By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
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Austin Aries vs. Moose for the Impact World Championship: The positive thing about this Impact PPV is they have put themselves in a position where they have several options in match finishes and either option having intriguing storyline potential. On paper, this was a terrible matchup initially because Moose has been damaged so much as arguably the dumbest babyface in pro wrestling. While Pentagon Jr.’s title reign did nothing for Pentagon, Aries was tearing it up doing a moderate-burn heel turn during that title reign. Aries proved that he is way better at playing heel. There was no question that Aries will be fine in this feud but how do you compensate for the damaged Moose character? You hide the weakness in this feud, Moose, by having Moose essentially go into exile. You also accentuate the positives, Aries, by just having Aries go on a character building tear.
Aries has done a superb job carrying this feud on television by being such a dastardly antagonist. Ultimately, Moose still needs a mouthpiece to mask his weaknesses on the mic but Impact did a great job turning a precarious situation into entertaining television. They actually have two avenues here. I can see them put the belt on Moose. I don’t want them to put the belt on Moose because I still feel this accelerated push is too little too late for him. The push is a step in the right direction but Moose either needs a redemption arc or a mouthpiece (which will essentially serve as a soft repackage). Because Impact has done a solid job carrying this feud though, I won’t fault them for the title change because the logic fits both binary solutions.
What I would do? Because I’m a huge proponent of maximizing effectiveness through taking the path of least resistance, I would keep the belt on Aries. One, they will continue to legitimize the title and title-holder by simply adding time to the belt reign. Two, Bound for Glory is their WrestleMania so you would want the feel good moment to happen there. And three, Brian Cage is sitting there looking like he’s about to pick up the X-Division title and all signs point to Option-C being a thing. Option C is Austin Aries’s thing so I don’t think it would make sense for Cage to cash in on Moose. Plus, if you do Cage vs. Moose, people are just going to turn on Moose because Cage is so entertaining especially in front of real non-Universal wrestling crowds. If they want to go with Moose and then have Aries face DeAngelo Williams then I won’t be adverse to that, but what if they have Williams turn heel on Moose and Moose vs. Williams in the NFL battle of Falcons vs. Panthers (for some reason I associate Williams more with Carolina)?
Austin Aries defeats Moose via pinfall
Additional Prediction: Moose will take a nut shot because everyone nut shots Moose (whether it’s Aries or Williams is at the behest of Don Callis and Scott D’Amore).
Su Yung vs. Madison Rayne for the Knockouts Title: This feud was actually booked well (before the last two weeks which I’ll elaborate on in a bit). If you’re going to build a strong credible babyface, you do exactly what you did with Madison Rayne. Rayne isn’t a bad candidate for this position either. I was campaigning for this push two years ago when Rayne was losing every match on television yet having really good standout matches. You’re not going to give this super push to Kiera Hogan who benefits from losing in the long term and Allie is already in a different character storyboard. The problem is what I said it was. This push was two years too late and done abruptly at the expense of the young super-heels on the roster.
They had Madison beat Taya Valkyrie who was being built as the powerhouse of the division. Taya was doing that well until they started piling up losses for her. They had Madison not only beat Tessa Blanchard via fluke, but they also had her follow up by dominating Tessa via clean. Tessa should have been the 22 year old “diamond” of the division but they decided to sacrifice two strong heels at the alter of Rayne. So there’s one negative. The other negative is the last two weeks of random Lucha Underground. I review Lucha Underground, were Killer Kross orders people to murder with magical staffs and Jeff Cobb eats people like they’re corn on the cob. Why are we getting random LU on Thursdays. To Impact’s credit, they are well produced. The problem is that there is no consistency with the rest of their universe. To bring up a comparison, the LAX and OVE cinematic universes do mesh better in the Impact universe. This horror movie stuff would have worked better if it involved Allie or Rosemary because their interaction with Su Yung was building toward that.
Madison Rayne just decided to wander into LU land last week? Did they also do a LU murder by labeling “Alicia” as a Star Trek red-shirt by not giving her a last name? Anyway, Su Yung has to go over right? They had Su Yung lose in dominant clean fashion at the last PPV when she was teamed up with Braxton Sutter for some reason. Su Yung has been the best character thing to happen in Impact since the inception of Decay. The undead bridesmaids are awesome and have done a good job wiping away the stank of the random Sutter run. The problem and fear I have here is that Madison winning isn’t a bad option either. Again, to Impact’s credit, they wrote themselves into a good logical binary. See what happens when you don’t end every match with overbooked ref bump finishes (there was that one but Don Callis knew it sucked)? As I said, Rayne winning makes some sort of sense, but Impact should be thinking long term here and it’s good to have efficiency leading to efficacy.
Su Yung defeats Madison Rayne via pinfall after Madison Rayne panics due to the undead bridesmaids giving her PTSD and Su Yung uses the Panic Switch driver to plant Rayne.
Matt Sydal vs. Brian Cage for the X Division Championship: I explained what I thought in my Austin Aries prediction so I think everything should be straightforward here right? You’re not going to have Cage lose twice already. Sydal losing can lead to some great character development where he evolves past the “namaste” thing and to Sydal’s credit, he’s been cutting the best promos of his career. I can see Sydal winning and having that be the impetus to moving Sydal to the next level, but I think it would just be easier having Cage win. Hopefully they give Cage a mic after so he can say “Aries or Moose! I’m coming for you!” or something of that sort. Maybe he does his Man/Machine catchphrase.
Cage defeats Matt Sydal via pinfall to become the New X Division after hitting Sydal with Weapon X.
Pentagon Jr. vs. Sami Callihan in a mask vs. hair match: This feud put a smile on my face just by how goofy the logic is. I don’t think Pentagon is going to lose is mask here and now. Pentagon Jr. has a mask vs. mask vs. mask vs. mask match in August and I don’t think he loses it there too. If Pentagon does lose his mask, it’ll be like when Rey lost the mask and you put heat on the company. What has made this funny is Sami’s sudden love for his hair. It’s been with him everywhere. The problem with that statement is he shaved off a majority of his hair to get to the point he’s at now. So what happened to the rest of that hair that has been with him everywhere? Jason Powell made a good point in his thoughts by saying that this would have been more intriguing if this were a hair vs. hair match with Eddie Edwards because that was the match they were building to. Pentagon was their world champion and Tommy Dreamer came in for some House of Hardcore PR. At least this match will be very fun because both men wrestle at a main event level.
Sami Callihan loses the rest of his hair because he wanted to go bald, I guess.
Fenix vs. Johnny Impact vs. Rich Swann vs. Taiji Ishimori in a four-way: Impact has some fun matches and this one has the potential to be the entertaining spot fest. What separates this from your typical X-Division spot-fest is all four of these wrestlers know how to also do good ground based stuff in addition to the flipping and the flopping. Fenix has not had a bad match in every match I’ve seen him in. He’s the Roderick Strong of Lucha Underground where he’s a human catalyst. You can have a fun match without him but when you randomly add him in he makes things better. Johnny Impact is my favorite here because of all of the hype being built around him. Maybe they make a swerve for swerve sake? I personally would give Fenix the win because some company needs to figure out that Fenix has the potential to carry them to the next level. I can see Taiji Ishimori winning if Impact wants to get in on that Bullet Club party. The odd man out is Rich Swann. He’s great, but it’s not his time to win here.
Johnny Impact defeats Rich Swann, Taiji Ishimori, and Fenix via pinfall.
Eddie Edwards vs. Tommy Dreamer in a House of Hardcore match: This match is harder for me to predict that I would expect. Expect Alisha Edwards to get involved. Remember, the reason this match is happening is because Edwards thinks Dreamer is sleeping with Alisha. In the limited action that Dreamer has been in on Impact and Lucha Underground, he hasn’t done a bad job. Hopefully this doesn’t go long. I’ll go with Eddie winning by being too brutal causing Alisha to cry and tell Eddie that he’s becoming Sami Callihan. I would laugh if Edwards comes out wearing a Boston Celtics jersey and then rips it off to reveal a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey to all of a sudden renounce his hometown Boston and join the cult of Ohio. I would book that for the LOLs.
Eddie Edwards defeats Tommy Dreamer via pinfall.
LAX vs. The OGz in a 5150 Street Fight for the Impact Wrestling Tag Titles: The feud was rushed a bit at the end when Konnan said he had proof and never came up with any proof. Kingston outed himself. That said, LAX lives in some weird pocket-universe separate from the rest of Impact and has been the most consistently entertaining thing on the show. Credit to Santana and Ortiz. While Konnan was out with the hip surgery that he had to get, Santana and Ortiz did a good job using ring psychology to sell being down on their luck. They took it up another level by doing some great acting without Konnan carrying them and we all know how great of an actor Konnan is. Diamante was only there for two weeks and she hit a home run in terms of playing character.
Eddie Kingston proved that he is also the complete package. Take that DCC! The only weak point I see in this match is the uncertainty behind Homicide. Homicide was one of the workhorses back in the Gabe Sapolsky Ring of Honor days and the workhorse of the OGz, but for some reason throughout 2017 he was noticeably a shell of his former self in the ring. Shawn Hernandez in 2015 lost a lot of weight and was doing some amazing high flying stuff in Impact and Lucha Underground. I was lucky enough to see a lot of Hernandez in 2018 and he’s also a shell of his former self. I’m just less confident in Hernandez because I think his issues lie in conditioning. Anyway, Santana and Ortiz haven’t let me down yet and OG LAX is a fun piece of 2000s nostalgia. I would have had the OGz win the non-title match so they could do a rematch at Bound For Glory where the tag titles and maybe their crime empire would be on the line.
The OGz defeat LAX via pinfall due to interference from Eddie Kingston.
Tessa Blanchard vs. Allie: I’m not writing less for this match because it’ll be bad (I think it will be quite good), and I’m not just writing a little because this is the end of the article. Tessa signed the new contract. Tessa was on the losing end three times in a row. Allie is Teflon. Tessa wins, right?
Tessa Blanchard defeats Allie via pinfall.
Impact Hall of Fame Prediction: They haven’t been advertising this so I’m guessing they aren’t doing one. I’m just throwing one out there just in case. Cowboy James Storm! Because why not?