Wrestling Review: ALL IN (2018)

What started as an offhand remark has developed into the largest independent pro-wrestling event in history. Where Dave Meltzer saw an impossibility, Cody and the Young Bucks saw a challenge, and a 30-minute legitimate sellout of the Sears Center outside Chicacgo, Illinois has set the stage for ALL IN. A love letter to independent professional wrestling, the aforementioned Cody and the Young Bucks will be joined by the likes of Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, Jay Lethal, Stephen Amell, Marty Scurll and Penta el Zero, and many more from PWG, Impact, ROH, NJPW, Lucha Underground in front of over ten thousand rabid fans. Championships will be defended, there will be a Chicago street fight, and uncountable dream matches will take place as Cody, the Young Bucks, the Bullet Club and Chicago go ALL IN.

+ The Golden Elite (Kota Ibushi, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs Rey Fenix, Bandido & Rey Mysterio Jr.: aside from Mysterio’s questionable attire, this was insane. I’ve never heard of Bandido, so god damn, this was a shock for me. Mysterio is looking better than ever, Fenix is always great, the Bucks are such a good team, and Ibushi is insane, so this was mostly a spot-fest, I can admit, but it was very easily one of the best spot-fests of all time. All six guys were fantastic
+ Marty Scurll vs Kazuchika Okada: it was a close tie for who was going to get the biggest cheer of the night – until Okada made his entrance. This was a surprisingly one sided affair, but considering the story going in, maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise. As much as the crowd adored Okada, Scurll was able to get them back no his side with every major move he busted out. Because of my high hopes, this did feel like a little bit of a letdown, but overall it was still a servicable match with an ending that may surprise some people
+ Kenny Omega vs Penta el Zero: holy shit, Penta is a mad man. This was so god damn good I can’t even explain it. They stiffed the hell out of each other, dropped each other on their heads far too many times for comfort, and the ending may be one of the most hyped things you’ll ever see. Omega is legitimately a 10/10 worker, and dammit if Penta doesn’t get one notch higher every single time he has a match like this
+ Jay Lethal defended the ROH World Championship against the winner of the pre-show Battle Royale, and it was petty damn good. I think it was his opponent’s best match yet, and it was hard not to get excited from some perfectly executed callbacks. This was a lot of fun
+ Joey Janela (w/ Penelope Ford) vs Hangman Page (Chicago Street Fight): Jesus Christ. There was a real chance we would see somebody die in this fight, and far too often we nearly did. There was a incredible mood whiplash as the match ended on some attempted murder before the post-match shenanigans took things to the other extreme. The match itself was something you won’t be able to look away from, but the stuff afterwards will be hit or miss for each person
+ Britt Baker vs Chelsea Green vs Madison Rayne vs Tessa Blanchard: this was a fantastic match, full of back and forth action with only the ending being that little bit off. All four women looked really good, especially Britt Baker for her limited experience. On a night of good wrestling, it was especially great to see such a good women’s match
+ The Over Budget Battle Royale: as far as Battle Royale’s go, this was a lot of fun. Seeing inter-promotional brawls was fun, with Punishment Martinez vs Brian Cage a surprise favourite, and the shenanigans between Chuckie T, Beretta and Rocky Romero was a lot of fun. The winner will receive a ROH World Title show later on the main show, and the winner certainly fits the billing, and should make for a good title defense
+ SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) vs The Briscoes (Mark and Jay Briscoe): this was the opening match on the pre-show, and it really set the tone for the show. Back and forth action, an unclear good-guy/bad-guy dynamic and a raucous crowd were the highlights here. It’s a shame this was put on the pre-show

Nick Aldis (c) vs Cody (w/ Brandi Rhodes) (NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship): holy smokes Brandi looked amazing. This started well, but a weird early match section grinded the momentum, of both the match and the crowd, so a screeching halt. There were some shenanigans, as you’d expect, but this was an old school style match on a show with new-school fans in attendance. It just never clicked properly
Stephen Amell vs Christopher Daniels: Stephen Amell has been absolutely working his ass off to prepare for this, and the back and forth promos on Being The Elite have been phenomenal, but there is no way to prepare for a match like this, even if your opponent is Christopher Daniels. This might sate the fans of Amell hoping to see him do some grappling, but as far as a match goes, this was not good
MJF vs Matt Cross: there was nothing wrong with this match, but it was an interesting choice to start with two of the not-as-famous, shall we say, on the card. Matt Cross in particular is just fantastic, but you could tell the crowd was hoping, and ready, for someone bigger

Should you watch this event: For the most part, this lived up to everything it was billed as. Every match was something special, for one reason or another, and there was enough surprises to keep it interesting. For the wrestling purists, there was more than enough on offer to make this not only a success for fans, but hopefully a change in the way independent wrestling will work.

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