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SEPTEMBER 1, 2018
HOFMANN ESTATES, IL AT SEARS CENTRE
AIRED ON PAY-PER-VIEW, FITE.TV, & ROH HONOR CLUB
REPORT BY MIKE MCMAHON, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
For live play-by-play coverage of ALL IN, check out Harley R. Pageot’s report by clicking here.
Tonight, as soon as ALL IN goes off the air, join me on a special post-ALL IN PW Torch Livecast. Listen to the show at pwtorchlivecast.com or give us a call at 515-605-9345 to share your thoughts on the show!
(1) Matt Cross def. MJF via pinfall (10:00) (***)
Fun match to open the show. Some might be upset that MJF took the loss here, but he still had plenty of opportunities to show off his personality and Cross gets a huge win, in front of a huge crowd, which is well deserved for the traveled veteran. MJF is the one known for his personality, but Cross has come a long way in that department. Compare the wrestler we see today with the wrestler we saw back in his Tough Enough days, and it feels like a different person.
(2) Christopher Daniels def. Stephen Amell via pinfall (12:00) (***)
Considering that Amell has almost no experience, he looked great in the match. He was obviously green and there were some points that looked sloppy and such, but Daniels is without question the person you want in there to steer the match. The big spot was Amell coming off the top rope to the outside and missing Daniels, who was prone on a table, and he went crashing through it to the floor. Daniels got the win with the best moonsault ever.
If Amell ever trained in pro wrestling full-time, he’d be really good. You can tell that he possesses some natural instincts. It was also refreshing to see a celebrity lose in a pro wrestling match … we all know that doesn’t usually happen.
(3) Tessa Blanchard def. Britt Baker, Madison Rayne & Chelsea Green in a four-way match (13:00) (***3/4)
Wow! This was a really fun match, and kudos to all four women. They all looked great and were featured well, which isn’t easy in a four-way match.
Tessa Blanchard kicking out of a Canadian Destroyer from Green got a huge reaction from the crowd. The immediate reaction on social media was that the finish seemed awkward, with Tessa going for the pin and Madison Rayne and Chelsea Green diving in to break it up, but the referee made the three count. Maybe it was, but I liked the way it came across. It’s supposed to be a fight, so not everything is going to be so clean and seamless. There’s going to be some struggle involved. I really liked the entire presentation of this match, and I though the right woman won. Blanchard has an incredibly bright future in wrestling. In a few years, we’ll talk about her being the face of women’s wrestling.
(4) Cody Rhodes def. Nick Aldis to win the NWA World Hvt. Championship (22:00) (***3/4)
Cody Rhodes and Nick Aldis told an emotional story, and finished the match with an emotional ending, as Rhodes becomes the new NWA World Hvt. Champion, in honor of his father, Dusty Rhodes.
Almost every other match on this show is going to be about big spots, and this match had very few of them. In fact, Cody coming off the top rope to the outside and getting caught with an Aldis forearm was really the only “big” spot in the match.
I’m not a huge fan of working the “X” injury angle they ran after that spot, but that did give them the opportunity to get DDP into the ring for a Diamond Cutter on Shawn Daivari, which they were obviously looking for there (and it got a huge reaction from the crowd). Cody coming back up with blood all of his face (in white gear and blond hair) gave some added emotion to an already emotional match.
The pace of the match was much slower than the typical “indie” match, but it fit with the mantra of the NWA. The NWA has never been known for the style of match you get from ROH or New Japan, so the fact that this match was paced more slowly, and focused on telling a great story, really made it stand out.
Brandi Rhodes checking on her husband and getting hit with a Nick Aldis elbow off the top rope worked like a charm. The live crowd chanted at Aldis after the move and then booed every time he mounted one ounce of offense after that.
Cody Rhodes carrying the NWA World Championship is going to be really fun. Credit Billy Corgan and Dave Lagana for what they’ve been able to do with the NWA. Last year, when Corgan bought the brand, people laughed. It was supposedly a “dead” brand, and here it is tonight being featured heavily on the biggest show in pro wrestling.
Everything about the match — from the backstage ring walks to the finish of the match — was about eliciting an emotional response from the audience, and they did just that.
(5) Adam Page def. Joey Janela in a Chicago Street Fight (20:00) (****)
It was really smart to put this match on right after Cody vs. Aldis. The two styles were obviously going to be so different, it allowed for each match to stand out when compared and contrasted against each other.
Granted, most indie fans watching this show are well aware of Joey Janela, but if you didn’t know him before, you certainly know him now. Page and Janela went all out in this match, including Page powerbombing Janela off the stage and through a table. Penelope Ford also had some highlight moments in the match, including dumping out Page’s haunted boots.
What most people will be talking about was the post-match antics. After Page got the win, with a XXX off the top of a ladder through a table in the ring, the lights went out and men in giant penis suits (I can’t believe I just typed that) walked out on stage. That, of course, brought Joey Ryan back from the dead and he ended up taking out Page in the ring.
Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Joey Ryan’s gimmick. But Cody and the Young Bucks clearly know their audience, and the live crowd ate up Ryan’s return. After Ryan sent Page to the outside, the men in penis suits (again, can’t believe I’m typing that), carried Page to the back like Undertaker’s druids, as the crowd chanted, “Rest in Penis!”
Again, it’s not my cup of tea, but I’m glad Ryan was on the show and got to execute that segment because the live crowd absolutely loved it.
(6) Jay Lethal def. Flip Gordon via pinfall to retain the ROH World Championship (14:00) (***)
Lanny Poffo was in Jay Lethal’s corner, as Black Machismo made his return. The match suffered, I think, from the crowd sitting back a little bit. They were very into the NWA World Title match and then Page-Janela. Knowing that Pentagon-Omega, Okada-Scurll and the six-man main event was still to come, it was almost like the crowd was knowingly trying to save some energy.
There were some big spots, but I don’t think there was ever a spot where Gordon really felt like he was going to beat Lethal for the ROH Title.
Gordon just getting onto the show will be the big story for him coming out of ALL IN. He now has a natural rivalry with Cody Rhodes, and I’m sure we’ll see some Cody-Flip NWA World Title matches in the near future.
(7) Kenny Omega def. Pentagon Jr. via pinfall (18:00) (****1/2)
The finishing sequence was absolutely insane, with both men kicking out of package piledrivers. People know Pentagon, but this felt like a match and a moment where his stock rises to another level.
Meanwhile, after the match came one of the biggest surprises of the night. The lights went out and when they came back on, Pentagon was suddenly back at full health. He charged and began kicking Kenny Omega, but Pentagon pulled off the mask to reveal that it was actually … Chris Jericho!
Jericho appearing at ALL IN is obviously going to be a huge storyline moving forward. Jericho appeared for New Japan and has said, on the record, that he would never appear for another wrestling promotion in the United States out of respect for WWE and Vince McMahon. That’s out the window now, even if this was just a cameo appearance where he plugged his Jericho Cruise.
There have been rumblings that Jericho could appear for Impact Wrestling in the future, and this seemed to open the door for that as well. Jericho even went over Don Callis at the commentary table after the match ended.
(8) Kazuchika Okada def. Marty Scurll via pinfall (****1/2)
The match may have gone a little long, but considering how tired the live crowd must be at this point, they hung on every moment for the last 10 minutes. There was a very believable near-fall late in the match after Scurll hit Okada with a Rainmaker but he kicked out at two. The finish saw Okada hit Scurll with two Rainmakers before picking up the win.
Working in the big spots, they also told a really good story of Scurll trying to hang with the heavyweight in Okada. The biggest criticism of this style of wrestling is that there’s no psychology, but we’ve seen tonight in almost all of these matches that they’re pulling off big spots while also telling good stories. The announcers were really good during this match as well, getting across the big points of the story between Okada and Scurll.
(9) The Young Bucks & Kota Ibushi def. Rey Mysterio, Fenix & Bandido (12:00) (****)
These guys did what you’d expect, going about a million miles per hour in an insanely fast-paced main event. It was an excellent way to end the show, and if they had more time, it probably would have been even better.
It definitely felt like the show was running long and they needed to get the main event into the ring as quickly as possible. As soon as the Okada-Scurll match ended, the announcers threw right to the main event ring introductions, without any video package or even talking up the six-man that was going to end the show. The bell rang for the main event at 10:47 ET and they immediately got into some chain wrestling and big spots, trying to fit everything in the PPV window.
As soon as the Bucks made the cover to win the main event, the announcers weren’t even able to finish wrapping things up before the credits rolled and they were off the air. For first-time promoters, a forgivable timing error, and given the quality of the show, I’m sure no one will remember that it ran long, and will instead remember all of the big moments.