Thursday, August 24, 2023

AEW All In 2023 Preview & Predictions

Alright who's excited??  This Sunday is the long-awaited AEW All In PPV spectacular, the biggest show in company history, in front of one of the biggest crowds in wrestling history (It remains to be seen whether it's the largest paid wrestling audience or not, we'll have to wait to get the official number)!

Contrary to the veritable army of social media whiners, I'm actually very excited for this lineup, as I'm not the type of person who fantasy-books a show and then gets disappointed when said fantasy card doesn't come to fruition.  Newsflash: CM Punk vs. Kenny Omega was never going to happen on this show, nor was The Elite vs. CMFTR.  Anyone who built either of those bouts up in their head as a real possibility at this juncture wasn't being honest with themselves.  What we have instead is a huge AEW Title match involving the biggest angle in the company, a massive rubber match between the two best tag teams in the world (I can't believe people are griping about this one after pissing and moaning that it didn't happen a year ago), a huge dream match originally slated for the 2021 Tokyo Dome show, an absolute banger of a trios match with The Golden Elite, the return of Stadium Stampede, and much more.  As with most AEW PPV lineups, if you can't find *something* here to enjoy, the problem is you.

Anyway let's get into it....

Zero Hour ROH Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open vs. MJF & Adam Cole

This is a weird addition to the lineup but if the MJF-Cole story is going where I think it's going, it makes sense.  So here's where I think it's going (and it felt like AEW kinda tipped their hand last night with Renee showing all the clips of Cole acting shady and Cole storming off): Adam Cole came up short in the AEW Title Eliminator match back in June, MJF wouldn't give him another chance, they ended up tag team partners in the Blind Eliminator tournament, and it was at that point Adam Cole began manipulating MJF into eventually giving him a title match.  In classic parasitic form, Cole preyed on MJF's loneliness and insecurity, getting him to turn over a new leaf and trust again, and it was all designed to maneuver himself into a match for the Triple B.  And Cole's suggestion that they go after the ROH Tag belts together seems to be a way to wear MJF out ahead of the main event.  Cole will spend most of this match on the apron while MJF does the lion's share of the work.  Aussie Open will retain and MJF will come out of this match tired or kayfabe injured.  

Pick: Aussie Open retain

Zero Hour FTW Championship: Jack Perry vs. Hook

I figured once Perry vs. Rob Van Dam took place on free TV that Hook would ultimately show up and challenge Perry to a rematch at All In.  I was actually kinda hoping Perry would retire the belt as it doesn't actually mean anything, but this match should be good anyway.  Hook almost certainly regains the title so Jack can go after a real one.  The International Title seems a good choice for Mr. Perry, plus Jack vs. Orange would be stunning.

Pick: Hook

AEW Trios Championship: House of Black vs. The Acclaimed & Bad Ass Billy Gunn

It's the return of 90s Billy Gunn, whatever that means.  Last night on Dynamite Billy ran in to help Max and Anthony against the Trios Champs and said fun-loving Daddy Ass won't make it to Wembley but Bad Ass Billy Gunn will.  So long as The One Billy Gunn is nowhere to be found....  Anyway this rematch has been building for a while and should be a lot of fun.  I'd have kept these titles on House of Black for a while longer but this seems to be the logical spot for a title change.

Pick: The Acclaimed and Mr. Ass

Coffin Match: Darby Allin & Sting vs. Swerve Strickland & Christian Cage

I'm not sure why AR Fox was taken out of this match, I guess he must have some kind of travel issue like Rey Fenix does.  But Fox has already been turned good again, which is odd.  Also weird is that Christian's not-brother Brian Cage wasn't chosen as Fox's replacement.  But this will be a wild one regardless.  Allin and Swerve are always great together, Sting always does something he shouldn't at his advanced age, and Christian is a fucking heat magnet.  Team Sting will always win until Steve Borden decides to hang up the boots (at which time Darby HAS to be the one to retire him).

Pick: Darby & Sting

AEW Women's Championship: Hikaru Shida vs. Saraya vs. Toni Storm vs. Britt Baker

Plan A for this match had to have been Toni Storm vs. Jamie Hayter for the title in Hayter's home country, but sadly Hayter's on the shelf for a while longer.  The response to Saraya should be interesting, as she's from the UK but also a hated heel.  I'd say Storm and Baker are very unlikely to win this one; it'll either be Shida retaining or Saraya winning the belt on her home turf.  I'd go with the former, as Shida just won the title a few weeks ago.  I guess it depends how soon Hayter comes back, as I think she's winning the title again shortly thereafter.

Pick: I'll go with Shida 

The Golden Elite vs. Jay White/Juice Robinson/Konosuke Takeshita

I can't believe people are complaining about this.  "How dare you put Kenny in a trios match," cry some of the same folks who demanded The Elite vs. CMFTR.....  This match will be absolute fire from start to finish.  I hope Kota Ibushi has been shaking off some ring rust since Blood & Guts, as he did look a little rough that night.  But aside from that, strap in for a banger of a six-man tag.  Kenny and friends are obviously winning here, with Juice likely eating the pin.  But I think we'll see Kenny vs. Takeshita a week later at All Out.

Pick: Golden Elite

Stadium Stampede: BCC/Santana & Ortiz vs. Eddie Kingston/Penta/Orange Cassidy/Best Friends

Sadly Rey Fenix wasn't able to make the trip to the UK due to visa issues, so they had to write him out of this match (via an stunning Moxley-Fenix singles bout), after which the returning Santana and Ortiz were revealed as two of BCC's mystery partners (I'm curious who the third guy was supposed to be).  I'm guessing this will be a cross between the 2020 Stadium Stampede and the two Anarchy in the Arena matches.  It won't be pretaped and they won't have an empty stadium to play in, and there will be loads of blood I'm sure, but they'll find ways to incorporate the massive venue into the fun.  Just the exchanges between Eddie and Mox, and Eddie and Claudio alone will make this worth a watch.  I assume Mox vs. Cassidy for the International Title will be set up here.  Blackpool Combat Club and friends for the win.

Pick: BCC/S&O

Chris Jericho vs. Will Ospreay

This one should be pretty epic.  The contract signing segment last night did an excellent job of making this feel important.  One of the all-time greats vs. one of the best in the world.  Any age-related limitations for Jericho should be completely hidden while he's in there with Ospreay; Will is superhuman.  I'd say Jericho has little chance of winning; it's Ospreay's time in Ospreay's home country, bruv.  

Pick: Will Ospreay

"Real" World's Championship: CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe

This struck me as a weird choice for Punk's All In match, but I'm not complaining either.  Punk vs. Joe on Collision a few weeks ago was a bit of a disappointment but clearly they were saving a lot for this match, and hopefully it comes a lot closer to their ROH trilogy from 2004.  Punk obviously isn't losing his fake title and I could see him challenging the winner of MJF-Cole for All Out, after finally getting a decisive win over Joe.  

Pick: Punk

AEW World Tag Team Championship: FTR vs. The Young Bucks

It's the two best tag teams in the world in the rubber match.  What needs to be said?  This will be an instant classic like their first two matches, will probably steal the show, and will be in everyone's year-end conversations.  I think FTR probably keeps the titles for a while longer as it seems too soon to dethrone them.  I'd probably have FTR break the longevity record set by the Bucks in 2021.

Pick: FTR retains

AEW World Championship: MJF vs. Adam Cole

Alright here's the big one.  The culmination of one of the most successful angles in AEW's short history thus far.  And in the best possible way, it's hard to say how this will turn out.  Do they keep the bromance going or does one guy turn on the other?  And if one guy turns, who's it gonna be?  As I said, I think Cole is the one to turn heel, revealing that he was just using Max this entire time so he could get a title shot and finally become the champion.  I think Roddy Strong and The Kingdom get involved and Cole at first rejects their help but ultimately makes it clear they were in cahoots all along.  You could have MJF be the one to turn and then he'd face CM Punk next week in Chicago, and while that's another long-awaited rubber match (that was originally planned for a year ago), I feel like Cole betraying Max is the much more compelling, heartbreaking story.  Max has been deserted by everyone he's ever trusted, and thus spent years pushing away everyone he cared about before they could do the same to him.  Then the first time he lets his guard down in his adult life, the friend he let in stabs him in the back and takes away the thing he cares about the most.  It's powerful stuff.  MJF as a babyface chasing the title held by the man who betrayed him is a great redemption arc.  Also think of the heat in Chicago at All Out if they book Cole vs. Punk.  Cole retains there and then Punk and MJF become allies.  MJF was betrayed by one of his idols but is befriended by the other.  As sad as it'll be to see the bromance come to an end, I feel like it has to go this way.    

Pick: Adam Cole turns heel and wins the title

Guys, this is a huge lineup and the atmosphere at Wembley will be nuclear.  I dunno how anyone is still complaining about this show.  It'll be a great one.           

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