MJF's Career-Defining Feud is Here and Top Takeaways From 2022 AEW All Out Results
All Elite Wrestling presented its All Out pay-per-view Sunday night, live from Chicago, with several newsworthy events on the minds of the company's faithful audience.
There was the return of MJF after months of speculation, the questionable booking of both Chris Jericho and Ricky Starks, the breakout of The Acclaimed, and the beginnings of a breakup between Dr. Britt Baker DMD and trusted enforcer Jamie Hayter.
Dive deeper into those topics and more with this recap of the Sept. 4 extravaganza.
The Acclaimed Are Made Men After Show-Stealing PPV Performance
Few acts in AEW entered All Out hotter than The Acclaimed.
A babyface turn over the summer, a reunion with Billy Gunn and a few catchphrases had them riding a wave of momentum into the event. The fans in Chicago repaid their hard work to develop both creatively and in the ring with one of the loudest ovations of the night.
It was one that extended well beyond their entrance and trademark pre-match rap.
The crowd was red-hot for the tandem, cheering them at the expense of tag team champions Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee. The support only grew louder and more passionate as Anthony Bowens and Max Caster came closer to dethroning the champions.
By the time Bowens found himself fighting through what appeared to be a severe knee injury in pursuit of his championship aspirations, there was little denying who the fans in suburban Chicago wanted to see leave with the titles.
They did not, and the crowd voiced their displeasure, but in defeat, Bowens and Caster earned the biggest wins of their young careers. They are made men, accepted by a diehard fanbase who can be difficult to please but is incredibly loyal once they are won over.
Caster and Bowens may not have left Sunday's pay-per-view with the titles, but their futures are bright. They are marketable, have an undeniable connection with the audience and now have proved they can thrive on a big stage, under the brightest lights and with lofty expectations placed on them.
They are the future, and their performance in their first major championship opportunity confirmed as much.
Predictability Undermines The Elite's Strong Trios Championship Victory
First things first: The final match of the tournament to crown the first AEW World Trios Championship was very good.
The Elite, Dark Order and Hangman Page exhibited extraordinary chemistry, kept the crowd hanging on every spot and teased the next evolution of Page's story with his former friends. It set the bar, and nothing else on the show came close to eclipsing it.
With that said, the predictability of the tournament did somewhat undermine what was a great match.
AEW President Tony Khan essentially tipped his hand six months earlier by admitting that he was waiting for Kenny Omega to come back before introducing the tag titles. From there, he booked a tournament that felt destined to end with The Best Bout Machine and The Young Bucks holding the title high overhead in victory.
By the time The Elite made it past Will Ospreay and Aussie Open on the final Dynamite before All Out, it felt even more like a given that the trio synonymous with AEW would win the titles.
No, that is not the wrong call. Their exploits on the Being The Elite YouTube show garnered fans and helped set the table for All Elite Wrestling to exist in the first place, so by no means is rewarding them with the historic first reign a bad thing.
Perhaps building intrigue by creating even the slightest bit of doubt that The Elite could actually go all the way and win the titles would have better suited the moment.
Even the story involving Omega and his injured body was tossed aside, nowhere to be found Sunday night. There was no KT Tape or athletic tape protecting his injured ribs. That story, so integral to his first night back and his return as a whole, was neglected completely as Omega competed at full strength.
That inconsistency, combined with a total lack of mystery as to who was leaving the show with the titles, managed to hurt what was a significant moment and the fantastic match that preceded it.
Maybe Ricky Starks Isn't a Top Future Star in AEW After All
Ricky Starks spent the last month dropping the FTW Championship to Hook, feuding with The Factory in a third-rate TV program, ran from said faction, was beaten down by them backstage and beat QT Marshall in his most prominent in-ring appearance.
That booking was enough to raise a few eyebrows. By the time he ate a spinebuster and lost to Powerhouse Hobbs in mere minutes Sunday night, it became apparent that it was time to sound the alarm in regards to his booking.
A charismatic star with all of the potential in the world to be the star of AEW's future, it felt very much like All Out was his platform to establish himself as such with a win over his former tag team partner.
Instead, he lost in short order—in an extended squash even.
There will be some that tout the idea of strengthening Hobbs to propel the storyline forward, but Starks had been so poorly utilized, despite an impassioned and emotional promo that won the crowd over, that even a win a month or two down the line may be too late.
Starks earned better than his treatment Sunday night. There will be a sentiment across social media, perhaps even from Khan himself, that the Louisianan is still a major part of plans for the future and that this loss was merely a roadblock in his path to greatness.
That may be the case, but recent booking trends in regards to young, up-and-coming stars in AEW suggest there is still reason to be skeptical.
Jamie Hayter and Britt Baker Headed for Long-Awaited Breakup After Title-match Loss
The long-awaited breakup between Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Jamie Hayter is on the horizon following Sunday's Four-Way match for the Interim AEW Women's Championship.
Late in the match, Hayter had the championship in her sights, only for the good doctor to selfishly pull the referee out of the ring and break up the count.
From there, she nearly pinned Hayter and even teased a Lockjaw, proving once and for all that the egotistical former champion is only out for one person: the good doctor.
The fans in Chicago were overwhelmingly behind Hayter, wanting her to win the match and title throughout. That Baker was the cause for her not realizing their collective dream made for a great moment and will prove the ignition point for a rivalry that, in theory, should make Hayter a major babyface in the division.
Keep in mind: Despite her willingness to interfere on behalf of Baker, Hayter has never joined in on the DMD finger shtick that Baker and Rebel do routinely, suggesting she has never been completely sold on the partnership and that she has always seen through her associate's chicanery (a la Batista during his time with Evolution and, more recently, Wardlow with MJF).
It is a story that works and, hopefully, one that AEW executes correctly to the benefit of the Briton.
Chris Jericho's Hero-Booking Starting to Become Questionable
Chris Jericho defeated Bryan Danielson on Sunday night with a low blow and Judas Effect that continued a trend of big match wins that's both questionable and reminiscent of a guy with whom he once had a professional rivalry with: Triple H.
In 2002 and '03, it was clear that the Triple H, who earned Match of the Year candidacy every time he set foot in the ring, was gone. He was a step or two slower, and the overall quality of his work dipped significantly. That his booking reflected that of someone clinging to their spot, beating opponents that made no narrative sense for him to defeat, did not help matters.
While Jericho remains an asset to AEW based on his star power alone, there is no denying that the hero-booking that has resulted in eyebrow-raising victories over Danielson and Eddie Kingston, in particular, is problematic in the same way The Game's was two decades ago.
No, he is not beating guys cleanly, but there is a very real case to be made that he should not be beating them at all.
His win Sunday over Danielson came at the expense of a guy who already lost to Daniel Garcia a month ago and is still chasing that definitive AEW win that has eluded him dating back to the time-limit draw against Kenny Omega last year and his title match loss to Hangman Page a few months later.
The win over Kingston in the Barbed Wire Everywhere Deathmatch robbed the Mad King of a win that had been months in the making. Rather than paying off that feud with the most logical, slam-dunk booking decision, there was Jericho inexplicably going over again for reasons that have yet to play out on television.
Yes, he is a legend. No, his ability to evolve, adapt and change to fit the current scene cannot be denied. Jericho is one of the best to ever do it, but he is no longer a guy that needs protection creatively and should be winning matches against hotter babyfaces when the story clearly calls for him to get his comeuppance.
Some will say, "shut up and let it play out."
Sure, maybe that is the call. Since the company's inception in 2019, though, shutting up and letting it play out typically ends with Jericho's arm raised in victory, and unbiased viewers wondering why it was necessary.
MJF's Future With AEW Hinges on Impending Main Event Push
MJF returned to AEW on Sunday following CM Punk's victory over Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship, revealing himself to be the Joker and winner of the Casino Ladder Match roughly four hours earlier.
While he did not explain his apparent association with Stokely Hathaway or any of the manager's recent acquisitions, he did label himself "the devil" and expressed he was coming after his former idol and the top prize in the company.
How this impending main event run ultimately turns out will very likely determine the future of the scarf-wearing villain's time in AEW.
MJF is a virtuoso performer who can talk, emote, elicit cheers or boos, and back up every word out of his mouth with his performance in the ring. He is the young star around whom the company should have been built a long time ago and was rightly pissed about taking a backseat to more recognizable stars from other companies.
Whatever real-life heat existed between him and his employers appears to have been smoothed out enough to instigate his return to television.
With the revolution in the worked voicemail from Tony Khan to MJF that was played prior to the return that he does not have to sign an extension for missing time and will be a free agent come 2024, Khan and AEW officials have one shot to get this right.
Push him to the heights he and so many believe he's worthy of, or risk letting him wave goodbye to the company in just under two years.
A feud with Punk, whom he previously worked to great results, is a step in the right direction. Whether he wins, or is even presented as an equal to the champion rather than a bitter fanboy, is the key.