All In

I moved a lot around to get to Chicago for this one.  I got a hotel deal way in advance, I took off from work for a week, and I even stayed home the day tickets went on sale just for the chance to buy.  Despite all that, I was not lucky enough to get tickets.  I could also not afford tickets on the secondary market, which were marked up so high it should be considered criminal.  I did manage to get one of the limited framed and signed ring canvas pieces though, which is a huge consolation prize, but still – not being in Chicago on September 1, 2018 will haunt me for eternity.  I’d spent a good chunk of my wrestling fandom disapointed by what was being presented to me.  When I say I was ready for change, I was ready for change.  I was ready for All In, more ready than any pay-per-view I can remember.  While I couldn’t watch it in-person, I did get to watch it on the Ring of Honor app.  It did not disappoint.  I made sure to spend time on my reviews, and to take as much of my potential bias out of it as possible – and I think I managed to do that.  It still rates extraordinarily high in my book.  All In, if someone sat down and archived every pro-wrestling event ever, could go down as one of the all-time greats.

Overview:

All In took place on September 1st, 2018.  It drew 11,263 fans to the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.  Don Callis, Excalibur, and Ian Riccaboni worked the sticks.  Dalton Castle, Tenille Dashwood, Mandy Leon, and Brent Tarring provided guest commentary at various points in the evening.  Earl Hebner, Jerry Lynn, Paul Tucker, Rick Knox, Tiger Hattori, and Todd F’n Sinclair were your referees.

Match Results/Notes/Ratings:

Previously, I have not rated any of the pre-show/dark matches in my recaps.  However, I watched both pre-show matches on Zero Hour prior to All In, so I included them in here.  I was hesitant about counting those pre-show grades toward the total event grade, but the difference in event rating was nominal with or without the pre-show grades when I ran the numbers.  So I went with it.

P1.) S-C-UUUUUUUUU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) defeats The Briscoe Brothers via pinfall

I was at the Ring of Honor taping wherein SCU turned babyface prior to this event. It was about time, because I think maybe with the exception of Kaz, who frankly has a naturally intimidating look, they are better in that role. Conversely, I do not think I have seen such outstanding heel work at any level – in any promotion – than I have seen from the Briscoe brothers. Upon seeing them in-person three years ago, The Collaborator hit me with the ‘Barack not bad meme’ face and said “that’s real heat.” He genuinely hasn’t shut the fuck up about them since.

The fans were into this one from the start, having been deprived for so long from proper wrasslin’.

The Briscoes, as is pretty typical of their matches, had control for a bit to start us off. Both teams exchanged the upper-hand at points. When S.C.U. started looking like they were being worked over a little too much and hit the hot tag – the entire arena erupted. Say what you will about All In’s 11,000+ comparative to the WWF/E’s 60/70/80k stadiums – I have never heard such a pop in an opening match.

Kaz and Scorpio put simultaneous dragon sleepers on the Briscoes in a pretty cool spot, before Jay breaks out with an eye rake. Jay hits Kaz with a neck-breaker for the two-count, before he & Mark hit the Redneck Boogie for another two-count. Scorpio hits Mark with a Hurricarana, Kaz gives him a DDT, and the two double-team him with a lung blower for a two-count of their own. After Scorpio pumps the breaks on a Briscoes comeback, Kaz manages to counter the doomsday device and secure the pinfall for two-thirds of S-C-UUU! (Match time: 12 minutes, 33 seconds)

Match rating: 7.82/10

P2.) 19-Man Over Budget Battle Royale

Say what you will about the concept of a battle royal in the modern-era, I like it. It could be a promotion’s strongest gimmick if executed properly, the issue is that it often isn’t. That said, If anyone is going to book a battle royal from start to finish, this is one they should take notes from. It was tremendous, and would have been even without the stipulation being a Ring of Honor title shot. Every one of the 19 wrestlers got their moment, but it did not feel too busy. As far as who was involved, a fairly stacked list:

1. Austin Gunn
2. Billy Gunn
3. Brandon Cutler
4. Brian Cage
5. Bully Ray
6. Cheeseburger
7. Chuckie T
8. Colt Cabana
9. El Chico Luchador
10. Ethan Page
11. Hurricane Helms
12. Jimmy Jacobs
13. Jordynne Grace
14. Marko Stunt
15. Moose
16. Punishment Martinez
17. Rocky Romero
18. Tommy Dreamer
19. Trent Barreta

As mentioned, Dalton Castle is on commentary for this one. The match starts the only way a battle royal can – a full-out brawl. Bully Ray puts El Chico Luchador through a table on the outside. Moose is the first person to break out and go on a run, manhandling a bunch of guys. He’s eliminated shortly after by Marko Stunt. Brandon Cutler is the next one out, and the Best Friends Chuck & Trent gain some steam before Punishment Martinez eliminates them both. (Side note here, if anyone gives a fuck: Chuck & Trent may be my favorite tag-team as of this review. At the very least, they’re on my all-time list, and giving the Young Bucks a run for their money.)

Cage next eliminates Romero, and then takes a shote from CHEESEBURGER! Cage halts any momentum Burger had and eliminates him. Martinez and Cage throw hands, and both take a choke-slam from Hurricane. Hurricane and Page are next eliminated by the hometown hero Colt Cabana. An ode to the EXTREME, as Dreamer does his thing with a variety of *wEaPoNs* before being eliminated by Billy Gunn. Billy also eliminates Jimmy Jacobs before taking a boot from Punishment, who Austin then eliminates. He himself is eliminated by Bully Ray.

Billy get eliminated by a press slam from Cage, who is then attacked by Stunt before Stunt is eliminated by Bully Ray. Grace hits Cage with a power-bomb, and eliminates him. Bully then rakes Grace’s eyes before eliminating her. Bully misses a splash on Colt, but winds up eliminating him anyway. El Chico Luchador returns from the table spot, revealing himself – rather… expectedly, if you’d been watching Being the Elite – as Flip Gordon. Nonetheless, it was still cool as Flip eliminated Bully for the win.

Not only is Flip ‘All In,’ he’s got a Ring of Honor title shot against one of the best in the business, Jay Lethal. (Match time: 17 minutes, 6 seconds)

Match rating: 8.38/10

1.) Matt Cross defeats Maxwell Jacob Friedman via pinfall

I was pumped to see Matt Cross hit the ring, long underrated talent this dude is.

The match starts with some solid back and forth that lasts until MJF teases a handshake and attacks Cross. Prototypical heel stuff: corny and predictable, but poetic nonetheless. Cross, after being tossed out of the ring, comes back with an enziguri, and a missile dropkick. MJF rolls away from the shooting-star press and then cowers behind the referee. Cross takes a power-bomb that gets MJF a two-count. MJF then takes Cross to the turnbuckle, but Cross fights back and hits a Hurricarana. Cross then takes a shoulder breaker for another two-count. MJF spits on Cross, pokes him in the eyes, and gets a middle-finger in on the crowd. Cross hits him with a bicycle kick and a double stomp for two. MJF responds with a pile-driver for two. He then takes a cutter off the ropes from Cross, who capitalizes on the opportunity with a shooting-star press for the win.

This was a good opening match, solid & crisp. Cross and MJF are two super talented workers with differing styles: one a grizzled fan-favorite & the other a young heel with legitimate go-away heat. MJF is, for all intents and purposes the yin to Matt Cross’s yang. (Match time: 9 minutes, 23 seconds)

Match rating: 7.74/10

1.5) Nick Aldis is interviewed by Sean Mooney, adding more intrigue to his match with Cody later – as if it needed it. I wholly expect their match to be transcendent.

2.) Special Guest Referee (Jerry Lynn) Match: Christopher Daniels (w/ Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) defeats Stephen Amell (w/ Josh Segarra) via pinfall

Amell is a wrestler inasmuch as anyone who wrestles is technically a wrestler. That said, he’s not a wrestler, so pairing him with Christopher Daniels was a solid move.

Daniels has words for Amell, and gains the upper-hand at the start. Amell bounces back and lays into Daniels. Daniels responds before getting tossed out of the ring. Amell follows him out and they take the fight to the barricade. The Arrow star sets up a table, and the old wrasslin’ adage is: “you set it up, you take the bump,” so I expect Daniels to put him through it soon.

Back in the ring, Amell chokes Daniels, before Lynn breaks the two up. Daniels responds with a gut-buster and a two-count. They both work toward the table, with Amell fighting Daniels off. Amell, being real-life friends with Cody, sets up the cross-Rhodes but Daniels gets out of it. Nonetheless, Amell multiple two-counts after a falcon arrow and coast-to-coast.

Daniels responds with the Best Moonsault Ever for a two-count of his own. On the ropes, they tease a table spot, but Amell fights Daniels off. Daniels winds up rolling onto the table, and Amell comes at him with an elbow-drop. Daniels scoots out of the way, and Amell is left to take the bump all by himself. Lynn returns both men to the ring, and gets into it with Daniels. In arguing with Lynn, Daniels is lent susceptible to a roll-up from Amell. Amell gets two on the roll-up, but Daniels responds by laying into him.

Amell, to his credit, isn’t done. He visibly asks Daniels for more and then gives him the finger. That’s two fingers in the first two matches. Steve Austin is probably drinking a beer and smiling somewhere at the moment. Amell gets one more two-count in before Daniels hits a back-breaker and the Best Moonsault Ever for the pin. The only reason I didn’t rate this one higher was because you could tell at times that Amell is still kind of green.  He worked his ass off though, something that was also evident.  (Match time: 12 minutes, 30 seconds)

Match rating: 6.69/10

3.) Four-Way Match: Tessa Blanchard defeats Britt Baker, Chelsea Green, & Madison Rayne via pinfall

Mandy Leon & Tenille Dashwood join the commentary team for this next one: a four-way (four-corner survival, if we’re being technical) match between maybe the best women in the business.

I nearly shit my pants when Dr. Britt Baker’s music hit. She came to the ring with her Bay-Bay Adam Cole’s old theme music as the backdrop. Way cool, that was. Tessa stopped to greet her dad (Tully) and step-dad (Magnum TA.) Either I have allergies, or someone’s cutting onions in here, man. All In really is a love letter to pro wrestling. I don’t know what kind of money Cody and the Bucks are making, but it’s not enough. I have the chills.

The hot mess Chelsea Green and the queen bee Madison Rayne round out the entrants. I really like all four women, but to me, the obvious favorite to win is Tessa. If this were a shoot, Tessa would probably rip all three of her opponents apart.

The ladies pair off as Baker and Green both get in early pin attempts, while Rayne and Tessa go at it. Tessa then tosses Green and hits Baker with a reverse STO. Rayne capitalizes with a roll-up for two. Tessa delivers a press slam to Rayne. Green gives Baker a running kick and hits a suicide dive. Rayne gets another two-count on Baker, but Baker bounces back and goes after all three of her opponents. Tessa answers a cutter from Rayne with a stalling suplex. CHELSEA GREEN WITH THE BROSKI KICK, and then missile drop-kicks Tessa. Rayne hits Baker with another cutter for two. Baker connects with a SUPERKICK on Tessa for the two-count. Tessa gets a two-count of her own on Rayne. Green hits Tessa with an un-prettier for a pin attempt that ends with a rope break. Tessa rather abruptly, hits DDT on green and gets the cover for the win.

Phenomenal. There were critiques to be made, but only if you wanted to make them. The only thing keeping this one from a higher score was a botch or two, and some general awkwardness. But aside from that, it was fucking flawless. (Match time: 12 minutes, 41 seconds)

Match rating: 9.26/10

4.) NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship Match: Cody (w/ Brandi Rhodes, Diamond Dallas Page, Glacier, & Tommy Dreamer) defeats Nick Aldis (w/ Jeff Jarrett, Samuel Shaw, Shawn Daivari, & Tim Storm) via pinfall

In a perfect world, this is the main event. I gotta think it was supposed to be at some point. If I had one critique of All In, it would be this: the card unfolded kind of awkwardly for my tastes. Two title matches on the evening, and both wound up in the middle of the card.

Having said that, if I was only going to watch one match from this show, it would have been this one. I was more ready for Cody/Aldis than maybe Cody & Aldis were.

The entrances were absolutely perfect, minus some brief blurriness on the camera facing Cody before he hit the ramp. Cody’s entourage of DDP, Tommy Dreamer, Glacier, Brandi, and Pharaoh made me feel things. Aldis’ entourage did, too. Tim Storm is an indy legend that I popped for, Jeff Jarrett & Daivari both go way back with Aldis from their time with TNA. Jarrett’s placement was a little odd, because he and Aldis have (had?) genuine backstage heat. Befitting a match of this caliber, Earl Hebner is your referee. I cannot overstate my enthusiasm.

Both men shook hands and then locked up. They exchange chops to the delight of a very hot crowd. Cody hits a suicide dive that Aldis responds to with a fisherman’s suplex and a near-fall. Cody delivers a superkick and attempts the Cross-Rhodes, which Aldis escapes. After a collision, Aldis winds up on the outside. Cody attempts a dive, but gets rocked with an elbow from Aldis. Cody is apparently hurt, and Hebner signals an X with his arms, alluding to a shoot injury. DDP checks on Cody, who is up but dazed at this point. Daivari gets a shove in on DDP, and takes the diamond cutter for his trouble. When we see Cody again, he’s significantly bloodied. This was a cool spot, but it was unnecessarily drawn-out.

Back in the ring, Cody gets a two-count on Aldis before missing a moonsault. Aldis responds with a splash for two. Cody recovers and puts Aldis in the figure four. The two men work toward the ropes and eventually back outside the ring. Aldis gives Cody a power-slam, and rolls him back in the ring. Cody gets another two-count after the Alabama slam. Aldis responds with a power-bomb and a cloverleaf. Cody is resilient, but before he can get to the ropes, Aldis drags him back to the center of the ring. Cody fights through the pain to slowly make his way toward the ropes (and Brandi.) Aldis hits him with a pile-driver, and climbs up top. Cody, about to take an elbow drop, is saved when Brandi rushes in and takes the brunt of the move. They exchange two-counts before Cody, like his father, wins the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship with a roll-up.

A very good match, this was. It had a very old-school feel and the crowd was fucking into it. (Match time: 22 minutes, 1 second)

Match rating: 7.69/10

5.) Chicago Street Fight: Hangman Page defeats Joey Janela (w/ Penelope Ford) via pinfall.

Adam Page isn’t just good for his age (27 at the time of taping), he’s just plain good. It’s scary to think he’s as young as he is. Give him another five years and he could be carrying the entire industry on his shoulders. Joey Janela is also very good, although in different ways & for different reasons than Page. Janela’s name eked into the mainstream in 2016 when he was… delivered through a board & light tubes in the back of a pickup OFF A ROOF. It was a pretty cool spot, but Janela may actually be insane. I’d link to it, but it’s everywhere. Just google it. Penelope Ford is Janela’s valet, and I’ll be goddamned if she doesn’t get involved in this match.

The lead-up to this one was built through Being the Elite’s YouTube and it was wonderfully bizarre. There were boots, a CORDED phone, and Page allegedly killed Joey Ryan, may he rest in penis.

Now Page is after another Joey.

The bell rings and the two men go the fuck at it. Janela gets tossed and takes a suicide dive. Some back and forth ensues before Page goes up top and hits Janela with a moonsault. Back in the ring, Page opens a chair and slams Janela onto it. Back on the outside, Janela takes advantage of a cracker barrel planted by an (unnamed, because they aren’t paying me) advertiser. Janela rolls the barrel toward Page, but Page eludes it before pulling a table out from under the ring.

Page sets the table up inside the ring, and the two men head up top. Janela gets the better of Page, and hits a Death Valley Driver for a two-count. That cracker barrel gets some use again, as Janela uses a ladder to bridge the barrel and the ring. Page is laid out on the ladder, but tis Janela who winds up taking that bump. Ford gets involved here, halting Page after he’d grabbed a trash bag. Page shoves Ford, but gets the shit slapped out of him for his troubles. Ford then hits the stunner, and goes up top for a high cross on Page.

Janela hits Page with an elbow drop through the table, and take the party up the entrance ramp. Page takes a horrifying clothesline before Janela sets up two tables. In a twisty turn of events, Janela receives a superkick and a power-bomb trough one of the tables. When the action gets back to the ring, Page hits the Rite of Passage for a near fall interrupted by Ford and the aforementioned trash bag. Page takes the trash bag back, to discover it contained his boots. Talking boots, for those of you who haven’t watched BTE leading up to this. Page loses his shit, and superkicks ford, before Janela superkicks him for a two-count. Janela grabs another ladder and table, setting up both. Page is laid out on the table, and Janela climbs the ladder. However, before the payoff, Page comes to. He beats Janela with the very phone he killed Joey Ryan with. Janela gets put through the table, and Page gets the win.

Solid booking, immersive storytelling, appropriate match stipulation. If this match had a glaring flaw, it was how involved Ford was, and that’s not even a glaring flaw – that’s just me trying to nitpick. The crowd was into this match, and despite the absurd (but good) backstory, it felt legit. (Match time: 20 minutes, 8 seconds)

Match rating: 8.74/10

5.5) Things got weird though, man. Dick druids make their way to the ring, an homage to the Undertaker and the Attitude Era. Page loses his cool when it’s revealed that Joey Ryan is alive. Ryan comes out to the ring, oils himself up, and hits Page with the dick-flip.  Page also takes the Sweet Tooth Music before being  carried off by the druids. Wonderfully absurd.

6.) ROH World Heavyweight Championship Match: Jay Lethal (w/ Lanny Poffo) defeats Flip Gordon (w/ Brandi Rhodes) via pinfall.

There is no ring announcer in the business today better than Bobby Cruise. I don’t know if I’d die on that hill, but I’d at least put up a fight.  He almost single-handedly makes the ROH live shows.  All due respect to the female ring announcers who put in the work, but there’s something about a crisp, booming voice that adds *something* to a wrestling match.  Which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate the Jojos and the Lilian Garcias of the world – I do.  This is just a preference of mine.

(I’ll admit, I have some personal reservations about Jay Lethal.  I’ve always liked his work, and I’ve never been about separating the art from the artist – but that’s what we’ve got to do given the circumstances.)

Randy Savage was one of my favorites as a kid, he cut a wonderful promo, and had a transcendent gimmick.  I was, however, far too young to realize how much he’d regressed in the ring.  The first I saw of him was those Slim Jim commercials.  The first I saw of him in the ring was a VHS tape of ‘mania X – his falls count anywhere match against Crush.  It was terrible, though I didn’t know this at the time.  Randy Savage was also one of Jay Lethal’s favorites, and Lethal often pays homage to the Macho Man with a gimmick referred to as ‘Black Machismo.’

Flip comes to the ring with an appropriately (Flip is a veteran) military-themed Brandi Rhodes – her second appearance of the evening.  Flip is way over here, and would have been over even if he hadn’t won the battle royal.  He may have caught lightning in a bottle, because his ascent happened so fast.  The boys respect him, not the least of which because of a backstage incident at a Pittsburgh ROH taping I happened to be at.  The fans adore him, and I think that’s because he blends the old and new schools quite well.  He wrestles appropriately for a smaller high-flyer in 2018, but he carries himself like a grizzled veteran from the 80’s/90’s.  I went into this one hoping he’d win, but I couldn’t see ROH letting their world title change hands on a non-ROH show.

Lethal, having transformed into Black Machismo, mistakes Brandi for Liz and the two interact flawlessly as if they were in fact Savage & Liz.  After the bell rings, this continues after Brandi assists Flip.  Lethal chases her into the ring and then puts her on his shoulder, posing like Savage used to with Liz.  After Lethal receives a slap for this, he reverts back from his other personality.  Flip takes some chops for his trouble, before hitting a moon-sault for the two-count.  The two men find themselves outside the ring, where Flip’s arial attacks are on full display.  He hits two suicide dives and a tope.  Back inside the ring, Flip hits Lethal with a frog splash for another two-count.  At this point, I realize Flip definitely won’t win, and he doesn’t need to.  He’s over regardless.

The two men exchange two-counts multiple times over before Lanny suggests the elbow drop.  Lethal hits the elbow drop three times.  For all that effort, Flip kicked out at two.  To complete the 80’s homage feel of the match, he then hulks up and hit Lethal with the leg drop.  He gets ANOTHER two-count after a shooting star press and moon-sault.  After the two men work up top, Lethal hits Flip with a cutter and then the Lethal Injection for the pin.  And STILL Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Champion – Jay Lethal.

Excellent match, there was something for everyone.  They paid homage to Hogan and Savage, but not so much that it was hokey.  There was a ton of action and near-falls for a match that ran less than fifteen minutes, but it also didn’t feel rushed.  Despite the loss, Flip cemented himself here as a major player in the eyes of the masses.  (Match time: 14 minutes, 21 seconds)

Match rating: 7.48/10

6.5) Afterward, Bully Ray – tying in a Ring of Honor angle – attacks both combatants and hits Lanny Poffo in the scrotes.  (Frankly, knowing what we know about Lanny, I’m shocked this didn’t do any damage to Bully.)  Hometown hero Colt Cabana rushes to aide Bully’s victims, and the spot closes with Lethal, Flip and Cabana hitting Bully with a triple power-bomb through a table.

7.) Kenny Omega defeats Pentagon Jr. via pinfall.

The crowd was hot for this one from the get-go.  I’d bet allot of tickets were bought & sold primarily to see this match.  I liked the pre-bell sequence with Pentagon’s glove & the slap, that kind of stuff aids in the build-up.  Not that the match needed any aid, considering how popular these guys are, and the fact that they haven’t ever worked together before.

After the bell rings, Pentagon gets in most of the offense.  After he hits the backstabber, Omega exits the ring for a breather.  Once he’s back in, he hits a Hurricarana & attempts The Rise of the Terminator.  Pentagon counters and hits a Topé.  Outside the ring after some more back and forth, Pentagon whips Omega into a barricade and power-slams The Cleaner on the floor.  More back and forth before Omega tries the You Can’t Escape, which Pentagon successfully protected himself from.  Omega bounces back to get a two-count, and takes a Superkick in an attempt to hit the V-Trigger.  Pentagon hits the Backstabber for his own two-count.  They each exchange two-counts; Omega after a lariat, and Pentagon after the Double Stomp.  Omega hits the V-Trigger multiple times, but Pentagon manages the rope break.  Pentagon counters the One-Winged Angel and hits the Fear Factor for a two-count.

On the apron now, Omega lays in chops, and attempts the V-Trigger.  Pentagon counters, and sets up a Package Piledriver. Back in the ring,  Pentagon hits another Double Stomp for two, which Omega answers with his own Package Piledriver and another two-count.  The V-Trigger by Omega sets up the One-Winged Angel.  Pentagon counters to hit a Package Piledriver, but Omega kicks out.  Omega counters a Superkick and hits the V-Trigger for two.  Pentagon takes the V-Trigger again, and this time Omega is able to hit the One-Winged Angel to close this thing out.  This was a great match, fast-paced, wall-to-wall action.  Omega may have won, and that was probably what was presumed, but Pentagon showed out.  For him to keep up with the IWGP Champ on this kind of stage really speaks to his level of talent.  (Match time: 17 minutes, 47 seconds)

Match rating: 9.42/10

7.5.) While Omega celebrates, the lights go out.  Once back on, Pentagon attacks Omega.  Pretty obvious that it wasn’t really Pentagon – the lights going out abruptly is a dead giveaway, plus the body types of Penta and Y2J are so very dissimilar.  But, part of our responsibility as fans is to suspend disbelief.  I did like this, for two reasons: one, it was a nice ad spot for the Jericho Cruise, which will probably be superb.  And two, Jericho has stated repeatedly that he would never work in the U.S. for anyone but Vince… yet here he is working in the U.S. for a group that may wind up being the anti-Vince.  After this, we cut to Marty being harassed by the hand guys from RoH, and he responds by snapping their fingers off.

8.) Kazuchika Okada defeats Marty Scurll via pinfall.

It’s got to be tough following that last match.  I try not to get into rankings, because in wrestling they’re at best very fluid, and at worst, completely irrelevant.  Having said that, Okada is one of the best in the world, and Scurll is getting there.  Objectively, I’m going to enjoy this one no matter the outcome.  As a mark, however, I’m pulling for Scurll.  (Marty Scurll is quite possibly my favorite wrestler at the time I write this.  At the very least he’s the wrestler with my all-time favorite entrance.  It’s simple, visually-appealing, and effective.  Young me – who loved Sting’s rafter-rappelling, Goldberg’s police escort/pyro, and almost everything Kane did entrance-wise – would not like that his tastes have changed, but so goes life.)

Scurll works in a Cradle early for a two-count.  The two work back and forth for a bit, exchanging counters.  Scurll attempts a Suplex, which Okada counters with a Suplex of his own.  Scurll counters and hits a Superkick while Okada’s on the apron.  While on the floor, Okada eats a Suicide-dive.  Both men get back in the ring, and find themselves back outside it.  Okada hits Scurll with a DDT, and then back to the ring again.  Okada hits a Senton Atomico, and Scurll answers with a Back-stabber.  Scurll follows with an Enziguri, a Tornado DDT, and a pin attempt.  Okada kicks out at two, counters the Black Plague, and hits a DDT for a two-count.  Scurll plants a Sunset Flip for two of his own, and follows that with a Brain-buster.  Okada avoids the Pile-driver, and hits a Neck-breaker for another two-count.  Okada attempts to take the high ground, but Scurll puts the kibosh on him and hits a Superplex.  

Okada kicks out of multiple pin attempts, and then eats a Power-bomb before kicking out of another.  Scurll attempts the Black Plague, but Okada counters and hits a John Woo.  Okada goes up top for the Missile Drop-kick and another two-count.  Scurll counters the Tombstone Pile-driver with a DDT once, but Okada does get it in.  Scurll gets in his broken fingers spot, which we have dubbed “The Wishbone.”  Okada hits a drop-kick and goes for the Rainmaker.  Scurll counters for the Crossface Chicken-wing.  Okada gets out of the hold, but Scurll puts it back on.  After the referee goes down, Scurll gets in an umbrella shot, and the Rainmaker.  HE’S A HEEEEEL!  Okada kicks out at two, and counters the Chicken-wing with the Rainmaker.  Scurll hulks up, and Okada hits him with the Rainmaker twice more before the three-count.  

This was a great match that could have been transcendent if it were a little shorter, and didn’t come after Omega/Pentagon.  Okada/Scurll ran so long that the main event was rushed a bit, which hurts both that match, and this one.  There was also way more downtime than I’m sure it reads, which really made the runtime seem that much longer.  I also think the crowd was coming off the high of Omega/Pentagon for the majority of this one.  They got into it, but not as much as it maybe warranted.  All things considered though, just like Pentagon earlier, Scurll went up against one of the best in the world and came out looking great.  (Match time: 26 minutes, 5 seconds)

Match rating: 6.82/10

9.) Kota Ibushi & the Young Bucks defeat Bandido, Rey Fénix, & Rey Mysterio Jr.

Any argument for wrestling matches without the support of a story could start with this match. From start to finish, it was just balls-out work-rate and spots, spots and work-rate. And I loved it. I was bummed that Deonna Purrazzo was pulled from the show after signing with the WWE, but I’m glad Rey Mysterio Jr. was able to keep his commitments. Between he and the Bucks, three of my all-time favorites are booked in this one match.

It was tough keeping up with the action, there was a lot of it. Matt and Bandido start us off, before Nick and Fenix swap in. Fenix hits the Cutter for a two-count. Ibushi and Mysterio tag in shortly after to a huge pop. Both men work back and forth for a bit, before Matt tags in and take a DDT from Mysterio. Fenix tags back in and hits Matt with a superkick. Bandido and Ibushi find their way back in, before Ibushi hits a Moonsault for the two-count. Bandido and Fenix take a Pelé from Ibushi before Nick tags in. Nick lights it up, and Ibushi hits the Golden Triangle.

Mysterio hits a Hurricarana, Bandido hits a Corkscrew, both to the outside. Matt hits a dive off the entrance ramp. SPOTS, AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE!

Inside the ring, Bandido takes a Buckle Bomb, then a German Suplex from Ibushi for a two-count. Bandido manages to get the tag on Mysterio. Mysterio hits the 619 and a Frog Splash for two, Bandido hits the Spanish Fly for what would have been a three-count were it not for Nick making the save. Then, an elegant and classy Superick Party. Ibushi gets a two-count on Bandido, before the Indytaker puts him away for good.

Excellent match in which everyone seems to point out the obvious time crunch. But that’s why this match was the main event. If the show ran over at any point, it’s more logical booking to shave time off a six-man tag than Cody/Aldis, Kenny/Pentagon, or Marty/Okada. It felt a little rushed, but it was entertaining wall-to-wall action, and an excellent closer to an astounding pay-per-view in my opinion.

Match rating: 7.72/10

Event rating: 7.75/10

Takeaways:

  • Indie wrestling is more than just alive and well.  It’s thriving.
  • Maxwell Jacob Friedman could be a huge name sometime soon.  He’s a very good heel.  The heeliest.
  • The women were given a decent spot on a loaded card and still stood out in a big way.  The work-rate was phenomenal.
  • Cody/Aldis had everything you could ask for, most notably wonderful story-telling.
  • Omega/Pentagon was every bit of the 172-star banger we all expected.

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