By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Pentagon Jr. vs. Austin Aries for the Impact World Championship: A strong main event with a finish that cemented Aries as a heel while also giving Pentagon an out for losing. An argument can be made that the restarts were a case of overbooking, but I saw it as an attempt to wake up the lifeless Impact Zone crowd by getting them to clamor to see a decisive finish. The only real negative is that Pentagon’s title reign peaked on night one. There was a genuine feeling of change when he got the surprise win at the Genesis pay-per-view, but in retrospect it seems like creative felt like they needed to deliver a make good for the Alberto El Patron mess more than it was a case of them getting behind Pentagon as their champion. On the plus side, Pentagon has been elevated from the brief title reign and he stands out from the pack of the numerous masked luchadores who were introduced around the same time. Plus, Aries is back in his natural heel mode where he does his best work.
Red X Attacker story: I love a good whodunnit storyline. It’s fun to watch the situation play out and they have done a nice job of letting it develop slowly with a few attacks before they started to make a bigger fuss over it. I’m intrigued. Pro wrestling doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to paying off these types of storylines, but hopefully Impact has something good in mind. I’m with John Moore in hoping that Petey Williams is a red herring rather than the actual attacker. I doubt they are headed in this direction, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Brian Cage revealed as the mystery attacker to coincide with a heel turn. I have a feeling that creative sees him as a top babyface and it’s certainly possible that will work, but Cage as an unstoppable badass heel monster has potential and it might help explain why he’s working in the X Division (more on that later).
Tessa Blanchard vs. Madison Rayne: An entertaining match with Blanchard’s offense standing out in a good way. The outcome left me scratching my head in that it seemed like Rayne was there to serve as a notable name that Blanchard would defeat to help her develop in-ring credibility with viewers. Rayne going over with a schoolgirl didn’t ruin Blanchard and it also extends the feud. The key will be the follow-up story in terms of how Blanchard reacts to the loss and where they go from here. If it’s as simple as Blanchard gets her win back and moves on then this wasn’t worth it, but hopefully they have a real plan in mind and this wasn’t a case of going with a surprise finish just for the sake of a one night surprise.
Allie vs. Su Yung in a Last Rites match for the Knockouts Title: It’s rare to describe a casket match as being good, but that’s the case here. Allie coming out as the Demon Bunny would have come off better if anyone in the Impact Zone seemed to care. I’m not a fan of the possession and supernatural elements of the story involving the “dearly departed” Rosemary, but the actual match was entertaining and I continue to enjoy the Yung persona and the way the Undead Brides who accompany her provide a touch of pageantry to her act.
Overall show: A good show that focussed heavily on the in-ring product. They never did a good job of defining why this show was called “Under Pressure” and yet because it came off well it should help when they go with theme shows in the future (bonus points for ditching the bad TNA B-show names such as Sacrifice and No Surrender that meant nothing to anyone).
Impact Wrestling Misses
Eli Drake vs. Scott Steiner: The match was fine given Steiner’s limitations at this point in his career. He can’t go like he once could, but the effort is still there and that’s to be applauded. The real issue was that their storyline felt rushed. Sure, they’ve been having some issues lately, but I felt like I missed a chapter of the story that led to them melting down to the point that they needed to have a match against one another. And as weak as the Impact Zone crowd can be, it was hard to blame them for not being loud during this match considering it featured two squabbling heels.
Brian Cage in the X Division: Cage’s match with Dezmond Xavier was a Hit in terms of the quality of the match. That’s not the issue. The Impact World Champion is a former X Division Champion and a former top contender to the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Meanwhile, super jacked Cage is No. 1 contender to the X Division Championship. I have zero problem with a cruiserweight being the world champion, but it does seem odd that babyface Cage is working in a division that traditionally focusses on cruiserweights. It might be different if he were a heel and he came off like a bully who cowardly beats up smaller wrestlers, but it just seems odd to have him targeting the X Division Title as a babyface. Yeah, I know, it’s not about weight limits, it’s about no limits. We’ve heard that empty definition of the X Division before and I’m sure we’ll hear it again. The truth is that there’s no difference between the X Division style and what we’re seeing in Impact World Championship matches. So what is the X Division at this point? And while I appreciate that creative is taking their time rather than rushing him into the main event mix, why does the Cage character covet the X Division Title when he could be pursuing after the world title?
Eddie Edwards: Now he’s going to the woods to “murder” Sami Callihan? The idea of a match in the woods sounds like it could be a fun twist on the Broken Universe, but it’s ridiculous to have wrestlers openly threatening murder on worldwide television. There are better ways to make Edwards come off as unhinged.