All In & Shawn Michaels

It has been over one week since the inaugural All In Pay Per View, and it has allowed some time for me to digest what exactly happened that night in Chicago. Though we may have to wait a while, at least until April, to see exactly what this means in the long run, one thing immediately comes to my mind about the event, and that is that nothing beats hard work in this day and age of wrestling. You can have the greatest body, you can have the flashiest moves, but if you aren’t willing to put the work in and chase your passion, people are going to notice and you are going to be left behind. Where the Young Bucks, Cody, and Kenny Omega are heading is leaving everybody else in the wrestling world in the dust, and we haven’t seen superstars the likes of this in about twenty years.

Should it be celebrated? I think so. It took a lot of guts and know how to pull off an event of this magnitude. While the biggest gripe from the show was the wrestlers following time cues and missing their mark, you can’t really blame the producers when only one match went over on time as extreme as Scurll and Okada. Everything else seemed to run beautifully, even able to get the show off the air with only seconds left was really crazy. It reminded me of Barely Legal, and watching that on Pay Per View back when I was a kid, and feeling pretty similar watching this event. It was a product of love and passion, not just for wrestling, but for the fans, particularly the fans who watched a bit more hardcore wrestling than your average WWE follower.

The work rate delivered. Every match seemed to draw the most out of every competitor. Even though it probably didn’t stack up match quality wise with this past year’s G-1 shows, there still were multiple matches you should go out of your way to see. All three main events were can’t miss matches.

But this event wasn’t solely about good wrestling. A lot of what we saw was the culmination of months worth of Being the Elites off YouTube. The Bucks have really created their own brand off of their social media and their merchandise. They are going to roll that together with their wrestling skills come contract time and get a fat payday,

And that is really where this story will get interesting. If you don’t think this didn’t show up on the WWE’s radar, you are mistaken. Word is that the front office at WWE already requested that Mysterio not perform in the main event before he heads back to New York. It also has got to drive them crazy that Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling will be holding an event inside Madison Square Garden, and it is totally in their wheelhouse to try and spoil the big day come next April. I’m sure money isn’t the most important thing for guys like Omega, Cody, and the Bucks, but when someone throws a contract at you in millions guaranteed, and you have been hustling merch tables for the past decade, it will definitely make you rethink your stance on where you’ll be wrestling. I think it would be naive to believe otherwise. Vince has always had the ability to promise life-changing money. Now he has the ability to throw life-changing money at anyone and everyone. While it may not translate to everyone jumping onboard, this is the WWE we are talking about, and eventually, most of the top wrestlers in the world end up there for a nice payday at the end of their run.

A couple more thoughts before we wrap up: I was happy to see MJF opening the card with Matt Cross. While it probably could have been scrapped, I thought it was a nice nod to MJF for being one of the next top indy workers you’ll be seeing a lot of. He already wrestles in a lot of different places, and his look, character, and charisma will take him far. Amell did really good, again, but still looked a little green and awkward at times. No fault though. He actually had the best celebrity match I have seen, and reportedly that was his goal. Blanchard came off as spectacular. How you aren’t seeing her in NXT right now is beyond me. I would have figured she would be a shoe in for the May Young Classic at the very least, yet she is still on the indies tearing down houses and will be featured in the next incarnation of GLOW being taped later this year. The NWA Heavyweight Championship match felt like a big fight the entire time it was going on. That speaks volumes to how the match was promoted and presented. That belt hasn’t really meant anything in a very long time, going back really more than twenty years, and the energy of the arena made it feel like it was 1984. Janela and Page really delivered, and Penelope Ford came across like a star. I don’t feel a need to comment on the main events. Those just have to be seen for themselves, although I will say that the Penta vs. Omega match was my favorite out of the group.

Additional thoughts: where do we go from here? Is the ultimate goal to just run random big arenas and hope that someone of note takes notice? Or is this only an annual thing, sort of like an independent version of Wrestlemania every year? I don’t even think these guys know, but I know they are excited for where things may be taken going forward. A lot has to be factored going forward, such as a new venue, how to maximize profits this time, rather than just being able to pull it off, and also a goal to achieve if they hit their marks like they did this time.

 

***

 

Shawn Michaels made some rumblings this past week when speculation began to run rampant as to if he is returning to wrestling later this year, quite possibly in Saudi Arabia and against The Undertaker this November. While the understanding has always been that Michaels retirement was always going to be a sure thing and he had no interest in wrestling again, this is professional wrestling, and no retirement is ever regarded that sacred. The nature of the business is a work, and when that is the case and there is money on the table, it is hard to continually say no over and over again.

When Michaels came out on Raw he did so to help promote the HHH vs. Undertaker match coming up in Australia, being billed as the last time the two will face off ever against one another. While the majority of WWE Legends have sided with Taker, Shawn said he was surprised that more people weren’t picking his former Degeneration-X partner to win, noting that he felt HHH had more left in the tank. The Undertaker then proceeded to come out, saying that he beat both Michaels and Hunter at Wrestlemania, also insulting Michaels in the process by claiming he was scared to face him again. What this did was set up a return match eight years in the making, pitting Shawn against the man who retired him. While this match may have been impossible to have until recently, the amount of money and investment that is going into the Saudi Arabia shows is huge, and cannot be downplayed, especially considering the Prince’s affinity for nostalgia acts. Reportedly he had requested for his shows “the guy with the crown”, “the guy with the cowboy hat”, Ultimate Warrior, Yokozuna, and the Undertaker. Shawm Michaels definitely falls into that category of being a worker during that timeframe.

I know some fans are probably soured on this idea. Especially after eight years of Michaels sticking to his promise of wanting to stay retired and not wanting to be like other wrestlers before him, noting that it would diminish how he went out, this is pro wrestling. Everyone from Terry Funk to Bret Hart has come out of retirement in some shape or form. It just seems to be the nature of the business at times, especially if there is a demand for it, and with Shawn being in as good of shape as he is at his age, and also not having to deal with an insane travel schedule, just a one-off match on the WWE Network, it does seem like the ideal time to capitalize on the moment while he can. Shawn Michaels isn’t like other characters in wrestling. What got him over was ultimately his work inside the ropes, and if he does come back, they have to be sure to protect that. Keeping that in mind, this match can’t take place any further down the road if that is going to happen. We don’t even know if those eight years off has done anything negative towards his in-ring ability, although we are talking about one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. Chances are the muscle memory is still there, but older bodies break down easily. I think we should all look at a guy like Sting as an example. He wanted to go in there and have the best possible match he could against Seth Rollins, and the result was an injured neck and the end of his comeback run.

One point of conflict that has me going back and forth regarding the return would be if you go ahead and go with what makes sense storyline wise, which would be a match against Taker, you are possibly missing out on an even bigger match that could help get one of the younger talents over. I’d much rather see Michaels facing off against Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, or even AJ Styles, rather than seeing him face off against the Undertaker one more time. I understand there are certain politics to get around, and in the wrestling sense, matching up with the guy who retired you is probably the best solution, but I still think you put over the younger guy. The problem with that is WWE has a horrible track record when it comes to handing down the torch like that.

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The Wrestling Pirate

I swashbuckle the seven seas on my quest to find amazing wrestling.

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