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All In: Independent Pro-Wrestling I Didn’t Know We Needed

I used to love the WWE. I watched it every RAW Monday and Smackdown! Friday with my older sister. I was that kid who always sported Jeff Hardy’s merch (arm bands and all) and got in trouble for doing the DX “suck it” move in front of my middle school teachers. I have no regrets. Somewhere down the line at around 2011 or 2012 or so, I lost interest. I used to think it was because I simply got too old for it, but All In showed me that was not the case at all; I stopped watching WWE because it got stale. The biggest name in pro-wrestling entertainment no longer entertained me. All In somehow made me—a depressed, busy, and broke 19-year-old university student—feel that pure thrill of great and entertaining pro wrestling again.

All In was an independent pro-wrestling pay-per-view event that happened September 1 at the Sears Centre in Chicago with the promotion from independent pro-wrestlers Cody “The American Nightmare” Rhodes and The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson). All three had their time on WWE, Rhodes having the longest career there with a decade with the company. Together, they make up The Elite, a subgroup of New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Bullet Club alliance, with some fellow pro-wrestlers.

The event sold over 10,000 seats in less than 30 minutes. Just in case that feat alone didn’t show that the industry doesn’t need to be franchised, Cody Rhodes at the end of the event triumphantly said to the crowd, “No man, no company, no entity owns pro-wrestling. We own pro-wrestling.”

all in cody nwa portrait of a wrestler

Like his late father, Dusty Rhodes, Cody won the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Heavyweight Championship. A rematch against Nick Aldis is set to happen October 21 in Nashville, TN. Picture credit to Portrait of a Wrestler (@y2jimbob).

And honestly? I’m all about it. Just like any subgenre of the entertainment industry, pro-wrestling needs more independence and freedom to show audiences what the pro-wrestlers got and how they can add something new and refreshing to the table. I wasn’t watching WWE yet when The Young Bucks debuted, but I remember Rhodes very well. I used to hate watching him in WWE, not only because of the role he played in the show but because I just thought he was boring and too predictable. I was sorely mistaken, but I’m certain I wasn’t the only one who brushed off the talent of a hard-working individual just because of poor writing.

This worries me because the exact same thing can happen in any field of the entertainment industry. How many times have we disregarded an actor because of the role they played only to have them prove us wrong afterward? I mean, who would’ve thought the guy who played Papa Doc from 8 Mile, Anthony Mackie, would be so relevant today in the industry? Who would’ve thought that Robert Pattinson would’ve surpassed the talent it takes to play a character like Edward Cullen in Twilight? Sometimes we don’t even let them prove us wrong and that’s worse for the actor and us; their support is dwindling and we’re missing out on their talent. I’m not an insider to either industry, but from an outsider’s perspective, that’s just what it looks like. An entertainment industry that undersells talent is underselling entertainment.

All In showcased a variety of pro-wrestlers from organizations all over the globe like the Ring of Honor, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide, and the National Wrestling Alliance. It’s important to note that these are all companies just like WWE—granted, much smaller—but the event itself was independent. Most of the pro-wrestlers are recognizable to WWE fans from their time with the company, so I immediately recognized Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, and Rhodes. Now, imagine my surprise when I recognized a pro-wrestler from something that’s completely different from pro-wrestling. Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow) from Arrow had a match with Chris Daniels and had Josh Segarra (Adrian Chase/Prometheus) accompany him for the entrance. I knew he was a fan of pro-wrestling from his social media and he had a few runs with WWE, but I didn’t know he was about it like that. He lost, but the talent he showcased made me see him as an all-around performer, not just an actor.

oliver and adrian all in just jared

Amell (left) and Segarra (right) look vicious and I’m loving it. Picture credit to Just Jared.

In fact, I felt the same way about all the pro-wrestlers in the event. It’s obvious that wrestling is fake—younger me was heartbroken when she found this out—but the talent, stage-awareness, and charisma is all too real and makes it so much more than just simple acting. Since I’ve stopped watching WWE, I forgot about this, but All In had no trouble reminding me. With the smack talk, wicked finishing moves, daring stunts, and dramatic openings, I was enthralled again by the spectacle that is pro-wrestling. I’m not saying WWE is a bad company, but it’s not for everybody, just like it isn’t for every pro-wrestler.

If you’re as interested in this and upcoming events related to All In as I am, you can keep up with The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, and the like on their YouTube channel Being the Elite here.

Did you catch All In? What was your favorite part? Did you like it at all? Let us know in the comments down below!

Nothing but love.

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