CM Punk hailed the arrivals of Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole as being more important than the debut of The Outsiders Scott Hall and Kevin Nash when they jumped ship from WWF to WCW in the 90’s, resulting in the infamous Monday Night Wars. AEW All Out 2021 felt like the biggest legitimate threat to the WWE empire since those times, featuring some spectacular matches, including an all-timer inside a steel cage from The Young Bucks and The Lucha Brothers.
This was my first AEW PPV. I’ve been watching the shows off and on for the past year (I’m mostly a WWE guy because I have kids) but I’ve been sensing something special going on with All Elite Wrestling. Sure I may have dismissed them in the past because they were hiring so many dinosaurs discarded by the WWE in their monthly layoff purges, but with the recent acquisitions and stunning recent debuts including the likes of CM Punk, AEW has become my preferred franchise. They remind me of ECW and in many ways, WCW when they were in their prime. Their roster is huge and extremely diverse which has led to a variety of matchups that I’ve found to be more entertaining than the cyclical nature of WWE’s booking since the pandemic.
Just seeing Ruby Soho smile after winning her debut match in AEW made me feel so happy for her. (Loved the crowd chanting her name before her SURPRISE entry in the Casino Battle Royale). Her music and new name are absolutely perfect and I have high hopes that her run here will far exceed all that failed potential in WWE. She’s a smaller competitor but she looked great against Thunder Rosa and I have no doubts she’ll deliver in a title match against Britt Baker.
Adam Cole coming out after Kenny Omega’s victory over Christian was a major shock, even for wrestling insiders because the man’s contract with AEW seemingly came together at a rapid pace. I expected him to turn heel with the Elite Squad considering all of those guys are really good friends with him, but it was still an incredible surprise and the crowd was going NUTS. All Elite Bay Bay. Can’t wait to see him tussle with Jungle Boy (who he later named his most anticipated challenge since joining AEW).
Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan in WWE) debuted shortly after Adam Cole and although he looked eerily similar to Summerslam 2021 Brock Lesnar, complete with cute little viking manbun, it was a HUGE pop. He even threw an insane amount of YES kicks on one of the Jackson brothers. Maybe it’s because the crowd was so loud, but I’m not sure I dig the new EDM style remix of his entrance theme which sounded a little muted and less energetic than I’m used to. Still – these two debuts are game changers and I still can’t believe that Bruce Pritchard and WWE creative were pushing to have Cole as a heel manager before he left the company. I’ll stop there because typing that made me upset. Good lord.
#1. (From Pre-Show) 10-man tag team match: Best Friends (Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, and Wheeler Yuta) and Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) (with Marko Stunt) defeated Hardy Family Office (Matt Hardy, Private Party (Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen), and The Hybrid 2 (Angélico and Jack Evans) (with The Blade) by submission
I love hearing that Jurassic Express theme (my son can’t get enough of Tarzan Boy – very sing-along-able) but I love seeing this tag team evolve and improve on a weekly basis. When I first watched Luchasaurus in action he scared me. Dangerous moves, sloppy execution – his kicks looked like they would kill someone eventually. But I’ve found that Luchasaurus has gotten so much better over the past couple months and I’ve become a big fan of the big man. This match was wild and it should have been on the main card – I loved everything but the submission finish because it felt a little abrupt. 3.5/5
Eddie came to the ring wearing my favorite T-Shirt of the night “Redeem Deez Nuts” and although he managed to stick Miro with a purple ass hand print right on the dude’s chest, there was no way anyone thought he would win this battle. Miro dominated all the big exchanges and eventually landed his Machka kick (which looked beautiful) to take the win. No Lana debut which I thought might happen – I’m curious when we’ll finally see Miro’s wife on AEW. I would hope sooner than later because her husband is having the best run of his career right now. 3/5
I don’t know much about NJPW so I was unfamiliar (along with everyone else in that crowd) about Satoshi and to be honest he didn’t move that well so this match kind of dragged a little too much since Moxley hasn’t been that exciting lately either. Moxley didn’t come out wearing the GCW championship even though he literally won it days before All Out. I’m curious why he wasn’t promoting the other company when they literally just had GCW icon Nick Gage stabbing Chris Jericho to death a couple weeks ago on their prime-time show. The best part of this match was the showdown with Minoru Suzuki after the fact and I’m pumped to see those two dudes fight. 2.5/5
Kris Statlander really impressed me with her work in this match and she looked like a legit star against the extremely over Britt Baker. I didn’t expect her to win and she certainly didn’t, but Statlander made me a huge fan. At this point in the show, this was absolutely the most entertaining match. They kept the pace up and at one point Baker executed the same move (Pittsburgh Sunrise) her boyfriend Adam Cole utilizes and she did it EVEN BETTER than her man. It looked dope as Hell – what a show this was. 4/5
#5. Steel Cage match for the AEW World Tag Team Championship: Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix) (with Alex Abrahantes) defeated The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) (c) (with Brandon Cutler) by pinfall
This was an epic clash of the ages and unfortunately because it was so damn good, everything afterwards on the show felt like a step backwards. Clocking in at 22 minutes, this epic will go down as one of, if not the very greatest cage matches in pro wrestling history. There was a point in this battle when the Young Bucks brought out a shoe loaded with thumbtacks and proceeded to bludgeon the Lucha Bros until they were a bloody mess. The Bucks also tried to rip their opponents’ masks off by the way, much to my son’s horror – who was losing his mind at their disrespectful display. Penta looked like he went through a car windshield. It was brutal, savage and some of the best in-ring storytelling I’ve ever seen.
The Bucks generated so much heat in this match that the outcome of them finally losing their titles to the Lucha Brothers made for one of the most memorable title change results I’ve ever seen in a PPV. Penta celebrated afterward by slopping half of his bloody face all over his wife and kids (THEY WERE WEARING WHITE!). The announce team is hailing this as a special moment and all I can see is this dude dripping gore on a child’s white sweater.
The match was a back and forth clinic on how to deliver the perfect high-flyer match-up. Both teams are at the top of their game right now and the moves all landed excellently. Rey Fenix has to be the most gifted of the bunch athletically so of course he jumped off the top of that cage to splash the rest of the group below but as awesome as of those bumps were, it was the actual story-telling in that ring which made this one an all-timer. It is currently tied with Walter/Ilja 2 (from NXT Takeover 36) as my 2021 match of the year thus far. 5/5 ***Match of The Night***
This was a tremendous introduction to the women’s division of AEW for a lot of the newbies out there and I have to say that I saw some really good performances from Nyla Rose, Thunder Rosa, Abadon, Jade Cargill, and of course the amazing Ruby Soho (Ruby Riott in WWE) who made her debut as the final entrant. As a huge fan of the band Rancid, her new name and entrance song are almost too good to be true. Thank the lord for licensed music – it’s such a nice change of pace from the generic anthems lately in WWE. The match didn’t feature anything revolutionary move-wise, but the pacing was quick for a battle royale and the crowd had a good time with it too. The finish was just OK if I’m being honest because you can only do so much of the wobbly hanging off the ring suspense stuff until it becomes too cheesy. 3.5/5
I realize that the dude playing guitar for Jericho’s ‘Judas’ entrance was the actual guy who plays guitar in Fozzy but HOLY SHIT WAS THAT BAD. The distortion ruined the live crowd participation entirely because nobody knew when to come in and sing along. The BEST part of a Jericho match these days IS THE ENTRANCE. That’s it. I’ve been very critical of Chris Jericho’s in-ring performance the past year and even though I didn’t think he’d lose this match and retire, I was kinda hoping he would be done. The man still hits his moves though – the lionsault looked dope as Hell. MJF did what he does best and that’s generate an insane amount of heat. I think MJF could get a Nazi babyface over with a crowd at this point – he’s just that damn good. The match itself was mostly sad although it did have a couple close false finishes I liked but I also truly think the crowd just felt pissed off at that horrible distorted guitar solo entrance from Jericho and were annoyed at everything afterwards. Here’s hoping Jericho’s actual retirement match is something the man feels the need to get in shape for. 2.5/5
CM Punk’s in-ring debut after a seven year absence went even better than I hoped it would go. The man looked great and I couldn’t detect hardly any ring rust. Keeping up with the much younger and wilder Darby Allin must have been one helluva challenge but Punk delivered and the two paid homage to a classic matchup between Bret Hart and Sean Waltman in the second best outing of the evening. Punk’s new ring gear looked cool and I liked how he wrestled Allin as if he was the grizzled traditional veteran while leaving the explosive moments to Darby as he retaliated. When Darby goes for the coffin drop only for Punk to sit up and just laugh – it kind of encapsulates everything I love about seeing the past and present collide. This was a tremendous matchup even though the crowd was confused on who to cheer for at times because Punk was doing in-ring work like a heel but was still very over with the hometown fans. Everything about this match was great. The work, the sells – the finish – just a pitch perfect return to the ring for an icon. 4.5/5
I love that this match was placed so late in the card because they were planning on potentially nixing it altogether. Well Tony Khan probably should have done just that because this was the saddest thing I’ve seen in months. Paul White looks like his legs are about to cave in like a potato on toothpicks. The build-up to this match was terrific mind you because QT is REALLY good at being a prick but in the end it didn’t matter because White’s quick and boring win over QT was the most predictable and sad thing I’ve seen in a long time. 0.5/5
If this match had been on a different (and shorter) card it probably would have gone over much better. The crowd was just too damn tired to really get into this sucker and they even started cheering Kenny not long into the match when they realized that Christian was NEVER going to win this one. Omega and Christian went HARD and even brought out some tables because F the rules I say. The finish was super tight and impressive from Omega with that top rope one-winged angel but people will likely only remember the debuts of Cole and Bryan which I’m assuming they had to know would be the case here at the end of the show anyway. 4/5
AEW All Out 2021 is a masterful PPV that will likely go down in history as one of the most important wrestling shows in recent times. If you weren’t sure that All Elite Wrestling had a chance against the monster that is WWE, then watch this PPV and tell me that there isn’t something special here. With rumors of Windham Rotunda (Bray Wyatt) joining AEW at their next PPV in November, I feel like the momentum is massive right now and All Elite Wrestling has finally arrived. Get on board now people – you won’t regret it.