HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILLINOIS – The first-ever All In stood as a battle for independence for both wrestlers and wrestling fans.
The Young Bucks started a revolution–by capturing people’s emotion through their “Being The Elite” YouTube series—and turned words and ideas into reality at All In.
Led by the Bucks and Cody Rhodes, their design for All In envisioned a restructuring of the wrestling world.
The end result remains to be seen. But, for one night in September, just miles away from Chicago, the performers of All In took what was given to them and made the most of it with uncommon prowess and flair.
In addition to a show that included Kenny Omega defeating Pentagon, Cody Rhodes capturing the NWA title, and a surprise appearance from Chris Jericho, an integral part of the night was the love affair between the crowd and the performers.
“We can feel it,” said Matt Jackson after the show concluded. “There’s a hunger, there’s a thirst. You guys want good pro wrestling and good entertainment. What we presented to you in those four hours and 57 minutes was our vision of what we think we can do with pro wrestling.”
All In seamlessly fused together the old and the new, with forgotten stars getting a rub from the young women and men for whom they once served as idols. Legendary referee Earl Hebner, who refereed the final match at WrestleMania on 12 different occasions, donned the black-and-white stripes in the NWA worlds heavyweight title match—and ECW stalwart Jerry Lynn served as the guest referee for the Christopher Daniels victory over Arrow star Stephen Amell, a match that proved the wrestlers, not the celebrities, were the ones to go over at All In.
The crowd at the Sears Centre was nothing short of electric. Over 10,000 fans packed the house, making it the biggest non-WWE or WCW show since 1993.
The lyric little bandbox just outside Chicago then exploded for Cody Rhodes defeating Nick Aldis for the NWA worlds heavyweight championship.
“All In is a serendipitous tale of things just falling in line one after another,” said Rhodes. “And that big question of what happens next with this group? We are sticking together. Because no one, no man, no company, no entity owns pro wrestling. We own pro wrestling.”
Rhodes’ father, the legendary “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, helped create the notion that red (blood) equals green (money) in wrestling, and a crimson-faced Rhodes bumped and sold to make the monstrous Aldis somehow feel even more imposing. The 22-minute encounter culminated in a defining moment in Rhodes’ road to superstardom.
“Every single person knows what it’s like to be told they’re undesirable,” said Rhodes. “‘You can’t fly here from California, you’re not good enough for WWE.’ The reality is this: This group went from undesirable to undeniable.”
Hangman Page then sent the “Bad Boy” Joey Janela to the gallows in a no-rules Chicago Street Fight that saw Janela take multiple gruesome bumps in defeat. The aftermath also ignited the crowd, as Joey Ryan—who was killed by Page in a storyline on the “Being The Elite” YouTube series—returned to exact his unique brand of revenge upon Page.
Jay Lethal also successfully defended the Ring of Honor world title against Flip Gordon, who earned the right to be in the match after winning a superbly-told Over the Budget battle royale during the Zero Hour preshow.
Another match to capture the attention of the sold-out crowd was Kenny Omega against Pentagon Jr.
The contrast of styles helped define the match, and Omega—who is the IWGP heavyweight champion–spent the majority taking punishment from Pentagon, including a vicious package piledriver on the ring apron.
“I wasn’t one of the three brainchilds that created this show, I was merely a piece of the puzzle,” said Omega. “I give all the credit in the world to Cody and the Young Bucks for what they’ve done. That was probably the greatest pro wrestling show I’ve ever been a part of.”
The show served as another chance for Omega to stand proudly and defiantly in his role as one of the most entertaining stars in the wrestling universe, a feat he has accomplished primarily overseas in New Japan Pro Wrestling along with his role on “Being The Elite”.
“You guys know where I come from, you guys know where some people want me to go, but guess freaking what?” said Omega. “Guess freaking what? What we did today blew everything out of the water.
“You guys believed in the change, you believed in the movement, you believed in the alternative, and thus, we shall continue this journey.”
Omega’s victory celebration was short-lived, as the lights went out after the match and the real Pentagon slipped out of the ring and Chris Jericho—in full Pentagon gear—then laid a beatdown on Omega.
The second-to-last match saw Kazuchika Okada defeat “The Villain” Marty Scurll. With sagacity and tenacity, Okada displayed an angry side after Scurll spat in his face, putting on full display why he was the man who carried New Japan Pro Wrestling for a record-setting 720-day reign with the IWGP heavyweight title.
All In’s main event was a superb—albeit hurried—match that saw the Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi defeat the legendary Rey Mysterio, Fenix, and Bandido.
“We finished the pay view with three seconds to go,” admitted Nick Jackson, but the hurried nature only added intensity to the finish of the match.
Far from a fading twilight, the card hit its crescendo in the main event with a bevy of flips, 619s, and superkicks that told a thrilling story between six of the most talented storytellers in wrestling.
“Thank you for letting me be part of history,” said Mysterio after the show. “But most important, thank you [fans]. You guys sold this place out.”
Ultimately, the show was a sight to behold, with the crowd playing a monumental role in its success.
As for whether there will be a sequel to All In, the future looks promising.
“This was a group collaboration, and most importantly, as cheesy as it sounds, it was thanks to all 10,000 of you,” Matt Jackson told the crowd after the show ended. “If you want it, if you want more pro wrestling from the cast of Being The Elite, then my family, my friends, and my cast of bandits, we will give you more of this.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso