By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Homecoming Hits
LAX vs. Pentagon Jr. and Fenix for the Impact Tag Titles: A lot of us were right on this one. Going into the show, this match was already pegged by many to be the match of the night because the talent level in-ring was off the charts. That’s a recipe for disappointment because everyone was so settled on this before they even made contact with each other. Thankfully, both teams hit a home run here. The wildcard in this match was Fenix due to his injury and he looked fine while performing high flying things no one else in this world can do. Santana and Ortiz stole the show with their immense chemistry and innovation in the tandem moves. Down the stretch there was so much energy with the pin breakups and respite moments where the crowd were allowed to get tier “Fight forever” or “All these guys” chants in. In all honesty, this was a one-match-show in terms of must-see material, but that one match was amazing. Go out of your way to see this whenever you get a chance. One more note, we should all hope that they can get more matches out of this feud because they will definitely be a hook for future pay-per-views.
Willie Mack vs. Sami Callihan: A good match between two guys with good chemistry and past matches against each other (and this time Sami Callihan wasn’t a lizard zombie). The story leading up to this was pretty non-existent because most of the interaction has been between Callihan and Rich Swann. That said, it didn’t hurt the in-ring and Mack got to show off his unique high flying moveset.
Ultimate X for the vacant X Division Championship: A fun spot-fest. Swann was the right guy to go over given he’s the only one of the four to have any sort of development on TV. The other three are tag team wrestlers. Credit to Impact for not being as formulaic as they once were with the X Division three or five-way matches on every single Impact TV show and PPV.
Moose vs. Eddie Edwards in a Falls Count Anywhere match: It would be good for Moose to start building credibility soon in terms of won-loss record (seeing a person lose a lot or win a lot does stick with casual viewers even if casual viewers aren’t looking for that because it makes the difference between a “winner” and a “loser”). That said, Moose has continued to put on a string of entertaining matches in the past few months and this was no exception. I liked their television match a bit more, but this was different enough from the TV match to remain entertaining. Hopefully they end this feud right now because it looks like they might be closing things up with Alisha’s involvement by the end. Move Moose into a feud that he can win and make Eddie a bit more “normal” again.
Dark Allie and Su Yung vs. Jordynne Grace and Kiera Hogan: This whole scene just leaves a bad taste in my mouth because the “Undead Realm” as been a flop. That’s no fault to the talents involved because they are still putting on solid matches and determined effort. That deserves a Hit. Jordynne Grace being protected in the end deserves a Hit. Hopefully, like they did with Tessa in a match a few months ago, they move Jordynne away the hell from this because Grace has a ton of upside. Another Hit goes to the return of Rosemary. I hope even she doesn’t carry on the “Undead Realm” BS because she’s better than that as well when she’s playing the goth and dark magic stuff more seriously as opposed to the cartoony and melodramatic version we’ve gotten in recent months.
Impact Homecoming Misses
Lack of returning TNA legends and guests: In the show that was dubbed the return home to the TNA Asylum, this could have used more of a nostalgic flavor to it. Gail Kim hasn’t been established as a “legend” in the special attraction sense yet and Abyss brings back the cookie-cutter Monster’s Ball concept almost every three months it seems. You could argue that the NWA Pop-Up event that included Magnus, James Storm, Crazzy Steve, Sam Shaw, Jay Bradley, Caleb Konley, Crimson, Allie, and Willie Mack came off more like a celebration to TNA’s past and present more than this.
Abyss vs. Eli Drake in a Monster’s Ball: It’s the same match every time. Drake winning doesn’t really do him any favors. I was hoping he would lose so he can turn babyface or get some sort of character reboot because a win for him only puts him in undercard parity. I’ll give him props though, he took a lot of tacks in the back close to each other to where it looked nasty. I don’t want to see that again.
Tessa Blanchard vs. Taya Valkyrie for the Knockouts Championship: Impact booking has done Valkyrie no favors since she turned babyface. The writers should really look at the way she was built up in AAA and Lucha Underground. She has a legit great story of her wrestling journey and can twist it to heel or babyface seemingly. Instead, she’s just a placeholder. The match was well wrestled and I really liked what Taya and Tessa were bringing in terms of aggression. This went downhill by the end with it looking more like a Gail Kim vs. Tessa match with Taya only winning because of Gail’s help. Tessa deserved being attacked by Gail, but as I said, this does no favors for Taya. Tessa is probably going to start calling Taya a “paper champion” sooner rather than later and Tessa, the heel, would be totally justified. If you check out my predictions, I actually predicted the ref bump and the ending sequence correctly (I was wrong on the match outcome). This was vintage TNA in the wrong way and it wasn’t the end of the overbooked moments that reeked of old TNA (I was joking when I said that the “Only In TNA” overbooking would be the nostalgia on this show).
Johnny Impact vs. Brian Cage for the Impact Championship: A lot of things didn’t click during this match. The first half of the match was good and the effort was there, but there wasn’t a compelling story being told. I’m guessing they teased Killer Kross’s involvement as a red herring, but I wouldn’t have hurt to have him stand at the ramp or seated by the timekeeper. Kross getting involved in the finish may sound screwy but it’s simple and effective when done right. Instead, they decided to go the overbooked route complete with getting the Survivor celebrities that a lot of people don’t know about involved. I know them because I was keeping an eye on John Hennigan’s Survivor run, but I don’t think a lot of wrestling fans knew or cared about the civilians getting involved in their wrestling show. On top of that, the finish was really confusing. I’m guessing this was a botch. Accidents happen, but the accident was compounded on top of the “bad” TNA nostalgia.
Overall Show: This wasn’t a horrible show by any means. We’ve seen a lot worse with the recent creative team (Bound for Glory 2017 featuring more Alberto El Patron than anyone would even ask for). If you subtract the last two matches, I would have given the “Overall show” a Hit. There was just a lot of head scratchers at the end, either accidental or creative getting in their own way. On top of a lot of the screwy stuff happening at the end of the last two matches, this show needed two or three more weeks of build because a lot of the stories seemed incomplete. One example is Eli Drake vs. Abyss which was more like Eli Drake vs. ECW. While the show was all over the place in a bad way, still, go out of your way to watch the LAX vs. Lucha Bros match because that match was stellar. On the same note, go out of your way to watch LAX’s promo from last Thursday’s Impact to set up that match because Santana and Ortiz can really talk.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Will Pruett reviewing the NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 event.