AEW made another convincing case for themselves as an exciting alternative to WWE with their All Out pay-per-view. The show was a barrel of laugh and had something for all kinds of wrestling lovers. It was paced beautifully and all the wrestlers performed like their life was depended on it (literally in the case of Darby Allin).
However, it was not a perfect show. It is fair to say that the company still needs to smooth some things out. These might be small problems in the grand scheme of things but might grow bigger if they keep on persisting with it. Here is my assessment of the show and what I think was the best and worst things coming out of it.
Best: Match Quality
One thing that everyone was sure going into All Out was its exceptional match quality. Considering the talents involved in the company, the quality of wrestling was always going to be high.
One of the company’s EVPs, Cody Rhodes has stressed it on many occasions that they are going to focus more on their in-ring product and will present it as a sport. Well, he has proven it true from time to time. The card was packed with great matches one after the other. SCU vs Jurassic Express was the perfect opening match a show needs, Young Bucks vs Lucha Brothers had breath-taking hi-flying stunts (RIP Nick Jackson’s back), Kenny Omega vs Pac was just another normal day in the office for the duo, Cody vs Shawn Spears told an amazing story through wrestling, Cracker Barrel Clash was filled with hardcore spots and, well Cracker Barrel and the AEW championship was all about creating history.
There was simply no bad matches, just matches that were better from the other. All ten matches provided something exciting yet unique from each other. There was at least one spot that fans will remember from each match for a long time.
Worst: Length of the show
All Out was around five hours long, including the Buy-in. As mentioned earlier, the matches were great and beyond expectations, but it is difficult to watch wrestling for 5-hours straight, irrespective of how good it is. It especially becomes more tiresome if you have two other big wrestling shows on the same day. People watching at home can feel crowd tuning out mid-way like in the tag team match between Best Friends and Dark Order and in the early stages of Hiro vs Hikaru Shida. Fans were still charged till the closing moments of the show, but the energy was comparatively down.
This year’s SummerSlam was of the perfect length. It gave the wrestlers time to tell their story, but at the same time made sure time is not getting wasted in dead spots. NXT TakeOvers too are always of the perfect length. Granted that they mainly feature five matches, but they always leave fans asking for more. Fans would be really glad if the pay-per-views went back to 3-4 hours as opposed to 4-5 hours.
Best: PAC Going Over Omega
It would have been really easy for Kenny Omega to defeat PAC with One-Winged Angel after a gruesome match, but AEW decided to go on a different direction and had Omega lose after a shocking turn of events. It was a bold move considering how important Omega is to the company moving forward. PAC defeating him with the Brutalizer was the icing on the cake as it automatically established it as a terrifying submission move. Even the announcers emphasized on the fact that Omega’s win/loss record hasn’t been great lately.
It was the biggest upset of the night and was perfectly booked because fans will be excited to see how Omega is going to come back after losing two big singles matches early on in his AEW career.
Worst: Cody Going Over Shawn Spears
AEW had the golden opportunity to establish Shawn Spears as one of the top heels of the company. The build-up to his match against Cody Rhodes was one of the best storylines going into All Out. What earlier seemed like just a thrown around sentence by Cody was converted into a whole storyline. Shawn turned on Cody because he didn’t see himself just as a ‘safe hand’ and wanted to do more in his career. It seemed liked Spears will finally be used to his potential and would be given the spotlight that he deserved after all these years. But, AEW decided to throw the whole thing out of the window and gave the victory to Cody.
After all those things Spears said about how he deserves all the success in the world, he went in the ring and loses his first match as a heel. As far as Cody is concerned, he is pretty much bullet-proof at this point. He is one of the most liked wrestlers in the world at the moment because of what he is doing for the wrestling industry. A loss here wouldn’t have affected even an iota of his momentum going forward but would have been beneficial for Spears.
Best/Worst: Chris Jericho Winning the Inaugural AEW World Championship
AEW probably decided to go with Chris Jericho as the inaugural AEW World Champion because he is already an established name in the world of wrestling and might bring lots of eyes to the company’s TV product when it moves to TNT in October. It is a great move from the business point of view as he is more popular as opposed to someone like Hangman Page who is a relatively new name to a wider audience. It’s good for Jericho as well as he finally got to be at the helm of a wrestling company, something that he didn’t get to do in WWE.
But, at the same time, AEW had the opportunity to make a new star, which they didn’t capitalize on. Being the first time champion will always be special as people are always going to be talking about that. It will be written in history books. A victory here would have established Hangman as someone AEW is looking at as the face of the company. Jericho is still seeing by many as a WWE guy. Hangman, on the other hand, had the advantage of being relatively new, thus creating a completely separate legacy for the company. He will definitely get his hands on the belt someday, but that won’t be same as being the first wrestler to hold that belt.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. AEW All Out aired on PPV on B/R Live and Fite.tv.