By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Fenix vs. Santana: A terrific match between two elite talents. If this didn’t get you excited about the LAX vs. Pentagon Jr. and Fenix match at Homecoming then nothing will. Konnan delivered some good news during his appearance on my Pro Wrestling Boom podcast this week (available at the bottom of the page) when he revealed that Fenix will be healthy enough to work that match despite missing some dates this month.
Brian Cage vs. Moose: I was genuinely intrigued by this matchup. Cage works extremely well with smaller wrestlers, but this was a rare match for him in Impact with one of the bigger wrestlers. Cage was solid, but he was actually upstaged by the highly entertaining heel Moose. Fans like Cage, but he still hasn’t formed that special bond that causes fans to hang on his next move or react as if they are feeling it when he sells. Cage still strikes me as the future of the company if he sticks around, but he and the company need to find a way for him to make a real connection with the fans. Meanwhile, Moose was downright hilarious. I laughed out loud when he cleared ringside fans from their seats while teasing that he was going to throw Cage over the barricade only to reverse it and throw him into the ring instead. Eddie Edwards wearing the hospital gown and interfering was a groaner. I’m all for saving the clean finish between Cage and Moose for when it matters, but Eddie in the hospital garb is just plain campy. And why was it apparently okay for him to interfere in this match, yet he would have been arrested and sent away for years due to his “priors” if he had shown up and fought Moose on a previous show? I really like Eddie’s work, but the over the top crazy Eddie persona doesn’t do much for me.
Rich Swann vs. Dave Crist in an Ultimate X qualifying match: A good opening match with a compelling angle between Swann and Sami Callihan. It was strange that Swann asked Willie Mack to have his back only to pull him back from fighting with Callihan. Ultimately, it came together with Swann explaining that he’s been down this road with Callihan before and has no interest in going there again. Callihan’s character apparently feels the same since he pulled off the Crists from working over Swann before Mack showed up. It’s an intriguing angle in the same way that the Killer Kross and Johnny Impact storyline continues to hold my interest.
Trevor Lee vs. Trey Miguel in an Ultimate X qualifying match: Another quality match. Miguel winning was perfectly logical given that this was likely Lee’s final match with the company. Here’s hoping Lee has a strong enough run in NXT that it makes various Impact creative teams regret not doing more with him. Meanwhile, I’m not sold on the smoke circle approach the company has taken with The Rascalz, but I really enjoy their in-ring work.
Tessa Blanchard and Taya Valkyrie exchange: A good promo segment with both women coming off well and making their feud seem intense. I wish we knew more about Valkyrie’s persona, but there’s no denying that this live crowd liked her. Blanchard continues to shine as the heel champion and gives Impact a real face of the Knockouts division. The addition of Gail Kim as special referee for their Homecoming match was set up nicely over the course of several weeks, and Blanchard sold it perfectly throwing a fit in response to the announcement.
Jordynne Grace vs. Ruby Raze: A fun match with the powerhouse facing a heavyweight by Knockouts standards. I like that it was framed as Katarina bringing Raze in to face Grace. By doing so, they essentially use Katarina to give rub to enhancement wrestlers and keep the Grace and Katarina feud going. It’s not that I’ve been blown away by Grace vs. Katarina, but I like that it gives Grace a feud while she’s being established.
Overall show: The most entertaining Impact show in recent memory. Impact is at its best when they deliver a more traditional pro wrestling product. Thus, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed the show more when it went light on anything related to the Undead Realm, smoke circles, over the top Eddie Edwards segments, etc. I even enjoyed the exchange between Eli Drake and Raven despite the mental institution setting. Don Callis once spoke about eliminating things that pissed people off about old versions of the product. Here’s hoping that Impact officials will apply Callis’s approach to their own product in 2019 by being self aware enough to recognize that certain aspects of their product are major turnoffs that often overshadow a lot of the positive things they are doing.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Scarlett Bordeaux: Impact has a star on its hands, but it doesn’t seem like creative has figured out what to do with her. It’s a tricky spot and I like that they are keeping Scarlett special by not having her wrestle, but her segments have become repetitive and don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Konnan, who discusses his return to the ring for MLW in Miami on Friday and shares the crazy story of how he started in pro wrestling.