What a week for All Elite Wrestling. By far the biggest roller coaster ride of Owner Tony Khan’s career, AEW went from All In London at Wembley Stadium with the most tickets sold for any pro wrestling show ever(!!) to All Out on arguably the promotion’s single biggest star in CM Punk. Not only did they hand Mr. Brooks his walking papers mere seconds before landing in his hometown, AEW overperformed on the back-to-back PPV as they usually do when everyone questions the card on paper.
All Out was a fantastic show in the squared circle, while All In London was a spectacle unlike any other. But which was the better event? Our Moody man breaks it all down.
ROH Tag Titles: Aussie Open vs. Better Than You Bay Bay – A mostly fantastic 7-minute pre-show match to kick off the 81,000 PAID with some fire, highlighted by a Kangaroo Kick and DOUBLE CLOTHESLINE(!!!!) to give the main event another added element. New champs in a quick, yet fun one. – 3.25/5
FTW Title: Hook vs. Jack Perry – A brainbuster on the entrance ride limo kicks off another quick, but fun title match. Perry teases a high spot coast-to-coast but flips the fans the bird. Hook eventually gets his revenge with the redrum. – 3.25/5
Over The Budget Charity Battle Royal (Hangman Page vs. a bunch of midcard crappery): A ring full of mostly job guys besides Hangman, Daniel Garcia, Best Friends and Aussie Open, and not one of the better battle royals from a company that typically excels at them. Garcia’s dancing was the best part, especially his hip-shaking all the way back up the entrance ramp after being eliminated. Just fantastic. Otherwise, pretty typical stuff although I liked Cage skinning the cat following a hurricarana from Page, who won after some difficulty with the Swolverine on the apron. – 2.25/5
Hikaru Shida/Willow Nightingale/Skye Blue vs. Athena/Mercedes Martinez/Diamante – Just a way to get another women’s match on the show after people criticized AEW for having just one female bout a week early at All In. Sky Blue rocked Chi-Town gear and won to many fan’s delight, while Athena needs to move up to the main roster. She’s way overdue for that call-up! – 2.5/5
Trios Titles: Jeff Jarrett/Satnam Singh/Jay Lethal vs. Acclaimed/Billy Gunn – This was all about Rodzilla and his return to Chicago. Damn, Dennis is looking OLD. He did get in an awesome chairshot on Singh in a battle of former NBA players. Sonjay did a mockery of the whole classic Chicago bulls starting line-up segment. The best thing about all of this was that it was just 6-minutes. Acclaimed retain with Mic Drop. – 2.25/5
Better Zero Hour: ALL IN.
Real World Title: Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk – Shame that what happened.. happened, because this was the best of the two Joe/Punk matches in AEW and a promise for some BIG TIME Punk matches in the future — including another one with Joe. Punk pulled out a hilarious Five Moves of Doom into a Hulkster Legdrop on Joe. And later, we did see The Pepsi Plunge — a middle-rope pedigree finish that was a deep cut to Punk’s old ROH days. Regardless, this would be Phil’s last match in the promotion. – 3.5-3.75/5
Ring Of Honor TV Title: Shane Taylor vs. Samoa Joe – Going into Sunday there were some questionable matches on the card and this was certainly one of them. SHANE TAYLOR!!!??! REALLY??!!? Hey, it wasn’t bad. I mean, you had Joe there. And it was only 6-minutes. Taylor is a decent hand, but how many folks who follow AEW really know of dude? ROH needs to be on TV… maybe to replace Rampage? So we have an idea who’s at Ring of Honor besided the champs who are also AEW superstars? Just a thought… – 2.75-3/5
Better Samoa Joe Match: ALL IN.
BULLET CLUB GOLD VS. THE ELITE
Golden Elite vs. Bullet Club Gold/Konosuke Takeshita – Great match besides the sad fact that Kota Ibushi has lost a few steps. While he looked better here than Blood ‘N Guts in Beantown, the Golden Star is not the world class worker we salivated over in New Japan. In the 6-Man, Kota struggled/slipped on the ropes when attempting to match moonsaults with Kenny to the outside. Above that, this was all about setting up Kenny & Takeshita with Don’s new “son” getting the sneak roll-up on Omega for the win. Tons of action here and the crowd ate it all up. – 3.75-4/5
Bullet Club Gold vs. FTR/Young Bucks – So The Gunns pinned The Gun With The Gun! Because of the weekend’s circumstances, because it was in Chicago at the United Center, because there is the interesting dynamic of Punk’s worst enemies tagging with his best friends the day after he was fired, there was a lot more intrigue in this match than the Gold vs. Golden stuff at Wembley — especially for an 8-man tag that was thrown together last minute. I absolutely adored seeing FTR and the Bucks mix and match their finishers together (Shatter Machine, BTE Trigger), and The Gunns have really stepped up from being in comedy tags in the past. – 4/5
Better Elite/Bullet Club Match: ALL OUT, barely.
TAG TEAM BACK AGAIN
Tag Team Titles: FTR vs. Young Bucks – Arguably the best pure wrestling match from a show that sat over 90,000 folks, a rubber match between the two best tag teams in wrestling today and perhaps all time. Of course the mix of finishers when they super-squaded up at All Out were callbacks from this match last week, as FTR hit a BTE Trigger and the Bucks nailed the champs with their own Shatter Machine. Also kudos to the EVP’s for giving FTR the rub in the biggest match of their life. Even if you hate the Bucks, you’ve got to love this. – 4.25-4.5/5
Ring Of Honor Tag Titles: Dark Order vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman/Adam Cole – A highly questionable match coming into the card that wound up a hot opener… Look. You know Silver and Reynolds are a dynamic team, maybe the best with double team dexterity in the business. Dark Order really just isn’t a hot act ATM, but Better Than You Bay-Bay is; maybe this was TK’s proof that you could basically mix MJF & Cole with anyone and it would go over. It did, it was incredibly hot for what it was, with MJF playing babyface who gets more cheers the more he heels up (Piper all the way), Kangaroo Kicks, Double Clothesline chants (and one even from the D.O.), a returning MJF from the lockeroom (ala Hulk Hogan) following some deep neck pain, and a terrific D.C. finish with the champs retaining. – 3.25/5
Even better: After the match, Max even gets shoved on the entranceway from Joe (a deep cut to his days when he was a security extra for the big man in the WWE), turning into a brawl with Joe laying the guillotine (*cough* Hi, Punk *cough*) on Max. This sets up an obvious title match, and All Out certainly needed to set up some fresh angles for the promotion moving forward.
Better Tag Title Match: ALL IN.
Stadium Stampede: Best Friends/Orange Cassidy/Eddie Kingston/Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Blackpool Combat Club/Ortiz/Mike Santana – The Eddie vs. Claudio rivalry has been one of the most underrated in AEW, and this wild-as-expected bloodbath only enhanced that long narrative. This was a blast, and I’m real happy for the former LAX/Proud and Powerful to get the return pop in front of so many. Umbrellas, tables, ladders, barbed wire bats, boards and chairs, BBQ skewers, cookie sheets, and minivans! It was all here. Thank you, Sue! The then International Champ surprisingly pins the ROH Champ following an Orange Glass Punch, which now may mean something with Mox taking his title 8 days later. – 4-4.25/5
Eddie Kingston/Katsuyori Shibata vs. Claudio Castagnoli/Wheeler Yuta – The Saga continues, sans the aforementioned main event Mox vs. Cassidy, this time adding Shibata to the mix. The Pure Champ looked outstanding in yet another hastily thrown together match. What I liked, the tag slowed down the tempo after a furious classic strap match; but it def felt like something they could have easily had on TV. Hell, most of All Out felt that way until we saw how greatly almost everyone performed. The flat euro-uppercut finish from Claudio on Eddie prevented a higher rating. – 3.5/5
Better Eddie/BCC match: ALL IN.
Women’s Title: Saraya vs. Britt Baker vs. Toni Storm vs. Hikaru Shida – Many complained that there was only one women’s match on the show, but without Jamie Hayter, they really had no choice. At the end of the day, you’ve gotta put out the best show possible and, unfortunately, the women’s division at AEW — while deep on paper — just hasn’t lit it up in the promotion. Not having Thunder Rosa around doesn’t help either, and Tony has given countless women chances to get over. Very few have. Maybe it’s the AEW audience.
The British audience didn’t seem like a great place to showcase female talent unless they were from the UK either, so having a fatal four-way here (with Tony & the former Paige present) for the title was the right move. Putting the strap on Saraya at this moment was the right move, too. While I wanted to see a deeper run from Shida, you just had to do it in London, in front of 90,000, and in front of Saraya’s notable wrestling family. – 3/5
TBS Title: Kris Statlander vs. Ruby Soho – Let’s face it: After the surprise comeback and beating Jade, Kris has cooled off a ton. A unification seems like the right move until they can strengthen this roster. Skye Blue seems in line for something, so they could go there, or call Athena up… so there are options. This match was real good, as Soho is an excellent worker when spray paint doesn’t get in the way, and I like the story they’re telling with Toni and her (former?) Outcasts. – 3.25-3.5/5
Better Women’s Title Match: ALL OUT.
FATHER OF THE YEAR
Coffin Match: Sting/Darby Allin vs. Christian Cage/Swerve Strickland – Hearing Metallica’s “Seek And Destroy” at Wembley was mindblowing. Sting used a cricket bat. There were matching thumbtack jackets. Allin Coffin Drops.. the Coffin. OUCH. I really wish they would stop beating Swerve, one of the absolutely best talents in the company in all aspects; but with the direction for All Out I understand why you can’t beat the TNT “champ” either. This was super fun. – 3.5-3.75/5
TNT Title: Luchasaurus vs. Darby Allin – Maybe the best Luchasaurus singles match we’ve seen yet. AEW certainly has their version of “Kane” with the big Lucha man, and the co-champs thing with Christian is both hiliarious and worthy of nuclear heat. Allin’s best matches are with bigger dudes and this def worked. While Lucha’s tombstones looked weak, I give credit for the big man for protecting the little one, and seeing how Darby was all banged up from All In, Luchasaurus retaining was the right choice. This overachieved. – 3.5-3.75/5
Better Darby/Christian Match: TIE.
THE CALLIS FAM
Chris Jericho vs. Will Ospreay – The Entertainment G.O.A.T. vs. The Star Rating G.O.A.T…. Great story here with Callis, and while folks wanted another Omega/Ospreay at Wembley, the tickets were already sold and they had stories to tell–both concerning the Callis Family, which will obviously LEAD to another Omega/Ospreay match. No need to rush to it. This was fantastic because you had the former self-professed BITW keeping up with arguably the current BITW. 15-minutes, all action, few mistakes and the former Painkiller outdid himself. – 4/5
Kenny Omega vs. Konosuke Takeshita – Another banger in a stretch of bangers at All Out, my current favorite wrestler Omega battled my future favorite wrestler Takeshita. If you like knees, this was the joint for you. Moreover, Konosuke, like Starks, shot himself to another galaxy with this match — and victory — with an explosive performances that saw a DANGEROUS belly-to-back, outside brainbuster, a wicked Blue Thunder Bomb, and, later, a SUPER Blue Thunder, a massive dive on chairs and a gazillion knees. For those not keeping track, Omega is 1-5 in his last 6 on PPV; nearly the same record as the Young Bucks… – 4.5/5
Better Match With Don Callis Present: ALL OUT.
SUNDAY MORNING’S MAIN EVENT
AEW World Title: Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Adam Cole – When announced on paper, this didn’t seem like the best title match to have for such a show this big, but it wound up one of the greatest story-driven matches of all time. As I expected, there were so many twists and turns worthy of a Hollywood script (not conjured up by AI!) with newly embraced babyface MJF entering the match in a grandiose devil mode, playing the lighter side of Piper to Cole’s babyface HBK. Lots of callbacks to their own matches, many classic WWF moments of the 80s/90s, including a self-inflicted DOUBLE CLOTHESLINE (Hogan v Warrior).
Instead of 5 more minutes after a double pin, they went into Sudden Death; they have fun with the classic Eddie Guerrero chair/possum spot; we see a Panama Sunrise on the cement; MJF conflicted about the use of Dynamite Diamond Ring; Cole not accept Roddy’s interference and so forth. MJF retains, but, wow, what a ride. A hug after the bell sends almost 100,000 peeps to the mean streets of London with ultra glee. – 4.5/5
–International Title: Orange Cassidy vs. Jon Moxley – O.C. has had arguably the greatest title run in AEW history; he’s also been the most featured pro wrestler in the promotion, wrestling on all 3 shows most weeks, defending his title nearly every time in the process. The All-Atlantic thing Pac had was a weird title with a weird name and stranger purpose, and there’s no doubt that Orange has solidified the International strap as the “worker title” ala what the Intercontinental Continental championship has traditionally meant for the WWE.
Lots of odes to Terry Funk from Moxley, while Orange is the one who bleeds and keeps Jon’s head clean. This match had great pacing, awesome submission grapple work/reversals, lots of brawling and a Beach Break on the cement floor! Just me or Cassidy hitting a spear followed by his Orange Superman punch either a shot/ode to Roman? Also, awesome finish with Moxley nailing not one but two Death Riders followed by a pair of heavy lariats that nearly took Orange’s head off. What a match! – 4.5/5
Better Championship Main Event: TIE, for completely different reasons.
Trios Titles: House Of Black vs. Acclaimed/Billy Gunn – These two teams never really had chemistry from the jump, and it was the breather before the big one, so it just kinda happened. There was some solid action, lots of love for the returning Bad-Ass and a feel-good moment with the new trios champs getting in that beloved “scissor me” once again. It’s time for these teams to move on. – 3/5
Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Miro – I knew this would be a fun hoss match, but the Chitown faithful getting behind these two felt like magic. Miro really needed a big moment here and he got one, with Hobbs showing why he’s got so much fucking promise for the company as the company’s best young big-man. The Game Over break up and exhange of spinebusters was awesome, and the two goliaths had a furious pace for 15-minutes. Lots of fun Big Meat chants from the crowd. This was awesome, and saw the debut of CJ Perry and an intriguing storyline for Saturdays thrown in with it. – 4.25/5
Strap Match: Bryan Danielson vs. Ricky Starks – One of the greatest substitutions in wrestling history! Thanks to Punk, we get a faster return of The American Dragon and A-E-Dub found a nifty way to utilize Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in an angle with Starks on Collision to build this up in, essentially, 24 hours. It worked in spades, as Danielson gives us yet another classic with one arm not quite ready for return. Bryan admitted in the presser afterwards that there were a lot of “smoke and mirrors” to hide any weaknesses and he put over Starks in the best way ever, even in victory. This was a gem, and Starks elevated to the moon–especially with that great facial as he passed our from the LeBell Lock Choke via leather strap. – 4.75/5
Everything else: ALL OUT (by miles).
ALL IN LONDON
Presentation = 4.5/5
Matches = With Zero Hour = 3.5-3.75/5; Without = 3.75-4/5
Overall = 4.25/5 Johnnie Walker Blue Label Whiskeys.
Presentation = 4/5
Matches= With Zero Hour = 3.5/5; Without = 4/5
Overall = 4/5 Mikkeller Whiskeys.
Better Presentation – ALL IN
Better Matches – ALL OUT
WINNER: ALL IN LONDON.