By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
Kenny Omega and Don Callis: The tour bus promo that closed the show was worth the wait. I can’t say that Callis rambling about their long term planning did anything for me because it just wasn’t portrayed as something that could have been planned. Thus, labeling it the Golden Screwjob is an eye-roller when you actually recall how it transpired. Callis ended up at ringside because Omega’s character was hurt at ringside, and then he slipped the mic into the ring once Moxley went after him. How could they have planned Moxley taking out Omega on the floor? Despite that big hole, I enjoyed this segment and felt Omega delivered his best mic performance since AEW formed. I also liked the added touch of having a security guard member block Rich Swann from accessing the area where the tour bus was parked, as it gives the Impact World Champion a reason to be upset with the AEW World Champion and Impact executive Callis. Tommy Dreamer foreshadowing problems with the working relationship in the backstage segment with Scott D’Amore was also a nice touch. Where is it all going? Omega seemed to hint at becoming a title belt collector. Beyond that, who knows? But I look forward to watching it unfold.
Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone’s “paid advertisement”: A strange, yet compelling segment. The unadvertised “ad” was interesting. Khan was certainly heelish, and you have to wonder if he wants to have some fun playing a heel promoter on Impact. Is this his version of Vince McMahon playing a heel on Memphis television before the Mr. McMahon character ever appeared on WWE television? The big difference is that the television landscape has changed. McMahon was able to be a heel in Memphis without many fans outside that area being able to see it, whereas it could be awkward for viewers if Khan plays a heel in Impact and then plays it straight or doesn’t become an on-air character in AEW.
Rich Swan and Willie Mack vs. Chris Bey and Moose: It’s still bizarre that Bey lost to Mack last week and was then announced for a title match against Swann at the Final Resolution special. Fortunately, he picked up the win by pinning Mack to win this week. They cut away from this match quickly, which left me wondering if there was something from the post match scene that was left on the cutting room floor due to the addition of the AEW segment.
Taya Valkyrie and Rosemary vs. Deonna Purrazzo and Kimber Lee in a Knockouts Tag Title tournament match: This was the most interesting first-round match of the tournament simply because it featured two teams that consisted of well established Impact regulars. In other words, there was some mystery regarding the outcome. With Purrazzo holding the Knockouts Championship, Lee taking the loss for their team made sense.
Chris Sabin vs. Josh Alexander: A good opening match with a surprising finish of Sabin winning due to bickering between Alexander and Ethan Page. The North splitting up would be a logical move if Page is leaving once his contract expires. That said, if Page ends up in AEW and the working relationship between the companies moves forward, it would actually make more sense to keep The North together to work against some of the top AEW teams.
Eric Young vs. Cody Deaner: Impact did a nice job of setting up this match last week by having Young disrespect Deaner, which led to Cody taking a more serious approach during a strong promo. It’s nice to see a different side of his personality and I hope we get more of it. I was actually hoping that Cousin Jake would cost Deaner the match so that he could be repackaged and perhaps even join Young and Joe Doering. Both Deaners are talented, but their redneck comedy tag team gimmick is limiting.
Brian Myers vs. TJP: A well worked match. I continue to enjoy the way that Impact is rebuilding Myers rather than positioning him as a scrub simply because WWE did. The post match segment with Rohit Raju taunting TJP about losing while gloating included a nice tease for TJP having a surprise for Raju in his Defeat Rohit Challenge at Saturday’s Final Resolution.
Josh Mathews and Madison Rayne: Impact’s decision to have the broadcast team call the matches from their home rather than in person definitely paid off this week. Mathews and Rayne were able to talk about the AEW related developments in a timely way rather than the company being forced to use awkward sounding overdubs. The husband and wife team work well together in general, and Rayne was definitely missed when Matt Striker filled in for her.
Overall Show: AEW and Impact generated more buzz for this episode than we’ve seen for an Impact show in many years. The AEW segments were memorable and carried the show, as the regular Impact segments were just that. I assume this came together quickly, as one would think that Impact would have done more to load up this episode. On the bright side, they did not include the campy sports entertainment style silliness that the company usually can’t seem to avoid. Impact is at its best when they deliver a straight forward pro wrestling product, and that was on display during this high profile show. Okay, so Tommy Dreamer giving Larry D a chance to avoid going to prison for attempted murder if he can win a wrestling match was a bit much, but that’s actually tame compared to the Undead Realm and Wrestle House.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Sami Callihan and Eddie Edwards: A minor Miss. Their feud resumes with both men appearing to have ditched their bad personas. Edwards has at least toned down the Crazy Eddie schtick, and hopefully Callihan has given up on the teleporting hacker gimmick. But this doesn’t feel like Impact is circling back to the feud because there’s a demand for it as much as it seems like they don’t know where else to go with these characters. Only time will tell whether the renewal of their rivalry will be repetitive or just what these characters need.