Some reflections on one of the most memorable experiences in professional wrestling history.
All In was one of the most memorable experiences in professional wrestling history. Whether you’re a fan of independent wrestling or cannot stand Bullet Club and everything they represent, it’s hard to argue against what they accomplished with All In. The quality of the show will be debated, but it still left us with lots of unforgettable moments and provided a glimpse as to the state of professional wrestling.
Women’s wrestling is alive and well
Despite Stephanie McMahon’s best efforts, the women’s division never can never seem to catch a break on WWE’s main roster. The first ever Women’s Royal Rumble was a nostalgia-filled affair that was disappointing at best, every NXT star seems to crash and burn once they are moved up, and hype around the upcoming all-women’s Evolution card has sort of fizzled after its initial reveal.
At All In, Britt Baker, Madison Rayne, Chelsea Green, and Tessa Blanchard wrestled a great match that was a botched finished away from contending for match of the night. WWE doesn’t always get it right and NXT has been trending down, but the future of the women’s division in the world’s largest wrestling promotion looks fine.
As for tag teams…
All In opened with a tag match between SCU and the Briscoes and closed with a six man featuring The Golden Elite against Rey Mysterio, Rey Fenix, and Bandido. If you want to nitpick, the SCU match was on the pre-show and the main was not even a straight up tag match. In other words, an argument can be made that there were no tag team matches on the All In main card. Fans have complained about the tag team divisions in WWE and NJPW for years, but All In showed that this is a problem that is across the board.
Creative chants — without trying to take over the show
One of my biggest worries going to All In was how annoying the chants would be. Obviously, you are going to get the “Too Sweet” and “Be Elite” chants, but I was expecting far worse. To my surprise, not only was there nothing obnoxious, there was also some creativity. After Stephen Amell missed an elbow through a table, a “Broken Arrow” chant broke out and even though I found the angle unfunny, “Rest in Penis” did make me laugh out loud.
A sense of community
We all know the narrative: Wrestling fans are socially awkward misanthropes who angrily complain online about everything and are miserable people who constantly want to one up each other. While there may be a little truth to that, the All In audience is proof there are two sides to every story. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there and went out of their way to be helpful. The smarmy answers that fill wrestling forums were nonexistent and I had fun talking to people fans who had traveled from Canada, Australia, New York, Boston, and England with favorites as varied as RevPro, Roman Reigns, the Usos, and Mid Atlantic. (While it was weird at first to say “Woop Woop” to other strangers in O’Hare airport, it also was really cool in its own geeky way.)
Okada is the best in the world!
No shock here but watching the Rainmaker work a great match with perfect storytelling was an event in itself. Scurll was one of the most over people on a show where everyone was over, but he was also out of his league. The match was the best on the show, using old school psychology (Scurll is a junior heavyweight who could only gain the advantage when using Okada’s momentum against him), modern techniques, and great selling in a one of the best matches of the Villain’s career. Okada walked out with the victory and Scurll left a bigger star.
Pro wrestling is for everybody
All In was not just a boys night out. While the audience was mostly male, groups of women dressed in Young Bucks and Villain Club merchandise filled the arena. A far cry from the heyday of the original ECW when their shows were packed almost exclusively with men clad in black t-shirts. Pro wrestling is not just for guys and children and it was nice to see that Bullet Club have such a strong crossover appeal.
From a wrestling standpoint, All In was not the best show of the year. However, as memorable events go, few will top it. The wrestlers made it a once in a lifetime night that will leave lasting memories for many.