By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling Hits
LAX vs. Eli Drake and Eddie Edwards: A very entertaining main event. LAX can be counted on at any moment for a top-tier main event and Drake and Edwards are growing well together very quickly. Part of the credit on the makeshift team should go to Eddie being established as a tag team specialist and the rest of the credit should go to Eli Drake for being a good in-ring worker (Drake is a a much better worker than he lets on in public and I praise how he would prefer to work safe than work stupid). Lots of crazy tandem stuff here. There were screwy aspects to it, but this wasn’t that formula TNA screwjob finish we would get from back in the day. Everything was logical. Drake and Edwards show good chemistry and LAX are protected due to the Lucha Brothers running out, Konnan being kicked out, and losing via a foreign object.
Tessa Blanchard: A very strong and thought provoking promo from Tessa to follow up the fluffy Gail Kim vignette. Everything Tessa said made sense, but it also painted her as the bad person for looking at the negatives and trying to discredit Gail’s accolades. Tessa talking about women from the past “coming out of the woodwork” makes you think of not only Gail, but Madison Rayne, or even Beth Phoenix in WWE. This was a great promo of Tessa shaming the “Divas era” wrestling and using that to prop herself up.
Melissa Santos: Part of the Hit goes to how well she performs the interviews. She acts disgusted when she should, scared when she should, and she’s always engaged. Even though I didn’t see the show live on Twitch this week, Melissa has been a huge upgrade over Josh Mathews in the role of live streaming Impact with the Twitch viewers. She engages with them directly and answers their questions. Melissa also comes off like a legit wrestling fan (who’s also engaged to the legit face of the company in Brian Cage). This was something I saw her do so well off-camera during the Lucha Underground tapings and it really makes the commercial breaks palatable. Credit to Mike McMahon at the PWTorch.com for pointing out that before they aired the Don/Josh/Melissa Skype calls, they would air GWN Match of the Weeks during the commercials; which means that during the middle of an Impact match, you might also watch a complete TNA match during the same Impact match’s TV time.
Gail Kim Video Package: A well produced video package to spotlight what makes Kim so great. Impact hopefully has reached new viewers since Gail retired and this is a good cheat sheet to those who aren’t familiar with Gail’s career. Gail deserves this adulation because she sometimes gets overlooked as a pioneer in women’s wrestling when she was starting the women’s revolution alongside people like Awesome Kong, the Beautiful People, and Taryn Terrell.
Rohit Raju vs. Fallah Bahh: A minor and tentative Hit for Rohit getting a win against a credible opponent for once. It was cheap, and Bahh can shrug off losses like teflon, so I’m not discounting that detractor. With Trevor Lee gone, Rohit Raju is hands down the most underrated wrestler in Impact Wrestling given the talent he exudes. The post match angle Scarlett Bordeaux stuff was well done too. Scarlett really gained a lot in her feud against Disco Inferno and I’m glad they’re taking steps forward with it rather than keeping her off TV for weeks at a time.
Taya Valkyrie: Valkyrie has been killing it from a character standpoint ever since she was allowed to revert to her Lucha Underground Wera Loca persona. She and Johnny seem to be having a lot of fun now on air. Taya also gets bonus points in this for mocking the g-damn Undead Realm. Grace and Rayne didn’t come off as too likable due to them acting a bit petulant and impatient, but Taya did a good job being the most unlikable, thus building sympathy towards the other two.
Johnny Impact and Killer Kross: A very strong backstage segment where Johnny came off as very douchey and aggressive. Johnny has been very comfortable on the microphone in recent weeks and seems to have more fun playing the heel than the babyface (though I hope that if he does turn babyface we see Season 4 Johnny Mundo emerge because he did a great job playing the lovable idiot hero). This also might have been Rolando whatever-his-name-is’s best night on Impact for just playing the scared fool. Credit to Johnny for also mocking Rolando’s lame last name changing. Kross is the icing on all the Impact storyline cakes. The guy’s just so talented and every thing he’s involved in gets this added layer of intrigue. It was smart not to make Kross a stooge but rather his own man and the interesting point now is Johnny has the same problem he had with Cage, just this time with Kross. How will dastardly Johnny get out this one. Given the good writing in this feud, I trust Impact will make this a fun story.
Jordynne Grace vs. Madison Rayne: A really good one-on-one match and a good example of the matches that the Knockouts Division can produce once they finally give up on their stupid Undead Realm nonsense (which seems to be moving along at least a little bit). Rayne’s time away does give her a bit more credibility. The problem with Rayne for the three years leading up to her Impact release was that she would lose every single match and be there to enhance other wrestlers. Rayne lost here too, but she’s been gone enough that I think she can use this current run as a fresh start. Hopefully they pull out the women away from the Undead Realm and have Rayne initiate a secondary women’s feud, or just have her orbit around the Knockouts title.
Sami Callihan and Madman Fulton vs. Rich Swann and Willie Mack: A good first match for the man formerly known as Sawyer and I really like the big man little man dynamic of Sami and Fulton. The babyface side continues to anchor Impact with stellar back-and-forths. Mack continues to shine despite not being put in meaningful situations. While I’m okay with Sami picking up the win here, I personally would have let Fulton pick up the win just to establish him as a winner to start off his Impact career. No huge damage done, but this reminds me of all of the trios matches that OVE win and Jake and Dave never getting any wins. Jake and Dave are currently considered enhancement talent that deserves better.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Undead Realm: This is not to discredit Rosemary, who delivered her lines very well. Rosemary and James Mitchell are great actors. Everyone else struggles to make the melodrama work. That and the whole Undead Realm thing is a mess because the story comes off as low budget and pretentious. The Miss here comes in that they did another cinematic and it looks like the thing is continuing. What emotion are they trying to evoke? This thing isn’t thrilling, interesting, well-written, detail-oriented, scary, nor funny. The Disco Inferno skits in the previous weeks are a perfect contrast as to how to make cinematics work where this seems like a complete bust.
Gama Singh: Seriously. This guy always sounds like he’s about to fall asleep when delivering an introduction or promo. He has funny moments sometimes, but those are few, far, in between, and pointless. Singh reminds me of NXT UK’s Johnny Saint. WWE took care of that problem by giving Saint a mouthpiece in Sid Scala. Does Singh need a mouthpiece; and even so, a mouthpiece for a mouthpiece? Sounds inefficient (it works with Saint because he’s considered a legend while Great Gama is a legend in more esoteric circles).
Madison Rayne: While her losing the first week was fine, I’m not 100% sure how we’re supposed to see Rayne. She did come off as sour grapes a bit with her ROH jab (I’m not saying she’s wrong in her jab because ROH has really dropped the ball on their Women of Honor presentation). So combine that with the black and white stylish vignettes they’ve aired on Madison. What are they trying to do with her?
Six-Way Opener: Not a bad match, but a bit random and reminiscent of the pointless X Division three and six-ways that buried the X Division for years. This was well wrestled and they tried to spice things up with “Lucha Rules”, so there’s that. I would have kept Ace Austin out of this match because I don’t want to see him homogenized in the Impact Undercard. Impact has done a good job hyping Austin and stayed away from a homogeneous X Division, so that’s a fear if anything. Petey Williams winning was cool. We haven’t seen Petey for months and the first day they step back into Canada, Petey Williams opens the show and wins the opening match. Is he just a walking Canadian Mascot? (To take from a Konnan reference). Good win though and good seeing the Super Canadian Destroyer brought back. (I’m guessing Pentagon’s banned from using it in Impact since he uses it everywhere else but doesn’t use here perhaps because he shares the locker room with the creator).
Check below for the new ProWrestling.net Live with Jason Powell and Will Pruett taking calls coming out of WrestleMania 35 weekend.