All Elite Wrestling promised us their biggest show to-date, and at the close of AEW All Out 2021, I can definitely say that the company is in a much different place than it was 24 hours ago.
Four surprise debuts spread across the show, a career on the line, a huge title change, a return-to-form for a living legend, and zero duds on the card (no, not even that match) make for what many are saying is AEW’s best pay-per-view event yet. While it was certainly newsworthy (take a look at the string of All Elite articles that came out on this very site just last night), let’s break down what went down last night at AEW All Out and see if this really was the show of the year candidate that we were led to expect.
Buy-In: Jurassic Express & Best Friends def. the HFO
If you think all AEW matches are spot-fests, didn’t want to fork over $50 to watch their pay-per-view, but DID want to at least check out their pre-show, I’m afraid the match you got was 100% a stomp-on-the-gas, who-needs-selling sort of affair.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what the Chicago crowd was hoping for.
This was the perfect match to get a crowd going early as it featured three crowd favorites (Orange and Jurassic Express), had a lot of talented workers in it, and went 100 miles per hour from bell-to-bell. My biggest highlight of this one had to be Jack Evans finding himself on top of Angelico’s shoulders and inadvertently instigating a chicken fight with Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus, who obviously won in their high-up environment. This was then followed by one half of Private Party whiffing a crossbody onto Jungle Boy as he leaned back on Luchasaurus’s shoulders, then hitting the other half with an avalanche blockbuster off of Luchasaurus.
After Chuckie T, Yoots, and Orange all got their big moments to shine, Luchasaurus downed Angelico and Jungle Boy put Angelico away for good with the Snare Trap. After the match, though, the Butcher returned and turned Orange Cassidy inside out with a clothesline, and the HFO had to flee the scene as the babyface locker room emptied out.
It’s not the most memorable match compared to the rest of the card, but it was definitely enjoyable as it happened and in a vacuum.
Miro def. Eddie Kingston to retain the TNT Championship
The show kicked off with a match that had the opposite of flips as Kingston and Miro beat the salt and vinegar out of each other for 13 minutes. Kingston made it clear that he was going to go after Miro’s neck from the jump, but Miro kept his plan close to the chest until the match started: attack Kingston’s back and hands to neutralize his exploder suplex.
The plan started to work, but not after Kingston got a few throws in and began chopping away at Miro’s neck and chest. By the end of the match, Miro’s pecs were all black and blue like he’d run afoul of WALTER or Roderick Strong, and though Miro tried to power through it, Kingston did start to chip away at Miro’s armor.
The turning point of the match came as Kingston accidentally pulled off a turnbuckle pad while trying to avoid a grapple from Miro. Miro later got Kingston into the Game Over, but Kingston grabbed the ropes before Miro could lean back, frustrating Miro to the point of nearly DQ-ing himself with the turnbuckle. Instead, he thought better of it, but Kingston took advantage and tried to shove Miro face-first into the exposed steel, only for referee Bryce Remsburg to jump in the way.
With the ref unable to see past Miro’s mass, Miro used this opportunity to low-blow Kingston, hit him with a roundhouse kick, bounce off the ropes thrice, and superkick Kingston’s face off to win the match via pinfall. As Miro noted on Twitter, Eddie’s nuts have been redeemed, and it came off of a great match that made Kingston look like a killer.
Jon Moxley def. Satoshi Kojima
Moxley continued his streak of totally changing his wrestling style when fighting a NJPW-sanctioned match, be it against Nagata, Archer, or now Kojima. Mox still went for bulldog chokes and knees to the face, but this was also a match where you could expect to see a bite to the forehead and many forearm strikes to the clavicle.
For Kojima’s part, he got most of his spots in for the American audience. He hit his machine gun chops in the corner; hit a forearm in the opposing corner; shouted, “Icchau zo, bakayarou!” to a lacking response since the crowd doesn’t speak Japanese; and kept on going for that Cozy Lariat.
Though Moxley could get most of his moves in without fail, Kojima just wouldn’t go all the way up for the Paradigm Shift, and it took reversing multiple lariats and hitting a short Dirty Deeds before he could finally hit the full-on Paradigm shift to beat Kojima after a spirited, hard-hitting affair.
Then Minoru Suzuki’s music hit.
After Suzuki (appropriately) let his whole song play long enough for the crowd to chant “Kaze Ni Nare,” Murder Grandpa then stepped up to Moxley and the two of them basically had a whole second match for a moment, hitting each other with forearms and kicks until Suzuki suddenly wrapped his arms around Moxley’s throat, made him pass out, and laid him out with the Gotch Piledriver.
Moxley and Suzuki will be fighting each other this Wednesday night, live from Moxley’s hometown. Everybody get hyped! Someone’s going to get grievously injured.
Britt Baker def. Kris Statlander to retain the AEW Women’s Championship
If you had to graph the momentum of this match, it would have to be a straight arrow moving upward, as this match was definitely held up by its quick-paced ending. The crowd was a bit baffled going into this one — as is typical for Baker feuds — as Statlander hasn’t been built up too much on TV, plus Baker is the clear fan favorite, but Statlander was at least better received than Red Velvet in Pittsburgh.
Baker was surprisingly dominant in the early stages of this match, getting the better of Statlander in most exchanges by ending with a sling blade or an attempted stomp. Then, when Statlander did string a few moves together and set herself up for her pendulum moonsault from the apron onto a floored Britt Baker, Baker ran out of the way and let Statlander crash and burn, then jumped off the steel steps and curb stomped her.
Orange Cassidy lazily walked over and stressed out over Statlander’s poor state as the ref started to count her out. Then, out of nowhere, Orange got really passionate and yelled for Kris to get back in the match. The alien immediately got up and dashed into the ring, and from this point on, the match was electric.
Statlander couldn’t put Britt down with her electric chair facebuster. Baker couldn’t put Kris down with a cheeky Panama/Pittsburgh Sunrise — a nod to the rumored debut of Britt Baker’s Boyfriend. Both went for roll-ups, and Statlander turned one roll-up into a submission attempt, but in the end, but in the end, it was a second stomp and a Lockjaw that made Statlander finally pass out.
The Lucha Bros def. the Young Bucks in a steel cage to become the new AEW Tag Team Champions
Another pay-per-view; another tag team match worth $50 alone.
Even before the bell rang, we already got an incredible Lucha Brothers entrance with guest rapper Muelas de Gallo, followed by a standard Young Bucks entrance featuring Nick’s new Hogan beard.
There was no need for attempting shenanigans in this match after the closing to last Wednesday’s Dynamite fully established the strength of the steel cage, so this match was as fair a fight as you can get when there are no holds barred and the ring is a weapon. The start of this match was just a Young Bucks vs Lucha Brothers match, though with the caveat that topes were replaced with lawndarts and spears into the wall.
The Young Bucks tried the exact same finish as Wednesday by catching Fenix and aiming for an immediate Meltzer Driver. Penta hit Matt with another crazy Mexican Destroyer like at All Out 2019. Nick and Matt brought back their shelved double-submission, the Cease and Desist (a sharpshooter + a crossface).
But when nothing was working the Young Bucks started tearing at the masks of the Lucha Bros, busted Penta open, then retrieved a classic weapon from their indie days and AEW Road Rager: the thumb tack boot.
Though Matt went to kick Fenix, Penta jumped in the way and took the kick himself, then had his face driven into Matt’s boot again by Nick. The Young Bucks disposed of Fenix, hit Penta with a BTE Trigger, and 1-2—
Fenix stops the pin.
The Lucha Brothers fight their way back into the match, and after their foot-stomp/package piledriver combo didn’t work the first time, Penta called for the big play: Fenix had to do the stomp from the top of the cage. As Fenix climbed, the Young Bucks broke up the piledriver half and Nick tried to join Fenix up top, but Fenix knocked him down to be with his brother. With no time to spare, Fenix dove off the top onto all three of the others, rolled over to grab a Buck with Penta, hit their shoulder-trapped Tiger Driver move, and pinned the Young Bucks to become the new AEW Tag Team Champions.
Fenix held his belt high. Penta cried with a face covered in blood and kissed his daughter. Alex Abrahantes cheered them on from a respectable distance.
This is my match of the year so far.
Ruby Soho wins the AEW Women’s Casino Battle Royale
The first suit was the Clubs, consisting of Hikaru Shida, hometown girl Skye Blue, Emi Sakura, the Bunny, and Abadon. Allie went for the easy heel heat of attacking Blue while Shida and Sakura started hammering away at each other, but Abadon showed up to their strike-fest and made them squeal.
Sky Blue was thrown out by Abadon, who was then immediately thrown out by Allie.
The next suit was the Diamonds, and Anna Jay ran straight for Allie while Kiera Hogan, future champion of everything KiLynn King, Diamante, and Nyla Rose followed close behind. Rose goes on a tear through Hogan and King, and after Shida takes out Sakura, Nyla dumps Shida out, too, forming a very short-lived partnership with Diamante.
Thunder Rosa led the Hearts and gunned for Nyla while Penelope Ford, Riho, Jamie Hayter, and Big Swole followed behind, with Swole going after Diamante as expected. Half of these women soon become fodder because the next group out is the Spades. Tay Conti, Red Velvet, and Leyla Hirsch are all a bit challenging (especially if you’re Ford or Allie), and Rebel is kind of a joke, but Jade Cargill posed the biggest threat of this last heap, throwing out about as many fan favorites as Nyla Rose until Nyla throws Jade out herself.
When it’s time for the Joker to show up, the crowd was already getting excited for the debut of Ruby Soho (nee Riott) before she sauntered out to her namesake entrance theme and quickly formed a bond with Thunder Rosa. The pair of them made it to the final three with Nyla before they were finally able to throw her out; then, Rosa and Soho found themselves battling it out on the apron, desperately trying to kick the other one out until Soho hit the f.k.a. Riott Kick on Thunder Rosa and winning the match.
Soho got a great response despite eliminating a fan favorite, and she’s going to address the crowd this upcoming Wednesday on Dynamite. As for the battle royale itself, I think the biggest problem was that Shida and Riho sort of got nothing here despite being former champions same as Nyla. Other than that, I think this was the best Casino Battle Royale of the five.
Chris Jericho def. MJF to retain his career
The original Chris Jericho Millennium Man countdown timer appears on the stage, accurate sound effects and late-90s CG in all, and when the clock hit one, the lights dimmed, and the pyro went off. Then, when the screen turned on once more, it read “Chris Jericho’s Last Match” — again in the classic Y2J font — as MJF’s music hit and he entered with a regal robe. Jericho, meanwhile, had Fozzy guitarist Billy Grey play the instrumental to “Judas” live while the crowd tried to sing along to Billy’s sped-up tempo.
After a trio of matches together, Jericho and MJF have developed a pretty solid chemistry by this point, and the story of MJF simply being better than Jericho was in full effect. Both of them knew the other very well, but MJF was the one who could capitalize better every time, often hitting the flashier move just to stick it to Chris.
One move that was definitely substance over style, however, was MJF hitting a Heat-seeker piledriver on the apron, sending Jericho to the floor, cradling his neck as MJF tried to end Jericho’s career with a count-out. Jericho got back into the ring at 9.5 and quickly slid back out when MJF tried to capitalize, but MJF wouldn’t let Jericho get away, attempting a springboard lionsault to the outside. Jericho ducked out the way as MJF stumbled toward the ramp, and as MJF charged at Jericho again, Jericho pop-up powerbombed him onto the apron, shades of Kevin Owens abundant.
With MJF in trouble, Wardlow came down the ramp, but Hager came out to save the day. MJF used this distraction to bonk Jericho with Floyd the Bat and then a Judas Effect, pinning Jericho 1-2-3 as Aubrey Edwards failed to notice Jericho’s foot on the bottom rope. A disgusted Aubrey went to raise MJF’s hand until Paul Turner ran out and told her what she missed.
The match was restarted, but MJF went right into the Salt of the Earth and almost made Jericho tap anyways. After a few more roll-up attempts from both men, Jericho finally got MJF in the Walls of Jericho, then got him in the actual Liontamer for a moment before returning to the Walls and making MJF tap, saving his career. It’s not Jericho’s last match, but with all of the drama there, I wouldn’t have minded if it were.
CM Punk def. Darby Allin
Darby Allin’s video package showed him jumping out of a helicopter that was dangling a body bag reading “Best in the World,” but you already knew that in your heart. The big surprise here was watching CM Punk debut his new ring gear: long tights that still have the Chicago spirit of his trunks or shorts days.
As he implied, Sting sat this match out and watched from backstage as Darby got Punk in a hammerlock and refused to let go, regardless of how much Punk tried to rub his chin hairs on Darby’s shoulders or roll through the submission. This match stayed technical to start, and Darby was dominant at first until he ran and jumped at Punk, only to be caught in prime GTS position. Darby escaped with a few elbows to the neck, but after a little more back-and-forth, Darby got caught slipping once more as Punk grabbed him from mid-air, hit Darby with the GTS, and sent the youngster flying through the middle rope, unable to be pinned.
The trajectory of the match changed from here as the tried-and-true story of “Darby is just SMALL” came into play. Punk pushed his weight around and knocked Darby onto the ground, got him into headlocks, tried to twist him with an abdominal stretch, the works. A nearfall from Darby turned into a classic bridge-up and backslide from Punk, but Darby one-upped Punk further and pinned him to 2.9999999 with the Last Supper.
Darby hit a Code Red and a Coffin Splash into the corner. Punk hit his knee into a clothesline, also in the corner. And. despite claiming he never wanted to eat one, Punk did find himself on the receiving end of a suicide dive and a Swanton to the outside. But when Darby finally went for the Coffin Drop, Punk outsmarted him by simply sitting up and letting Darby splat onto the canvas.
One GTS later, and Punk had won his first match in 7 years.
This match was really well-paced and allowed both guys to look strong while also showing that, despite being away, Punk is still a very smart wrestler. He’s not the best in the world because of his moves; he’s the best in the world because he’s got a great mind, both in and out of kayfabe.
Paul Wight def. QT Marshall
You know exactly how this match went. Wight came out and barreled his way through the Factory, then QT punched away at Wight like QT was the Rock facing some jabroni. QT’s momentum didn’t last long; he was soon on the receiving end of corner chops.
QT dropkicked Wight in his surgically repaired thigh and went for a pin, but Wight big-man-kicked-out of it and sent QT out of the ring. QT came back to try for a Diamond Cutter and failed that, too, then Wight chopped Solo, punched Comoroto, and caught QT out of the sky with a chokeslam to win.
This match was what it needed to be. Wight hit all of his classic moves to pop the crowd (you know, assuming they weren’t tired from going on 4 hours of stellar wrestling), and he got to throw some real weight around with a gang of wrestlers who — let’s be honest — aren’t a priority for keeping strong right now. I’m not excited for the next Paul Wight match, but it’s a decent pick for a cool down match to bridge the gap from Punk and Allin to Omega and Cage.
Kenny Omega def. Christian Cage to retain the AEW Championship, and then some
The main event of the evening was black-haired Omega (complete with his full entrance theme and a Waffle House shout-out for NORTH CAROLINA) going up against Christian with his old jacket and new T-shirt. The two of them didn’t have the pomp and circumstance of other matches on the card, but they certainly wrestled like it was a main event.
Both men wanted to hit their finishers early, with Omega knowing it was an automatic win and Christian knowing that Omega lost to the Unprettier before. Their attempts to outwrestle each other soon devolved into attempts to outfight each other, as Omega reached under the ring to pull out a table, drape it over a downed Christian, and foot-stomp the table into Christian from the apron in a NJPW classic. They weren’t done yet, though; before moving on, Omega and Callis set up a second table.
Omega had a botch early on in this match where he went for his barricade moonsault but slipped onto his butt, but since he’s currently a goofy character anyway, he sold the botch perfectly, hit the move anyway, and joked into the camera that he meant to do it. Omega still didn’t have full control, though, as he had to desperately avoid Cloverleaf attempts from Christian and fell prey to a reverse DDT here and there.
After two dragon suplexes, Omega went to V-Trigger Christian but stopped when Christian flipped him off. In response, Omega suplexed him again, V-Triggered Christian onto the apron, and prepared to German suplex him through the second table. After some struggling from both parties, Christian broke away from Omega and speared him off the apron and through the table, sending a table leg shooting into Christian’s abdomen and gashing his side.
Christian’s frog splash gets reversed by knees going up. Dr. Wiley bomb gets reversed by Omega’s ribs being pre-injured. Then, Good Brothers’ interference is reversed by Christian and turned into an Unprettier, but as Don predicted on Dynamite two weeks ago, Omega kicked out. Christian then put Omega onto the top turnbuckle to set up for a top-rope Unprettier, but Don Callis got into the ring and tried to intimidate Christian, only to flee at the slightest provocation. This still opened things up for Omega, who turned Christian’s top rope finisher attempt into an avalanche One-Winged Angel, ending Christian’s undefeated streak.
Omega and the Good Brothers continued their beatdown of Christian, and after Jurassic Express came out, the (injured) Young Bucks came out to keep the numbers’ advantage in their favor. Omega then got on the mic and said that no one was taking the title from him and that the only people who could were either not in AEW, were retired, or were dead.
The lights go out.
Fresh from the grave (and from NXT), Adam Cole comes down the ramp with music that sounds a lot like the Undisputed Era theme. He squares off with the Elite, then immediately superkicks Jungle Boy. Omega gets giggly and says, “You think we were really scared of him? He’s our best friend!” and continues to beat the good guys down while the debutante says, “It’s story time with Adam Cole, Baybay!”
Cole says there’s No Chance in Hell that anyone is going to stop him, and Omega says that this is a happy ending. Goodbye, and good—
“Flight of the Valkyries” starts playing. We get a fourth debut, and this one is in the same segment as another huge one.
Bryan Danielson comes down the ring, aligns himself with Christian Cage and Jurassic Express, and — after Omega flees the ring — the babyfaces start kicking the crap out of the Elite until all of them are scurrying up the ramp.
As Adam Cole yells, “You ruined this for me, Bryan!” we find ourselves in a peculiar new era of AEW.
AEW got two new main eventers. AEW got two new tag champions. The women’s division just got a major player. The game-changing guy who finally wrestled again is, to my pleasant surprise, still good at wrestling. A Japanese wrestling legend is about to debut on Wednesday. And, aside from debatable booking in the battle royale and a tiny slip in the main event, the show went off without a hitch.
AEW is hot right now, and this show bottled up everything going well with AEW into one four-hour package.
Last week’s Dynamite had me begging to watch All Out, and now All Out has me waiting impatiently for the next Dynamite. The cycle continues, and I couldn’t be happier.
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