AEW’s All Out rocks suburban Chicago
By Mike Pankow
September 6, 2019
Tony Khan’s vision for All Elite Wrestling started to come into focus last Saturday night with an outstanding card of bell-to-bell action at the All Out pay-per-view event at Sears Centre in suburban Chicago.
A buffet of wrestling, including old-school psychology, daredevil risks, high flying and hard-hitting action, entertained the rabid, sold-out crowd of around 11,000 in Hoffman Estates.
Khan, an Illinois native, University of Illinois graduate and wrestling fan for three decades, was satisfied about the show.
“I think everybody got what they wanted to see,” Khan said. “I’m really happy with the show. There were really a lot of top performances across the board.”
AEW crowned its first-ever World Champion when 25-year veteran Chris Jericho defeated Hangman Page in the main event after Jericho nailed Page with his devastating back elbow, known as the Judas Effect. The bloody Jericho outlasted a young, hungry Page, who for sure, took a major step forward in his evolution despite his loss.
“That was really a tremendous main event and Hangman is going to have a really career ahead of him,” Khan said. “It was a great performance from him.”
The Jericho-Page bout had to follow the insane “Escalera de la Muerte” ladder match between the Lucha Bros. and the Young Bucks. It was a slow build, but the main event hit its stride and the finish popped the crowd.
Pentagon El 0M and Fenix retained the AAA Tag Team Championships in match where all four men somehow walked away relatively unharmed after some death-defying acrobatics involving multiple ladders.
“My body feels like a wreck, but overall as a fan, I feel like it was a home run,” said Matt Jackson of the Young Bucks, who also is an executive vice president in AEW. “Every single box was checked. The people in the arena were having an absolute fiesta.”
After the match, Santana and Ortiz, formerly LAX in IMPACT Wrestling, attacked both teams while wearing rubber masks of former Presidents Clinton and Kennedy. The crowd popped when the duo unmasked, ending speculation of where the former IMPACT Tag Team Champions would end up.
In an emotional affair loaded with twists and turns and a surprise run-in, Cody Rhodes defeated Shawn Spears in a grudge match a couple of months after Spears’ brutal chairshot to head of Cody that busted open the son of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.
Spears had legendary Four Horsemen member Tully Blanchard in his corner while Cody had his friend and young protégé MJF as his second. Cody was fired up at the start, attacking Spears and getting a shot in on Blanchard as well. At one point with the referee distracted after interference from Blanchard, another former Horsemen and Blanchard’s longtime tag team partner, Arn Anderson ran out and delivered a spinebuster to Spears for an arena-rocking pop.
Cody closed out the match with a chair-aided Disaster Kick and a Cross Rhodes to gain the three count.
In the biggest shock of the night, PAC, formerly Neville in WWE, defeated Kenny Omega after reversing a One-Winged Angel into a submission. It was a successful AEW debut for the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion and NXT Champion, who survived several V-Trigger knee strikes from Omega. Omega was originally supposed to wrestle Jon Moxley, who had to pull out of the event because of MRSA infection in his elbow. Moxley also canceled his appearance at Starrcast III, where he was supposed to be interviewed by Jim Ross.
“It was very fortunate. We were already deep in negotiations with PAC about coming in,” Khan said. “The situation became right for him to come in. I was hoping he’d be here tonight anyway and he was able to work the match for us. Jon wanted to be here more than anybody. Nobody’s tougher than Jon. It was really scary deal, but I was glad we were able to give people a quality match.”
Moxley and Omega now will wrestle at AEW’s next pay-per-view, Full Gear, in Baltimore on Nov. 9.
After the show, PAC made another bold statement by confronting a despondent Page during a backstage media scrum. PAC and Page were supposedly to meet at Double or Nothing on Memorial Day weekend before the match was scrapped.
“I’ll be honest with you,” said PAC, addressing Page. “It broke my little heart to see you lose tonight, but unfortunately for you, we have some unfinished business. Let me tell everyone the real reason I returned to AEW … revenge.” Then PAC whipped a bottle of water at Page before officials separated the two before a brawl could break out.
In other action, the Dark Order (Stu Grayson and Evil Uno) defeated the Best Friends (Trent and Chuckie T) to earn a first-round bye in the upcoming AEW World Tag Team tournament. Orange Cassidy appeared after the match and performed a dive through the ropes onto Dark Order members surrounding the ring. Then the Best Friends embraced Cassidy, who didn’t seem like he was into the hug even though the crowd roared with approval.
Jimmy Havoc won a crazy, three-way “Cracker Barrel Clash” over Joey Janela and Darby Allin where anything was legal. The unconventional brawler from the UK won the match with suplexing and clotheslining Janela through a giant barrel. Allin also pulled off a flying double-stomp skateboard maneuver to the back of Janela among other wacky moments.
The veteran trio of SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) defeated Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt in a six-man tag team match that opened the main card. Luchasaurus showed an awesome arsenal of agility and power and had the crowd on its feet before Daniels and Kazarian delivered a double Best Meltzer Ever onto Jungle Boy and Stunt, leading to the victory.
In the only women’s match on the main card, Riho defeated Hikaru Shida to earn a shot to become the first-ever AEW Women’s Champion. Earlier in the evening on the Buy In pre-show, Nyla Rose won the 21-woman Casino Battle Royale to become Riho’s opponent in the title match, which will take place on AEW on TNT’s first show on Oct. 2 in Washington D.C.
“I think Nyla Rose has already proved she’s a big star,” Khan said. “If you didn’t consider Nyla Rose a big star before, you should now.”
Khan added that he thinks people will appreciate Joshi (Japanese female wrestling) in AEW like Saturday’s Riho-Shida match, much like Lucha Libre stars became a staple on WCW Nitro in the mid-1990s.
The battle royal featured several surprises, including appearances by Tenille Dashwood, ODB, AAA legend Faby Apache, Nicole Savoy and Mercedes Martinez, who was the 21st entrant after drawing the joker card. In the end, Baker blasted Bea Priestly off the apron with a forearm to eliminate her, leaving Baker and Rose as the final two. Priestly grabbed Baker’s arm from the outside as Rose dumped Baker to win the match, a la the Hulk Hogan-Sid Justice scenario when Ric Flair won the 1992 WWE Royal Rumble.
The other match on the Buy In was the tag team match where Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen) defeated Jack Evans and Angelico when Kassidy pinned Angelico after a double-team finisher.
Khan feels excited about the product growing and pledged to keep Chicago as a key market just a few days after AEW announced its Wednesday night TV show on TNT will make an appearance at Sears Centre on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving.
“I’ve lived here all my life until my family bought the Jaguars,” Khan said. “I had never spent more than a couple of weeks at a time outside of Illinois until I was about 28 years old. It means a lot to me to be back here. I want to keep the tradition of All Out here in the Chicago area and also keep the tradition of coming back here for Thanksgiving Eve.”
Ringside chatter: Khan confirmed Chicago native Kylie Rae is no longer with the company with elaborating or speculating on any potential reasons. “She’s no longer with us,” he said. “She asked for her release and we granted it. It was super amicable. She is a really nice person.” …
AEW announced it has come to terms with three-decade veteran Dustin Rhodes on a contract. “I really love Dustin,” Khan said. “He’s a great person. I’m so happy he’s with us. The expectation was for Dustin to come in as a coach and he’s done great things for us as a wrestler. He’s giving people a lot of advice. Mentoring people is nothing new for him, being that guiding hand for people. He’s got a lot of insight to bring. I just think he’ll be a really valuable addition.” …
There was some criticism when Cody’s dog, Pharaoh, accompanied his entourage to the ring when the pyro went off before the match with Spears, obviously scaring the dog. “Brandi (Cody’s wife) is not thrilled with Cody,” said Khan with some regret in his voice. “I do like having Pharaoh at the shows. He’s a great dog.”
For post-show media scrum videos with Hangman Page (with PAC confrontation), the Young Bucks, Britt Baker and AEW President Tony Khan. go to: https://bit.ly/2lAYSXY.
For over 180 photos from All Out, plus hundreds from other events Windy City Slam has covered, go to: https://www.windycityslam.com/photos