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    Monday, September 3, 2018

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: All In

    So they did it. They pulled it off: 10,000 people for a wrestling show in the United States. They were not WWE, they were not WCW; they merely wanted to prove that they can stand tall with the giants without having to be a part of the monolith.

    In a time where mainstream western pro wrestling seems to always impose its own will against that of the fans—their paying customers, they need to be reminded most of the time—Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, as well as everyone involved in this venture, prove with All In that ancient verse: if you build it, they will come.

    By "it" they mean, of course, a pro wrestling product they can feel comfortable supporting. As Cody said going home to the show, no one company owns the sport and the art; we all do. That's always been everyone's main problem with WWE, and why All In sold out so quickly. Even when the details were scarce, fans knew that this whole thing was a revolution against the order Vince McMahon strictly keeps on the business—in their own soil, no less. It didn't have to be Japan, it didn't have to be the UK or Mexico. It was right here, and it welcomed everyone.

    Hell, the mere audacity of the Elite to put this show up turned Cody into a babyface against Nick Aldis. We've probably reached peak meta with All In.

    By no means was All In perfect, but we all had a rollicking good time. Wrestlers got to express themselves and their art, and fans enjoyed seeing them go, well, all in. The four-hour event was a celebration of what makes pro wrestling downright fun; no overwritten and overthought storylines, action anyone can sink their teeth into, and some of the business's big names willingly being a part of history.

    While I would love All In 2 next year, a part of me wishes that there wouldn't be another, though. I know a sequel would just be banking on the success of this unicorn, and what really made this work for me was its revolutionary spirit. I fear All In 2 just won't have the same bite. We've proven that an alternative can truly stand up to the WWE. If they're going to pursue that crusade, I feel like they should take this as a separate new chapter and focus on making the existing alternatives more relevant and accessible to the fandom, or even more so in the case of NJPW.

    I saw All In as one big party, and I'm glad it ended up reminding us all of what wrestling could be. A new chapter in the business's history is only beginning, and it seems many of us are playing this hand.

    All In Final Grade: A

    Match of the Night

    I would've loved to see this match be for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, because as always, Kenny wrestles it like it's the main event of an NJPW show. It may have very well been the main event of this show, too. This had everything: one of lucha libre's most popular stars in Pentagon, Pentagon breaking arms, Kenny Omega wrestling like Kenny Omega, western-style lights-out run-in shenanigans with Chris Jericho showing up and proving he can do whatever the fuck he wants in the industry. 

    Other observations

    • Why no major promotion has picked Matt Cross up yet is a mystery to me.
    • Yeah, I would keep an eye on MJF too.
    • While I feel like Daniels/Amell was overbooked in the right way, it felt like it ran a little too long.
    • Stephen Amell is a natural, though, and should consider pro wrestling after Arrow and the whole Arrowverse wraps up. Though it still boggles the mind how he could look awesome on the show and scrawny next to actual wrestlers.
    • The four corner women's match was one of the best women's matches I've seen this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was a fuck-you to the Mae Young Classic happening this week (even though Madison Rayne is a part of it).
    • I had issues with the NWA World Heavyweight Championship match being in the middle of the card, but it's apparently intentional to time it with Dusty Rhodes winning it at around 8 p.m. It's fine, I guess, but the atmosphere of the match (even if it wasn't the best match on the card) really made it worthy of going on last. I mean, look at those boxing-style entrances.
    • I enjoyed the DDP and Daivari run-ins, and the whole story they told, even Nick Aldis accidentally elbow-dropping Brandi Rhodes.
    • Also legit amazed at the NWA Heavyweight Championship being relevant in 2018. 2018. Thanks, Billy Corgan?
    • Push Hangman Page.
    • Also, penis druids are the best thing to have come out of wrestling so far this year. Also, intertextuality.
    • Jay Lethal having a Black Machismo switch was one of the funnier stories coming out of the event. Also, still intertextuality.
    • How does one follow a great Kenny Omega/Pentagon match? An even better Kazuchika Okada/Marty Scurll match. Now that I think about it, the show feels like two different halves: the first half is an American show, while the second half's a typical NJPW show.
    • Rey Mysterio's Wolverine outfit >>>
    • Fuck soccer, lucha libre may be the real beautiful sport.
    • If anyone outside of Mexico hasn't heard of Bandido yet, they know him now. I bet he's going to have a huge 2019.

    Photo from Portrait of a Wrestler


    Romeo Moran (@roiswar) is the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: All In Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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