By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Johnny Impact and Taya Valkyrie vs. Brian Cage and Jordynne Grace: A good and logical mixed tag main event in terms of the heel champions facing their respective pay-per-view challengers. The heel referee finish was a turnoff and feels unnecessary, though we’ll have to wait to see where it goes. Impact and Valkyrie are at their heelish best when they subject viewers to their obnoxious public displays of affection. And while it’s been beneficial for Johnny to be portrayed as a cerebral manipulator, the heel referee gimmick feels like it’s pushing it. Still, Johnny has gone from being a personality challenged babyface to being a highly entertaining top heel. I’ve gone from feeling like the right move was to put the title on Cage as quickly as possible to feeling like the company might be better off waiting until Slammiversary or even Bound For Glory to pull the trigger. The key is that they must find ways to keep the fans believing in Cage until he eventually takes the title. My concern with the heel referee gimmick is that it could result in heat on the company more than heat on Johnny and Taya. That said, having the referee turn on television rather than having him do it during the pay-per-view main event was the right call, as that would have been a terrible way to end a pay-per-view.
Tessa Blanchard vs. Madison Rayne: A good match that served its purpose of pushing the Blanchard vs. Gail Kim match for Rebellion. Kim did a good job of explaining their issues on commentary, and Blanchard played her part well by taunting Kim and staring her down within the course of her match with Rayne. I also liked the simple confrontation between Blanchard and Rayne that set up the match with the nice attention to detail of Rayne recalling that she’d beaten Blanchard twice before. Rayne going over with help from Kim was perfectly logical in that it builds to the Kim vs. Blanchard match at Rebellion, and also provides a good reason to come back to Blanchard vs. Rayne again at some point.
Moose vs. Zachary Wentz: Moose toyed with Wentz and worked him over for the bulk of the match, which led to Wentz making a decent comeback before Moose ultimately put him away. Moose was part of the main event mix with Johnny Impact, Brian Cage, and Killer Kross, but he doesn’t really fit into that storyline at the moment. And while I’m not big on the smoke circle gag, a short-term feud with the Rascalz trio seems like a solid landing spot in that Moose will look good in the ring and he can continue to develop his quirky and fun heel persona.
United We Stand video package: A good, timely piece that made the event look bigger and better than it actually was. Pro wrestling companies are often in too much of a rush to move on to promoting the next big event. They seem to have lost sight of how talking about an event after it concludes can actually go a long way toward making future events seem important in that they won’t just be forgotten a day later. For example, I grew up looking forward to the AWA backstage promos that aired the weekend after St. Paul Civic Center events. Those promos made the shows feel important and made me wish that I could attend the next show in person. This video package could have a similar effect when it comes to fans ordering or attending future Impact events or even purchasing a replay of United We Stand.
Rosemary vs. Su Yung: A minor Hit simply for getting them out of the Undead Realm and putting the back inside the ring. It will take some time to wash away the Undead Realm stank (please tell me it’s over), but going back to basics and putting heat on the heel was a good first step.
Josh Alexander and Ethan Page vs. El Reverso and Sheldon Jean: A decent showcase win for The North tag team. There were moments when the timing seemed off with the enhancement duo, but Alexander still came off well in his debut as a regular player in Impact. Alexander and Page strike me as singles wrestlers, so perhaps we’ll see a long term storyline that results in Page finally establishing a persona that goes along with his All Ego nickname while en route to an eventual turn on his partner.
Impact Wrestling Misses
None: No trips to the Undead Realm, no low budget smoke circles, and no nonsense beyond the heel referee finish to the otherwise entertaining main event. Impact has assembled a quality roster, which is no easy feat for a company in its position in 2019. The traditional pro wrestling booking is typically solid to even strong when they stay focused on the basics. Here’s hoping that this is the beginning of a trend. Impact has the roster and the creative ability to be a very good pro wrestling company if they can avoid the other elements that distract from the good things the company is doing. Rebellion looks like a hot show on paper and I’m genuinely looking forward to it.
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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...