The Eternal Optimist Presents: An INSTANT Review of All In.

Hi kids.

I decided to take a break from punching kittens and telling the IWC to stop eating their boogers for what I consider to be a momentous event.  I was lucky enough to attend ECW One Night Stand in 2005.  All In has the same organic feeling to it – a card that should never have happened for an audience that just doesn’t get catered to.  I was excited.  You were excited.  Everyone was excited.  The question is – did it deliver?

Enough of my grandstanding – onto the review.

Dem Boys v So Cal:

I got home late and missed the tag match between So Cal and Dem Boys.  I heard it was good.  I’m not surprised.  I’ll let someone else review that.

Over Budget Battle Royal:

My Expectation:  A run of the mill battle royal that set up Flip Gordon’s surprise victory.

The Reality: This battle royal was incredibly fun.  I loved that they tapped into some of the ECW parallels and grabbed the likes of Tommy Dreamer and Bubba Ray Dudley to participate.  Billy Gunn wrestling with his son was a cool moment.  Hurricane Helms is a personal favorite of mine and had a couple of nice moments.

I don’t know how the WWE hasn’t tried to sign Brian Cage.  He’s a monster with an amazing moveset.  He was one of the highlights of the match for sure.  Speaking of people that should be signed, how about Jordyn Grace?  She’s an absolute beast.  How was she not even part of either Mae Young Classic?

Anyhow – I really enjoyed that the match wasn’t littered with wrestlers hugging each other in the corners of the ring until it was time for rapid fire eliminations.  The match always focused on two or three wrestlers in the middle of the ring doing something interesting.  It certainly helped with the flow.

As expected – Flip Gordon showed up to take the surprise win.  This was a good time.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Holy cow – it’s Sean Mooney!  I marked so hard for this.  What a throwback to my childhood.

MJF v Matt Cross

My Expectation:  None.  To the best of my knowledge, this match wasn’t advertised ahead of time.

The Reality: I really don’t know what Cody and company were thinking when they chose this to be the opener.  They had so many amazing choices that would have electrified the crowd.  Instead, they went with an a match no one cared about against a guy who was unknown v a guy well past his prime.

I love me some Son of Havoc but it’s staggering to see how much he’s dropped off since even the first season of Lucha Underground.  This match didn’t really have the crowd support and didn’t do much for me.  I can appreciate the excellent sell job of the arm injury by Cross, but it was more or less the only noteworthy part of the match.  This was a disappointing start to the card.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Christopher Daniels v Stephen Amell.

My Expectation: A match indicative of one of the participants being a celebrity in only his third pro wrestling match.

The Reality:  Far from a masterpiece, this pleasantly surprised me.  Amell is green as grass but The Fallen Angel isn’t really showing signs of decline.  He’s still a great worker and the right kind of veteran to get Amell to the finish line.

This was clunky and awkward in spots, and the ending felt anti-climactic, but I really appreciated the risks that Amell took.  He could have easily coasted on his celebrity status, but instead took a rough looking table bump and his coast to coast spot was certainly stellar.

I could have done without the inclusion of Jerry Lynn.  I have fond memories of Jerry Lynn the wrestler, but Jerry Lynn the referee left something to be desired.  The tease of him clocking Christopher Daniels wasn’t particularly well done and didn’t have a payoff.

Nonetheless, a better effort than I expected.

Rating:  2.5 out of 5.

Britt Baker v Tessa Blanchard v Madison Rayne v Chelsea Green.

My Expectation:  Not much.  I don’t watch a ton of independent wrestling, and I wasn’t sure how females were booked these days.  I hadn’t seen Britt Baker or Chelsea Green before, and hadn’t see Madison Rayne in a long time.  I really didn’t know what we were going to get.

The Reality:  One of my favorite women’s matches ever.  These four just absolutely tore into each other.  I was entertained from bell to bell.  You never felt that the action lagged in any way shape or form.

Let me say this – Chelsea Green is an absolute superstar.  From her personality to her mannerisms to her in-ring prowess to her look – absolutely everything she does jumps off the page.  She was the breakout star of the match and I CANNOT wait to see more from her.

This was great.  There’s really not much else to say.  The only thing that kept me from rating it even higher was a little bit of a mis-timed finish.  Nitpicky, but it is what it is.

Rating:  4 out of 5.

NWA World Title Match: Nick Aldis v Cody Rhodes.

My Expectation:  A weak match that dragged on far too long and took up a more prominent spot that it deserved because of who was involved.

The Reality:  A major shout-out to my colleague, @Rich Latta.  When I brought up the idea of this match being the main event of the show since it was for the NWA Title, he assured me that Cody was selfless and wouldn’t put himself on anywhere near the close.

He was right and I was wrong.  I feel that Cody and Nick knew exactly who they were and who they weren’t.  They weren’t the best workers on the show and it was wise of them to not try to do too much.  Instead, they told a simple but effective story.

Everything about this screamed old school NWA.  They brought in a famous referee.  Legends accompanied each guy to the ring.  Cody wore a crimson mask.  There was a question as to whether or not he would continue.  They did a tremendous job of building him up as the underdog.

The pacing was good – I felt that they built to a crescendo with a very solid finish.  There was nothing awe inspiring, but the crowd was on fire and the story was rock solid.  This was a match that could have been an air ball, but instead was a perfectly solid addition to the mid-card.

Rating:  3.75 out of 5.

Chicago Street Fight: Joey Janela v Adam “Hangman Page”.

My Expectation: A bloody and violent brawl that brought back fond memories of my ECW fandom.

The Reality: This didn’t do it for me.  No blood, not enough violence and too much time setting up spots that ultimately didn’t pay off.

The finishing sequence was completely insane and one of the most dangerous and awesome spots I’ve ever laid eyes on.  Unfortunately, the other major spot was a significant botch.  It is what it is.  You can’t miss one of the two biggest spots in the match and still expect a strong grade from me.

You can all miss me on the Joey Ryan stuff.  That was Katie Vick bad.  I don’t want to hear any of you that cheered for that nitpicking ANYTHING that the WWE does ever again.  This was the low point of the night for me.

Rating:  1.5 out of 5.

ROH World TItle Match:  Jay Lethal v Flip Gordon.

My Expectation:  A great world title match.  I was fortunate enough to see Flip Gordon take on Ricochet at a local Indy a year ago.  It was one of the best matches I’ve ever been to.  I was beyond excited to get him to see him wrestle again.  Jay Lethal was always a favorite of mine going back to his TNA days.  I was hyped for this one.

The Reality:  This ended up being a poor man’s Seth Rollins v Dolph Ziggler from Summerslam.  I enjoyed Lethal’s Black Machismo shenanigans and his conviction that Brandi was Miss Elizabeth had my legitimately laughing out loud.

The action itself was good but not great but I thought the pacing was spot on and I suspect that this match will re-watch very well.  Given my high expectations going in, I can’t help but be disappointed with the output.

Rating:  3.25 out of 5.

The post match Bubba Ray attack did nothing for me.  I understand that Colt Cobana is a local star, but he’s NEVER done anything for me.  I guess that ROH needed to sell an angle for future TV purposes, so I’ll give it a pass.

Kenny Omega v Pentagon Zero

My Expectation:  The best match on the show.  Kenny Omega is widely considered the best worker in the world, and Pentagon is my personal favorite.  I’m a massive Lucha Underground fan, and he’s been my guy from day one.  I likely would have bought the show regardless, but the announcement of this match sealed the deal for me.

The Reality:  Exactly what I was looking for.  Kenny Omega was every bit as great as advertised.  It was Pentagon that blew me away though.  Even though he’s my guy and has been for a while, it’s more because of his character rather than his in-ring prowess.

Until tonight, he hadn’t shown that he was capable of having the all-time classic that you’re accustomed to see from Kenny Omega in NJPW.  He certainly changed the narrative tonight.  As great as the match was, I feel that they could do even better.  You could see the lack of familiarity between the two.  Give them another 20-25 minutes and I think we’d absolutely get a 5 star classic.

Rating:  4.75 out of 5.

Oh wow – Jericho showed up with another post-match beat down of Omega.  Fantastic moment!

Kazuchika Okada v Marty Scurll

My Expectation:  An outstanding match the likes of which you’d expect from two of the best international wrestlers in the world.

The Reality: Man, I really don’t know how to rate that match.  The last five or so minutes are amazing – completely compelling drama that have me riveted.

The problem is that the fifteen or twenty minutes that proceeded it felt like two guys that couldn’t get out of first gear.  I kept waiting for the greatness to be on display, but it took FOREVER.  The payoff was fantastic and I’m going to rate the match highly as a result.  Side note – Okada really needs a better finisher.  A glorified clothesline just isn’t spectacular enough for a wrestler of his stature.  I digress!

Rating:  4.25 out of 5.

Rey Mysterio, Bandido & Fenix v The Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi

My Expectation: A complete car crash from four amazing spot monkeys, the best cruiserweight ever and my personal pick for best wrestler today, Kota Ibushi.

The Reality:  A complete car crash worthy of the hype.  If you don’t like spot-fests, we can’t be friends anymore.  I loved every minute of the action from bell to bell.

Unfortunately, time wasn’t on their side.  They were up against the clock thanks in part to the moronic decision to add a filler match to open the show.  I’d love to score this match higher than I will, but the lack of time and lack of storytelling prohibits me from doing so.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5.

Overall:  A really fun show.  All three main events delivered in a big way, and there was very little filler on the show.  It was exactly what I was hoping it would be.  A great show for fans of independent wrestling.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

That’s a wrap kids.  Thank you for reading.  Follow me on Twitter @The Eternal Optimist

Agree or disagree with my ratings?  Sound off below!

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