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5 Directions: AEW All Out 2021

I am incredibly excited for AEW All Out 2021 this coming Sunday, and I’m sure that you who clicked on this article are just as excited. The card is stacked. A world title match that’s teasing a return to a more vicious Kenny Omega defending against one of the smartest workers on the roster in Christian Cage. The most over woman on the roster in Britt Baker defending the women’s championship against the pound for pound strongest woman on the roster in Kris Statlander. And of course CM Punk’s first match in 7 years against AEW’s hottest young star Darby Allin. But those aren’t the matches we’re talking about today. They may be the most anticipated matches, sadly I think the outcomes are fairly cut and dry. That’s why I wanted to take the time to run down some of the other less predictable matches on the card, and speculate a few directions they could go.

Jon Moxley vs Satoshi Kojima

First up is a match that likely had many forms before finally settling on what it is. Jon Moxley vs Satoshi Kojima is the AEW/NJPW cross-over nobody asked for. No disrespect to Kojima, but it’s just a fact. When AEW started teasing that Moxley would face off against a New Japan talent at All Out, no one’s dream scenario involved the bread loving lariat man.

Just because this wasn’t the dream match everyone wanted, doesn’t mean this match won’t be great. Kojima is a hard hitter and Moxley is more vicious than ever. I have no doubt that the match these two put together will be stiff and snappy.

Now you may be wondering why I’ve chosen to highlight this match. On paper it seems as predictable as the matches I mentioned in the lead-in of this article. It’s highly unlikely we see Kojima pick up the win here, so what directions could I possibly have in mind?

There are a few interesting things to keep in mind heading into this match. First is Moxley’s descent into the dark side. Each week we see him, he seems to give less and less of a f*** about other people’s well being. Contrast his promos against Satoshi Kojima with his promos against Yuji Nagata. While his promos for Nagata still had a violent edge, they were delivered with respect. Moxley has very limited respect for Kojima, even coming to blows with him on the most recent episode of Dark.

This match could go a long way in telling the story of Moxley’s heel turn. No matter who you are, if you beat an old man within an inch of his life, you’re gonna sour fan opinion. It doesn’t need to be a full turn, just the next step, and it may be the perfect time to set up his next feud.

It’s well known that this match was originally supposed to be against New Japan’s ace wrestler Hiroshi Tanahashi. And while I’d like to say that it’s likely that Tana will come down and save Kojima from being choked to death by an unhinged Moxley, it’s just not physically possible. Tanahashi is scheduled to have an intensive match against Kota Ibushi the night before All Out all the way over in Japan, so it’s highly unlikely he’ll make it to Chicago in time for an angle. But there are a few names that are more realistic, and could make a nice surprise.

One of the names that was originally speculated to be Moxley’s opponent at All Out was Minoru Suzuki. The two have already put on one of the hardest hitting matches in the last five years, and fans have been eager to see the two mix it up a second time. Unlike Tanahashi who had engagements already scheduled in Japan, Suzuki has been stateside the past few weeks, and barring an appearance at one of the two New Japan Grand Slam shows this weekend, he should still be around to make an appearance at All Out. Now it’s not likely he’d show up specifically to save Satoshi Kojima, but Suzuki is never one to shy away from a challenge. And right now it seems that Moxley has an open invitation to any New Japan veterans to show up in AEW so he can smack them around.

The other option which may be out of left field is Juice Robinson. He’s been in America making appearances for IMPACT Wrestling and is yet to make an appearance in AEW. But Juice and Mox have been intertwined since Mox’s debut in NJPW. Robinson was his first feud in the promotion and he was the one that Moxley initially beat for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship. Robinson is a good guy, so he would make a run in to save a respected veteran, but he also has incentive to finally pick up a win against Moxley.

Whether they decide to have a surprise debut, or just decide to have Moxley murder a legend, this upcoming match means so much more than people give it credit for. They wouldn’t put it on a PPV if it isn’t going to mean anything, and we’re likely going to get a big leap forward for Moxley’s character.

Eddie Kingston vs Miro (Contributed by Gareth)

There are various theories spreading with this match given that Miro has now held the TNT Championship for long enough that he could realistically lose it, but short enough that you'd happily see it continue. My prediction would be that Miro is winning. However, this isn't a predictions article, this is exploring the possibilities, so, what if 'The Mad King' actually won?

It would be Kingston's first championship in AEW and it would be Eddie coming full circle since his first day in AEW where he challenged Cody Rhodes. He could take a major championship back to his mother, a moment that he has always dreamed of.

More than just a moment, though, it's about the reign Eddie Kingston could have. Every TNT champion paints the title in their vision both literally and metaphorically. For Eddie that could mean a lot of things. It could mean defending the title in New York, it could mean facing long-time friend Homicide on a big stage, amongst other things, including facing legends from the American indies scene that crafted Eddie and the Japanese scene that inspired him.

When asked about his dream matches Eddie named Hiroshi Tanahashi before going on to say, "But I need this. It’s not even a want. I need me vs Jun Akiyama. That would be the cap on everything.”

Given Eddie's partner, Jon Moxley, is currently on a tear through Japanese legends, it would not be out of the question for Eddie Kingston to face Hiroshi Tanahashi and any other name that steps through the Forbidden Door. But given AEW has also worked with DDT before, it is very possible that Eddie could get to face "The Fifth Pillar", Jun Akiyama.

Chris Jericho vs MJF

The one thing I’ve talked the most about throughout these 5 Directions articles, is the long running feud between Chris Jericho and MJF. And if you’re getting tired of me writing about it, you’re in luck. The match at All Out is being billed as the Final Fight, and Jericho is putting his in-ring career on the line for the chance to finally get a win over MJF. So it only seems fitting that I run down some possible scenarios one final time.

More so than other matches on this card, this match really could go either way. Both obvious outcomes are plausible. Jericho has been talking about winding down the in-ring portion of his career for a while now, so I could see them deciding to have MJF win, giving him the prestigious honor of ending Jericho’s career. But also having a legendary wrestler like Jericho going down 4-0 to anyone is almost unheard of, so I could see Jericho getting a win back without it hurting MJF.

If I was a betting man, I’d say I’m pretty sure Jericho is going to pick up the win here. Perhaps because I have a hard time imagining a world where he’s no longer an active wrestler, but I don’t think Jericho is quite ready to hang up his boots. I could see him taking a step back. This match could signal his last dance as top card guy, but Jericho still has a lot to give as an active member of the Inner Circle.

MJF taking a loss here isn’t ideal, but he has had a leg up on Jericho the entire feud. Jericho has basically said that he’s going to do everything in his power to defeat MJF. You could tell an interesting story by saying even at his best, Jericho cannot beat MJF. But with how AEW lays out their stories, they like to take things slow. MJF/Jericho has been a story told for over a year, and it’s already surprising how much they’ve given MJF against someone who was once the company’s top draw. Having him completely shut out the former champ could be seen as a step too far.

But when you consider the fact that it’s highly likely that Darby Allin will lose to CM Punk, you risk a scenario where your two brightest young stars are losing to veteran talent on PPV. AEW have done a good job of pushing their young talent. A loss for either won’t hurt them in the slightest, but fan opinion may not be too kind to the decision. And rather than having CM Punk lose in the main event in his first match in 7 years, his home town no less. Having Jericho lose and hang-up his boots may soften the blow of Darby losing in the main event.

Retirement may make for a high stakes match up, but remember that this is wrestling. Retirement doesn’t mean much. It’s 2021 and there are rumors of Ric Flair wanting to wrestle again and he’s retired like 3 times by now. So Jericho can lose, take a year off, and get back in the ring whenever he wants to. MJF picking up a huge win here would remind everyone just how much stock AEW puts in their young talent, and cement MJF as the promotions top heel.

Casino Battle Royale (Contributed by Gareth)

Working on the assumption that Britt Baker retains her AEW Women's World Championship, this Casino Battle Royale will determine her next challenger. There is no clear favourite for this match with fans throwing all sorts of names out there. Ruby Soho is expected to be the 'Joker' 21st entrant, but given how AEW tends to operate it is not likely that she'll win. Jade Cargill, Thunder Rosa and Riho are other names that have been thrown in the hat.

However, AEW has built and promoted this Casino Battle Royale around a feud between Tay Conti (ranked 4th), The Bunny and Penelope Ford. Conti faced both women, before her tag partner Anna Jay returned. For this reason it feels likely that this match could be largely built around this. So, picture this:

Conti, Jay, Bunny, Ford and Julia Hart, start the match. Hart is eliminated early by The Bunny and we get a 2v2 of sorts for a few minutes. The ring fills up as contestants continue to enter, but the original four remain standing along with Jamie Hayter towards the end. Hayter works with Ford and Bunny against TayJay, and they manage to eliminate Anna Jay.

With the heels circling around Tay Conti, Ruby Soho's music hits. Soho lays out the three heels before working with Conti to eliminate them one at a time, leaving just Conti and Soho facing off at the end. Soho is experienced enough, and has the name-value, to make Conti look like a star here without needing to take an actual loss on her debut.

Meanwhile, Tay Conti is exactly the kind of challenger Britt Baker needs to face next and is over enough that this will feel similar(-ish) to Jungle Boy's battle royale win at Double or Nothing. That is what these matches should ultimately exist to do, rather than to put over established stars like Riho or Thunder Rosa. You could go with a safer option, but this just feels right for the moment.

Lucha Bros. vs The Young Bucks

Now finally, a match with infinite potential. The Young Bucks vs Lucha Bros. inside a steel cage on paper is a match so insane, I could write 50 paragraphs just on the multiple crazy spots these four men could reasonably pull off. Barring a Canadian Destroyer off the top of the cage, I don’t think anything is off limits for these high energy tag teams. And while I’d love to sit here and name spots I’d like to see, what’s more interesting is that, much like the Jericho/MJF match, I could see this match going either way.

This might get me some heat, but I don’t think AEW has done a spectacular job of maintaining credible challengers for the AEW Tag Team championships. When I heard The Bucks were going to defend their titles in a cage, I still found it hard to imagine them dropping the title. Yeah, in theory the rest of The Super Elite can’t interfere on their behalf, but it felt like their potential challengers were all people the Bucks had already beat. Then it hit me. The Bucks have defended their titles against Rey Fenix and Pac, Penta El 0 M and Pac, and Penta El 0 M and Eddie Kingston, but they haven’t actually defended them against The Lucha Bros as a unit.

The chances of the Lucha Bros winning here is much higher than any other team has had against the champs. At the first ever All Out PPV, Lucha Bros picked up a win against The Bucks in a hotly contested ladder match for the AAA tag titles. So in the storyline the masked brothers have an advantage in crazy gimmick matches like this. In fact, both Penta and Fenix have unique victories over The Bucks. Fenix has a singles win over Nick Jackson, and Penta (alongside Eddie Kingston) is the only person to beat The Bucks in a tag team match while they’ve held the titles. So you could argue that when it comes to beating The Young Bucks, The Lucha Bros. are the best to do it.

What it comes down to is the directions they want to take both teams after this match. And since that’s the name of the article, I guess it’s my job to analyze them. If The Young Bucks lose the titles, that’s another step in the descent of The Elite. It started with Kenny losing the IMPACT World Championship to Christian Cage. It was The Bucks that introduced the chair that cost Kenny his title. Having the Young Bucks lose their title, it’s another major loss for the main event faction, and another line of defense gone before Kenny loses his AEW World Championship.

If the Lucha Bros lose, it could fuel a turn against their Death Triangle partner PAC. PAC vs Andrade was originally supposed to take place at All Out, and it was also originally supposed to be the headliner of this article. It was cancelled due to travel issues and bumped to Rampage, so keep your eyes peeled for a separate article about that match next week.

One of the points I wanted to make about it was that Andrade has been trying to recruit the Lucha Brothers, and I believe that it comes down to the outcome of this match. If the brothers win, they’ll be overjoyed and more likely to celebrate with someone they consider their family in PAC. If they lose, they might be more open to listening to Andrade’s business proposal, feeling they may need an edge to finally win tag gold in AEW. It was PAC that told Lucha Bros. to pursue the tag titles and not help him with Andrade. Maybe that mixed with a crushing defeat is just enough of a push away for Andrade to slip in and manipulate the brothers.

A bit of a change in format this week for the PPV, I hope you all liked it. All Out is set to be one of the most exciting PPVs AEW has put out, and with what’s being teased there may be some surprises that not even I could predict, and the rumored debut of Bryan Danielson is enough to sell any wrestling fan on this card. Aside from QT Marshall vs Paul White, every match on this card has something to be excited about, and I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

A huge thanks to Gareth (@RHWGareth on Twitter). Because without him this article probably wouldn’t have happened this week. And as always, let me know what directions you think AEW All Out 2021 could go on twitter @SaltyAyyycob.


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