All promising stuff, but did the show actually meet expectations enough for it to top some of AEW’s best efforts, like Revolution 2020 or Double or Nothing 2019? Let’s take a look at the ways you could argue that All Out 2020 was the promotion’s best PPV as well as the ways that it fell incredibly short.
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10Best: The Young Bucks Being D-Bags
The first traditional match of All Out had The Young Bucks taking on Jurassic Express, after teaming up to win the opportunity to have a PPV match on the most recent Dynamite. Nick and Matt Jackson have been sporting some pretty sour attitudes since Adam Page betrayed them a couple weeks earlier, and this match had the Bucks regressing further into their heel personas, which is when they’re at their best. When Matt Jackson superkicked Marko Stunt at ringside, it really felt like the old Bucks were back.
9Wasn’t: The Tooth & Nail Match Going On First
The Big Swole vs. Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. “Tooth and Nail” match was originally slated for the Buy-In pre-show, which felt like an insult to the performers, as their feud had been a highlight of Dynamite for the past few months. AEW wisely moved it to the main show, but unwisely made it the first match of the evening. Opening bouts tend to set the stage for the whole show by being one of the better matches on the card, and cinematic matches aren’t to every fan’s taste, so a goofy brawl in a dentist’s office likely turned off a lot of viewers before the show really got rolling.
8Best: The Casino Battle Royale
Battle Royals are always pretty fun, especially when executed in the right way, and All Out’s Casino Battle Royale showed how good AEW can be at tweaking things that aren’t working. Instead of just having guys saunter out in groups of five with no introduction, each participant got a brief, individual entrance, bringing it closer to Royal Rumble status.
The match itself was a blast, too, with some awesome spots like Darby Allin getting stuffed into a body bag full of thumbtacks and then thrown over the top rope. AEW Dark staple Will Hobbs got a surprising and welcome spotlight, giving a much needed sense of importance to the enhancement talent on Dark.
7Wasn’t: The Matt Sydal Botch
The Casino Battle Royale, while fun, might be remembered for one unfortunate moment. The final entrant turned out to be a debuting Matt Sydal, who ascended to the top rope to pull off his signature Shooting Star Press. Sydal instantly slipped, crashing to the mat and forcing Will Hobbs and Frankie Kazarian to scramble to check on him. Botches will happen, especially for high flyers, and Sydal ultimately put on a good performance, but seeing Sydal take a disastrous tumble amidst his big AEW debut was legitimately heartbreaking.
6Best: The Women’s Match
The AEW Women’s World Title bout had an interesting set-up: Hikaru Shida issued an open invitation to anyone who thought they could take her on, and an unexpected challenger emerged in the form of NWA Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa. The understated, simple build may have been to the match’s benefit, as it ended up being one of the best matches of All Out and possibly one of the best in the history of AEW’s much-criticized women’s division — and one with a surprisingly clean finish.
5Wasn’t: The Matt Hardy Incident
The nadir of the show may cause All Out to go down in infamy. A falls-count-anywhere match between the veteran Matt Hardy and rising star Sammy Guevara quickly turned ugly as a superplex off a scissor lift through tables appeared to go wrong, with Hardy possibly sustaining a legit head injury. Matt Hardy was taken to the back but soon emerged after being medically cleared, and the pair appeared to rush to the finish. It’s the sort of incident that turns wrestling fans into finger-wagging amateur sports doctors and ultimately threatened to overshadow the whole show. Hardy was taken to the hospital following the match, but he still had enough strength to finish the contest and pick up the win.
4Best: The Tag Title Match
As soon as the former Revival debuted on AEW television, it was going to be a matter of time before Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler challenged for (and won!) the tag team titles. FTR going up against Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page was a match fans didn’t know they wanted when AEW began, but the old school tag team versus a fan favorite tag team turned out to be an exciting prospect.
Considering the last AEW Tag Title match on PPV was an all-time classic, this bout could never live up to expectations, but it turned out great nonetheless. Going nearly half an hour, it was full of great stuff like the ongoing tension between Omega and Page, FTR doing what FTR does best, and the post-match incident where Kenny finally turned on Hangman.
3Wasn’t: Mimosa Mayhem Disappointed
The feud between “Freshly Squeezed” Orange Cassidy and Chris Jericho was an unexpected development of 2020, but the rivalry is largely a success as it established Cassidy as a legitimate contender instead of “just” a funny character. The rubber match, a “Mimosa Mayhem Match”, was exactly the kind of silly premise that AEW succeeds at (see: Stadium Stampede), but this contest ended up disappointing. It’s a fine match, but after two more-serious bouts, this rubber match should have featured a bit more hijinx appropriate to the gimmick in order to highlight how entertaining both Jericho and Cassidy are. It would have been a fun way to end the feud.
2Best: The Main Event
AEW could have burned off a Jon Moxley title defense against MJF on a random Dynamite considering MJF is a young rising star and not yet considered a “main eventer,” but making their bout the headliner of All Out shows how much faith the promotion has in this young talent. MJF is well established as an outstanding old-school kind of heel, but this match showed fans that he’s only getting better as an in-ring competitor, too. It’s a great match with a great finish, as the rule bending is a pitch-perfect choice for a chaotic tweener like Moxley.
1Wasn’t: Way Too Long
All Out ran nearly four hours — and even longer for devotees who watched The Buy-In, too. Long runtimes give PPV events a sense of grandeur for sure, but sometimes less is more, especially these days when WWE’s PPVs feel like a breath of fresh air by going three hours or less. It seemed like an attempt to give fans maximum content considering the price of a PPV, but it’s hard not to experience fatigue by the time you get to the main event.
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