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ALL IN’s NWA Worlds Title story is the ‘Reality’ Era done right

It could probably be a little shorter, but the last episode of Ten Pounds of Gold before Nick Aldis defends his NWA Worlds Championship against Cody Rhodes at ALL IN is an amazing piece of business:

The pay-per-view (PPV) Rhodes and The Young Bucks made happen is an odd one, for a number of reasons. Chief among them for me is that the two matches which will likely deliver the least spectacular wrestling are the two with the best stories - the Worlds Title match and Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell. And, from what I can tell, much of the credit for that should go to Billy Corgan, Dave Lagana and the NWA team responsible for the Ten Pounds of Gold mini-series ALL INCOMING and Cody’s ALL US YouTube shows.

No matter which lens you look at wrestling through, Aldis/Rhodes offers something compelling.

The story of a son trying to live up to his father’s legacy, and of a father who wants to be the kind of man his son and other boys would look up to, is gripping. It doesn’t matter that you know the winner and the loser will never be in doubt by the time the bell rings on Sat., Sept. 1 in Sears Centre. In fact, it makes the emotional stakes even higher, because you know one of the wrestlers agreed to accept defeat for the betterment of the story. And they did so with either Dusty Rhodes or Donovan Aldis in mind.

As someone who enters into wrestling knowing the outcome is predetermined, you’re probably interested in the business itself. The NWA Worlds Championship story has you covered. ALL IN has, from the idea stage, been about advancing wrestling for fans and performers. This angle uses that to its advantage. It’s why Corgan, Lagana and their Titleholder decided to partner with Cody and The Bucks; they’re trying to do the same thing.

When Rhodes spoke to Cageside Seats’ Brent Brookhouse about ALL IN, he said that “Billy, Lagana and Nick... [are] ahead of the game in terms of where wrestling is going. They get it more than anybody.” That is a plot line in these videos, and this story. It’s there as an answer to fans who doubt this match’s ability to deliver the way a New Japan main event would. Aldis is a Champion because of his presence. To stay Champion this weekend will require that and more, however.

That’s because he and Cody will have to live up to the legacy of the belt they’re fighting for. It’s not just Dusty. Whether you’ve been a wrestling fan for decades or just started watching because of Being The Elite, you know the names of past NWA Worlds Champions, and how important they are in history: Thesz, Rogers, Brazil, Funk, Race, Flair. They’re part of the story here, too.

It’s smaller scale, but Arrow vs. CD is almost as interesting. As a 48 year old veteran, the Fallen Angel is not only being counted on to carry the star of The CW’s Arrow to a decent match, he’s responsible for bringing that history element. Daniels has been part of the fabric of non-WWE pro wrestling since the 90s. He represents the independent spirit which eventually brought us to ALL IN, and he’s “defending the business” against a famous fan who thinks anyone can “fake fight”. On the flip side of the coin, Amell’s reason for being here is because he loves wrestling, and because a lot of people watching BTE (including Mrs. Matt) want him to be.

While there are understandable reasons to root for or against either side, there are no good guys or bad guys, per se. With full knowledge of what the artform is, they’ve created interesting stories with emotional and rational hooks. It’s what I’ve always wanted from wrestling in a “kayfabe is dead”, post-heels-and-faces world.

Will either be a workrate classic? No. But more than the minutes they’ll be in the ring this weekend, they’ve entertained me for weeks with compelling narratives. That’s already a win in my book. That’s how you get me to go ALL IN.

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