By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Tessa Blanchard vs. Su Yung for the Knockouts Championship: A Hit from a match quality standpoint and yet I was left with mixed feelings. It felt like this was a match the company should have built up to. And while Blanchard retaining the title she just won is perfectly logical, Yung loses too often for the type of character she plays. There’s nothing frightening about a monster who is beaten on a regular basis. Worse yet, Blanchard walked over her and wiped her feet after pinning her. The post match angle with Yung trying to put Blanchard in a casket just wasn’t enough to redeem Yung, especially when she ended up being beaten up by Allie and Kiera Hogan.
Sami Callihan and The Crist Brothers vs. Zachary Wentz, Ace Austin, and Trey Miguel: Callihan turns up the energy level of the show the moment he walks through the curtain. Callihan is logically the leader, and hopefully we’ll get more matches like this where all three men look good, as the only weakness of the act is that the Crists often come off like lackeys. Callihan is a strong personality and has cemented himself in his leadership role. Hopefully creative will start to do more to establish actual personas for the Crists. It’s also worth noting that there’s some talent on the losing team that could be positioned as players in the X Division with the right creative love.
Austin Aries, Moose, and Killer Kross: The Moose explanation was logical and well delivered. And it really gets no better than the shirt, pants, and shoes he wore for his first appearance as a heel. Aries continues to shine on the mic and as the heel champion. The big mystery introduction that Kross was given leading to him playing a bodyguard type is a bit of a letdown, but I like the heel faction with the champion as the centerpiece.
Rich Swann vs. Petey Williams: A minor Hit for a solid opening match even if it did feel a bit underwhelming given the talent involved. The focus on commentary was Matt Sydal’s limiting third eye gimmick. It continues to be pest heel material when Sydal is capable of so much more now that he’s improved so dramatically on the mic.
Scarlett Bordeaux and Bobo: Bobo’s first appearance felt like it could have been a one-off. I’m so happy it wasn’t. His over the top infatuations with Bordeaux is hilarious. Meanwhile, Bordeaux plays her role perfectly. I remain guardedly optimistic about the direction of the character, but she is doing a fantastic job with what they are asking her to do.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Bound For Glory title match announcement: Austin Aries vs. Johnny Impact is a good main event and all, but the lack of fanfare for the announcement of the title match on the company’s biggest show of the year was dreadful. I don’t need a long, hard to follow BFG Series to determine the challenger as the company has had in the past, but I can’t believe the BFG challenger was chosen by faceless management members. Did he earn the title shot by throwing Kongo Kong in a pool? The Johnny Impact character isn’t on a storyline journey that fans can rally behind. They didn’t see him earn the shot, it was just handed to him in a ridiculously lazy booking move. What’s done is done and one can only hope that creative realizes that Johnny’s promos are often lousy. We didn’t get the usual Slam Town nonsense, but lines like “turd cutter” kill his cool factor. They need to take the sit-down interview approach with Johnny where lines like that can be left on the cutting room floor.
Konnan and King meet with their bosses: Konnan and King delivered good performances, but the scene was just plain cheesy. The LAX and OGz feud was one of my favorite programs in pro wrestling. Unfortunately, the cinematic stories have spiraled out of control. They need to get back to the basics and give up on the recent shift to making bad B-movies.
Eli Drake vs. Stone Rockwell: What the hell was this? Whether he’s paired with Katarina or not, Drake needs to be showcased properly. Drake has as much upside potential as anyone on the roster and yet he feels directionless at this point.
Lucha Brothers promo: Here’s the gist of the promo. They want to team with Brian Cage, but if he doesn’t want to team with them then that’s okay because they are the Lucha Brothers and they can take care of Sami Callihan and the little girls that follow him. Oh, and Fenix felt the need to chime in with “We’re the best!” I love these two, but this was a bad promo that never should have made the cut.
Grado, Joe Hendry, and Katarina: Grado and Hendry had a decent undercard match that included and a nice finishing sequence from the Desi Hit Squad. And the platonic friends entrance song by Hendry was silly fun. The praise ends there. Katarina dumping Grado and professing her love for Hendry only to have Hendry be disgusted by the thought of hooking up with his best friend’s girl was not where I expected this to go. And that’s fine and perhaps even a good thing, but the segment was super campy and it didn’t leave me anxious to see what’s next.