By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Johnny Impact vs. Austin Aries for the Impact World Championship: Credit to Johnny Impact the past few weeks for steering clear of that “corny crap” (to quote Eli Drake). In particular, he cut a very inspired promo before the match which also took some good jabs at free agent Austin Aries. Less is more with Johnny. The match was solid with these two having great chemistry. Impact Wrestling needs Aries in an actual program but what they don’t have to worry about is his in ring because he’s still putting on good matches with a variety of opponents.
Lashley and Cage vs. OVE: The best part of splitting OVE and LAX is that you can get their great work spread out all across the show. OVE loses again, but I did like that Impact didn’t decide to have Lashley destroy Jake and Dave Crist all by himself. This company, albeit a previous regime, once had Drew Galloway beat Lashley and Decay by himself and Gail Kim doing similar things in the Knockouts Division. The only goofy thing that didn’t make sense was Cage all of a sudden standing on the apron and becoming Lashley’s tag team partner. Technically that was interference and the referee should have ejected Cage or call for a DQ, right? Suspending your disbelief shouldn’t equal having your intelligence insulted.
Allie vs. Laurel Van Ness for the Knockouts Title: This match had a rough start with strikes that were missing by a mile and then some scary looking suplexes, but as the match intensity picked up so did the quality. The pre-match promo to set up the match did a good job in showing the evolution of Allie. The simplest tell of that evolution was Allie using more of a mature tone compared to her squeeky one. Back to the match, it’s a shame we can’t get any more Laurel matches in Impact Wrestling because she pulled out a cool looking aggressive moveset with the Unprettier and Curb Stomp variations looking credible. One thing I did find odd was Josh Mathews framing this as Allie’s first title win without saying it. The reason he couldn’t say it was because this is her second title reign since she beat dethroned Sienna and laid down in the ring for Maria a few years ago.
Matt Sydal vs. Taiji Ishimori for the X Division and Grand Championships: This was a strong junior heavyweight style match with the right mix of strong style strikes and high flying with both wrestlers specializing in that hybrid style. Another positive is the consolidation of the two extraneous belts. Hopefully it’s consolidation of dissolution similar to when Lashley won the King of the Global TV Booker T Legends Red Belt, he threw it on the ground and we never saw it again. Another positive is Impact sticking with singles matches in the X Division as opposed to the multi person circus shows. I’m not fully understanding what they are going for with this heel hippy Sydal character, but at least he’s going all in with it on the mic. Hopefully Sydal can bring some interest back to the belt similar to when Low Ki had that good run last year.
LAX vs. Trevor Lee and Caleb Konley for the Impact Tag Titles: A very fun and fast paced match with very little rest points. There was a ton of motion in this match, but that’s been the MO of LAX 2.0 since they showed up last year. Lee and Konley showed something here in being the “practical” tag team of the two. If they took these two seriously rather than having them play the role of southern goofballs, Lee and Konley have the talent to come off similar to world class tag team of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, The Revival. While Cult of Lee got some shots in, the match was pretty much one sided with LAX always being ahead, especially since Konnan delivered some hits on his end. Here’s hoping that at the next set of tapings they try to bring in or pair together some new tag teams since the Impact tag team division is still just LAX and OVE. To the credit of Jeff Jarrett’s creative team, they were on the verge of something with LAX, OVE, VOW, Garza Jr. and Laredo Kid, Reno Scum, Decay, and the other teams brought in last year, but for some reason they all disappeared almost at once.
Bobby Lashley promo: A small moment after the tag title match, but Lashley hasn’t talked in a really long time, since for some reason they made him play the Tyrus role to Dan F’n Lambert. What made this a bit special was it was his first babyface promo since he’s become a good promo. This guy was among the worst promos in pro wrestling and I’m not being that hyperbolic. He was down there with Eva Marie. What Lashley said to McKenzie Mitchell wasn’t anything too special or the greatest thing in the world, but it shows that the guy is a hit on the microphone and this creative team and the prior Jarrett regime totally missed the boat on him since he’s strong and confident now.
Overall Show: Color me surprised. Impact Wrestling put on a good wrestling show. While the company is still lacking in storylines and supplementary promo videos, the huge positive here was the focus on in-ring competition. There was a nice touch of McKenzie Mitchell doing pre-match interviews with several of the wrestlers. Best of all, they didn’t have any poor quality independent wrestling footage. I may just be used to how bad this show is consistently, but for now I think this may be the best episode of Impact since Matt Conway left the company back in March/April of last year and the company decided to take a completely different creative direction.
Impact Wrestling Misses
GWN Match of the Week: I’m not sure why they’re showing huge portions of matches on the show? This screams “waste of time” and it’s them killing time of course. In addition to being a “waste of time” this is wasted time, time that could have been utilized to do a vignette, promo, or cinematic. Remember two years ago when they would fill this time with Lashley beating up people or that time that Rosemary learned black magic from a talking tree? In fact, Impact has a better version of this, the Pluto TV moment which only last a few seconds and actually leave you wanting more. To be honest, their Pluto TV service is also the superior product to the Global Wrestling Network.
Feast or Fired Advertisement: I know it’s a piece of their “legacy”, but most of TNA’s legacy sucks. Part of this miss is having to review the past few years of matches which, involved a lot of dumb shiz, but this match also screams WWE inferiority complex. To bring things to modern times that make no sense, if Fallah Bahh, the man who has not won a singles match on this show, can get Grand and X Division title shots on a weekly basis; and in the company that has only two tag teams, why would you put your career on the line for something you can just ask Scott D’Amore for? The funny thing about the fired part is a lot of people can get this meaningless pink slip and it won’t matter since we knew (non-kayfabe of course) that they were on their way out. EC3, Lashley, Laurel Van Ness, and Hania the Huntress. You don’t even have to be in the match to take a briefcase. That’s how Velvet Sky once got a pink slip.
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