clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

AEW All In recap & reactions: MJF & Adam Cole overbooked main event madness

AEW All In (Aug. 27, 2023) emanated from Wembley Stadium in London, England. The PPV featured MJF and Adam Cole testing their friendship to the limit over the AEW World Championship, FTR cementing their legacy of tag team greatness, Saraya earning glory for her country, and much more.

Get caught up on all the All in details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.

The saga between MJF and Adam Cole was the anchor of All In. They had a match to open the show, and they had a match to close the show.

ROH World Tag Team Championship: MJF & Adam Cole defeated Aussie Open to win the titles. This was the opening contest of the evening on the pre-show. Aussie Open attacked before the bell robbing the fans of chanting Cole’s, “Bay Bay.” MJF took the beating for much of the match. Hot tag to Cole cleaning house. Double clothesline? Not yet. Mark Davis saved Kyle Fletcher before the move could connect.

Back to pounding MJF. He dipped low, and Aussie Open collided into each other. Kangaroo kick? Success! The crowd erupted in jubilation. The kangaroo kick was a split dropkick to both members of Aussie Open. MJF shook the ropes like the Ultimate Warrior. The kangaroo kick and subsequent reaction was a moment for MJF’s career highlight reel.

Double clothesline? Double clothesline! MJF and Cole clotheslined Fletcher, and Cole picked up the winning pin to become new ROH tag team champions.

Afterward, Cole savored the prize. MJF and Cole had a minor staredown to hype the world championship main event. They parted separately to prepare for the big match.

This was comedic action to give the people what they want. One question about the contest was if there would be signs of tension between MJF and Cole. There was not. They worked together as a team without issue. There was zero dissension and not even a whiff of a tease. Both looked perfectly healthy after the match, so there shouldn’t be any injury excuses for the main event.

AEW World Championship: MJF retained against Adam Cole. MJF entered on his devil throne, but he was far from the devil on this evening.

Classic wrestling to start. MJF offered a handshake then poked Cole in the eye. MJF couldn’t help himself and yucked it up with the crowd. Cole had a different viewpoint and increased his aggression the rest of the way.

Cole began bending the rules and didn’t hold back on verbal and physical assaults. When Cole ripped off MJF’s tag team t-shirt, that was a line too far. MJF fired up with anger. The match played out with both men taking extreme measures to win, however, MJF couldn’t pull the trigger on his best friend. Cole had no such qualms. For example, MJF set up a piledriver on the commentary table, but he bailed out. Cole didn’t hesitate to hit that exact move on MJF.

The story took a wacky turn when MJF and Cole hit a double clothesline on each other. Both fell in a position with arms covering the other. Referee Bryce Remsburg made the call for a double pin draw. Cole couldn’t accept that and demanded five more minutes. MJF did one better to restart the match for as long as it takes to determine a winner.

It wasn’t long before an accidental ref bump. Cole gained the upper hand for a suplex on the apron and a Panama Sunrise on the floor. MJF kicked out on the cover. Next came a super ref bump. MJF dodged a Panama Sunrise and pulled Remsburg in place. Cole flattened the ref on that move.

MJF went into his bag of tricks for the Dynamite Diamond Ring, but he was too conflicted to use it. Roderick Strong ran in for a low blow on MJF. Cole willingly took advantage for a Panama Sunrise and lowered the boom with a knee strike. Unfortunately for Cole, the referee was still obliterated in unconsciousness. The crowd counted well past 10 on the cover. Remsburg finally crawled over for a slow count, and MJF kicked out.

Strong handed the world title to Cole to strike MJF. Cole pulled off his own tag team shirt as a symbolic act, but then he couldn’t pull the trigger to harm MJF like that. Strong was exasperated and left. In the hullabaloo, MJF scored a small package to win.

The show didn’t end there. Drama intensified in the aftermath. Cole was devastated in defeat. MJF consoled his best friend replaying the scene when they lost to FTR for the tag titles, except the roles were reversed. MJF tried to cheer Cole up with the ROH tag titles, but Cole threw those away in a fit. MJF was livid and viewed Cole as just using him in this phony friendship. MJF turned his back for Cole to strike him. Cole had a change of heart, and they hugged it out to close the show.

Well, that main event was a load of crap. Hold on, hear me out. There were plenty of positives, so let’s hit that first.

The match was pretty darn good up until the double pin draw. It was competitive with tension rising. A character story was developing before our eyes to keep the mystery alive on who would win. As the shenanigans progressed, the callbacks from the story as a whole were rich in attempting to create emotional drama. It maintained my attention throughout to see the resolution. In the end, AEW provided the happy ending of best friends sticking together. I can completely understand why fans would enjoy the main event.

Now for the bad. Everything after the draw is when the match completely fell apart, in my opinion. What are we watching here? Is this a sport or a theater production? This match was too cheeky for its own good. The callbacks got to a point that were so heavy-handed that it felt forced and manipulated. Nothing about that drama felt natural. The emotional outbursts became over-the-top hokey. I thought Cole’s motivation was inconsistent. He went hard with a piledriver on the table in an effort to win, and later he’s pulling the Eddie Guerrero chair trick after pleading for five more minutes. The goal for Cole is to get the world title, not win via disqualification. All the overbooking made sense in theory, however, it was way too much. I’m wondering if we were supposed to feel bad for Cole in any way. Dude is just as much a scumbag in the ring as MJF. That’s probably why they bond together so well.

I really enjoy the overall friendship story between MJF and Cole, so I hope they can put this chapter behind them and explore new frontiers as brochachos.

Let’s run down the rest of the card from top to bottom.

AEW World Trios Championship: The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn defeated House of Black to win the titles. No Holds Barred rules in effect. Julia Hart blocked Billy’s path for a dive, so the Acclaimed set her up for Shiver Me Timbers.

Later, the challengers each hit a Fame-Asser for a triple on Buddy Matthews, but Hart pulled the referee out of the ring on the pinfall. The Acclaimed remained fighting tough to finish out the win. A Mic Drop combo couldn’t beat Brody King, so Billy added a Fame-Asser and the Acclaimed landed a second Mic Drop combo. They piled on top to ensure the pin.

Afterward, the House of Black handed over the titles honorably. The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass celebrated for the biggest scissor party on earth with over 80,000 fans in attendance.

This match was all about the feel-good moment of a title win for Billy, and it worked. The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass operated like a well-oiled machine. They had answers for House of Black’s attacks and showed grit in tough situations.

Will Ospreay defeated Chris Jericho. Jericho rocked out for a live performance of, “Judas,” with Fozzy. Ospreay outclassed Jericho in athleticism, but the veteran had savvy tactics to put Ospreay in precarious positions. As the match progressed, Jericho trapped Ospreay in the Walls of Jericho. Don Callis stepped onto the apron, so Sammy Guevara took advantage to blast Ospreay with the baseball bat. Ospreay still managed to muscle out of the submission. Later, Jericho used a sneaky mule kick to set up the Judas Effect. Ospreay kicked out on the cover. The UK wrestler rallied in the end to unload his arsenal of offense. Ospreay executed a Hidden Blade and a Storm Breaker to finish Jericho.

The booking of this match was weird. Ospreay was the home hero, so AEW booked him like a babyface. The problem is that he’s been a heel his entire time on AEW camera to this point. Jericho wrestled the heel role with little cheats. That vibe threw off the whole viewing experience. In terms of action, Ospreay shined as a superstar, and Jericho hit the classics to put on a good show.

After the match, Sammy tried to console Jericho. Jericho shoved Sammy then exited alone. I’m not sure what the message was, but I’m guessing Jericho feels that Sammy is treating him with pity like a has-been. Jericho might be assuming that Sammy has lost confidence in Le Champion in the ring.

Coffin Match: Darby Allin & Sting defeated Swerve Strickland & Christian Cage. The good guys entered with a foggy vignette in a dark alleyway to announce Joker Sting. The finish was a doozy dishing out pain. Sting hit a Scorpion Death Drop to Swerve on top of the coffin. When Stinger tried to shut the lid, Swerve escaped with his torso hanging out like a magic trick gone horribly wrong. Sting put pressure on the lid to trap Swerve’s lower body in the coffin. Allin launched for a Coffin Drop crunching the lid onto Swerve’s spine. That was enough to shut the lid on Swerve.

This match was right in step with AEW’s awesome presentation of Sting. The Icon took his lumps, hit some cool spots, and left the crowd marveling at how he can still be this entertaining at the age of 64. Darby Allin was exciting as well in his signature style. Moving forward, Swerve needs to win some feuds. His character is getting dangerously close to being all talk without backing it up with success.

Also of note, Luchasaurus interfered to save Christian. Nick Wayne tried to help Allin by hitting the dino with a skateboard. Luchasaurus didn’t go down. He chokeslammed Wayne onto the skateboard and carried him to the back. That could be material explored for the upcoming week of television.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Saraya defeated Hikaru Shida, Dr. Britt Baker DMD, and Toni Storm to win the title. Four-way action with Shida entering as champion. It didn’t take long before the Outcasts were arguing over which one deserved to go for the pins. Their friendship blew up when Storm accidentally clubbered Saraya’s mom, who was holding Baker to get punched. Storm became Saraya’s primary focus as an opponent. It was truly every woman for herself after that. Ruby Soho made an appearance trying to keep the peace, but Storm punched her. In the end, Baker was working for the Lockjaw on Shida, but she couldn’t apply it quite right due to Shida’s heart not to give in. With Baker and Shida occupied, Saraya sprayed paint in Storm’s face to execute a cradle DDT for victory. The new champ celebrated with her family.

That match had a creative flow as wrestlers worked to pick spots to their advantage, such as Baker with a curb stomp during a submission hold. The Outcasts drama was an interesting way to set up the finish. I’m not a fan of the result. It feels too much like a charity case giving Saraya the UK pop. AEW didn’t provide any reason to root for her. The positive reception is based solely on her real life journey, which breaks her current character alignment. There was no crossover in storytelling. Also, Saraya hasn’t put in the work each week like the rest to give me confidence that she can carry the division as champion.

Stadium Stampede: Orange Cassidy, Best Friends, Pentagon, & Eddie Kingston defeated Blackpool Combat Club, Santana, & Ortiz. This match was utter chaos with hardcore brawls all over the stadium. It has hard to focus at times on catching everything with frantic action on a split-screen. Everyone pulled their load to put on a show. In the end, the match was about Cassidy and Kingston. Cassidy taped his fist and dipped it in glass. Kingston brought a barbed wire chair to bash Claudio. Moxley intervened, so Kingston exploded for spinning backfists to the BCC. He tackled Moxley through a table. Cassidy connected on the glass superman punch to pin Claudio.

Damn, this is a match I need to watch again to soak it all in. I enjoyed it for the most part, minus the skewers in Moxley’s head and the dorky drive-in from Sue. I can appreciate the storytelling for the finish in regard to Kingston when it delivered on the Moxley angle. Kingston wasn’t interested in fighting his friend until Mox went for a Paradigm Shift. That was a green light for Kingston to go bonkers and go on the attack. Neither seemed to take it personal in the aftermath. Cassidy came across as the biggest star in the match. His glass punch popped me as a fan of the Kickboxer film. Cassidy’s winning spirit continues to pull him through to victory.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: FTR defeated the Young Bucks to retain the titles. This match was about legacy as the best tag team in the history of the universe. Gamesmanship increased in tit for tat stealing moves. FTR hit a spike piledriver, so the Bucks did the same later. The first near fall came when Dax Harwood dodged a BTE Trigger, and the Bucks collided knees. Cash Wheeler speared Nick Jackson off the apron. Matt Jackson was alone, and FTR treated him to a BTE Trigger and a Shatter Machine. Matt kicked out on the cover.

The Bucks had their moment for a near fall when Harwood turned around into a Shatter Machine. That left Wheeler alone to get blasted with the BTE Trigger. Wheeler surprisingly kicked out. The finish came when the Bucks had Wheeler in their sights for the Meltzer Driver. Harwood burst in to prevent the move, then FTR struck with the Shatter Machine to win.

This match was on the level of quality you would expect from FTR and the Bucks. Overall, there were a few things that bothered me. It was the video game style of surviving finishers. That is the way of the Bucks, so I just have to accept it. However, Matt surviving a BTE Trigger and a Shatter Machine was a bridge too far. Commentary wondered aloud if anyone had ever kicked out from the Shatter Machine. That would have been fine on its own. Adding a BTE Trigger too was on the ridiculous side to stretch the illusion of wrestling. In a different instance I found annoying, Harwood knew he was set up for a double-team move, made an expression to accept his fate, and took the hit. Why would he do that? The man had options. He could have hugged the ropes to reset and gather his bearings. Despite my grievances, I have to say that the finish was effective. For all the video game kick-outs, it really does drive home the emotion in the moment of victory.

After the match, FTR offered a handshake. The Bucks declined and left FTR hanging. So, I guess the Bucks are heels now? Or they are just the same passive-aggressive shitheads they’ve always been. It’s moments like this that make the Bucks unlikable on screen in AEW. We’ll see if that’s the point with the Bucks veering heel again, but it could just as easily be AEW’s wishy-washy character storytelling rearing its head again. Don’t be surprised if the Bucks are treated like babyfaces come Wednesday for Dynamite.

Jay White, Juice Robinson, & Konosuke Takeshita defeated Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, & Kota Ibushi. The Gunns were ringside to interfere, and Don Callis joined commentary. In the end, Omega was in the groove delivering knee strikes to the Bullet Club, then Takeshita swooped in from behind for the roll-up victory.

This match was a high-quality performance in execution of moves all around. The stars hit their signature spots or worked in teases that were stifled to hook the crowd with failed anticipation. Omega and Takeshita had an exciting showdown, albeit brief, to whet the appetite for what is to come when they clash in singles competition. The finish was a smart way for Takeshita to earn bragging rights to keep the Callis feud rolling. I like that it was clean, so Takeshita comes across as legit in making us believe he can beat Omega again.

Real World Championship: CM Punk defeated Samoa Joe to retain. Shout out for this hilarious sequence. Punk faked a flying attack to coax Joe into his patented walk away spot, then Punk surprised Joe with a flying hurricanrana. The next move was a slingshot plancha to the outside. Joe comically walked away on that one, and Punk crashed to the floor like a cartoon character.

The story of the match was Joe inflicting pain and Punk trying to survive. Punk was busted open when Joe swung him into the commentary table. As the match progressed, they mixed in homages to Hulk Hogan and Terry Funk. In the end, Punk got the upper hand on the turnbuckles to prevent a musclebuster and counter with an avalanche Pepsi Plunge for victory.

If that match is the end of their classic series, then it left me satisfied. They put on an entertaining duel and had the crowd rocking. This was more like a Joe match than Punk leading the flow. Joe unleashed his physicality for a bruising fight. The finish was a convincing way to keep Joe down for the three-count. Joe still looked tough and loses no shine as the ROH TV champion. Punk earned a quality victory to keep his top guy momentum rolling. The only thing missing was a redemption GTS.

Status check on the Real World Championship. It still feels like a cheap prop. AEW really needs to figure out how to make anyone care about it besides Punk. This match had nothing to do with the belt, and it is looking like the continuation of the feud with Ricky Starks will have nothing to do with the belt either.

FTW Championship: Hook defeated Jack Perry to win the title. Perry arrived in a limousine for the pre-show match. Hook charged to the automobile to start the fight. Perry had a cool rolling senton off the roof of the car, and Hook suplexed Perry crashing into the windshield.

The fight made its way to the ring for a suplex contest. Perry was in control, then he missed a moonsault. Hook smashed a trashcan on Perry’s head, then he applied the Redrum choke for victory. Hook is bringing the FTW belt back home.

Wild match that put a smile on my face. Perry was creative executing classic RVD moves and also mocking the fans by not doing the Coast-to-Coast dropkick. Hook is progressing nicely in his career. Every time AEW gives him more to handle, he crushes it in the ring.

Notes: All In returns to London on August 25, 2024.

Mercedes Moné (aka Sasha Banks) was shown on camera in attendance as a fan.

Britt Baker cut a promo on the pre-show burying the women’s division. AEW was must-see with her as champion. She acknowledged getting complacent in her chase for the world title. Baker assumed someone else would rise to the occasion to carry the ball at her level, but nobody has. She accused the entire division of becoming complacent. So, I guess shitting on the entire division is a babyface move? Just another example why Baker doesn’t come across as a genuine babyface.

Jeff Jarrett’s crew interrupted Tony Schiavone in the ring on the pre-show. Jarrett insulted the wankers in the crowd. He said the American wrestling fans are much better than UK morons. Jarrett was interrupted by Paul Wight, Anthony Ogogo, and Grado. Wight hit a KO punch on Satnam Singh. Ogogo socked Jarrett, and Grado smashed the guitar over Jarrett’s head. Fun segment for easy heat to warm up the crowd.

Will Hobbs and Miro signed the contract on the pre-show for their match at All Out. Hobbs tried to sneak attack, but Miro clotheslined him out of the ring and beat up security.

Stud of the Show: Orange Cassidy

It doesn’t feel right in my brain seeing Cassidy stand tall over the Blackpool Combat Club in a violent fight, but he did it in a way that was badass to make me buy all in.

Match of the Night: CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe

Punk and Joe had one for the old times, and it was just as enjoyable as their youthful days.

Grade: A-

Despite my reservations about the main event and various character shifts, the show as a whole was extremely entertaining. There were too many fun moments to count. When AEW made the huge announcement of All In, the magnitude didn’t really register with me at the time. Seeing them pull it all together with over 80,000 fans for an electric atmosphere in Wembley Stadium, the experience was definitely huge.

Share your thoughts about All In. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats