The SmarK Rant for AEW All In – 08.27.23
It’s finally time! And I got called into WORK THIS MORNING. Goddammit. So I didn’t get to watch the show until well after it was finished, and thankfully was able to avoid spoilers by turning off notifications on my phone.
Live from Wembley Stadium in LONDON, BABY. What is there, like 10 or 12 thousand people there?
Your hosts are Excalibur, Nigel McGuinness & Jim Ross/Tony Schiavone/Taz
“Real” World title: CM Punk v. Samoa Joe
So how does clobbering time work if they’re in the UK? Do you have to account for Greenwich Mean Time before you clobber someone? Anyway I kind of thought everthing was building to some kind of submission match but I guess not. The crowd is firmly on the side of Joe tonight as they fight for the lockup. Punk gives him some chops to annoy him and grabs a headlock, holding on through a suplex and forcing Joe to make the ropes. So Joe hauls him out of the ring and teases a dive into the railing, but Punk wisely evades that and heads back in the ring. So Joe beats on him with chops and Punk takes some goofy bumps in the ropes off that. Punk tries a crossbody and Joe moves out of the way, so Punk holds up and then hits him with a rana instead to put him on the floor. But then he dives, and this time Joe DOES walk away and Punk lands on his face. Ha ha, take that, CM. Punk sends him into the post and tries another rana, but Joe swings him into the table and breaks the front of it to bust Punk open. Back in the ring, Joe slugs away on the cut and puts him down with a back elbow. Punk fights back, but Joe hits him with the enzuigiri in the corner. Punk fights back again and Joe hits him with the atomic drop and senton for two. Joe with the muscle buster, but Punk escapes and puts Joe down with a high kick and they’re both out. Punk comes back with shoulderblocks and offers a little tribute to John Cena and then Hulk Hogan, but Joe kicks out at one. Joe with the comeback and he slugs away, and the powerslam gets two. Armbar, but Punk rolls him over for two. Joe powerbombs him for two. STF and then crossface follow, but Punk rolls him over for two. Punk with a high kick to put Joe down and he gives us a Terry Funk spinning toehold, but Joe cradles for two. Punk with the knee in the corner, but Joe slams him with the STJoe and then chops him to the apron. They fight to the top and Punk bites him and brings him down with the Pepsi Plunge to finish at 14:00. Excellent opener as Punk was having fun out there and it showed. ****
Kenny Omega, Hangman Page & Kota Ibushi v. Jay White, ROCK HARD JUICE ROBINSON & Konosuke Takeshita
The Elite double-teams ROCK HARD Juice Robinson and works on his arm, so he tags out to Jay White, and he has words with Kota Ibushi. They trade takedowns and Jay slaps him in his BEAUTIFUL FACE, which I do not approve of. So Kota kicks him down and sends him into the Elite corner, and the Golden Lovers double-team him. Over to Takeshita and he fights off both guys, but Omega takes him down with a rana and puts him on the floor. This sets up the Terminator Dive on White and Takeshita. Back in the ring, Kenny fights off the Gunns, but misses a flying bodypress as a result and White takes over on him. Takeshita slugs away while Juice annoys the babyfaces, until Kota comes in and slugs it out with Takeshita. Kenny slugs back on Takeshita, but Takeshita hits him with the Warrior clothesline and it’s back to White for a chinlock. Kenny fights out, so White takes him down with a legwhip and goes to work on that. Juice beats on Kenny in the corner, but he flips away from the heels and the Gunns take out the babyfaces to prevent the tag. Another try and Hangman gets the tag this time and runs wild on Jay White with the slam and dive to the floor. Back in with a flying clothesline on White for two. White escapes the Deadeye and Ibushi makes the blind tag and beats White down with chops, and a standing moonsault gets two.
Omega and Ibushi hit stereo moonsaults to the floor, albeit with a bit of a timing issue, and the Elite all hit White with clotheslines in the corner and then suplex him until his brains fall out of his butt, as Dalton Castle would say. Ibushi with a german suplex for two. Ibushi with a high knee, but White hits him with a uranage and it’s back to Takeshita. He trades forearms with Omega and Kenny runs wild with snapdragons on the Bang Bang Gang, but Takeshita catches him with the Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Omega with a poison rana for two and they fight to the top, but ROCK HARD Juice Robinson breaks it up. So Kenny hits him with You Can’t Escape and Page adds his own moonsault and then hits Takeshita with a blockbuster slam off the top for two. Page goes for the Buckshot and the Gunns annoy him, so he moonsaults them and tries the Buckshot again. White saves Takeshita from that and takes Page out with a knee strike, but Kenny and Ibushi double-team Takeshita. Ibushi goes for the kamagoye but Takeshita just MURDERS him in his BEAUTIFUL FACE with a knee strike and knocks him silly. Page with the Buckshot on Takeshita, however, and Kenny tries for the V-Trigger, but White breaks it up. So Kenny takes him down and hits both Juice and White with V-Triggers, only for Takeshita to roll up Kenny from behind and pin him at 20:38. Oh the crowd didn’t like that one! Push this guy to the moon I say. Ibushi still seems kind of unmotivated but this was great otherwise. ***3/4.
AEW World tag team title: FTR v. The Young Bucks
Dax trades headlocks with Nick to start and Cash comes in and powerslams Matt. Dax slams Cash onto Matt for two and we get ranas from both sides, leading to a slugfest in the middle. Bucks dropkick and clothesline FTR to the floor and they regroup outside, but Nick hits them with a corkscrew plancha. Back in, the Bucks double-team Cash with a senton in the corner for two. Matt with a legsweep and middle rope elbow for a little Bret Hart tribute. Cash with a sunset flip, but Nick gets a blind tag to break that up and the Bucks go back to double-teaming Cash again. Dax is pulled away from the corner and can’t make the tag, and then Matt superkicks him off the apron for good measure. Cash rolls up Matt anyway for two, but Matt gets a DDT for two. Bucks have some miscommunication and Cash gets the hot tag this time and Dax runs wild and suplexes the Bucks onto each other. Rolling germans on Matt, but Matt turns it into the rolling northern lights. They trade suplexes again and Dax cradles for two. Rollup gets two. Bodypress gets two. Matt with a northern lights suplex for two. Dax with a german for two. Nick comes in and Dax gets the slingshot powerbomb, but Nick rolls through and Dax hits it on a second attempt. Matt saves, but Dax puts him in the Sharpshooter and Cash gets a Sharpshooter on Nick on the apron. Well Cash IS the expert on sharpshooting.
The Bucks escape from that and double-team Dax with the Powerplex, but Dax gets the knees up and backslides Nick for two. Nick with a sunset flip, but Dax rolls through into a spike piledriver in the corner for two. Bucks come back with their own piledriver for two on Dax. BTE Trigger is broken up by Cash, and he takes Nick to the floor with a spear, leaving Matt alone with FTR. So it’s an FTR TRIGGER to set up the Shatter Machine, which gets two. Cash teases a springboard 450 in a deep cut, and Dax superkicks Nick, but Cash misses the 450 again and Matt superkicks him for two. BTE Trigger on Cash gets two, and Dax makes the save. Bucks with their own Shatter Machine on Dax and another BTE Trigger on Cash…gets two. They had me with that one! Bucks With the Meltzer, but FTR catches them with another Shatter Machine on Nick and retain the tag team titles at 21:52. Incredible tag team wrestling here. ****1/2. FTR offers a handshake but the Bucks walk away from them. Hopefully they don’t cut off Cash in traffic any time soon.
STADIUM STAMPEDE: Mike Santana, Ortiz, Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta v. Eddie Kingston, Penta, Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy
Interesting that Santana now has a first name. Eddie and Claudio immediately attack each other, and we get a showdown with Best Friends & Proud and Powerful in the ring. Moxley has a branding iron to pay tribute to Funk, and Penta cleans house on Santana & Ortiz with a chair and then hits them with sling blades while Eddie & Claudio disappear backstage. Penta hits Santana with a backstabber, but Moxley lays out Penta and hits him with the Paradigm Shift. So Moxley, already bleeding, has some bamboo skewers with him, but Penta sticks them into Mox’s head and Mox runs around with them sticking out of his forehead. Now that’s a tribute to Terry Funk. Penta with the Made in Japan for two. Santana breaks that up and slugs away on Penta, and a piledriver on the chair follows, which seems to take out Penta for real. So Orange attacks Moxley with his shoot kicks, and Moxley pulls out a FORK and mauls Orange with that. Really he should have used a zester. Moxley gives Orange a brainbuster onto an open chair and rakes barbed wire on Trent’s face. Meanwhile Eddie and Chuck fight with the BCC in the royal box. A ladder gets involved in the ring and Santana and Ortiz powerbomb Trent onto that in the corner, and then Moxley suplexes Trent onto a barbed wire board. Ortiz goes up with a flying splash for two off that. To the floor, where Moxley piledrives Trent onto the stairs in a brutal move, and Ortiz forks Orange’s head even more. But then when all hope is lost, it’s SUE in the van to make the save. Moxley goes after her, but the Best Friends retrieve weapons from the van and make the comeback using her cookies. And then Penta returns from the back, as Dark Penta, and after some ladder problems, he powerbombs Santana off a ladder and through a table. Man that almost went all Pete Tong. Back in the ring for the Best Friends Hug before they all beat on Wheeler Yuta. Yuta manages a Seat Belt on Chuck for two and grabs the screwdriver, but misses with it and Chuck hits the Awful Waffle for two. Claudio saves and takes Chuck out before hitting Orange with the Giant Swing while Ortiz and Trent go through another table. Ricola Bomb is reversed to the Orange Punch, and that gets two. So Orange retrieves some duct tape and tapes up his hand, then coats it with broken glass, but Moxley is like “Hold my broken beer bottle” and takes him out. So Orange DDTs Moxley on the glass, but Claudio hits Orange with the Swiss Death forearm. And then Eddie Kingston returns and he’s had enough of this shit, just smashing Claudio with a chair repeatedly and hitting both Claudio and Moxley with backfists. And then Orange hits Moxley with the loaded Orange Punch and pins him at 21:29. This was like a Mel Brooks joke where it started awesome, went a bit too long and overdone, and then just kept going and kept getting more and more silly and overdone until you thought it was going to get fired, and then it went all the way around and became awesome again by sheer force of willpower. That whole finishing sequence was incredible and perfect and everything ridiculous and amazing I love about pro wrestling. *****
AEW Women’s title: Hikaru Shida v. Saraya v. Toni Storm v. Dr. Britt Baker DMD
Everyone brawls to start and the Outcasts double-team Shida with a powerbomb, but Britt hits a neckbreaker on Saraya for two. The Outcasts double-team Britt and Toni hits the hip attack for one, but Saraya wants the pin and they get into a scrap over it. So Shida hits them both with a high knee in the corner and suplexes Saraya into Storm. Britt hits Storm with a sling blade and they fight on the floor, but Storm accidentally nails Saraya’s mom at ringside. Well that’s awkward. Back in the ring, Toni tries to make amends and Saraya attacks her for the slugfest. This brings out Ruby to make peace, but Storm turns on her and gets rid of her. Really they’re better off splitting up that team and pushing Storm as a single again anyway. The Storm starlet character doesn’t work as a team member. Saraya tries the Scorpion crosslock on Storm, but Britt stomps Toni to break it up and that gets two. Shida attacks Britt and slams her onto Saraya after an awkward spot, and Shida goes up with a meteora on Saraya for two. Katana Kick on Saraya gets two, but Britt saves with the Lockjaw on Shida. Shida rolls her over for two, but Saraya sprays paint in Storm’s eyes and hits her with the Rampaige DDT to win the title at 9:00. Should have been Jamie Hayter getting that moment but you had to put a local over in one of the matches. Match was only OK. **1/2.
Coffin Match: Swerve Strickland & Christian Cage v. Darby Allin & Sting
Tony Khan has used those WBD connections to get “Seek & Destroy” for Sting again tonight. Well at least we know that if Goldberg signs, they can use “Crush ‘Em” for him. Darby immediately retrieves some studded jackets from the coffin while Sting beats on Nana and Swerve with a cricket bat. Christian necks Darby to break up that rally, and the heels spear the babyfaces, allowing Christian to tape Darby’s hands behind his back. Darby comes back with a moonsault anyway, and then dives onto Swerve outside with his hands behind his back. Sting tries to put Swerve in the coffin, but Christian saves and runs Sting into the stairs. Back in the ring, Christian beats on Darby with a chair, but Darby fights back with a stunner on the apron and then Sting hits Swerve with a dive onto a table. It doesn’t break, so Sting goes up and tries it again and this time accomplishes his goal. Darby puts Christian onto a chair and goes up with a missile dropkick to the floor, but they can’t close the coffin on him. Luchasaurus saves and drops Darby on the coffin, but Nick Wayne shows up and attacks with a skateboard before getting chokeslammed on the board for his troubles. Darby tries a coffin drop onto Swerve on the coffin, but that misses and Darby dents the coffin with his body as Excalibur references Coffin Flop. Pretty sure David Zaslav would cancel Coffin Flop. Back in the ring, Sting gets fired up and puts Cage in the Scorpion, but Swerve saves with a chairshot and Christian goes low and uses the bat on him. Swerve goes up with the flying stomp and they bring the coffin into the ring and Swerve shoves Sting into that, but Sting uses the bat to keep the lid open. So Swerve slams Sting on the coffin and goes up again, but he tries a 450 and hits the coffin. So Sting hits Swerve with the death drop on the coffin and puts him in, but Swerve is still fighting him. So Darby hits him with a coffin drop on the lid, and they shut it for the win at 15:54. This was about as good as you were going to get out of the match given 63 year old Sting. ***1/2. I guess we can call him Darby All In from now on.
Chris Jericho v. Will Ospreay
They slug it out to start and Ospreay dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a Sky Twister Press to level Jericho. Back in, Ospreay with a springboard elbow for two and they exchange chops and then boot each other down at the same time. They slug it out and Will is clearly the crowd favorite despite the presence of Don Callis, but Ospreay goes to the apron and Jericho hits him with the dropkick to the floor. Baseball slide and they trade chops on the floor before Jericho hits him with a german suplex on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in the ring, Jericho with a delayed suplex for two, so delayed they should call it the Fight Forever DLC. They slug it out again but Ospreay hits a handspring corkscrew kick and standing shooting star for two. Did he fail science class where they learned about gravity? He goes up and Jericho cuts him off and brings him down with a rana for two. Lionsault hits knees, however, and Ospreay suplexes him on the top rope and hits a shooting star press to guillotine him for two. Jericho blocks the Os-Cutter with a codebreaker, which gets two. Ospreay blocks the Judas and hits the Os-Cutter for two. Stormbreaker is reversed into a rana by Jericho and he rolls through into the Walls of Jericho, but Callis takes the ref and Sammy hits Ospreay with the bat. Ospreay fights out of the move, however, and gets the Spanish Fly for two. Jericho with another codebreaker and he gets his own version of the Os-Cutter and that gets one. Ospreay comes back, but Jericho gets a low blow behind the ref’s back and hits the Judas Effect for two. That’s the first time I can recall anyone kicking out of that. Jericho with the Walls again, but Ospreay rolls him up for two. He rolls into the powerbomb and cradles for two. Ospreay hits him with a back elbow and Stormbreaker, for two. Ospreay sets up the Hidden Blade, so Jericho tells him to bring it on. So he hits it, and follows with another Stormbreaker, and that finishes at 14:54. Yeah this way overdelivered. You could tell that Will Ospreay was gonna have a banger or die trying. ****1/4.
Nigel McGuinness announces that the attendance is 81,035, setting the new record for a wrestling show.
AEW World Trios title: The House of Black v. The Acclaimed & Bad Ass Billy Gunn
The chosen stip is no holds barred, and it’s immediately a huge brawl as Black moonsaults Caster on the floor. Billy is left alone in the ring with Brody and that leads to Brody diving onto the pile outside while Julia distracts Billy. So the Acclaimed give her Scissor Me Timbers, (Taz: “Right in the yambag!” Nigel: “WHAT?!?”) but the House triple-teams Bowens into a Brody elbow strike for two. Oh and Mercedes Mone is apparently in the audience. I’m sure wrestling Twitter will have a totally normal reaction and discussion of that. Brody takes Billy to the floor and tries to splat him into the railing, but that misses and Billy breaks a chair on his head. Back in the ring, Billy gets double-teamed by Black and Buddy, but comes back and fights them off before hitting Black with the One and Only for two. Caster tries to drop the mic, but Brody breaks it up and Buddy hits Caster with the knees. Owens beats Buddy down, but Black SWEEPS THE LEG and sends Bowens into the corner to cut him off. The House triple-teams Caster in the corner and that gets two. Brody loads up a chain and hits Black by mistake, and that allows the Acclaimed to make the comeback on Buddy. Billy with the fameasser for two, but Julia pulls out Aubrey to save. This allows Black to hit the Black Mass on Billy, but it only gets two. So the House triples him again, but Billy escapes that and Max drops the mic on Brody for one. So Billy hits another fameasser, and Brody pops up again, so Max drops the mic again and this time it gets the pin and the titles at 10:08. That was 100% the right call to finish the story, although the match was kind of a mess. A fun mess, but a mess. **3/4.
AEW World title: MJF v. Adam Cole
So they both head out and grab their t-shirts to show sportsmanship, although Nigel isn’t buying it. They do a wrestling sequence to start and battle to a stalemate, which allows Max the chance to strut. So Adam does his own headfake and Max wants a chant for sportsmanship from the crowd. And then he cheats and pokes Cole in the eye to celebrate. So Cole smacks him one and gets an enzuigiri and neckbreaker for two. Cole yanks MJF into the corner by the trunks and goes to a chinlock after stomping him down and going to a facelock. MJF fights out and Cole yanks him down by the hair, so MJF returns in kind and Cole bails to the floor. Max teases the dive and laughs it off, but Cole hits him with a superkick for two. And then Cole rips the shirt off his friend and tosses it away before raking the eyes, but MJF comes back and slugs away in the corner. Cole bails to the floor and Max considers another dive before giving in and doing it, shocking even himself. Back in the ring, that gets two. Double stomp on the arm gets two and they do the crazy pinfall sequence before Max hits the powerbomb on the knees for two. MJF tries his own Panama Sunrise, but Cole counters to his own Heatseeker and that gets two. To the floor and Cole runs him into the stairs and then suplexes him onto those for a scary bump. Even Cole seems a bit taken aback by that, but MJF beats the count at 9. Cole with the Panama Sunrise, but MJF bails to escape and SWEEPS THE LEG on the apron before prepping the table and psyching himself up for a tombstone. But the power of friendship overcomes him and he can’t pull the trigger on it. Cole, however, is made of sterner stuff and has no problem hitting the tombstone and bouncing Max’s head off the desk. Back in the ring, that gets two. They slug it out and Cole hits a destroyer, but Max puts him down with a kick and they’re both out. So they both call for the DOUBLE CLOTHESLINE and knock each other out, and that’s a double pin at 19:06 for the draw.
No one likes that one, so Cole demands FIVE MORE MINUTES and this time MJF wants to go until they have a winner. So they trade rollups for two and the ref gets wiped out, so Max grabs a chair and they both pretend to be knocked out to fool the ref. It’s true, referees are notoriously stupid. This allows MJF to roll him up for two and hit the Heatseeker for two. They head to the apron and Cole suplexes him out there and follows with a Panama Sunrise off the apron and onto the floor. Back in, that gets two. Cole with another Sunrise, but this time he manages to hit the REF with it in a bump you don’t see every day. So MJF loads up the diamond ring, but Roddy runs in and kicks Max in the nuts, quite emphatically. So Cole hits Max with the Sunrise, follows with the Boom, which gets two. Then Adam grabs the title to embrace his dark side, but can’t pull the trigger, which disgusts Strong and he leaves. But MJF cradles for the pin to retain at 29:00, for real this time. Well, that’s why you don’t choose friendship over titles. A friend in need is a pest, as Bobby Heenan said. This was an excellent slice of sports entertainment that further solidified MJF’s babyface turn. ****. Afterwards, MJF tries to cheer him up, but Cole throws away the ROH tag team titles, so Max has had enough and offers him the free shot once and for all to end their team. But instead they hug it out again and reunite to end the show while the Kingdom plots at ringside. I was hoping for Adam Cole to finally get the title, but also I wanted to see the tag team continue, so I’m glad they’re carrying on with it.
All time great show that lived up to expectations and then some. Just tremendous entertainment start to finish with an incredible atmosphere. Definitely worth the purchase if you didn’t buy it this morning.