With AEW All In 2023 just around the corner, the excitement is palpable. As an Englishman who’s been covering wrestling for over thirteen years, this event marks a personal milestone. Attending a major wrestling show has always been a dream, and now the moment is finally here. As I prepare for the journey to London, where history will unfold within the squared circle, I can’t help but share a few pre-show thoughts.
These are my personal perspectives, a mix of anticipation and prediction. Your thoughts are just as welcome, so feel free to chime in. So, let’s dive into the blend of emotions, predictions, and sheer enthusiasm as we await the historical event that is AEW All In 2023.
A month ago, I noted how AEW’s buildup for All In seemed rushed. In its early years, the promotion excelled at crafting storylines that crescendoed into satisfying PPVs.
Following the special Dynamite episode “Blood & Guts,” apart from the MJF & Adam Cole bromance, there were no clear hints. This signaled a last-minute scramble, leading to less in-ring action and more talking on AEW’s broadcasts. This shift somewhat resembled the ‘sports entertainment’ vibe, not as a comparison to WWE, but as a change from AEW’s usual pacing. The reason? A potential blend of unforeseen challenges.
Real-world issues can swiftly reshape plans. Cash Wheeler’s legal case is an example of what can happen, and Fenix’s potential visa concerns led to abrupt changes to Stadium Stampede. Injuries, including those to Bryan Danielson, Jamie Hayter, and Pac, compounded the situation. The late builds seemed rooted in practicality—Tony Khan’s caution in promising a certain card amid unpredictable hurdles.
This approach came with a cost, impacting the build’s quality. Still, AEW All In 2023 holds special allure. All of those tickets secured before match announcements, reveal a fan base invested in the brand, trusting its stars to deliver. The focus isn’t solely on storylines, but on bearing witness to history. It’s an understanding that resonates beyond booking intricacies, uniting those attending in a shared experience that promises moments many will remember for a lifetime.
Some anticipation has been building about potential surprises for the event. A significant name that’s emerged is Goldberg. Despite his age, reputation, and divided opinions among fans, his presence would likely resonate with the live crowd more than those watching remotely. If Tony Khan has negotiated his appearance, it’s probable he’d keep Goldberg’s involvement concise—a brief 5-10 minute segment where fans witness his trademark Spear & Jackhammer might suffice.
Another possibility is the debut of Mercedes Mone. Positioned just after the fatal four-way Women’s Championship match, she could step into the ring to challenge the winner, likely Saraya, at All Out. Given the event’s 11 announced matches, it’s reasonable to expect limited room for additional surprises. The emphasis lies in showcasing talents already integral to AEW programming, allowing their brilliance to shine in the years ahead.
In terms of outside celebrities, my preference leans towards moderation. While the presence of a recognizable face could spark social media chatter and generate headlines, my foremost concern is ensuring these appearances don’t divert attention from the dedicated wrestlers who’ve earned their place on this stage. Their hard work deserves the spotlight.
There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll do my best to be concise using a list format.
#1. Jack Perry (c) vs. Hook for the FTW Championship
It feels like AEW kept this open to happen at All Out in September, if there wasn’t time at All In. That’s why it got shoved in at the last second. And I’m happy they found time because these guys are exceptional at such a young age. They are the future of pro wrestling, provided they keep on improving.
Hook has an explosive moveset, while Perry knows his way around a ring. I’m not a fan of the heel turn yet, or the Tom & Jerry run around we’ve been seeing on TV, but this will suffice for those who are seated during the pre-show. It’s likely Hook will reclaim the title to prevent Perry from damaging it.
#2. Aussie Open (c) vs. Adam Cole & MJF for the ROH World Tag Team Championship
It’s an odd match because while Aussie Open is a very respectable team, they haven’t been around in AEW long enough for many to care about what they do. 95% of this hangs on what will happen to the bromance between Adam Cole & MJF ahead of their main event World title match.
Will it implode here? Is it time for one, or even both, to show their true colors? Something needs to give because if they go on and win the tag titles, then that will tie them together past All In, which means their friendship has to remain in some form beyond the World Championship encounter. They have obviously been working each other for months, and this may be the last straw. Despite this being an odd match, it is enough of a draw to encourage fans to be seated by 5pm.
#3. House Of Black (c) vs. The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn for the AEW World Trios Championship
The existing storyline makes this match viable, and I’m pleased they included it for All In. The Acclaimed are audibly pleasing, while House Of Black’s entrance is visually so. Mix that with each team having chemistry, then it’s worthy of being on the show.
Billy Gunn serves as the Attitude Era name that older, casual fans will recognize, while also hinting at this being a retirement match. If The Acclaimed win, it will be well-received, but I can’t imagine them beating House Of Black clean. There has to be an outside factor to cost them. Otherwise, this stable can’t afford to lose when it has done so well to bring prestige to the Trios titles.
#4. Darby Allin and Sting vs. Swerve Strickland and Christian Cage in a Coffin match
Man, this has been an odd storyline. First of all, Nick Wayne isn’t in the match despite it 100% revolving around him, his deceased father, and Darby Allin sticking up for his mentor. Swerve Strickland & AR Fox began this when the latter turned on his friend, but now he has been kicked out of the stable for being a failure, and Christian Cage has been shoehorned in. It isn’t a complete stretch to have Cage in this, given that Luchasaurus is scheduled to defend the TNT title against Darby at All Out, but it’s obvious that he was never meant to be a part of this.
Yet, many attending fans will welcome it because they know who Christian Cage is, unlike AR Fox who, let’s be honest, isn’t over enough to be in this spot. I feel bad for him. He was on the card for weeks, and now he isn’t. I don’t know why it changed, but I believe having Christian Cage on the show is for the best, and this was the only logical way. And I haven’t brought up Sting yet, who is there for no other reason than to back up Darby Allin as the biggest name on the show. I’m so looking forward to Sting’s entrance. I just know the stadium is going to erupt! He is high on the list of wrestlers that fans will have wanted to see when All In was announced. Sting & Darby have to win this, it’s a no-brainer.
#5. The Golden Elite vs. Bullet Gold & Konosuke Takeshita
Not the biggest fan of having Kenny Omega in a six-man tag, but the chances are they didn’t have any sufficient opponents outside of Chris Jericho or Will Ospreay. Bryan Danielson would have been an excellent choice if he wasn’t injured. Of course, a CM Punk encounter would have been epic, but it’s clear that won’t happen anytime soon. We have a mix of two of Kenny’s best tag team partners in Hangman Page & Kota Ibushi against the combination of Bullet Club Gold and Don Callis’ pet project Takeshita.
There’s no doubt it will be one hell of a match, with the only weak link I can see being Juice Robinson (he’s good, but he’s not great). Young Bucks have filled in for Kota Ibushi’s absence in the buildup. I can only assume that is because Ibushi was not happy with his Blood & Guts performance, so perhaps he took time away to get physically ready? Either way, I expect the more casual fans in the audience to be shocked by how good this match is. I’m leaning toward The Golden Elite winning.
#6. Eddie Kingston, Penta El Zero M, Orange Cassidy & Best Friends vs. The Blackpool Combat Club, Santana & Ortiz in Stadium Stampede
I was saddened to hear that Rey Fenix would not be a part of All In because of travel issues, and even more so that Pac has been ruled out with an injury (although they have yet to confirm or deny his involvement). Santana & Ortiz’s return is welcomed, but it’s tough to care about the late addition, although their previous experience in this type of match will help. The parking lot brawl that Best Friends had a few weeks ago with the BCC served as a useful trial run.
Eddie Kingston & Jon Moxley will excel as the gimmick plays to their strengths. Stadium Stampede has the potential to go all over the venue, and my hope is they find their way over to my section so I can snap some video. To anyone who has never seen a Stadium Stampede before, they should expect a fight with over-the-top violence, crazy spots, and silly props. I can only describe it as being akin to a car crash with clown music. It’s a brutally intense match with comical elements. I’d say the advantage is absolutely in the heels favour and my prediction is for them to be victorious.
#7. Chris Jericho vs. Will Ospreay
Chris Jericho and Adam Cole recently worked a disappointing match. And that’s strange, because Cole is especially notable for his work rate. During the contract signing on Dynamite, Chris Jericho shared how he feels. He said this was the most important match of his career, while insulting online critics who don’t believe he has it anymore. In a way, it could be said there is more pressure on Chris Jericho going into this, although Will Ospreay will understandably have big match nerves.
Will cares deeply about British Wrestling, and to be working in a high profile match in front of 80,000+ fans in Wembley Stadium is something he has dreamed about. I imagine this being surreal, but when he settles in, I believe he will deliver everything he can to make it a great match. However, it takes two to tango, and Jericho’s limitations will be as frustrating to him as they will be to Ospreay.
The quality of this encounter lies on Jericho’s shoulders, and rightly so, because he has been in AEW since the beginning. Would this promotion have gotten off the ground as well as it did without him? Perhaps, but having his name attached to AEW certainly helped. Much like Sting, when fans looked to buy All In tickets, several generations of wrestling fan looked at Chris Jericho as one of the top guys they wanted to see in person.
Putting the Fozzy entrance aside (it will be incredibly fun!), the main goal is to get Will Ospreay over in the best way possible. He isn’t known enough in the UK to put himself of the level of a British Bulldog or Dynamite Kid. It’s on Chris Jericho to push himself to the limit to achieve that feat.
#8. Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Saraya vs. Toni Storm vs. Britt Baker for the AEW Women’s Championship
For a few years now, one of AEW’s most glaring weaknesses is its women’s division. Even adding former WWE talent like Saraya, Toni Storm, and Ruby Soho has not done much to make strides. Jamie Hayter was seriously getting over, and she served well as the champion, but an injury ensured she wouldn’t make it to All In. So, plans changed, and this match is the best of an unfortunate situation.
Ideally, the British fans would have wanted to see Jamie Hayter defending or challenging, but instead, we have Hikaru Shida. Not a bad choice, although it seems obvious that she only beat Toni Storm so Saraya can take the title from a babyface. The title is likely to return to The Outcasts, although Britt Baker has an outside chance. I’m quietly hoping that Jamie Hayter shows up to either help or cost Baker the title (preferring the latter), just so she can enjoy a deserved moment.
Saraya has not had good performances since joining AEW, but she’s likely to have strong crowd support here. My belief is that Tony Khan will want to give Saraya this moment because she likely never expected to have one like it, especially during her retirement. Despite the result being predictable and (possibly) undeserving from a performance standpoint, Tony hopes this will inspire Saraya to elevate her performances and contribute to AEW’s growth.
#9. CM Punk (c) vs. Samoa Joe for the Real World Championship
I don’t know how to feel about this. Samoa Joe has many fans, and CM Punk is a controversial figure, so I’m expecting a mixed crowd. Much of the build has been on Collision, so if you haven’t been watching that, you won’t know what has happened. Although, to be fair, the build has not been anything spectacular. I preferred what they did in the build to their recent match in the Owen Hart Cup.
What this booking decision tells me is that CM Punk was scheduled to face someone else, like Bryan Danielson or Kazuchika Okada, or somebody else they couldn’t get for undisclosed reasons. It was easy for Tony to book Punk vs. Joe again, because it’s reliable. There is no doubt it will be an enjoyable match, but CM Punk is winning this, and there’s nothing else to it.
Another issue is the Real World Championship not being mentioned on programs other than Collision. Implications would have made this match slightly more intriguing. Like say, a tease of a unification match down the road with the winner of Adam Cole & MJF. I can’t buy this as a serious championship yet, partly because Punk hasn’t defended enough, but also because MJF has done so much in his absence. CM Punk’s claims of being the real champion are as hollow as his catchphrase “tell me when I’m telling lies.” And to put it bluntly, this title situation is a cheap rehash of what he did in ROH & WWE. He needs new material, and I say that as a CM Punk fan.
#10. FTR (c) vs. The Young Bucks for the AEW World Tag Team Championship
I would say this is a rare circumstance of where the match sells itself. It didn’t need much build because it is all about the in-ring performance. Each team has proven they can produce some of the best tag matches in pro wrestling history with different opponents, and that’s just stating facts. It pleases me that they can set aside any kind of personal grievances to see the bigger picture of performing at Wembley Stadium.
We’ll probably see the match of the night here, but I can’t bring myself to choose a winner. I have no other thoughts about this, other than I’m super happy to know I’ll personally get to see one of the best tag matches of all time. The only way that won’t happen is if one or more of them pick up early injuries, but hopefully, that won’t happen. Fingers crossed.
#11. MJF (c) vs. Adam Cole for the AEW World Championship
I love how AEW chose two guys in their primes to main event. They could have thrown in an older, more popular name, but instead, they went with MJF, who is evolving into one of the best storytellers ever. And then there’s Adam Cole, who we all know for his incredible in-ring work rate. I never imagined they would get away with a goofy bromance angle, but they have absolutely excelled, and I’m grateful for that.
I have said it so many times, but pro wrestling matches rarely sell themselves. Promotions need to give fans ample reasons to care about the talent so that when they square up in the ring, the match is already sold. You know it has worked when you can feel the buzz in the air as the introductions are made. An ovation comes over the venue as the bell sounds. A main event like this needs a good story, and MJF vs. Adam Cole has done all that it can to build anticipation.
I’m leaning more towards MJF retaining, although I wouldn’t mind Cole getting his moment. What I’m looking forward to is finding out how the relationship between them sours. I believe Adam Cole has outworked MJF in genuinely coming across as his friend, and Roderick Strong buying in to that helps. Whatever happens, and despite this being an exceedingly long show (up to 5 hours), I’m hopeful that fans have enough energy to give this main event a deserving response.
In conclusion, as AEW All In 2023 draws near, I’m both intrigued and reflective. The event’s mix of surprises and established talent captures the essence of wrestling’s unpredictability. Despite a rushed buildup and card quirks, the underlying anticipation remains strong. As the curtain rises on this gathering, it’s a reminder that wrestling, like life, brings unexpected turns.
Challenges have shaped this year’s All In into something unique. It’s a testament to AEW’s resilience and fans’ investment in its journey. While specifics are uncertain, the event will surely create lasting memories. The shared experience of witnessing history is what truly matters. So, as we step into Wembley Stadium, let’s embrace the curiosity, anticipation, and appreciation that define this chapter in All Elite Wrestling. I’ll never forget this. Thanks for reading.
Note: I recently made a guide to help those attending the event. You can find it at the following link. Also, watch out for another post next week sharing my photos, videos, and experience of the event.