carry bomb into the opposite turnbuckles. Janela and Ford bridge a ladder on the ring frame and barrel. Page cuts Janela off and nails a Burning Hammer through the ladder! Page gets a plastic bag while the commentators argue about whether or not Page can be arrested if he murders Janela. Ford interferes and uses her agility to avoid Page's attacks, and hits a stunner! Ford wipes Page out with a flying crossbody to the floor! She sets Page up for Janela to hit a flying elbow through the table! The fight heads to the entrance stage where Page and Ford set up a pair of tables at the base. It backfires as Page powerbombs Janela off the stage through the closest table! Back to the ring, Page hits another lariat and the Rite of Passage, but Ford breaks the cover! Page takes the garbage bag from her and the haunted boots fall out! Page is spooked but manages to superkick Ford. Janela pops up with a superkick of his own and they both go down. Janela stumbles up and fills the ring with a ladder and table. Page grabs "the phone that he killed Joey Ryan with" and clocks Janela with it on the top of the ladder. Page hits Rite of Passage OFF THE TOP OF THE LADDER THROUGH THE TABLE and wins at 20:05! This match succeeded as a satisfying hate-fueled grudge match, and also was really campy and funny, ****¼.
Winner: Hangman Page
-Joey Ryan's dead body appears on the screen, but wait, he has an erection! The lights go down and an army of druids dressed as giant penises line up the stage, completely mocking The Undertaker's classic entrances. I wonder if the good people at Cracker Barrel knew this was coming. Joey Ryan struts out and Hangman Page looks like he's seeing a ghost. This is the best kind of stupid. Page attacks and Ryan no-sells the Testicular Claw! Page succumbs to the Penis Suplex and Ryan sticks his lollipop in Page's mouth for a superkick! The penis druids carry Page out as Ryan basks in his glory as the fans chant "Rest in penis." Somewhere, Jim Cornette is having an aneurysm. The gross-out body humor isn't my cup of tea, but I appreciate the parody of Undertaker-style theatrics.
-ROH World Champion Jay Lethal is pacing backstage when a mysterious figure hands him a pair of Macho Man glasses, which seems to have a strange effect on the champion. Could it be the return of Black Machismo?
ROH World Championship:
Well, it's safe to say this is the biggest North American audience ever gathered to see an ROH title defense. Cary Silkin is here to hold the ROH belt during introductions. Lethal extends Mega Power handshakes to both Poffo and Gordon. Bell rings and Lethal takes Brandi by the hand and tries to sit her down as if she's Ms. Elizabeth. The match finally begins and Lethal dumps Gordon after a spirited back and forth exchange. Lethal lifts Brandi onto his shoulders and she tries to slap some sense into him. The match resumes and Gordon does a cute series of kip-ups to avoid contact. Gordon scores a pair of torpedo suicidas and a plancha. They get cute with a series of suplex reversals and trade pinning predicaments. Lethal avoids a top rope attack and dishes out the Lethal Combination. Gordon knees the face and hits a Falcon Arrow for 2. Gordon springboards into a torture rack! Lethal plants Gordon and Poffo is on the apron to slap the shoulder. Lethal drops the "Hail to the King" elbow three times for only 2. Gordon hulks up and does the Hogan finger point and big boot. Lethal avoids the big boot, but Gordon kip-ups out of harm's way and nails a Sling Blade. Gordon puts together a sequence of attacks complete with a corkscrew plancha for a great 2 count. Lethal blocks a top rope head scissors and hits a neck breaker and Lethal Injection for the win at 14:20. They focused more on being clever and paying tribute to Randy Savage rather than have an epic ROH title match, which is fine, ***¼.
Winner and still ROH World Champion: Jay Lethal
"Black Machismo" Jay Lethal © (with Lanny Poffo) vs. Flip Gordon (with Brandi Rhodes)
-Gordon and Lethal make nice after the match, but Bully Ray runs in for a sneak attack on them both! Poffo valiantly tries to make the save but gets kicked out. Ray sets up a table when Colt Cabana runs in with a spear! Lethal and Gordon assist Colt in powerbombing Bully Ray through the table for an attempted feel good moment. I think Bully Ray is better utilized as a legacy babyface putting hated heels through tables at this stage in his career, but I digress.
Penta El Zero vs. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega
The fans give this a big fight feel. Omega seems disinterested early on so Penta kicks the gut and dominates the early going. Omega retreats to the floor and stops a dive with a quick hurricanrana. Penta tries again and connects with a somersault plancha. They brawl their way back to the ring, where Omega hits the rolling fireman's carry but Penta counters the moonsault! Omega's springboard crossbody to the floor is good! Omega targets Penta's arm with a missile drop-kick and hits a neckbreaker onto his knee. Penta has plenty of counters but eats a snap Dragon suplex. Penta counters One Winged Angel with a lungblower for 2. Penta misses a flying move and Omega hits a crushing Death Valley Driver for 2. V Trigger by Omega but Penta comes back with a double stomp. Omega comes back with a snap powerbomb and V Trigger for 2. Pump handle slam by Penta gets a pretty good 2 count, though I sense the live crowd is buying these nearfalls more than I am. On the apron, Penta nails a Package Piledriver! Double stomp by Penta gets another 2 count. Fans chant "ALL IN" as Omega hits a spinning piledriver and V Trigger, but Penta blocks the One Winged Angel and snaps Omega's arm back. Package piledriver by Penta gets an excellent nearfall that earns a standing ovation. Omega blocks a superkick and surprises with a V Trigger and reverse rana. Another V Trigger allows Omega to hit One Winged Angel for the win at 17:42! This was a nice exhibition of MOVES for the sake of MOVES, but was well executed and tore this particular house down, ****.
Winner: Kenny Omega
-Omega's celebration is cut short when the lights go out. Lights come back on with seemingly no surprises, but a suddenly healthy Penta is a sore loser and attacks Omega, putting him down with a ... Codebreaker? Penta removes his mask and it's CHRIS JERICHO! I did almost this exact angle in a fantasy diary once, except Penta was Green Ant, and Kenny Omega was AJ Styles. Jericho grabs a mic and says he'll see Omega on the Jericho Cruise. Jericho exits through the crowd who are appropriately jazzed about what they just witnessed.
-Marty Scurll is confronted by faceless finger wavers backstage. He breaks their fingers for criticizing him. Is this a knock at internet fans, because that's your paying audience?
Marty Scurll vs. Kazuchika Okada
Special Guest Referee: Tiger Hattori
They lock up and get a couple of clean breaks in the ropes. Okada enjoys a size advantage and challenges Scurll to a side tackle contest, which he wins handily. Scurll is fighting from underneath and Okada is managing to block and counter most of his offense. Scurll throws some quick uppercuts and superkick on the apron to set up a suicide dive, which Okada has no answer for (this time). Scurll is in the driver's seat and stomps the arm before Okada counters with a flapjack. Okada nonchalantly DDT's Scurll on the floor and brings him back with a slingshot senton. Scurll appears dazed as he hits a chop and Okada casually knocks him down for a straight jacket chinlock. Scurll cleverly breaks the hold with a lungblower. Scurll finds his second wind with a spinning DDT. Okada's back elbow comeback looks more vicious than usual and he nails a DDT for 2. Scurll seems to be fighting for his life as he hits a Brainbuster! Scurll can't seem to hit a powerbomb and Okada counters with an Air Raid Crash. A lengthy fight on the top rope results in Scurll hitting a big time superplex. After a series of pinfall reversals, Scurll wills himself into finally hitting a powerbomb! Shotgun drop-kick by Okada and a missile drop-kick for 2. Scurll is back but Okada counters with a Tombstone Piledriver! Scurll gets Okada by the fingers and snaps them apart. Okada hits a drop-kick but Scurll blocks Rainmaker and applies a chicken wing Okada breaks the hold with a backdrop, but Scurll reapplies! Okada escapes and looks for the Tombstone, but gets driven into Hattori! Scurll blocks Rainmaker with an ALL IN umbrella, but Okada tries again and hits Rainmaker for a RED HOT nearfall! Scurll signals the end but eats another Rainmaker! Okada resumes knocking Scurll off his feet, Scurll is defiant, but he suffers another pair of Rainmakers and Okada wins at 26:00! This told a hell of a story with Scurll looking to prove he belonged in the ring with Okada and this just kept building as it went along, ****¼.
Winner: Kazuchika Okada
-No post-match happenings as Okada vs. Scurll went over its allotted time and both guys probably got chewed out backstage for it.
Rey Mysterio, Rey Fenix, and Bandido Jr. vs. IWGP Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson) and Kota Ibushi
They only have about 15 minutes of PPV time left, so this is going to have to be short and sweet. Matt and Bandido waste no time sprinting through an opening exchange. Bandido connects with a head scissors and running dive in short order. The Young Bucks tag and hit tandem offense, but Fenix clears Matt from the ring and bounces around before hitting Nick with a cutter. Ibushi enters to a huge pop and squares off against Rey Mysterio (dressed as Wolverine). Mysterio scores a hurricanrana and dodges Ibushi's quick attacks. Mysterio runs into an Ibushi kick but counters a fresh Matt with a tornado DDT. Fenix tags and Matt dishes out a wheelbarrow destroyer! The tags come quickly as the match shamelessly just keeps throwing high flying spots faster than my brain can comprehend. Mysterio puts the exclamation point on with an Asai moonsault on the field. The Young Bucks continue the chaos with a running somersault senton off the entrance ramp! Back to the ring, The Jacksons throw Bandido into Ibushi for a German suplex for 2, but Bandido survives to hit a triple hurricanrana! Mysterio gets the hot tag but Matt blocks 619! They appear to set up a Meltzer Driver, but Bandido walks on the ropes for the save! Rey tries again and Matt eats 619 and Bandido's hurricanranas! Fenix and Bandido clear the way with dives, and Mysterio hits a Frog Splash for a great nearfall. Bandido hits a blockbuster variation, but the Young Bucks hold a SUPERKICK PARTY! More Bang for Your Buck on Bandido, but Fenix breaks the cover! The Meltzer Driver ends Bandido at 11:39. Completely insane, unapologetic spotfest here, obviously strapped for time, but everything they did was razor sharp and executed to perfection, ****.
Winners: The Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi
-The New Japan World version of ALL IN cuts off as soon as the bell rings.
Final Thoughts: ALL IN is an inspiring, surreal event that celebrates the past and present of professional wrestling. Four ****+ matches is nothing to sneeze at either. Enthusiastic Thumb's Up.
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