Impact Wrestling TV Review: EC3 vs. Moose vs. Alberto El Patron vs. Johnny Impact for a shot at the Impact Global Championship, Laurel Van Ness vs. Kiera Hogan for the Knockouts Championship, new broadcast team

By John Moore, Staffer (@liljohnm)

Impact Wrestling
Aired February 8, 2018 on Pop TV
Taped January 10, 2018 in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios

The Impact intro teaser focused on Eli Drake’s “Facts of Life” segment from last week where Eli Drake randomly decided to lay it on thick with the Austin Aries catchphrases. This of course led to Austin Aries interrupting the segment and beating Eli Drake for the Impact Global Championship on his first night back with the company. The intro teaser had highlights from Austin Aries’s TNA history and title wins. The Impact intro theme aired. Austin Aries was added to the theme and there were plenty of Owl clips…

The show opened up with Ethan Carter III, Moose, Alberto El Patron, and Johnny Impact walking through Universal Studios. The AAA Lucha Libre logo was on the video wall. El Hijo Del Fantasma (a.k.a. King Cuerno) made his entrance. Apparently, he beat Johnny Mundo for the AAA Latin America Championship sometime in the last month or so. His partner was the man whose real name is Hakim Zane. He is now being called Rohit Raju. Josh Mathews checked in on commentary and was joined by Sonjay Dutt on commentary. Jeremy Borash is now working with WWE now. Dutt called himself the resident Indian expert and told us that Rohit Raju is representing Hydrabad, India…

1. El Hijo Del Fantasma and Rohit Raju vs. Taiji Ishimori and Matt Sydal. The two babyface teams started off the match with a code of honor handshake. Fantasma and Ishimori started off the match with another handshake. Mathews talked about how four countries were represented in this match which makes Impact Wrestling “Truly Global”. The match started off with traditional chain wrestling. Dutt told the viewers that Fantasma defeated El Texano Jr at AAA’s big Guerra de Titanes event last week. The two wrestlers had an agility stalemate next.

Dutt talked about how not only do the four wrestlers come from different countries but also have different styles like American, Lucha Libre, and Japan. Sydal and Raju tagged in which led to Sydal dominated. Raju got a nearfall after a low sweep. Sydal hit a sweep of his own and a shooting star. Mathews said Rohit is “embracing his culture” in changing his wrestling name. Dutt also talked about how Sydal and Ishimori having background in Dragon Gate. Sydal and Ishimori traded quick tags for tandem offense on Raju. Sydal hit Raju with a rolling sobat and half crab.

Ishimori tagged in. Sonjay Dutt said his favorite part about Ishimori is when he rips off his shirt. Raju managed to tag in Fantasma who cleaned house with the hot tag. Fantasma dominated heading into the break. [C]

Fantasma had Sydal locked in a Surfboard and converted it into an innovative Surfboard Dragon Sleeper. Ishimori ran in with kicks to break up the submission. Fantasma hit Ishimori with thrust kick. Sydal hit Fantasma with a high stagger kick. Sonjay Dutt talked about how he was excited in anticipation for El Hijo Del Fantasma’s Arrow From the Depths of Hell Suicide Dive.

John’s Thoughts: The broadcast team and people on social media always hype up Fantasma’s suicide dive as the best thing ever. I can share the same sentiment from a personal experience in the crowd at live Lucha Underground events. Fantasma, who works as King Cuerno in Lucha Underground, has the best suicide dive that I’ve ever seen in person.

Rojit and Sydal took each other out at ringside. Ishimori escaped Fantasma’s Thrill of the Hunt driver and tossed him to ringside. Ishimori hit Fantasma with a running springboard moonsault which Dutt dubbed “The Golden Moonsault” (I absolutely love Dutt’s Kota Ibushi reference). There was a pile of prone bodies on the outside. Ishimori and Raju brawled in the ring. Rohit hit Ishimori with a La Mistica submission. Sydal made it in the ring to give his team the numbers advantage. Fantasma broke up a subsequent pin attempt with a running front kick to Sydal’s face. Fantasma fought out of the corner and hit both Sydal and Ishimori with tilt-a-whirl backbreakers.

Fantasma nailed Sydal with a loud slap to the chest of Sydal. Sydal went for a crucifix but Fantasma maintained a vertical base. Fantasma tagged in Rojit and the team performed a double team Go To Sleep. Sydal escaped danger with a high knee on Rojit and a Frankensteiner on Fantasma. Ishimori landed a springboard senton on Fantasma. Rojit went for another La Mistica but Ishimori turned it into a gutbuster piledriver. Sydal hit Raju with Air Bourne for the win.

Taiji Ishimori and Matt Sydal defeated Rojit Raju and El Hijo Del Fantasma via pinfall in 11:33 of TV Time.

Sydal struck his yoga pose and celebrated his win with Ishimori. Fantasma stood up and formally congratulated Sydal and Ishimori with polite bowing. Dutt mentioned how Raju was so hurt that he couldn’t even stand. Josh Mathews advertised Austin Aries “Speaks to the Press” for later in the show… [C]

John’s Thoughts: While this match was completely random and has no real storyline implications, it was a really fun match with good action from both teams. Hakim Zane/Rojit Raju is still a bit rough around the edges but he fared pretty well in the ring with three high quality veterans. On another note, Dutt was pretty good in his commentary debut match. For starters, he has a good voice, he put over the movesets of the wrestlers, and he also offered great color insight with background information. Trading out Borash for Dutt also makes this show truly feel like a new era since Borash was the voice of a very bad Impact Wrestling year.

Austin Aries was shown at a post-match Press Conference. Aries said it feels great to be back. Aries said he’s as shocked as everybody to win the title on his first night back. Aries was asked about signing with Impact Wrestling. Austin Aries said he is not signed to the Impact Wrestling roster and is a “Free Agent” who’s wrestling all over the world for many titles (so he’s the [not] TNA version of John Cena?). Aries was asked about possibly losing the title in other promotions that aren’t Impact. Aries said he’s offended at the idea of losing the championship in general. Aries tried to close out the conference. Eli Drake ran into the conference and ranted. Aries told Drake to get ready for a rematch so that next time when he loses he will not have excuses. Aries told Drake to find some cheese to eat with his wine…

John’s Thoughts: Simple, effective, and most importantly different. It wasn’t ground-shaking but just like Dutt on commentary I like anything that screams “not TNA!” and even has the shortest semblance of being new. I also like them going more reality based with the press conference setting as opposed to the tired old “Skits” that WWE would employ. NXT does the same thing with the press conference thing and I applaud them there too. This also screams Don Callis influence because of the New Japan tactics. That’s good.

Josh Mathews advertised Austin Aries vs. Eli Drake for the Impact Global Championship next week as well as a fatal four way for the number one contendership on this episode. Mathews cut to the GWN Bonus Match of the week which was when Austin Aries cashed in “Option C”…

Global Wrestling Network Bonus Match: Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries for the TNA Heavyweight Championship. Mike Tenay and Jeremy Borash were on commentary and there was a four-sided ring in this point in time. Bobby Roode rolled away from a 450 and hit one of his signature Arn spinebusters. Roode used a hammerlock to toss Aries into the turnbuckle. Roode locked in a Crossface on Aries. After about a minute or so, Aries made it to the bottom rope. Roode went to ringside to grab the title from So Cal Val. Brian Hebner took the title from Roode which allowed Roode to hit Aries with a low blow. Roode got a two count. Borash talked about how Roode’s playbook consists mostly of shortcuts.

Roode and Brian Hebner shoved each other which allowed Aries to dropkick Roode. Roode blocked the brainbuster and shoved Aries. Because this is TNA, the shove turned into a Brian Hebner Only in TNA REF BUMP!!! Roode hit Aries in the head with the title belt. Hebner struggled to get the count in. Aries kicked out at two much to Roode’s shock. Aries reversed a fisherman suplex into a rollup. Aries hit a kick and brainbuster suplex on Roode to pick up the win.

Austin Aries defeated Bobby Roode via pinfall to become the New TNA World Heavyweight Champion.

Austin Aries’s non- generic rock music played (courtesy of Dale Oliver). Jeremy Borash talked about how Aries did this for his mother to give everyone a champion they can be proud of. Tenay talked about how this was a huge moment for the X Division. The highlights recapped the shoving and ref bump false finish. Borash reiterated that Bobby Roode title defenses mostly consist of cheating and shortcuts. The camera stuck with Aries who got an arena full of confetti…

Back in 2018, Josh Mathews advertised Kiera Hogan vs. Laurel Van Ness for the Knockouts Championship for later on this episode. Mathews also advertised “A Special Message from OVE”… [C]

The Cult of Lee made their entrance. Trevor Lee and Caleb Konley walked to the ring acting like goofballs. Trevor Lee wore a Puerto Rican flag as a bandana on his mouth. Lee and Konley were acting like goofballs. Their opponents were designated enhancement wrestlers…

2. Trevor Lee and Caleb Konley vs. Monroe and Reid. Josh Mathews said the local tag team was known as “Tech” which was what was written on their tights (are these computer repairmen?). Konley and Monroe started off the match. Dutt talked about how Lee and Konley look ridiculous. Reid tagged in and had the upperhand over Konley. Dutt talked about how he loved the four sided ring being back. It was time for Mathews’ obligatory Schitts Creek plug. Lee and Konley managed to cut the ring in half and isolate Reid away from his partner. Mathews went into WrestlePro’s “Brace for Impact” show which is airing on Twitch. Lee did a deadlift gutwrench which allowed Konley to get in a dropkick. Mathews talked about how Trevor Lee is pound-for-pound the strongest wrestler on the Impact roster.

John’s Thoughts: Then why not showcase that?!? My weekly Trevor Lee is vastly underutilized rant of the week. This guy screams Bryan Danielson comparisons yet they treat him like a dunce. WWE made Bryan a goofball, but at least he was showcased in main events as a goofball world champion with in-ring credibility.

Lee hit Monroe with his signature running punt to the chest. Reid fought both Cult of Lee members. Lee and Konley turned the tables quickly. Lee and Konley yelled “Orale vato” to mock LAX as they nailed Reid with a double team spike piledriver for the win.

Trevor Lee and Caleb Konley beat Monroe and Reid in 4:27.

Trevor Lee held up the LA hand sign. Dutt talked about how ugly he thinks Konley looks. Lee’s celebration was cut off by Konnan and LAX on the video wall. Konnan said everyone is trying to get over on LAX. Konnan said first they get attacked by the “ovaries” and now these two “fruit rollups” show up. Konnan said Lee and Konley are trying to act hard with bandanas but they are just going to end up staying wannabe, try to be, never gonna be’s. Konnan said they need to channel their inner wonder women to get acquainted with the word failure. Konnan said failure teaches you what not to do. Konnan said their mothers should have taught them the golden rules of not pulling superman’s cape, not spitting in the wind, and not messing with LAX. Homicide said it was time for duct tape. Konnan said time is clicking, ish is real, and LAX is coming Hasta La Muerte Despues. Homicide ended the promo by yelling “brrrrrrrryattttt”. Trevor Lee and Caleb Konley walked away from the ring acting paranoid and watching their backs…

John’s Thoughts: To Impact’s credit, I like that they gave Lee a clean win for once. Granted, it was over an enhancement guy, but that’s progress. Fingers crossed again, and hoping that they treat this feud seriously without LAX and Konnan just steamrolling over the goofball tag team. The key here is to have Lee and Konley get over on LAX at points. That’s what made OVE (w/Sami Callihan) so effective for so long against LAX. Even though he overshadowed Lee and Everett during the last run, I wouldn’t mind Don Callis picking up the phone and calling in Shane Helms to be Lee’s mouthpiece. Helms can be a good heat generator but where the Lagana and Conway creative team failed was putting the focus on Helms rather than the young promising talent.

Allie ran into Kiera Hogan in the Universal Studios lot and was super excited to see her. Allie talked about how she’s going to watch the match from backstage and have Kiera’s back if Laurel tries any funny business. Suddenly a production hand walked up to Allie with an absurdly large and comical envelope which had a purposefully large Valentine’s Day card in it. The card said “meet me at the Impact Zone next week the day after Valentine’s day… Your secret admirer”. Kiera Hogan walked away saying “good luck with that”. Allie playfully yelled “good luck to you too”… [C]

John’s Thoughts: Another cool segment with old school cute Allie. The secret admirer hook is also a good hook for next week.

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Moose about his confidence. Moose talked about how he went to school at Syracuse for four years and never made it to the National Championship. Moose said in 7 NFL years he never been to the super bowl. Moose said he’s been in Impact Wrestling for two years and never got a title shot for the world championship. Moose said he’s hungry for gold and you’re looking at the next Number One Contender. He did his Moose arm pump…

John’s Thoughts: To paraphrase Moose correctly, did he just talk about how excited he was in being a perennial loser? That’s kinda the story of Moose’s life in Impact Wrestling. I’m not being tough on the guy because I dislike his work. I was a huge proponent of Moose and was really looking forward to the Cedric Alexander vs. Moose feud (that fizzled out randomly) after Moose’s Goldberg like run in ROH. In Impact, he just gets beat up all of the time and hopes that babyfaces and celebrities bail him out.

3. Laurel Van Ness vs. Kiera Hogan for the Impact Knockouts Championship. Laurel towered over Hogan and gave her a headbutt. Hogan came back with Lucha Libre armdrags. Mathews talked about how Kiera Hogan was trained by Curtis Hughes. Laurel turned the tables and hit Hogan with a buckle curb stomp. Dutt talked about how Hogan was similar to Allie as far as personality was concerned. Dutt asked where was Braxton Sutter in relation to the mystery secret admirer.

Laurel dominated Hogan. Laurel hit Hogan with the curb stomp. Hogan escaped an Unprettier attempt with a rollup attempt. Laurel shoved Hogan to the corner. Hogan came back with a high crossbody. Laurel broke up a pin with a rope break. Hogan yelled “face the music” and was shoved into the ropes. Laurel caught Hogan off the rope rebound with a (bad looking) unprettier for the win.

Laurel Van Ness defeated Kiera Hogan via pinfall in 4:11 to retain the Impact Knockouts Championship.

Laurel went for a post-match beatdown on Hogan. Laurel shoved the referee. Allie ran out for the save. Allie nailed Laurel with a codebreaker. Allie chased Laurel out of the ring and celebrated holding up the Knockouts Championship…

John’s Thoughts: A bit rough, especially with that odd looking Unprettier attempt at the end. I like Hogan’s energy and she does have potential to make a name for herself in the Knockouts division. This loss doesn’t hurt her as she is a “up and comer” and can be built up to a showdown for the title down the road. As for Laurel, take away the news of her departure, she isn’t really connecting in this iteration of her drunk debutante character. Is she a heel? Is she a face? She was hanging out with the fans at one point and she doesn’t really terrorize babyfaces.

In some random parking lot, we were shown a handycam video feed. The record symbol was replaced with a red OVE logo. We could here one of the ohio guys breathing and stalking Bobby Lashley… [C]

Back from the break, another Brian Cage vignette aired where he as using his Lucha Underground label of being “The Machine”. Brian Cage’s debut was advertised for next week…

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed (current NXT Wrestler) Ethan Carter III. EC3 said there is about of speculation and controversy floating around on “is he here… or is he there?”. EC3 said it doesn’t matter at the moment. He said he stands at the best guy here, there, and anywhere. EC3 said if you don’t think he’ll fulfill his destiny he’ll ride off into the sunset. EC3 talked about how his goal is to become an EC 3 time world Champion. EC3 said he’s going to hunt a Moose, drink a shot of Patron, and that Johnny isn’t the only Impact person here because EC3 is the real Impact player and true one percent of the industry. EC3 walked away and did a goofy yelp…

It was time for the Pluto TV Rewind of the Week. This week’s rewind was The Wildcat Chris Harris hitting the Death Sentence on Christopher Daniels from the top of the cage. Of course, Don West was super excited for this…

A trailer aired for Austin Aries vs. Eli Drake in a World Championship match for next week…

Jimmy Jacobs and Kongo Kong were shown in a dark area backstage. Jacobs said despite what people say, he’s not a bad guy. Jacobs said he asked nicely from Joseph Park to bring Abyss this week, but there is no Abyss. Jacobs said he doesn’t like to repeat himself. Jacobs said if Joseph doesn’t bring the monster, he and Kong will drag the monster out of him…

Matt Sydal was talking in his transcendental speak and mentioned how his “spiritual advisor” talked to him about absorbing energy from other champions and bring it into his heart and soul. Sydal said Ishimori’s championship proves he has heart. Sydal said Ishimori vs. Fantasma has the potential to be one of the best X Division Championship matches of all time. Sydal told Ishimori to Ganbatae (do your best… Man, I watch too much anime to know what that meant.) Sydal gave Ishimori a bow as Ishimori left. Sydal said he can feel and absorb everything. Sydal said it was peace, love, and pro wrestling…

John’s Thoughts: Jimmy Jacobs came off as a B-Movie villain in that promo. Lack of characterization aside, at least Jacobs delivered it pretty well. As for the Sydal promo, they are obviously characterizing him as an awkward hippy now. It was a bit annoying at first but I have to say that I’m starting to get a chuckle out of the yoga hippy act now that he’s starting to dive all in on it.

Bobby Lashley’s OVE stalker was creeping around the corner as Lashley opened up his car trunk. Sami Callihan held up the camera as Dave and Jake Crist beat up Bobby Lashley and shoved him in the back of Lashley’s trunk. Callihan turned around the camera and did his Thumbs Up Thumbs Down catchphrase… [C]

John’s Thoughts: I wonder if they are going to kidnap Lashley and take him to the same unknown place Samoa Joe was taken to? Bad jokes aside, this OVE vs. Lashley feud has potential to be very fun. LAX vs. OVE was the best thing Impact did in 2017. Splitting them up allows both teams to spread their greatness into two very strong programs as opposed to keeping them isolated in their own Lucha Underground sub-universe.

A new Knockout, “Hania the Huntress”, made her entrance. Hania wore a Halloween animal pelt prop to the ring. Her opponent was the lady who was billed “from the garage”, Amber Nova.

4. Hania the Huntress vs. Amber Nova. Josh Mathews and Sonjay Dutt joked about how Amber Nova was billed as “from the garage”. Josh wondered if Nova was into race cars. Josh Mathews went into his PopTV for the show “Let’s Get Physical”. Sonjay Dutt said he would like to get physical but he has a torn Achilles tendon. Hania dominated Nova. After an axe kick, Nova kicked out of several pin attempts. Nova reversed a power bomb into a rollup. Nova caught Hania with dropkicks. Amber Nova hit an impressive huracanrana into the top turnbuckle. Hania hit a power bomb on Nova. Hania made a strange yelp and hit Nova with a Scorpion Death Drop for the win.

Hania defeated Amber Nova via pinfall in 4:38.

Dutt reminded the viewers that Amber Nova is from the garage. Rosemary blindsided and beat up Hania to return the favor for Hania’s attack. Hania escaped a Red Weeding attempt. Rosemary’s theme played to close the segment… [C]

John’s Thoughts: Someone needs to tell Hania that her underwear and tights were offset. Weird. Wardrobe malfunctions aside, not a great showing for the newest Knockout (who is already gone from the company). I talked about this in her debut, but she seems a bit too lackadaisical and would rather be anywhere else. The animal pelt screams savage but her demeanor screams ratchet and apathetic. Maybe it’s just me but I was more impressed by Amber Nova, the girl “from the garage”.

Ethan Carter III made his entrance first and was chatting with his fan club in the front row (the same four or five fans who seemed like the only people cheering all night. Vintage TNA Impact Zone). Speaking of dead crowds, the dead crowd was most evident only a few people in the crowd doing the Moose dance; and everyone loves doing the Moose dance.

5. Ethan Carter III vs. Moose vs. Alberto El Patron vs. Johnny Impact to become number one contender to the Impact Global Championship. Madness ensued. Moose fought Carter on the outside as Impact paired off with El Patron in the ring. Alberto used the ropes to assist him in stretching Johnny. Alberto ran out to Moose to take advantage of his attention being on EC3. Alberto and Ethan agreed to double team Johnny Impact. Back in the ring, the two heels double teamed Moose by putting the boots to Moose in the corner.

Johnny managed to fight off Alberto and Ethan back in the ring. Johnny shoved his boot into Alberto in the corner. El Patron escaped Johnny Impact by sending him outside with a flapjack. Josh Mathews told viewers to check out impact wrestling dot com to get updates as to what happened with OVE and Bobby Lashley. El Patron gave Moose a double DDT. El Patron and EC3 started to brawl after El Patron tried to steal a win over Moose. Johnny hit EC3 with a corkscrew crossbody and dominated everyone in the ring. Johnny gave El Patron a running knee. Moose broke up the pin and gave Johnny a popup power bomb.

Johnny Impact gave Moose a superkick. This led to all four bodies lying on the floor. All four men beat the ten count. All of the men brawled on the way to their feet. Impact cut to commercial. [C]

Moose and Johnny Impact were brawling back from the break. Moose and El Patron brawled on the outside. El Patron tossed Moose into the audience and around the barricade. El Patron tossed Johnny Impact and EC3 into the crowd too. Johnny Impact grabbed crutches from a fan and beat up El Patron and EC3 with them. Mathews noted that Moose has been knocked out since El Patron tossed him into the barricade in the fan area. El Patron tossed Johnny Impact into a green plastic trash can. Johnny hit El Patron with a can.

El Patron broke up a pin attempt in the ring. El Patron hit Johnny with a spike DDT which Johnny sold like a champ. EC3 and El Patron went back to the double team. Mathews noted that Moose was still knocked out. Johnny Impact fought off of the top rope and went for a double power bomb on both opponents. Moose hobbled on one leg in the ring. Moose and Johnny hit both opponents with power bombs. Moose gave Johnny a clothesline. El Patron went for a lariat on Moose but Moose beat El Patron to the punch. Moose gave EC3 and Johnny headbutts. Moose struggled to attack both opponents in the corner. Johnny Impact countered the Go to Hell with a huracanrana. EC3 hit Moose with the One percenter.

Johnny Impact hit the Moonlight Drive on EC3 for the nearfall. El Patron kicked Johnny off the top rope to prevent the Impact Elbow. El Patron attacked all three opponents with kicks and enziguris. El Patron locked in a cross armbreaker on EC3. Moose broke up the submission with a running senton. Moose struggled to get out a baseball slide which caused Sonjay Dutt to cringe. Johnny Impact took down El Patron. Ethan Carter III tried to win with a schoolboy. Johnny picked up a surprise win with a bridged rollup on Ethan Carter III.

Johnny Impact defeated Ethan Carter III, Moose, and Alberto El Patron via pinfall in 16:18 of TV Time.

Ethan Carter III’s face sold shock as Johnny Impact celebrated his win with the fans in the front row. Josh Mathews said this might have been the Match of the Year (nope, it isn’t…). Josh said the future of Impact Wrestling looks bright. Josh also told the viewers to tune in tomorrow for “Brace for Impact”…

John’s Thoughts: Josh was laying it on a bit too thick there with “Match of the Year” and “bright future”. That said, the effort was there. If I remember correctly, I believe Moose was legit hurt. Props to Moose for toughing it out, but was it worth it if he’s possibly risking long term damage? Here’s hoping there’s a level of “work” in there. The main event scene needs some repair. Ethan Carter III was the most over and well-rounded person in the match, and he’s already shown up on NXT. I’m happy Lashley is back to being a main eventer, but he’s out too. Johnny Impact needs character work, Moose needs credibility, and Alberto El Patron looks like he’s in the “League of Nations”.

One huge glaring negative was not by Impact’s fault, but rather the Impact Zone. They were given moments to cheer during this show but aside from those five or seven people in the Bound for Glory shirts in the front row, everyone was sitting on their hands or on their phones. Moving past that, I liked this episode more than last week’s show. While there were some kinks in the cogs, this week felt more “new” than last week. I like that Impact set up several hooks for next week and beyond. LAX and Cult of Lee is going to happen. Allie has a secret admirer. OVE is targeting Lashley. Johnny Impact is number one contender (which is not too exciting). Eli Drake vs. Austin Aries is next week. They set the table for some things. Sonjay Dutt on commentary added a fresh outlook and moving away from Borash also gives this a new feel. I’m not sure what happens when/if they bring in Don Callis on commentary since he is a color commentator. Make sure to check back later today for Jason Powell’s Hit List and members’ exclusive audio review.

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