By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Tessa Blanchard video: A fantastic video package and the highlight of the show. The early part of the video established her family’s history in the industry and her success outside the company. And just when it seemed like she was coming off likable, she went into heel mode at the end to stay true to her character. Impact is doing a nice job of framing her as a star right out of the gate.
Z and E vs. LAX: A good match despite a couple of really contrived spots. The teams worked hard and the new athletic duo of DJZ and Andrew Everett worked well together. I’m not crazy about seeing LAX lose so often, but it’s obviously part of the ongoing losing streak storyline that has Santana and Ortiz failing to win matches without Konnan and Homicide in their corner. Hey, whatever happened to Diamante? She suffered a knee injury last July, but I’m surprised they haven’t at least reintroduced her character.
Grado vs. Rohit Raju: It took Grado some time to click in Impact Wrestling, but he’s settled in as one of the most consistently entertaining regulars. The addition of Katarina Waters to his act is a nice surprise. She was underutilized as Katie Lea Burchill in WWE, and I enjoyed her was Winter during her previous run with Impact. Yes, it is ridiculous that Katarina is back and her Winter character is forgotten, but Grado is such a guilty pleasure that I’m willing to look past it. It was also nice to see the Red X attacker took out an actual wrestler rather than a random crew member this week. Finally, it feels like the company could be doing more with Raju. With all of the big spot guys in the X Division, perhaps he would stand out in a good way if they gave him some wins while positioning him as the pure wrestler of the division.
Brian Cage vs. Takashi Sugiura: A minor Hit for a good match. This suffered from the usual issue of zero build and the audience not receiving any introduction to the non-Impact wrestler. It’s odd that they are airing something from June 2017 rather than going with something more modern, but I guess it doesn’t matter since most viewers won’t know the difference.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Sami Callihan attacks Don Callis: Impact viewers were introduced to Callis as a heelish color commentator on the April 22 Redemption pay-per-view. Not even three full weeks later, the viewers are supposed to feel sympathy for Callis for being attacked by Callihan. I love Callis as a color commentator to the point that any angle that leaves us with Josh Mathews flying solo on commentary is bound to be a miss in my book. The scene with Eddie Edwards bursting into the room where Impact management was deciding the fate of Callihan was absurd. Management firmly stated that Callihan was fired. Edwards protested and they immediately reversed course and said Callihan could stay before adding that whatever Edwards was going to do to Callihan would have to happen outside Impact. What?!? And then we find out later that the Edwards vs. Callihan would take place at a House of Hardcore event that will be shown on Impact television next week. What?!? I’m all for the company writing actual storylines that build up the matches they air from various independent events, but it would be nice if those storylines actually made sense.
Pentagon Jr. vs. Eli Drake for the Impact World Championship: The presentation of Pentagon Jr. as the Impact Champion continues to be awful. Viewers who only watch Impact still know very little about him and he certainly isn’t being showcased as the top guy in the company. Pentagon Jr.’s title win at Redemption created a lot of hope that the company was headed in a fresh direction with a new and intriguing face of the company, but they’ve done a piss poor job of making him feel important on the television shows since the pay-per-view. The only pre-match build we received involved Scott Steiner taking offense to Drake telling him that he had to fly solo for this title match. It was never actually explained why Drake suddenly wanted to do the right thing, but it’s an interesting development that may set the stage for a babyface run. The company dropped the ball on Drake’s heel championship reign by making him a pest heel who could only win in cheap fashion. Perhaps a babyface Drake would receive better treatment. The actual match was brief and forgettable, though fine while it lasted.
Drago vs. Aerostar vs. Taiji Ishimori vs. El Hijo Del Fantasma for an X Division Title shot: This shows just how little thought is put into the X Division booking. Ishimori lost in an X Division Title match last week, and Fantasma, Drago, and Aerostar teamed up and lost a six-man tag match last week. In other words, the company rewarded four losers from last week with a chance to earn a title match this week. The actual match was fine, but no one is benefitting from the company just throwing these wrestlers out there without any real attempt to establish their characters.
Moose vs. Kongo Kong: To Impact’s credit, they dedicated time last week to setting up this match that was taped at a House of Hardcore event. Unfortunately, it was a forgettable match with a weak DQ finish that didn’t leave me anxious to see more.
Allie video: Last week’s show concluded with the broadcast team openly questioning whether Rosemary was dead. Apparently an update on whether a wrestler is dead or alive is too much to ask for. So Rosemary may or may not be dead. And now Allie may or may not be possessed. This is beyond awful. That said, I am willing to accept all of this if it somehow leads to Zak Baggans of “Ghost Adventures” making a guest appearance in which he is set on fire and Drill Clawed into a pit of rabid wolverines.