By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling TV
Taped November 7-8 in Queens, New York at Melrose Ballroom
Aired January 7, 2020 on AXS TV
[Hour One] Impact Wresting started off In Medias Res this week with indie security guards trying to pull apart a Michael Elgin and Eddie Edwards brawl. Eddie Edwards has a dreadlock mohawk now (which I believe is the look he went with at this set of tapings). Edwards climbed in the ring and talked about how he’s going to break the unbreakable Michael Elgin’s ass “New York City Style”. Eddie hit Elgin and the indie wrestlers with a suicide dive and the show cut to the intro theme…
John’s Thoughts: Why are Elgin and Edwards feuding again? It makes sense for Elgin to want to get a world title shot down the road (via Eddie’s not-money-in-the-bank trophy), but why is Eddie motivated to feud with Elgin again. I like the “in medias res” opening because it is a nice touch to sometimes switch up the formula, but you would think the one week you truly would need a recap video cold open is the week after a two week holiday break. I wouldn’t have in-medias-res’d this week.
Josh Mathews and Don callis were on commentary. Elgin tried to power bomb Edwards but Edwards reversed with a back kick and huracanrana. Eddie and Elgin traded chops with Elgin’s strikes hitting harder. Elgin rolled Edwards in the ring and the ref called for the bell. A match is beginning I guess?
1. Eddie Edwards vs. Michael Elgin. Eddie and Elgin were pretty even early on. Eddie got Elgin off his feet by planting him with a belly-to-belly suplex. Elgin and Eddie had a chop vs. forearm exchange in the middle of the ring. Eddie hit Elgin with an atomic drop. Elgin escaped and caught Eddie in the corner with a kick and draping stomp. Elgin worked on Eddie a bit with strong and methodical attacks. Eddie tried to make a bit of a comeback but Elgin manhandled him with an overhead snapmare.
Elgin continued to no-sell Eddie’s chops, coming back with stronger strikes that Eddie sold. Elgin kept a low base to block an Eddie suplex. Eddie countered Elgin’s Uranage and came back with a pump kick. Eddie then hit Elgin with a suplex. Callis noted that Eddie’s strength is his counters. Eddie staggered Elgin on the top rope with an enzuigiri and hit him with a Frankensteiner. Elgin stayed on his feet but was taken off with Eddie’s Blue Thunder Bomb for the two count (Eddie Edwards and Sami Zayn never beat anyone with that move).
Eddie hit Elgin with a few kicks but Elgin pulled out a desperation Uranage on Eddie. Elgin hit Eddie with a Falcon Arrow for a two count. Eddie and Elgin went back to the strong style strike exchange, this time with Eddie staggering Elgin. Eddie gave Elgin his Kobashi chest chops. Elgin came back with his own shortarm lariats. They traded positions about two times. Eddie and Elgin took the strong style back to the center of the ring. Elgin gave Eddie a German Suplex but Eddie fought through it and gave Elgin a Last Shot Shining Wizard. Both men were left lying heading into commercial. [c]
John’s Thoughts: Really good Japanese Strong Style match so far between wrestlers who spent extended periods of their wrestling careers in the land of the rising sun. While this match has been pretty thrilling, the Melrose Ballroom crowd seems very quiet for some reason. This is like three tapings in a row where Impact has drawn below average crowds in terms of energy.
The show came back with the same Suplex/Last Shot sequence we saw before the break, just hit gain by both men. Eddie and Elgin then went back to the Strong Style exchange in the center of the ring. Elgin dominated with a discus forearm. Eddie came back by turning Elgin inside-out with a lariat. Eddie hit Elgin with a Tiger Bomb for a two count. Elgin planted Eddie with a power slam. Eddie reversed Elgin on the top rope with a huracanrana. Elgin gave Eddie a few forearms and then hit Eddie with a inside-out lariat for a two count.Eddie managed to get a few strikes on Elgin. Both men then countered each other’s pin and submission attempts. Elgin got the upper hand by hitting Eddie with a Buckle Bomb followed by the Elgin bomb for the win.
Michael Elgin defeated Eddie Edwards via pinfall in 14:16 of on-air TV Time.
Josh Mathews wondered if Elgin will pick up another win this sunday, when it’s actually worth something…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A really good match. Michael Elgin just doesn’t have bad matches in Impact (unless he’s having a boring match with Rhino) and Eddie Edwards is very close to Elgin in terms of in-ring reliability. That said, I’m not really invested in this feud because I fell like there was no real build up towards it. When you think of it, I’m looking past Eddie Edwards and looking forward to a Michael Elgin vs. Rich Swann program based off their booking in recent months. Is the only purpose of this feud to put their not-money-in-the-bank on Elgin because of how tough it is to work with the flawed Eddie Edwards character?
A video package aired spotlighting the feud between The North and Rich Swann and Willie Mack. The video also focused on Ethan Page trying to sow seeds of potential betrayal in Willie Mack…
Josh Mathews and Don Callis checked in on commentary. Mathews noted that since Elgin has pinned Edwards for the second time in a row, the match at Hard to Kill is now for Eddie’s “Call Your Shot” trophy. Callis said he doesn’t understand why the trophy is on the line. Josh hyped camera crews being sent to the homes of Sami Callihan and Tessa Blanchard for a “special look” at them heading into their title match…
John’s Thoughts: I had thought that Eddie’s trophy was already on the line based off Josh’s earlier comments. Anyway, I do like that Eddie is “forced” to put it on the line instead of Eddie being stupid by just putting his trophy on the line to any heel that asks for a shot. Now, are they going the Lucha Underground route with the “Call Your Shot” throphy where it’s a title and title shot simultaneously, like the “Gift of the Gods” title?
Gama Singh introduced the Mahabali Shira as his “Indian Warrior” while introducing Rohit Raju and Raj Singh as his “Indian Soldiers”. Gama has been putting more energy in these introductions than he’s ever in the past…
2. “The Desi Hit Squad” Mahabali Shera, Raj Singh, and Rohit Raju (w/Gama Singh) vs. Fallah Bahh, TJ Perkins, and Daga. Daga and Raj started off the match. Daga ran circles around Raj by stopping on a dime several times. Raj came back with an eye poke. Daga fought back with a huracanrana. Daga ducked a clotheline from Gama. Daga ducked a punch from Gama causing Gama to accidently punch his son Raj. Rohit tagged in and took a huracanrana and dropkick from Daga.
TJP tagged in. TJ and Bahh did tandem offense. TJ wanted to see Bahh do a Kip Up, but Bahh couldn’t. TJP then led Bahh in a jogging session. When Bahh got gassed, he fell on Rohit. Daga tagged in and worked on Rohit a bit. Rohit countered with a twisting suplex. Raj distracted Daga to allow Rohit to hit a Paydirt. Mahabali Shera tagged in and power bombed Rohit into Daga. Daga tried to make a comeback but Shera hit him with a flapjack. Raj tagged in and hit Daga with a running senton for a few nearfalls. Callis noted that it would help if Raj hooked the leg.
Daga managed to get Raj and Rohit to run into each other which allowed him to tag in TJP who hit Raj with a flying forearm. Bahh hit Raj with a cannonball. Daga went old school and hit Rohit and Shera with a armdrag and headscissors. Daga hit the DHS on the outside with a flip dive. TJP held open the ropes so Bahh could hit the DHS with a suicide dive. Daga countered a toss from Raj with a backstabber. TJP got a nearfall on Shera after a sunset flip. Raj tripped up TJP for a minor distraction which allowed Shera to hit TJP with Sky High for the victory.
The Desi Hit Squad defeated Fallah Bahh, TJ Perkins, and Daga via pinfall in 8:01
Josh noted that the DHS are 1-0 in 2020…
John’s Thoughts: A decent match with Daga standing out in a good way. While the Desi Hit Squad pick up a win, it’s tough to take the wins seriously because Impact has given the Desi Hit Squad so many start-and-stop pushes over the years. They’ve mostly been in “stop” mode, even with the recent addition of Shera.
They cut to Willie Mack and Rich Swann chatting backstage. Rich Swann was not dressed in outrageous clothing as he usually is. Mack talked about how he’s still hurt from the Tag Team Open match and that he might not be able to wrestle on Sunday at Hard to Kill. Mack said he doesn’t want to hold Swann back now that Swann is doing great things. Mack said they might have to go separate ways. Mack compared Swann to a rocket ship and said he doesn’t want to drag Rich down. Rich Swann noted that last year (in 2018) he had problems with Ethan Page (and Matt Sydal), and Rich hit up Mack for help in facing Page and Sydal.
Rich said he thought Mack would be not only the guy to help Rich get to where he has to be in Impact, but where he has to be in the wrestling industry. Rich told Willie not to every sell himself short or think that he’s holding Rich down. Rich said when Willie Mack and Rich Swann are involved in tag matches, they kill it. Rich said he understands that Mack is hurt, but he needs Mack on Sunday to prove that they are hard to kill. Rich continued to hype up mack and said that they are going to make an impact… [c]
John’s Thoughts: Yep. This is my favorite program in Impact Wrestling at the moment. I really like the subtle human interactions and subtle hints of a potential betrayal (I’ve also been on a Terrace House binge on Netflix which has caused me to really respect this small human interactions). Impact has really created a good hook for this Sunday’s tag team title match. On one hand, I thought it was a lock that The North will win, and I’m still picking that to happen, but Mack and Swann can win the belts if they want to delay Mack’s heel turn. Maybe they don’t turn Mack heel. The real hook for Sunday’s Hard to Kill is “Will Willie Mack turn on Rich Swann” and I think they’ve don’t a good job setting that up.
The show cut to an OVE camcorder promo. Jake talked about how Sami Callihan is the world champion for “all of us”. Jake said Sami is going to beat Tessa. Dave yelled back and said he hasn’t slept since being beaten by Tessa. Dave said Sami is leading OVE to the future. Dave said everyone thinks Hard to Kill is about Tessa, but rather it’s about how hard it is to kill OVE. Dave yelled that they are for Ohio and by Ohio. Dave said that Sami is going to prove why Ohio means more than everything else when he beats Tessa. Dave then hyped up Madman Fulton as the new “most dangerous man”. Fulton cut into the promo. He said he’s going to tear Shamrock’s ligaments, shatter Shamrock’s orbital bone, and break everything! Everything! EVERYTHING!!! Thumbs up. Thumbs Down…
John’s Thoughts: While the rah-rah Ohio stuff is a bit “eh”, that last promo goes to show how much Dave and Jake Crist have grown on the microphone. I just remember when those two started out in Impact and Konnan used to mock the two guys for being so bad as characters and on the microphone. Jake in particular surprised me the most because he went from nothing to being really good after he won the X Title. Fulton, on the other hand, isn’t great, at least yet. He’s kinda coming off as a Walmart version of Kane.
Johnny Swinger was roaming around backstage where he walked into a chair that had Joey Ryan’s supposed gear around it. Johnny Swinger then poisoned the water bottle with Somas to put Joey Ryan in a “Soma Coma” as he put it. Tommy Dreamer caught Swinger slipping pills in the water bottle. Swinger claimed that he was just taking his own “sustained-release” medicine. Dreamer said it looks like he’s standing next to Joey Ryan’s gear. Johnny said Joey is just using Swinger’s “bad gimmick”. Dreamer continued to grill Swinger. Dreamer told Swinger to drink the poisoned water bottle and threatened Swinger with a kendo stick. Swinger was about to sip the water…
The show cut over to an Ace Austin vs. Trey Miguel hype video package, featuring Mama Miguel…[c]
It was time for the sitdown interviews with Tessa Blanchard and Sami Callihan. They aired clips of Sami winning the world championship. Sami yelled “that bitch stole my moment” in regards to Tessa coming out right after Sami pinned Cage. They cut to Tessa talking about her childhood. They also interviewed Tessa’s mom and sisters. Tessa said she never really lived through Tully’s wrestling career and only remembers ever seeing him wrestle one match. They then interviewed Tessa’s stepdad Magnum TA. He talked about how he wrestled Tully back in the day in an I Quit match for the US title.
Cut back to clips of Sami Callihan talking about his childhood. Sami talked about how he did stuff likes sports or choir, things that he thought would prepare him for pro wrestling. Sami said he grew up with his brothers liking wrestling, but his brothers grew up from it while he didn’t. Sami said his parents supported Sami’s love for wrestling. Sami noted that his parents both died while he was wrestling. Sami said that he wanted to be with his mom before she passed away but Sami’s father told Sami to continue to do his job because his mother would be pissed if he quit on his dreams to moan, bitch, and complain about his mom. Sami then noted that when he was in [WWE] Developmental, the day before his father died his father texted Sami and told Sami no not come home and deal with this stress but rather continue his dream.
John’s Thoughts: I said this during the last two Sami promos. Are they trying to make him a top babyface?
Tessa talked about how Don Callis approached Tessa last year at around April about the prospect of wrestling intergender matches. Tessa said she was all up for it because she trained with men to wrestle in the first place. Sami said people try to make him the villian in this but he’s the hero because he’s always been an advocate for Intergender Wrestling. Sami said he even books intergender matches in his Pro Wrestling Revolver promotion. Sami said 2019 is all about equality and why can’t everyone see men and women wrestling just as professional wrestling instead of putting a “intergender” qualifier on it.
Tessa talked about how Brian Cage vs. Michael Elgin was supposed to be the main event of Slammiversary but she was excited to find out how she and Sami got the main event spot. Tessa said Sami is very talented but it disappoints her in the way Sami acts. Sami talked about setting the world on fire at Slammiversary and changing the history of pro wrestling forever. Sami talked about how Tessa is going to try to make history by becoming world champion in a major promotion. Sami said that’s not going to happen and her history is going to be as a footnote on Sami’s title reign. Magnum TA talked about how Tessa is setting a high bar and is the one person he knows that can break the mold. Sami said people expects a fairy tale ending from this when Tessa wins the championship.
Sami said that isn’t happening because this is reality, and in reality dreams don’t come true. Sami slaped his on face and asked Tessa to bring everything she’s got. Tessa talked about being focused on this for months. Tessa said if Sami wins, then it’s due to a trick Sami has up his sleeves due to Tessa knowing all of Sami’s tricks already. Tessa talked about beating all of Sami’s boys and Sami is the final hurdle. Sami said he’s the savior of Impact Wrestling. Tessa said she’s not going to make history because of her gender, but she’s going to make history from taking the championship from the most vile and shameless champion in the history of wrestling. Sami said that on Sunday he’s going to treat Tessa as an equal and “crush your f–king skull”…
John’s Thoughts: That was a damn good video package and the best build we’ve gotten towards the Sami Callihan vs. Tessa Blanchard at Hard to Kill. Not only did it build towards the match, but I think it did a good job at making Sami Callihan look like a world champion for once, because Sami hasn’t come off as a world champion since he won the title. In face, I could have done with more packages like this one as opposed to the in-ring approach they took to this feud. What I do find odd, is that both in the in-ring segments and in this video package, Sami Callihan has come off as a huge babyface. No way Tessa’s turning, but are they thinking of making Sami Callihan a future top babyface of the company? That wouldn’t be a bad thing.
[Hour Two] James Mitchell was backstage and he locked Susie Yung in a room telling her that she shouldn’t come out because she might end up seeing things she won’t like…
3. Jessika Havok (w/James Mitchell) vs. Rosemary. Rosemary fought Jessika with forearms, but Jessika stayed on her feet. Rosemary was slammed to the mat by Havok during a rear mount attempt. Rosemary pulled the second rope to send Havok spilling to the floor Rosemary hit Havok with a huracanrana from the ring to the ringside. Mitchell grabbed Rosemary. Rosemary ducked, which made Havok punch Mitchell instead. Callis said that James Mitchell is a “sexagenarian”. Josh probably assumed this was a sexual term, but Callis said that it was a word for a person over 60.
Havok took down Rosemary with a high knee in the ring. Havok maintained control with judo takedowns. Suddenly “Susie” Yung wandered into the arena. Callis said that Susie looks lost. Susie wandered to the commentary table and Don Callis tought her how to put on the headset as if she was a child. James Mitchell yanked the headset away and pulled Susie away. Callis called Mitchell a “psychopathic satanic idiot” for spilling his drink. Callis yelled that someone needs to call the police on creepy old James Mitchell. Mitchell grabbed and shoved Rosemary from ringside (no dq?). Havok then used the distraction to set up and hit Rosemary with a draping DDT and pile driver for the win.
Jessika Havok defeated Rosemary via pinfall in 5:05
James Mitchell told Susie to join him in the ring, but then he covers her eyes and drags her out of the ring (I’m honestly not sure what he’s going for here). Josh Mathews hyped the tag team main event…
John’s Thoughts: This story has lost me at this point, and it was one of my favorites initially due to Su Yung’s strong character work (Her and James are still doing a good job acting wise it’s just the writing’s terrible). Again, if Susie is a liability then why does James Mitchell keep bringing her to the wrestling show? Can’t he hire a demon nanny or something? Havok’s fine, but she’s just a background character moving things along. The worst is Rosemary who’s really damaged as a character coming out of the Undead Realm and continues to get damaged today because of how stale she got. I thought of Rosemary as a top 10 wrestler in the world at one point but now she’s dropped way low due to bad writing. Rosemary vs. Havok should have been a big time PPV match and instead they throw it out there as a throwaway TV match. Eh.
4. Madison Rayne, Kiera Hogan, and Taya Vakyrie (w/John E Bravo) vs. Jordynne Grace, ODB, and Tenille Dashwood. Rayne and Dashwood started off the match. Rayne mocked Dashwood’s “me me me” thing (which honestly, probably deserves to be mocked). Both women started off with chain wrestling. Don Callis continued to do his joke where he compares Rayne to Bret Hart. Dashwood hit Rayne with a hangman neckbreaker. Grace tagged in and hit Rayne with a wheelbarrow slam for a two count. Kiera distracted Grace enough for Rayne to hit her with a enzuigiri for a two count.
Taya tagged in and cut the ring in half on Grace. The heels worked on Grace while trading quick tags in their isolation sequence. Grace hit Rayne with a cave in stomp to bring in ODB with the hot tag. ODB cleaned house. She hit both Rayne and Taya with a Bronco Buster. This caused Callis to groan “oh dear”. ODB ran into Grace which Grace thought was a tag, but the referee was jawing with Kiera so she couldn’t even call it. ODB hit Taya with the Bam Cutter (TKO). Grace hit Taya with a Vader Bomb. Grace went for the pin but she wasn’t the legal woman. ODB tossed Grace aside and took the pinfall since she was legal.
Jordynne Grace, ODB, and Tenille Dashwood defeated Madison Rayne, Kiera Hogan, and Taya Valkyrie via pinfall in 5:21.
Grace and ODB started bickering with Tenille playing peacemaker. ODB tried to offer her flask to ODB, but Grace slapped at it. Grace left as ODB’s theme played. ODB slapped her ass to mock Grace on her way out…[c]
RVD and Katie Forbes were continuing their neverending makeout session backstage as Moose approached them before their main event tag team match. Moose brought up the two having issues at Slammiversary. RVD said he doesn’t even remember what day of the week it is let alone Slammiversary. Moose told RVD to just bring his A-game to the upcoming match. The three people left and the camera panned to a knocked out Johnny Swinger. Petey Williams and Joey Ryan laughed a bit at Swinger’s situation. Joey wanted a sharpie, presumably to write dicks on Swinger’s face. It took Petey a while to figure that out. Petey also mentioned that Johnny Swinger will be wrestling Joey Ryan next week.
Josh Mathews ran through the Impact Hard to Kill PPV Card…
Entrances for the main event took place… [c]
4. Brian Cage and Rhino vs. Moose and Rob Van Dam. Moose and Cage started off the match. RVD teased starting off against Cage. Moose and Cage nailed each other with running uppercuts. Cage hit Moose with a huracanrana. Cage planted Moose with a spinebuster. Rhino spent a large amount of time pandering to the crowd. Josh noted that RVD, Rhino, and Cage are all former world champions with Moose not getting there yet. Moose and Rhino traded punches. Rhino sent Moose outside. Rhino yelled “who’s the man”.[c]
Rhino continued to manhandle Moose. Rhino tried to gore RVD, but Katie Forbes tripped Rhino. This allowed RVD to nail Rhino with a dropkick and legdrop. The heels cut the ring in half on Rhino. Moose bit the head of Rhino at one point. Rhino got a window of opportunity after a snap suplex. Cage and RVD tagged in. Cage dominated RVD with shoulder blocks. Cage hit RVD with a kick and punch combination. Cage gave RVD a German Suplex. Moose gave Cage a rising uppercut and kip up. Rhino gave Moose a shoulder block. RVD tossed Rhino aside and hit Cage with a heel kick.
RVD teased a Rolling Thunder, but then he stopped on a dime and didn’t give the fans one of his signature moves. This allowed Cage to recover and hit RVD with the F5. Moose tossed Cage to ringside. Moose and Rhino traded punches. Moose knocked down Rhino with a pump kick. Moose and Cage exchanged headbutts. Cage hit Moose with a Tornado DDT to leave all men lying. RVD hit Cage with a jump kick. Rhino hit RVD with a Gore. Moose sidestepped Rhino’s Gore. Moose yelled “this is for you Rob!” and teased a Frog Splash. Moose crashed and burned because Rhino rolled away. Rhino gave Moose a Gore. Cage gave Moose a Tornado Claw (discus lariat) for the victory.
Brian Cage and Rhino defeated Moose and RVD via pinfall in 10:07 of on-air TV Time.
Josh Mathews did some final hype questions for the Hard to Kill PPV…
They aired a Impact Hard to Kill video montage to close this week’s Impact show(presumably the cold open)…
John’s Thoughts: The match was wrestled fine, but it didn’t do too much for me. It’s your classic WWE Teddy Long Style tag team match without the setup segment. I like that Impact tried throughout the show to hype their PPV for sunday, but they tried to be more formula than nuance which might cause viewers to dismiss this episode. As much as I thought the opening match was good, they essentially aired Sunday’s Eddie Edwards vs. Michael Elgin match here, so I’m not 100% sure if that was a smart decision. If I were to give the main event praise, RVD is doing a great job as a heel and I really like him teasing his fan favorite moves only to pull away.
While their television has been very middling, Impact has a good track record in the last two years of being consistantly good to great with their PPVs. In fact, I think this upcoming lineup is better than their Bound For Glory card. The match I’m still looking forward to most is The North vs. Mack and Swann, if only to see what Mack does on Sunday.