By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling on PopTV
Taped in January 2018 in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
A clip from “earlier this week aired”(so Austin Aries, Matt Sydal, and Josh Mathews are just strolling around Universal Studios on the regular?). Austin Aries was sarcastic towards Josh Mathews wearing the Grand Championship. Aries congratulated Matt Sydal on winning the X Division Championship. Sydal said he could feel the energy of Aries in the belt and he was trying to harness it. Sydal said the belt was too good that he wouldn’t just give it away. Aries caught on that Sydal was referencing “Option C”. Aries said he wasn’t disrespecting the X Division, he was trying to create an opportunity. Aries said he was feeling their chi and was going to offer Sydal an opportunity. Aries said he doesn’t want the X Division title since he’s been the champion longer than anyone else in the company. Aries said the one championship he hasn’t won is the Grand Championship. Aries proposed a match against Sydal in a World Title vs. Grand Championship match. Josh Mathews protested and Matt Sydal agreed. The Impact intro theme aired…
Petey Williams made his way to the ring wearing the Canadian Flag. He also carries a pointless briefcase around (since he probably could get an X Division Title shot whenever he wants). Suicide is back for some reason…
John’s Thoughts: I hate to be negative on the onset. It’s just the feast or fired briefcase followed by the failed TNA video game character.
1. Petey Williams vs. Suicide vs. Rohit Raju vs. Taiji Ishimori. Four-way madness ensued. Suicide started the match off with the TJP Spiderman rope grab (he’s Caleb Konley these days I think). Ishimori and Williams singled each other out and traded blows. Williams landed a dropkick to the back of Ishimori. Raju and Suicide pulled Ishimori off the apron. Raju took down Williams with a few knee strikes. Suicide got Williams and Raju involved in wrestling antics. Ishimori hit Suicide with a dropkick.
Williams locked Ishimori in a sharpshooter until Raju broke things up. More madness ensued. After most of the guys fell outside, Ishimori hit the Golden Triangle Moonsault on the other three wrestlers. Rapid fire pin attempts ensued inside of the ring. Rapid fire kicks happened. Williams landed a single leg codebreaker on Raju and a Russian Legsweep. Williams hit a flatliner on Raju. Suicide broke up a Williams Destroyer attempt. Ishimori used parkour to dodge the moves of Suicide. Ishimori took off his shirt which made Dutt happy.
Ishimori hit Williams with a Vader bomb stomp. Raju acted extra cartoony. Raju hit a suplex and falcon arrow for a nearfall. Ishimori hit Raju with a double knee gutbuster. Ishimori hit Raju with a 450 but Suicide broke up the subsequent pin attempt. Suicide missed a lionsault on Williams. Williams backtossed Ishimori to connect with the Canadian Destroyer on Suicide for the win.
Petey Williams defeated Suicide via pinfall in 8:14.
Petey Williams wanted to cut a promo afterward. “Cashed in” his briefcase I guess. He challenged Matt Sydal at Redemption for the X Division Title… [C]
John’s Thoughts: There were a bunch of acrobatics. The X Division at its worst. For a comparison point, again I can’t believe I’m doing this these days, but look at this past week’s 205 Live. They had a four-way which contained a lot of isolation, workrate, and stories. This was the thing Broken Matt was mocking when he called the X Division spot monkeys. Moving along, Williams continues to come off as naive. El Patron didn’t need a briefcase to get a PPV title shot. Indie enhancement talent Rohit Raju got a title shot last week and the only thing he ever won in Impact was some contest that didn’t even matter (global forge).
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Eli Drake, who talked about how he was disappointed about having a tag team title shot. Drake said the only thing that matters in the world is titles. Drake said the only thing that matters in this company is the world title. Drake said he doesn’t have a tag partner or want. He said he didn’t want a cross eyed halfwit stealing his glow. Drake said he suddenly had an idea as he walked off…
Josh Mathews and Sonjay Dutt were shown from their blue screen studio. They hyped up the Impact vs. Lucha Underground for next week. Dutt advertised Austin Aries and Fenix vs. Alberto El Patron and Pentagon Jr. Josh Mathews noted that EC3 was not going to be at WrestleCon due to getting the fired last week. Josh Mathews ran though some of the upcoming matches on this episode including INDEPENDENT WRESTLING FOOTAGE!!! (oh boy…). Some dark music played as they cut to Eddie Edwards who was on his way to Ohio. Eddie Edwards cut a promo about Sami Callihan hitting his head with a bat. Eddie ended his promo by saying “Ohio, here I am”…
Braxton Sutter made his entrance. Already in the ring was Amber Nova who was billed as “From the Garage” before. Sutter introduced Su Yung. Josh Mathews noted that she is “undead”…
2. Amber Nova vs. Su Yung. Sonjay Dutt noted that Yung unfairly attacked Nova before the bell rang. Of course the referee then rang the bell. Yung pummeled Nova with clubbing blows and a chop. Yung hit a helicopter spin into a Michinoku Driver which Mathews called the Panic Switch which gave Yung the win.
Su Yung defeated Amber Nova via pinfall in 0:40.
Su Yung started convulsing after the pinfall. Sutter was praising Yung up the ramp but Yung didn’t look like she wanted to have any of Sutter at the moment…
John’s Thoughts: Not bad. Someone tell Hania the Huntress that this is how you show up to work. That was a harsh joke but you can’t help but make the stark contrast given how bad Hania was as her character and how good Taya and Su Yung have come off in past weeks. We didn’t see much, but we didn’t have to because it was a squash. I don’t really know why the hell Braxton Sutter needs to be here but so far so good with the new Zombie lady. Here’s hoping we get some cinematics for Su Yung similar to how Rosemary’s out of this world character got a plethora of cinematics to help out her character.
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Johnny Impact about his championship goals. Johnny did a random twirl for some reason. Johnny Impact said his goals haven’t changed but it’s difficult to become champion because everyone in the locker room has the same goal. Jimmy Jacobs walked in and said Johnny Impact has no idea what his goals are. Johnny mocked Jimmy’s “emo haircut” and thought that it looks like Jacobs wants a wrestling match. Jacobs mocked Johnny’s good looks, hair, and abs and said that Johnny lives in a bubble. Jimmy said Johnny is about to get hit in the face by the monster of reality. Johnny said reality is subjective. Johnny said he’s not fine with Jacobs interrupting his interview and Johnny demanded to know what Jimmy wanted. Jimmy said Johnny will find out because Jimmy Jacobs is the princess who always gets what he wants. Jacobs said Kongo Kong says hello. Johnny said to tell Kong hello too… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Good on Johnny Impact for cutting down the Slam Town stuff. Trust me, I know he’s aware that the Johnny Mundo character in Impact Wrestling can’t work at the moment due to the viewers of this show not knowing what to make of it. What was a negative is the guy seems very tense in his promo delivery and needs to calm down and use less wordage. Maybe he should rely on smirks and looking like a badass as opposed to being a quirky comedy figure. That said, Johnny Impact vs. Kongo Kong has a lot of potential to be something good. Johnny works really well in selling and providing the movement for monster heels and that could be a huge boost in the jumpstarting the monster Kongo Kong. Hopefully the promo work gets better down the road and Jimmy Jacobs is a good person to help out with that.
Taya Valkyrie was shown cutting a promo in front of a roaming camera about how she can beat up Rosemary anywhere. The camera made a wide shot showing that Rosemary was walking across the roofs of the office trailers. She was holding a trash can unbeknownst to Taya. Taya said all roads lead to Valhalla. Taya chucked the trash can at Taya and started to beat Taya. Suddenly background music appeared to add ambiance to the fight scene. Rosemary accidentally hit a random guy in an Impact shirt with the trash can. This allowed Taya to shoulder tackle Rosemary into the trailer and a trash can.
Richard Justice emerged from a trailer and tried to pull Taya back. Taya gave Justice a forearm. Amber Nova was shown recovering from her match. Taya beat up Amber due to being blinded by Rosemary’s mist. Richard Justice and Rohit Raju broke things up. Rosemary gave everyone a crossbody and then backtracked with a maniacal laugh…
John’s Thoughts: One thing that’s a bit odd in Impact’s cinematic approach is within the same take, they jump between realistic camera and “fourth wall cinematic”. That nitpick aside, that was a decent brawl and Impact needs to do more story development things like this. Maybe do something like this for Su Yung. My favorite part of the cinematic was Amber Nova recovering from the previous match. That was a nice attention to detail.
3. Fallah Bahh vs. KM (from a WrestlePro event). Bahh shoved KM to a corner with a hip attack. Bahh did a few of his fun mannerisms to fire up the crowd. Bahh landed a shoulder tackle and hit KM with his steamroller move. KM countered Bahh with a neckbreaker and slingshot splash. There was a hard cut to later in the match where KM kept Bahh down with kicks. Bahh tried to escape a headlock with palm strikes and his “no no no” catchphrase. Bahh then said “yes yes yes” and hit a samoan drop. Bahh grounded KM with a crossbody. KM dodged the Rikishi sit and used the ropes to get the pin of Bahh.
KM defeated Fallah Bahh via pinfall.
KM told Fallah Bahh that they should change his name to “Fat Ass Bahh”. Josh Mathews and Sonjay Dutt said that was too far. After running through some of the upcoming segments the show cut to a Brian Cage and Bobby Lashley highlight video package which included clips from the past few weeks… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Is there really a need for this? They were doing so good the last few weeks by focusing on their own product.
4. Brian Cage vs. Bobby Lashley. Lashley and Cage were at a stalemate in the collar and elbow lockup. Both men showed off their agility and traded a few power strikes. Cage grounded Lashley with a huracanrana. Lashley returned the favor with an impressive huracanrana of his own. Cage fought off Lashley and clotheslined him over the top rope. Lashley caught Cage with a top rope axe handle. Lashley worked on Cage with some holds and throws. Cage tried to go for a rollup but then followed up with a basement dropkick. Cage caught Lashley with an enziguri and then hit Lashley with a flip dive to the outside. Dutt talked about how impressive it was to see Cage do a flying move to the outside.
Lashley and Cage then mirrored each other in their jump up ring entry. Lashley and Cage no sold each other’s lariats. Cage grounded Lashley with a kick combination. Lashley pulled off Cage from the top rope and hit a military press and sidewalk slam on Cage. Lashley caught Cage with some shoulder tackles. Lashley worked on Cage with ten count punches in the corner. Lashley had the advantage but Cage pulled out a springboard tornado DDT onto Lashley. Brian Cage hit a leg lariat and a spinebuster on Lashley. Lashley returned the favor with his own spinebuster. Cage tried to escape the corner but Lashley caught him into the dominator powerslam. Cage missed a moonsault and discus lariat. Lashley hit cage with a spear but Cage rolled out for some recovery. Lashley caught Cage with a pin but Cage kicked out. Cage hit Lashley with the discus lariat to pick up the clean win.
Brian Cage defeated Bobby Lashley via pinfall in 13:02.
Sonjay Dutt told the story of Cage taking Lashley’s biggest move and picking up the win in the end…
John’s Thoughts: This was an odd spectacle to watch. I’ve been in crowds where Cage has worked this style of match and there is loud cheering, chanting, and even people doing stomps to The Terminator theme song. This was a really good match where Cage and Lashley tried hard. The Impact Zone killed it. There’s that group in the front row that cares but the rest of the quiet crowd made for a bad working environment. The finish came a bit out of nowhere. Maybe it’s hard to get Lashley up for the Drill Claw, but maybe Weapon X would have been a better finish?
Allie asked Gail Kim for advice. Gail Kim was putting on makeup. Allie wanted to know how to handle Su Yung and Braxton Sutter. Gail Kim told Allie to stand up for herself. Allie left the room inspired…
The Global Wrestling Network Flashback moment of the week was an Ultimate X match which included AJ Styles, Petey Williams, and Chris Sabin… [C]
Eli Drake met Moose backstage and tried to trade briefcases with him. Drake said that his case is worth two belts while the World Title has sentimental value to Drake. Moose said Drake has a good point and he wouldn’t mind winning the tag team belts with Eddie Edwards. Moose proposed a Briefcase vs. Briefcase match. Drake asked “why do we have to fight?”. Moose said Drake wanted it. Moose walked away and told Drake to think about it. Josh Mathews cut to Eddie Edwards invading Dayton Ohio…
Epic background music played as Eddie Edwards drove his way to and invaded an independent wrestling show in Ohio. The crowd cheered “OVE!” as Eddie Edwards beat up independent wrestlers with a kendo stick. Eddie Edwards grabbed a mic and demanded that Sami Callihan come out or else he will fight all of Ohio. Sami Callihan made his entrance. Callihan had a baseball bat with him. The crowd chanted “everything”. Eddie Edwards had the advantage over Callihan but the numbers game caught up with him when Jake and Dave Crist put the boots to Edwards. Edwards managed to get a bit of hope by hitting Jake and Dave Crist with the bat after kicking Callihan in the balls. Callihan regained control by putting pressure on the orbital bone of Edwards. Callihan (kayfabe) hit Edwards in the face with the bat (the same way Triple H hits people in the head with a sledgehammer). The Crist Brothers hit a spike stomp piledriver on Edwards… [C]
John’s Thoughts: That was a bit cheesy and may not be for everyone, but I liked it and it was good usage of the independent wrestling scene. That’s how you utilize your relationships with independent wrestling promotions and we used to see this when they were working with Konnan and the Crash as well as the many promotions the Hardys worked with. Use the independent wrestling settings as set pieces, not air bootleg matches because you run out of first run material.
Josh Mathews recapped the previous segment and cut to a Sami Callihan handycam promo. Callihan mocked Edwards for getting his ass kicked in his revenge attempt. Sami Callihan threated everyone that Eddie loves to prove a point. Callihan said Ohio was going to take over “EVERYTHING!!!”…
Josh Mathews cut to a Matt Sydal and Austin Aries vignette. Aries said he knew Sydal for 15 years. Aries wondered if Sydal has been dabbling in the “extracurricular activities” a bit too much. Aries said he’s only questioning the judgement of Sydal because he’s hanging out with Josh Mathews. Sydal cut a promo and said he wants to strike fear in the hearts of everyone in the locker room…
Matt Sydal made his entrance wearing his Spirit Animal mask. Sonjay Dutt was now solo on commentary…
5. Matt Sydal (w/Josh Mathews) vs. Austin Aries in a match for the Impact World and Grand Championships. A group in the crowd chanted for Austin Aries. Aries and Sydal traded positioning in the opening chain wrestling sequence. They showed a picture-in-picture of Alberto El Patron watching the match on television and eating steak.
John’s Thoughts: There’s good El Patron this week and he didn’t have to speak. Best of all, and WWE should take note of this, Alberto El Patron watched TV like a regular human being. None of that 90-degree crap.
Aries and Sydal ended the chain wrestling in a stalemate. Aries dominated the next chain wrestling sequence with repeated pin attempts. Aries struck the tranquilo pose as Sydal went to recover next to Josh Mathews. Sydal won the next sequence by dodging a dropkick from Aries. Aries landed a dropkick in the next chain sequence heading into commercial. [C]
Aries had a modified deathlock octopus hold on Sydal. Aries tossed sydal around the ring with Josh Mathews begging Aries to slow down. After a snapmare Aries hit a forearm to the back of Sydal’s head for a nearfall. Aries sent Sydal outside. Sydal blocked a tope attempt with a spinning wheel kick. After a bit of struggling, Sydal locked in a Muta Lock. Sydal hit Aries with a sliding dropkick. Sonjay Dutt blamed Matt Sydal for cultural appropriation of the Indian culture. Aries blocked a standing shooting star with the knees. Sydal blocked an incoming Aries with an axe kick but Aries came back by tripping Sydal on the springboard.
Sydal sold the slip well with his back against the second rope. Aries brawled and dominated Sydal around the ring. Sydal pushed Aries outside. Aries blocked a Tope with a lariat. Sydal blocked a suplex with a leg hook. Sydal used his educated feet to take down Aries. Aries turned the tables a bit but Sydal countered a discus elbow with a German Suplex. Sydal went for a roundhouse but Aries blocked into a kneebreaker and suplex. Sydal distracted the little boy ref which allowed Josh Mathews to get the tripping distraction. Sydal hit a tiger knee which Aries responded with a discus forearm.
Josh Mathews used his yelling to block an apron move. Aries used a thunder clap to set up a neckbreaker on the second rope. Petey Williams ran out to prevent Josh Mathews from more distractions. Sydal caught Aries off the top rope with a Frankensteiner. Aries dodged Air Bourne and hit Sydal with a discus forearm and running dropkick. Aries hit the brainbuster to become the new Grand Champion.
Austin Aries defeated Matt Sydal via pinfall in 15:51 of TV time to become the new Impact Grand Champion.
The picture-in-picture popped back up showing El Patron eating steak. Aries held up both the Impact Grand Championship and GFW belt to close the show (you could see the GFW logo on the side plate).
John’s Thoughts: Another good match on this show that was killed by a tepid crowd. The lack of enthusiasm made the match very hard to evaluate. Aries is putting in some good work against every opponent that Impact Wrestling has put in front of him. So as far as match quality is concerned, the main event was solid.
Overall, I was a bit disappointed in this show but I think my experience was hampered due to the bad ambiance set forth by the Impact Zone. They are usually bad, but this was worse than usual for them. The show is still improved compared to where it was before the Don Callis era but they still have a long way to go to become destination programming. Maybe Jason Powell had a better experience than I did? Be sure to check out his Hit List later today as well as an audio review for the Dot Net Members.
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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Todd Martin on his background, attending pro wrestling events in Japan, the NJPW G1 Tournament, why lucha libre companies haven't been as successful as NJPW in the United States, AEW optimism, covering pro wrestling and MMA, and more (68:57)...