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St-Pierre’s AEW All Out 2020 Review

September 6, 2020 | Posted by Jake St-Pierre
AEW All Out Matt Hardy
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St-Pierre’s AEW All Out 2020 Review  

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Tooth and Nail Match: Britt Baker vs. Big Swole
It was definitely the right length for the amount of content they actually came up with, so even if you found some of the gags a little trite, it was hardly offensive. It was fun enough and largely relied on character work and silliness, which has mainly been where these women’s strengths lie, so I can’t complain. It made sense given the wacky build-up and general buffoonery that follows a Britt Baker angle so I’ll chalk this up as a success and a good way to ease us into a long night of wrestling. **1/2 I guess? Hard to say.

The Young Bucks vs. Jurassic Express
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this was a fantastic match and lived up to every high expectation I had for it. A lot of it has to do with The Young Bucks, but for a slightly different reason than usual as it pertains to their AEW performances. This is the closest thing to PWG Bucks we’ve seen since the promotion started, and as such, it felt like a PWG match, just with more future consequences and a storytelling flair that none of the Reseda goodness ever truly had. Still, sentimentally, this was a delight and as a match in a vacuum, it was also fabulous with tons of moving parts that made everyone involved – winners and losers alike – look good after the fact.

The Bucks have a chip on their shoulder and the more they continue to push along after kicking Adam Page out of The Elite, the more they’re starting to look like him. Emotionally stunted, withdrawn, and overly intense. Just like with Page, it brings them more success, but they actively alienated the Jurassic Express with their behavior here and created an entirely different atmosphere because of it. They acted like this in PWG and Ring of Honor, but they’ve been upstanding and honorable since surfacing in AEW. It feels like they’re unraveling and trying to filter it into their performances. And again, as we’ve seen with Hangman, that only serves you so well before something starts to go wrong.

With that edge, the Jurassic Express were allowed to truly shine as a babyface act. The big/little aspect of the team continues to deliver in spades and create a predictable-but-great formula that they can rely on for easy reactions every time. Jungle Boy throws in some acrobatics, Luchasaurus shines, Jungle Boy gets killed, and Luchasaurus cleans house spectacularly. It never gets old and against a team as refined and experienced with all sorts of opponents as The Young Bucks, it only magnified that spotlight and turned the formula into something special as it collided with this new aggressive Bucks team that had to combat Luchasaurus’ size and Jungle Boy’s athleticism in one go. It made for some good story threads earlier on in the match with Nick having to roll his way to safety for instance as the much larger Luchasaurus had him cornered.

As with any Young Bucks match on a significant stage, this covered all the bases you could ask for. Storytelling was there in spades with a lot of variety and different ideas, mixed with the reliably manic moves and smoothness you’d expect. This was a sleeper for Match of the Night and while we still have a lot of card to go, this certainly didn’t let me down. ****

Casino Battle Royale
Thankfully, this ended up being about a billion times better than whatever that segment was on the go-home Dynamite. AEW has always been very good at laying out battle royals and this is yet another example of that, with everything building very well format-wise as well as with feuds, like Santana and Ortiz vs. Best Friends, Darby Allin vs. Cage and Starks, and so on. It didn’t feel as inconsequential as a WWE battle royal as such and supplemented the storyline threads with good action and pacing that made you care about it the whole way through. The Sydal botch was an unfortunate blemish considering it was his first move on his debut, but even then, it didn’t feel like it hurt anything and the action kept going. I loved the spotlight on Will Hobbs who I don’t think I’ve ever heard of seeing as though I don’t watch Dark, and the Darby Allin bodybag spot was delightful in the amount of horror it caused me. No real complaints here, honestly. ***1/4

Broken Rules: Sammy Guevara vs. Matt Hardy
I do not know what this was supposed to be, but whatever it turned into was awful. Absolutely gross negligence by all parties and should not have been allowed to go on. Matt Hardy is a 45 year old man who has put himself through a lot of shit with bumps, drugs, and whatever else. What in God’s name possessed this otherwise level-headed company to continue this match? Are they TNA now? Why are we carnies again?

Listen, I get that Matt Hardy’s the veteran. I get it. He called the match likely and wanted to continue because that’s what wrestlers do. They’re taught to, especially when it comes to guys trained around the time Matt was. But this guy literally dove 10 feet to the ground and smashed his head off of a concrete floor. I don’t give a damn if he said that nuclear war was coming, I’m getting him to a hospital before I even give two thoughts to the match. You can get out of it. Fans will understand; they just saw him get flatlined for a minute. You can turn it into an angle and continue the storyline when Matt is healthy and likely get some more mileage out of the rivalry. You can do literally ANYTHING that’s not continuing the match and putting an already broken down man’s health at risk. I know the general idea is that AEW does things better than WWE ethically and in many, many fundamental ways that is the case. But here, they dropped the ball and endangered one of their wrestlers in a potentially life-altering way.

It does not matter that Matt is okay now. That’s not the point. Remember when Enzo Amore knocked himself into the ether in 2016? He didn’t get up and continue. The match was stopped because he was completely unconscious for a prolonged period of time. Longer than Matt here, admittedly, but it’s the same principle. For a company that I truly admire and support, this is absolutely awful judgment no matter how you slice it. They let a man who was just stiff as a board knocked out minutes earlier climb up a structure to perform a wrestling spot, when he barely had enough motor function to stay upright just before. There’s no excusing that no matter how much you like the company. Sure, he’s tough. But AEW has a responsibility to its talent to protect them when they no longer have the wits to do so. They failed in that regard and I would hope they look very closely at what could have happened tonight and never repeat the mistake. Next time, it could be a lot worse. N/A

AEW Women’s Title: Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Thunder Rosa
I’m just not feeling it here. I acknowledge that they worked incredibly hard and really did their best, but most of this match felt so aimless and meandering. They didn’t seem to have any real ideas for actual spots besides the cliched apron and one-count tropes, and those were timed so bizarrely that they had almost no impact on the big picture of the match and thus were totally useless. It was slow, psychologically bare, and completely devoid of heat because of it.

Perhaps there’s a bit of bias as I haven’t been overly impressed with Shida in this spot personally, but in fairness to her it’s hard to truly judge given the utter scraps she has to work with in the post-pandemic women’s division. Here, Thunder Rosa tried, but 17 minutes of going from ‘meh’ spot to ‘meh’ spot without any real rhyme or reason just missed the mark on my end. An unfortunate miss and one of the weaker AEW PPV matches I’ve seen yet, but not for lack of effort. *1/2

Kip Sabian is marrying Penelope Ford, and the wedding is going to be on Dynamite. I’m surprised it took AEW so long to pull out the wrestling wedding even if it is on Kip Sabian, but I’m not complaining. Hilarious Twitch plug by Sabian too at the end.

The Dark Order vs. Natural Nightmares, Matt Cardona, & Scorpio Sky
AEW has had a myriad of great multi-men tag matches this summer and while this is hardly the best or most intense, it still had a lot to offer and made the most of its PPV spot. It toed the line very nicely between a spotfest and heated brawl, meaning it still had that normal brand of AEW excitement with enough logically done intensity to keep true to its very serious storyline in avenging Cody Rhodes.

Dark Order’s rehabilitation has been one of the most surprising and engrossing stories of wrestling’s 2020. If you remember, before the apocalypse, the Dark Order’s segments largely felt like a bunch of geeks in costumes doing something because the creative team had nothing for them to really do. They didn’t have that uppercard anchor to give them credibility and resorted to minions just attacking people with no end or point to speak of. Along came Brodie Lee, and things have drastically changed for what used to be the weakest men’s act in AEW. And the improvement doesn’t lie just with Lee either; everyone involved has their own identity within the group, although said slightly ironically given the inherent faceless nature of inclusion within the Order. You have guys like Silver, Reynolds, and Angels who can lose but still put in exciting, workmanlike efforts. You have the good tag team in Grayson and Uno who can compete at the top level. The JEZEBEL~! in Anna Jay and perhaps Tay Conti. The pampered Tom Cruise in Colt Cabana. It feels like an actual group with ambition and cohesion, and that obviously leads to much more consequential matches and segments, especially as it pertains to Mr. Brodie Lee and his demolition of Cody on Dynamite… even though I’d have saved that for this show if we’re being frank.

Back to the match itself, it did what it needed to do. It lived up to what you’d been advertised to get with some extra storyline elements, revenge plots, and even a catfight or two thrown into the mix. It didn’t feel like a Russo-booked disaster though, as everything was paced perfectly and done to either build to something, or maximize something that was previously built to. The two clear storyline elements lie in Brodie Lee finally turning into David Miscavige and reprimanding Colt Cabana for losing the match, and Dustin Rhodes’ pursuit of revenge against the Dark Order for their destruction of his family. It blended action with storylines paying off, but also continuing, and that’s what makes AEW so rewarding to watch sometimes. ***1/2

Post-match, Brodie finally threatens to snap on Colt Cabana, who he’s previously coddled. Colt seems shell-shocked by this and apologizes, but Brodie storms out. Evil Uno has been in that position before though, and helps Colt to the back in a surprisingly babyface move. Hmm. Later, Dustin Rhodes talks with Tony Schiavone and it’s announced that he’s fighting Brodie Lee for the TNT Title on Wednesday’s Dynamite, cutting a fantastic fiery promo to build for it.

AEW Tag Titles: Kenny Omega & Adam Page vs. FTR
This match has been built up gorgeously and was largely the one reason I was excited to see this show. While I wouldn’t say it was up to those lofty expectations, it was still an absolutely fascinating tag team affair and in an entirely different way from many great tag matches of AEW’s past. Of course, with FTR, that’s absolutely what it was designed to be, but styles didn’t quite mesh in a way that made for your usually groundbreaking affair. Make no mistake about it, this was an FTR match through and through and I… kind of liked it that way?

That’s not to say there weren’t highlights from Page and Omega, and their desperate struggle to try and up the pace and outsmart the cunning FTR was an incredibly compelling psychological flair. The cheating, old school douchery, and complete domination was in full effect for the challengers. They were the superior team, not fractured by failing friendships and confusion. They played Omega and especially Page like drums. They were simply better. The commentary got this over very well by saying that they physically wanted to dissect Kenny, and emotionally destroy Page. They did both of those things with Omega’s bad knee and Page’s ruining The Elite. It’s heartbreaking as a fan, but when you’re as cohesive as the former Revival, you can’t help but applaud the thought and foresight that went into their coronation.

What actually surprised me about this match was how well Page and Omega worked together after an early flub. They became focused like they usually did and in the end it was an error by Omega, not Page, that lost them the match. Omega accidentally hit Page with a V-Trigger and turned his back on FTR, leading to the fatal blow to his knee that prevented him from saving the match. Page seemed the most focused of the two. You can see in his eyes that he knows he screwed up, and his intensity in this match showed that. But they couldn’t match FTR, who completely tore them down and soundly beat them. Yes, they cheated. Yes, they manipulated their opponents. But the reason they won is because they were the better team.

I don’t think I’d call this a Match of the Year candidate. I don’t think it holds a candle to the all-time great match that Omega and Page had with the Bucks in February. However, that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a beautifully engrossing bout of mental warfare and tag team excellence, and I’m so invested in this storyline from top-to-bottom that not only am I fine with FTR winning and continuing their dominance, but I’m even more intrigued about the fate of The Elite. It’s the best storyline in wrestling for my money, and the crowning achievement of AEW on a creative front. It should come as no surprise that I loved this, but it wasn’t for the reasons I expected. Sure shows what I know. ****1/4

Kenny has a ringside table and almost threatens to hit Page before dropping it. He’s still fed up, though. Page tries to keep himself mobile by leaning on his partner, but Kenny moves and lets him faceplant before walking out on him. We follow Kenny to the back, and he’s pissed, saying “he’s done” to the Bucks and telling them to choose if they’re with him or not. The Bucks try to get him to stay and talk things out, but Omega is enraged and leaves without showering or trying to fix things. The Elite is havin’ some troubles.

MIMOSA MAYHEM~!: Chris Jericho vs. Orange Cassidy
While I can’t say it holds up to their first match, this go-round was a definite improvement on their shoddy second effort and a good, definitive end to a rivalry that really helped make Orange Cassidy into a top-line star. The gimmickry, much to my surprise, actually enhanced the match and really created a goofy atmosphere that was still serious enough to make the match seem important.

In terms of false finishes, there was a little bit of a problem. No one thought that anyone was going to get pinned, so there was only so much they could do on the nearfall front. To get around that, these two wrestled this match a lot like the last segment of a Royal Rumble, which Chris Jericho has experience with. After all, he had a fantastic last few minutes in the 2012 Rumble against Sheamus, full of close false eliminations and close calls. So they worked this match in largely the same way, and it was all the better for it. It made use of the stipulation while not insulting our intelligence by pretending it wasn’t going to go down exactly how it went.

I wouldn’t call this a GREAT match, but it was certainly in the realm of “very good” and like I said, a much better way to end this feud than their pedestrian second match. They don’t have the stigma of a botched finish and a blown up Jericho anymore, it’s now capped off with something that both makes sense for their characters and the accompanying silliness. It didn’t have to be a great match; it just had to be the right one and I think this was it. ***1/2

AEW World Title: Jon Moxley (c) vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman
This is one of those matches that desperately needed a full crowd, because the work these two did to get to the match they got to was absolutely great. I was not a fan of the rivalry prior to this match, feeling as though it harmed MJF’s stature and turned him into something of a comedy heel rather than a serious threat. Jon Moxley didn’t give him much time of day, and when the champion brushes off the challenger, it really makes the match hard to get super excited for. The MJF 2020 gimmick was fine in theory, but aside from a few good running gags, it only brought MJF down with it in its WWE-esque foolery.

With that being said, this match has undoubtedly overshadowed its build and salvaged the program for me. The character work was top notch, logical, and interesting. MJF didn’t just go in there and cheat the whole way through. He went in there to dissect Moxley’s arm and wear him down. Like JR said, he’s cerebral. He wouldn’t get to the dance if he couldn’t tango, and that showed. However, the cheating was still there, both proving that MJF is both a cunning adversary and still a shithead underneath it.

Moxley had one of his best babyface performances here, complemented by his rock solid selling of the arm and willingness to go crazy to undermine MJF’s strategic advantage. The commentary did a phenomenal job again in getting over how much more comfortable Moxley was brawling on the outside and using his environment, in direct contrast to his opponent. Every time the action spilled outside, Moxley overcame. He busted MJF open and stared down Wardlow as if he was begging him to try something. He had his best moments in the places you’d think, and he faltered where it would make sense for him to falter.

I am, however, of two minds about the finish. On one hand, AEW’s booking of Moxley as the babyface in this storyline has fallen flat for me. His beating of the lawyer was hackneyed, he didn’t really have to fight through anything, and he seemed only a little bothered by MJF. I get that MJF isn’t the physical powerhouse of Brian Cage, but it seemed like Moxley didn’t take it seriously. So when he had to cheat to win, it felt a little out of place for what’s usually a fighting babyface champion.

On the other side of that coin though, I understand why they did it. Moxley is a goofy guy who kind of just does his own thing, and using the Paradigm Shift illegally furthers that plot. It’s logical to who he is in a way. He doesn’t have much care for rules and that’s what makes Mox himself. And on top of that, it furthers this program presumably and hopefully steers the ship onto a tide that’s a little more favorable for MJF, who will eventually make a phenomenal heel king. It just wasn’t the right time here, and it’s encouraging that AEW saw that.

As a whole package, this generally exceeded my expectations. I wasn’t all too thrilled about it going in given what we’ve seen on TV, but the match itself was worked just as well as the build-up was wrong. It put over MJF as a sneakily tough kid who still at heart is a pussy, and Moxley as a crafty guy who uses his wit and determination to sneak through. Who’s to say where it goes from here, but they did a hell of a job kicking it off. ****

The final score: review Good
The 411
I don't really know what to think about this show. I have some negative feelings about it, mainly the shameful display in handling Matt Hardy's injury and the slog of a women's match, but there's also tons of positives. I'm assuming mileage will vary with FTR vs. Hangman/Omega but I loved it. I loved The Bucks vs. Jurassic Express. I loved the main event. But this still felt like the weakest PPV AEW has ever put on. It didn't have the Match of the Year like Revolution. It didn't have the huge Cody vs. Jericho match, or the Lights Out spectacle from 2019's Full Gear. It felt like a lot of Dynamite matches found their way to a PPV card though, and with Dynamite having been absolutely sensational most of the summer, it didn't even feel like a big episode aside from the two top title matches. Maybe that's due to the depleted roster or the booking; or both. Who knows? I still think a show with three ****+ matches is an easy recommendation, and if you can stomach the appalling Matt Hardy situation, you likely won't be let down by anything other than the women's match. And even then, you might like that. It's just a weird show to rate, that's all.

article topics :

AEW All Out, Jake St-Pierre