It’s safe to say that a few months into its existence, AEW has yet to find its hook, the one thing it can point to that makes it a distinct alternative to WWE programming, let alone living up to its lofty goal of revolutionizing professional wrestling. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that as All Out proved on Saturday night in Chicago, there’s enough talent on the roster to pull off a number of highly entertaining matches on any big card. Aided by a stellar, consistently engaged crowd at the Sears Centre Arena, All Out delivered several big time performances, which smoothed over the seams that showed from not having regular TV to set up all the storytelling — arguably for the first time at an AEW event.

Jon Moxley, sidelined by a staph infection, was also conspicuous by his absence, which couldn’t have come at a worse time for company or star. PAC was a more than acceptable in-ring replacement and figured in one of the night’s most intriguing finishes, as he choked out Kenny Omega to leave him with more losses than wins so far in AEW.

The tag team ladder match between the Young Bucks and Lucha Brothers also lived up to the hype. But perhaps the most impressive work was done by Chris Jericho, who at age 48, authored another chapter in a legendary career by becoming the inaugural AEW World Champion in a very physical encounter with “Hangman” Adam Page.

Page took his Western gimmick to its logical extreme by riding in on a horse. Aubrey Edwards was the referee, the first woman to call a world championship match for a major promotion. The fans greeted the combatants with loud dueling chants as Page hit punches and chops, and he sent Jericho to the floor with a clothesline.

Page chased Jericho down to deliver more chops, connecting with a big boot when they returned to the ring. A cover didn’t lead to much, but Jericho finally found some joy with a missile dropkick. Page answered with a topa suicida and covered for a near fall.

With Jericho back on the floor, Page launched himself into a running shooting star press but landed hard on the floor. Edwards started her 10 count, and Page just barely made it back in time — important since the belt could be won that way in this case. However, Jericho came running across the ring to knock him right back out into the barricade.

Relishing his dominant position, Jericho dragged Page right in front of his family and worked over his arm between the bars of the barricade. An armbar takedown continued the damage to Page’s arm, as did Jericho wrapping it around the middle rope.

Jericho took a shot at Page’s right knee before lounging atop the turnbuckle, hammock-style. A dropkick by the Painmaker sent Page down to the mat again, where he had to kick out at two. Jericho landed a high cross body but Page rolled through, following with a rolling senton and a shooting star press that earned a two count.

Countering a Lionsault attempt, Page used a Russian leg sweep off the middle rope for another near fall. An exchange of holds saw Jericho roll into the Walls of Jericho, but Page used his legs to roll himself free. A discus forearm caught Jericho right above the eye, a bit of payback for what Page had done to him leading up to this event. Sure enough, Jericho showed that he was bleeding above the eye.

Page tracked down Jericho to try making the cut bigger with some straight right hands. Edwards checked to see if Jericho can continue, and Page stomped away on his head in the corner. With Page rushing into the corner, he managed to buy himself a breather by hoisting the Hangman over the top rope onto the apron.

After both men climbed to the top turnbuckle, Page pulled on Jericho’s wound before hurtling to the canvas for a neckbreaker, though Jericho managed to kick out again. A kick to the face and another discus shot put Jericho flat on his face, yet he rose to string Page on the top rope. Y2J had thoughts of a springboard move of some sort but got caught by another kick to the face.

Looking for the Deadeye, Page was flipped and locked back in the Walls of Jericho. Page crawled to the rope and Jericho took every bit of time to break the hold, but he also got into a bit of a tiff with Edwards. Page used the time to recover and pulled off a moonsault to the outside, landing with an audible thud on his previously injured knee.

From the apron, Page tried for a buckshot lariat and fell victim to a Codebreaker, barely managing to kick out before the three count. Hangman smacked home a hard right hand but crashed and burned on a running shooting star press. Page took two tries to hit the Deadeye only to see Jericho kick out at two.

The buckshot lariat was on target the second time, but Jericho countered whatever he had planned with the Judas Effect. Page couldn’t kick out, and Jericho made history again, bloodied but unbroken enough to manage a smirk with the belt as the show went off the air.

The next AEW pay-per-view is Full Gear on Nov. 9. 2019.

The Buy-In Pre-Show Results

Mercedes Martinez was the “Joker” entrant.

21 Woman Casino Battle Royal

The winner of this match gets a spot in the first ever AEW Women’s Championship Match, so there’s plenty at stake. The participants enter in groups of five, with the 21st entrant as a “Joker,” in keeping with the casino theme. Nyla Rose is part of the first group and clearly primed to make a long run. Brandi Rhodes enters with Awesome Kong as her muscle, though neither is around at the end. Fun semi-surprises include Jazz and ODB, and the Joker is revealed to be Mercedes Martinez. The field is eventually whittled down to a final three of Rose, Britt Baker and Bea Priestly, but after Baker hits Priestley with a standing Destroyer, both of them get tossed to the floor by Rose.

Winner: Nyla Rose

Will Private Party be stars?

Private Party vs. Angelico and Jack Evans

Not familiar with these teams? Please rectify that as they both can go, and Private Party, especially, feels like they have the “it” factor to become stars. There are too many eye-popping spots to recap here, but Private Party’s finisher of a hurricanrana into a cutter is a thing of beauty. The teams shake hands after the match, but Angelico and Evans eventually go full heel by punking the partiers.

Winners by pinfall: Private Party

Time of Match: 11 minutes 35 seconds

What is this vignette? A man and lady friend are accosted in what appears to be a dimly lit parking lot, and the assailants kindly let the man remove his shirt and hand it to said friend so he can beat the tar out of them in slow motion. Not enough muggers have that code of honor, if you ask me. And who or what is Wardlow?

MJF is asked why he doesn’t have a match tonight. He says he didn’t want a match, he wanted to help his best friend Cody to secure a victory over Shawn Spears. What if Cody doesn’t pick him to be in his corner? MJF scoffs at that idea.

AEW All Out Main Card Results

Frankie Kazarian checks out Jungle Boy.

SoCal Uncensored vs.Jurassic Express

Crowd seems to be behind both teams. Stunt and Jungle Boy both go flying out to the floor, but the big pop is for Luchasaurus to flip to the floor to follow them. Jungle Boy ends up taking the brunt of SCU’s well developed three-man weave, but Luchasaurus tags in and gets the crowd psyched with his kicks and standing moonsault for a near fall. The dinosaur man gets hurled into his own much smaller teammates on the floor, and Scorpio Sky flies out to rub salt in the wound. Poor Marko Stunt is hit with the Best Moonsault Ever/piledriver combo, and that’s the end of that. Looks like good sportsmanship will reign here with SCU even going over to check on Stunt and Jungle Boy.

Winners by pinfall: SoCal Uncensored

Time of Match: 11 minutes 45 seconds

Match Rating: 7.5/10

Kenny Omega can’t believe it.

Kenny Omega vs. PAC

Both men play some mind games in the early going, with the action heating up when it goes out to the floor. Omega eats both the apron and the barricade, which isn’t as forgiving as in WWE. A big front dropkick off the top rope puts Omega on the mat, but he soars for a topa suicida that nearly overshoots the target and puts him into the barrier. A vicious top rope double stomp and a fisherman’s buster earn Omega a near fall, but a spike DDT returns the favor in short order. The announcers talk about PAC’s taped up left thigh, possibly just to put that in our minds. PAC one-ups Omega in terms of near disaster with a moonsault off the top turnbuckle to the floor, much to the delight of the fans. Kenny’s next flurry includes a huge kick and a buckle bomb, but PAC pulls the ref into his path, forcing Omega to bail out on a V-Trigger. With PAC fighting to avoid the One-Winged Angel, Omega pivots to a German suplex but sees his foe kick out. After both men have their chances to win, PAC locks in the Brutalizer and Omega passes out.

Winner by referee stoppage: PAC

Time of Match: 23 minutes 20 seconds

Match Rating: 8/10

Darby Allin ollies onto Joey Janela.

Darby Allin vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Joey Janela – Cracker Barrel Clash

What exactly is a Cracker Barrel Clash other than product placement? We’re about to find out. Havoc wastes no time finding a staple gun under the ring, then uses it on himself, prompting Jim Ross to ask, “What’s wrong with this guy?” He’s soon left speechless when Allin and Janela team to duct tape Havoc to a chair, pour thumbtacks in his mouth and tape his mouth shut. No, I didn’t make that up. Even that doesn’t prevent him from taking a top rope move from Allin. Poor guy. Janela spikes Allin on the apron with Emerald Flowsion, but his extended hunt for more weapons allows Havoc to somehow get back into the match. Janela has to suffer through some paper cuts administered by Havoc, but it’s Allin who suffers even more, getting slammed through a table on the outside. The tray of biscuits atop one of the barrels comes into play, and Havoc goes for the barrel on the stage as well. Allin recovers and has something new with him: a skateboard with tacks on the bottom. He ollies off the top rope onto the back of Janela, but Havoc drags him out of the ring where they resume brawling. Allin gets a gleam in his eye as he jumps backward off the top rope with the barrel behind his back, only to see Havoc move and send him crashing into the steel steps. There’s still another barrel to be crushed, and Havoc does exactly that, sending Janela through it with an Acid Rainmaker to finally win this chaotic but entertaining bout.

Winner by pinfall: Jimmy Havoc

Time of Match: 15 minutes

Rating: 7.5/10

Player Uno goes airborne.

Dark Order vs. Best Friends

Trent and Chucky really are best friends, as evidenced by their early hug. Wholesome. Not sure it’s going to help them win the match. Trent has to survive for quite a while and endure plenty of suffering before his diving hot tag to Chuck Taylor, who runs through an impressive sequence before the heels re-assume control of the match. The creepers get involved at some point too, giving the Dark Order just the boost they need to get the victory.

Winners by pinfall: Dark Order

Time of Match: 13 minutes 40 seconds

Match Rating: 5/10

Evil Uno orders the creepers to take Trent away to parts unknown, but the lights suddenly go down, then come back up to reveal Orange Cassidy. He takes nonchalant to a new level by not even taking his hands out of his jacket pockets.

Action from Hikaru Shida vs. Riho.

Hikaru Shida vs. Riho

Shida is supposed to be the goods, but Riho has been a part of every AEW show so far, so the fans appear to be in her corner. She executes a very painful looking stomp from the top rope to the apron, then goes right back up for a flying cross body for two. Her continuing acrobatics keep Shida on the defensive until she can muster a high knee. Both women have chances to win, but Riho pulls off an impressive finish out of nowhere. Rose comes out to the stage to stare Riho down a bit, as the two of them will wrestle for the inaugural AEW Women’s Championship on the first TNT show.

Winner by pinfall: Riho

Time of Match: 13 minutes 35 seconds

Match Rating: 8/10

Arn Anderson spinebusters Shawn Spears.

Shawn Spears (w/ Tully Blanchard) vs. Cody (w/ Nightmare Family)

Some fun Star Trek cosplay during the taped part of Cody’s ring entrance gives a hint to what Cody’s ring gear will be but leaves some suspense about who his actual cornerman will be. Asked by Earl Hebner to pick one, Cody selects MJF. The American Nightmare wastes no time, launching a topa suicida before the bell and punching Blanchard before the match even officially begins. Once the bell rings, Cody powerslams Spears on the outside, and Shawn is staggering — but only until Blanchard holds Cody for Spears to deliver a low blow while MJF has Hebner’s attention occupied. The next few minutes turn into a heel clinic for Spears, who takes it to Cody while continuing to live inside MJF’s head rent-free. Spears gets an earful from Hebner for stealing Cody’s weight belt, but Blanchard slides Shawn his own to use instead. All that does is fire Cody up, but when he goes for the Figure Four, Spears flips it over immediately. A running slam on the ramp has Cody in bad shape, but MJF motivates him to hustle back in and beat the 10-count. Cody hits Cross Rhodes only to see Blanchard distract Hebner at just the right time. Tully wraps his fists up and challenges MJF to a fight, but Spears nails him with a kick to the head. As the seconds scrap, Arn Anderson heads to the ring and plants Spears with a spinebuster, leading Blanchard to wander to the back to … demand answers, maybe? After a chair-assisted Disaster Kick, Cody hits Cross Rhodes again and claims victory. MJF has a chair and lurks behind Cody, but he tosses it away and raises his friend’s arm in victory.

Winner by pinfall: Cody

Time of Match: 16 minutes 20 seconds

Match Rating: 8.5/10

Crazy moves in a ladder match, who wouldn’t thought that?

The Lucha Brothers (champions) vs. Young Bucks (challengers) – AAA World Tag Team Championship Ladder Match

This one is going to be too crazy to recap blow by blow, so we’ll just do the highlights. Rey Fenix gets destroyed in the opening minutes but hurdles over a ladder on the floor to crash down on the other three men. Cutters from men on opposite teams break up a squabble over a ladder set up in the center of the ring, followed closely by double spears through tables that started the match already set up on the outside. Convenient! Matt Jackson pulls off four rolling Northern Lights suplexes in a row, with the final one ending on a ladder. Fenix returns the favor by putting some serious torque on a top rope hurricanrana onto a ladder. Springboard moves by both teams leave Matt Jackson temporarily alone on a ladder, but Pentagon Jr. hustles around the ladder and uses a Sling Blade to change that. With a table set up under the belts, Pentagon hits a sunset flip piledriver to send Matt through it. The younger brothers taunt each other from opposite sides of the ring before splashing the older siblings through tables as well. That’s not the last table to be destroyed either, as Pentagon sends Nick flying from a ladder through another on the floor. Time to keep a running count of these. Atop the ladder, Matt unmasks Pentagon, which earns him a revenge ride down to the canvas. A stomp/piledriver combo to Nick onto a suspended ladder looks like that might be it for him after the refs help Pentagon retrieve his mask. The Lucha Brothers climb the ladders together to retrieve their straps, but two men in president masks shove them down and hit Nick with a flipping neckbreaker as well. They take their masks off to reveal their true identities as Santana and Ortiz, recently departed members of LAX from Impact Wrestling.

Winners … and still AAA World Tag Team Champions … Lucha Brothers

Match Rating: 9.5/10

Chris Jericho and Adam Page battle.

“Hangman” Adam Page vs. Chris Jericho – AEW World Championship Match

Winner by pinfall … and first ever AEW World Champion … Chris Jericho

Match Rating: 8.5/10

Overall Event Rating: 7.75/10

Nick Tylwalk has been with SLAM! Wrestling since the dawn of time, or at least since before the turn of the century. He spends his days doing PR things, but he’ll always make time to sneak away for some wrestling.