By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Sami Callihan and Tessa Blanchard brawl: After Callihan had issues with Madman Fulton last week, his promo in the closing segment this week felt more babyface than heat seeking. Are they building toward a Callihan babyface run? Only time will tell, but the brawl between Callihan and Tessa Blanchard that went outside the building was intense and continued the build to their showdown title match at the Hard To Kill pay-per-view.
Rich Swann vs. Ethan Page: This was much better than the formula throwaway singles matches involving feuding tag team wrestlers that WWE once ran into the ground. There’s a good storyline at play with The North attempting to manipulate Willie Mack into splitting with Swann to avoid holding him back (which would eliminate the top threats to The North’s title reign). After some good in-ring work, Page tricked Mack into punching him in front of the referee to cost Swann the match, which plays perfectly into the storyline.
X Division Champion Ace Austin vs. Petey Williams in a non-title match: The match was entertaining and I was actually a tad surprised to see Austin go over clean a non-title match. But the real story was the post match angle with Austin dedicating the win to Trey Miguel’s mother and then being confronted by Miguel backstage. Trey showed good fire and it was nice to see him do something beyond clowning around in a smoke circle. Still, am I the only one hoping that Austin will become Trey’s stepdaddy?
Rob Van Dam and Brian Cage: RVD delivered one of his more coherent promos in recent memory and I’m enjoying his heel persona. I still find the over the top PDA between RVD and Katie Forbes to be counterproductive for a company pushing a female empowerment storyline at the top of the card via Tessa Blanchard. Putting that aside, RVD’s egomaniacal claims that today’s wrestlers all stole his moves are fun, and I got a kick out of him stating that beating Cage would be easy because he knows how to counter his own moves.
Jordynne Grace vs. Tenille Dashwood: A minor Hit for a well wrestled match that felt a little flat. The live crowd was quiet yet attentive. This match would have benefitted from mic work or some type of backstory rather than just having them open the show with a babyface vs. babyface style match. The post match angle with Taya Valkyrie attacking Grace only for Dashwood to make the save was solid.
Johnny Swinger: I can’t give the Joey Ryan vs. Acey Romero match a Hit because it was the same dick match that Ryan always works. It’s fun to see once or twice a year, but I hope Impact has a plan to avoid this becoming even more repetitive. Either way, the bit with Swinger failing to pull off Ryan’s dick moves while making Romero grab his fanny pack was good for a laugh.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Susie: So now she’s developed Black Canary-like screaming powers? The shift from Su Yung to the childlike Susie was compelling, but this is quickly losing its charm. The firm rule in Impact should be that if someone makes a pitch for a segment that requires special effects then the idea should be immediately scrapped. I have no desire to see any of it on a pro wrestling show and there are kids who could produce better looking effects than Impact does, especially when they add the awful looking smoke to various scenes.
TJP vs. Daga: A Hit worthy match by the wrestlers. The issue is that this followed the Grace vs. Dashwood match and I can’t help but question whether it would have been better to put some distance between the handshakes and hugs style matches. There are definitely fans who enjoy a good match between two babyfaces, but going back to back may have been a bit dry for some viewers. They even stuck with the same formula by having the babyfaces to work together when heels interfered afterward.