All Out recap & reactions: Punk/MJF feud reignites

AEW All Out (Sep. 4, 2022) emanated from Now Arena in Hoffman Estates, IL. The PPV event featured CM Punk battling Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship, the shocking return of MJF, and so much more for the 15-match card.

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

We’ll start with the PPV opener then hit the main event. If you saw the show, then you know why. If not, then buckle in.

Casino Ladder Match won by the Joker. Who was the Joker? Well, we didn’t know yet. Other participants included Wheeler Yuta, Fenix, Rush, Andrade, Claudio Castagnoli, Dante Martin, and Pentagon. Entrances were staggered with a countdown clock. Winner earns a world title shot. With only the Joker remaining to enter, masked goons rushed the ring and took down the poker chip of victory. It was revealed to be Stokely Hathaway leading W. Morrissey, Ethan Page, Lee Moriarty, and the Gunn sons. Once the Joker arrived, Hathaway handed over the chip. The Joker teased a reveal then didn’t follow through to show his face.

As a TV angle, the ladder match finish was great. How can anyone not be intrigued by finding out the Joker’s identity? Hints are The Rolling Stones’, “Sympathy for the Devil,” as the entrance tune and a charismatic strut. He has a medium build compared to the AEW roster. As a PPV match finish, it was steaming shit. It felt like a cheap sleight of hand and completely overshadowed all the hard bumps the other wrestlers took. There weren’t even any genuine dramatic moments of almost reaching the prize. As for the men actually competing, Martin was the one that jumps out as the coolest in the match with nifty springboard leaps.

Fast forward to the main event, and the Joker business will all make sense.

AEW World Championship: CM Punk defeated Jon Moxley to win the title. Punk tested his foot early with a high kick landing clean. No injury issues there. Punk rushed in for running knees in the corner. Hammering elbows led to a GTS within the first few minutes of action. 1, 2, Moxley kicked out and rolled outside for a breather. Moxley turned the tide brawling on the floor by shoving Punk into the ring post. Let there be blood! Mox went to work on Punk’s head wound like a shark to chum. Moxley dished out punishment to Punk.

Mox attacked the foot with submissions and executed a piledriver. This was Punk’s moment to test his Chicago Made attitude with the fans rallying behind him. Punk kicked out to continue the fight.

Punk rallied by attacking Moxley’s shoulder. He gained momentum to kick Mox’s head in. Anaconda Vice cinched tight. Moxley escaped by biting Punk’s forehead. Punk had momentum on his side once again for a flying elbow drop, but Mox caught him for a chokehold. After submission transitions, Punk landed another head kick. Mox fired back with a lariat. Both men were down.

Moxley and Punk were back on their feet duking it out in the center of the ring. Punk hit a neckbreaker and went for the GTS. Mox escaped to counter for a Death Rider DDT. 1, 2, Punk kicked out. The Chicago crowd exploded with hope for their hometown hero. Moxley went to the bulldog choke. Punk was able to rise for a GTS lift, however, Moxley escaped. They did the dance of counters then Mox walked right into a GTS. Success! Moxley was knocked silly falling over Punk’s hunched shoulders.

Punk mustered his might for one more GTS. Boom. That was the finish. Punk is a two-time AEW world champion.

Very good match. The odd story heading in did do damage, but Moxley and Punk worked around it well enough to cover the holes during their fight in the ring. Punk hitting multiple high kicks throughout was a message that he was recovered enough not to repeat the same outcome in a similar manner. The aggression felt real and intensified toward the finish. Moxley’s style was an efficient setup for Punk to make the babyface comeback. Make no mistake. He most certainly was the babyface in front of the Chicago crowd.

The show did not end there.

MJF returns! The lights turned out during Punk’s celebration. An audio recording of Tony Khan played to share a phone message of his offer to MJF. Khan stated that MJF’s absence was hurting business and hurting the fans. As an olive branch final offer, Khan agreed to pay a higher salary without an extension if MJF showed up at All Out for the Casino Ladder Match. The masked Joker appeared on screen to reveal himself as MJF.

MJF walked out on stage. Punk called him down to the ring to have the title match now. MJF backed off to do things on his own time. That’s how the PPV closed.

Whoa! That is definitely a moment for Jim Ross to scream that business has picked up. AEW has dealt with a lot of injuries that most likely altered story timelines. Giving AEW the benefit of the doubt, I’d guess that is why the main event feud between Punk and Moxley felt so rushed and awkward. That was just a placeholder to kick into MJF’s return. The Khan message answers questions about how MJF could return in a high-profile manner right into the world title picture. The story wasn’t perfect, but it gets us there to the point of eager anticipation. Gear up for the road ahead, because it should be a bumpy ride in all the best ways.

Running down the rest of the card from top to bottom.

Sting, Darby Allin, & Miro defeated House of Black. Julia Hart was ringside. This was Sting’s show. He cleaned house on the hot tag then requested to engage with Malakai Black. Fisticuffs erupted. Sting got the upper hand for a Scorpion Deathlock. Brody King and Buddy Matthews each blasted Sting, but he wouldn’t release the submission. A few more boots knocked Sting off balance for Black to counter for a kneebar. The match progressed with another dance between Sting and Black. Black went for a spinning head kick, but Sting spit mist in his face. Allin swooped in for the Last Supper pin.

It’s Sting! The Icon keeps his streak with hot matches. Stinger mist was an awesome swerve. Everyone else did their job too to entertain. This match was good placement to pick up the energy again for the main event. Seeing Sting as a supernatural presence puts smiles on faces.

Chris Jericho defeated Bryan Danielson. The story was Lionheart versus American Dragon. The focus was intense technical wrestling. Peak drama occurred when Danielson had Jericho trapped in the Cattle Mutilation submission.

Jericho rolled it over, so Danielson transitioned to hammering elbows and back to the Cattle Mutilation. That looked like the end, however, Jericho inched toward the rope with his foot for the break. The closing sequence arose with more hammering elbows. Jericho was able to get to his feet still engaged with Danielson. Jericho moved toward the corner trapping the referee. Jericho struck with a mule kick out of the referee’s line of vision. Judas Effect clobbered Danielson for victory.

The Jericho Appreciation Society celebrated with their leader. All except for Daniel Garcia. He was watching backstage on a monitor and shook his head like a conflicted sad boy about the finish. Later, Jericho approached Garcia. The sad boy was sad about Jericho cheating to win. His mentor let him down. Jericho responded that Garcia let him down as well by his lack of support. For Garcia’s ROH Pure title match against Wheeler Yuta on Dynamite, Jericho pulled JAS support for Garcia. Jericho believes Garcia will win, but he’ll have to do it alone. Garcia was worried about the lack of help. Jericho reconfirmed his confidence and wished Garcia good luck.

Very slick match with the submissions, escapes, and transitions. Lionheart is a true attraction of both sports entertainment and professional wrestling. Jericho as the winner was a surprise in a good way. He keeps his status high for eventual losses to put someone over and retains the aura of the Lionheart persona. Time for Jericho to be proactive and dump Garcia from the group. This win is what JAS is all about. Garcia clearly is not in tune with it anymore. No sense in carrying dead weight. That backstage segment made Garcia look even worse by holding Jericho to a double standard and lacking confidence in his own abilities.

Christian Cage defeated Jungle Boy. Christian entered with his elbow in a brace. JB’s mother and sister were in the front row. Mama Perry slapped Christian. As Jungle Boy made his way on stage, Luchasaurus ambushed him with a chokeslam. The dino carried JB’s body to the ring and slammed him through a table at the orders of Christian. Jungle Boy struggled to rise for the match to begin. Once it did, Christian hit a spear and Killswitch for the squash win.

Well, that sucked. Acceptable angle for TV. Crap for PPV. In my opinion, this was the best story on the card coming into the show, and AEW didn’t pay it off at all. Luchasaurus is approaching burial territory through too may turns. Although, I guess it doesn’t matter much, since he has a low ceiling for singles stardom.

AEW Interim Women’s World Championship: Toni Storm defeated Hikaru Shida, Jamie Hayter, and Dr. Britt Baker DMD. Thunder Rosa was unable to defend due to injury, thus the interim bout. Rebel was ringside for Baker. The match began as a free-for-all, then Baker and Hayer teamed up to thin the herd. A curb stomp to Shida on the ramp put her out of commission for a bit when medical personnel escorted her to the back. Shida returned with two kendo sticks to clean house on Baker and Hayter. The flow proceeded with super moves and close saves. Baker hit another curb stomp to Shida. Storm ejected Baker from the ring, and Hayter did the same to Storm. Hayter connected on a ripcord lariat to Shida. 1, 2, Baker pulled the referee out of the ring to rob her friend. Storm rallied amidst the arguing for a piledriver on Hayter. Baker dumped Storm through the ropes in an effort to steal the pin on Hayter. 1, 2, Hayter kicked out. Storm returned for a DDT to Baker and a DDT to Hayter for the win.

Entertaining activity throughout the bout. It felt like anybody could be the winner at any time. All four women had memorable moments. Shida had kendo stick revenge, Hayter had glory stolen from her, Baker committed selfish treachery, and Storm won the title. AEW needs to pull the trigger on the breakup of Baker and Hayter after that. The iron is hot for Baker to put over Hayter to make a new star.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: Swerve Strickland & Keith Lee retained against The Acclaimed. Billy Gunn was ringside for the challengers. The story was Anthony Bowens injuring his knee. That affected his performance to a degree and also provided a clear target to attack. Caster was taken out by Swerve with a DVD on the apron. Bowens fought with heart, but he couldn’t handle the load. Lee and Strickland finished with their meteora powerbomb teamwork maneuver. Afterward, Lee requested a scissoring from Billy. Billy obliged out of respect, the Acclaimed declined, and Swerve appeared annoyed at Lee’s sportsmanship.

The Acclaimed have arrived. This match showed that they can be superstars. The crowd reaction was off the charts in their favor. Caster blew the roof into smithereens with an impressive fireman’s carry lift on Lee for a DVD. The Mic Drop finisher combo on Swerve had the crowd at peak excitement. When Lee broke the cover, chants of bullshit rained down. It’s funny how silly things like a scissor party can be the catapult toward greatness. The teamwork from Lee and Swerve was on point. I’d put their work up against any tag team on the roster right now.

Will Hobbs defeated Ricky Starks. Hobbs used his power for control and focused his attacks on the neck. Starks had fire in his belly, but it wasn’t enough. Starks ran the ropes, possibly with intentions for a spear, but he ran into a heavy-duty spinebuster from Hobbs to finish.

Good grudge match vibes from Starks. For Hobbs, it was like another day in the office. I’m surprised this match was on the shorter side. I don’t think they got enough time to raise their star profiles in this PPV appearance.

Wardlow & FTR defeated Jay Lethal & Motor City Machine Guns. Sonjay Dutt and Satnam Singh were ringside. The finish came down to Wardlow and Lethal after FTR cleared the ring of MCMG. Headbutt, wind-up lariat, and four powerbombs earned Wardlow the pin on Lethal. After the match, Samoa Joe returned to even the odds, and Dax Harwood’s daughter broke Dutt’s pencil.

It’s time for Wardlow to move on from this feud. He pinned Lethal emphatically. Even though it was trios action, I don’t there is anything AEW can do at this point to make me believe Lethal stands a chance. The exchanges between FTR and MCMG built the desire to see them square off in a standard tag team duel. The return of Joe is a nice treat, and the moment for Harwood’s daughter was sweet.

TBS Championship: Jade Cargill retained against Athena. Athena hit a flying stunner early, but Jade kicked out. The Baddies caused distractions often to help Jade recover. On a springboard jump from Athena, Jade pump kicked her out of the air. That led to Jaded for the win. Jade is now 37-0.

This was a sprint of action. Athena’s intensity was tremendous. Athena likely would have won on an even playing field, however, it is tough to say that with certainty since Jade kicked out of enough moves on her own accord showing her championship mettle.

AEW World Trios Championship: Kenny Omega & Young Bucks defeated Hangman Page, John Silver, & Alex Reynolds to become inaugural titleholders. Non-stop action with a thrilling flow. The nearfalls were electric. Silver had me believing on both his roll-ups on Omega, especially the One Winged Angel counter. In the end, Hangman will take the blame for defeat. Silver had a waistlock on Omega for a German suplex. Hangman launched for the Buckshot Lariat. Omega wriggled free, and Hangman flattened Silver. Omega made the pin to win.

The action rocked, but the selling point was Hangman’s interactions with the Elite. His clash with Omega with played perfectly to set up the crowd to erupt. When they were rearing to square off, the referee forced them out as illegal men. Hangman and Omega solved the issue by dragging their limp partners to the corner for tags. The crowd popped hard for the fisticuffs that followed.

Speaking of Hangman, I’m really disappointed in his attitude. So much so that I’m close to jumping off the cowboy train. It’s like he’s a glutton for emotional strife. For example, Matt Jackson spit in Alex Reynolds’ face. When Reynolds and John Silver were stomping Matt’s tender back, Hangman sided with protecting Matt and chastising the Dark Order. It happened again when they were working Omega’s shoulder as Hangman protected Omega. This conflicted emotional shtick has been going on for three years, if not longer before AEW. It’s like he’s a slave to the drama to his own detriment. Get over it, and move on. From a story perspective, I’m starting to believe Hangman is not cut out emotionally to be a top guy in the business.

The free pre-show had four bouts.

Eddie Kingston defeated Tomohiro Ishii. Wild chopfest throughout. I didn’t count, but it wouldn’t surprise me if over 100 chops were thrown during the contest. There were some wrestling moves in there too. In the end, Kingston connected on a spinning backfist. Ishii kicked out. Kingston landed a second spinning backfist. Ishii didn’t go down, so Kingston forced him down on a Northern Lights bomb to win.

Damn! That was the definition of a slugfest. It was the kind of match that demands and deserves time off to recover. Kingston tried to show respect after his win, but Ishii wasn’t interested in palling around. Perhaps it was the heat of competition or maybe Ishii didn’t appreciate a few of Kingston’s mocking taunts. Whatever the case, bring on the rematch. The personal series stands at 1-1. Time to find out who is best.

AEW All-Atlantic Championship: PAC retained against Kip Sabian. Sabian used tricky tactics, but he got pummeled whenever stepping toe-to-toe with the Bastard. Sabian scored a run of offensive maneuvers and couldn’t keep PAC down. Sabin then spoke to his box, as if having a conversation only he can hear. When Sabin went for a finisher, PAC escaped and violently stomped his head in. Black Arrow sealed the deal.

Orange Cassidy interrupted PAC’s interview. PAC declined any notion of OC as a challenger. Later, Best Friends versus Death Triangle was booked for Dynamite.

PAC lived up to his nickname as the Bastard. He was mean and ornery. I was curious how this new identity for Sabian would be represented. It seems to be more character work than a boost in winning ability. Sabian is clearly a mid-card act for now. We’ll see if his box elevates him as an engaging gimmick.

FTW Championship: Hook retained against “Cool Hand” Angelo Parker. Daddy Magic was ringside to provide interference. Cool Hand gave Hook his toughest test to date. Hook rallied with suplexes. He escaped a brainbuster to cinch tight the Redrum submission for victory. Afterward, Daddy Magic blindsided Hook. Action Bronson was in the front row and rushed the ring to help Hook. Bronson tossed Daddy Magic and Cool Hand to clear the ring.

The result played out as expected with Hook doing Hook stuff to win. The unexpected was involvement from Action Bronson. That was a cool surprise. If AEW can score Bronson for a tag bout against Daddy Magic and Cool Hand, then I’d definitely be interested in watching.

AAA Mixed Tag Team Championship: Sammy Guevara & Tay Melo retained against Ortiz & Ruby Soho. The challengers interrupted the champions’ kissing interview to run over Sammy with a cart. Soho added a trashcan smash to Tay’s head. The mixed tag rules were loosely enforced, pretty much for tags only and there weren’t many of those. Cool moves included a teamwork pop-up Canadian Destroyer from Tay to Ortiz, Soho with a flying missile dropkick to Tay and landing a senton on Sammy in the same motion, and Tay with a superplex onto the pile outside. In the end, Anna Jay lent a helping hand by hooking Soho’s foot while running the ropes. Tay pounced for a powerbomb into the turnbuckles then a Tay-KO for the win. Sammy held Ortiz back to prevent a break.

High energy, chaotic action for the opener to get in the mood. The match had callbacks to the previous two finishes in the series with Ortiz and Soho being too savvy to fall for the same tricks twice. All four share great chemistry as teammates and opponents. Even though three matches in ten days gave me my fill to satisfaction, I wouldn’t mind seeing round four down the line after a breather.

Studs of the Show: The Acclaimed

This felt like a breakthrough performance for Max Caster and Anthony Bowens.

Match of the Night: Chris Jericho vs. Bryan Danielson

The Lionheart versus American Dragon style was right up my alley. The creative finish to surprise was icing on the cake.

Grade: B

AEW has a very high standard for past PPVs. All Out didn’t live up to that mark. It was an enjoyable show overall and produced a big bang in the end. However, AEW needs to refocus on PPVs being must-see up and down the card. There is often a sense of finality lacking in the feuds. Of the eleven PPV bouts, I’d say the Trios Championship, Tag Team Championship, Women’s Championship, Jericho versus Danielson, Sting, and the World Championship earned the value of the PPV price. That’s not enough to earn an A for such a long show.

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