This Saturday in Chicago, history will be made. Pro wrestling’s independent event of the decade, ALL IN, is set to take place at the sold-out Sears Centre, with an unparalleled level of hype for an event of its nature. Selling out the 10,000-seat venue took less than a half hour from the announcement of the event, sealing the deal that the buzz of then-rumored spectacle made real. It is the biggest non-WWE event in the U.S. since the heyday of WCW and could very well lead to a return of the glory days of diversity of pro wrestling outside of the flagship promotion.
Here’s what the hype is all about:
This event is another notch in the trademark weight belt of Cody Rhodes. Since leaving WWE, he’s been on a mission to prove his doubters wrong. After taking the bet from a journalist that a Ring of Honor event could indeed sell out 10,000 seats, the foundation of ALL IN is essentially three men – Rhodes and the Young Bucks (brothers Matt and Nick) – pushing all their chips on the table. The buildup has been such a success that the trio doesn’t have time for a victory lap as they have been hard at work to bring something different to fans.
The trio shares a unique love of the pro wrestling business, and ALL IN has become more of a movement than simply a wrestling event. Eyes were already on the Bucks for their in-ring work around the globe. Rhodes’ post-WWE reinvention has lured the masses, and at one point there were claims he was the best heel in the business. In thriving outside the promotional juggernaut, defeating the detractors in the industry is what fuels the group.
Typically when shows of this magnitude happen, there are activities all over the place. All In has built the feel of Wrestlemania week. Fans have had the chance to experience Starrcast where a series of panels, podcasts and shows take center stage. Contrary to your typical meet and greet, fans have had the opportunity to sing karaoke with Jeff Jarrett, eat breakfast with Diamond Dallas Paige, or have a cigar with Cody Rhodes.
Chicago-based Pro Wrestling Tees also set up meet and greets with stars CM Punk, Flip Gordon and Kazuchika Okada this weekend. After months of trying to make the ALL IN card, Flip declared himself “ALL OUT” after falling to Nick Aldis. Instead, he’ll throw an ALL OUT party for fans takes place in the parking lot of the Sears Centre from where they’ll meet the ALL IN stars and get free ALL OUT t-shirts. How dope is that?
While world titles have seemingly lost all of their prestige, ALL IN looks to change that narrative by highlighting those straps on the card. ALL IN will feature wrestlers from Ring of Honor (ROH), New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Lucha Libre AAA World Wide (AAA) and the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Multiple promotions are present and the idea of cross brand title defense is masterful. Jay Lethal is set to defend the ROH World title against the winner of the Over Budget battle Royal, making it possible that a TNA superstar can could leave with the belt. Meanwhile, Cody will take on NWA champ Nick Aldis for the title in a match that has historical implications. If Cody wins on Sunday night, it means that he and his late father Dusty will be the only father/son duo to hold the title. In carrying the Rhodes legacy, that would be quite an ending on this monumental weekend.
There are a few nostalgia acts on the card such as Billy Gunn and Rey Mysterio, but this epic event could give us even more. Being it will place just outside of Chicago, the teases of the long-awaited return of CM Punk to a pro wrestling ring have gone on since its announcement. Cody even came out and mentioned an offer was made on a conference call. While he has been adamant about his lack of desire to return, expect him to at least make an appearance or sit in the crowd.
Chris Jericho is always a welcome name to the fans and has expressed his adoration to the creators of ALL IN. However, while Y2J is on record of not wanting to work against WWE in the state, time will test loyalty.
Another new free agent name is Pac, formerly known in WWE known as (Adrian) Neville. News recently broke that he is now complete with his WWE contract and free to work with any promotion. However, the Young Bucks have been teasing their contact with the superstar lately so something could be in the works.
If you’ve been out of the loop for the past couple years, allow me to enlighten you: Kenneth Omega is the best performer in the world. His matches have been revered by his peers, analysts and fans alike, evoking even an obscure appearance on the WWE Network. Many in the sport, and especially within WWE, have expressed desire to work with Omega. His recent feuds with Cody Rhodes and Chris Jericho are some of the best storytelling I have seen. ALL IN will be another big stage for Omega to show the world why he is the most sought-after performer on the planet.
The Rhodes and Bucks trio regard themselves as “The Elite.” The motto of The Elite faction is “change the world,” ALL IN will not only do that but it will lead to more aggressive tactics from WWE or an eventual partnership.
Zero Hour (9/1 to be televised on WGN)
- The Briscoes vs. Kazarian and Scorpio Sky
- 15-Person (Or More) Over Budget Battle Royale – Jordynne Grace, Moose, Rocky Romero, Colt Cabana, Ethan Page, Brian Cage, Billy Gunn, Jimmy Jacobs, Marko Stunt, Brandon Cutler, and ROH TV Champion Punishment Martinez
ALL IN (9/1 8pm ET on PPV)
- NWA Championship: Nick Aldis (c) vs. Cody
- IWGP Champion Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
- ROH Championship: Jay Lethal (c) vs. Winner of Over Budget battle royale
- The Golden Elite vs. Rey Mysterio, Rey Fenix, and Bandido
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
- Chicago Street Fight: Joey Janela vs. Adam “Hangman” Page
- Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell of Arrow
- Chelsea Green vs. Madison Rayne vs. Britt Baker vs. Tessa Blanchard
At the very least, ALL IN is assured to prove that there is much more to the world of professional wrestling than just what the WWE showcases on Monday and Tuesday nights. But the full potential of the event goes well beyond simply what happens during the broadcast. This has the makings of an inspirational, pure bred showcase that speaks to the heart of the wrestling purist. Even more, ALL IN may captivate not only the eye of the fan, but perhaps the imagination of wrestlers worldwide on what truly can happen when they take their destiny into their own hands.
Cedric Welton is an aspiring journalist. In addition to creating content for TSFJ, he works part time at the NFL in Next Gen Stats and is a Reporter/Host for Torrance CitiCable’s Sports Desk. He is a proud Arizona State Alum and enthusiast of all things WWE and combat sports.
“Character is not determined by what it takes to motivate you, but by what it takes to stop you.”
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