By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Madison Rayne and Tessa Blanchard opening: Rayne came off well in her promo and it’s nice to see pro wrestling finally reach a point where female talent can talk about having children at home rather than keeping it quiet for fear that it will damage their sex appeal. Blanchard was an effective heel on the mic and this segment built to the Rayne vs. Su Yung match while also setting up Rayne vs. Blanchard for later in the show.
Rich Swann vs. Trevor Lee: Swann is a nice addition to the Impact roster. I was hoping that he would abandon the dancing to establish himself as more of a serious wrestler following his dancing guy schtick in WWE. It was good to hear the broadcast team praise Lee, but the saying “Don’t sing it, bring it” comes to mind. While the positive talk from Don Callis is nice, now it’s time for him to feature Lee as more than a goofball heel who leads a cult army of one. Putting all of that aside, this was a quality match. It was also great to see them play to a lively crowd rather than the morgue that is the Impact Zone.
Moose video package: A good feature that humanized Moose. His promos have never been his strong point and having him talk in this setting was a big improvement. It’s a little thing, but I also liked that he approached Eddie Edwards backstage and maintained his composure. This made him feel like a locker room leader more than the forced Mr. Impact name that his character awkwardly gave himself. The Austin Aries rebuttal promo was arguably too strong in that it framed Moose as a failure, but I am looking forward to seeing the Aries video feature next week.
LAX footage: It felt a little rushed for Konnan and King to be yelling at one another, as I enjoyed the gamesmanship of last week’s exchange. I guess we should never be surprised when the guy writing the material framed as the smartest guy in the room. Still, the LAX segments continue to be the most the most consistently entertaining aspects of the television show and without spoiling anything, the payoff for this is going to be a lot of fun.
Footage from independent events: The footage of Sami Callihan and OVE attacking Pentagon Jr. and then Sami Callihan attacking Tommy Dreamer at a pair of independent events was dramatically better than showing heavily edited matches from independent shows.
DJZ and Andrew Everett vs. The Desi Hit Squad: A minor Hit for a quality tag match with the debuting team getting the win. It’s nice to see Rohit Raju featured in something more meaningful. He was featured primarily as an enhancement wrestler before now, but it always felt like he could do more. I agree with John that I hope there’s more to the Desi Hit squad act than “We’re of Indian descent so boo us.”
Impact Wrestling Misses
Madison Rayne vs. Tessa Blanchard: The match was Hit worthy. Really, every match on the show was Hit worthy and this was a better than average edition of Impact despite some low budget production with sound and a white balance issue with the cameras. The issue with the match is that it felt unnecessary to have Rayne beat Blanchard again. Once the decision was made to put Rayne in the title match at Slammiversary, the creative team scrambled to make her feel relevant again by having her plow through most of their top heels. I can live with most of her previous wins, but having her beat Blanchard twice now feels like the company is sacrificing too much. Blanchard strikes me as an elite heel type who gets heat not just through her actions and promos, but also because her character is positioned as being so good in the ring that it annoys fans that she can’t be beaten. It’s not that her losses to Rayne have ruined her by any means, it’s just that they seem unnecessary. Blanchard should still be being established as a dominant in-ring force at this point, not being used to prop up Rayne. By the way, it was nice to see Allie back, but it looked really corny to have the Undead Bridesmaids just stand there and take punches from her. Perhaps this would have been a spot for the broadcast team cover it by claiming Bridesmaids were doing so because their mission was to protect Su Yung even if it meant sacrificing themselves.
Matt Sydal vs. Dezmond Xavier: Another Hit worthy match in terms of quality and I think highly of both wrestlers. The issue is the way both wrestlers are being framed. Sydal has shown great improvement on the mic and he’s having consistently good matches. The “third eye” and “namaste” gimmick is holding him back. The character’s traits are merely mildly annoying when I truly believe he’s now capable of drawing real heat. The post match angle with Brian Cage and Kongo Kong was well done. I hope Sydal isn’t joining Jacobs if only because I think Sydal has improved enough as a talker that he doesn’t need a mouthpiece. Meanwhile, Xavier continues to be a talented guy who gets no creative support.
Pentagon Jr. and Sami Callihan storyline: Callihan’s promo about his hair being with him through everything in his life was hilarious for all the wrong reasons. I can’t blame the guy in that he has to do something to make his hair seem important to him going into this mask vs. hair match, and that’s not an easy thing to do when he already shaves the sides of his head. I want to like this feud, but everything about it feels rushed.
Presentation of Cage vs. Kongo Kong: It’s great that Impact advertised multiple matches a week out. Now they need to work on the presentation. They have been building up Cage vs. Kong to the point that I assumed it was going to happen at Slammiversary. They are going with it next week and that’s fine, but the casual manner in which it was announced by Josh Mathews during this week’s main event left a lot to be desired. Impact has to work on making bigger television matches feel more important. Meanwhile, the presentation for the red mystery woman who is coming soon was also clunky. Like John Moore in his review, it left me wondering if this was an Impact graphic or something for Pop TV. Assuming it’s for Impact, why not have the broadcast team acknowledge it?