By Jason Powell
Impact Wrestling Hits
Low Ki vs. Andrew Everett vs. Trevor Lee in an Ultimate X match: The announcement of the Ultimate X match last week created mixed feelings. The action was sure to be good given the format of the match and the talent involved, but it felt like another case of Ultimate X being used randomly rather than being built up for a key moment. As it turned out, this was a key moment. After all the lip service fans have heard from various management members over the years about making the X Division great again, Impact finally made an honest effort to showcase the X Division in a meaningful way. The video packages were terrific and did a great job of making the match, the division, and these three wrestlers feel important. It was great for one night and it felt like a new era for the division. The key is the follow up. Will they continue to spotlight the X Division wrestlers in this fashion or will they go right back to random spot fests?
LAX vs. Garza Jr. and Laredo Kid: A strong match to open the show. I cringed when they went to this match without any build because it felt like they were giving away their best tag match. Fortunately, the match was very good and the finish gave Garza and Kid an out that set up the need for future matches. That said, if Garza and Kid are out of the tournament, what quality tag teams are left to face LAX?
EC3 vs. James Storm: A good follow up to EC3 violently whipping Storm in a recent angle. The involvement of Magnus was smart in that it was too soon to book a clean finish, and it also sets up next week’s Triple Threat. There are plenty of veterans who left or haven’t been booked well since the new creative regime took over, but Storm has benefitted greatly from the change thus far. It was also good to see Magnus delivering good mic work being positioned well for the first time since he returned.
Overall Show: This was the best edition of Impact in 2017. It certainly helped that they had three quality matches, but there was a better flow to the show than we’ve seen in the past. The production team did a tremendous job. They set the tone for Ultimate X right out of the gate and did a terrific job throughout the night of making the match feel important. And while the Rockstar Spud videos aren’t doing much for me in that it’s hard to be excited about Spud feuding with Swoggle, they are slick and well produced. The production work in 2017 has been an improvement over 2016 and it was nice to see their work showcased on this episode.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash: The weekly bickering continues to drag down the show. The return of Joseph Park as Borash’s lawyer was cute, but it’s just not enough to justify the negative effect that that bickering broadcast team members have on the show. Mathews has proven that he has the qualities to be a strong antagonist and I hope this eventually leads to him being given a shot as a manager. I’m anxious for Slammiversary if only because it seems to be the end point for this bad chapter in heel play by play voice history. On a positive note, it was a nice move to have Borash replace Mathews in time to give the main event a more traditional call that placed the focus on the in-ring action rather than on what the broadcast team members were saying. Impact will be in good hands with Borash as the lead voice once the angle with Mathews finally concludes.
Bruce Prichard: It was very satisfying to see EC3 finally shove Prichard to the mat. After all, Prichard once put his arm around EC3 in the middle of the ring and spoke down to him, and then took a similar approach last night before EC3 finally reached his breaking point. The problem is that EC3 is a heel and it seems like they want Prichard to be viewed as a strong and likable authority figure. The idea to bring in Prichard stemmed from the popularity of his podcast. The Prichard we hear on the podcast is witty, entertaining, and a terrific storyteller. The Prichard we see on Impact television is an arrogant, condescending prick who talks down to the wrestlers. If this is all part of a plan to turn Prichard heel then they are on the right path, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the plan.
Allie: There are always changes for better and worse following a creative shakeup. James Storm is an example of a guy who was pushed stronger than he was before while others are casualties of the new regime. In Allie’s case, it seems like the new creative regime doesn’t understand what made her character click. Allie got over due to her adorable mic work in promos and angles. She has been muted by the new creative regime and now just comes across like a sidekick to her storyline boyfriend and real life husband. Braxton Sutter is fine as a mid-card act, but Allie was a star before she was silenced.
Sienna vs. ODB for the GFW Women’s Championship: ODB is the type of character that is better off in side programs away from the championship more often than not. She can be brought into the title picture at key points for showdown matches with heel champions. Unfortunately, she has already lost clean to both of the women’s champions in matches that were so brief that she lost something while neither champion felt like they gained much of anything.