This past weekend was the biggest independent wrestling show in history, and I was ALL IN. The brainchild of Cody Rhodes and Nick and Matt Jackson bought thousands of wrestling fans into the Chicago area for a weekend full of the culture, excitement .
I arrived Friday morning and kicking off my experience was a trip to Pro Wrestling Tees to meet the best in the world CM Punk. The line stretched around the block and the heat was sweltering but it was worth it. Kudos to the Pro Wrestling tees staff for managing the line to meet Punk and the line to enter the store effectively and efficiently. Entering this narrow ass alley to the backroom of the store,once I met Punk he was joyful, smiling, and overall appreciative of the line of folks who wanted to meet him. After meeting Punk I ventured into the actual store which had all kinds of awesome T-shirt’s you won’t find anywhere else, other collectibles and a very important neon sign that displayed “Wrestling is an Art”. It’s tight as hell in the store and anyone who may be claustrophobic would
have had serious issues with that many people in a tight space.
Courtesy: Pro Wrestling Tees
Next up for me was Starrcast a wrestling convention for anyone who proclaims to be a wrestling fan. This time the brainchild of wrestling podcast legend Conrad Thompson, it’s full of Meet and Greets, parties, panels, memorabilia, and is a event in itself. It began Thursday and ran til Sunday, I attended The convention on Saturday and even with attending Wwe axxess and wrestlecon before, I was still pretty overwhelmed. The layout was not one of an traditional convention, soon as you walked into the Hyatt Regency you were greeted in the lobby by all things Starrcast related. Merch tables, podcast row, video game tournament, hell fans walking around just enjoying themselves. Some stars were hard to find as they were stationed in little nooks and crannies of the hallways. I met the goats as far as cruiserweights in Rey Mysterio Jr. and Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and JJ Dillion of the four horsemen. Both interactions were pleasant and bucket list meet and greets. There were other meet and greets available but I didn’t take a photo with any of the other legends and stars. The memorabilia was awe inspiring, Ric Flairs robe you could wear, championship belts from various eras. Event posters, ring attire, all within a couple of feet of fans. Classic wrestling arcade games, too much to take in at one time. I swear there was a room or two of additional memorabilia I couldn’t find and am still annoyed about that.
I did have some food from ODB’S food truck and damn it was good, even picked up a bottle of her whiskey sauce. One thing that was awesome is how accessible the stars were and approachable, you could literally walk by one of the greats and spark up a small conversation. Be in line behind them at the food counter, sit next to them in the lobby. Everyone was respectful for the memorabilia was talking with other wrestling themed podcasts. Networking and seeing where everyone was from and how they got their start.
On to the main event ALL IN, which lived up to the hype. With production values that were honestly on par with Impact , and a loaded 10 match card. The card contained emotion such as when Cody won the NWA world heavyweight championship. Surprises such as when Chris Jericho appeared to attack Kenny Omega, comedy with Joey Ryan returning from the “dead” and his “dicks” carrying Adam Page away (have to know the character to get it). The Women’s fatal four way between Tessa Blanchard, Britt Baker, Chelsea Green, and Madison Rayne to show who’s really leading the women’s revolution. Black Machismo returning, Stephen Amell showing with real training he may have a future in wrestling and more. Besides a few hiccups including the abrupt ending to the main event due to time constraints, it didn’t distract from the event and the young bucks acknowledged it. The show received a “A” in my book.
Cody and the Young Bucks bet on themselves and with their friends and family as support, and the fans it came out to be better than anyone imagined. They teased that their ready to go “double or nothing” and I think it’s safe to say everyone will be right along for the ride. I know I will be, when ALL IN 2 and Starrcast swings back around I’ll hop on that train. I’d definitely do more days at Starrcast strictly for networking and being with other people who love the wrestling culture. ALL IN was not only a victory for the power players involved but for the fans and the future of independent wrestling.
About The Author
B.Easy is the co-host of Talkin' Suplexes. He's a self-professed geek loving movies, wrestling, comic books, and using his imagination. Goal in life is become to a world traveler and get paid to hop on lear jets. Follow him on Instagram @iam_beasy