By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Where was the Impact Wrestling Hit List last week? Impact ran a show that consisted of one first-run Knockouts match (Hit), a Great Muta tag match from a past event, and a lot of talking segments coming out of Slammiversary. It was fine for what it was, but it wasn’t exactly worth breaking down in Hit List form. Dot Net Members will hear my audio review of this week’s show coming up later today.
Impact Wrestling Hits
Mash-Up Theme: My initial thought was that this would come off like cruel and unusual punishment by whoever the storyline authority figures are these days in that they seemed to be teaming rivals just for the hell of it. And to some extent that’s what happened, but the announcement that the winning team would actually wrestle one another for a shot at the Impact World Championship gave the theme a purpose. A nearly full night of the format was a bit much, but perhaps they could bring this back next year with a one match per week format and work toward a regular tag team match to determine the winners rather than the four-way elimination tag match.
Moose and Eddie Edwards vs. Rohit Raju and Cody Deaner: Moose and Edwards worked well together, while the comedy duo melted down. This was the first match of the tournament and sent the message that the enemy teammates who didn’t play nice with one another would end up losing.
Jake Crist and Wentz vs. Rich Swann and Madman Fulton: A bit of a different formula for this match in that Fulton was working fine with Swann until Crist gave him the “thumbs up/thumbs down” sign. It triggered Fulton to snap and turn on Swann, which makes sense in the storyline sense that Fulton has been brainwashed by Sami Callihan. By the way, I enjoyed the OVE promo that aired later in the show with Callihan calling for a Fingerpoke of Doom finish. Callihan is clearly the OVE leader, Fulton is his brainwashed monster, Jake is Callihan’s most enthusiastic disciple, and Dave is a no nonsense type who rolls his eyes at his brother’s devotion, which makes it hard to tell where he stands at times. It’s a fun mix of personalities.
Sami Callihan and Tessa Blanchard vs. Dave Crist and Trey Miguel: I’m not sure why Miguel went the Callihan emulation route, but this was the best of the first-round matches in terms storytelling. It was the first time we’ve seen Callihan and Blanchard since their Slammiversary main event, and was hard to know what to expect given that their battle was followed by Callihan showing respect for Blanchard. The respect factor was thrown out here, as they bickered from the start and it made for interesting television.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Sami Callihan and Tessa Blanchard vs. Moose and Eddie Edwards vs. Jake Crist and Zachary Wentz vs. Michael Elgin and Willie Mack in a four-way tag team elimination match: A well worked match with some crowd pleasing dives. The soft Miss may say more about my bad memory than anything, but the early chaos of the match had me scrambling to remember which wrestlers were teaming together beyond Callihan and Blanchard. The late match twist with Jake not playing along with his idol Callihan’s second attempt at a Fingerpoke of Doom was a fun and unexpected surprise. Contrarily, Callihan and Blanchard winning felt likely from the start, but predictability in pro wrestling isn’t a negative when it’s the right move for business.
Michael Elgin and Willie Mack vs. Ace Austin and Stone Rockwell The Indiana Jones inspired Rockwell character was over with the live crowd, but his appearances on Impact have been limited and thus it was hard to share in the crowd’s enthusiasm. At least the company tried to explain his involvement by making Austin desperate for a tag team partner.
Taya Valkyrie vs. Madison Rayne vs. Jessika Havok in a non-title match: A minor Miss for the odd dynamic of three heels working against one another. The live crowd was actually kind and reacted to the bigger spots. On the plus side, the decision to have Havok go over strong was the right call in that she is the monster of the division and had taken a step back after coming up short of winning the Knockouts Title at Slammiversary. At the same time, it was odd seeing Rayne lose just a week after her latest heel turn.