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Mike Pankow

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Statement weekend: All In, Starrcast rousing success

Statement weekend: All In, Starrcast rousing success

By Mike Pankow

September 4, 2018

Dusty Rhodes would be proud.

The son of “The American Dream,” Cody, who helped conceive All In, the largest non-WWE wrestling event in America in nearly two decades, and The Young Bucks were all smiles following an almost five-hour extravaganza on Saturday night at the Sears Centre in Northwest suburban Hoffman Estates.

The over 10,000 rabid Chicago fans were treated to an action-packed night of high-caliber matches and some of the biggest and emerging wrestling stars in the world.

Cody won the NWA World Championship his father held on several occasions from Nick Aldis in a classic match that lasted over 20 minutes. Cody displayed the athleticism and psychology that he couldn’t show for the most part in his WWE career. It was also the best match of Aldis’ career.

“If there ever was a moment I’ve been proud of it’s All In weekend and Starrcast,” Cody said Friday on “Busted Open,” which was broadcast live from Starrcast at the nearby Hyatt Regency Schaumburg. “It’s by wrestlers for wrestlers, by fans for fans. I care about if Dusty had a good time during All In than if I won this match.”

The main event was the six-man spot-fest between The Bucks and Kota Ibushi against Rey Mysterio, Fenix and Bandido. The Bucks and Ibushi won a fun, 12-minute match which almost ran up to the end of the satellite feed. Rushed or not, it was still a solid affair. Perhaps cutting out the silly Joey Ryan parade of penises could have led to another five quality minutes in the main event.

Kenny Omega and Pentagon Jr. put on a show-stealer, which ended when Omega finally subdued his opponent with the One-winged Angel finisher. After Omega’s victory, the lights cut out and when they came back up “Pentagon” jumped Omega and proceeded to beat him down. The masked wrestler, who obviously was a different person after the lights came back, revealed himself to be the legendary Chris Jericho. The current IWGP Intercontinental Champion grabbed a mic and told Omega he’d see him on the Jericho Cruise.

One of my favorite stories of the night spanned over two different matches. Flip Gordon, who donned a mask and entered the Over Budget Battle Royal during All In Zero Hour, ended up winning the battle royal by eliminating surprise entrant Bully Ray, moments after Bully dumped Chicago favorite Colt Cabana.

Per the stipulation of winning the battle royal, Gordon received an ROH Championship match during the main card against Jay Lethal. Lethal, who used to perform in IMPACT Wrestling with the “Black Machismo” gimmick, a spot-on “Macho Man” Randy Savage imitation, returned with that gimmick and even had Savage’s brother Lanny Poffo in his corner.

After a sometimes goofy, sometimes brilliant match, Lethal defeated Gordon with a Lethal Injection. After the match, Bully Ray returned to attack Gordon and Lethal and administered a low-blow to Poffo. Cabana came out for the save and eventually teamed with Gordon and Lethal to deliver a Shield-style triple powerbomb through a table. Maybe we see a Cabana-Bully Ray feud in ROH in the near future.

Other strong matches included SoCal Uncensored’s victory over the Briscoe brothers during Zero Hour, the four-way women’s match with Tessa Blanchard defeating Britt Baker, Chelsea Green and Madison Rayne, Kaz Okada’s win over “The Villain” Marty Scurll and Hangman Page’s victory over Joey Janela in a Chicago Street Fight.

All In was the main course of the weekend that also included Conrad Thompson’s brainchild Starrcast, the four-day convention held in Schaumburg. Over 150 wrestling personalities, past and present, were in attendance for meet and greets, autographs, photo opportunities and special programming.

Several hundred people huddled in the lobby of the Hyatt on Friday morning for “Busted Open,” wrestling’s only weekday radio show, which airs on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.

In addition to the All In superstars, legends like Lex Luger, Magnum TA, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Jim Ross, Road Warrior Animal, Billy Gunn, Diamond Dallas Page and Jeff Jarrett among others made appearances.

 "The American Nightmare" Cody speaks during "Busted Open" on Friday, August 31, one day before he won the NWA Championship from Nick Aldis at All In.

"The American Nightmare" Cody speaks during "Busted Open" on Friday, August 31, one day before he won the NWA Championship from Nick Aldis at All In.

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