SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Well folks, this one feels big. The frothing at the mouth fan base of AEW is anchoring the hype for the 2021 edition of All Out that on the surface is ensemble in nature, but if you’re Tony Khan, an excited fan base is what you’re working for, so a job very well done in that department.
Even though this is an ensemble card in many ways, it features C.M. Punk’s return to the ring. Again, that’s a big deal. Punk has been away from the squared circle for over seven years and there is significant intrigue in seeing what he can do. Darby Allin is a curious opponent given his babyface alignment, but Khan and company have built a hot match that has enough sizzle to mirror the obvious anticipation that wrestling fans have for it.
For the second PPV in a row, the show lacks a proper main event level AEW World Championship match. Kenny Omega vs. Christian Cage is a rematch and one that the collective audience was lukewarm on to begin with. What matters now is what happens Sunday. Ensembles work if the card delivers in the ring. A surprise or two will also help shape the perception of the show when everything is said and done.
Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?
Kenny Omega vs. Christian Cage – AEW World Heavyweight Championship
Maybe I’m the only one who thinks so, but this match fits on this card. With Punk making his return and MJF vs. Chris Jericho being a possible retirement match for Jericho, this serves its role as a mid-card level world title match. AEW’s problem is it only has four PPV events a year and now two this year have been taken up by this type of a title match. With so much left on the table for Omega as champion, I’d bet the house he retains.
Britt Baker vs. Kris Statlander – AEW Women’s World Championship
This is trouble. Baker is the most over babyface act on the AEW women’s roster, but is cast as a heel opposite a hard to buy alien act in Statlander. This will deliver in the ring, but the story will suffer due to the audience reactions not lining up with the narrative. It’s Baker’s time and she wins and remains champion.
Miro vs. Eddie Kingston – AEW TNT Championship
The perfect kind of A to B booking. Miro, the bad ass heel bully and Eddie Kingston, the veteran standing up and confronting said bully head on. Simple, effective, and rooted in the charisma of both guys. Kingston is the right opponent for Miro given where he is on his trajectory in the company. This will be brawling in nature with god’s favorite champion reigning supreme in the end to retain his TNT Championship.
Chris Jericho vs. MJF – If Jericho loses, he can never wrestle in AEW again
The best built match on the show. Both Jericho and MJF have been believable with their promos and cultivated an environment where the audience is submerged into the story they woven for nearly a year. They’ve defined clear lanes for the audience to follow in terms of who to cheer and there are high stakes involved too. As impactful as it would be for MJF to take Jericho’s in-ring career, this looks to be the end of the story and we’ll see Jericho finally win to gain full comeuppance on his dastardly former friend.
The Lucha Brothers vs. The Young Bucks – AEW World Tag Team Championship Cage Match
Not a lot to digest from a personal story perspective with this one. That mainly has to do with the fact that the Lucha Brothers earned this opportunity after winning a number one contender’s tournament. That said, the match doesn’t really need one. The booking has done enough to justify the cage match thanks to the constant interference that the Young Bucks get on their behalf from the Elite. The match quality drives the intrigue, too. Both teams are premiere talents and the cage gives them a new canvas to paint on. It’s still the Elite’s world and everyone else is living in it. Due to the lack of story, now would be a peculiar time for a title change, which is why the Bucks will walk out victorious.
Women’s Casino Battle Royal
Well, I’m glad they made an effort to weave a batch of stories into and through this match. I sense a surprise here, though. With Ruby Soho’s (Riott) name popping up thanks to well worked and well-timed personal vignettes, look for her to appear and steal the victory, thus giving the women’s division a much-needed boost at the top.
Jon Moxley vs. Satoshi Kojima
Ok, there isn’t anything wrong with this match outside of the fact that the world was teased with Moxley vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi first. I expect a hard-hitting affair with Moxley getting a clean victory, so as to stack up the wins against New Japan talent, leading to a showdown with Tanahashi in the coming months.
Q.T. Marshall vs. Paul Wight
Entrances, brief Marshall momentum, massive Wight chokeslam on Marshall. Pin. Over. Thankfully.
C.M. Punk vs. Darby Allin
It’s Chicago, it’s Punk’s first match in seven years, so Punk is taking the W. The question is how. Do they protect Darby? Maybe both show respect to one another with a handshake at the end? The latter is probable. Punk has a lot riding on this one. With ratings only spiking minimally in certain areas for him, a memorable performance could hook those that are new to him. Allin is a great opponent in that he generates a ton of movement and can sell. I’m expecting this to be well thought out and well wrestled by both men, giving Punk a suitable showing for the first time out in AEW.