By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Slammiversary Hits
Brian Cage vs. Michael Elgin for the Impact World Championship: An outstanding match and one of my favorites of the weekend, which included the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Opening Night event on Saturday. Elgin came off as ruthless by targeting Cage’s injured back with all the powerbombs, Cage as sympathetic and even inspirational as he continued to fight despite his injuries, and both men created great drama with some terrific near falls. I liked the approach the broadcast team took with Josh Mathews openly rooting for Cage because he didn’t want Elgin to be the champion and face of the company. It gave the match an added sense of importance and left no mystery as to which wrestler the viewers were supposed to cheer for.
Tessa Blanchard vs. Sami Callihan: A strong match and a satisfying main event despite the heel going over. I was genuinely surprised to see Callihan get the win and I’m not sure what to make of him showing Blanchard respect afterward. It seems like there’s interest in a rematch and perhaps they will get there, but in the moment the finish took the air out of the building, and the show went off the air before the crowd had a chance to tip their caps to Blanchard. I’m not sure why Impact officials waited until the day of the show to announce this match as the main event. It felt like an attraction match during the build, but there was no reason to think it would be in the main event position. If they had framed it that way from the start, then perhaps they could have generated more buzz for the match and the overall show. It will be interesting to see whether Impact makes intergender matches the norm or if they limit them to make them feel special.
Taya Valkyrie vs. Jessicka Havok vs. Su Yung vs. Rosemary in a four-way Monster’s Ball match for the Knockouts Championship: A strong hardcore four-way match with all four women working hard and taking some wild bumps. It’s nice to see Yung and Rosemary get out of the Undead Realm in favor of doing something more realistic. The finish with Valkyrie stealing the pin was well done in that it’s true to her character.
Rich Swann vs. Johnny Impact for the X Division Championship: It wasn’t a five or seven star match as the broadcast team oddly felt the need to claim, but it was a well worked match. I want to care more about the Swann character than I do. He delivers consistently strong matches and has a likable personality, but there’s something missing in the presentation. As I wrote in last night’s live review, I just don’t feel like I know what makes the Swann character tick.
TJP vs. Trey Miguel vs. Jake Crist vs. Willie Mack: A strong four-way opening match. I loved the spot with TJP putting Miguel in a surfboard, Crist sneaking between them to cover TJP, and then Mack breaking it up with a top rope double stomp onto the pile. Everyone worked hard and got the show off to a great start. With Mack getting the win, are they working toward having him face his buddy Swann for the X Division Title?
Killer Kross vs. Eddie Edwards in a first blood match: A rare first blood match that didn’t end with a cheap finish. Edwards went over strong to the point that it’s hard not to wonder whether Impact intends to grant Kross his contractual release just as they did for his girlfriend Scarlett Bordeaux. I came away wondering if Edwards breaking his “friend” Kenny the kendo stick (ugh) in half was a sign of him turning heel. At this point, I’m all for something different for the clunky Crazy Eddie persona. Either way, I think we can safely assume that his wife is going to yell at him again.
Rob Van Dam vs. Moose: A soft Hit for a match best remembered for the outcome. It’s logical for Impact to feature RVD to give their product a touch of star power. It’s even more logical to have him do key jobs to elevate certain talent as he did in this match.
Impact Wrestling Slammiversary Misses
The North vs. LAX vs. The Rascalz for the Impact Wrestling Tag Titles: A minor Miss. This was entertaining while it lasted, but the Miss is for the disappointment of the match being so brief. I was looking forward to LAX vs. The Rascalz before the title change on Friday, and the addition of The North to the match didn’t damper my enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the match was the briefest of the night at just over seven minutes and thus had no chance of living up to high expectations.
Masked Rhino: Everyone other than the broadcast team seemed fully aware that Rhino was under the mask, yet the broadcast team had to play dumb, even going so far as to label his Gore finisher as a spear. Perhaps the hood will make more sense once they tell the story, but in the moment it felt pointless and hurt the broadcast team’s credibility. Speaking of which, I genuinely like the work of Josh Mathews and Don Callis, but they don’t exactly help themselves or the product by using so much hyperbole while putting over certain matches as being among the greatest they’ve ever seen. As for Rhino, he’s a popular guy who continued to be cheered no matter what WWE did with him and regardless of how long he went between television appearances. He can be a solid addition to the roster, though I can’t say that I’m excited by the thought of Elgin moving away from Cage to feud with Rhino if that’s where this is going.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast With Jason Powell featuring a Dot Net Weekly combo show co-hosted by Jake Barnett with a discussion of WWE’s first week of television following the creative shakeup, MLW announcing its first pay-per-view event, and much more.