What Happened at AEW’s ‘All Out’ PPV?

The upstart league had a huge pay-per-view over the weekend. Here’s what you need to know.

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In any given moment, it feels as if the entire wrestling industry isn’t sure if All Elite Wrestling will surpass WWE or completely implode within a few years. All eyes were on Cody Rhodes and Tony Khan’s burgeoning brand this weekend as the company held its last pay-per-view before its much-anticipated television program begins in October. Did the show live up to expectations or is the new company already showing signs of distress? The short answer is that enthusiasm remains high for AEW, and All Out properly set the stage for several storylines down the road.

Although the direction of some of the forthcoming plots is somewhat predictable, the brewing feuds all seem pretty fun. Seeds of disruption are likely to be sown between Cody Rhodes and his new bratty protégé, the up-and-comer MJF. More hardcore feuds between brawlers whose expertise lay in death matches appear inevitable as rivalries between Darby Allin, Joey Janela and Jimmy Havoc brew, with the last of the trio scoring a decisive victory on Saturday. Kenny Omega’s biggest matchup on the new brand seems to be in a bit of a holding pattern until Jon Moxley (FKA Dean Ambrose) recovers, but his loss to Pac (FKA Neville) could mean that the company is biding time with another series of fights until then.

A somewhat disproportionate amount of time at All Out was spent developing the tag team division, which is practically brimming with viable champions for when the belts debut: The unlikely duo of A Boy and His Dinosaur remain lovable fan favorites (as are the Best Friends), Angélico and Jack Evans are being used as enhancement talent for getting faces over, and SCU are respected industry stalwarts. 

Despite picking up yet another victory, the Dark Order needs more backstory before fans will truly loathe or love them. And of course the Lucha Brothers and the Young Bucks upped the ante for the entire division with a stunningly violent ladder match filled with both breathtaking acrobatics and savagery.

Because a confusing amount of the night was spent on tag team combat, the women’s division is a bit underdeveloped. Nyla Rose and Riho both scored victories, putting them in contention for the title, while a feud between Britt Baker and Bea Priestley was furthered. AEW introduced a ton of new characters in its 21-person Battle Royale, bizarrely relegated to the pre-show—but it’s unclear who was a special guest and who will ultimately become part of the program’s main roster. Mercedes Martinez, Priscilla Kelly, Ivelisse, Big Swole (FKA Aerial Monroe) and former WWE women’s champion Jazz were the standouts of the new crop of women, but it remains to be seen if any of them will show up on AEW again. The lack of time women received on this card was by far the biggest disappointment of the show considering how much the company had touted its position on gender parity, but it was heartening to see openly LGBTQ performers (like Martinez and Rose) both in the mix and thriving.

The main story of the evening was undoubtedly the coronation of Chris Jericho as the company’s first champion. While AEW had an opportunity to establish itself as the herald of a new generation by putting the title on Adam Page, perhaps out of necessity it went with the safer choice by picking someone with far more drawing power considering his prolific, decades-long career. Fair enough, but hedging your bet on older talent is a more regressive move that could easily result in diminishing returns, especially considering Jericho’s age and increasing inability to move with the agility he was once known for.

Although the level of talent in AEW is almost impossible to surpass, a few problems remain. The camerawork continues to miss some key moments and just isn’t quite as crisp as WWE’s impossibly precise production. Politically, AEW is speaking out of both sides of its mouth by positioning itselfas a more liberal alternative to WWE while simultaneously forging a partnership with Cracker Barrel, a company with a noted pro-Trump record. (On the other hand, it’s not exactly fair to ask for ideological purity of any entity these days, especially while WWE doubles down on its Saudi Arabian endeavors.)

If All Out is an indication of what’s to come from the company, it at least appears to be in good shape for the future, barring any major bungles or catastrophes. Considering the success of the event, what will be most interesting to see is how WWE next attempts to undercut AEW.

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