I was pulling for the entire weekend to be a success from the beginning but if I’m going to be honest…
Full disclosure: The Young Bucks are my favorite team, I think Marty Scurll is amazing, and I have been on the Bullet Club bandwagon since Prince Devitt called the shots. I wanted All In and the entire Starrcast weekend to succeed. And to many fans it was a resounding success. But how good was it if you put fandom aside?
Starrcast was a a fan convention leading up to All In. At first it sounded no different from any other wrestling fan show. Some favorites from the past, a couple of indie names, and lots of replica belts.
Then, they started announcing the panels. A debate on the Death of WCW? Jeff Jarrett talking about what went wrong in TNA? A Q&A with Dave Meltzer? Things were looking up.Unfortunately, the execution was horrible. The venue for the event was not prepared for the many eager wrestling fans. The halls were narrow and would sometimes come to a complete standstill. There was little signage to explain where anything was and the setup was awkward with vendors lining one wall and long lines being pushed up against the other.
Before Starrcast, the importance of what type of badge you purchased was heavily pushed. When checking in, I was told not to lose my platinum bracelet (the most expensive) due to the perks I received. This was the only time anyone ever checked it. I was never given the priority access that came with the bracelet, missed out on one signing I had paid for, and was told I was not allowed in another room.
The staff tried to be helpful but had no clue what was going on. I was told incorrect information many times and “I’m not sure” more than once. More often than not I relied on other fans.
Thankfully, for the most part the fans were the best part of Starrcast. Wrestling fans get a bad rap — from “edgy” posts online to obnoxious chants at major shows, it seems like all of them are trolls. All In weekend showed me a much different side. Everyone I spoke to was extremely helpful. Quick to give directions or take pictures, every attendee I spoke with was incredibly nice. Sure, there were differences of opinions but it never resorted to the childish name calling one might expect. Cody and the Bucks clearly were not involved in the planning of the convention as All In itself was one of the smoothest experiences I have ever had. Doors opened at the time listed and I was in line for maybe two minutes. There was never any confusion and all fears I had after the mishandling of the convention were completely forgotten.
All In had a major show vibe to it. Production values were high with pyro and vignettes shown on the big screen. The NWA title match had a big fight feel, as both men were shown being led from backstage by their respective entourages. Chris Jericho’s surprise appearance received a huge pop, and the NWA title match was the hottest in decades. The only downside to the show was the Joey Ryan angle best summarized by a person behind me who said, “I am so confused.”
All In also confirmed that audiences hijacking shows to get themselves over is a WWE thing. There were plenty of chants throughout the night, but none took away from the show. No one clamored for beach balls or other wrestlers. This clearly was not a family friendly show as chants go (lots of F-bombs) but the crowd was a part of the show and never tried to take it over.
As a wrestling show, All In was fantastic. Cody and the Bucks know their fan base and gave them exactly what they wanted. The NWA title match was as good as could be expected and the women’s four way could have made a strong argument for match of the night if it not for the botched ending. The main event was obviously rushed for time, but was still great. The one knock against the show is there were no “must see” matches. People who were already fans will like it and this who didn’t care before will have no reason to after.
All In weekend had its ups and downs. Starrcast was a mess that its organizers will hopefully learn from. All In was a fun show, though, that provided one of the most memorable experiences of the wrestling year. Cody and The Young Bucks proved professional wrestling is as strong as it has ever been for those who have are willing to give it a chance.