By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling Gold Rush on Twitch TV
Aired Live November 30, 2018 from Newark, California at the Newark Pavilion
Presented by Big Time Wrestling
-Josh Mathews and Don Callis were at the auditorium providing live in-person commentary.
-AJ Kirsch was the ring announcer. AJ was tied for fourth place on the Stone Cold season of Tough Enough. While he’s a skilled wrestler, he mostly spends his pro wrestling time these days as the ring announcer for almost all of the SF Bay Area indie promotions like All Pro Wrestling or Hoodslam.
-Don Callis and Scott D’Amore were roaming around before the show instructing talent and the production crew.
-According to my rough estimate (via quick counting) I would estimate that on the low-end they had a turnout of around 730 people. This was because 85% the seats were filled and extra people sitting along the single step bleachers. So I assumed the bleacher people would have made the seats full.
-Johnny Impact, Tessa Blanchard, Moose, Eddie Edwards, Brian Cage, Jake Crist, Dave Crist, Eli Drake, and Rich Swann had a long table set up in the back for autographs and photo ops. Johnny Impact seemingly had the longest line. Eddie Edwards was also selling his “Anything is Possible” Children’s book which was the book that also made an appearance on this past Thursday’s Impact.
-Even though Big Time Wrestling handled the ticket sales, this show was presented as an “Impact Wrestling Show” with the ring and all the graphics being Impact Wrestling and there was almost no mention of the indie promotion (which isn’t a bad thing because it made Impact seem somewhat big league).
1. Eddie Edwards defeated Scotty Wringer. Scotty Wringer is the local promotion’s (BTW) heavyweight champion where he plays an old school indie arrogant heel. While Eddie Edwards was rocking the crazy gimmick, he wasn’t has hammy as we saw him when he was in that feud with Austin Aries or even more recently with Moose. Edwards, as expected, had a solid match and Scotty was a good opponent. There was one spot where Eddie Edwards grabbed someone’s replica Money In The Bank briefcase and used it to attack his opponent. Eddie Edwards wins via pinfall after a Jackknife rollup.
2. Six Person Tag Match. Forgive me as I wasn’t familiar with what looked like the local heel team. The babyface team was Rik Luxury (who for some reason, always looks like indie wrestler Vinnie Massaro’s long lost relative to me. I kid, and they both wrestle for APW), Shane Kody, and Sledge. Well worked match involving the local indie talent. Shane Kody picked up the pinfall.
3. Rich Swann defeated Marcus Lewis, This was a match that I was really looking forward to on paper due to the reputation of both wrestlers. You already know what Swann is all about. He came out to his Lionel Richie theme and in recent months he’s been putting on main even quality matches on the Impact Wrestling TV show. Lewis is someone I’ve always wanted to see get a shot on a bigger stage. While he may look like a Black Tyler Breeze, he wrestles more like Dolph Ziggler where he shows good fighting spirit while also selling like crazy. This guy is great. This match was great overall. Swann’s really good at getting the crowd to fire up and hit a nice hybrid version of the Road Dogg punches with some CQC. Swann picked up the win after a Jackknife rollup (the second of the night). I wouldn’t mind seeing Lewis get a spotlight on a show like Impact or Ring of Honor because the guy always impresses every time I see him perform at APW shows in Daly City.
4. The Freaks defeated OVE. No sign of Sami Callihan. Jeckles and Jinxx were known as “The Freaks” and were rocking creepy clown costumes. Dave Crist was really good at engaging the crowd by antagonizing them and trying as much as possible to yell about how Ohio is better than California. Jake handled most of the in ring work with his unique savate offense. Dave popped the crowd when he asked one of the clowns for “Friendship” with a handshake. OVE was about to hit the all-seeing eye, but one of The Freaks rolled up Jake for the victory.
5. Brian Cage defeated Moose. A really fun match. Not quite the barnburner as you would expect, but both men wrestled a solid match while working in some funny house show spots. Before the Match, rather than come out to his heel theme, Moose came out to the theme music that Austin Aries was using during his last few months with the company when Aries was calling himself Austin “The Truth” Aries. The match started off with Moose challenging Cage to workout routines where Cage would one-up Moose in squats and flexes. Moose spent most of the match selling his missed chops which hit the ringpost. Moose’s high dropkicks are cool to see in person. Cage was great in his selling as usual. There was a REF BUMP. Moose tried to do the Eddie Guerrero fake chairshot spot but rather than go “oh no what do I do?” Cage jokingly wrapped the chair around his own head and acted knocked out to put the referee heat on Moose. Since Moose was distracted, Cage defeated Moose after an F5.
6. Tessa Blanchard defeated Kiera Hogan to retain the Knockouts Championship. Hands down, the match of the night in my opinion. Both women worked hard and their hard work resonated with the crowd. It was refreshing to see Kiera Hogan freed from the Undead Realm for the night as she proved why she has the potential to be a centerpiece babyface of the Knockouts division. If you remember, Tessa has beat Kiera in singles matches several times but every match built on the last. They might have had matches in the past outside of TV, but this one was better than the last one we saw from them on TV. Not a “Match of the Year” or not even a “Match of the Month”, but this was really good and it wouldn’t have been out of place on a PPV. Tessa wins after smoothly rolling into her hammerlock DDT. The adult males loved Tessa while the women and children resonated with Kiera.
7. Johnny Impact defeated Eli Drake to retain the Impact World Championship. Eli Drake cut a pretty good, non-Rock like, promo before the match where he projected his anger of Johnny Impact at the poor little referee guy. It was refreshing to see Drake treated as a main event player for the first time in a while in front of my eyes (Drake vs. Dreamer on this week’s Impact didn’t come off as a true main event). Johnny Impact did his usual set of moves and his set of moves are awesome because the guy moves like a ninja. One thing I would like to see from Johnny is maybe he could pick up some wins with a Moonlight Drive or running knee because it would make his intermediary nearfalls more compelling. As expected, Johnny Impact won after Starship Pain.
Johnny Impact cut a really good promo after the match, by his standards of course. This was really similar to his post-title win promo where he talked about growing up in California. For some reason his promos are really strong when he finds a connection with the audience and lets loose. Johnny sounded comfortable and even avoided any Slam Town references. Johnny was interrupted by Moose, who didn’t fight but cut a promo to set up a match for tomorrow’s One Night Only taping being recorded about 50 miles away in Salinas, California. Moose popped the crowd by mispronouncing Salinas as “Sa Line Us” or something like that. Moose looks like he’s having fun in the heel role and was spot on with his deadpan humor. Despite being a heel, a large amount of fans still like doing the Moose arm pump, even to the Austin Aries theme that Moose was using.
Final Thoughts: I had average expectations for this show, mostly because I didn’t really know what to expect from Impact working with a local promotion. My expectations were probably lowered because of those poorly shot indie matches that Impact would air late 2017 combined with my lack of exposure to BTW. My expectations were exceeded and this was an excellent show. It was not a PPV show by any means, but I would definitely recommend if Impact comes to your town that you check it out for good matches with a star studded roster. It was more in line with an NXT house show as opposed to the negatively predictable WWE house shows.
As for strongest pops, I would give them to Tessa Blanchard, Johnny Impact, Eli Drake, and Kiera Hogan in that order. Tessa comes off as a real star and it’s cool seeing that resonate. Drake got a strong reaction initially because I believe most consider Big Time Wrestling as Drake’s “Home” indie promotion because that’s where he wrestles regularly when he isn’t on TV. Drake did manage to cut a good heel promo to turn the crowd against him and the heat was also helped by Johnny’s popularity. Kiera has a natural plucky babyface charisma to her and it’ll be cool to see her back in actual storylines once she’s done with the undead realm sidetrack.
Most heat probably goes to Dave Crist for being so rah-rah Ohio, followed by Eli Drake once he turned portions of the crowd against him. If anything, kudos to Impact for changing their identity because if TNA ran a house show two years ago they might not have gotten such a positive turnout and reaction (and note that I would champion that Impact Wrestling was the best and most consistently good pro wrestling show in 2016).
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Jonny Fairplay discussing WWE Raw’s struggles, All Elite Wrestling, Johnny Impact on Survivor, and Drake Maverick’s gimmick infringement.