By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling on PopTV
Taped April 2018 in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
Josh Mathews opened up Impact as they showed Matt Sydal doing the splits and chatting with Austin Aries for a match against El Hijo Del Fantasma and Pentagon Jr. Josh Mathews talked about how in a few weeks Impact was having one of it’s PPV themed shows titled “Under Pressure” (like the song?). The show cut to the teaser which hyped up the “Brian Cage World Tour” in Canada this week, the mystery “X” attacker, the [dumb and ass] Don Callis storyline, and Rosemary being “laid to rest” by Su Yung. The impact theme aired…
Josh Mathews was on solo commentary this week. The Bro Mans sound and generic club music played, which means it was time for the Z and E tag team of DJ Zema Ion and Andrew Everett. In a funny visual, a few of the tourist kids from the Boys and Girls club in the crowd were not huge fans of DJ Z and Andrew Everett by booing them and giving them the thumbs down (To be honest, DJ Z did tell Jason Powell in person that his DJ gimmick was meant to make him look like a douchebag, which I posted in my review a few weeks ago). Their opponents were the Impact Tag Team Champions for the Impact Tag Team titles…
1. Eli Drake and Scott Steiner vs. “Z and E” DJ Z and Andrew Everett for the Impact Tag Team Championships. Josh noted that Steiner was a former WWF and WCW tag team champion (Josh did use the letters WWF). Josh also reminded viewers that Drake lost his World title shot last week. Z and E did some tandem moves on Drake. After a Jawbreaker on Drake, Zema signaled for the crowd to do his bro man sound (but nobody came through…). Zema hit Drake with a springboard back elbow. Drake managed to gain control after a neckbreaker. A “fresh” Scott Steiner tagged in to hit Zema with some methodical punches and chops. Steiner got a nearfall on Zema after a Belly-to-belly. Steiner called the referee a bitch.
Drake tagged in and the champs isolated Zema in their corner. Zema tried to take down Drake with a crossbody but Drake caught Zema and shoved him into the turnbuckle. Steiner made it to the second rope with Zema and hit him with a Super Samoan Drop. Zema managed to ground Steiner with a gut kick and DDT. Everett and Drake tagged in. They traded blows evenly. Everett hit Drake with a high roundhouse and slingshot dropkick. Everett hit Drake with a Pele kick. The challengers stood tall. Drake went for the Gravy Train on Zema but Z and E turned it into a Combination Code Red Codebreaker for a nearfall.
John’s Thoughts: Just sayin’, that Code Red Codebreaker would make a pretty good finisher if they refine it a bit.
They dropkicked Steiner off the apron. Zema did a baseball slide to prevent Steiner from bringing a chair in the ring. Drake disposed of Zema to the outside. For some reason, Drake decided to put himself in an awkward position and grab Steiner from the ring to the outside. Then Steiner, who was in a daze, hit Drake with the chair which allowed Everett to hit a standing Shooting Star Press for the win.
Z and E defeated Eli Drake and Scott Steiner via pinfall in 6:19.
Steiner chucked a chair at Andrew Everett. The crowd didn’t seem too excited. In another funny visual, the camera caught one fan in the front row of the hard camera side give Zema and Everett a huge middle finger. By the time Everett and Zema got out of the Impact Zone it seemed like the only fans that were into the win was that guy who loves doing the Moose dance at every Impact taping and his friend… [C]
John’s Thoughts: I’m perplexed, but I don’t think I’m the only one based off the negative reaction from a handful of fans in the Impact Zone; and I really like Zema and Everett as a tag team. I even said that Andrew Everett was showing signs of being a main event star during that short period in 2017 when Matt Conway oversaw creative. This screams TNA booking. Z and E just became a thing last week and now they win the belts? No babyface journey? No build? I get that they have to get the belt off of 55-year-old Steiner, but why put the belt on them in the first place if the end game was to put the belt on the makeshift one-week tag team? Where’s Reno Scum or Laredo and Garza when you need them?
The camera cut to DJ Z and Andrew Everett at the Gorilla Position. Zema talked about how Everett overcame an injury last year and how he almost died last year. Randomly, a hyper-excited Petey Williams ran into the shot to give Z and E hugs. Petey couldn’t believe it. Zema said they were just getting started. buh buh buh buh….
The show cut to Josh Mathews and his wife, Madison Rayne, in the Impact green screen room. Josh mentioned that Madison was here to provide commentary for the Knockouts match. Rayne said she wanted to provide a voice for the knockouts. They cut to the Impact Zone for the upcoming Women’s match…
2. Kiera Hogan vs. Tessa Blanchard. Kiera started off the match with a Thesz Press while Tessa was still in her entrance routine. Madison Rayne was angry that Kiera didn’t go for a three count (what?). Kiera hit a series of corner running moves at Tessa. Tessa managed to hang Kiera on the top rope and ground her with strong forearms. Tessa tripped Kiera on the second rope and hit her with a hanging Flatliner. Tessa started to act all ratchet, saying “I’m here bitches”.
Tessa worked on Kiera by whipping her and drop kicking her into the second rope. Tessa yelled at Kiera to “get mad” while slapping her. Kiera got mad and responded with forearms and a flying series of axe handles. Kiera hit a snapmare and back kick. Kiera hit a step-up dropkick on Tessa. Tessa managed to end Kiera’s rally with a dodge into a neckbreaker. Tessa roared in anger leading to her Hammerlock DDT for the win.
Tessa Blanchard defeated Kiera Hogan via pinfall in 4:05.
Madison Rayne said she was impressed by Tessa but hopes that Tessa can keep her ego in check…
John’s Thoughts: Not a bad match for either women and a good debut for Tessa. Can we get more matches like this all across the show where both wrestlers get developed? Anyway, Tessa’s overacting and ratchetness may be overbearing for some, but that’s what they are going for and Tessa is doing a good enough job of making it not look like an act. Tessa also ended up doing some good heel work by selling enough to Kiera Hogan to keep Kiera looking respectable. One bright spot in Impact is seeing Kiera Hogan grow week by week into a more polished wrestler. As I said for weeks, Kiera has the potential to become their flagship babyface if Impact is willing to take the time with her.
After the match, Tessa continued to beatdown Kiera after the bell. This pissed off Madison Rayne who was suddenly at ringside (I can see that they have an announce table setup but weren’t they just saying that Madison and Josh were at their Blue Screen studio?). Madison Rayne shoved aside Tessa. Tessa yelled “who the hell do you think you are?”. Tessa then retreated up the ramp when it looked like Rayne was about to attack her… [C]
Josh Mathews recapped Madyson Rayne’s rescue of Kiera Hogan after her match. Josh Mathews also noted that someone needs to put a stop to the guy putting “X” calling cards on beat up victims. They cut to Grado yelling at Kongo Kong and Jimmy Jacobs, calling them “nuggets”. Grado accused Kong and Jacobs of beating up Joseph Park and leaving the calling card on him. Jacobs said “I’m not a bad guy, I’m a good guy!” (wait? did Jacobs write that weird Roman Reigns promo?). Jacobs said they don’t care about Joseph, they only care about Abyss. Jacobs said that Grado’s accusations are unfounded. Jacobs said that if Grado continues on this path then he will find himself beat up by Kongo Kong. Katarina did the cliché “you gonna let them talk to you like that” as she went on to challenge Kong and Jacobs on behalf of Grado. Jacobs accepted Grado’s challenge via Katarina…
After an Impact taping ad, Impact aired an OVE and Eddie Edwards feud video package. Clips from the various and hilarious cinematics were shown where Eddie Edwards threatened to “f—ing kill” Sami Callihan on a hospital bed. Tommy Dreamer wore both Lucha Underground (Dreamer is in Lucha Underground too based off the trailer El Rey released) and Roddy Piper shirts… [C]
Pentagon Jr. cut a subtitled promo backstage (Finally!). Pentagon said, this night the world champion has a surprise for you. He said he didn’t come alone tonight. He brought “El Champion De Chocolate”, The Chocolate Champion (wait? what? Mark Henry?). No it wasn’t Mark Henry. It was El Hijo Del Fantasma! Fantasma cut his promo in English. He said he’s going to be the next X Division Champion. He said he was going to team up with the world champion against Matt Sydal and Austin Aries. Pentagon said it was going to be Pure Cero Miedo. Fantasma said it was going to be Pure Chocolate…
John’s Thoughts: Ok? For some reason Penta and Fantasma randomly talking about chocolate reminded me of Bobby Lashley talking about his sisters. Can you see why I’m a bigger proponent of the Cowboy Bounty Hunter King Cuerno over “Mr. Chocolate”? Is he like the Lucha version of Willy Wonka? Anyway, to pick out a positive, it took them about a month, but they finally allowed Pentagon to speak. Pentagon and Fantasma are two of the best talkers in Lucha Underground and Fantasma speaks perfect English. Let’s see where they go from here, but we’re going to need more than this. But at least they are starting.
3. Kongo Kong (w/Jimmy Jacobs) vs. Grado (w/Katarina). Grado called for a time out before the match to chat with Katarina. The crowd chanted for Grado. Grado laid in a few punches on Kong. Kong sold a few of Grado’s punches but punched back during the finale of his series. Kong grabbed Grado’s face but Grado made it to the ropes for the rope break. They showed Jimmy Jacobs shaking his head in disapproval. Grado hit some weak looking punches on Kong’s gut until Kong retaliated with a belly-to-belly. Grado kicked out at two. Grado managed to hit Kong with the Bionic Elbow which Kong kinda no-sold by standing in a daze. Grado managed to knock Kong off his feet with a flying shoulder block. Kong quickly recovered and body slammed Grado. Kong hit his top rope splash for the win.
Kongo Kong defeated Grado via pinfall 3:22.
Katarina entered the ring to check on Grado. Josh Mathews kept blaming Katarina for this during the whole match. Katrina quickly walked away as Kong continued to work on Grado. Kong tossed Grado’s shoulder into the steel steps. Kong and Jacobs set up the steel steps to try to replicate what they did to Johnny Impact. Moose’s theme played. Josh Mathews asked, “is he here?” as we saw Moose slowly walk towards Kongo Kong. Moose landed a few clubbing blows on Moose. Jacobs distracted Moose which allowed Kong to knee Moose in the gut. Moose managed to clothesline Kong over the top rope which prompted Jacobs to call for a retreat. Moose led the crowd in his Moose dance…
John’s Thoughts: The match was fine for what it was, but again there are always flaws. This match would have been good, but it felt like we missed out on several weeks of development for Grado who kinda just returned to the Impact Zone last week with new theme music and a girlfriend. Now they’re already teasing a breakup? Moving along, The Kong and Jacobs act is almost as stale as Matt Sydal. Kong doesn’t come off as intimidating and Jimmy Jacobs comes off as just a random guy. On the other side, Moose is a damaged babyface in serious need of a reboot.
It was time for an LAX cinematic. They were in the Impact Zone this time and were still angry that their crime empire sucks these days. Santana was on the phone and wanted to know where all their money and shipments were. Caleb Konley and Trevor Lee confronted LAX to taunt them for not being champions and not having Konnan with them. Konley mocked Homicide’s “brrrryyyyat”noise as the two men continued to taunt LAX… [C]
Tommy Dreamer was coaching Eddie Edwards backstage on facing Sami Callihan. Dreamer said this is over. Edwards said this will be over when Sami Callihan is no longer breathing. Dreamer said he understands, but it was over. Dreamer handed Edwards a random Kendo Stick…
4. Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan in a Street Fight at the House of Hardcore Promotion. Edwards quickly ran through Callihan during the entrances and then followed up with a baseball slide. Edwards beat up Callihan with a water bottle. Callihan managed to turn the tide in his favor with a pump kick. Callihan led the crowd in claps as he went on to claw Edwards in the face. Callihan did a pose which allowed Edwards to hit a Suicide Dive on Callihan. Edwards used a curtain pole to try to choke Callihan. Edwards fired up the crowd by putting chairs in the ring.
Callihan found a led pipe and jabbed Edwards in the gut. Callihan tried to jab a spike in the face of Edwards but Edwards stuck his thump in the eye of Callihan. Callihan hit Edwards with a bathroom wet floor sign and a Death Valley Driver. Sami did his thumbs up on the ring apron. Edwards found a random can of Coca-Cola and slammed it in the head of Callihan which invoked a light “Coca-Cola” chant. Edwards DDT’d Callihan on the apron. Callihan and Edwards had a sword fight with led pipes. It looked a bit goofy. Edwards won the sword fight. Josh Mathews tried to sell this with emotion. Key word tried. The crowd wanted tables. Edwards found a Kendo stick. Edwards chopped at Callihan’s legs with the stick. Callihan responded with a wad of spit.
Callihan punched Edwards in the balls and then hit a double underhook shoulder breaker for a nearfall. Callihan hyped up the crowd by setting up and slapping chairs. Callihan did his poses which allowed Edwards to punch the balls of Callihan. Edwards hyped up the crowd with a suplex attempt which allowed Callihan to regain control with a Falcon Arrow on the steel chairs, leading to a nearfall. Callihan hit a pump knee on Edwards. Callihan was praising his baseball bat for some reason. This allowed Edwards to hit the Boston Knee Party for the victory. Josh Mathews said Eddie was finally able to beat Sami Callihan.
Eddie Edwards defeated Sami Callihan via pinfall in 10:23.
Josh Mathews asked if Eddie Edwards has finally conquered his demons. Eddie Edwards used the bat to choke Callihan. Josh Mathews was acting extra hammy and said “you’re better than this!”. Independent wrestlers ran out to try to pull apart Edwards and Callihan. Tommy Dreamer walked to the ring to confront Edwards. Josh Mathews asked “at what point does Eddie Edwards become the villain?”. The segment closed with Edwards and Dreamer talking… [C]
John’s Thoughts: I hate to be a downer again but this wasn’t good either. At least things aren’t illogical this week, but this match didn’t match the tone they were trying to set with this feud. That tone disparity was exposed with Josh Mathews’ tone after the match. Edwards and Callihan pandered too much to the crowd. There wasn’t a story being told and we’ve seen better from these two. The House of Hardcore match at Redemption was way better than this. This was what it was, an independent wrestling house show made to pop standalone crowds. The best encounter between these two and they should have replicated this here, was the cinematic-style brawl he and OVE had at that Ohio independent wrestling promotion which had a great cult-like atmosphere.
Josh Mathews recapped a few matches from the “Brian Cage World Tour”…
5. Brian Cage vs. Facade in Canada for the Destiny Pro Wrestling Promotion. The camera made both men look extra pink tonight. Josh noted that Facade made a name for himself in the northeast independent wrestling scene and he is called “The Neon Ninja”. They did a rough cut to Cage giving Facade a power bomb on a ring post. Cage tossed around Facade at ringside. Cage used lariats to take down Facade around the ring. They did another rough cut to Facade missing a slingshot 450 and Cage hitting him with a swinging chokeslam. Facade kicked out of the pin attempt. The crowd did the Terminator claps.
They did another rough edit (I’m noticing a funny pattern in these edits which I’ll point out in my thoughts). Cage hit a pumphandle Falcon Arrow on Facade. Facade put his foot on the bottom rope for a rope break. Facade managed to land a few kicks and stagger Cage. Cage caught a flying Facade and hit him with a sitout Alabama Slam. Another rough cut occurred. Cage Gorilla Pressed Cage into the top rope. Cage hit Weapon X on Facade.
Brian Cage defeated Facade via pinfall after a bunch of video edits.
Josh Mathews noted that Cage is still undefeated (In Impact? Even though this is outside of Impact? I mean, this guy wrestles the California independents and has lost matches. He even lost his TNA Gut Check match to Jay Bradley). They cut to a backstage area where Pentagon and Fantasma were hyping each other up. They also advertised the funeral of Rosemary…
John’s Thoughts: A Cage “World Tour” could work if the matches were noteworthy. Last week’s match was from the Summer of 2017, but at least that Noah match was a really good match for a national promotion. This week we’re back to the low-budget indie footage. Based on the beginning of the cutaways, it looked like they poorly edited off any sequences where Facade was dominating Cage. I credit Impact for being logical, but then why edit a competitive match to try to look like a squash? Cage is directionless now. Maybe D’Amore should pull up his Netflix and straight up copy how former WWE Writer Chris DeJoseph built up Cage? That was good.
Impact cut to this week’s KM and Fallah Bahh skit. KM was being sarcastic and low-key patronizing in saying that Fallah Bahh lost over 50 pounds. Bahh sold it well with fun facial expressions of joy. He says “Fallah” now. KM said it was time for a makeover. They went into a comical makeover montage, complete with girl band R&B music. KM first was drowning Bahh in the hair wash station. Bahh hair whipped KM. KM blow dried Bahh’s hair and crotch. Then some fake Barry White sounding music played as Bahh strolled in the Studio Lot with KM wearing his robe and a tie on his neck. He walked past Kiera Hogan who looked impressed at Bahh…
John’s Thoughts: The Grado stuff wasn’t good this week but that Fallah Bahh segment was fun and it looks like they are going to try to do something with Bahh and KM. They have randomly stopped KM’s pushes in the past so I won’t keep my hopes up to high, but that segment was a pretty good comedy segment which even gave Kiera Hogan some mild but positive development. In my fantasy promotion, I still would want to see how an Otis Dozovic (from Heavy Machinery) and Fallah Bahh tag team would do. The charisma would be off the charts.
Josh said it was time to go from a light-hearted situation to a serious situation as he recapped the Eddie Edwards segment. Josh Mathews then advertised El Hijo Del Fantasma vs. Matt Sydal for the X Division Championship next week. Josh also advertised some matches for the “Under Pressure” themed show like Pentagon Jr. vs. Austin Aries for the World Title, Allie vs. Su Yung for the Knockouts Title, and Tessa Blanchard vs. Madison Rayne. Josh said it was time for the eerie funeral of Rosemary…
Impact cut to cinematic-mode as some [not-] Danny Elfman music played. The Zombie brides of Su Yung were shown stumbling in a Cemetery, carrying around the coffin of Rosemary. Su Yung walked up to the coffin with some flowers. Clips from a few weeks ago of Su Yung putting Rosemary in the coffin were flashing on the screen. Yung put the flowers on the coffin and ordered the zombies brides to carry coffin to a grass field away from the cemetery.
The Latin Choir was added to the cinematic with epic cuts to the undead brides. Su Yung was twitching and had voices in her head. Su Yung may be related to Drago because she shot fire from her mouth via cheap VFX (or she might secretly be Alexia Ashford). The coffin and the grass around it slowly set on fire (hopefully there wasn’t a forest fire from this). Su Yung and her bride zombies walked towards the coffin as Su Yung roared. Rosemary is cremated? [C]
John’s Thoughts: Okay, that may have been a bit too much science fiction for me in this Impact Wrestling context but I’ll give Impact a lot of credit for building up Su Yung. The VFX looked a bit cheap but the rest of the cinematic was pretty good with the [not] Danny Elfman music and Latin Choir. These zombie ladies are also adding another layer to the Su Yung act and rebooted her positively after that failed Braxton Sutter run.
Back from the break, Josh Mathews said it seems like Su Yung “evaporated” the mind, body, and soul of Rosemary in fire. They cut to the Impact Zone for the main event of Impact Wrestling. The ring announcer noted that El Hijo Del Fantasma is the AAA Latin America Champion. Matt Sydal still wears his “spirit animal” mask before the match while pointing out his “third eye”…
6. Pentagon Jr. and El Hijo Del Fantasma vs. Austin Aries and Matt Sydal. Josh Mathews sold the importance of the Luchador Mask. A louder than usual “Chocolate” chant ensued. Fantasma and Sydal showed off their ground wrestling to start. Josh Mathews noted that Sydal is a “submission specialist” now. Sydal stepped back and told Fantasma “Namaste”. Josh Mathews noted that Taiji Ishimori has moved on to become the new Bone Soldier of Bullet Club.
Sydal trapped Fantasma with a head scissors. After the slow start, both men showed off their agility. Fantasma grounded Sydal with a huracanrana. The group of Impact wrestlers started singing the “Lucha Underground National Anthem”. Pentagon tagged in as the Impact regulars chanted the Lucha Underground Cero Miedo anthem. Pentagon yelled “Listen to me! Cero Miedo!”. Aries flicked his finger on Pentagon. Aries and Pentagon had a quick sequence with Aries coming out on top. Aries went for some agile dodges but was punted in the gut by Pentagon. Pentagon went for his arm sacrifice move on Aries, but Aries rolled away. [C]
Pentagon caught Aries with a boot from the apron. Fantasma botched the Arrow from the Depths of Hell (that’s the first time I ever seen him botch that move). Fantasma reacted to the slight flub. They showed a replay (why?). Fantasma and Pentagon dominated their opponents as Josh Mathews ran through his PopTV movie plug. Aries escaped a headlock with a jawbreaker. Sydal missed a jump kick on Penta. Fantasma blessed Aries and slapped him in the chest. Pentagon and Fantasma hit a dropkick version of the “What’s up” on Aries.
Fantasma bit the arm of Sydal. Pentagon and Fantasma hit a wheelbarrow codebreaker on Sydal. Sydal blocked an incoming Fantasma with an axe kick. Sydal used a legdrop on Fantasma and hit Pentagon with an STO at the same time. Aries tagged in. Aries hit a slingshot corkscrew elbow on Fantasma with some help from Sydal. Aries worked on the back of Fantasma while the crowd tried to fire him up with “Chocolate” chants. Sydal tagged in and used a leg hook on the head of Fantasma. Fantasma tried to use his kicks to escape the corner of Aries but Aries and Sydal used quick tags to overpower him. Fantasma sidestepped Sydal to send his knee into Aries and open the window for the Pentagon hot tag.
Pentagon hit Aries with a Sling Blade and lungblower. Sydal tagged in and hit Fantasma with a top rope Meteora. Madness ensued with all four men. Pentagon blocked an Aries suicide dive with an enziguri. Sydal staggered Fantasma with a Rolling Sobat. Fantasma hit Sydal with a pop up Ace Crusher. Sydal caught Fantasma off the top rope with a standing Frankensteiner. Sydal went for Air Bourne but Pentagon superkicked him out of the air (Randy Orton would be proud). Pentagon kept Aries out of the ring while Fantasma planted Sydal with the Trill of the Kill for the victory.
Pentagon Jr. and El Hijo Del Fantasma defeated Austin Aries and Matt Sydal via pinfall in 14:12 of TV Time.
The luchador team celebrated their win while Aries walked over Sydal at ringside. Aries grabbed his Grand Championship and held it up while staring at Pentagon. Pentagon responded by taunting Aries with the World Title to close Impact…
John’s Thoughts: That was refreshing. It was one of the better Impact Wrestling matches that I’ve seen in a long while. The last couple of months usually ended with Impact Wrestling giving me an actual headache after watching. This was fun and reminded me of reviewing a good Lucha Underground main event minus the hot as hell crowd, but credit to the Impact Zone for being more lively than usual via their low standards. I’ve watched and reviewed El Hijo Del Fantasma’s matches for years and never understood his “club chocolate” thing? Personally, I think badass bounty hunter with boots and a cowboy hat is better but If this is what’s going to get him over with the usually dead Impact Zone then he can go chocolate crazy. I’m just happy that the crowd is getting into Lucha Underground’s best mat based technician. I keep saying this guy can be a main event heel if they want him to be. Give some credit to Aries too. For some reason, he seems more inspired when working heel, I pointed that out in his feud with No Way Jose which was a sleeper feud a while ago. Overall, this was a good main event.
This show was better than last week, but that’s not saying too much since last week’s episode was crap. This show has some highlights. Tessa Blanchard vs. Kiera Hogan was good (even though Madison Rayne seemed shoehorned). The Su Yung stuff may not be for some, the supernatural stuff was a bit much for me, but ever since she ditched the Braxton Sutter comedy act she has become one of the more developed new acts on this roster. The Fallah Bahh stuff was a nice sidetrack. The main event was solid. There was a lot of good here. There was a lot of bad and frustrating parts as well. The best part I say is that I finished this review without a headache. Jason Powell will be by later today with a Hit List for the site and Member’s Exclusive Audio Review.