By John Moore
Impact Wrestling Hits
Overall Show: A vast improvement over last week, but almost anything would have been better because that episode reeked of old TNA throughout. This one had some old TNA in it but mostly it was the good part with the LAX reboot. What made this episode more watchable was the shift in the announce team to a more tolerable tone. They actually talked about the matches this week. Last week it was just endless yelling from Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash, this week Josh was still a heel but JB and Josh didn’t yell at each other during matches. There was also solid in-ring storytelling, which I’ll get into later. This episode probably would have been a better one to have swapped with last week’s show because they did a much better job with the newer wrestlers while also building up Alberto El Patron as opposed to rushing him into the main event.
Alberto El Patron: Once you move away from the contrived iteration of the Dusty Finish, this was a really good promo segment on El Patron’s end when he opened the show. It was a bit odd that they let Bruce Prichard do the bulk of the talking during El Patron’s debut because babyface El Patron is a really good rally promo. This is something that WWE totally missed the boat on but when he did this type of promo in ROH and Lucha Underground, the people just resonated with him. El Patron’s exchange with EC3 was well done where he patronized him (no pun intended), yet the crowd ate it up because El Patron’s such a good babyface. A good promo overall and I got a chuckle throughout the night with El Patron seemingly using Paige’s “This is my house” catchphrase!
Alberto El Patron vs. Ethan Carter III: Little side tangent, Josh Mathews did mention that this is the first time in history that El Patron has faced Ethan Carter III. That prompted me to youtube search it and there was in fact a WWE match where Alberto Del Rio faced a much slimmer and athletic EC3, then known as Derrick Bateman. Anyway, this match blew that Bateman vs. Del Rio match out of the water because there was some smart in ring storytelling here and it looks like they are trying to do something with EC3. I’m not quite sure what yet, and if old TNA habits pop up it’ll be disappointing, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and hopefully they have something good planned for this odd EC3 character. On El Patron’s end, he performs at his best when he’s trying to tell the story of softening up his opponents arm to set up for the cross armbreaker. Even though some will argue that El Patron laid it on a little thick with calling this one of the best matches of his career, it was a pretty smart match and EC3 told his story well. EC3 sold well for one. What I find most intriguing is EC3 telling some sort of story with him bringing the chair in the ring only to have his babyface standing take over. Let’s see where they go with EC3 on this one and I hope the story is good.
Eli Drake and Tyrus vs. Laredo Kid and Garza Jr: This was a really fun tag team match to watch with every single person adding a unique dynamic to the match. Laredo Kid provided the traditional Lucha Libre moves with huracanranas and topes a plenty (I did facepalm a bit when the Impact Zone started Kalisto’s “Lucha! Lucha!” chant. Ugh…). Laredo provided the quick hybrid style wrestling. Tyrus was the monster who no-sold yet was conquered by agility. I was actually most impressed by Eli Drake, who showed a bit more originality and aggression in his ring work than he usually does. Top that off with the announcers introducing the new tag team while paying attention to the match as opposed to bickering (poor Reno Scum). A good debut for the Crash Promotion tag team. The only thing I find odd is they put some effort in the past few months to build up Eli Drake and Tyrus with Drake picking up a lot of steam the past half year, but they utilized him to enhance the debuting tag team? Even though they performed well here, I would prefer Eli Drake stay in singles with Tyrus as his heavy because he was really starting to carve out a character for himself.
Cody Rhodes: This heel run in Impact is going much better than his babyface run with the company. They aren’t rushing anything with him. He’s getting a chance to develop a villainous persona within Impact Wrestling. Not to mention the guy changed character, to character, to character, to character, yet he always finds a way to excel at those new characters and make it work. Cody even wore a legit medical mask and turned it into a really entertaining character. With all this development for himself, this is the boost that both Moose and Brandi Rhodes could use and the story is fun so far. Another Hit goes to Cody actually saving us from what we all assume would have been a poorly wrestled Brandy Rhodes match. I also got a chuckle out of the $45 line.
LAX: The LAX return was well done and really nostalgic in a good way. It was also really cool to see not only Homicide back, but Konnan back in a prominent role. They also freshened things up with turning this into a stable with a few new wrestlers as well. Konnan add a bit of a cool factor to the group (whereas LAX got a little weird when Hector Guerrero was the manager, and there was also that stereotypical “Mexican America” faction with Hernandez). Inside the LAX return was also a good showcase of TNA actually having tag teams. So the Tag Division is really hot now. To be honest, I would have Homicide as their world champion contender while the other two guys go for the tag straps, but I’m guessing they’re going Freebird on this one. To reiterate, Konnan was a treat to see back and I’m really looking forward to seeing him as a babyface manager. I honestly believe that one of the reasons Lucha Underground Season 1 was such a masterpiece was that Konnan had creative input and showed good work as a babyface manager. I hope Jeff Jarrett and crew allow him to offer his two cents here as well.
Impact Wrestling Misses
EC3: While I am intrigued at this change and hopeful that this would lead to a good storyline, this “new” EC3 was a bit odd at first glance and I’m not sure why they’re taking this approach with him. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Even though Carter wasn’t the most unique top babyface, to steal Vince McMahon’s quote on describing Drew Galloway, Ethan Carter III as a babyface was “simply badass”. I get that he’s down on his luck in the storyline but he’s starting to become quirky again. It reminded me of Derrick Bateman of all people, which was a funny Adam Sandberg type character, not the main eventer that Ethan Carter III was at his peak. Again, I’m intrigued and hopeful because the match told a good story, but this new character was so odd that it got a Miss from me for this episode at least.
Heel Josh Mathews: While more tolerable this week, I’m still not digging any implications that Impact is going to build a storyline around the announce team. Jeremy Borash was better this week when he didn’t argue with Josh continuously but heel Josh is still unnecessary. I did get a chuckle out of the “she’s coming” line from Borash for next week. I joked in my head about “she” probably being Dixie Carter, which I’m sure is not the case.
Trevor Lee vs. Suicide vs. Andrew Everett vs. Braxton Sutter: If you want my full on thoughts on how these weekly multi-man matches stink, check my past misses. Simply put, “homogenous X Division”. As for new thoughts, if Impact just split this into continuing the Trevor Lee vs. Andrew Everett singles feud and having Braxton Sutter lose to Suicide via Laurel Van Ness’ interference, more would have been accomplished. Also LAX’s return was awesome, but why are we bringing back the create-a-character from the crappy TNA Impact video game who is no longer TJ Perkins? Also, didn’t they stop calling him Suicide because Suicide isn’t the best name to call a wrestler?
Reno Scum: First of all, the miss isn’t 100 percent their fault, due to the announce team treating their debut match like garbage. That said, their first impressions were a bit strange. They yell a lot in their promos and say “oy” all the time. I actually got to see Reno Scum for the first time recently at an APW show and didn’t get a great impression from them either. Luster was actually really good in the ring, but I didn’t quite get what Adam was going for both as a character and in the ring. Hopefully they get a better chance to define themselves rather than being the “oy” guys. At least I’m looking forward to see what they add to the Tag Division because that division is starting to look really good on paper.
The Impact Tag Team Championship: First of all, I don’t get why stealing the titles from the Hardys equals making the titles vacant? A lot of what Bruce Prichard and crew said tonight made my head hurt. There’s that old TNA stank. This problem could have easily have been averted if TNA took the Hardys up on their offer to drop the tag belts on television after all that build, but TNA would rather do their usual douchey TNA things even though they claim the owl means change.
Impact’s “new” entrance themes: This has been building up for weeks, but at this point it’s starting to get annoying. I know they lost the awesome themes that Billy Corgan was providing them but did they also lose the work of Dale Oliver as well? So far most of the new wrestlers have received the worst generic music ever. Decay’s was eh, Josh Barnett’s sucked, Rachel Ellering’s was forgetful. The worst of them all is Alberto El Patron, which is a generic 15 second loop of what sounds like bad stereotype music. Cody Rhodes is using one of WWE’s bands to do his theme (which is Downstait who did his WWE Themes, Zack Ryder’s, Dolph Ziggler’s, Miz’s, and a few others). WWE used generic royalty free music and they were classics like the Hardy Boyz and Hardcore Holly’s theme. Where are Impact finding these bad themes? The reason I’m harping so much on this is because when El Patron wins a match these days, they follow it with a goofy sounding 15 second trumpet loop. To quote Mojo Rawley this time, “That ain’t hype!”.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Todd Martin on his background, attending pro wrestling events in Japan, the NJPW G1 Tournament, why lucha libre companies haven't been as successful as NJPW in the United States, AEW optimism, covering pro wrestling and MMA, and more (68:57)...