3/15 Moore’s Impact Wrestling TV Review: Johnny Impact vs. Brian Cage for the Impact World Championship, Tessa Blanchard vs. Jordynne Grace to become No. 1 contender to the Knockouts Title, Eli Drake and Eddie Edwards vs. Desi Hit Squad

By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)

Impact Wrestling on Pursuit (simulcast on Twitch TV)
Taped February 15-17, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada at Sam’s Town Casino

Highlights aired of last week’s Impact Wrestling show…

Josh Mathews and Don Callis were on commentary. When Callihan was circling the ring, Don Callis decided to verbally jab at Callihan. Callihan responded by throwing his scarf at Callis…

1. Rich Swann, Willie Mack, and Tommy Dreamer vs. “OVE” Sami Callihan, Jake Crist, and Dave Crist. Madness ensued to start off the match. Rich and Sami started off the match but after Swann hit Sami with a body scissors, Sami and the Crists retreated to ringside to strategize. Dreamer and Callihan then started the match cleanly. Callihan attacked Dreamer with a few knees and then tagged in Jake. Dreamer hit Jake with an armdrag and tagged in Swann to follow up. The faces traded quick tags to work on Jake and cut the ring in half.

Dreamer comically did a “high risk” (bottom rope) axe handle strike while joking about how he can’t climb the turnbuckle. Dave Crist tagged in and got a one count on Dreamer. The heels traded tags to isolate Dreamer this time. Dreamer countered the pile driver while Callihan did his Thumb thing. Mack got a hot tag and cleaned house. Callihan went for a crossbody but got caught. Mack did his signature Samoan Drop, kip up, and moonsault. Swann hit Callihan with Rolling Thunder. Dreamer hit a slow walking elbow on Callihan and (purposefully) struggled to do a kip up. Mack and Swann helped Dreamer execute the Kip Up.

Mack hit OVE with a Corkscrew Plancha. Swann hit a Phoenix Splash on OVE. Dreamer teased a Suicide Dive but then cutely just walked through the ropes and punched at OVE with weak punches. Good stuff. Dreamer then kinda went high risk by hitting OVE with an ugly (but charming) cannonball. This aptly encouraged a “You still got it!” chant. Callihan hit Swann with a boot to head into commercial. [c]

Jake Crist locked Swann in a modified Rings of Saturn. Dave tagged in to put the boots to Swann. Dave worked in a heel hook on Swann. Rich purposefully spit in Sami’s face while in Dave’s submission. OVE traded quick tags to run their isolation game on Rich. Swann got to Dreamer who managed to hit the OVE trio with Dusty punches and bionic elbows. Sami spit in the face of Dreamer. Dreamer grabbed the spit and ate it (that nostalgia hit me from his feud with Taker). Dreamer hit Sami with a cutter for a two count.

Sami countered Dreamer’s DDT with a bite to the hand. Mack hit a pop up punch on Callihan. Everyone ended up hitting their signature moves on each other at this point with the sequence ending with Dreamer hitting Dave with a DDT. Sami broke up the subsequent pin attempt. Dreamer managed to outsmart the OVE trio and get them trapped in the corner for Mack’s signature imploding cannonball which Callis dubbed “The booty bomb”. Swann and Mack hit stereo frog splashes on the Crist Brothers. Dreamer hit an ugly (but again charming) frog splash on Sami. The babyface celebration fell apart as the heels each isolated a man. Callihan grabbed and Tommy Dreamer’s crotch a bit which set up for his finishing Pile Driver for the pinall.

OVE defeated Mack, Swann, and Dreamer via pinfall in 14:25 of TV time.

John’s Thoughts: A surprisingly good trios match. What’s not surprising is Rich Swann anchoring yet another high quality opening match. The presence of Dreamer didn’t make sense to begin with (he is more storyline linked to Eli Drake and Eddie Edwards in separate programs that didn’t fully pay off), but I couldn’t help but really buy into a lot of his intentional “old man” moves here. It was cute. I like OVE winning because it gives Sami something to gloat about, but would it hurt Impact to give Jake or Dave a win once in a while because they are established cannon fodder?

Josh Mathews and Don Callis checked in on commentary. Josh ran through the card which includied Tessa Blanchard vs. Jordynne Grace for a title shot against Taya Valkyrie at the Against All Odds show…

Taya Valkyrie and Johnny Impact were in a waiting room. Johnny was packing his gear while also wearing a neck brace. Brian Cage walked in and asked Johnny if Johnny was ready to defend the title tonight. Johnny stood up and said that Cage should be the one who needs to get ready. Cage said “all right” and walked away…

Josh hyped Johnny vs. Cage for the World Championship… [c]

A video package aired which recapped the storyline leading up to the Johnny vs. Cage match…

John’s Thoughts: I know Lucha Underground would have jumped all over this, but is Impact aware that they have a Johnny Cage pun on their hands?

A “Tale of the tape” graphic went on the screen. A funny highlight is the “fighting style” section. Johnny’s style is “hybrid” while Cage’s is “Get my s–t in” style. What’s not funny is Johnny supposedly being from Slamtown (I refuse to have Los Angeles associated with whatever Slam Town is supposed to be.)

It was time for the obligatory Rascalz That 70s Show hotbox segment. Moose joined in on the smoke circle and thought they were hilarious. Moose was wearing a black and lightly bedazzled button up shirt this time. Moose wondered where the smoke was coming from and where the chicks were. Moose then asked the Rascalz where Melissa Santos was? Dezmond Xavier made fun of Moose getting rejected by Melissa last week. Dez called Moose a strawberry Pocky stick (ok… that was funny). Moose laughted along until he remembered that they are poking fun at Moose. Moose then beat up on the Rascalz in cartoon style with cartoon sound effects and laugh tracks. The segment ended with Moose saying that the Rascalz are funny…

Disco Inferno, Glenn Gilbertti, made his entrance. Disco wore rainbow polka dot pants and did his signature Disco point dances in the ring. Disco talked about how he came back and after Scarlett made treats last week, she’s not here now. Disco said Impact is a clown show and they should send out a clown for him to beat up. Disco’s tune up opponent was Kikutaro (a.k.a. Pizza delivery man from Lucha Undergound). Kikutaro came out to what sounded like 80s anime music. Disco went to commentary and asked Don Callis is Kikutaro is the New Japan Pro Wrestling World Champion?

2. “The Disco Inferno” Glenn Gilbertti vs. Kikutaro. Kiku and Disco started the match with chain wrestling. Kiku dominated with his comedy wrestling and Disco dances. Kiku then did some Japanese comedy spots on Disco. Disco then dominated Kikutaro with simple and effective punches. Callis talked about how Disco looks good for being 50. Disco Irish Whipped Kikutaro into the corners until he fainted. Disco then locked a cravate on Kikutaro. Kiku escaped but Disco followed up with a neckbreaker on Kikutaro. Disco missed the “Village People’s” Elbow (clever). Kikutaro hit Disco with a dragon screw. Kikutaro hit an ugly Shining Wizard (or Yakuza Kick?) which callis pointed out looked bad. Kikutaro crash and burned on a moonsault. Disco hit a Stunner on Kikutaro for the pinfall.

Disco Inferno defeated Kikutaro via pinfall in 4:25.

John’s Thoughts: While the match might have went maybe two minutes too long (due to Kikutaro getting a bit of uninteresting offense in. Some was funny in some moves though), I do like this side story that Impact is telling with Disco while they’re in Disco’s home of Vegas. Disco wasn’t as hot as he was the last few weeks via cinematic, but I’m not going to complain about Impact allowing for a tune-up match to build up and delay the Scarlett Bordeaux spectacle.

Rolando Menendez was back and he interviewed Taya Valkyrie who was nervously pacing around backstage. Rolando asked Taya about her thoughts on Jordynne Grace or Tessa Blanchard. Taya said she’s distracted due to Johnny possibly needing a neck fusion. Taya blew off Rolando and walked away… [c]

3. Fallah Bahh and KM vs. “Reno Scum” Adam Thornstowe and Luster the Legend. The match started with a brawl on the ramp. KM took control of Thornstowe in the ring. Luster pulled off KM and worked on KM a bit. Bahh was knocked out after being tossed into the steel steps. This allowed Reno Scum to tag each other and create a handicap situation for KM. Josh Mathews advertised Impact’s next TV taping where they’re working with Border City Wrestling in Canada. In the same episode where we got Tommy Dreamer eating spit, we got Adam Thornstowe playing around with his armpit sweat.

It took about three minutes, but Bahh got to the corner and got the hot tag. Bahh dominated Thornstowe with chops. Bahh then hit Luster with a crossbody. Bahh tried to lead a Bahh chant but the crowd fought Fallah in doing an “Oi Oi Oi” chant (that’s a bit odd because Bahh ususally gets cheered whereever and the Scum guys are from Reno, not vegas). Thornstowe tried to go high risk but Bahh caught him and hit him with a Samoan Drop. Luster crash and burned into the ringpost. Thornstowe tried to hit his opponents with Superman Punches but missed Bahh. Bahh hit Thornstowe with a Belly to Belly for the decisive win.

Fallah Bahh and KM defeated Reno Scum via pinfall in 4:10.

Bahh sold his knee injury after the match. Josh talked about how Reno Scum returned to Impact with two losses…

John’s Thoughts: I’m guessing Reno Scum isn’t sticking around? I’m still a bit surprised that they were complete cannon fodder here. They’re supposed to be a throwback powerhouse tag team but came off like the WWE Ascension here. As a positive, the squash did give Bahh and KM some credibility.

The Lucha Brothers were shown backstage. Fenix was wearing a pink shirt and super excited to be in Las Vegas. Konnan walked up to them and asked them for an answer to his rematch request. Pentagon responded by pie facing Konnan with his Cero Miedo hand gesture. Konnan said this was loco. Konnan asked Fenix for an answer but Fenix just walked away with Pentagon. Konnan said Pentagon will pay for doing what he just did and Fenix will pay via association…

Josh Mathews hyped the upcoming matches… [c]

John’s Thoughts: Again, with Konnan helping with creative, I really hope we get to a-hole Pentagon from Lucha Underground back because A-hole Penta is best Penta.

The show cut to the weekly LAX skit. Ortiz told Santana that he was closing his eyes deep in thought. Konnan barged in telling Santana and Ortiz that it was on after what Pentagon just did to him a few minutes ago. Konnan said he wants a street fight because “my sons” disrespected him. Santana took this as Konnan succeeding in getting the rematch. Konnan said he didn’t yet, but he will. Ortiz was so hyped up that he said the Lucha Brothers are going to get “it” (an ass whooping). Santana shook his head because Konnan kinda botched that moment…

It was time for the women’s match…

John’s Thoughts: Oh thank God almighty!!! Jordynne Grace has been freed from the hell known as the Undead Realm division.

4. Tessa Blanchard vs. Jordynne Grace to become No. 1 Contender to the Knockouts Championship. Josh called this a battle between powerhouses. Callis reiterated his comparison of Grace to Rhyno and referenced his relationship with Rhyno. Grace dominated the opening sequence and hit Tessa with a basement lariat. Grace hit Tessa with a delayed vertical suplex. Tessa turned the tables with a right hand after clubbing Grace with a right hand after referee separation. Grace caught Tessa with a right foot for some recovery time but Tessa didn’t relent.

Tessa raked Grace’s eyes on the top rope. Tessa tripped Grace on the second rope. Grace put up a fight but Tessa fought through Grace’s defense leading to a codebreaker. Tessa argued with the referee a bit which allowed Grace to hit Tessa with a spinebuster heading into commercial. [c]

Grace body slammed Tessa several times back from break. Tessa came back with some strong style forearms. Grace hit Tessa with a Michinoku Driver for a two count. Grace staggered Tessa and went for a Kinniku Buster but Tessa slipped out and planted Grace with a DDT. Tessa yelled “Screw you Jordynne!!!”. Tessa then continued to yell at the referee and gloat around the ring. Josh said Tessa seems paranoid. Grace hit Tessa with a Military Press. After trading quick counters, Grace hit Tessa with a snug Michinoku Driver for the win.

Jordynne Grace defeated Tessa Blanchard via pinfall in 6:50 of TV Time to become no. 1 contender to the Knockouts Championship.

Don Callis and Josh Mathews sold this as an upset given Tessa’s experience in Impact…

John’s Thoughts: Welcome back to the women’s division Jordynne! Again, happy that she isn’t wasted in meaningless matches in the undead realm division. Given that Grace is under all circumstances the female Brian Cage, that had me thinking. Does the babyface win here mean that Taya Valkyrie is turning heel soon since they have been building towards a potential Johnny Impact turn for weeks. I would be all for that.

After Jordynne went to the back, the referee went to check on Tessa. Tessa shoved the referee away and the referee decided to walk to the back and not deal with this. Tessa threw a fit in the ring. Tessa yelled at Josh Mathews causing him to cower in fear. Tessa yelled at random people until she decided to toss the ring bell boy in the ring. Callis yelled that this guy is a civillian and just “110 pounds soaking wet”. Tessa gave the bell boy a false sense of security but then started to club him with right hands and clubbing blows.

Gail Kim ran out for the save. Tessa tried to punch Gail, but Gail got the upper hand. After hitting Tessa with a jumping elbow, Gail beat up Tessa until Tessa had to retreat. Josh Mathews talked about how Gail was returning the favor for being attacked in Nashville at the former TNA Asylum. Gail Kim’s theme music played to close the segment…

John’s Thoughts: A really good segment. Tessa is one of Impact’s best all-arounders. She does all the big and little things right (Am I a bad person for rooting for her when she beats up poor little civilians?). Tessa has made the most out of every segment she’s been in for the last few months which include a lot of squash matches over local wrestlers (since you can’t have Tessa vs. Taya every week. While Gail Kim was injury prone at the end of her full-time run, she went out as arguably the best in-ring storyteller in the company without missing a step. This has the potential to be a top ten match in Impact and Impact could really benefit from having Gail Kim wrestle once or twice a year.

A movie trailer style video aired to hype the United We Stand show (this reminded me of one of those Dave Sahadi produced promos from old TNA)… [c]

John’s Thoughts: They’re really going all out in hyping United We Stand, even at the expense of their upcoming PPV.

Josh Mathews recapped the previous segment and reiterated that Jordynne’s win can be considered as an upset…

The ringside doctor was checking on Tessa. Scott D’Amore entered the scene to ask the Doctor if Tessa was ok. Tessa yelled at Scott for being rude because he could have just asked Tessa who was right in front of him (good point). Tessa said she’s the biggest star in the company and that Scott is running this company badly. Tessa said this was bullshit and that something needs to be done. D’Amore said everything will be taken care of. Gail Kim walked over to yell at Tessa some more but D’Amore got in the way and took Tessa’s side in this conflict. D’Amore then suspended Gail Kim for one week by saying that Gail is a member of the office. Tessa chuckled loudly…

John’s Thoughts: A small part of me here really wanted to see Gail and Tessa get on the same page for one segment to put the boots to D’Amore for being an incopetent authority figure. Just kidding.

Josh Mathews advertised next week’s Impact Wrestling TV Taping in Canada where they’re working with Border City Wrestling. Josh also advertised United We Stand, yet again (I think he’s plugged this presumably non-canon show every 5 to 10 minutes, even in the middle of matches). Josh also hyped future TV tapings in April and May in Toronto and Philidelphia…

It was time for the Global Wrestling Network match of the week (which Melissa Santos mentioned was voted on by the Twitch viewers). It was Sting vs. Rob Van Dam from TNA Slammiversary 2010. Funny that they mentioned TNA specifically because it had the most “TNA finish” ever. The finish was Earl Hebner taking a “REF BUMP!!!” and Jeff Jarrett running out to beat up Sting and help RVD win. They aired eight minutes and I was half paying attention (but got a mild chuckle when I heard the ref bump and Mandatory JJ run-in. Seriously, there were episodes of Impact that would include a three ref bumps and four Jarrett run-ins it seemed)…

Oh crap, it’s an Undead Realm cinematic (but they are using a cinematic again which they haven’t used in what seems like months). Rosemary was talking to Allie and recapping the “Undead Realm” saga via her rhetoric. Allie tried to inform Rosemary that “the bunny is dead”. Allie said it’s because Rosemary left. Rosemary said the hive tried to warn Allie that something like this would happen. Allie laughed Rosemary off and said that it’s because Rosemary looks pathetic. Rosemary then demanded to find the location of Bunny’s “Soul”. I couldn’t figure out what Allie said but she didn’t give an answer… [c]

John’s Thoughts: Hmmmm… Doesn’t Rosemary know that Allie’s “soul avatar” is wearing a wedding dress in the Undead Realm right now? This lame ass story has more plot holes than swiss cheese. It’s not the cinematc approach that pisses me off. Ya’ll know that I love and review Lucha Underground for this site with high praise. One good thing, is out of all the actors, Rosemary is best suited for the cinematic approach (and I really liked the cinematic work that Billy Corgan and Dave Lagana did with Rosemary, Steve, and Abyss back in 2016). Without Lagana and Corgan around, I sadly don’t trust this creative team to do her justice with this pretentious storyline (maybe Konnan can help?). Just end this ready. Look at how happy Jordynne Grace looks after one week out of Undead hell.

Impact cut to an OVE Camcorder cinematic aired (wow! another cinematic!). Sami told the Crist Brothers to sit down on the floor with him while he gives his speech. Sami tried to, yet again, give his pitch as to why Rich Swann should pledge himself to Ohio. Sami yelled that Rich threw it all away. Sami said he’s going to take away everything away from Swann that Swann covets starting with Swann’s X Division title next week. Sami said he’s taking the title back to Ohio because OVE is for Ohio, by Ohio, and will take over everything… Everything!!! EVERYTHING!!!

John’s Thoughts: Did Impact just get their Sony 6 check, because it’s been months since we got cinematics in Impact Wrestling. While the plothole laiden and bad acted Undead Realm sucks, I am a proponent of cinematcs done right in a realistic context. A movie approach can enhance things like the OVE camcorder bit, the LAX clubhouse cinematics, and the fun Glenn Gilbertti skits.

Speaking of India, Gama Singh was in the ring giving his usual boring ass promo for the Desi Hit Squad. I wonder who they’re losing to this week?

5. Eddie Edwards and Eli Drake vs. “The Desi Hit Squad” Rohit Raju and Raj Singh. Eddie and Raj started off the match. The commentators pointed out the size differential between Eddie and Raj. Eddie won the opening sequence and tagged in Drake. Raj won the next exchanged and tagged in Rohit Raju. Don Callis talked about how Rohit Raju has embraced integrating western culture into Indian Culture and Gama doesn’t care as long as they’re winning (but these guy’s never ever win). The Desi Hit Squad worked on Eddie for a period of time.

John’s Thoughts: By the way, Raj, who has a good look and good ability, looks very deflated out there wrestling these hopeless and highly predictable matches.

Raj hit Eddie with paydirt. The heels cut the ring in half. Rohit got a fun taunt in by mocking Drake’s catchphrase while also telling Drake to suck it. Rohit looked impressive on Eddie and hit Eddie with a cannonball. Drake almost got a Gravy Train on Rohit but Raj helped him escape. Drake cleaned house. Gama tried to distract Drake and the referee but this backfired because Drake gave Eddie “kenny” the Kendo Stick which he used to whack Rohit with for the win.

Eddie Edwards and Eli Drake defeated the Desi Hit Squad via pinfall in 5:20.

Josh talked about how Drake and Edwards are potential Tag Title contenders…

John’s Thoughts: The same story here. Raj looks good. Rohit looks really good, but it’s all for naught because the DHS are just cannon fodder. A part of me can get behind an Eddie and Eli tag team. I like that there’s a chance Drake turns babyface because he’s in huge need for a reboot. The man who needs a reboot even more is Eddie Edwards. Even Drake is pointing out in a metta fashion how much of a failure “Crazy Eddie” has been because crowds react to him with confusion, not elation. At least Drake can command a crowd, so there’s that.

Josh Mathews and Don Callis checked in on commentary. Josh announced that next week’s main event is Rich Swann vs. Sami Callihan for the X Division Championship. Josh then plugged United We Stand (yet again)… [c]

Back from the break they aired yet another Global Wrestling Network Match of the week (maybe this is a Twitch Exclusive?). It was Abyss vs. Sabu in a Barbed Wire Match from TNA Turning Point 2005. Sabu beat Abyss by making Abyss an Abyss Sandwich via two barbed wire tables. They aired about three minutes…

John’s Thoughts: I think they aired this as a last minute thing because Melissa Santos had to bail out for a bit to handle business, so Callis had to fill in a lot of time tonight talking to himself during the commercial breaks. Callis was walking next to a hockey rink and random forest in Canada, so is this guy just walking around the streets of Canada watching Impact on his phone? Props for the dedication. Props to Melissa too who has been a great replacement for Josh Mathews during these Twitch segments.

With six minutes left at the top of the hour. Johnny Impact’s entrance theme played. Josh assumed it was mind games because the champion is supposed to come out last. The camera cut to random fans in the crowd who were presumably told to act confused (they were doing some bad acting). Instead, Kevin Kross walked out with Johnny Impact in fireman carry position on his back. Kross carried the limp Johnny out to the ring who was wearing his neckbrace still. Kross brought a cinder block and steel chair to the ring. Callis said Kross must have jumped Johnny. The “Guardians of the Independent Scene” ran out and all got suplexed by Kross. Kross choked out one kid with the Kross jacket which invoked “Kross” Chants from his hometown crowd.

Kross took his sweet time in teasing a con-chair-to on Johnny with the block and chair. Taya Valkyrie dragged Cage out to the ring to help Johnny but Cage decided to wait at the top of the ramp. Taya decided to go herself and be the human shield for Johnny. Kross told Taya to go away and he called Taya a bitch. Cage’s subtle facial expression sold that he was conflicted. Taya gave Kross the world’s weakest looking punch (intentionally). Cage ran in for the save when it looked like Kross was about to come at Taya with a chair. Cage cleared Kross from the ring with a chair to the back.

Taya hugged Cage for being a hero, but all of a sudden Taya gave Cage a low blow (Yay! Lucha Underground Taya is back!!!). Johnny Impact did a kip up to show that it was all a ruse. Johnny gave Cage a Moonlight Drive and mounted punches on Cage. Johnny put the cinder block against Cage’s head and gave him a con-chair-to with the block. Cage sold it like he had nerve damage. Johnny stood over Cage while Taya leaned on his shoulder. The camera showed Kross giving an evil villain laugh from ringside (Kross is great!). Evil Johnny and Evil Taya stood at the top of the ramp as Callis called them pieces of garbage to close the show…

Right after the signature, Melissa Santos (on Twitch) talked about how she’s really disgusted because she really cares about Brian Cage (she always throws in winks at her relationship with him). Melissa then interviewed Alisha Edwards, and I’m ending my report here…

John’s Thoughts: That was well done and better than I expected with the adjunct Taya turn. Given Cage, Taya, Johnny, and Kross all involved, this reminded me of a well done Lucha Underground segment given the good writing and the fact that all four wrestlers are Lucha Underground Wrestlers. This has me wondering if Konnan has his finger prints on their creative because he’s written for them in LU, Crash, and AAA. Remember all the plot holes I mentioned about the Undead Realm? I love that this is the opposite with attention to detail. Taya’s punch was intentionally bad. Johnny’s entrance theme played because Johnny wanted to lure out Cage with it. On top of that, They’ve done a stellar job over the past few months turning Cage into a very sympathetic and honorable hero who’s also not a cliche with his anti-hero tendencies.

As good as Johnny was as a heel in LU, LU mishandled the end of his heel run by having him be serious one week and be a comedy heel the next. They would bounce back and forth on him so I hope Impact doesn’t repeat that mistake and they keep Johnny on the credible end (presumably to fill in the hole that Austin Aries left on the roster). While last week’s show was pretty middle of the road (with the exception of the fun Disco skits), this week returned to form with a pretty solid show.

Average Twitch Viewership: Around 9,000 (topping out at 9,300).


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