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All In Wrestling: a sell out show

Tristan Bartolomucci

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“I’m All In!” This is a phrase that has been associated with a big play in poker for decades, but now being All In is a movement. On Saturday, September 1st, three men proved that independent wrestling is a thriving business. A show that some believed to be impossible, became the biggest indy wrestling show of all time.

On May 16, 2017, a fan tweeted Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter if he thought Ring of Honor could sell out a 10,000-seat arena? His response was, “not any time soon.” Cody Runnels f.k.a. Cody Rhodes, took a certain level of offense to Meltzer’s tweet and the gears began turnings. Cody along with Matt and Nick Jackson (The Youngbucks) decided they were going to prove all the doubters wrong and self-finance a show. With the help of their friends and Bullet Club faction members Kenny Omega, Adam Page, and Marty Scurll; they set out to prove that not only was it possible sell out an arena of that size, but that they could do it their way.

After getting the thumbs up from both Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling to use men from their rosters and appear on television, the trio had to find a date to run their show. After laying out the calendars for each company the realized the only day they could have this show was going to be the first of September. This date came with its own problems. Labor Day weekend is routinely a difficult weekend for wrestling promotions to run shows because of the difficult travel and other family events. This would also be the weekend of World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) second biggest show of the year, Summerslam. By running on Saturday, All In would be competing with NXT Takeover, WWE’s developmental brand. Many fans consider the NXT product to be one of the most entertaining products in all of wrestling, and some would consider running head to head would be a mistake.

Despite the seemingly uphill battle, Cody and the Bucks got to work. They invited some of the biggest names on the independent scene to be a part of All In. Wrestlers from all across the globe were soon being announced for the show. Japanese superstars Kota Ibushi and Kazuchika Okada, Mexican high fliers Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix, and even Pittsburgh’s very own Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D were tweeting out saying they were “All In.”

The biggest announcement came in the form of WWE legend Rey Mysterio Jr. Rey had recently appeared at WWE’s “Greatest Royal Rumble” in Saudi Arabia and was believed to be signing a new contract with the wrestling superpower. The surprise of Mysterio’s announcement gave instant credibility to All In and an increase sense of star power.

Once stars began announcing themselves, Matt and Nick started using their popular YouTube series “Being the Elite” to promote the show and develop storylines. This style of promotion is what ultimately makes All In so unique. Solely using social media to promote a show with the intention of selling 10,000 tickets seemed impossible, but that’s exactly what they did. Even using the platform to announce they would be holding the even in Chicago at the Sears Center.

Tickets went on sale on May 13, 2018, and completely sold out in 29 minutes. Which means these men managed to sell out a 10,000 seat arena by ignoring a majority of promotion tricks. They had no presale, no match card, began selling on a Sunday, and gave no incentive to attend this show. The only promise they made, was this would be an experience that would change wrestling forever.

After the overwhelming success of the ticket sells, the men hit the ground running with creative ideas. Using comedy to carry stories such as making a mockery of Marty Scurll for his size and Adam Page killing another wrestler, they set match announcements in motion. Cody entered a story line with indy darling Flip Gordon all about making Flip earn a spot on All In, which led Gordon to winning a last minute battle royal the afternoon of the event to earn a Title match with Ring of Honor Champion Jay Lethal.

With the successful ticket sells, Cody and the Bucks decided to seek distribution options. Ultimately they received consent for pay-per-view as well as airing a pre show on WGN America. The pay-per-view buy rate won’t be available for some time, but the pre show on WGN had 196,000 views. Being that this airing took place outside of prime time hours on a Saturday, these numbers are amazing.

The final attendance numbers for the show came back with a staggering 11,263 patrons in the building. With this level of success, it is safe to say that professional wrestling is in fact a major market. The fear that wrestling is at an all time low in popularity, has officially been snubbed out. Wrestling is a legitimate option for making a living, and these men are paving the way. Will this be the first and only All In, simply a movement with success? Or will the be the beginning of the independent wrestling empire? Time will tell, but the future of professional wrestling has a bright future.

 

All In Match Star Rating

-Over the Budget Battle Royal

Flip Gordon won in 17 minutes 6 seconds (4 stars)

-The Briscoe Brothers vs. SoCal Uncensored for Ring of Honor Tag Team Championships

SoCal Uncensored defeated The Briscoe Brothers in 12 minutes 33 seconds (3.75)

-Matt Cross vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman

Cross defeated MJF in 9 minutes 23 seconds (2.75 stars)

-Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell

Daniels defeated Amell in 12 minutes 30 seconds (2.75 stars)

-Tessa Blanchard vs. Chelsea Green vs. Madison Rayne vs. Britt Baker

Blanchard won in 12 minutes 41 seconds (3.25 stars)

-Cody vs. Nick Aldis for NWA Heavyweight Championship

Cody defeated Aldis in 22 minutes 1 second (4 stars)

-Hangman Page vs. Joey Janela in Chicago Street Fight

Hangman defeated Janela in 20 minutes 8 seconds (4.25 stars)

-Lethal vs. Gordon for Ring of Honor World Championship

Jay Lethal defeated Flip Gordon in 14 minutes 21 seconds (3.5 stars)

-Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

Omega defeated Pentagon Jr. in 17 minutes 47 seconds (4.5 stars)

-Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

Okada Defeated Scurll in 26 minutes 5 seconds (4.25 stars)

-The Golden Elite (Youngbucks/Kota) vs. Rey Fenix, Bandido, and Rey Mysterio Jr.

The Golden Elite defeated Fenix, Bandido, and Mysterio in 11 minutes 48 seconds (4.5 stars)

 

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All In Wrestling: a sell out show