By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Dot Net Members are listening to Jason Powell’s 40-minute audio review of the Impact Wrestling Redemption event and hear exclusive audio reviews of the Impact Wrestling television show each week. Join us on the ad-free version of the website via PWMembership.net.
Impact Wrestling Redemption Hits
Austin Aries vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Fenix for the Impact World Championship: The match delivered after all of the hype. Showing the threesome’s previous match on the last episode of Impact actually hurt the interest in this match because of the TNA hallmark of “why should I care about the PPV match when they are delivering this show on free TV”? Don Callis did a great job of showing that he was aware of the work of Pentagon Jr. and Fenix. Both commentators did a good job of establishing Pentagon as the aggressive submission-based wrestler while Fenix is a human weapon that can fly at you from all angles. Aries finds a way to adapt to any opponent so no worries there. Fenix would have been my pick to go over as champ, but I based that theory off of my experience watching Lucha Underground. I feel like there’s a great story that can be told on Pentagon. Chris DeJoseph and the crew at the Temple told a stellar and intricate story involving Pentagon and his path of destruction in Lucha Underground season 1. Go out of your way to check that out on Netflix when you get a chance since it would give you a lot of respect as to why this Pentagon guy is so hype. Back to the finish, I like Impact going in a new direction. Putting the belt on Aries sent that wrong TNA message of putting the title on the WWE guy (he was fresh off of his WWE run). Putting the belt on Pentagon is a breath of fresh air and a taste of a new direction. There are also a lot of possible fallouts from this match too. Aries can be a more developed babyface, but I’m more intrigued to see if this is the impetus for a strong heel run. Aries is a much better heel than a babyface and Impact on the hunt for a top heel.
Allie vs. Su Yung for the Knockouts Title: Not the deepest of matches and Impact isn’t doing a great job with the credibility of the Knockouts heels, but this was fine for what it was and Allie won in the right way with a rollup. Allie should win most of her matches in fluky fashion because she is a fluky character and the flukes can protect her opponents. The post match stuff with Su Yung and Braxton Sutter was fun, but I never saw any real reason they had him involved in the first place. Did Don Callis essentially label Sutter as their Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo?
OVE vs. Eddie Edwards, Moose, and Tommy Dreamer in a House of Hardcore match: A lot of things fell into the right place here. I’m starting to like the work of Jake Crist a little more because this guy can do some great innovative moves with his feet. The Crist Brothers in general are very similar to LAX in that they enhance the matches they are involved in. Things move to another level when you add Sami Callihan to the equation in that he brings psychology, star power, and promo ability. His personal feud with Eddie Edwards put some non-title stakes in this match to make it meaningful. Moose is still damaged as a babyface, there’s no fixing that until he gets his reboot. Adding Tommy Dreamer was a smart move from a PR perspective. For some reason, when you put Tommy Dreamer or Rhyno in a match, you draw out that “E-C-Dub” crowd, and advertising Dreamer ahead of time supplements what is usually a dead Impact Zone crowd. Good job there. The finish was well done too. They can continue with Edwards vs. Callihan, but they could also elevate Callihan to the main event that has a huge vacancy left by the dud known as Alberto El Patron. Edwards suffering the eye injury was terrible, but at least he and Callihan are both making good use of a bad situation. Edwards is gaining bad ass points in every interaction with Callihan and there is some potential that can come from him “accidentally” hitting Alisha with the kendo stick. I’m not sure where they go, but at least there’s intrigue there.
Petey Williams vs. Matt Sydal for the X Division Title: A minor hit due to match quality. Sydal showed up tonight. Sydal hast two types of matches, one where he works a formula with his moveset and another type where he utilizes his moveset as a part of the story he is trying to tell. He had the latter type of match and I especially liked the parts where he utilized moves like the axe kick or rolling sobat as a counter to Petey, who shines in singles matches. It was a nice touch to have him have the fun banter with his old buddy Scott Steiner before the match. The drawback with both wrestlers is their characters are not clicking. With Petey, it’s tough to get the whole Captain Canada thing over in Florida. Matt Sydal’s yoga hippy thing drags him down even though it was meant to elevate him.
Taya Valkyrie vs. Kiera Hogan: This was a random unadvertised match. I’m a bit confused as to why they paid off the Rosemary vs. Taya feud a few weeks ago rather than at the PPV (I think a person in the comment section mentioned that Rosemary was hurt, but that doesn’t excuse them cutting short a hot Taya vs. Rosemary program without having the patience to have it boil further). There was another huge negative about this match, which I’ll separate and mention in the Miss category. Despite all of the things going against this match, Kiera Hogan and Taya delivered a pay-per-view quality match. Hogan had a rough first outing against Laurel Van Ness, but her last two matches have been very good from her end. Hogan has the potential to be Impact’s “scrappy babyface” archetype, similar to what they had with Taylor Wilde back in the day. Taya continues to show why she’s one of the top tier women talents in the world. This was a good match that sadly won’t be remembered, but more on that in the Misses.
LAX vs. Eli Drake and Scott Steiner for the Impact Tag Titles: I should just assume any match LAX is involved will be good because these two have been the kings of consistency during their time in Impact. Konnan struck gold with these two guys who were kinda just laying in the cut on the indie scene. Santana and Ortiz along with Eli Drake provided a ton of movement and put on some quality in-ring action. Coming off the OVE vs. Steiner and Teddy Hart match from a few weeks ago, I was afraid that Steiner’s old age would hinder the match down to a fun nostalgia appearance, but Steiner put in some work and cardio here. He was still slow as hell and would wrestle in short spurts, but he didn’t screw up, he fit in with the three young lions well, and he’s a huge upgrade over Chris Masters. Steiner was walking around like an old man but at least he moves better than Joseph Park. So good work by all four men. The finish was more beneficial than I expected because they went out of their way to protect LAX via the preceding cinematic. That cinematic also built up anticipation for this “King” character who took out Konnan (My educated speculation has me thinking that this mystery person could be Kevin Kross, Jeff Cobb, Hernandez, or maybe even MVP. The advantage of this Lucha Underground relationship is that I have more analytical data to work with due to LU’s connection to the California indie scene). The best part of the finish, a heel won clean! Heels haven’t seemed to win clean on Impact since the creative duo of Dave Lagana and Matt Conway left the company.
Pentagon Jr. promo: Short, sweet, and barely in English (It usually helps if you have at least one semester of Spanish class under your belt. I took three years of High School Spanish class). It was good to have Pentagon exhibit what makes him resonate with so many people, his charisma and promo ability. It was also smart for him to establish his catchphrase with a new audience “Yo soy Pentagon Jr, es Cero Miedo” (I am Pentagon Jr, and I [have] Zero Fear).
Aerostar vs. Drago: What a fun opening match. As I mentioned in my preview, these two luchadores have wrestled each other a ton of times to the point where they would wrestle back to back weeks. This match became Lucha Underground’s justified time filler and they never had a repetitive match to my recollection. Lucha Underground even had a fun kayfabe reason for them having so many matches by saying that they are eternal rivals, Drago is over 2,000 years old, and Aerostar has time traveling powers so he can just show up any time during the 2000 years to brawl. I know, the comic book shiz is not for everyone, but I get a kick out of it (and I also would like to believe that Dragons exist in olden day Los Angeles). To give the cliff notes to non-LU viewers, it’s an F’n Dragon vs. an F’n Lucha Power Ranger. Drago’s a strong mat based wrestler while Aerostar shines as far as innovation is concerned. This match had some fun innovative things like Aerostar’s launchpad cutter and slingshot codebreaker. The only thing that made me feel so bad for these guys was the one flaw in the flawless match with that botched slingshot.
Don Callis on color commentary: In my preview, I said it would have been good if they got Matt Striker in to call the show but ultimately Don Callis was a better choice. With Striker, there’s the risk of him going a bit overboard and being unfocused. Callis is just a great and educated color commentator. Callis also did a good job working with Josh Mathews. No knock against Sonjay Dutt, he’s just getting started as a color commentator, but this Mathews and Callis duo was better. Callis reminds me a bit of Taz, except he seems a bit more focused on elevating the in-ring action while also playing the heel role honestly.
The Impact Zone: This event drew more of the hardcore wrestling crowd and it was obvious based on their interest level. There seemed to be a group of “Lucha Underground Believers” in the crowd because they were chanting things that you usually only see in the Lucha Underground LA Temple and even sang the “Lucha National Anthem”. They also drew in that E-C-Dub crowd too.
New Entrance themes: Impact and TNA aren’t well known for good entrance themes, but this is a minor Hit for a few of the new themes sounding pretty cool. 2017 had a lot of wrestlers coming in and out and a lot of those wrestlers got forgettable royalty-free music. The music used here was still royalty-free but the themes of Pentagon, Eli Drake, and Aerostar were pretty cool. You could contrast that with the forgettable themes of Cage and Aries.
Overall Show: This was one of the first full-on non-TNA shows I saw from this company since 2016. All the wrestlers showed up. There were no ref bump finishes. Heels scored some clean wins (and heels so rarely win clean in this company). There was sound logic throughout the show. There’s intrigue coming out of the show. There were some flaws, but the flaws aren’t in that “TNA grading curve” that sometimes feel necessary to apply to this company at times. This still isn’t worth the $40 live price tag and more on that in a bit, but if you can get this on replay, go out of your way to see this show. Why can’t we get this type of show on a weekly basis? Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend and their next set of shows follow this model of storytelling.
Impact Wrestling Redemption Misses
$40 price tag: This was a great PPV and worth the price if you’re looking at this hindsight 2020. The problem with that is Impact is on the quest to regain the trust of lost viewers. Impact isn’t a charity. As fans, you shouldn’t have to donate $40 to your “home team”. This ultimately should have been a free show or at least a show that aired as a part of their Global Wrestling Network. It doesn’t help that for some reason, if you are North American, you had to pay $40 while UK viewers got to watch it at around $8 on the streaming service. What’s up with that?
Tessa Blanchard: I’m excited to see what Blanchard can bring to the Knockouts division. She had a good run in the Mae Young Classic and has the chance to elevate the Knockouts division. If they treat Sienna seriously again, there is potential to have multiple storylines in this now stacked division. The problem with Tessa on this episode was there was a really good match happening in the ring, but the camera was focused on Tessa and she was stealing all of the airtime in a negative way. It brought down Kiera Hogan and Taya Valkyrie when there could have been a more creative way to introduce Tessa to the audience.
Brian Cage vs. The X Division: To give Impact credit, they did frame this match exactly the way I said they should have with more focus on the singles encounters rather than being a rushed spectacle of cooperative acrobatics. The only huge problem here is that it still ended up as Brian Cage vs. the X Division by the end of the match. It did nothing much for Cage, who still needs some character and motivation. I didn’t help the X Division because they all got beat by Cage, as expected. What they should have done is have this be Brian Cage vs. Trevor Lee, which would have elevated Cage by working in a singles match with a quality worker while also elevating Lee by having him be competitive with Impact’s new Dominator. Another great alternate match would have been Brian Cage vs. El Hijo Del Fantasma because I have seen those two tear the house down. Speaking of such, Fantasma needs to trade the purple mask for the cowboy hat and dead animal because King Cuerno is a way better than Fantasma’s son.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...