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On May 16, 2017 a fan tweeted Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter to ask if he thought Ring Of Honor could ever sell out a 10,000-seat arena. Meltzer responded, “Not any time soon.” ROH star Cody took umbrage and said “I’ll take that bet.” Less than one year later, on May 13, tickets for a 10,000-seat independent show organized and promoted by Cody and The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) sold out in 29 minutes.
The event is entitled All In and it takes place on Saturday, September 1 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Talent includes current wrestlers from Ring Of Honor, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, Lucha Underground, AAA, NWA, and many other promotions. The broadcast team and referees are likewise an eclectic mix of veteran legends and current greats. The show can be live streamed through pay-per-view, Fite.TV, or ROH’s Honor Club and will be available for streaming through NJPW World after the event is over. A one-hour kickoff show entitled “Zero Hour” will air exclusively on WGN America on cable television at 6 p.m. EST.
In many ways the event is an extension of the Young Bucks’ popular web series Being The Elite and many of the storylines have been fostered through that show.
1. The Briscoes vs. SoCal Uncensored
January 14 on Ring Of Honor television ROH COO Joe Koff told SoCal Uncensored that he was tired of their attitude and their disruptions. Christopher Daniels’ and Frankie Kazarian’s current ROH contracts expire at the end of December. Koff informed them that they would not be re-signed. Come the end of the year they’re finished with ROH. Scorpio Sky sided with his SCU partners and said that where they go, he goes. SCU have since convinced themselves that, if they’re holding ROH gold at the end of December, Koff will have no choice but to re-sign them.
The Briscoes (brothers Jay and Mark) are the most prolific tag team in ROH history with nine title reigns. Their current run began on March 9 when they defeated the Motor City Machine Guns at the ROH 16th Anniversary Show. On June 29 at ROH Best In The World the Briscoes retained the tag titles over the Young Bucks. Post-match the Briscoes looked to further attack Matt and Nick only for SCU to hit the ring with steel chairs. SCU, at the time heels, were expected to help the Briscoes but instead turned on them.
Since then SCU have done a soft face turn, bolstered by fan support from their appearances on Being The Elite. They’ve brawled with the Briscoes on ROH television and Daniels defeated Jay Briscoe by disqualification on last week’s episode. The Briscoes will defend the ROH tag titles against Daniels and Kazarian at ROH Death Before Dishonor on September 28. If SCU can win, they’ll have the gold they covet that could end up saving their jobs. At All In it’s Kaz and Sky representing SCU in non-title action.
Prediction: This will likely be our first match on Zero Hour over the battle royal and thus mean the Young Bucks’ big event both opens and closes with tag team action. SCU could pick up the win here, bolstering their momentum heading into Death Before Dishonor and kicking the show off with a babyface victory. On the other hand ROH does a good job of keeping their champions strong even in non-title matches. Sky also has the worst singles record of anyone in ROH in 2018. Jay hits Sky with a Jay Driller for the win and Kaz and Daniels try to regroup when it’s their turn to face the brothers.
2. The Over Budget Battle Royal (winner earns an ROH World Championship match later in the show)
Announced entrants so far: Colt Cabana, Cage, Brandon Cutler, Jordynne Grace, Austin Gunn, Billy Gunn, Jimmy Jacobs, Punishment Martinez, Moose, Ethan Page, Rocky Romero, Marko Stunt
The battle royal was originally advertised as having 15 entrants but Cody later said on the documentary series All Us that it’s actually going to be more than that so expect at least another four names to be added. One name that won’t be on that list is Flip Gordon. Despite the protestations of the Young Bucks and his wife Brandi Cody steadfastly refused to book Gordon for All In. This led to Brandi approaching Matt and Nick, convinced there must be something they could do. The Bucks made an offer to Mexican legend Chico El Luchador and Chico then pitched Cody on booking a few of Chico’s relatives for the battle royal including his son, his cousin’s son, his niece…
Prediction: As Chico Jr. makes his way to the ring he’s stopped at the last second by Cody’s head of security, Burnard The Business Bear. Burnard unmasks the luchador to reveal Flip Gordon. Gordon is immediately grabbed by security and dragged out of the arena. The winner of the battle royal is hometown hero Colt Cabana. Without Cabana creating a blueprint for indie wrestling success with The Art Of Wrestling and The Wrestling Road Diaries there would be no Being The Elite or All In. His win here is a small measure of thanks.
3. Adam Page vs. Joey Janela w/Penelope Ford (Chicago street fight)
It all started with another Joey. Adam Page had been obsessed with Joey Ryan for months. When an investigation revealed that Ryan’s famous “dick flip” maneuver was a work and that all his opponents had been paid off to fake it Page was enraged. He eventually confronted the “penis pretender” at a Bar Wrestling event on March 8 in Baldwin Park, California. A scuffle ensued and Ryan performed the first legitimate dick flip ever on Page. He then poured a jug of his own urine into Page’s mouth. One month later, on April 8, Ryan was seemingly attacked in his hotel room in Tokyo, Japan by an unknown assailant.
After Ryan’s wife reported him missing, Japanese police listed him as presumed dead and Page’s Bullet Club brethren began to suspect that he had murdered Ryan. Under police questioning Page admitted that he couldn’t remember anything from the night of Ryan’s disappearance but a suspicious blood stain on his cowboy boots began to haunt him. Following Ryan’s memorial service on July 2 an unseen man approached Page and grabbed him by the shoulder, claiming that he knew Page didn’t kill Joey Ryan… because he did.
All summer long Page has been haunted by nightmares of himself bludgeoning Ryan to death with a telephone. He threw away his boots so that people would stop questioning the bloodstain and has taken to going everywhere barefoot. He’s also been hallucinating the boots returning and speaking to him and has suffered from crazed outbursts where he attacked Matt Jackson and Chase Owens before coming to his senses.
Page vs. “Bad Boy” Joey Janela was announced on social media and later updated to being a street fight. The match will be the opening contest on the main card as punishment to Janela for using the BTE locker room without asking. A week before All In Janela and “Bad Girl” Penelope Ford accosted Page at an autograph signing and Janela stabbed him in the hand with a sharpie. Oh, and while SCU were visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, Scorpio Sky could have sworn he saw Joey Ryan walk past – alive and well.
Prediction: Page wrestles barefoot, which gives Janela an advantage as he stomps on the exposed feet and even puts a cigarette out on them. When Page has Janela up for a Rite Of Passage Ford makes the save by attacking Page with a kendo stick. Janela and Ford double team Page until Joey Ryan makes the save. Ryan dick flips the duo as Page sits in the corner, shaken and pale. Ryan approaches Page and assures him that he’s alive and that Page never attacked him. He tells him that he’ll explain everything later. Ryan throws Janela to Page, who hits the Rite Of Passage for the win. Tune into BTE to find out why Joey Ryan faked his own death.
4. Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell
After the apparent murder of Joey Ryan on the evening of June 4 an anonymous source sent video footage to the Japanese police. The footage in question showed a white male in sunglasses and a hood leaving Ryan’s hotel. The man in the video bore a strong resemblance to both Adam Page and actor Stephen Amell. The latter was named in the e-mail and, as a result, Amell was arrested. He would eventually be cleared of all charges when it was determined that he was in Vancouver filming the television show Arrow on the night in question.
Christopher Daniels was identified as the person who sent the footage to the police. He’s hated Amell ever since Amell first appeared in ROH at Survival Of The Fittest in November of last year. On that night Amell joined Bullet Club and teamed with Cody, Kenny Omega, & The Young Bucks to defeat Flip Gordon & SCU. Daniels views Amell’s trespassing into wrestling as just another celebrity who thinks they can walk in and instantly do what he does. He didn’t frame Amell for Ryan’s murder so that he’d go to jail; he just wanted him tied up in legal battles so that he’d have to miss All In.
This is Amell’s singles debut and only his third wrestling match. His first was WWE SummerSlam 2015 when he teamed with Neville to defeat Stardust & King Barrett. He insists that he only intended to be at All In in a celebrity host role but if Daniels wants a fight, he’s happy to provide one. He believes Daniels is simply jealous that Amell’s on the marquee and he isn’t.
Prediction: This is a big test on a huge stage for Amell but he appears to be very serious about wrestling and has been training hard with Cody. Daniels is a 25-year veteran who can still go like he could 15 years ago. If anyone can make Amell look great, it’s him. In the end Amell looks like a million dollars but Daniels picks up the win following Angel’s Wings. Daniels shakes his hand following the match.
5. Britt Baker vs. Tessa Blanchard vs. Chelsea Green vs. Madison Rayne
On June 8 at a WrestlePro event Madison Rayne & MJF were scheduled to take on Flip Gordon & Brandi Rhodes with the winners qualifying for All In. When Rhodes broke her collarbone she was replaced by Burnard The Business Bear. MJF attempted to use a steel chair and Brandi responded with a low blow that inadvertently got her friend Gordon disqualified. Baker, Blanchard, and Green were simply announced for the show on social media.
Prediction: It’s a little disappointing that there were seven women booked for All In only for four of them to be put in one match with no storyline support. Outside of Ford being in Janela’s corner, Brandi being in Cody’s, and Jordynne Grace competing in the battle royal this is it for female representation. Perhaps it’s just more incentive for the women to give it everything they have and really try to blow everyone away. Rayne’s had the highest profile this summer, challenging for the Impact Knockouts Championship, the Women Of Honor Championship, and competing in the Mae Young Classic. This one seems like Blanchard’s to lose, though.
6. Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
It’s the rainmaker versus the man with the umbrella. Ever since the match was announced everyone’s laughed at Scurll’s chances. His friend Nick Aldis encouraged him to put on weight. Okada himself questioned whether this will be Scurll’s last match before he goes to 205 Live. Jack Swagger, Rey Mysterio, and Zack Sabre Jr. are among those who have bluntly told Scurll “you’re f—ed” when they heard he was wrestling Okada. Finally Scurll reached his limit. He believes in himself again and he’s entering this match fired up and determined to prove the doubters wrong.
Prediction: Scurll puts up a tremendous fight, kicking out of more than one sequence that leaves Okada stunned, but in the end he falls to the Rainmaker.
7. Jay Lethal vs. battle royal winner (ROH World Championship)
In early May Jay Lethal took a shot to the head from a swinging door that knocked him out. In the months that followed, any time someone touched his shoulder, he would transform into “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Only upon getting touched on the shoulder again would he revert to his usual self, always with no memory of what had just occurred. This has resulted in a series of misunderstandings including thinking Lanny Poffo was his brother, Cody was Dusty Rhodes, the Young Bucks were the Rockers, Scorpio Sky was Virgil, and D.H. Smith was the British Bulldog. Doctors termed it “clinical blackouts.” Lethal visited specialist after specialist and by August everything seemed to be fine again.
Lethal offered to defend his new ROH world title against the winner of the battle royal and the Young Bucks accepted but a week before the big show Lethal glanced into his suitcase and hallucinated some yellow Mega Powers gear. Then, in the washroom, a glance in the mirror found Lethal staring at himself, dressed in full Macho Man regalia. The Lethal in the mirror vowed that the spot at All In was his and that Lethal was nothing without machismo.
Prediction: Whether Lethal is possessed by the spirit of Randy Savage or simply suffering from a split personality is moot. He’ll be fighting with it throughout the match and struggling to get himself under control. The fact that his opponent is comedy wrestler Colt Cabana means this one ought to be a blast and a fun, lighthearted break in between some more serious matches. In the end Lethal retains with the Hail To The King flying elbow drop.
8. Nick Aldis vs. Cody w/Brandi Rhodes & Burnard The Business Bear (NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship)
Arguably the second biggest story going into All In has been Cody, Nick Aldis, and the NWA title. It was the first match announced and the only match on the card when tickets went on sale. Aldis and new NWA owner Billy Corgan have been working tirelessly to bring the historic title back to the level of prestige that it had from the late ‘40s through to the early ‘90s. If Cody can win this, he and Dusty Rhodes will be the only father-son duo in history to both hold the championship.
Despite the match already being announced with the title on the line Aldis began to have second thoughts. On May 26 at ROH Honor United in England he informed Cody that he would only agree to defend his belt if Cody would also put up his once he won the ROH world title. Cody agreed but subsequently failed to capture the ROH gold on two different occasions. With no title to put up against Aldis’ belt Cody instead offered the official ring of honor from off his finger and goaded Aldis by mocking how far the NWA title has fallen in status over the past two and a half decades. Cody essentially said that Aldis will accept the match because he needs the rub.
If Cody and Aldis for the NWA title has been the second biggest story heading into All In, the biggest has been Flip Gordon trying to get booked for the show. He’s had multiple opportunities to qualify – in tag matches, singles competition, and even through proxies. None have panned out. The Bucks want him on the card, Cody’s wife Brandi wants him on the card, the ROH fans loudly chant “book Flip” when he appears… There’s only one person standing in his way.
Cody hates Flip. Maybe it’s the fact that he suspects he’s a phony, a suck-up who only says what people want to hear. Maybe it’s the fact that Flip has the hots for Cody’s wife. Maybe it’s the fact that Cody once tricked Flip into chloroforming Kenny Omega just so Cody could pretend to save Kenny’s life. Whatever it is Cody refuses to let Flip appear on the card in any way, even as a referee.
Prediction: Cody will almost assuredly have his wife and his bear in his corner for this one. Did you know that Flip Gordon was a mascot at North Idaho College before he became a pro wrestler? Flip will wear the Burnard costume and turn on Cody. The question is when. While there’s a good chance it will happen with the match in progress, costing Cody the title, I think the Cody-Dusty father-son title story is too good to pass up. Cody wins clean with CrossRhodes and Burnard beats him down after the match, ruining his celebration. A heel Flip can chase Cody for a few months before Aldis eventually wins the rematch to get his title back.
9. Kenny Omega vs. Pentagón
On July 7, while competing in San Francisco for the NJPW G1 Special, Kenny Omega fractured his heel. He continued to wrestle on it with padding throughout the G1 Climax tournament and was looking forward to an easy match at All In. Maybe a tag match or a quick enhancement match early in the card. Instead Cody booked Omega in a singles match in the semi-main event against the sadistic Pentagón.
Prediction: No real story support here so expect this one to just be an out and out great match with both men looking terrific. While there’s a chance Pentagón could pick up a surprise win, earning himself a future IWGP Heavyweight Championship match, the safe bet is Omega picking up the victory following a V-Trigger.
10. The Golden Elite vs. Rey Mysterio, Fénix, & Bandido
Early on in the build to All In it was mentioned in passing that the Young Bucks would compete in the main event. On July 28 their match was revealed when Nick Jackson, as a birthday present to himself, booked himself, his brother, and Kota Ibushi to take on the luchadores in a trios tag match.
Fénix has been called a young Mysterio so the two of them teaming together is a treat. Bandido is the unknown in this match, having worked primarily for Dragon Gate and Progress. On the final episode of BTE before All In Mysterio told actor Theo Rossi (Shades from Luke Cage) that he’s only doing the show as a favor to Cody. They both proceeded to mock “internet tag team” the Young Bucks.
Prediction: Let’s be honest, this one is going to be a lot of fun but it doesn’t matter who wins. Mysterio is the biggest name on the card and Cody and the Bucks have a lot of reverence for him. The Bucks would also likely feel a little weird putting themselves over in the main event of their own show. For those reasons let’s go with Mysterio pinning Matt Jackson following a 619.
On the second episode of All Us Cody said that he didn’t think they’d ever give away the full card. Sure enough, MJF and Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta) have both been confirmed for the show but are still without matches. Let’s go with Best Friends entering the battle royal and MJF being given mic time to insult the crowd only for Pac to show up and challenge him to an impromptu match. Pac picks up the win with the Red Arrow. He can come out again later in the night to exchange a look with Lethal after his match, gesturing that he wants the ROH title.
CM Punk does not appear.
The Young Bucks re-sign with ROH and NJPW for another two years and All In 2 takes place in 2019 in their home state of California. Triple H tries to figure out how he can get some of his NXT talent onto that show. The revolution has just begun.
Find Harley on Twitter @talkinghonor and listen to he and Emily Fear discuss all things ROH every Tuesday on the PWTorch livecast “Talking Honor.”