By Jason Powell
GFW Impact Wrestling Hits
Eli Drake wins the GFW Championship: Former WWE wrestler Johnny Impact (John Hennigan/John Morrison/Johnny Mundo) made his first appearance in the Impact Zone, yet GFW did not make the mistake of putting their top title on him right out of the gate. TNA was notorious for pushing former WWE stars ahead of their homegrown talent, but GFW did not fall into the same trap on this night. And I have no problem with Johnny Impact taking the fans on a journey and eventually winning the championship if it makes sense down the road, but it would have been a mistake to have his character reach its peak on night one. Rather, the company went with the talented Drake, who had been criminally underutilized at previous GFW tapings. In fact, Drake had been booked so poorly lately that this feels a bit like Jinder Mahal coming from the undercard to win a major championship. That said, Drake is a terrific talker and he’s shown a lot of promise in the ring when paired with quality opponents. This is a fresh and exciting move by the company and I am genuinely looking forward to seeing how his title reign goes.
OVE vs. The Heatseakers: A better showcase match for OVE than their debut match. The Crist brothers dominated the match and seemed to click more the second time around. Here’s hoping we start to hear from the duo so that we get a better feel for the personalities beyond just having Jeremy Borash state that their are polar opposites.
Impact on the road video package: Say what you will about the small crowds, but the video effectively showcased the highlights of the GFW live experience. It was a good call to have fans who attended the shows deliver testimonials that focussed on the events being family friendly and the talent being accessible.
Grado and Joseph Park: Grado struggled to connect with the audience during his early time with the company, but this paring with Park has been very effective. The return of Laurel Van Ness to her bombshell look was a welcome change. The Courtney Love version of Van Ness had a campiness to it that just never worked for me. That said, Van Ness is a good performer and hopefully this change sticks.
Taryn Terrell: Terrell brings sex appeal and does a really nice job of playing her character. The Laurel Van Ness crazed character was too over the top for my taste, whereas Terrell’s crazy feels more believable. Terrell shined as the leader of Dollhouse and she’s picking up right where she left off.
GFW Impact Wrestling Misses
Dan Lambert and American Top Team: The night opened with Lambert and American Top Team bickering with Jeff Jarrett and GFW management. Suddenly, James Storm got involved in the bickering for no apparent reason. Worse yet, the company crowned a new champion in the gauntlet battle royal, yet inexplicably felt the need to showcase the American Top Team ringside drama just seconds after Drake won the title. I enjoy seeing MMA fighters crossover and become serious pro wrestlers, but the vast majority of pro wrestling fans have no earthly idea who Lambert or these fighters are. Have they even mentioned the fighters by name yet? Perhaps one or more of the fighters will catch on if they end up crossing over, but why does GFW think that having the owner of an MMA training team on their television show is entertaining for viewers? My guess is that the reason for all of this is spelled out on the American Top Team Wikipedia page: “Ricardo Liborio, in 2001, left Brazilian Top Team to start ATT with hotel executive Dan Lambert as a partner. Lambert provided financial support and business expertise, while Liborio formed a small group of Brazilian fighters to join him in Coconut Creek.” In other words, watch your wallet, Dan.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ProWrestling.net's Will Pruett discussing AEW Full Gear including the polarizing Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega match, what's drawing Will to AEW Dynamite over NXT TV, the appeal of NWA Powerrr, and much more...