Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Bad Boy and Girl and the Hot Mess Are All In, and That's Great News

The Bad Couple signifies that All In is for real
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
All In, Cody Rhodes' and the Young Bucks' attempt at drawing 10,000 people to a non-WWE wrestling show, added three new names to the talent roster, and all of them are eye-opening. The first two are a package deal, the Bad Boy himself Joey Janela and his partner in and out of the ring, Penelope Ford. The third is former Impact Wrestling star and Tough Enough alumna Chelsea Green. They may not be the biggest names in wrestling, although Janela has been the darling of WrestleMania weekend the last two years with his Spring Break cards, but they signal more of a daring direction for All In than any of the names previously announced, even the heavy hitters like Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada.

All In looked like it was going to be a standard Ring of Honor featuring the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling show with a few adjacent additions actually up until about a month ago. Stephen Amell and Tessa Blanchard both aren't exactly in the ROH lexicon, but they're also not exactly surprising announcements. The shift started happening when the Lucha Bros. were announced, Penta El Zero M and Rey Feníx. Even though they seem to be announced for every indie show, seeing them mingle with ROH/New Japan talent is actually something fresh, especially in the age where ROH talent barely works Pro Wrestling Guerrilla anymore. Janela, Ford, and Green, however, open the floodgates, and Ford and Green specifically show that the show may have more of a female presence on it than just one match. It's entirely possible that Rhodes and the Jackson Brothers go the Road Dogg route and shove Ford, Green, Blanchard, Brandi Rhodes, and Deonna Purrazzo in a single match, but at the same time, announcing Janelope as a tandem could as much portend an intergender tag match as it can the convenience of announcing them at the same time.

If judging by the recent ROH shows attendance figures is any indication, All In wasn't going to have as much trouble as one might think selling five figures in tickets. Omega, Okada, and the Elite might have drawn 10K easily, especially if the current Passion of the Omega continues on until September. The show planners don't have to announce the "cool" talent that could add more tickets from niche fans, but the fact that they are shows they're not just looking to put on a ROH f/NJPW show. All In is going to be a melange of the best talent available, a true attempt at creating a spectacle of a show that will be as memorable for the action inside the ring as it will be for the number of tickets sold. And to be honest, regardless of what the stated goal is or what boring dumbshits like Dave Meltzer have to say, it is far more important for a show to be memorable for its quality than it is for how many people show up. WrestleMania 3 isn't one of the most fondly remembered shows in history because of a disputed number of people in attendance. Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage having the first Mania classic and Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant are why.

So it'll be interesting to see what other wells the lads draw from. Personally, I hope they go further into the Janela vein and start bringing in some deathmatch guys, with bonus points if they happen to book Nick Gage vs. Okada in one of the headline matches. Maybe they mine Mexico further and bring in guys like Alebrije Kraneo or even the venerable LA Park. Maybe they start bringing in some of the "next guys" from various territories like the new breed of SoCal wrestlers PWG is using or mining from other areas like Austin/San Antonio, Chattanooga, North Carolina, or New England. The possibilities are endless, and the booking of the Lucha Bros., Green, and Janelope show that even though they're only taking the cream from the top thus far, Rhodes and the Jacksons realize this. That fact can only mean great things for this show going forward.