AEW’s All Out pay-per-view is the culmination of a summer’s worth of build-up.
Rivalries that began at May’s Double Or Nothing event will be paid off at the company’s second PPV event this Saturday. And with AEW set to premiere on TNT in October, All Out is the last stop before the company bows before a worldwide TV audience.
There’s a lot at stake with this show, as it’s AEW’s last chance to prove it’s worthy of the unprecedented hype the company has enjoyed all year long.
Rather than going match-by-match, we’re just going to hit the high points with this one, as we look at how AEW could best use All Out not only as a culmination but as a lead-in to their TV debut.
Cody Vs. Shawn Spears: The Throne Breaker Vs. The Chairman
Shawn Spears set this feud in motion back at AEW Fyter Fest in June when he attacked Cody with a chairshot to the American Nightmare’s head.
Since then, Spears has allied himself with one of the original Four Horsemen, Tully Blanchard, who has acted as Spears’s personal consultant. Blanchard will also be in Spears’s corner for the match.
This begs the question as to whether or not Cody will have someone in his corner. A lot of speculation centered around whether it will also be another classic Horseman. The obvious choice would be for Cody to have his brother, Dustin Rhodes, in his corner. But that would be, well, obvious.
But there’s someone who’s been highly-touted as the early breakout star of AEW who doesn’t even have a match on the card.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) was the first to hit the ring to assist Cody at Fyter Fest. At the company’s next show, Fight For The Fallen, MJF was forced into an unlikely six-man tag team alongside Spears. It seems logical that MJF will be the guy in Cody’s corner at All Out.
And, because he’s easily the best heel in the entire business at this point, he’ll turn on Cody and cost him the match. It’s a perfect confluence of events. Spears gets a win, and MJF has a high-profile opponent to strut his stuff against going forward.
Cody’s matches in AEW are frequently show-stealers, and I expect this one to be no different, but with an added layer of storytelling on top of it.
The Young Bucks Vs. Lucha Bros — Ladder Match For The AAA Tag Team Championship
We go from potential for layered, forward-looking storytelling to, well, the Young Bucks. Who tend to be the opposite of that.
This match will be a complete and total car crash, which is fine. I don’t completely subscribe to the Jim Cornette old folks’ mentality that a spotfest match can’t be great. But I am hoping to see more than flipping and flopping without substance. And I could do with about 98% fewer superkicks, as even that would mean there would still be 100 superkicks from each participant in the match.
It’s almost a given that the Lucha Bros will take the win in this match. Their contract status (as reported by Ringside News in June) has them exclusive to AAA for Mexico dates and exclusive to AEW in the U.S. If their match at All Out is to mean anything, it has to be the final confrontation between the two teams for a while. Which means the Luchas need to be able to drop the belts to someone else in Mexico.
The Bucks, as executive vice presidents for the company (as well as one of its top merchandising movers), are going to be part of the main event scene no matter what. If AEW is going to be heavily invested in a tag team division as they claim, the Luchas need to head into the Wednesday Night War era with a win.
Ladies’ Night – Women’s Casino Battle Royale, Riho Vs. Hikaru Shida
For all of AEW’s maneuvering to produce a competitive roster, the women haven’t been neglected by any means. But it has felt somewhat haphazardly thrown together to some degree.
The company’s ‘Road To All Out’ YouTube series, announced the winner of the Women’s Casino Battle Royale earns a spot in the first AEW Women’s Championship match. The first AEW Women’s Champion will be crowned when AEW debuts on TNT on October 2.
The participants to date include the debuting Sadie Gibbs, Teal Piper (daughter of the late Roddy Piper), Nyla Rose, Allie, Britt Baker, and Brandi Rhodes.
Picking the winner of the battle royal is tough, as there’s a number of different ways they could go. Despite being positioned as the women’s division’s monster, Nyla Rose is a safe pick. But she’s been the safe pick before and has yet to pick up an AEW victory. Allie’s rivalry with Brandi doesn’t appear to be over yet, which should rule both of them out. That leaves Britt Baker, who is positioned as the de facto star of the division.
But the real women’s highlight on the card is the match between Joshi wrestlers Riho and Hikaru Shida. Both Riho and Shida figured prominently at Double Or Nothing as well as at subsequent events. Each time out, the Joshi matches have been highlights of the show. And this match whittles it down to the two standouts.
It hasn’t been announced, but the winner of this match will likely face the winner of the Casino Battle Royale. Also, it’s the only other women’s match on the card.
There’s also a student vs. teacher angle with this match. Shida is the “grizzled veteran” between the two with Riho as the young upstart. Riho seems the right way to go here.
Kenny Omega Vs. Pac — Card Subject To Change
Among the most heartbreaking events surrounding All Out is the removal of Jon Moxley from the card.
Moxley began a feud with Kenny Omega to close out the Double Or Nothing pay-per-view in May. The return of a staph infection forced Moxley to pull out of the event. It’s a hard pill to swallow as this is a match that’s been built for the last three months.
But as suitable replacements go, you can’t do much better than Pac. The Bastard (who formerly wrestled as Neville in WWE) was set to have a Double Or Nothing match against Hangman Page in May. The reasoning for Pac pulling out of that match are still unclear. Some contend that it’s because Pac didn’t want to lose while holding the DragonGate Championship. So there’s an extra irony in Pac being the last-minute replacement for the semi-main event.
The fact that Moxley is no longer part of the match makes it easy to call this one for Omega.
Omega is arguably the best professional wrestler on the planet and definitely needs to be in the AEW World Title hunt. And Pac isn’t yet available to be part of a full-time AEW schedule. Omega, on the other hand, is all-in (heh). One way or another, though, this will be the match of the night. And if it isn’t, I’ll eat a shoe.
Please ignore me boiling this leather boot. I’m in no way trying to soften the leather to make it easier to chew.
Chris Jericho Vs. “Hangman” Adam Page For The AEW World Championship
This is the big one.
Page earned a spot in this match by winning the Casino Battle Royale at Double Or Nothing. Jericho made his way into the match by beating Omega at the same show. And now both paths converge at All Out.
First of all, there’s no limit to how far Page can go in AEW. The guy is a fantastic wrestler, he’s becoming a better promo, and he’s a natural badass babyface. Which is exactly why Jericho needs to come away from this match as the first AEW World Champion.
As much as AEW seems to throw old-school mentalities out the window in some ways (like the aforementioned Young Bucks), it’s actually built on the old NWA/territory mindset. And there’s nothing more old school than “the chase.”
Again, the sky is no limit for Page. The stratosphere, maybe. But he can become an even bigger star, an industry game-changer, even, with a long chase after the championship. Beginning that chase, to me, at ‘All Out’ seems like a no-brainer.
Plus, if AEW is going to head into the TNT era with a bang, they need a big name on top to bring in the viewers. You can make all the arguments you want about Chris Jericho being way past his prime (I disagree, by the way), but he’s unquestionably the most recognizable name on the AEW roster.
And with the first scheduled defense of the title on the October 16 live television, the big name needs to be holding the big belt.
Also, this match may result in me eating leather and shoelaces. I immediately regret my earlier statement.
All the pieces are in place for AEW All Out to be a fantastic show.
The hype for AEW has been real for a long time, but knowing that this show will be the direct lead-in to the Wednesday Night War raises the stakes for a whole new level. Minor missteps at Fyter Fest and Fight For The Fallen are ones the company can ill afford to make at All Out.
Without hyperbole, All Out is the most important event of AEW’s young existence. It’s the cap-off to things that began in advance of Double Or Nothing and the lead-in to AEW on TNT.
To be blunt, AEW needs to go all out for All Out.
AEW All Out is on pay-per-view this Saturday, August 31 from Chicago. It can be purchased via traditional pay-per-view or for streaming through B/R Live for $49.99.
P.S. CM Punk won’t be there. Also, ignore this other shoe I’m boiling.
All images courtesy of All Elite Wrestling.