By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling on PopTV
Taped in January 2018 in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
[Hour One] Impact opened with shots Moose, Petey Williams, Eli Drake, and EC3 at various locations in and outside the studio holding their Feast or Fired briefcases. Josh Mathews, who was joined on commentary by Sonjay Dutt, noted that three men would receive title shots while one of the four would be fired… Footage aired from the Feast or Fired match… The Impact opening video aired…
Alberto El Patron made his entrance. Mathews hyped the Austin Aries vs. El Patron match for the Impact Championship that will headline the Redemption pay-per-view. A brief clip of last week’s angle involving Aries and El Patron aired. El Patron delivered an in-ring promo and said he got what he wanted in that he has the title match against Aries. El Patron addressed the crowd as “amigos” and said he fights and doesn’t talk so he would save them 30 minutes of him talking about himself. He said Aries calls himself The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, but claimed he is actually that.
Austin Aries made his entrance carrying his four title belts. Aries sat on the top rope. El Patron clapped for him. Aries told him he could stop. Aries said they may come from different worlds, but they are not very different. He said if they are disrespected then they punch someone in the face. He said they both love pro wrestling and have won championships and have competed at the highest level. Aries said sometimes he calls himself The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, but he also calls himself The Truth because he’s the most real person in pro wrestling.
Aries said that when he looks into the eyes of El Patron he sees someone who is disingenuous. He said they don’t need to play mind games. He said El Patron wants his title shot and he’ll get it at Redemption. El Patron invited Aries to come face-to-face with him and Aries obliged. El Patron told him that he’s not the real champion until he beats him. El Patron said he wants his redemption. Some fans chanted “si, si, si” and El Patron said he’d die for them. El Patron said they both want the match and “let’s do it at Redemption.”
Aries said he thought El Patron wasn’t going to talk all night. Aries said they both have something to prove. He said El Patron is tall and he’s short. He said they both have chips on their shoulders, but his is bigger. El Patron told him to enjoy the Impact Wrestling Championship because it belongs to him. El Patron said “si” repeatedly and called for Austin’s music to be played and then left the ring. Aries called for him to stop and said he appreciated it, then had El Patron’s music played. Aries told him to enjoy it because he will still be champion after Redemption and this is his last chance to have his music played last… [C]
Powell’s POV: I have no clue what to make of El Patron these days. He teams with heels and acted like a prick in the segment with Aries last week, but he also calls the fans “amigos” and says he would die for them. It would be interesting if El Patron was a definitive babyface and Aries was foreshadowing his heel turn by calling him disingenuous, but the current approach is just plain confusing. The verbal exchange was decent if you can get past the weirdness that is the El Patron character.
Mathews and Dutt checked in from their studio. Mathews boasted that he’s the Grand Champion and his nameplate was being made. Mathews noted that he would be in the corner of Matt Sydal for his match and would then be back on commentary. They previewed additional matches…
1. Trevor Lee (w/Caleb Konley) vs. Fallah Bahh. Mathews spent time talking about how he is the spiritual adviser for Matt Sydal and once again boasted that he’s the Grand Champion. The broadcast team also spoke about the Global Wrestling Network briefly and hyped the Impact vs. Lucha Underground show. Early in the match, Lee distracted the ref and then Konley ran Bahh into the ring steps. Bahh came back and sat down on Lee.
Lee tried to escape the ring. Konley pulled Lee’s arms and Bahh pulled his legs. Bahh won the battle and pulled Lee and Konley into the ring and then steamrolled them in a fun spot. Bahh went to the second rope. Lee cut him off, but Bahh slammed his ass into Lee. Konley hit Bahh with a cheap shot and then Lee rolled up Bahh for the win…
Trevor Lee beat Fallah Bahh in 5:30.
Powell’s POV: A fun match with a weak finish. Bahh continues to click as a mid-card babyface while the talented Lee continues to spin his wheels. The finish was flat in that it felt like it should have taken more to beat Bahh.
OVE’s handheld camera footage showed Alisha Edwards entering a hotel room. They cut briefly to McKenzie Mitchell and Eddie Edwards on the interview set. Edwards freaked out over the footage. Sami Callihan remained behind the camera and told a cleaning crew woman that he locked himself out of his room. She ended up unlocking Alisha’s door for him… [C]
Powell’s POV: A creepy and compelling segment. I hope the idea is that Callihan is using a hidden camera rather than a handheld camera because I’d like to think that a hotel maid might be a little suspicious of a guy holding a camera in her face while asking her to let him inside a room.
After the break, Mathews recapped the Callihan and Edwards angle. He said Eddie Edwards left the Impact Zone and was headed to the hotel…
Backstage, Mitchell interviewed Petey Williams about being a briefcase holder. He said he would risk his job in order to be a champion again…
2. Matt Sydal (w/Josh Mathews) vs. Rohit Raju for the X Division Championship. Dutt flew solo on commentary for the match. Sydal wore his spirit animal mask during his entrance. Dutt complained about Mathews lying to him when he claimed to not know the identity of Sydal’s spiritual guide. Dutt hyped the reveal of the Feast or Fired briefcases. He said, “Someone is going to be fired tonight!” [C]
Raju caught Sydal as he went up top for his finisher, but Sydal still countered into a sunset flip powerbomb. Sydal followed up with his shooting star press finisher for the win…
Matt Sydal defeated Rohit Raju to retain the X Division Championship in 8:00 of television time.
Powell’s POV: It’s weird to hear the broadcast team (Mathews did it earlier) sound excited while hyping that someone will be fired. Granted, it’s the real hook of Feast or Fired, but it just seems strange that they would come off so giddy about someone losing their job. It’s also odd that they don’t at least attempt to make the shot at the Impact World Championship like an equal selling point. The match itself was fine, but the Sydal and Mathews act isn’t doing anything for me yet.
Mitchell interviewed Moose backstage. He said he doesn’t give a damn about getting an X Division Title shot. He said he doesn’t give “two damns” about getting a tag title shot. He said there was a chance he could be fired and he would worry about that if happened. He said he will be Impact Champion in 2018… Mathews hyped upcoming matches… [C]
After the break, Mitchell interviewed Eli Drake, who said he’s been fired from every job he’d ever had. He said he won titles after being fired by another company. He said it didn’t make a difference whether he gets to feast or fired. He said he is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Impact and everyone else is Obi-Wan Jabroni…
3. Allie vs. Sienna for the Knockouts Championship. Sienna attacked Allie to start the match and the 12 year-old referee rewarded her by calling for the bell to start the match.
[Hour Two] Late in the match, Sienna set up for a move, but Allie slipped away and delivered a high kick and scored the pin…
Allie beat Sienna in 3:40 to retain the Knockouts Championship.
Powell’s POV: The set up for this was really disappointing. Allie is an underdog champion while Sienna was a dominant champion. We really should have heard a nervous Allie and a very confident Sienna going into the match. Instead, it happened without any mic work from either woman and didn’t feel nearly as important as it should have. It also didn’t help matters that the broadcast team plugged things and spoke about the Edwards and Callihan storyline during the match. This was an opportunity to give Allie a meaningful win over a strong opponent. Unfortunately, it meant nothing due to the way the match was presented and booked.
After the match, Braxton Sutter came to the ring and tried to make up with Allie. He slipped and called her “Laurel” before corrected himself, then proposed to her just as he recently did Laurel Van Ness. Allie shook her head no. Suddenly, Su Yung attacked Allie from behind. The broadcast team gave some background information on her and said she is known as the Undead Bride as she roughed up Allie. Sutter watched and applauded as Yung left Allie lying. Yung started to leave the ring without Sutter, but he followed after her and praised her… [C]
Powell’s POV: The post match angle was much better than the wasted opportunity that was the actual match. I really don’t understand the need to include Sutter in this storyline, but perhaps it will make more sense as it moves forward. Yung’s look and gimmick will make her a logical opponent for Rosemary at some point.
An ad aired for the Impact Wrestling vs. Lucha Underground event that will be held during WrestleMania weekend… The broadcast team recapped the previous angle…
Mitchell interviewed EC3 backstage. EC3 said the briefcase holds his future inside it. Tyrus walked through the picture and said, “I hope he gets fired.” Moments later, Moose walked by and said he’d probably be fired. Richard Justice walked through and said he’d be fired. Fallah Bahh walked by and said, “No, no, no.” Taiji Ishimori walked by without saying anything. Johnny Impact strolled by and said he hopes he gets fired. Lashley showed up and did the throat slashing gesture before saying, “Fired”…
Powell’s POV: Holy foreshadowing, Batman.
The broadcast team recapped the Edwards and Callihan situation… They cut to the GWN Flashback Moment of the Week without any transition or introduction. This week’s match featured Mick Foley vs. Abyss. They didn’t show the finish this time. They just showed Abyss taking a bump from the entrance set and through the stage and then they just cut away…
Powell’s POV: I once again must ask what purpose does Impact management think these GWN segments serve? It’s nice that they didn’t show the match finish for once (assuming this was actually a match), but they just include a graphic in the corner and don’t actually promote the streaming service beyond that. There’s no pitch made or hook offered by these pointless weekly flashbacks.
They abruptly cut to Eddie Edwards rushing into the hotel and passing the maid who allowed Callihan to enter his wife’s room. Edwards entered the room and the lights were off. He burst into the bedroom portion of the room where his wife was asleep on the bed. She wasn’t happy he stormed into the room. Eddie searched the room as she questioned what he was doing. Eddie told her loved her and said everything was fine and she should go back to sleep. Eddie left the room and bumped into the maid, who was now Callihan in drag. Eddie apologized and Callihan said it was alright. Then they brawled while the OVE camera took over. Alisha got between them and covered Eddie while telling Calllihan to stop. Callihan put his hand in front of the camera and gave the thumbs down… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good and yet comical segment all at the same time. I’m trying to imagine what my girlfriend’s reaction would be if I burst into the bedroom with a cameraman while she was sleeping, and then I started searching the room. My guess is she’d think she was on that “Cheaters” television show and my ass would be in the doghouse if not dumped outright. In this case, Alisha was confused and bothered by Eddie’s behavior, yet she never acknowledged the presence of the camera. And speaking of the camera, it does appear that the idea was that Callihan was wearing a hidden camera rather than using a handheld camera, so that’s a positive. However, they lose points by having a camera crew showing Eddie’s car arriving at the building rather than making it seem like a cameraman was simply rushing behind him and trying to keep up with what was happening.
After the break, Mathews recapped the segment while using a somber tone. He called it an elaborate ruse orchestrated by Callihan. They cut to the studio and Dutt also spoke about the angle briefly, then they cut to hyping the remaining segments…
4. Abyss (w/James Mitchell) vs. Kongo Kong (w/Jimmy Jacobs) in a Monster’s Ball. Abyss hit Kong with a trashcan to the head and knocked him off the apron heading into a break. [C] Footage aired from during the break of Kong getting the better of Abyss. Back, um, not live, Abyss poured out thumbtacks in the ring. Jacobs hit Abyss from behind with a kendo stick. Abyss went after Jacobs and blocked another stick shot. Jacobs backed into Jance, which Mitchell was holding. Abyss chased Jacobs inside the ring.
Kong hit Abyss and chokeslammed him onto the thumbtacks and pinned him. Abyss caught Kong on the ropes and powerbombed him through a table in the ring and got a two count. Abyss set up the barbwire board in the middle of the ring. Kong recovered and ended up chokeslamming Abyss into the barbwire board and then followed up with a top rope splash for the win. “We have a new monster,” Mathews said…
Kongo Kong defeated Abyss in a Monster’s Ball.
The broadcast team hyped the Feast or Fired briefcase reveal segment for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: If you’ve seen one Monster’s Ball then you’ve seen them all. I’m completely numb to the Abyss garbage match at this point, but both men tried hard. This just didn’t have the big time showdown match feel that it should have given all of the time they took building up to it.
Jeremy Borash set the stage for the briefcase reveal as he stood in the ring with Eli Drake, Petey Williams, EC3, and Moose. He said they would open the briefcases in numerical order. Drake had number one so he opened his first to reveal that he earned a tag title shot. He didn’t look happy. “What am I supposed to do with this?” Drake asked. He said he doesn’t have a tag partner anymore. Drake threw the briefcase to ringside, but then picked it up and headed backstage.
Williams opened briefcase number two to reveal an X Division Title shot (shocking). Petey was happy. The crowd was flat (as they’ve been for most of this show).
Borash noted that they would have EC3 and Moose open their briefcases simultaneously. He asked if they had any final words. Moose said he did not. EC3 said, “See ya’ never, Moose, you’re fired.” Moose opened his briefcase first to reveal that he got the Impact World Title shot. EC3 didn’t open his briefcase. One of the broadcast team members laughed and said, “You’re fired, EC3.” Moose said 2018 will be the year of Moose, and then he left the ring.
EC3 had a look of shock on his face. Borash asked him to open the briefcase. Some fans sang the goodbye song. EC3 said it wasn’t his briefcase. He claimed it belonged to Taiji Ishimori. EC3 said there was not a man, woman, child, or a god on the planet who would make him open the case. Borash opened the case, which had “FIRED!” written in red letters.
Borash told EC3 that he was fired. Borash said EC3 had an incredible career in Impact Wrestling and wished him the best of luck. EC3 laughed and asked if it was a joke. EC3 took the mic and went on a rant about how he is the franchise and face of the company. “You are not cheering when I put myself over,” EC3 said to the crowd. He ran through his accomplishments and said he doesn’t get fired this way.
The fans chanted EC3’s name. He said the most important part of his name is “Carter” and he said the company needs him. EC3 settled down and said he’s a man and a professional. He said he gave them everything he had. “I accept my fate and one thing I know about being fired is that sometimes it can light a spark in you that carries you to absolute greatness,” he said.
The fans chanted “Thank you, Ethan.” EC3 thanked Borash and shook his hand. As Borash was praising him on the mic, EC3 hit Borash with the briefcase. EC3 tore off his “Property of Impact Wrestling” t-shirt and went back to hitting Borash a few more times with the briefcase.
Cage’s music played and he headed to the ring while Mathews hyped Cage vs. Lashley for next week. Cage went face-to-face with EC3, who looked into the camera and shrugged his shoulders before hitting Cage, who hit him with a discus clothesline. Cage performed the Drill Claw and then stood tall to end the show…
Powell’s POV: That’s the hype for the Cage vs. Lashley match? A freaking mention of the match as Cage is walking to the ring during the closing minutes of the show followed by a little hype as they go off the air? Ugh. Anyway, the Feast or Fired gimmick is so weird. Again, I get that there’s fan interest in who is going to be fired, but I just can’t get past how silly the storyline is that a company would actually risk firing a talented wrestler based on chance.
I like that Cage got the better of EC3 at the end, but just imagine how much more effective this would have been if they had an actual program that led to a loser leaves Impact match. It may have been tough to set that up with Cage this early in his run, but surely an actual wrestler rather than the luck of the damn draw could have benefitted from EC3’s departure. Of course, this is the same company that booked James Storm to lose a loser leaves the company match to Dan F’n Lambert rather than an actual wrestler. Hopefully they have the right idea in mind for Lashley’s departure via his rivalry with Cage. I will have more to say in my members’ exclusive audio review on Friday, but this was a clumsily booked show filled with missed opportunities.
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