By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling on PopTV
Taped April 24, 2018 in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
The intro teaser for this week’s Impact was a music video package that contained highlights from last week’s Impact Wrestling show. The Impact Wrestling intro theme aired…
Eli Drake made his entrance to start off the show where he carried his title belt and briefcase to the ring (his mannerisms, pointing, and sunglasses look now seem very Rock-like too). Josh Mathews and Don Callis checked in on commentary. Callis explained how Drake’s briefcase allows him to cash in for a world title shot whenever he wants. Drake started off with his “Dummy… Yeah…” routine. Drake said Scott Steiner wasn’t out here due to him working on his peaks with some freaks. Drake bragged about his Tag title belt and World Title contract. Drake called Austin Aries a “banana eating idiot” and Pentagon Jr a Halloween person who says “ceder mino or something”.
Drake said he’s coming after the title and Pentagon has one week to prepare. Drake said he will be challenging Pentagon Jr for the title next week. Pentagon Jr. cut off Drake in the middle of his catchphrase. Pentagon did his Cero Miedo hand sign in the face of Drake as Drake held up his briefcase in front of Pentagon’s face. Pentagon called Drake a “puto” (it was censored) as his theme played. Pentagon’s theme played and he walked up the ramp…
John’s Thoughts: Solid, yet standard, promo work from Eli Drake. Nothing we haven’t seen from him before but he’s really good at delivering lines and doing his Dwayne Johnson imitation. The development of Pentagon Jr. has been lackluster so far. Lucha Underground was a one-hour weekly show with most of the current Impact Wrestling roster and they have done a better job in building all these wrestlers than Impact has in less weekly time. Pentagon may lack English speaking ability, that’s were Vampiro as his English mouthpiece helped, but he’s still so charismatic that he can deliver a promo with presence and charisma alone. I’ll post a Pentagon Jr. promo below these thoughts so you can see some of what Impact is missing out on.
They cut to the darkened announcer area where Josh Mathews and Don Callis ran through the card. They cut to McKenzie Mitchell who was interviewing Kiera Hogan. Hogan talked about how she was disappointed in her loss at Redemption but maybe her time for Redemption is later. Hogan’s promo was cut off by Tessa Blanchard who was being very patronizing to Hogan. Blanchard called herself a “diamond” and “total package”. Tessa said she was better than Kiera. Kiera said Tessa is better at sitting and watching. Kiera told Tessa to enjoy watching Kiera beat Taya Valkyrie later tonight… [C]
Grado and Joseph Park are back!!! They had a backstage skit. Grado said he took care of his immigration issues. Grado said he finally bagged himself a girlfriend. Joe Park wanted to see a picture. Their reunion was cut off by Austin Aries. Aries referenced seeing Park during his last run with the company (I don’t remember the “ring announcer” moment Aries talked about). Aries said DDP Yoga looks to have done wonders for Grado. Aries said people are worried since Pentagon won the “other” world championship but all is fine because Aries still has his title. Grado tried to give Aries some jelly beans. Aries slapped the beans away and handed Grado a banana. Grado asked Park if he wants to know where he wants to shove the banana. Park said he knew exactly where and he ate the banana…
KM and Fallah Bahh were a tag team in the following match. Bahh was reluctant to be KM’s partner…
1. “Ohio vs. Everything” Dave and Jake Crist vs. KM and Fallah Bahh. KM tried to be friendly with Bahh. The Crist brothers tried to blindside KM but KM took down both brothers with a double lariat. Dave Crust used a step up enziguri to take down KM so Jake could stomp a mudhole in him. The Crist Brothers traded quick tags to isolate KM. KM tried to power out but the Crist Brothers had superior speed. Don Callis mentioned how OVE have an “OVE Compound” in Dayton, Ohio.
KM made the hot tag and Bahh took down both brothers with a flying crossbody. Bahh did the Mutombo finger wag and then whipped the Crist brothers into each other. He then rolled over both OVE members like a steamroller. KM comically did the same steamroller move. KM and Bahh took turns doing the steamroller thing. The Crist brothers recovered and took down KM and Bahh with tandem roundhouse kicks. Jake Crist hit Bahh with a spinning roundhouse and rollup pin for the win.
OVE defeated Fallah Bahh and KM in 5:45.
Don Callis noted that Bahh’s weight makes it harder for him to kick out of a rollup. KM pat Bahh on the back and apologized for not winning in the end. Bahh and KM shared a handshake with KMM having a devious laugh after the match. Josh Mathews then ran through some of the upcoming matches for later in the episode… [C]
John’s Thoughts: The right team went over, but I feel like there is a bit of a wasted opportunity here to build up a new tag team for the division. It’s cool to have OVE back, but that still leaves Impact with only two full-time tag teams (Scott Steiner is old as hell and Cult of Lee isn’t always a thing). KM and Bahh were a fun high-energy tag team that reminds me a bit of the NXT Heavy Machinery tag team. This should have been Bahh and KM vs. enhancement wrestlers like Rohit Raju and a random guy. Instead it looks like this was more of a way to build towards a Bahh vs. KM feud which should be fun, but it keeps two undercard wrestlers stuck in the undercard with no way to elevate as opposed to building up a tag team division. They might be thinking long term with Bahh and KM, but I’ll believe it when I see it with this company.
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Moose and noted that Moose calls himself “Mr. Impact”. Moose said he didn’t want to use a football analogy, but that’s the only thing that makes sense in his mind. Moose said he’s been a top player in the NFL who never won a Super Bowl. He said he never won a World Title in Impact too. Moose said 2018 will be the year he wins more gold and become world champion. Jimmy Jacobs walked into scene purposefully acting annoying. Jacobs joked about how the last guy with the name “Mr. Impact” (Johnny Impact) didn’t end up so well. Moose was pissed and started to lift and threaten Jacobs. Jacobs said he wants Moose vs. The Monster. Moose said to bring the Monster Kongo Kong so he can beat his big ass…
John’s Thoughts: So do we call him Quinn Moose Ojinaka Impact? Anyway, it looks like they are staying course with whatever they wanted to do with Moose in the first place. The problem with that is we heard this promo before, several times. It’s Moose reminding people that he is a loser in the NFL and in wrestling. He really needs to refocus or do something completely different like we’ve never seen from him in Impact.
2. Taya Valkyrie vs. Kiera Hogan. Taya dominated the match right out the get gate. Taya tossed around the much smaller Kiera. Taya yelled that she was the “Wera Loca” (Crazy white chick). Hogan managed to gain a little control with a hip toss and superkick. Kiera hit an ugly looking huracanrana on Taya. Kiera curb stomped Taya on the step. Suddenly new entrance music played. Tessa Blanchard made her entrance. She was acting all ratchet on her way to the ring. Tessa Blanchard and Kiera Hogan brawled. No bell rang so I’ll just call this a no contest until I see otherwise.
Taya Valkyrie vs. Kiera Hogan ended in an apparent no contest in about 3:00.
Tessa Blanchard dominated Kiera and then nailed her in the center of the ring with a Hammerlock DDT. Tessa’s theme played as she walked up the ramp continuing to act ratchet… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Not much of a match. I’m disappointed to see that after giving Taya a huge initial push, they have turned her into an afterthought in recent weeks. Not Taya’s fault at all. The strength of the Don Callis and Scott D’Amore led team is that they are doing some logical things and not turning away viewers. What they are struggling to do right is create stars. This is a problem that the WWE main roster has sometimes. The “start-and-stop” mentality. Anyway, what they are getting right is Kiera Hogan. She’s coming off well as the plucky babyface (I’ve compared her to Taylor Wilde to make a classic TNA reference). Tessa Blanchard is a huge get and a good first showing for her. Because of how they dropped the ball with Taya, Allie, Rosemary, Sienna, and Laurel Van Ness, can you see why I’m a bit apprehensive about thinking that they will ultimately make good use of Tessa?
A music video package on Brian Cage aired which showed Brian Cage entering the Universal Studios studio lot wearing a sweater that said “F’n Machine” and a pair of headphones. Background music played as highlights from Cage’s Impact run aired…
John’s Thoughts: A really good Cage video package and something they could have used before the Lashley matches. While this was a good step towards developing Cage, they are still missing the boat with him. Impact is giving Cage the bland Ryback push. Cage doesn’t even have a “feed me more” that fans can cling to. It’s not Cage’s fault. I’ve seen the guy get over first hand in many SoCal and NorCal crowds. Part of it’s the tepid Impact Zone, but another part of it is Impact Wrestling creative which isn’t doing anything to define the guy. The only time we got to see Cage do something backstage was that time he was eating cereal in front of Lashley. Why is Cage here? What does he want?
Josh Mathews cut to the GWN Exclusive match of the week…
3. Brian Cage vs. a bunch of random guys at the World Series Wrestling promotion in Australia. They’re back to showing independent wrestling footage. Callis and Mathews tried to put over some of Cage’s signature moves. Cage got his moves in but he sold a lot to the three guys. Brian Cage defeated one of the wrestlers with the Tornado and Drill Claw (both X-Men Wolverine references by Cage).
Brian Cage defeated random indie wrestlers via pinfall.
John’s Thoughts: No disrespect to the independent promotion or the wrestlers. Their names are Slex, Mick Moretti, and Brodie Marshall which I just looked up. Why are they back to showing this? Ultimately, what’s the benefit of showing non-canon material? This was on the lower end of Brian Cage matches similar to when he wrestled Chavo Guerrero and Vinnie Massaro. Cage sold too much for them to be showing on Impact television. I understand from the independent promotor’s perspective. He’s there to make their talent look good. This is on Impact for showing something that didn’t have to air. The positive highlight, indie crowds are way better than the Impact Zone. Even more reason they should rebrand or migrate to a new “zone”.
The Lucha Underground trio of Fantasma, Drago, and Aerostar made their entrance… [C]
DJ Z, Andrew Everett, and Dezmond Xavier came out to Zema’s new theme. I know tastes are subjective, but this music sounded bad. It had some wannabe Lil Jon in the background and then went on to the generic annoying EDM. Don Callis said that DJ Z, who came out looking like a Lite-Brite canvas, reminded him of Chris Jericho’s light-up jacket. Callis also noted that the American trio might be more athletic than the luchador trio.
John’s Thoughts: Good call by Callis to set up the expectations of the viewer. On the Luchador side, Aerostar is the only true high flyer. Fantasma (King Cuerno) and Drago are more mat-based.
3. El Hijo Del Fantasma, Drago, and Aerostar vs. DJ Z, Andrew Everett, and Dezmond Xavier in a Lucha Rules Trios Match. Fantasma and Xavier started off the match with a babyface stalemate sequence. Aerostar tagged in and sent Xavier out of the ring. The six Impact regular fans in the front row tried to start a “Lucha National Anthem” chant that they just learned, but to no avail. Zema hit Drago with a second rope Russian Legsweep. DJ Z now does this thing where he points in the crowd so they can hit a horn to do his annoying ba-ba-ba-ba sound effect. Don Callis said somebody should be thrown under a building for that sound effect.
Aerostar hit a launchpad cutter on Zema. Aerostar hit a tightrope missile dropkick. Everett hit Aerostar with a springboard leg lariat. Fantasma tagged in and hit a running meteora on Everett. Drago locked Everett in a Muta Lock so Fantasma could kick Everett. Drago slowed down the action to work on Everett. Everett gained control with a kick to the outside. Mathews noted that tags don’t have to happen due to the Lucha Rules stipulation. If a person is on the outside, a teammate can replace them in the ring. Aerostar went for the launchpad but was staggered by Xavier. Zema and Everett hit stereo springboard dropkicks on Aerostar for a nearfall.
Zema and Everett missed a connected lionsault. Fantasma had a modified half nelson on Everett and Zema in a indian deathlock. Drago got a crossface somewhere in here. Aerostar and Everett brawled separately. They agreed to break up the weird submission. The Lucha Trio triple teamed Xavier. Everett and Zema took out two of the luchadores with stereo codebreakers. Madness ensued. Zema hit Fantasma and Drago with a double armdrag. DJ Z did his annoying noise again which Callis said was stupid.
John’s Thoughts: Callis has the power to end that stupid Bro Man noise. Just tell Zema that no one other than maybe Dave Lagana really liked Bro Mans.
The camera almost missed it but they cut to show Fantasma hitting DJ Zema with his Arrow from the depths of Hell Tope. Aerostar hit everyone outside with a springboard trust fall. [C]
Madness ensued back from the break. The American trio all hit their high-flying finishers but the Luchadores kicked out. They complained to the child referee. The Luchadores tried a triple rollup but they all kicked out. Drago hit two guys with a double DDT. Fantasma knocked out Xavier with a knee. Drago hit Zema with a corkscrew plancha. Andrew Everett hit Fantasma with an enzuigiri to block the Arrow from the Depths of hell. Everett hit the best move of the night so far with a springboard corkscrew moonsault high in the air onto Drago and Zema. After some setup, Aerostar hit Xavier with his springboard free fall finisher for a nearfall. Aerostar shoved Andrew Everett onto the apron. Zema used this distraction to hit the ZDT for the victory.
DJ Z, Andrew Everett, and Dezmond Xavier defeated El Hijo Del Fantasma, Drago, and Aerostar via pinfall in 12:10 of TV Time.
All six men shook hands and held up hands after the match. Aerostar struggled to get to his feet…
John’s Thoughts: The wrestlers tried hard, and there was one standout, but ultimately this was a miss for me. This was an X Division spot-fest and not the good one. Everett and Zema in particular are familiar with this style where you have a bunch of guys doing assisted flips for the sake of flips and it looked less like an athletic competition. All these wrestlers have to do is look at what 205 Live is doing now and try to replicate that in the X Division. Two things in particular got on my nerves. One is the Impact Zone, but that’s the curse of this company. Two, is all of those cute multi-person moves where it seemed like 4+ men were involved. Homogeneous X Division, setting this Division back two years. Some people will like this match, but I’ve reviewed too many of these matches over the last three years to find entertainment from it.
Austin Aries ran into Eli Drake backstage. Aries commended Drake for challenging Pentagon next week. Aries said he wishes Drake good luck in his match for the “other” world title as he’s calling it. Aries said he hope Drake wins because he already knows he can beat Drake. Aries then mocked Drake’s “fact of life” catchphrase. Drake walked away saying that Aries was human trash… [C]
KM was trying to inspire Fallah Bahh about wanting to change Bahh’s life. Bahh responded to all of KM’s statements with the word “Bahh!”. The backstage segment was cut short when the camera man ran over to a buy who was beat up on the ground. The random civilian has a red X on him like a calling card. Josh Mathews advertised all of the matches for next week’s show which is going to be headlined by Pentagon Jr. vs. Eli Drake for the Impact World Championship. Josh Mathews said he was worried about getting beat up by the mystery person…
They cut to a cinematic from “last Friday” where Eddie Edwards was just getting out of jail for trying to “F—ing Kill” Sami Callihan (those were his words from last week) who was knocked out in a hospital bed. Tommy Dreamer drove up in a van wearing a Roddy Piper shirt. Eddie told Dreamer that he just wants to explain himself. Dreamer said “really?” and then gave Eddie the cold shoulder as they both drove off…
4. Matt Sydal vs. Taiji Ishimori for the Impact X Division Championship. Matt Sydal wore his “spirit animal” mask down the ramp. Sydal and Ishimori started off the match with some chain wrestling. Sydal was talking about his third eye to Ishimori. Ishimori hit Sydal with a seated senton and then took off his T-shirt. [C]
Ishimori dominated Sydal back from the break. Sydal got a rollup after hitting an axe kick on Ishimori. Sydal used a kneebar to work on the knee of Ishimori. Sydal hit Ishimori with a reverse Muta Lock. Sydal caught Ishimori with a spinning wheel kick. Sydal took down Ishimori with a Dragon Screw leg whip which cause Callis to name drop Hiroshi Tanahashi. Josh Mathews noted that Sydal was focusing on the legs of Ishimori. Ishimori caught Sydal with a handstand leg lariat. Ishimori followed up with a meteora and Vader Bomb stomp. Callis noted that Ishimori was selling the knee.
Sydal regained control by low kicking the injured leg. Ishimori used his knee to block the standing shooting star press of Sydal. Ishimori missed a 450. Sydal caught Ishimori with a Rolling Sobat. Sydal hit a GTS like roundhouse for a nearfall. Callis noted that Sydal is using more striking. Ishimori dodged a shooting star press and then hit a double knee gutbuster. Sydal used a backfist to stop a 450 from Ishimori. Sydal hit a weird looking pile driver like move on Ishimori for the win.
Matt Sydal defeated Taiji Ishimori via pinfall in 7:15 of TV Time to retain the X Division Championship.
Mathews pointed out that Sydal’s new counter counts as a finisher…
John’s Thoughts: The middle part of the match was really good. I’m fishing for positives from this show. Another highlight of the match was the commentary team adding good analysis. The match wasn’t terrible, I’ll give them that. It was sorta just forgettable. A number of variables factor there. One, the Impact Zone. I’m repeating myself there. Two, they really cooled down Ishimori, who had a meaningless title run. Three, Sydal has been as cold as ice for a long time. At least we found out earlier today that Ishimori found better ring gear and is off doing bigger and better Bullet Club things.
Tommy Dreamer was sitting on a couch with Eddie Edwards trying to counsel him. Dreamer said Edwards isn’t the first person he bailed out of jail. Dreamer noted that he himself was counseled by Terry Funk and Mick Foley about not messing up his life. Dreamer said he wasted three to four years of his life obsessed with somebody (Sandman?). Dreamer tried to tell Edwards that the thing Edwards has with Callihan is over. Edwards said he came to Dreamer out of respect but Dreamer is not his father. Edwards said he’s a grown man and has things to do. Edwards walked out on Dreamer. Dreamer yelled that it’s 2018 and Edwards got arrested for something that could ruin his career…
Allie and Rosemary were backstage. Allie wanted to be at ringside for Rosemary’s match against Su Yung. Rosemary told her “bunny” to promise “us” that Allie won’t come out there. Allie refused to promise at first but Allie gave in and said she won’t come out if that’s what Rosemary really wants. Rosemary said it’s not what she wants, it the way it has to be… [C]
It was time for an LAX clubhouse cinematic. Santana was pissed that LAX has stopped making paper (money) and shipments. Ortiz was pissed that they lost their titles, tequila, money, girls, and everything. Santana wanted to know where Homicide, K-Dawg, and everyone who has gone missing has gone. Santana said it was time to break down doors and break knees. Santana said they have to prove their worth by beating DJ Z and Andrew Everett next week. Santana said he was sick of this shit and it was time to figure things out. Ortiz took a swig of his patron and they walked out of the clubhouse…
John’s Thoughts: Right there!!! Impact needs more of that. Of course, the good promo segment happens in the isolated LAX pocket universe, but Impact should be spreading this type of storytelling throughout the show. LAX is losing. That’s not good for credibility, but whoever is writing this story (I suspect Konnan has a huge hand in this creative) is protecting Santana and Ortiz while also building up what would usually be a throwaway match for next week.
5. Su Yung vs. Rosemary. Su Yung started to attack Rosemary during her entrance. Rosemary dominated the forearm battle. Rosemary tossed around Su Yung easily. Su Yung gained control with a palm strike. Su Yung hit the Panic Switch on Rosemary at ringside. The child referee suddenly ran away.
Su Yung vs. Rosemary ended in an apparent no contest because the child referee guy ran away?
Suddenly a red tint moon flashed on the video wall. It wasn’t Ember Moon, it was Su Yung’s army of Zombie chicks. Don Callis and Josh Mathews noted that Su Yung was convulsing. The zombie ladies brought a (somewhat cheap) coffin to the ringside. Allie ran out and blindsided Su Yung. Allie and Rosemary bickered. Su Yung “controlled” the undead brides with a hand motion to restrain Allie while Su Yung kicked Rosemary back to the ground. Rosemary recovered and hit Su Yung with forearms. Rosemary threatened Su Yung with Su Yung’s kendo stick. Su Yung caught Rosemary with the mist. Su Yung then hit Rosemary with a Michinoku Driver off the stage to a table on the floor. Su Yung used her “powers” to summon the Zombies to do something. Two of the brides dragged Rosemary to the coffin. Su Yung put Rosemary in the coffin. Josh Mathews asked Don if we saw the “death” of Rosemary? Don said Rosemary wasn’t moving. This scene closed Impact…
John’s Thoughts: I’m a bit perplexed here. I’m usually a fan of the Lucha Underground super power stuff, but this was very inconsistent with their universe. It’s odd to see Mathews and Callis try to casually sell that Rosemary died when just last week they were trying to sell how illegal it was for Eddie Edwards to go to jail for trying to “f–king kill” Sami Callihan. Should Yung go to Jail? The Allie and Rosemary relationship is a fun one, but they were overacting a bit there. Rosemary’s selling was strange too as she would sell for extended moments of time. Another detriment to this segment is Yung got a bit damaged for being associated with Braxton Sutter and taking a clean loss from Allie. This segment was also taken down due to the tepid crowd.
This was not a good episode in my honest opinion. They are telling a good story about LAX being down on their luck and they are doing a good job establishing Austin Aries as a heel. KM and Fallah Bahh looks like it might be fun. Everything else seems very flawed. Where’s the Pentagon Jr. vignettes? Where’s the Su Yung graveyard cinematics? Where’s Cage’s mission statement promo? Where did Taya Valkyrie randomly go off to? There’s so many head-scratchers. To their credit, there isn’t much in the way of “only in TNA” moments. Now they need to modernize a bit and produce a unique product. I’m getting a bit tired of waiting for the next TV taping to see if they can finally get it right.
Redemption was a really good PPV. It wasn’t Takeover great, but that show was something that is totally possible to replicate over the course of several weeks. Check out my NXT Hit List from yesterday. It’s not impossible to produce a strong WWE alternative and NXT only has one hour. Here we’re back to getting Public Access indie wrestling where Cage has to sell to random dudes in Australia. Two weeks in a row and my head hurts by the end of the show, and I didn’t even get serial killer Eddie Edwards to give me a laugh. Maybe Jason Powell liked this show better than I did. He’ll be by later today with the Impact Wrestling Hit List and Member’s Exclusive Audio Review.