Preview: All In (9/1/18)

All In
Credit: All In

For over a year, buzz all around the independent scene has been on All In, and on Saturday, that buzz will be palpable as a capacity crowd of 10,000+ fans will be witnessing history. The journey has been long and arduous but all of it, a labor of love from Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson). Finally, the culmination of those efforts is here. From conceptualizing and securing a venue to booking talent and creating a card, to marketing, promoting, merchandising and everything else that goes into creating a once-in-a-lifetime wrestling experience such as what All In and Starrcast promises, Rhodes and the Bucks have done it all. And on Saturday, they’ll be able to show their revolutionary event to the world.

If you aren’t one of the 10,000-or-so fans that will be live in attendance at the Sears Centre, you don’t have to worry about missing out on the greatest and largest show to hit the independents. All In’s pre-show, Zero Hour, which features SCU (Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) taking on the Briscoes (Jay and Mark Briscoe) and the Over Budget Battle Royal to determine Jay Lethal‘s #1 contender to the Ring of Honor World Championship, will air live and free on WGN America. Check out our Zero Hour preview for more information.

All In itself will be broadcast on three separate platforms, with FITE TV offering the show live on iPPV for $39.99, Honor Club offering it live at half the price for members and free for members of the VIP program, and as was announced yesterday, New Japan World will air the show on a delay, free to its subscribers (monthly subscription costs $9 USD/month). The options are multiple and affordable. There is no reason to miss out on witnessing history.

While the card itself has not fully come together – we still don’t know what match MJF, Matt Cross and Best Friends (Beretta and Chuckie T) will take part in- the matches we do know are spectacular. Dream meetings, first-time ever clashes, stipulations…matches you could only see at a show which combines talent from ROH, New Japan Pro Wrestling, IMPACT Wrestling, Lucha Underground, National Wrestling Alliance, and so much more.

Joey Janela vs Hangman Page – Chicago Street Fight

Ever since becoming a member of Bullet Club in 2016, Hangman Page has seen his stock rise both in and out of the ring. In the past two years, Page has won the ROH World Six Man Tag Team Championship alongside the Young Bucks. He’s also been involved in multiple title pictures, including the ROH tag team, world, and television title, which he challenged for on several occasions as well as the IWGP tag team, NEVER Openweight six man and the United States title in NJPW. Page has also twice competed in NJPW’s World Tag League and just a few months ago, made his debut in the G1 Climax. Despite just a 3-6 record, Page garnered a lot of praise for his matches, including against Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Minoru Suzuki.

Outside of the ring, however, Page has been unraveling ever since he presumably murdered Joey Ryan following jealousy over Ryan’s gimmick. Page, who has called Ryan a “penis pretender” and who has asserted that his own male organ is much superior, has been going manic and walking around without shoes, the same shoes that have Ryan’s blood on them. Paranoid the Japanese police and others will discover his crime, Page has been lashing out including against Chase Owens, Marty Scurll, and Juice Robinson. On the “All Out” episode of Being the Elite, Robinson called Joey Janela a badass and Page took exception to that saying he’s the real badass because he murdered somebody. He quickly walked that back but made sure to have Robinson tell the Bucks to never have Janela appear on BTE again. But Janela did, on the “Go Home Show”, and stabbed Ryan with a marker.

Known for his fearless attitude and willingness to take the craziest of bumps, Joey Janela has been wrestling on the independent circuit for 11 years. He’s perhaps best remembered for the infamous roof bump through a contraption made of barbed wire, light tubes and fire, that he took in 2016 during Combat Zone Wrestling‘s Zandig Tournament of Survival. An indy wrestler through and through, Janela really expanded his portfolio last year, including running his own show for Game Changer Wrestling, which he’s done several times now. A former 4x CZW Wired Champion, Janela is the current World Wrestling Network Champion in his first reign.

It’s a theme that you’ll see often for All In in that Janela vs Page is a first-time-ever meeting for the two and was recently announced, it’s happening in Janela’s playground in the form of a street fight. That being said, Page, at least in this continuity, is a murderer now, so he may very well try to kill another Joey and give Janela everything he can handle on Saturday night.

Rey Mysterio, Fenix and Bandido vs The Golden ELITE

There’s not really a story behind this match but when you look at the competitors, you realize there doesn’t need to be. The Golden ELITE (Kota Ibushi and the Young Bucks) will take on the Lucha powerhouse team of past – Rey Mysterio, present – Fenix, and future – Bandido. If you’ve watched any of these six guys throughout their careers, you know this will be an excellent and athletic encounter featuring a great mix of the Japanese style, lucha libre, and of course high spots.

This match will see the first-time ever pairing of Ibushi and the Bucks. Despite being members of the same stable alongside Kenny Omega, the trio have never wrestled as a  team, only against each other, which has happened on three separate occasions. The same goes for the lucha threesome as only Fenix and Mysterio have teamed up. Perhaps the most exciting part of this match, however, is that for the first time, Ibushi and Mysterio will share a ring.

Much like the main event match of Omega taking on Pentagon Jr., Ibushi and Mysterio have never really had occasion or opportunity to face each other. Primarily a Japanese wrestler, Ibushi has very infrequently made appearances outside of his home country. In 2016, he participated in the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic for WWE but at that point, Mysterio was long gone from the company having wrestled his last match as a contracted talent in 2014. Mysterio headed to Ibushi’s turf in 2018 but in his two matches for the company, he faced Bullet Club (Cody, Hangman Page, Marty Scurll) and CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO, YOH).

This is a match that features extraordinary talent and an innumerable amount of accolades. Among the six men are 107 championships including current tag team championships in the Crash (Bandido with Flamita), PROGRESS (Bandido with Flamita), Major League Wrestling (Fenix with Pentagon), Wrestling Alliance Revolution (Fenix with Pentagon), NJPW (Young Bucks). In addition, Mysterio is the current The Crash Heavyweight Champion, Fenix is the current Lucha Libre AAA World Heavyweight Champion and Los Perros Del Mal Light Heavyweight Champion, and the Bucks are current ROH six-man champions alongside Cody.

Marty Scurll vs Kazuchika Okada

Three letters, or rather numbers, can sum up how the build for this match has gone and they are “2-0-5.”

Excited to face Kazuchika Okada in singles competition for the first-time, Marty Scurll seems to be the only person who actually believes he can win this match. The rest of the people Scurll has sought advice from, be it Bullet Club, Nick Aldis, Rey Mysterio or Zack Sabre Jr., have all expressed a similar sentiment, notably that Scurll is screwed. Okada meanwhile, isn’t sweating it. After a disappointing G1 by his standards, because he didn’t win, Okada has brushed off Scurll from the get-go. When first asked about the match on the “Birthday Wish” episode of BTE, Okada called Scurll “short and small” before asking the camera operator if he was a junior heavyweight and asserting that this might be his last match before going to 205 Live, which is, of course, WWE’s show for cruiserweights.

When Okada and Scurll finally came face-to-face and sized each other up on “You Have Failed this City,” Okada merely made a 205 gesture with his hand before feigning hitting Scurll with his balloon.

There is an intriguing element to this match as it’s one that given their weight classes, could never really happen within an NJPW ring. Okada IS New Japan Pro Wrestling and a victory over him would be such a boom for Scurll. Just having the match alone gives the profiled junior/cruiserweight an opportunity to shine like he’s never had before. That’s not to say Scurll hasn’t faced heavyweights because he has. In fact, he is former world champion for Defiant, PROGRESS and Revolution Pro and television champion in ROH. He’s also a former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, something Okada, a former four-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, is not going to let him forget.

Madison Rayne vs Chelsea Green vs Tessa Blanchard vs Britt Baker

Much like the Golden ELITE match with Rey Mysterio, Bandido, and Fenix, this is another that needs no story and needs no build up. That’s not saying there isn’t any however as all four of these women are no stranger to each other, whether as tag team partners or opponents.

Madison Rayne is the only wrestler of the group who had to earn her way into All In through a match. In a random draw, she was teamed up with MJF against Brandi Rhodes and Flip Gordon, in Gordon’s first attempt to get All In. One of the best Knockouts in IMPACT history, Rayne is a 5x champion and 2x tag team champion in the promotion. In 2018, Rayne became one of very few people, male or female, to work for WWE, where she competed in the Mae Young Classic, IMPACT, where she contended for the Knockouts title, and ROH, where she participated in the Women of Honor title tournament as well as several TV tapings since.

Tessa Blanchard is a well-known name on the independent scene despite being just 23 years old. Oft considered as one of the women who are the future of the industry, Blanchard has competed in all of the top female promotions and has established a reputation as being a fantastic intergender wrestler as well. A third-generation female wrestler, which is quite rare (her father is Tully Blanchard, her grandfather is Joe Blanchard and her stepfather is Magnum TA), Blanchard currently holds an astonishing seven championships in wrestling including titles in IMPACT, PCW Ultra, WrestleCircus, The Crash and more. She also has an 0-2 record against Madison Rayne, something Blanchard will no doubt look to change at All In.

Chelsea Green has had an interesting couple of years. In 2015, after being a professional wrestler for about a year, Green took part in WWE Tough Enough where finished in fourth place among the females. The following year she joined IMPACT Wrestling, where she is a former Knockouts Champion, and had an excursion to World Wonder Ring Stardom, something that most of the top females in the independents have experienced. In Stardom, Green competed in the Goddesses of Stardom Tag League as well as at several other events. In 2018, she took part in WWE tryouts, which by her admission was the third time going through the process. Green, who lost her PCW Ultra title to Blanchard in May, is also known for her tag team, Fire and Nice, with Britt Baker.

And speaking of everyone’s favorite dentist…Britt Baker has been wrestling for about three years, having turned pro during her undergrad at Penn State University. Since then, she has become a name to watch and is someone who many expect will be WWE bound sooner rather than later. In her career, Baker has wrestled for ROH, SHIMMER, RISE, Queens of Combat, Women Superstars Uncensored, and recently did her own tour of Stardom. Baker has also been used in WWE squash matches. Currently a three-time women’s champion in Remix Pro (a title she won by defeating Blanchard), Monster Factory Pro Wrestling and International Wrestling Cartel, Baker has really emerged onto the scene with a lot of hype behind her.

Christopher Daniels vs Stephen Amell

All In’s card is stacked and yet, it is the match between the veteran and the rookie that might offer the most anticipation. The story began on Being the Elite, as much of these others have, when it was revealed that Christopher Daniels framed Stephen Amell for Joey Ryan’s murder. Daniels later explained his actions to his SCU mates by saying that he knew Amell wouldn’t go to jail, he merely did it with the hope that he’d be held up in court and would miss All In. But Amell’s name was cleared and instead of him missing All In, he was booked to face Daniels in his first-ever singles match.

An honorary member of Bullet Club, Amell is best known outside of a wrestling ring, where he is the title star in the TV show Arrow. He’s also been in other TV series and movies, recently having his big breakout film with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of Shadows. In the midst of all this, Amell, a lifelong wrestling fan, found himself involved in an angle where his superhero persona Green Arrow entered into a feud with Cody Rhodes’ Stardust persona. Amell teamed with Neville in a winning effort over Stardust and King Barrett. In the locker room, several wrestlers were said to have been impressed while others in the industry have said the match featured one of the best in-ring performances by a celebrity ever. When Rhodes left WWE for ROH, Amell followed him, taking part in a five-on-four handicap alongside Omega and the Young Bucks against The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian), Flip Gordon and Scorpio Sky. That gave Amell his second victory in as many matches including one of which came over the legendary Daniels.

A professional wrestler for 25 years, the 48-year-old Christopher Daniels has shown no signs of slowing down. Known primarily for his time in TNA/IMPACT Wrestling and ROH, Daniels also had short stints in WWE and their rival, WCW. The “King of the Indies,” Daniels has been a fixture on the circuit for the bulk of his career, working both at home in the U.S., as well as in Mexico, Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, Japan and more. In his career, Daniels has won 44 titles, including being one of the very few people to win in WCW, NWA, TNA, ROH, and NJPW. Daniels has won 19 tag titles and was the first, and so far only, person to win ROH’s grand slam, as he has been their world, television, tag and six-man champion.

As the feud between these two has intensified, both Daniels and Amell have cut fantastic promos and have hyped up this match in such a way that it might be the most intriguing on the card, even more so than Scurll/Okada. That’s because Amell is going to be wrestling an entire match on his own. He may be younger, stronger and more athletic as he says, but he’s getting in the ring with one of the absolute best and someone who is not going to take it easy on the actor, especially since Daniels believes Amell doesn’t deserve to have a match on this stage.

Jay Lethal vs Winner of the Over Budget Battle Royale – ROH Championship Match

Challenge issued. Challenge accepted.

At All In: Zero Hour, 15 competitors (11 of whom have been announced) will take part in the Over Budget Battle Royal, where the winner will have the opportunity to face Jay Lethal in a Ring of Honor World Championship match.

Wrestling since 2001, Lethal is best known for his time in IMPACT Wrestling, ROH and more recently, NJPW. In his career, the self-proclaimed “Greatest First Generation Wrestler,” has won 27 titles including the ROH world title twice. The only African American to win the world championship, Lethal is also in the history books as the longest reigning ROH World Television Champion, a title he held for 567 days, and as the only person to hold both the world title and television title concurrently.

Lethal is a fantastic wrestler but lately, he’s been dealing with his own case of split personality disorder as his alter ego, Black Machismo, a parody of “Macho Man” Randy Savage has been coming out any time Lethal has been tapped on the shoulder. On the most recent episode of BTE, Lethal even saw Machismo, who was used from 2006-08 in IMPACT, in the mirror. His alter ego said he would be the one taking part at All In and not the other way around. Come Saturday, it looks like we’ll find out if Lethal or Machismo will be defending the ROH title. Oh yeah!

Cody vs Nick Aldis – NWA Worlds Championship Match

In some ways, this is the match that built All In. Namely, because it was the first and at the time only match announced when tickets sold out in under 30 minutes. But even so, it was a match that had conditions set to it, conditions that never ended up being met until Cody and Nick Aldis renegotiated their entire deal.

At the All In press conference in May, Billy Corgan announced that the NWA title would be defended at All In. At the time, that meant that Aldis, the current title holder, would have the spot. But it was the title, not Aldis that was named, meaning he had to hold onto the belt for the next several months in order to stay on the card. Calling himself “The Dealer,” Aldis proclaimed to have all the cards and said he would only defend his title, if Cody had something to defend as well, specifically the ROH world title. Cody had two chances to earn back the belt, first against then-champion Dalton Castle and Marty Scurll and then again the following day against Castle, Lethal, and Matt Taven. Lethal won the match and it put All In’s main event in doubt.

Aldis and Cody managed to renegotiate the terms of their match, however, with Cody putting up his ring of honor as collateral.

A professional wrestler since 2006, Cody has never had more success than what he’s had since leaving WWE in 2016. Spending the first 10 years of his career in the family business, alongside his father Dusty Rhodes and brother Goldust, Cody won seven titles in WWE, his top singles title being the Intercontinental Championship. Since leaving, Cody has won seven titles in two years, including the ROH six man belts which he currently holds with the Young Bucks and the ROH world title, which was the first world championship of his career. Since then, Cody has had several matches for the top belt, both in ROH and NJPW. If he wins the NWA title, it will be the first time in the history of the belt, which dates back to 1948, that a father and son will have been champion (Dusty Rhodes was a 3x champion).

Cody’s journey to the title has been well documented, both on 10 Pounds of Gold and the All Incoming mini-series.

Kenny Omega vs Pentagon Jr.

It’s Canada vs Mexico. New Japan Pro Wrestling vs IMPACT. IWGP Champion vs Lucha Underground Champion. Kenny vs Pentagon.

When looking at the All In card, there are so many incredible matches, both of the dream and first-time variety. This match is both and fitting of the co-main event billing it is receiving. Omega vs Pentagon is a clash of champions, a clash of promotions, a clash of styles. But more than that, it is a battle of two of the best wrestlers in the world, who under normal constraints of where they work and how their independent schedules are, would never have occasion to face each other. One of the many, many beauties of All In is now they can.

Omega and Pentagon have met in the ring only once prior, in a tag team match at last year’s Battle of Los Angeles in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. The two battled briefly, giving us just a taste of what is to come on Saturday.

Both men have achieved incredible accolades and successes, all of which we profiled in a separate piece dedicated just to this match. Make sure to read all about their careers, their journies, their championships, all of which have led to the moment we’ll see on Saturday when lucha libre meets puroresu, when Kenny Omega meets Pentagon Jr., for the first time in singles action.



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