The story of ALL IN is well known, from the Dave Meltzer dismissal of Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks’ ability to sell 10,000 tickets to the shockingly quick sellout and expansion into a full-blown destination event.
It was so successful in hitting the mark, in fact, many have forgotten how special the accomplishment truly is.
For Rhodes, though, being a first time promoter and seeing the event come together — and through his own micromanagement — has been a constant reminder of what he has managed to achieve.
And he doesn’t want to miss a moment of the ride.
“I’m really excited,” Rhodes told Cageside Seats. “The progress through all this and seeing it come together seems like it’s going to be one of the most special parts. I definitely think it’s much more thorough than I expected as a first time promoter. I asked to do all the production elements. That’s ... you don’t need to know how many chairs are in the non-union catering room. These things, I don’t know why I decided I should have an opinion on them, but I did. I think that’s been kind of fun, realizing that I might have micromanaged the show.
“I have learned in this short span of time, I need to rely on my team more than myself. But, man, I think I’m just excited because this is the only time this has ever been attempted and it might be the only time and I just want to be a part of everything.”
Operating in the role of promoter is new to Rhodes. Putting on a show in front of 250 people can be a daunting task when it comes to running all aspects of the event.
Some may think it may have been a good idea to try things out on a smaller stage before promoting a revolutionary event with the intention of changing the perception of what’s possible in the wrestling industry.
Rhodes is not one of those people.
“I know this sounds silly, but I don’t believe in test shows with wrestling, at least,” Rhodes said. “I believe in promotion, I suppose. All the theories and marketing things you can do, wrestling is one of those things that isn’t necessarily predictable.
“I was confident we could sell the tickets for this building, but if you told me ‘You guys are also going to have a four-day convention attached with Starrcast and you’re also going to be on pay-per-view (PPV) and an hour on free TV on WGN America to do the Zero Hour pre-show,’ I would have fainted. I’m glad it has come like this. I’m glad we came into this ... all in. It’s outlaw style. It’s probably better we only had the three of us and not a bunch of smart, crafty individuals around us because there’s something about how we did it that worked.”
For all the marks they’ve hit, from the sellout to PPV to Zero Hour on WGN, it’s been success after success.
The event was almost entirely on free TV. It was simply living up to the promise of the event and the amount of talent that sank the idea. It also left the door open to host an hour of pre-show action on WGN — something with the potential benefit of selling more pay-per-views.
As has become his standard, Rhodes did not want to approach free TV with the intention of anything less than being special.
“At one point, WGN wanted to do all of ALL IN, but as exciting as that was there was no way for us to fit all the talent we’d announced into two hours with commercials,” Rhodes said. “It was hard to walk away from that but then WGN wanted to do an event before the ALL IN PPV. We didn’t want to make it a pre-show, we just wanted to make it another chunk of the whole deal. That’s why there are going to be two incredible matches including the appropriately named Over the Budget Battle Royal.
“We wanted to make it special and I think me, Matt and Nick (Jackson of The Young Bucks) will appear on there as well. When they brought us the idea of an hour on free TV, I couldn’t resist because my dad brought Turner Jim Crocket Promotions in the 80s and Vince with USA. Wrestling on TV used to have such a foothold and to be able to add that as a feather in our cap for the event, we’ve made history without the event happening yet. I need to execute and I need it to be outstanding so it’s even bigger history.”
The show is now a part of the Rhodes legacy — and it’s not exactly a small legacy.
In addition to putting on the event, Rhodes is also in position to add the NWA Championship to his legacy. It’s a belt his father held but spent decades far from the forefront of the wrestling world.
That has changed over the past year, with Billy Corgan and Dave Lagana as the very public faces of the NWA and putting a very strong video plan in play to establish the title’s journey and that of the men who wear it with pride.
With Rhodes set to face Aldis at the event, he’s found himself in a position of added responsibility.
... and also embracing the shadow of his father.
“We all want to grow up to be our dad for the most part,” Rhodes said. “In this industry I wanted to be anything but him because he was so special and revered. He gave so much as a performer and behind the scenes. But if the responsibility was going to fall on anybody to take it to the next level, it’s serendipitous that it falls on me.
“I love responsibility and I love challenge and that’s where we’ve reached. Nick is the NWA world’s champion and if I leave the NWA world’s champion on September 2, that’s a different career for me at this point. It changes a lot, not just the big stuff with wrestling but in my world. If it was going to have to fall on anyone, I think it’s cool it fell on a Rhodes.”