By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Sonjay Dutt: The guy did go a bit overboard with the hamminess. That’s something he has to work on; but being hammy is much better than Josh Mathews, whose commentary is essentially Michael Cole from the WWE video games. Dutt was emotional and reactive to what he was watching on screen, which is what you want from a “voice of the product” and “link to the viewers”. When he was doing play-by-play, he was calling the moves right and trying his best to put over the talent in the ring. Josh was a wrestler who can pivot between play-by-play and color, so why not have Dutt move over to play-by-play and have Don Callis on color?
Lashley and Brian Cage: A short and simple segment with two guys acting exactly the way you would expect them to act. Lashley was a hot head and reacted exactly how you’d think Lashley would act when a person threatens his pride. Cage established himself by eating his meal and acting unfazed to Lashley’s intimidation ploy. Impact is doing a good job at making the viewer look forward to things.
Taya Valkyrie vs. Rosemary: A strong brawl between two women trying to fight for superiority. Rosemary and Taya are both brawlers with similar styles which made for a good clash. I question giving this match away this early without a setup or build. That tends to be the problem with Impact Wrestling for a while. They set up a feud and go straight to the match. Thankfully, the match had the proper drag out opening with the double countout, which protected both women. I give them credit for is continuing to build up Taya strong. The match didn’t have an ending and they teased Rosemary returning the favor at the top of the ramp, but ultimately Taya hit yet another Road to Valhalla on Rosemary. Now, here’s hoping we get some backstage segments and/or beatdown angles.
Austin Aries and Alberto El Patron interview: This segment did a good job making me actually look forward to more Alberto El Patron and Austin Aries segments. Patron has been terrible since winning the World Championship last year. That bad “Patron Family” trios feud, the mediocre matches, and the ranting repetitive promos. This was the best mic work we’ve seen from Alberto since he joined this company and maybe the best heel work we’ve seen in him in eight or so years. I know it’s one segment, and I know this could have been a one hit wonder, but he was solid. He spoke well, affluently, and was being El Patronizing to Austin Aries (pun obviously intended). Aries returned the favor by holding his ground and doing his best character work since rejoining Impact. The best part of this segment was the good chemistry and the quotable gems: “This is meat. You get everything from meat.” “I get everything from bananas. Potassium?”… “You should try some”, “You should try to chew with your mouth closed.” El Patron is still unreliable as hell and all it takes is some consistency with him (just like this company). Here’s hoping Impact Wrestling can make the most out of their investment and also continue to put Aries in good promotional segments.
James Mitchell: I forget how good a promo this guy really is. Mitchell did exactly what a manager is supposed to do, make a program better by putting over all of the players involved. Mitchell put over Kongo Kong and Abyss as expected. I liked the small portion of the promo that helped get over Jimmy Jacobs a bit since Jacobs is lacking characterization in Impact Wrestling. Talk about affluence which I explained with Patron, Mitchell is extremely affluent. The guy was a one man show on the mic and cut a promo that it would take some people three weeks to promote. I wouldn’t mind seeing this guy in NXT to help some of the talent there in the mic department (the reason I don’t really want to see him stick in Impact Wrestling is because I know they’ll waste him on Abyss for life).
Sami Callihan vs. Fallah Bahh: Impact has something special in Fallah Bahh. I mentioned it before, but the Impact Zone is the hardest group of fans to entertain because they always seem disinterested. Bahh got everyone to smile and into all of his catchphrases. Bahh’s only suffering due to the scarce roster where he’s pigeonholed as their singles enhancement talent. He did do a great job building sympathy to enhance the Sami Callihan act. I like what they are doing, maybe inadvertently, with Sami. The baseball bad accident got a lot of heat so they are at least wise to capitalize on it as long as Eddie is okay with in and in good health. What I like about keeping him in the enhancement area of the card is that they are building him up for a potential main event run down the road if a babyface transitional champion is up there. I wouldn’t even mind seeing Sami and Austin Aries do some work as long as we can get some cinematics to build up to an encounter.
Eddie Edwards: Just a feel-good hit here. It’s great to see Eddie Edwards in good health since damage around the orbital bone and nose area can be fatal or long term if the accident was worse. Similar to how Callihan’s taking advantage of it, the war scars on Eddie’s face can be sold as badass.
LAX: The segment they had was small but the crew continues to show why they are the best part of this show and the best thing to come out of the terrible 2017 year. The segment kept LAX relevant on a show that they didn’t participate in person. It also continues to add humanity to LAX, who come off as fam being fam, homies being homies. Hanging in the yard, playing dominos, and kicking back is something regular people do and made LAX come off as relatable.
Overall Show: Last week’s Crossroads was simple and no-nonsense and this week’s was as well. The Feast or Fired concept sucks, but that can be attributed to TNA’s sucky history. Before two or three weeks ago, the biggest problem I said this show had was in building anticipation for the future. With the Aries and El Patron segment, The Edwards and Callihan build, and the Rosemary and Taya match, this company is building anticipation. Best of all, we haven’t had dumb ass stuff happen in matches and no gratuitous REF BUMP finishes. I do miss the Dave Lagana, Matt Conway, and Billy Corgan method of booking main eventers to be important, deep and intricate storylines, and cinematic approach to things. That said, if this company can continue to put on good shows, consistency is key, this might be a destination company again. For two weeks, this has been solid, and here’s hoping they don’t fall into another string of mundane and nonsensical episodes.
Feast or Fired: The best part of the match was Dutt’s commentary at the onset. It’s not that the talent involved is terrible. The wrestlers here are world class talent with the exception of Rohit Raju, who just appears randomly to lose. The match is a clustermess. The other negative is the match concept to begin with. Invisible Chris Adonis put it best in his phone call with Eli Drake, why show up to a match where the “reward” is getting fired? The title shots aren’t much of a reward because they haven’t established how difficult it is to get a title shot. Like I said last week, Fallah Bahh gets title shots whenever so why risk your job and not just ask Scott D’Amore (the man who was established as the on-air authority at the end of the last year).
Matt Sydal and Josh Mathews: This reveal didn’t really click other than to establish Sydal as a heel. There is some good that can come out of this if they pull Mathews from commentary and dissolve the Grand Championship. This was more of an “ok… that happened?” payoff rather than be fun, shocking, or heat generating. This is a minor miss though because this can lead to something good, this segment was just not good. I am starting to like how Sydal’s going deep into this hippy character. I grew up and live in California and run into a lot of people who act like the current Matt Sydal character and they are in fact annoying. Here’s hoping with Mathews as his manager, he adds a bit of an edge on top of the annoying.
GWN Moment of the Week: I get why they showed it, but playing it continues to show why it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I thought the worst part was reminding viewers that back then they used to have people like Jay Lethal, The Machine Guns, Lance Hoyt, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Christopher Daniels, and others. The fans were also more interested back then. It both makes today’s product look inferior while also failing to lure the viewers to their mediocre streaming service.
Feedback is always appreciated and feel free to contact me via twitter @liljohnm to tweet and discuss pro wrestling or anything for that matter. You can also comment and discuss professional wrestling topics directly with me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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