By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Austin Aries vs. Eli Drake for the Impact Global Championship: So is it the Impact World Championship or the Impact Global Championship? It feels like they rename the title as often as they rename the company. Anyway, the promos from both men early in the match were effective (more on the Aries promo below). It still feels like the company needs to do something extra to make their main events and especially the title matches feel more must see. That said, the match itself was entertaining even if it did lack that big match feel that should have existed given the wrestlers involved. It still feels like the company made a mistake by having Aries win the title on his first night back. They would have been better served going with an angle between the two on that show designed to build up to the actual title match on this show. Hopefully they will avoid that type of hot shot booking going forward with the idea of building to big matches and thus making them feel special. I also hope they have a plan in place to rebuild Drake following his back-to-back losses to Aries. He was the right guy to hold the title when the company gave it to him, but his title reign suffered because they booked him as a pest heel rather than as a credible champion.
Brian Cage vs. John Cruz: An all out squash match with Cage getting 100 percent of the offense. This is exactly what Cage’s debut needed to be and I assume we’ll be seeing more of this in the weeks ahead.
Austin Aries promo: As much as I’ve enjoyed the work of Aries over the years, I’ve always felt that he struggled to click as well as a babyface as he has as a heel. He tends to stay true to his “Greatest Man That Ever Lived” persona, which works better when he’s a heel. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to hear Aries tone down the bravado during his promo. He came across both genuine and as a leader while addressing the changes in Impact Wrestling. It’s a refreshing change for the Aries babyface persona, and it gave the company the mouthpiece it desperately needs.
Taiji Ishimori vs. El Hijo Del Fantasma for the Impact X Division Championship: A good match that needed a better build. X Division Title matches should be made to feel prestigious. There was a minor setup last week, but on this show it just felt like it came out of nowhere and had all the fanfare of the meaningless tag team match. It was nice to hear the broadcast team finally explain why Ishimori wears the 6 mask to the ring. It may work for him in Japan, but I still don’t think the mask and the ratty looking t-shirt he wears early in his matches are beneficial in any way on Impact. The guy has a major league look that the mask and the t-shirt detract from.
EC3 and Tyrus vs. Johnny Impact and Matt Sydal: More of an in the middle than anything. The return of Tyrus came out of nowhere and without explanation. He simply appeared backstage and was welcomed back by EC3 moments before they headed to the ring for this match. A case can be made that they have enough history that not much more needed to be said, but I did come away wishing that his return would have meant more. The match was pretty straight forward with EC3 pinning Impact while using the ropes for leverage. There was no heat in that finish and this didn’t really leave me anxious to see where anyone involves goes next, but it filled some television time.
Overall show: This was the best show of the new Don Callis and Scott D’Amore booking era. They didn’t air any needlessly long flashback videos to promote their streaming service. They didn’t use any low budget footage taped at independent events. The entire show took place at the Impact Zone and most of the segments felt like they had a purpose beyond just filling time. The broadcast team of Josh Mathews and Sonjay Dutt did fine last week and were better this week. I continue to hope that they can raise their game and bring a big match feel to title matches and television main events. Overall, a solid edition of the Impact Wrestling television show.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Lashley vs. Sami Callihan: The match itself was Hit worthy. The problem is that the issue between Lashley and OVE feels under developed. We saw Callihan and his OVE buddies stuff Lashley in a car trunk last week. Suddenly, he’s out and they are having a match. Why did they target Lashley? The only explanation came from Josh Mathews, who said they wanted to attack the biggest dog in the yard. Okay, well what happened after Lashley was stuffed in the trunk? This felt rushed and the parking lot attack felt like the beginning of an interesting angle, not the entire angle. On the bright side, at least the match ended in a disqualification, meaning the storyline isn’t wrapped up yet. I assume that Eddie Edwards saving Lashley means that we’re going to be seeing some tag matches.
Allie vs. Hania the Huntress: There’s a major difference between these women when it comes to fitting their personas. Rosemary has made the crazed persona her own and I love the fitting pop culture references she uses for moves such as The Red Wedding and now The Upside Down. Meanwhile, there’s nothing about Hania that says Huntress beyond the dead animal that she wears on her head while walking to the ring. I have no idea what Hania’s true background is, but at this point it doesn’t seem like the gimmick is right for her. She’s very attractive has potential, but she needs work in the ring and either find the right groove with her character or simply find a new persona that doesn’t feel so arbitrary. The match itself was forgettable with Rosemary scoring a roll through victory and establishing her dominance over her newest foe way too soon. Perhaps creative had already figured out that Hania wasn’t going to work out? Keep in mind that Hania wrapped up with the company before the end of the latest set of tapings.
Allie and Laurel Van Ness: The secret admirer storyline seemed like an interesting hook that could play out through the course of the show. Instead, it was paid off quickly as a trap that Van Ness set for Allie. Oddly enough, this trap resulted in Allie beating the hell out of Van Ness and stuffing her back inside the production case she emerged from. This clearly didn’t put heat on Van Ness nor do anything to leave me anxious to see their next match. I have also been a big advocate for the Allie character, but she seems to have an identity crisis in that she plays the ultra bubbly and naive Allie one week only to play it straight the next. As much as I enjoy the original Allie, it feels like it’s time for her character to evolve and become more serious now that she’s becoming more serious as a wrestler.
Alberto El Patron attacks Moose: I appreciate the attempt to create a reason for their match taking place next week, but this beatdown angle was so basic and forgettable that it really didn’t accomplish anything.
Read John Moore’s Impact Wrestling TV Review. Moore has bonus thoughts in his audio review, which is available exclusively for Dot Net Members. Join us on the ad-free website and hear over 10 years of audio content via the Dot Net Members’ Signup Page.
NEW: Help support Prowrestling.net when you shop Amazon by starting your online Amazon shopping at Prowrestling.net/amazon. You are not charged extra, but we receive a small and very helpful commission on everything you purchase. Thanks for thinking of us every time you shop at Amazon.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...