By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Pentagon Jr. and Fenix vs. LAX in a Full Metal Mayhem match for the Impact Tag Titles: Expectations were extremely high for the match and somehow these four were up for the challenge. There were a lot of crazy spots, but I applaud them for avoiding unprotected chair shots to the head. It should be a gimme in 2019 that companies don’t allow unprotected chair shots to the head, but they still occur in Ring of Honor and we just saw one on Friday’s Impact television show. Everyone in the match worked hard and the post match scene with the wrestlers coming out to applaud their efforts felt warranted even if there was the odd mix of heels and babyfaces in the ring together. Impact has a fraction of the tag team depth that WWE has and yet they have done a terrific job of booking tag team title feuds with LAX working with OVE, The OG’s, and now Pentagon Jr. and Fenix. It will be tough to top the LAX feud with the Lucha Brothers, but I am looking forward to seeing what’s next for LAX.
Gail Kim vs. Tessa Blanchard: A good match between the pioneer of the division and its brightest modern star. Kim did a really nice job in her return, and Blanchard never fails to deliver. The post match scene was interesting. Did Tessa turn babyface by showing respect for Kim? It seems possible given that heel Taya Valkyrie holds the Knockouts Championship.
Taya Valkyrie vs. Jordynne Grace for the Knockouts Championship: A good match with a strong finish. I like the way Grace took a clean loss and yet still felt somewhat protected due to the arm injury. Valkyrie has really clicked since turning heel again. She’s having good matches and delivering consistently in her promos. It was nice to see her get a credibility building clean win rather than winning in a cheap way.
Rich Swann vs. Sami Callihan for the X Division Championship in an OVE Rules match: A good hardcore match with Swann showing off a more serious side of his persona. I hope that version of Swann is here to stay, as the happy, dancing Swann character felt like it peaked. Swann and Callihan did a nice job of playing on their history to make the feud feel personal. If they move forward with this, they need to find a way to make the X Division Title feel more important. The feud became all about their personal issues and it felt like the X Division Title just happened to be at stake rather than something both men coveted.
Moose, Josh Alexander, and Ethan Page vs. Zachary Wentz, Trey Miguel, and Deszmond Xavier: An entertaining six-man tag match with Alexander and Page looking good as a team, and Moose continuing to be entertaining while he takes a break from the main event picture. The Rascalz are very god in the ring, but their presentation still needs a lot of work. Here’s hoping we’ve seen the last of the smoke circle gags and that the company books them as young stars rather than one-named comedy acts.
Petey Williams vs. Aiden Price vs. Ace Austin vs. Jake Deaner vs. Jake Crist vs. Eddie Edwards in a six-way scramble match: More of an in the middle for a match that felt thrown together and didn’t seem to serve much purpose beyond filing time. In fairness, I assume the plan was for Edwards to face Eli Drake on this show given the storyline build on television, but the company released Drake in between the taping and this event. If nothing else, the finish helped establish Austin’s persona that popped up on Friday’s show, and his win over Williams was logical given that it was Williams who stopped him from attacking Prince on Friday.
Overall show: The biggest thing working against Impact pay-per-views is the sticker shock that one suffers when they see the price for their standalone events. You can get a month of WWE Network, ROH HonorClub, and New Japan World for less than it costs for a single Impact pay-per-view. But those who are willing to spend the money had to come away satisfied with their purchase. Impact is a good product when they stay away from the Undead Realm and smoke circles and focus on delivering a good, traditional pro wrestling product. This show was another example of that. The wrestlers all worked hard, the production was solid, and the live crowd was into the action. It was another good outing for the company. But rather than trying to make as much money as they can off of their loyal fans, they really should find a way to lower the price with the goal of attracting more viewers to the product even if it means taking a financial hit in the short term.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Johnny Impact vs. Brian Cage for the Impact World Championship with Lance Storm as special referee: A minor Miss for the overbooking down the stretch. TNA was famous for booking cheap main event finishes. And then when the company actually had a clean finish, they felt the need to play off their bad reputation by teasing a cheap finish before actually delivering a clean finish. This match felt like it was from that era. We just didn’t need to see Storm bumped, John E Bravo interfere, Taya Valkyrie take a powerbomb, or Storm tease the DQ. This is a case where less would have been more. A straight up win without all the interference at the end would have been a stronger and more memorable moment for Cage’s first title win. On the plus side, the surprise of Michael Elgin confronting and powerbombing Cage after the match was well done. Here’s hoping the back injury that Cage suffered during the match is nothing serious.
Scarlett Bordeaux vs. Rohit Raju: This was actually fine for what it was, but I question whether it’s the right approach for Bordeaux. When they announced Bordeaux’s first match on Impact television, I immediately wondered whether she would still feel special if she became just another wrestler. And Impact is clearly trying to make her feel special by having her wrestle men rather than enter the regular Knockouts Division, but it’s hard to maintain the feeling of being a star while working undercard matches. Bordeaux strikes me as a breakout star for Impact if they can find the right role for her. That’s easier said than done, but I don’t think they’ve found it yet.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Dave Lagana discussing the NWA Crockett Cup pay-per-view, the NWA’s relationship with Ring of Honor, the future of the NWA, and more.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...