AEW’s All Out pay-per-view featured big moments, along with several huge debuts, and here’s what it could all mean for the wrestling promotion which is currently enjoying a hot streak. All Out, in general, has been regarded as AEW’s most pivotal event of the year since the company launched in 2019. However, the pay-per-view had an added significance this year. It included CM Punk’s first wrestling match since his WWE exit in 2014. The event, which took place at the Now Arena in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois, is also the first AEW pay-per-view held outside of Jacksonville, Florida since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As soon as the show got underway, it was clear that AEW was planning to deliver an unforgettable night. In the opening bout, Miro defeated Eddie Kingston to retain his AEW TNT Championship. Soon after, Japanese wrestling legend Minoru Suzuki made a surprise appearance to stare down Jon Moxley, setting up a match that will happen on the September 8th edition of AEW Dynamite, and Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. once again was able to keep the AEW Women’s World Championship, despite the valiant efforts of her opponent Kris Statlander.
But on a busy All Out, which featured the shocking debuts of Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, and others, here are the biggest storylines that were set up by the end of the PPV, and what they could mean for AEW going forward.
Despite the high-profile debuts and the long-awaited return of CM Punk, the most talked about match of AEW All Out might just be the steel cage between Matt and Nick Jackson (The Young Bucks) and The Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fénix). With their AEW World Tag Team Championships up for grabs, the Bucks fought dirty in an attempt to retain. One particularly nasty and prolonged sequence in the cage match, where anything goes, involved a row of thumbtacks attached to the bottom of Matt Jackson’s shoe. The match got bloody and hectic, with all four opponents showing their scars, before it was over.
But in the end, with no outside interference to rescue them, the Bucks lost and the Lucha Bros won. This effectively ends the stranglehold that the Bucks maintained over AEW’s tag division for more than 300 days, with the duo frequently finding underhanded paths to victory. The result is good news for fans, many of whom have argued that the division became too reliant on the dominant of the Young Bucks to the detriment of other capable teams. Moving forward, now that they’ve vanquished their longtime rivals, Lucha Bros can mix it up with the likes of Jurassic Express, The Dark Order, The Best Friends, Proud ’N’ Powerful, FTR, Varsity Blondes, The Acclaimed, and others. It demonstrates that one of the key differences between AEW and WWE is that the former has a robust and thriving tag division, stacked to the brim with distinct teams.
After submitting Kris Statlander to retain her AEW Women’s World Championship, Britt Baker waited for the reveal of her next opponent. In the end, after eliminating Thunder Rosa in the night’s Casino Battle Royale, the debuting Ruby Soho won the chance to face Baker in the future. Soho, known for her time in WWE under the name Ruby Riott, is a talented acquisition for AEW. She has a unique look, a charisma that’s all her own, and the ability to excel in the ring. Unlike other hires, such as CM Punk and Bryan Danielson, Soho was never given a massive spotlight in WWE. Though she was featured fairly regularly at times, it was often in a supporting capacity. Her arrival to AEW allows Soho to potentially chart her own path. And, if handled well, Soho’s rivalry with Baker could potentially give AEW’s women’s division a heated blood feud. Though hints have been offered, AEW’s women have largely not been given the same kind of intense rivalries that their male counterparts have enjoyed.
One of the most heavily promoted contests at All Out was a rematch, of sorts, between Chris Jericho and Maxwell Jacob Friedman. The rivals, who have been feuding for several months now, had recently met up during a match on AEW Dynamite. Friedman, often referred to by the initials of MJF, tapped Jericho out. Desperate to avenge his loss, Jericho challenged MJF to one final match. The stipulation was that if MJF won, Jericho would have to retire from in-ring competition in AEW.
After a back-and-forth bout that lasted over 20 minutes, MJF submitted to the Walls of Jericho. The loss is significant for MJF, one of AEW’s top young talents, even though he has three separate wins over Jericho. Prior to his defeat at All Out, MJF had a fairly impressive record of wins in the promotion. His latest loss tarnishes that to a degree. The egotistical wrestler still has plenty to complain about. He could, for example, claim that he was blindsided by the decision of the referees to restart the match. And he could always boast that he has several victories over Jericho nonetheless. But still. For the relatively rare young and brash wrestler who has been able to back up his trash talk with an impressive resume, it will be interesting to see where MJF goes next. Will he go after CM Punk, who is currently without a feud, or will he potentially cut ties with Wardlow? Animosity has been teased again and again between MJF and his henchman. After this latest defeat, it’s possible that MJF could lash out at those closest to him.
After weeks of anticipation, and many more weeks of speculation, Punk defeated Darby Allin in his first wrestling match in well over 7 years. The bout lasted over 15 minutes, with the Chicago crowd solidly in favor of their hometown hero Punk. Although, in a testament to his popularity, Allin also got some support. Well before his AEW debut, Punk shared a small list of wrestlers he hoped to face in the promotion. He mentioned on Twitter, in response to a fan question, that he wanted to face Jungle Boy, Ricky Starks, Will Hobbs, Brian Pillman Jr, and Allin. Now that the latter option is out of the way, Punk is free to face down other rivals. For those hoping that Punk’s character takes a villainous turn, arguing that he’s well-suited to the role, it seems that he’ll continue playing the good guy for now. The match ended with Punk and Allin shaking hands in an emotional moment.
After defeating Christian Cage to retain his AEW World Championship, Kenny Omega celebrated with his friends in The Elite. Don Callis, The Young Bucks, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, and others all came out to join Omega in the ring. Not content simply to goat however, The Elite continued their attack on Christian Cage after the match had ended. A rescue attempt by Jungle Boy and Luchasarsus was thwarted, and there looked to be no hope.
The crowd was momentarily fooled by the arrival of Adam Cole, fresh off his dominating run in WWE’s NXT brand, but Cole made his entrance through the tunnel typically reserved for AEW’s villains. As if that wasn’t enough of a hint about his intentions, Cole quickly hit Jungle Boy with a massive superkick and officially aligned with his old pals in The Elite. Although they’ve fought in the past, as part of other promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling, Omega and The Bucks seem to be very much on the same page with Cole in AEW. In effect, this gives The Elite another leader if Omega takes some time off to heal nagging injuries in the future. It also makes longtime fans wonder: How long before Cole and Omega start fighting again, with The Bucks caught in the middle?
Cole’s joy, after superkicking Jungle Boy, was cut short by the debut of Bryan Danielson. Although his arrival to AEW has been forecasted and seemingly confirmed for weeks, Bryan’s entrance still drew a rapturous reaction from the elated crowd. Walking out to a remixed version of Ride of the Valkyries, Bryan made easy work of The Elite and Adam Cole. Sending the fans home with a smile, Bryan stood tall with Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Cage to end All Out.
Bryan, who explained in a post-PPV press conference that he amicably left WWE partly because he wanted to wrestle AEW’s roster, has a bevy of options ahead of him. In fact, Bryan hasn’t wrestled too many of the wrestlers signed to his new company. But for the moment, Bryan looks to be tied up with The Elite and Cole. Still, it’s important to note that Jungle Boy was present in the closing moments of All Out. The son of the late actor Luke Perry is one of the promotion’s top young prospects. His presence demonstrates that even with the arrival of established names like Cole, Punk, and Danielson, AEW isn’t forgetting the stars they’ve built over the past few years.