Previously on All In: Let’s start off the column with something great. There is no “previously on” ALL IN, because even a year ago, this felt like a complete impossibility. Cody and the Young Bucks teaming up to run a show? Sure, that could work. Cody and the Young Bucks selling out a 10,000-seat arena and booking Okada and Pentagon and Fenix and Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho and GLACIER on the show? What kind of fever dream am I having?
That’s where we begin with ALL IN. If you’re looking for me to be overly critical and tear it down, I’ll be honest with you … I expected my natural pessimism to bloom and find a bunch of reasons why I didn’t like the thing everybody else liked, but about 45 minutes into the Zero Hour pre-show, I was hooked. Five hours later, I was over the moon. This was the Woodstock of independent wrestling; the love letter to the sport you never thought would come from a bunch of t-shirt salesmen with a popular YouTube channel, and it might’ve ended up being just as fun and important as advertised.
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And now, the Best and Worst of ALL IN. Hopefully soon to be known as “ALL IN (2018),” or even better, “ALL IN 1.”
Best: MJF Vs. Matt Cross
This one came at us unannounced, and while it probably should’ve ended up on Zero Hour to give the main card more time — more on that in a bit — it was a perfectly fine, fun opener.
You know that Honest Trailer for Avengers: Infinity War where Screen Junkies describes it as, “what could be the best movie Marvel’s ever made, but without a doubt is the MOST movie Marvel’s ever made?” That’s MJF to me. The character, to specify. I don’t know if he’s the best heel ever, but he’s certainly the MOST heel ever. He’s every single heel thing a person can do crammed into one dude, whether it works or makes sense or not, just relentlessly. He’s wearing a scarf! You hate scarves, probably! He’s going full-tilt heel before he’s even out of the entrance shadows, and also the announcer mentions that he’s a heel, and also the referee has to stop and show everyone that he’s very heel, and he has to stop between moves to look at us in the eye and tell us HELLO, I AM THE HEEL. It works. One day he’s going to add a couple of dimensions and probably be everybody’s favorite wrestler.
For a match happening unannounced with no story behind it and no reason for it to exist, that’s probably the best kind of guy to put in the spot. If you put it on a show with stories, it’s … well, I was going to type a hypothetical, but it’s Kona Reeves, I think. Plus, he’s going up against Matt Cross, who is universally liked in that, “hey, it’s Matt Cross,” kind of way. It’s why Son of Havoc randomly became the most over dude on Lucha Underground. You’re just instinctively like, “yeah, THIS guy!” So yeah, total lay-up on the opener.