(written June 5th 2020)
All In: Zero Hour
The first sounds we hear are coughs and wheezes, as we open to a shot of the packed Sears Center in Chicago, IL.
The Young Bucks and Cody are out to welcome us, but the house microphone isn’t working. Well, you’re gonna have some kinks. Matt Jackson asks for some pyro, gives a countdown, but the pyro doesn’t go off. Comedy! They then hit a pyro display that, after watching a year of elaborate pyro in AEW, was fairly small in retrospect. I believe OSW Review would describe All In’s display here as “farty pyro”. Closer to Gillberg than Goldberg.
Matt says that every big wrestling show needs a random cameo (arguable). They drop the old L.O.D. catchphrase (“What a rush”) before introducing Road Warrior Animal, who drives his motorcycle five feet, from behind the stage to beside the stage.
This was obnoxious in retrospect. I love the Bucks as wrestlers, and have nothing but respect what they’ve built on Being the Elite, but I gotta be honest, they are the two of the least funny humans on Earth to me. I never, ever want to watch them doing comedy. But hey, these guys were insanely excited, they were out there having fun, and how could you blame them? It’s much less fun a promo in 2020 than it was on the day of, though.
Briscoe Brothers (Mark & Jay Briscoe) v. So-Cal Uncensored (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky)
Boy, the Briscoes hit hard. Really entertaining, fast-paced opener that the crowd was with the entire time, and reacted huge for at parts. This was everything you could want out of an opening match on a big show. Scorpio Sky really shone, in particular. I can see why he was targeted, and so highly focused-on in the early stages of AEW.
Over Budget Battle Royal: Winner gets shot at RoH Title
Participants (19): Austin Gunn, Billy Gunn, Brandon Cutler, Brian Cage, Bully Ray, Cheeseburger, Chico El Luchador, Chuck Taylor, Colt Cabana, Ethan Page, Jimmy Jacobs, Jordynne Grace, The Hurricane, Marko Stunt, Moose, Punishment Martinez, Rocky Romero, Tommy Dreamer, Trent
Not the strongest battle royal of all time.. There were some fun exchanges, some decent comedy spots, a few legend appearances, and a fun ending. It wasn’t particularly great at any point. Pretty standard, average, modern battle royal.
Matt Cross v. Maxwell Jacob Friedman
Good match, I would have liked to have seen more. MJF is so clearly a star. He was arguably the most charismatic guy on the entire show, and certainly the most charismatic we’d seen to this point — including the ex/current WWE wrestlers in the battle royal. MJF is also underrated as an in-ring worker. His offense is sneaky good and his matches are always layed out well. I understand why you would have the babyface win this match, but in retrospect MJF should have cheated to win here. Had they only known.
Christopher Daniels w/SCU v. Stephen Amell w/Josh Segarra – Special Ref: Jerry Lynn
God bless Christopher Daniels, who dragged an actor in his second professional match to something fun and memorable. It required a table spot, and a bearhug, but by God he got it done. Could have done without Jerry Lynn but they probably felt like they needed an extra body out there.
Dr. Britt Baker v. Chelsea Gren v. Madison Rayne v. Tessa Blanchard
Wow! At this moment on June 5th 2020, this is AEW star Britt Baker v. current TNA World Champion (!! not Women’s Champ, World Champion) Tessa Blanchard vs. Impact/TNA Knockouts legend Madison Rayne v. soon to be WWE call-up and current NXT star Chelsea Green (under a totally different gimmick). INTERPROMOTIONAL WARFARE!@!@!~!
This is billed as a 4 Corner Survival, the rules being that everybody is in at the same time, and first pinfall or submission wins. Wait, “survival” doesn’t mean elimination? That’s weird. You would think the point of a survival match would be to survive.
Not a great match, but a fascinating snapshot in time. More of a trivia note than a future lost classic, but this was fun and inoffensive. Gotta say, Chelsea Green comes across as a huge star here. Once again, it’s clear to see what managment (in this case, WWE’s) sees in her, and why she’s a prominent part of NXT TV and on her way to the main roster two years later.
Fairly standard fatal four way match with a really hot last few minutes and a terrible, slightly botched finish. Good but sloppy match that was boosted slightly by the atmosphere.
Three very different matches so far, all good ones, all probably slightly better than average for various reasons, the common denominator being the incredible crowd . Nothing earth-shattering, or that I remembered happening at all.
NWA Title – Cody (Rhodes) w/ Brandi Rhodes, DDP, Tommy Dreamer & Glacier v. Nick Aldis w/Jeff Jarrett, Sam Shaw, Shawn Daivari & Tim Storm
Here we go. I definitely remember this happening.
Gah Cody, why would you bring the dog out? Pharaoh doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s just frightened and overstimulated. Bad call bringing the dog out IMO. I mean it’s far from animal abuse but ehhhh, didn’t care for that.
Loved this match though, great performances by both wrestlers. Brandi Rhodes’ involvement was really entertaining throughout as well, I wouldn’t want to see that in every match, but we don’t see it in every match. It worked for me on this night.
High stakes, high drama. Great entrances. Lots of pomp and circumstance. Good finish. Wrestling needs more matches like this one. Not an all-time classic, but a highly entertaining production by everyone involved. Match of the show IMO, and one you should seek out if you haven’t seen it.
“Hangman” Adam Page v. Joey Janela w/Peneolpe Ford – Chicago Street Fight
This was Being The Elite: The Match. Personally, I hate Being The Elite. I have given it numerous chances, and it’s not for me. That’s fine, not everything has to be for everyone. It’s impossible not to respect what they’ve done with it. However, actually watching this match with no context or predilection toward BTE shenanigans was pretty rough.
Tough match to rate. I really liked it at the start, and had it ended after the Penelope Ford spots, it would have been great. Then they went completely off the rails with BTE references, and before long, Penis Druids were resurrecting Joey Ryan because he was killed in a previous episode of BTE.
I think there’s a way to do this kind of thing that is accessible and enjoyable to people who aren’t in on the joke. There’s a way to do this kind of segment so that people want to learn more about what you’re doing. Neckbeards in penis costumes is not that way. Started off liking this, ended up hating it. A fun bit of fan service to BTE fans with some absolutely insane stunts that were immediately ignored. Some literally life-threatening bumps by Janela were made secondary to the penis gags.
Wild, crazy match, intertwined with a strange and off-putting storyline that was completely inaccessible to non-fans.
RoH Title – Flip Gordon w/Brandi Rhodes v. Jay Lethal w/Lanny Poffo
Not a lot too it. Nice touch to have Jay Lethal do his “Black Machismo” Randy Savage character with Lanny Poffo (Randy’s brother) by his side. Brandi leads Flip Gordon to the ring, because I guess they’ve developed a bond on BTE? She comes out selling her injuries from the previous match, nice touch.
Lethal does a really good Randy Savage. It’s not the hardest impression in the world, but the man pulls it off. If you like Black Machismo, you’ll like this match. Got to give the people what they want.
Kenny Omega v. Penta El Zero
Wellp. This was exactly what you thought it would be. Lots of knee bombs, lots of head spikes. Package piledriver on the apron. Buncha Cero Miedos.
I don’t dislike either wrestler and it would be foolish to say a match like this is bad, but this one didn’t hook me like previous Omega matches, or even Penta matches. Great, stiff work and a high-impact, all-action match. You may like it more than I did. Not the best match of either guy’s career but inarguably top-notch work that hooked the crowd the entire time.
Chris Jericho Angle
The lights go out after Kenny’s win, and when they come back on, Pentagon starts attacking Kenny…but as the announcers note, Pentagon appears to have a weird tattoo on his arm. Then Pentagon hits a codebreaker, and unmasks to reveal Chris Jericho in disguise. DASTARDLY HEELIN’. Awesome angle, to build to what would eventually become the main event of the first AEW Pay-per-view.
Kazuchika Okada v. Marty Scurll
I thought these guys did a good job to get the crowd back, because it was pretty dead for the first half of it. But still, good, tight work that kept both wrestlers strong and allowed Okada to get a big win in front of the American crowd. Good match, right guy won. Probably went 5-10 minutes too long, but that’s every Marty Scurll match I can remember.
Main Event: Kota Ibushi & The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) v. Bandido, Rey Fenix & Rey Mysterio Jr.
Just because the crowd likes a match doesn’t make it great. However, I think in front of a crowd this hot, that wants to see you this much, it’s impossible to have a match that isn’t at least good. It’s not only the moves in the ring. It’s the total package of the presentation, the crowd, the stakes, the show, the atmosphere etc. I also think Andre/Hogan was 3*.
Didn’t care for this main event at all, and let me once again say I really like the Young Bucks, (feel like I’ve been very negative toward them in this). We saw a lot of the worst tropes of a Young Bucks match here though. They were clearly rushed for time, they were sprinting from spot to spot. Kota Ibushi was late to catch Matt Jackson on a dive off the stage, and just took a bump 20 feet away from him when he landed. It wasn’t top notch, tight work. Having said that, it worked for the crowd on the night.
A spectacular, action-packed match that left a great taste in the fans mouths but was pretty sloppy and rushed.
All-In all (GET IT?! *superkicks a pie into someone’s face*) this was an entertaining show, long but easy to watch. It was probably much better in 2018 than it is today, and certainly much better if you’re a BTE fan. Impossible to hate on what they accomplished here though.
Show Rating – 7/10