By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Austin Aries promo: Aries pulled off the tough balancing act of serving as a spokesman for the company while still maintaining his heel edge. He did a very good job of making himself out to be the top champion in pro wrestling while also taking some digs as the company he once worked for by alluding to scripted promos. Aries felt cold during his babyface run as the champion, but he’s been on fire in this run as the heel champion. The angle with Eddie Edwards attacking Aries felt flat. The Toronto crowd was red hot for everything on Sunday night, but there wasn’t much of a reaction to Edwards attacking Aries. In fact, there were even some boos. The Edwards character has taken some strange turns lately that may have left the fans confused, but working with a strong heel in Aries should help get Eddie back on track.
King and The OGz and the OVE videos: King did a nice job of minimizing the OGz loss to LAX at Slammiversary and shifting the focus to Homicide and Hernandez stealing and marking the tag titles. Meanwhile, Sami Callihan looked more twisted than ever for giving a random dude the Freebirds bathroom treatment and and then forcing the poor guy to say he’s pretty before having the Crist Brothers shave his head. Calllihan was able to acknowledge his Slammiversary defeat and use the loss of his hair to make himself seem even more deranged.
Brian Cage vs. Matt Sydal for the X Division Championship: A minor Hit. The match quality was strong, but it felt like Toronto either started to cool off or Cage isn’t quite clicking at the level he should be. I definitely see him as a babyface to build around and I’m surprised that the crowds aren’t popping more for his entrances, but it’s just not there yet. The fans seem to enjoy his matches, but they haven’t completely latched onto him yet. I continue to believe the problem is the presentation rather than something that Cage is missing. The guy has plowed through everyone en route to winning the X Division Title and yet we still don’t hear much from him. It’s hard for fans to fully embrace a guy they don’t feel like they know on some level.
Taiji Ishimori vs. Petey Williams: A good, competitive X Division opening match. It’s amazing how much better Ishimori looks without his ratty t-shirt and numbered mask. He’s a special talent and he and Williams worked well together. The post match handshake between the wrestlers actually disappointed me. I was hoping that Ishimori’s new Bone Soldier persona would result in him working as a heel. The post match attack by Desi Hit Squad was fine in that I assume it sets up a television tag match rather than a long term feud.
Johnny Impact vs. Trevor Lee: A quality television match and a good showcase for Impact. I continue to wonder if the creative regime recognizes what they have in Lee or they will continue to portray him as a goofball leader of a cult with one follower. The post match promo by Impact was better than usual, though he just couldn’t resist working in the silly Slam Town reference at the end.
Scarlett Bordeaux debut: She’s bringing Diva back. OK, so I’m not giving that a Hit, but I need to see more than a week of the bombshell persona to get a better sense of whether it fits in 2018. The Hit goes to Bordeaux’s solid heel mic work in the form of her verbal assault on likable interviewer Alicia.
Tessa Blanchard vs. Rebel: A minor Hit for Blanchard getting a decisive win. Rebel is still a work in progress and some of her offense comes off like it’s more about showing off her athleticism than the move actually making sense (see the cartwheel into a clunky clothesline in the corner).
Impact Wrestling Misses
None: This was not a home run episode, but it was a good follow-up to Slammiversary. The show had quality in-ring work and the top heels who lost on Sunday were able to get their heat back quickly. If the show had a weakness it’s that there wasn’t a strong effort made to sell viewers on next week’s Impact. That said, while the Slammiversary go-home show left something to be desired, this show marks the third quality edition of Impact over the last four weeks. Throw in the strong Slammiversary pay-per-view and I feel good about recommending that anyone who gave up on Impact in the past give the company a fresh look.