By John Moore
GFW Impact Hits
Sienna vs. Rosemary in a Last Knockout Standing match for the GFW Knockouts Title: This was a really fun hardcore match and possibly a better Knockouts title match than their Slammiversary encounter. GFW also gets credit here for not giving away the rematch a few days out and instead put some space between the title change and rematch. This match should also be applauded for its efficiency in rough spots. There were some painful looking spots, but there weren’t so much as to put Sienna or Rosemary’s health/career at risk. I was also a fan of KM’s involvement because it was just enough to protect Rosemary and find a way to get Sienna out with the strap.
Rosemary: I’ll give Rosemary a Hit because next to Lashley, she’s the most credible member of the GFW roster. She’s also doing great things despite GFW’s shoddy booking strategies. I’m not sure if a lot of people are picking up on it but ever since Crazzy Steve left, Rosemary has started to adopt his Joker mannerisms and face paint. That’s great character progression and I like that they told this story through subtlety like having her in the rafters during LAX’s “funeral” for Steve. Rosemary as a babyface is less deep than her heel character, but she has been a pleasant surprise in the role and it looks like the kids in the crowd are really gravitating towards her. Rosemary benefited from her Lucha Underground inspired cinematics last year and I hope they give her a few more like they do for LAX because the “Rosemary Universe” is so intriguing. I can argue that those Rosemary cinematics, minus lovesick Bram, were written even better than most Lucha Underground cinematics. What I’m afraid of with the Knockouts, and this is a legit hypothesis given Jeff Jarrett’s nepotism, is that the main storyline of the Knockouts might be Sienna against Karen Jarrett with Gail Kim as Karen’s proxy. I hope that’s not going to be a thing.
Taiji Ishimori vs. Davey Richards in a Super X Cup match: The Super X Cup continues to be the highlight of the Impact shows. I can’t complain about anything they’ve done so far (other than have Drago wear a t-shirt that one time). The clever twist the build to this match was they worked around Ishimori’s limitations by splicing his documentary piece with Davey Richards. Davey and Ishimori delivered in the ring with a really fun matchup. I could watch those kick and ankle lock exchanges for days. It’s a bit saddening that we’re counting down to the end of Davey Richards’ wrestling career (for now) as he is off to become a doctor. After AJ Styles left the company, TNA/Impact/GFW have benefited in that even though TNA/GFW can drop one crapfest of a show, you can count on Richards and Eddie Edwards to save it with a really good technical match (as evidenced in 2017 with the fun Davey vs. Eddie feud).
Grado and Joseph Park: This one gets a minor Hit due to the solid development of this comedy storyline. Laurel can be a bit overbearing and it’s odd that Kongo Kong was built up so well as a monster only to be regressed into a comedy role. The MVP for making these comedy segments work is Joseph Park. When Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash were feuding, JB was coming off just as petulant Josh, and it took Park to save him with Park’s natural charm.
Overall Show: Even though I had so many Misses, I just chalk that up to GFW continuing to show off their crappy TNA roots. The Knockouts Title match and the Super X Cup made this episode an enjoyable experience. I wouldn’t have objected if GFW edited out this awful LAX vs. GFW storyline because all you have to do is swing Rosemary vs. Sienna to the main event spot and it wouldn’t have been out of place.
GFW Impact Misses
Super Alberto: I’m not a proponent at all for the approach they are taking with Alberto El Patron and please note that my criticism over the angle is not a result of his outside issues. A part of the blame goes to the odd promos he’s been cutting in recent weeks where he’s all over the place, but Konnan does a good job covering that up with solid heel mic work. The huge problem I see with El Patron’s build is how they are going all in with him as the forced superhero. This was a criticism of the Jarrett creative regime in the past where preferential treatment is given to former WWE/WCW stars. This is evidenced in how Eli Drake and Andrew Everett were being built up as future stars and all of a sudden in one taping schedule the focus shifted over to Alberto and Matt Sydal. GFW had something with LAX 2.0 being a cool contemporary act that appeals to a wide audience range. Now with last week and this week’s Gauntlet Match, LAX has become what the League of Nations was to Roman Reigns. Alberto should be familiar with how this sucks because he was in the position Hernandez was in just a few months ago.
EC3, Eli Drake, and Chris Adonis vs. Eddie Edwards, Naomichi Marufuji, and Moose: The match quality of this match was fine and even really good at points. The problem with this is twofold. On one hand, the match was completely random because aside from Moose and EC3, the rest of the tag composition was random. On the other hand, putting most of these wrestlers in this position defines them down in the eyes of the audience. At one time, EC3 was TNA’s golden boy due to his stellar mic and character work. If GFW were still using the “Smackdown Six” model of last year that Dave Lagana and Matt Conway seemingly implemented (minus Marufuji and Adonis/Masters), you could have four interchangeable main eventers, which could lead to months of feuds. Instead, GFW had their first hour filled with this filler match with no progression. Moose even got kicked in the balls again! There was a time not that long ago when Moose was seemingly kicked in the balls every week for a month or two in TNA/GFW. To tack on another Miss here, I like that it seems that this creative team is talking up Eli Drake, but in order for him to succeed he needs to be separated from the mascot of 2010 WWE Superstars, Chris Adonis, who’s still doing his Chris Masters act in 2017.
Lashley and Matt Sydal: I’m actually fairly optimistic about the possibilities that can come from this feud. This is another feud in GFW where I see the inclusion of authority figure drama as a detriment. If Sydal and Lashley can do their thing, it would have been better than inserting Bruce Prichard into this. I’m not just complaining about Prichard just to complain about Prichard. Lashley calls out Prichard saying that he hates how people in Impact get title shots by just demanding them. Then Prichard came out and insults Lashley’s intelligence by just repeating Lashley’s statement back at him. Sydal coming out made sense but it wasn’t a good first showing because he could have gained a bit more if he didn’t have a mic. His hair and shy voice made me think George McFly.
Trevor Lee: We saw the reason I was guarded in my optimism of a Trevor Lee push. For some reason, GFW sees Trevor Lee as an idiotic comedy character when he should be a Daniel Bryan/CM Punk type wrestler. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have a character, but I’m also not a fan of him being a hillbilly stereotype that is sent out there for laughs. Bruce Prichard’s inclusion in this story also makes it worse because it’s GFW putting emphasis on the authority figures over the wrestlers. If anything, Lee should be getting heat, not Prichard.