AEW All Out 2023 Review | Red's Pro-Wrestling Digest 129

Match Ratings

  1. ROH Tag Titles: Better Than You, Bay Bay(c) vs Dark Order ***
  2. ROH TV Title: Joe(c) vs Taylor ***
  3. TNT Title: Luchasaurus(c) vs Darby ***1/2
  4. Miro vs Hobbs ***3/4
  5. TBS Title: Kris(c) vs Soho ***
  6. Strap Match: Danielson vs Starks ****1/4
  7. Blackpool Combat Club vs Kingston, Shibata ***3/4
  8. Omega vs Takeshita ****1/2
  9. Bullet Club Gold vs FTR, Young Bucks ***3/4
  10. AEW International Title: Orange(c) vs Mox ****1/2

The build was lacking. It had only been a week since All In and it felt too early. It was in Chicago, a day after Punk was fired for being a dipshit yet again, where they've oversaturated the market. A chunk almost felt more like a TV card.

Somehow, it overdelivered and the crowd was far better than expected.

MJF and Adam Cole's match kicked this one off with the pair defending the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championships against Dark Order's Beaver Boys. Evil Uno accompanied the latter and would get involved throughout. The fans were pretty vocal early on, which I was hopeful was a sign of a lively evening and I was honestly especially excited to see Silver getting this chance. The Goddamn Meat Man is so damn fun. MJF was very fun here too, since I'm dropping the word.

The AEW World Champion's neck issues that they've addressed recently came up. He complained about his neck hurting and then Cole asked where it hurt. "My neck!" Excalibur wasn't the only one laughing at the delivery. Dark Order solidified their heel status with a cheap shot, with a chair, to MJF's neck while the ref was distracted. MJF would come back late. You've seen this before. Vince used to love this. Admittedly, this felt like they were delivering a TV match on PPV. It's not a statement to discredit the talent, but more of the layout they used being the issue. Maybe this will work more for you? It was fine and I do appreciate the storytelling, but personally it just screamed Dynamite and not All Out.

I'll move on.

A good match overall, at the very least, and the champs retained. I'm hopeful that Silver and crew are in the middle of their first real bit of relevance in AEW in years even in defeat. They were perfectly entertaining dicks in this one.

After, I got a taste of something I called for in my All In review as Samoa Joe pushed MJF when the two went past each other. The former on his way to the ring to defend his own Ring of Honor belt, the latter in the middle of having trouble and selling his neck while he went to the back. While the moment occurring was a nice touch for me, it did feel a bit weird seeing two ROH defenses kick off the show.

MJF is my scumbag. 2023 has been a very hard year for me and he's provided so much entertainment all year. I appreciate that, a lot.

The King of Television and Joe brawled and the big vet got the better of it before security cut them off. I really wish they had given Samoa Joe the win over Punk last week. Mistakes were made.

Shane Taylor would be Joe's W-column mark of the night. I'm actually a big fan of Shane. I feel that Ring of Honor's last stretch before officially changing hands and launching the Khan-verse worked as a nice display of the big dude's potential. As a result, I was hopeful this would be a big moment for him.

The two traded big man shots and spots, brawled at ringside quickly on, and made commentary correct as they'd only go six-deep. While you in no way should consider it must-see, I did appreciate this. It was two big dudes working a short, dense brawl. Nothing to really complain about and good stuff overall. I seem to have enjoyed it more than most, especially the crowd.

Now, I need to make a quick statement. I have seen very little of ROH this year. I'll correct that a bit when I can. Maybe they've made Joe very entertaining on the show. I do know that they have something with the King of TV gimmick that they were running recently. Even without the iffy side-belt known as the TNT Title, they still have something there and I'd love him to have more to do. I feel some forget how damn good the dude can be as an all-around performer and I fear he has been far too 2D for far too long instead. Hopefully that MJF exchange is a sign that things are going to be more 3D soon.

Speaking of, the TNT Championship is on the line next.

Cage has been good lately, Luchasaurus' heel turn has been okay, and Darby is Darby. This is maybe the first time in a while that the division seems like it has some life, even if it's a bit circus act at times. Wayne would come out with the challenger. Where's his mom? Christian would like to know.

David versus Goliath stuff with the big dinosaur throwing around his emo opponent like a ragdoll. The doll would bleed early and sold his back pain while I wondered why Knox wasn't counting for so long a stretch. Goliath continued to pick apart the little dude with little pockets of Allin trying to get back in being sprinkled in for good measure. It all added together nicely and made for a very good match when it was all said and done.

Cage and Wayne shared a moment at ringside and Darby hit a missile tope on Captain Charisma. An avalanche code red to the big reptile followed. Christian then smacked Nick with a chair, which AEW's shitty production crew missed, causing a distraction which allowed for Luchasaurus to take advantage and hit a pair of tombstones and go for the kill.

A lariat to the back of Allin's head closed this one and gave the champ his win.

After, Cage and Lucha kept the chaos going. A conchairto was teased, but Spears would break it up. Do you write off Allin soon for a bit? Return him as a heel to be Sting's last match and have the kid go over? 

Who's hungry for meat?

Miro was a dude that felt held back by WWE's lack of effort. His jump to AEW seemed like a chance for him to finally get a real chance. Instead, things didn't work out like most of us had hoped. 

Hobbs is a dude that feels like he's been held back by AEW's lack of effort.

A match between the two seemed very random, but had potential. Could both overdeliver on their current positions and make this feel worthy of this All Out position?


Big E was smiling somewhere. Two big fucks putting in for a hoss fight and they were given over 15 fucking minutes to work with. Tony is nuts. While neither really needed to eat an L right now, the best choice would be what they did here. Give the vet the win but run this in a workhorse manner to get both over with the crowd. It requires true ability to run, but that was clearly not a problem. 

Note, on a related note, that I'm not sure if I could call this one Miro's best match ever, but it was top 5. It was certainly the best from Hobbs.

You just know that Miro loved this, and you could see how excited he was to be getting the most love he's seen since the early part of Rusev Day. You know, before they Ryder'ed him. Please, finally give the big fucker a real push. Keep the different vibe for Collision. That attitude. Make him a central part of the program. It's time to stop being lazy with so much of the roster.

That's the problem, by the way. I warned of it as I saw AEW's worker list grow and grow. Maybe it's because of my armchair experience, booking shows in videogames. I have some experience with helping with legit, real creative but never with a huge pile of dudes and dudettes at my disposal so I'll stick with the former reference.

Anyway, when you have so many people it really doesn't matter how much TV time you have. A rotating roster, allowing stars a lot of time off each year in an alternating manner could be useful to a degree but requires a level of focus that clearly isn't an option for Tony.

The dude himself is stretched thin, too.

As a result of them having so many fucking talented workers, many end up being left behind.

I do appreciate seeing so many people I respect getting paid regularly and being able to buy a house in this fucking market.

Anyway, Hobbs attacked Miro from behind after he ate the L. Lady Meat, the hot and flexible wife of Miro, ran out with a chair after. Beat that meat chants rang out. Miro used the chair to run off Hobbs and then looked at his wife in a weird way. This one isn't over. Good. I'm not sure I love that ending thing.

"You're not real!"

What the fuck?

Moving on, Kris and Ruby for the TBS belt. I've been very harsh on how the women's divisions are treated in AEW lately. I'll refrain from being repetitive and skip my thoughts on that for now. We're seeing Ruby and Strat in a title match on a big show, so it's hard to be too annoyed at this moment.

Saraya accompanied Ruby, guaranteeing some overbooked stuff.

I loved the Zoolander attire Kris went with. What a damn look! She walked alone.

The two worked hard and did well while Saraya did well in her Vickie Guerrero role. The finish saw Toni Storm take the spray paint from Ruby and Kris retaining moments later.

I really liked this, but the story block finish did reduce the quality a bit with the intention of setting up Saraya/Storm. It also felt a bit wrong seeing Soho take yet another L this year, when she has been the fall chick for The Outcasts, but it wasn't time to cut Kris' reign so in booking this they did go with the best option. In all, good shit either way.

Bait and switch time. Steamboat came first but the building admittedly really came alive for this one as The Final Countdown rang out. What a perfect song for The American Dragon. I'm so glad he's using it again. That this was a strap match excited me greatly, as the ceiling for these when the talent level is to the degree seen here is typically very high.

This went past the damn roof, folks.

Ricky as a heel is a good choice and this match really pushed the dude to the level that he has been waiting to hit in AEW. He's been inching closer to real stardom for a while now, teasing it in NWA on the earlier seasons of Powerrr, which is still a stupid fucking name for a wrestling show, and giving glimpses since in AEW. Of course it would be Danielson being the dude that got him to the next bump up on his way.

Starks was given the control spot early on, attacking in a cheap manner, drawing color quick and then leaning into the cocky heel role as he piled on. Dragon, wearing a crimson mask and working from underneath, added nicely to the display. I appreciated the pacing as much as I did the building intensity level and thought they both did very well to take this and make it into something truly special. Perhaps Ricky should have won this, but I can see validity in either option. What really matters is that this was awesome, folks. The rest is just bonus content as a result.

That Danielson trusted Starks enough for this match to occur, and the respect on display here, is big.

Big Bill, by the way, got involved and Steamboat helped out a bit. A largely minor moment that didn't take much, if anything, away. Just worth noting.

The finish saw Ricky get the strap wrapped around his neck, increasingly turning purple, as he was locked in the LeBell Lock. A perfectly brutal scene to close this fucking epic battle!

Adam Page won a battle royal on the preshow, apparently. I'm sure Chicago loved that. The area education fund was given some money.

Eddie wore an awesome shirt with a fun reference. There was Kawada kicks with the legend in attendance. Kingston and Claudio brawled, Yuta was fun, and The Wrestler was his awesome self as always. This was great shit, people! Shibata, Wheeler locked into his sleeper, wasn't able to stop the count as Claudio used a stuff European uppercut to Eddie to get the 1, 2, 3. An interesting finish, but I dug it.

Next, Don brought Kenosuke out to face Kenny Fucking Omega in singles action. This was the match I was most looking forward to from All Out, for the record. The trunks were a nice choice from Omega, by the way. Gotta love the DDT love on display in this one in general.

Note that this one had a bit of fat that could've been trimmed to streamline transitions, but was spectacular more often than not and felt like two of the best in the modern game just telling a damn story. The betrayal of Don program was the stage-setter here, with Takeshita playing straight heel in his efforts, always seeking to punish, in honor of the dickish manager. Kenny's comeback moments breathing nice sparks through the ebb and flow, added nicely to the total package, too.

Venom and violence. Kenny versus Takeshita III was one of the best singles matches of 2023 and well worth your time.

Students of the game: take note.

The finish stretch came when, after a strong display of fighting spirit from both, Soup hit an avalanche blue thunder for a nearfall, then tossed in a power drive knee for a second. Don tried to stab Omega, seeming to set up a shit finish, but instead we got some drama where Kenny took control. Takeshita would grab and tease using the tool while he was positioned for an Angel, causing the ref to grab it. A rolling German, sick running knee strike, and then an exposed knee running strike for good measure put this one away.

That's right, Takeshita won clean. I sucked during that summary. Sorry. Amazing stuff though, folks. I loved almost everything about it, especially the big deal outcome!

It's FTR teaming with Matt and Nick to take on Bullet Club Gold time. The in-fighting on the face side was a guarantee, of course. It's that drama that actually played a part in the closing moments, in fact. The crowd was lit on fire throughout, and all involved, even the weak link ass boys, came off looking like stars as a result. A few quips here and there, and it felt perhaps like a Collision main event, but that's not really a bad thing.

Maybe a chunk of this felt like "TV content" because AEW gives away a lot of TNT and TBS? A question worth asking? We certainly are a spoiled bunch. The amount of wrestling content readily available to those eager for it is mountainous. That the average rating of a Dynamite match is likely around 3 and change is a high standard set by AEW. Being disappointed that the first half of a show was around that level is solidified evidence of our privilege. I give Tony shit on here often, and my socialist mind will never allow me to fully embrace any billionaire, but I also think he deserves a lot of credit. The dude has taken an upstart and made it the clear number two wrestling company in the United States, has made attendance records that you just know piss off Vince and crew, and is responsible for so many workers getting paid, like I mentioned earlier. That deserves a lot of credit.

Anyway, back to the show. Bullet Club Gold got the nod in this one. A BTE Trigger from Matt and Dax interestingly saw the FTR member check his wrist. Moments later, White would hit a Blade Runner and one of the kids got the 1, 2, 3 for the side. Great stuff that felt a lot like classic PWG content.

Last, Orange Cassidy's reign finally came to an end. Flashpins kept it rolling, as the champ continued growing his injury checklist and grew more and more desperate, but it was time for a switch. Jon taking the belt also works well, because you should always aim for a fair trade or an improvement when making such moves. While Cassidy's reign was entertaining as hell, nothing was truly lost in this outcome for the former Fire Ant.

Mox and Orange itself was twenty-minutes of pure carnage. The champ, held together by tape, bled buckets of his juice all over the place and it the whole thing started with a forearm smash in response to Cass trying to get cute with the pockets shit. The defending International Champ had comeback stretches, but was largely snuffed down for much of it by his challenger. A good dynamic, honestly.

We witnessed as a duct-tape champ lost his last bit of HP in this one and, when the show was all said and done, it was the BCC that stood tallest. They've, as a unit, been perhaps the most consistently entertaining part of AEW for most of their existence and this show really showed that to still be true.

Fantastic storytelling. Fantastic match. Fuck yeah!

The show ended with Cassidy, still dripping red, getting up to a respectful roar from the crowd. What a beautiful moment to fade off on.

Late Night Snack, The Playlist, Record of the Week, etc. to resume next week.

Note that last November there was a weird switch flipped, where all of the sudden my site started getting much less number-wise than usual per-post. If anyone can help me figure out why, I would appreciate it.  

At All Out, the AEW locker room overcame and made a statement. If All In is a love letter to the fans, All Out was a message that the company is alive and well. Thanks to all that read. Be kind to yourself and others, wolfpac. You are appreciated!

Overall Rating: 85%

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