This past weekend ALL IN was broadcasted on FITE.TV. Unfortunately due to the painfully inconsiderate obligations known as work I was unable to watch. Thankfully, I do not need to. Instead of replays, I have memories and feelings about an event I was luckily able to witness live.
My fandom is far better for it.
It started with me saying “We got to go,” to a great friend of mine. Those were my simple words with hope and pleading in them when ALL IN was given a location. I will never forget my friend nodding and saying “Okay” and then proving to me how awesome he is by delivering on that promise. We ended up successfully purchasing tickets, and our place at ALL IN was secured. We were going, and it was a night I have yet to forget, nor will I ever.
This is not an article about what it took to pull off ALL IN, nor is it an article about the aftermath and after-effects. No doubt ALL IN is one of the most important, in my opinion, pro wrestling events in recent history, and what would be ignited and set off afterward was/is of great importance. That can be discussed in future articles. Today I want to focus on my experiences with the event itself. The night where I and 10,000+ fans felt an electricity in the air that caused all our hairs to rise up on end, and remain not only throughout the entire show but in the aftermath as well. Wrestling is wonderful to watch, and the crowd is awesome to hear. When you are given an experience you FEEL? It’s truly a moment you’ll never forget or regret taking part in.
I remember the entire fifteen hours we drove to Chicago. Every stretch of that painful 500 miles straight shot through Ohio was tempered with the brewing realization of what we were heading toward. I remember every hour that I wasn’t in charge of driving, I kept looking at the card, kept reading predictions and analysis of the show. Building my own personal anticipation for it all when we were still days away. We were just hitting the Illinois state line when it struck me the magnitude of hype that sizzled through my body to the point if you listened carefully you could hear popping and crackling sounds from within. If you put a stethoscope on my chest you would cringe as instead of a pulse “This is awesome” was being repeated in rhythm. What I’m saying is my heart was dead set on ALL IN. I love analyzing wrestling, I love critiquing wrestling, above all I love writing about wrestling. At the core of it all though I am a fangirl. As we arrived at the house we were crashing at it dawned on me that I was more hyped for this evening than I had been the three previous Wrestlemanias I’ve attended. Make no mistake, I was hyped as fuck for those shows. This just felt truly special and not just being presented as something that we were supposed to accept as special.
We would spend the next few days doing various activities, and those days were great and spectacular. We hung out with friends, visited museums and zoos. We ate amazing food at various places and entertained ourselves in various ways. It was a wonderful visit, but in my mind, I always knew what my main purpose of being there was. A once in a lifetime wrestling event. A wrestling event we were somehow lucky to get tickets for. I remember how swiftly the tickets went. I remember the amazement we felt when we realized we had them. I remember how I kept worrying about losing them. How I kept double checking the glove department box to make sure they hadn’t gotten up and left. I’m pretty sure it got to the point my friend started teasing “They are there” before I even opened it up to check. As we slowly started making our way to the door of the arena I kept having that anxiety that our tickets would get scanned and somehow they were fake, not real. It was a stupid fear, but it was there. The relief I felt when the tickets scanned was then followed by a wave of anticipation. The hype for this show was high and feverish. Would it meet them? Would they be greeted positively?
I can honestly say it exceeded them by every bit.
The show was not perfect, there were negatives. There were things that could’ve been done better. I don’t care. I don’t demand perfection, I just demand to feel it, and I felt it that night. The performances and motivation of the wrestlers, the enjoyment and electricity of the crowd. That night my friend and I throughout wrestling fandom bonded even stronger than we already had. I watched Stephen Anrell go through a table. I watched Page and Janela damn near try to kill each other for our entertainment. I got to watch a personal dream match in Pentagon Jr. and Kenny Omega going at each other for the very first time.
In perhaps the best moment of the night, Cody defeated Nick Aldis to win the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship. I damn near cried when one of my personal favorites Kazuchika Okada stepped out and I got to see the Rainmaker himself perform, and perform fantastically! Then perhaps one of the greatest sprints you could ask for happened to close out the show. I could just continue to list, but I remember the moment, the moment when I realized this show was on another level. It was when the show had ended. The Elite in the ring talking, rally crying, building us to an emotional frenzy. No one left, no one ignored. Every word, every letter, every syllable the audience hung on, I hung on. Spellbound.
They had weaved magic on me and I wasn’t critical, I wasn’t analytical, I was a fangirl pure and simple. A simple fan who was feeling magic that they hadn’t felt so hard ever in their 27 years of watching pro-wrestling. It was lightning unleashed from a bottle, and I’ll be lucky if it ever strikes twice.
As we left the arena I felt euphoric. The way I walked I felt my feet were barely touching the ground. I felt instantly that I had come across one of those rare wrestling events only a few get to say they truly attend. It’s probably why my event shirt from that night is my favorite wrestling shirt of all time. Not because of design or anything, but because of what it represented, what that night meant to me. Every time I look at it I think about that night and I get a big smile on my face, and in this world anything that can do that to you, you hold on and never let go of it. It’s worth everything. We talked about ALL IN all night, we were giddy about it to our friends the next morning. We discussed and chatted about it the entire fifteen hours back home. And yes, I watched it on repeat every time for weeks if not months afterward.
I’ve been to three WrestleManias, I’ve been to an NXT Takeover, I went to the MSG show for ROH/NJPW. All of them entertained me at various levels, none of them captured me and held me in their arms like ALL IN did that night. In a way, I feel like I’m an addict, who has experienced the best damn high they have ever achieved and I’m desperately trying to get it once more. Maybe, just maybe, if I make it to the Tokyo Dome in 2022 I’ll experience that again. That is my hope, my desire, my current dream. ALL IN gives me the motivation, gives me the passion. Do I believe in magic? Thanks to ALL IN, you bet your ass I do and I will never stop watching, stop attending, some experiencing until I come across it again.