By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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Impact Wrestling Bound For Glory Hits
Austin Aries vs. Johnny Impact for the Impact World Championship: Aries and Impact did a good job of making their feud seem personal and the approach even garnered some TMZ attention. I could have done without the company including the line from the TMZ host about this match possibly going off script. The fans are smart enough to know what the company was going for without being taken out of the moment. The match was well worked and I like that they fought right out of the gate in a way that sold the personal nature of the feud. Aries throwing a tantrum right after taking the pin took away from the title change. At the same time, they created a buzz generating cliffhanger moment that left fans wondering where this goes next.
Tommy Dreamer and Eddie Edwards vs. Moose and Killer Kross: Dreamer’s latest Impact appearance was well received by the rowdy New York crowd. Edwards pinning Moose with a simple rollup felt underwhelming, but I was happy to see them put heat on the heels again by having them powerbomb Edwards after the match. Heel Moose is so much more fun than he was as a babyface. Moose’s wardrobe choices continue to be great and his unrequited fondness for McKenzie Mitchell is becoming a guilty pleasure.
Brian Cage, Pentagon Jr., and Fenix vs. Sami Callihan, Dave Crist, and Jake Crist in an OVE Rules match: The big spot fest match concluded with the most surprising finish of the night. If I had made confidence picks on which wrestler would have been least likely to take the pin, Cage would have been at the top of my list. I’m curious to see how they follow up on this. It should be a huge moment for Callihan and hopefully it’s made to feel that way. For that matter, where does Cage go from here now that he was made to feel mortal.
Rich Swann and Willie Mack vs. Matt Sydal and Ethan Page: A strong opening tag match. Mack was super over with the New York crowd and hopefully he will become a regular. Page also had a nice re-debut (he played Chandler Park) and I was genuinely surprised that he didn’t take the loss for his team. Page is talented and I hope he’s going to be his own man rather than become part of Sydal’s limiting third eye act.
Tessa Blanchard vs. Taya Valkyrie for the Knockouts Championship: It’s unfortunate that Valkyrie was not at the tapings in Mexico because it prevented the company from delivering a better build. Valkyrie’s new look was a welcome change from the ice queen garb now that she’s working as a babyface. While the match had some clunky moments, I enjoyed it overall. Blanchard is a great face of the Knockouts division and hopefully creative will focus on her and the athletic style of the division rather than casting the Knockouts in bad B-movies.
Overall show: One of the best moves the company made was getting out of the Impact Zone and running in smaller venues in front of paying crowds who are enthusiastic about the product. The atmosphere of a small but packed building is so much better than when companies run in larger venues even if they draw the same number of fans. I enjoyed Slammiversary more than this event and the company actually made that show feel bigger than Bound For Glory. Still, I came away satisfied with the time investment. Now if only Impact would do something about that $40 price tag.
Impact Wrestling Bound For Glory Misses
Undead Realm: Impact found success with the Broken Universe and they are clearly hoping to replicate that with the Knockouts and their Lucha Underground inspired B-movies. It’s just not working. Matt Hardy struck gold with his vision and what Impact is delivering now just pales in comparison. I enjoy the characters who are caught up in this mess, but it is damaging everyone involved. I just wonder how much longer they will stick with this approach when I don’t see any sign that it’s clicking. Impact has a strong Knockouts Champion and a solid roster of female talent. Here’s hoping they opt to showcase them all in a more traditional manner.
LAX and Konnan vs. OGz and King in a Concrete Jungle Death match: I spent the majority of the match hoping that no one would be seriously injured. Everyone involved in this deserves credit for working hard and the match was a Hit from that standpoint. Even so, the company never should have signed off on this match. Pulling back the canvas and padding may have seemed like a decent idea on paper, but fact that there was nothing to keep the boards in place made for a dangerous setting. I have no desire to see this match return. It was chaotic and the crowd enjoyed it, but there are some risks that are just not worth taking.
Eli Drake vs. James Ellsworth: While Chris Jericho was never actually advertised, he was teased and it led to a lot of fan speculation over a Y2J appearance once his cruise ads started popping up on Impact. The late hype that only a New Yorker was eligible to take Drake’s open challenge played into the Jericho teases because he’s a New York native. Impact officials clearly knew they were setting up the fans for something they did not intend to deliver. Putting that aside, they didn’t even come up with an actual New Yorker for this slot. The live crowd hated Ellsworth to the point that the company would be wise to consider using him as a heel (how about as a sidekick for Drake?). Fortunately, the Abyss appearance was well received and won the crowd over, but there’s no way of getting around the fact that this was a letdown.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Chris Harrington.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...