By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Sami Callihan vs. Ken Shamrock in a non-title match: A solid television main event with an interesting post match storyline development. It was interesting to see Callihan pull Madman Fulton back from attacking Shamrock afterward and to see Fulton respond by shoving Callihan to the mat. Callihan eventually talked his monster down, but I assume this is a storyline worth paying attention to.
Rich Swann and Willie Mack vs. The Crist Brothers vs. Reno Scum vs. Dez and Wentz for a shot at the Impact Tag Titles: A fun spot fest with good storytelling involving Swann and Mack. Swann followed up his standout performance in the recent five-way for a shot at the Impact World Championship by winning the match for his team despite the fact that Willie Mack was “injured” and unable to finish the match. They seem to be laying the foundation for a Mack heel turn and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
Moose vs. Acey Romero: A good match that felt like a quality win for Moose while also making Romero look good in defeat.
Fallah Bahh vs. Raj Singh: A decent match. Bahh continues to be a fun and charismatic role player for Impact. Meanwhile, the creative forces seem to have pulled back on the idea of making Desi Hit Squad a stronger act due to the addition of Mahabali Shera. Singh and partner Rohit Raju are already back to losing frequently.
Wrestler’s Court: I find Impact to be at its best when they take a traditional approach. The Undead Realm, smoke circles, and the ode to Southpaw Regional Wrestling episode are a few examples of things the company has done that stray away from traditional pro wrestling and tend to garner a polarizing reaction from viewers. The wrestler’s court segment falls into that category. Yet while it wasn’t really my thing, it was fun for what it was with humor that was far more hit than miss.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Tessa Blanchard vs. Madman Fulton: The show was built around Blanchard and Sami Callihan choosing opponents for one another. And while they both had logical picks, this match just didn’t click. Fulton was protected by the DQ finish. Before the main event angle, I would have asked whether he’s worth protecting since he’s been spinning his wheels in the monster role. The issue is that Blanchard should be building momentum going into her Impact World Championship match at the Hard To Kill pay-per-view, but that just hasn’t been the case. She was outshined by Rich Swann in the five-way match even though she won it to earn the title shot, and this match was not a strong followup. I was more excited going into the Callihan vs. Blanchard match at Slammiversary than I am for their title match at Hard To Kill. There’s still time before the January 12 show and hopefully the company can find a way to heat this up.
Rob Van Dam vs. Rhino with Tommy Dreamer as special referee: A minor Miss. The effort was there from both men, but the time between RVD’s turn on Rhino and this match actually cooled my interest in the match. It was eye rolling to watch Katie Forbes pull Dreamer from the ring and clothesline him. I realize Impact she’s a wrestler and Impact is the same promotion that is pushing Tessa Blanchard as a threat to win the Impact World Championship, but Forbes has never been positioned as a physical force like Blanchard. And I still question the conflicting messages being sent by these two characters. The Blanchard storyline plays nicely into female empowerment and could appeal to a different demographic than pro wrestling typically draws. But if Impact is successful in bringing in a different demographic, those viewers seem the most likely to be turned off by Forbes flaunting her sexuality, and not in a way that makes her a good heel, but rather in a way that makes those viewers turn the channel.