All Out: Takeaways from All Elite Wrestling showcase - Sports Illustrated

Top Takeaways From AEW's 'All Out': Recap, Highlights and Analysis

'All Out' was not AEW’s best pay per view, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort from the talent.
Author:
Publish date:

Over the past year, All Elite Wrestling has built a reputation of delivering standout pay per views. Tonight’s All Out show did not meet that high standard of excellence, running into a litany of obstacles that included no singles title change, a limited live crowd dealing with intense humidity and a nearly disastrous spot involving Matt Hardy.

The show was marred by an ugly spot off a construction lift that saw Hardy’s head hit the concrete floor when he was originally intended to land on a table. His match against Sammy Guevara was stopped by the medical team, then ultimately restarted and rushed to its finish. This moment cast a shadow over the entire show. Hardy did not look like he was in a condition to compete following the spot, yet the match continued and finished with another dangerous spot from an elevated height.

Image 9-6-20 at 2.37 AM

Following the show, AEW CEO Tony Khan spoke with media on the All Out virtual press conference and addressed the stopping and subsequent restart of the Hardy-Guevara match.

“Matt had taken a fall in the match, and I stopped the match, paused the match, and sent the doctor to check on him,” said Khan. “I was concerned that Matt could be hurt, so I rang the bell to stop the match. When the doctor checked on him, the doctor passed him and cleared him on the protocol.”

Khan added that Hardy went to the hospital as a precautionary measure, then answered a question in regards to whether there was enough time given for AEW’s doctor to make a medical decision whether Hardy should return to the match.

“There was a good amount of time [to make that decision],” said Khan. “The doctor did clear him. Matt did not pressure him, and Dr. [Michael] Sampson would not be pressured into clearing anybody. He’s pulled people from our shows without hesitation, whether it’s been something with a blood test or with an injury. He’s really strict about that stuff, and that’s why when people have had injuries and he didn’t feel comfortable about people doing physicality or wrestling, we never put those people out there.

“I never would have gone against the doctor’s decision, and most importantly, Matt would not have been able to overrule the doctor’s decision, not with the doctor himself or with me. That is what happened. The doctor cleared him, which is the first and foremost important thing. Matt also did want to continue, but the doctor cleared him.”

Despite the frightening moment, All Out did feature its share of highlights. There was an outstanding performance from Thunder Rosa in her AEW pay per view debut against Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida, while Jon Moxley and MJF worked a physical, compelling match for the world title. FTR kicked off their first run as AEW tag champs, Kenny Omega took a step toward becoming the newest top villain in the company, and the Young Bucks placed a tremendous spotlight on the Jurassic Express in their tag match.

Here are the results of AEW’s All Out:

— Joey Janela defeated Serpentico on the pre-show

— Private Party defeated The Dark Order’s John Silver and Alex Reynolds on the pre-show

— Big Swole defeated Dr. Britt Baker in a Tooth and Nail match

— The Young Bucks defeated the Jurassic Express to receive a future shot at the AEW tag titles

— Lance Archer won the Casino Battle Royale to receive a future AEW World Championship match

— Matt Hardy defeated Sammy Guevara in a Broken Rules match

— AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida defeated Thunder Rosa

— Dustin Rhodes, Matt Cardona, Scorpio Sky, and QT Marshall defeated The Dark Order’s Brodie Lee, Colt Cabana, Evil Uno, and Stu Grayson

— FTR defeated Kenny Omega and Hangman Page to become the new AEW Tag Champions

— Orange Cassidy defeated Chris Jericho in a Mimosa Mayhem match

— Jon Moxley defeated MJF to retain the AEW World Championship

And here are my takeaways from the show:

****

Jon Moxley defeated MJF in the main event to retain the world title.

Covered in blood, MJF worked a fantastic match with Moxley, selling and taking abuse in a convincing fashion. He also laid in a solid offense that was believable against the more established Moxley, and this was a big performance for the 24-year-old that only reinforces the notion that he is a future world champion.

“It was interesting to have a different style of opponent than some of the monsters I’ve been facing,” said Moxley during the post-show virtual media scrum. “And it was nice to have a build-up. The last pay per view, we didn’t even know if we were going to do it–guys were stuck in quarantine, guys were stuck in New York, I hadn’t even been on TV.

“I love that match with Brodie Lee [at Double or Nothing], but a three-week build is not ideal. This [match with MJF], we had a nice build and a nice story. The elements all came into place, and it was MJF’s first taste of what it takes to win a world title.”

This was one of the best two matches on the card, and the ending saw Moxley outsmart MJF by using the Paradigm Shift, which had been banned from the match. Using the move was supposed to immediately DQ Moxley and cost him the belt, but the referee’s back was turned when it happened. The finish was a creative use of the stipulation, with an ending that gives additional meaning to the Paradigm Shift, as well as provides MJF with an endless source of frustration as he laments his missed opportunity at the world title.

****

On paper, Sammy Guevara and Matt Hardy seemed like the perfect combination of a wrestling legend working with an emerging star. Yet this program was doomed from nearly the beginning. A legitimate suspension took Guevara off AEW programming for a month, and there was the near-disaster when Guevara nearly maimed Hardy with a chair this summer on Dynamite. To Hardy’s credit, he continued to make the most of the program, but it just never reached that elusive next level.

The match started backstage but was stopped almost immediately. Hardy and Guevara had a dangerous spot off a construction lift where they were supposed to land onto a table, but Hardy’s shoulders and head appeared to instead hit the concrete floor. Hardy’s upper neck appeared to take the brunt of the blow, and he had trouble standing in the moments that followed that spot.

Tony Khan explained to media after the show that he had the match stopped. But Khan also stated that AEW’s doctor cleared Hardy to resume, so the match was restarted. If it turns out Hardy was concussed and the match still continued, then there are a number of serious problems at play, especially considering the match ended with another dangerous spot with Hardy knocking Guevara off a different high structure.

****

Hikaru Shida and Thunder Rosa delivered an incredible match, one that immediately stands out as the most impressive women’s title bout in AEW history.

The victory helps add definition to Shida’s run as champ. Thunder Rosa was a perfect opponent, given her versatile skill set and credibility as both reigning NWA Women’s Champion and the International Princess Champion in Japan’s Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling.

“I know she knows the Japanese style well,” said Shida during the post-show call match with media. “I just tried to [work] hard and stay strong. That was my thinking.”

This was a physical encounter that needed to captivate an audience distracted from the uncomfortable Hardy-Guevara match. This earned an opportunity to run it back in a rematch, and it would be a highlight of Wednesday’s Dynamite if Rosa returns and remains part of AEW.

This was a captivating performance by both wrestlers, standing out as the best match on the card.

****

In an early tell that Moxley was retaining the world title, Lance Archer won the Casino Battle Royale.

This is a bit of a reboot for Archer, who dominated upon entry in AEW but then lost considerable momentum when he was defeated by Cody Rhodes at Double or Nothing in May. Archer has been a star without direction from that point, but there is no better opponent for Moxley.

The match also included the AEW debut of Matt Sydal, who, along with Eddie Kingston, was part of the final three wrestlers remaining. Sydal adds depth to the roster, and there are plenty of opponents, Kingston included, for him to have entertaining programs within AEW. Other stories were developed, including Sonny Kiss-Jake Hager and Brian Cage-Darby Allin, as well as a solid showing from Will Hobbs.

In the end, the focus was on Archer, which was the right call. He had a tremendous program with Moxley throughout 2019 in New Japan Pro Wrestling that ended at this past January’s Wrestle Kingdom. Archer is an old-school monster heel with incredible athleticism and an uncanny ability to improve with age. He will bring out the best in Moxley, and this is a program where both men should thrive.

****

Orange Cassidy picked up the biggest win of his career by defeating Chris Jericho in the Mimosa Mayhem match. The finish saw Jericho take a fall into the mimosa pit, with the idea being that Cassidy now takes a big jump toward his climb to stardom.

How far can this win carry Cassidy? Beyond the world title, the only other singles belt for him to pursue is the TNT Championship, which will revolve around Cody Rhodes and incumbent champ Brodie Lee once Rhodes returns to AEW programming. Jericho didn’t need the win here, but Cassidy certainly benefits from it. Following Cassidy’s progression within AEW is a major storyline moving forward.

Jericho is the master of reinvention. The potential of a program with MJF–possibly even with Jericho as a babyface (especially as Kenny Omega pivots to becoming a heel)–would add another exciting piece of content to AEW.

****

The only other women’s match on the card was the Tooth and Nail match pitting Big Swole against Dr. Britt Baker, which was taped ahead of time for the pre-show. After listening to requests from AEW fans on social media, Tony Khan moved the match to the pay per view.

By no means was this a classic. The majority of the match took place in a dentist’s office, which is a difficult forum for wrestling. It was designed to be a piece of content for the pre-show, but the match had two objectives: give a still-injured Britt Baker a platform to work and provide Big Swole a shot at revenge after dealing with harassment from Baker and Rebel.

Once she is healthy, Baker needs to be the face of the women’s division. Over the past year, she has become incredibly comfortable on camera, with such dynamic charisma. Swole also a bright future for AEW, and it would be great to see a more traditional match down the line between these two in the ring.

****

Whether you liked the finish or thought the match ran too long, the tag title bout pitting Hangman Page and Kenny Omega against FTR made its point: tag wrestling is a priority in AEW, buttressed by the fact this match went over 29 minutes. And FTR is the right choice for new tag champs, was which made official with a pinfall on Page.

The back-and-forth match ended with a sequence that saw Omega accidentally hit Page with a V-Trigger, then FTR capitalized for the win. Building the tag division around FTR, one of the most solid tag teams in the world, is smart. FTR’s Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood needed a title reign to cement their place in the company, and they now move on to a highly anticipated program with the Young Bucks, one that should close out a pay per view.

Following the finish, Omega walked out on Page, then gave an ultimatum to the Young Bucks that they either have his back or don’t. The progression of Omega slowly unraveling is one of AEW’s best stories. A heel Omega, surrounded by the Bucks, can redefine his place in the company and build to an Omega-Moxley rematch.

Omega should be a singles wrestler, as should Page. The timing is also ripe to make Page the signature star of AEW, and a program with Omega gives him that opportunity.

****

The Young Bucks defeated the Jurassic Express, displaying a villain-like edge with cockiness and arrogance that built off this past week’s Dynamite. That is a side of the Bucks we have yet to witness since the start of AEW, and the new in-ring attitude adds another layer to their upcoming title program with FTR.

The match was the best and brightest spotlight placed thus far on the Jurassic Express. Luchasaurus is a big man with the ability to fly, and there are few better underdogs in wrestling than Jungle Boy. The Bucks took their liberties on Jungle Boy at the end of the match, hitting him with a flurry of kicks to the head until he stopped kicking out of repeated pinfall attempts. This was the match that should have opened the show, and sets up a rematch when the Bucks eventually win the titles.

****

All Out was not AEW’s best pay per view, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort from the talent. The humidity did not help the performers or those in attendance, and wrestling shows remain disjointed without a packed crowd. This was also a different type of show from AEW, but not every pay per view needs a major heel turn or singles title change. All Out gave talent a chance for some longer matches, set up a number of upcoming feuds (Jon Moxley-Lance Archer, Brodie Lee-Dustin Rhodes, the Young Bucks-FTR, and Kenny Omega-Hangman Page), and offered some different winners than the prior pay per views.

Orange Cassidy was highlighted with a Mimosa Mayhem win over Chris Jericho. He would have benefited even more from a pinfall victory, followed by dumping Jericho in the mimosa, but it still marks a big moment in his career. Whether Cassidy can use this momentum to elevate up the card is to-be-determined, but Jericho has placed him in a strong position for success. All Out also missed the presence of Cody Rhodes, who has been written off AEW programming while filming his role in a television series. Having the pomp and circumstance of a Rhodes entrance and match would have added to the show.

Looking forward, AEW has already displayed a pattern in their short history of learning from their shows, and it will be worth comparing All Out to the Full Gear pay per view in November to see if there is a difference in the way injuries are handled in real-time, how the crowd is mic’d up, or if there are any singles title changes. All Out had its share of highlights but was far from perfect. Above all else, hopefully, Matt Hardy is in good health after such a frightening fall.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.