On September 3, 2018 I published an article reviewing the historical show ALL IN. Just eight months later, the same group of guys who betted on themselves, have officially started a revolution.
First off, this was a super solid card. Almost every match was good. Don’t get me wrong, there were some mistakes and botches. But none of them ruined the experience.
Going into this show, I was super curious to see how the energy would match to ALL IN. And this is what I felt, nothing will EVER compare to ALL IN. ALL IN was a truly special because of its unique circumstances. It was my WCW moment. No one ever thought we would get it again with the titan that is WWE being around. But what makes AEW different to ALL IN is that it’s not a WCW type of moment, it’s a wrestling movement.
The night was filled with plenty of holy sh*t moments and beautiful wrestling. But instead of just letting all the emotions pour out making a messy read, lets briefly go through every match of the night!
Pre-show: The Buy In Battle Royal
The Battle Royal was actually the match I was probably looking forward to the most. Mainly because I remembered how fun the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ from ALL IN was. AEW had a unique take on the match. Contestants were put into groups of five and would come out every three minutes. The contestant who pulled the joker card would become the final entrant, lucky number 21. As expected I laughed, cheered, gasped, and winced at pain during the whole thing.
My favorite moment of this battle royal was hands down the world class, technical wrestling, that was displayed by Orange Cassidy. I’ve posted the clip down below so you could see the onslaught he unleashed on ECW Legend, Tommy Dreamer. Full discretion, this is border line murder. What made this hilarious moment even more special was how the crowd participated.
This match was a ton of fun and ended with a strong conclusion. The winner of the match was Adam ‘Hangman’ Page. I think everyone had a feeling this would happen, but that didn’t take away from the moment. It’s a shame because the Pac vs. Hangman match would’ve been amazing. But maybe this was for the better. Now, down the road we’ll have Hangman vs. Jericho.
Winner of the ‘Buy In Battle Royal’: Adam ‘Hangman’ Page
Pre-show: Kip Sabian vs. Sammy Guevara
Full disclosure before I give my thoughts on the match, I didn’t see much of it. Listen, I hadn’t eaten all day so I pretty much stood in line for that entire match. But from the little bit I was able to see, I really enjoyed. The spots seemed very cool and from what I could hear it got the crowd ready for the main show.
Winner of the match: Kip Sabian
SoCal Uncensored vs. StrongHearts
SoCal Uncensored vs. Strong Hearts was a super solid tag team match. Having SCU come out first to start the night was a smart move. The team of Christopher Daniels, Scorpio Sky, and Frankie Kazarian know there audience well and they know how to get the crowd ready for a show. I never saw Cima in action but I had heard a lot of good things. Knowing how hold Cima was, his performance was impressive to me. Luckily everyone got their own spot, and I’m looking forward to seeing the ongoing relationship between AEW and OWE (Oriental Wrestling Entertainment).
Winner of the match: SoCal Uncensored
Britt Baker vs. Kylie Rae vs. Nyla Rose vs. Awesome Kong
This was definitely a match I was really looking forward to. The only person I had seen perform live was Britt Baker, which was at ALL IN. Before the match even begun Brandi Rhodes came out to make a special announcement. Everyone assumed (I as well) that Brandi would just put herself in the match. Instead she introduced the newest AEW signee, Awesome Kong. Awesome Kong made a name for herself when she was in TNA a few years back. She also had a very short run in WWE. The match was fast paced and set a good tone for how the women’s division in AEW will be ran. Britt Baker is the ace of the women’s division, and I do think that Kylie Rae will be one of AEW’s biggest stars.
Best Friends vs. Angelico & Jack Evans
The team of Chuckie T and Trent Berreta took on Angelico and Jack Evans in a fun tag team match. Both teams seemed to really understand each other going into the match which completely paid off. Spot after spot was delivered in order to one up each other to secure the victory which had the crowd hooked from the beginning. I’m an easy man to please when it comes to pro-wrestling, that being said if The Best Friends are involved I’m instantly in. And for good reason, they’re always entertaining.
I had never seen Angelico and Jack Evans perform prior to the match. But again the chemistry between both teams allowed each member to have impressive, explosive, spots. This match did its job in the sense that it made me care about the team of Angelico and Evans. When the match ended both teams came together to hug it out. However they were interrupted by an unnamed team and their goons. I believe it was the Super Smash Bros.
Winners of the match: Best Friends (Chuckie T. & Trent Berreta)
Hikaru Shida, Riho, & Ryo Mizunami vs. Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki, & Emi Sakura
I don’t have much of an opinion on this match. It had plenty of fun spots that displayed the athleticism of these ladies. There were a decent amount of botches and the match should’ve been a bit shorter. I think this would’ve been a match that could’ve benefited from a quick 10 minute match that was non-stop action. But I completely understand why it was as long as it was. AEW needed to display what these women could do and why you should care about them. It just wasn’t executed as sharply as AEW might’ve hoped for. Luckily it’s the first of many shows so these women will have more and more opportunities to prove themselves.
Winners of the match: Hikaru Shida, Riho, & Ryo Mizunami
Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes
This match was exactly what the card needed and was in the perfect spot. The crowds energy after the previous match was pretty low. Right when the promo for the match came on screen, the crowd was instantly rejuvenated. Cody’s connection to the crowd is so special and unique. We can feel his passion every time he gets in the ring because he is always giving 100%. The story and motivations for each guy made sense. What I specifically loved was Cody’s motivation. It wasn’t the typical older brother vs. younger brother story. To Cody, Dustin represented an era (specifically the Attitude Era).
Both Cody and Dustin were fighting for something different. Dustin was fighting for his own story of redemption. It was all believable and real. He was showered with thunderous applauds and cheers when he made his walkout. Matches like this really do display how storytelling in pro-wrestling can be meaningful and magical.
Cody’s entrance could be an entire article as well. In the center of the stage sat a thrown that was clearly representing Triple H and the WWE. Brandi gave Cody a sledgehammer that he would later use to destroy the thrown. As if shots weren’t clearly fired before, they were officially fired now. The crowd absolutely erupted when he struck the throne. It may have been one of the loudest moments I had heard in person for pro-wrestling. (Until the end of the night of course)
The conclusion of the match felt a bit abrupt. However it had an extremely satisfying and emotional pay off. Cody didn’t let Dustin retire. Instead he told him he needed his brother for a match against the Bucks later down the road. Both of the Rhodes brothers performances were truly great.
(If you haven’t seen Cody’s promos on the ‘Road to Double or Nothing’ YouTube series, please check it out. They may be some of Cody’s best promos.)
Winner of the match: ‘The American Nightmare’ Cody
AAA World Tag Team Championship Match: The Young Bucks (c) vs. Lucha Brothers
This was arguably the best match on the card. It delivered on everything it had promised to be. Everyone was expecting crazy spots and an insane amount of false finishes. That’s exactly what we got. But to say that the match delivered is an understatement, it over exceeded my expectations. I loved that the Lucha Bros and Bucks knew each others stuff so well that nothing really landed for the first minute. The non-stop reversals really got the crowd glued to the match and made the first spot that much more explosive.
Penta and Fenix may be one of the best tag teams I’ve ever seen. They are so fluid and sharp with almost every move they do. Both Penta and Fenix shined in their own ways when they were alone. But when they worked together as a team, they pulled off insane moves beautifully.
But The Young Bucks were no slouches in this match whatsoever! They did a great job in playing into the fact that they had been inactive for a while. It seemed like they couldn’t keep up with the Lucha Bros at first (which was intended). But once they knocked off that rust, they matched almost everything the Lucha Bros did. If someone who didn’t watch wrestling wanted me to show them one match from this show, this would absolutely be the one.
(All in all, there was plenty of solid, and great, tag team wrestling on this card.)
Winners of the match: The Young Bucks
Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega 2
AEW delivered with a super solid main event. Both men beat the hell out of each other during the entire match and told a great story while doing so. Jericho is a fantastic heel and is arguably the best to ever lace a pair of boots. Omega put on the performance you’d expect from him at this point. While Jericho may be the greatest to do it, Kenny is surely the best in the world right now. I was pretty surprised with the ending of the match. I didn’t expect Jericho to come out victorious. But either way it makes for exciting future match ups. Adam Page vs. Chris Jericho will be a must watch match for sure.
Winner of the match: Chris Jericho
AEW needed to make a statement before the night was over. If the show had ended with Jericho beating Omega, it would’ve been equivalent to just putting a period at the end of the sentence. AEW didn’t do this, and instead they ended it with an exclamation point. The hottest free agent in professional wrestling Jon Moxley (formerly known as Dean Ambrose) made his debut.
Ironically, Moxley made his way to the ring through the crowd just like used to when he was in WWE. The noise of the crowd was like a giant wave as everyone started to realize he was in the building. While Cody may have had one of the loudest pops, this was probably the loudest moment I had heard. Fans were hoping he’d make an appearance (especially since he’s a Vegas local) in some way, and he actually did. Moxley took out both Jericho and Omega (as well as the ref) as a way to make a statement to the AEW roster that he had officially arrived. Omega was thrown off the stage while Moxley stood tall reining the true victor of the night.
This was the exact message AEW needed to make. This was the perfect way to start a revolution in the world of pro-wrestling. And I couldn’t think of a better man to do it. Welcome to All Elite Wrestling, Jon Moxley.
Special thanks to Michael, Rob, Jake Manning, my dad, and the Highspots crew for letting me help at Starrcast 2. It was a ton of fun and I genuinely appreciated the experience. Working at the convention wasn’t even work to me, it was a dream come true.
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