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31 Days of Wrestling (12/15/18): #ALLIN for Ten Pounds of Gold


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2018 produced for us.

I got into wrestling because my dad was a wrestling fan. Through the ups and downs of our relationship, wrestling has always been one of the things that brings us together. It's that rare father/son bond over wrestling that's helped me identify with Cody Rhodes, especially after his father, the late great Dusty Rhodes passed away in 2015.

Since leaving WWE in 2016, Cody has made it his mission to prove to the whole world what he's known about himself all along: that he's a top guy in this industry, much like his father was all those decades ago. 

That chip on his shoulder led him to reinvent himself since entering the indys. It's led to a successful run to date in places like New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Ring of Honor and a spot in The Elite, the industry's most successful faction in this generation.

Through all of this, it seemed that the one thing Cody really needed to achieve to cement his status as a top dog outside WWE is a world championship run. At the same time, the NWA World Heavyweight Championship was experiencing a renaissance of its own, following Billy Corgan's acquisition of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in 2017. 

The stars aligned when the NWA worked together with Cody and The Young Bucks as they brought #ALLIN, the game-changing independent show, to life earlier this year. That set the stage for the battle over the oldest world championship in the industry. It would be Nick Aldis versus Cody for the Ten Pounds of Gold. 

It was an easy storyline to sell, and it made for the most emotionally-compelling one on the entire card. Cody had that chip on his shoulder, plus he was chasing the title that had become synonymous with his father's legacy. Meanwhile, Aldis was the proud champion, who didn't hesitate to remind everyone that he was the reason for its current relevance. 

The match was presented well enough that you didn't have to necessarily follow the storyline to be invested by the time #ALLIN came around. Anyone with a passing interest in wrestling would be somewhat aware of Cody's meta-narrative and that's all you needed to be hooked. 

When Cody finally defeated Aldis and raised the Ten Pounds of Gold, I found myself getting emotional because I know how much it meant for both Cody, the wrestler and Cody Runnels, the human being. For a man who grieved the passing of his father alongside an entire industry, holding the same title his father helped create was an apropos way of connecting with his hero, our hero. 

Cody's win wasn't just his win in the end. Everyone who'd been behind him since he left WWE won, too. It's that same sense sense of community in the industry and the fandom that Cody and The Young Bucks reaffirmed through the success of #ALLIN. 



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31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2018.

Read our previous entries:

1. Winnipeg Boys Conquer the Tokyo Dome (Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho, No DQ match for IWGP US Heavyweight title, Wrestle Kingdom 12)
2. Roman Reigns Finally Becomes Universal Champion (Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns, SummerSlam 2018)
3. The Man Is Last Woman Standing (Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch, Last Woman Standing match for SmackDown Women's title, Evolution)
4. Kenny Omega, Finally IWGP Heavyweight Champion (Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega, 2-out-of-3 Falls match, Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall)
5. The Resurrection of Daniel Bryan (AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship, WWE SmackDown Live 11/13/18) 
6. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Unsanctioned match (NXT TakeOver: New Orleans)
7. The Lightbringer Has Arrived (Ralph Imabayashi vs. Quatro for the PWR Championship, PWR Live: Homefront)
8. The First Ever Women's Royal Rumble (Royal Rumble 2018)
9. To Surpass God (Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi, G1 Climax 28 Finals)
10. Wreck It, Rowdy (Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon & Triple H, WrestleMania 34)
11. Pentagon Dark vs. Marty "The Moth" Martinez (Ultima Lucha Cuatro)
12. King in the North (America) (6-Way Ladder match for NXT North American title, NXT TakeOver: New Orleans)
13. A Dream Ricochets (Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream, NXT TakeOver: Chicago II)
14. Of Queens and Empires (Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka for the SmackDown Women's title, WrestleMania 34)

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