By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hits
AEW Champion Kenny Omega vs. Impact World Champion Rich Swann in a title vs. title match: This was the most anti-TNA match ever and I mean that as a compliment. TNA was notorious for delivering terrible finishes to big pay-per-view matches. This was among the biggest matches in company history, and while it had all the makings for a cheap finish with five wrestlers at ringside, an AEW posse behind the barricade, two referees, a ref bump, and multiple world titles on the line, Impact made good on its promise that one man would leave with both championships. Best of all, they did it with a perfectly clean finish and no nonsense. The match lived up to my lofty expectations aside from a couple of hiccups while both men were simultaneously on the ropes setting up for ambitious moves. And the great thing about the clean finish with Omega going over is that it generates additional interest in terms of where things go next between the two companies.
Ace Austin vs. TJP vs. Josh Alexander in a three-way for the X Division Championship: A strong opening match with a surprise title change. I assumed that Austin would retain the title since he just regained it last month. Instead, they opted to make Alexander as a singles wrestler following his long run with Ethan Page in The North tag team. Austin continues to strike me as a potential face of the company if he is locked in contractually, so I am very curious to see what comes next for him. Hopefully TJP will shift into the natural heel role that he hasn’t played nearly enough in Impact over the years.
Sami Callihan vs. Trey Miguel in a Last Man Standing match: A good brawl that was allowed to stand out from the rest of the show because it was the only match of its kind on the card. Miguel going over clean surprised me, as I thought it would be a longer road to him finally beating Callihan. But Sami is an excellent heel and he has proven time and time again that he can get his heat back after taking a loss. I just hope he does it without the teleporting hacker nonsense that adds nothing to his act. By the way, did we actually get through a hardcore match without anyone using a kendo stick or thumbtacks? It’s a miracle!
Juice Robinson and David Finlay vs. Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson for the Impact Tag Titles: A quality tag match with another surprising outcome. I figured Robison and Finlay would drop the titles here, but I suppose they can always do it at the Impact television tapings if they are not going to be sticking around. Here’s hoping that Impact gets Alex Shelley back at some point and also creates some fresh tag teams. The tag division has been a calling card for Impact in recent years, but it feels a little depleted in that there is a big drop off from these teams to the teams beneath them on the depth chart.
W. Morrissey, Joe Doering, Deaner, and Rhino vs. James Storm, Chris Sabin, Willie Mack, and Eddie Edwards: A feel good match of sorts with Morrissey making his debut after going public with his battle with alcoholism. Sure, he was a heel, but you had to be happy for the guy, and he was a quality replacement for the injured Young. Morrissey using his first initial and his real last name leaves something to be desired and yet it’s an upgrade over the CaZXL name that he used after his Big Cass run with WWE concluded.
Deonna Purrazzo vs. Tenille Dashwood for the Knockouts Championship: Another soft Hit. It was a well worked match that lacked a good build to the finish. It just sort of happened and didn’t feel like the match built to a real crescendo. More than anything, the match felt a bit odd with the heel vs. heel dynamic, and Dashwood just hasn’t found her groove since leaving WWE. On the other hand, Purrazzo is a strong champion and I hope the company continues to give her clean finishes and books her as a strong and confident heel. She really stood out when she first arrived in Impact because her heel character was confident enough to confront then champion Jordynne Grace and put her in the Fujiwara armbar on multiple occasions. But once Purrazzo won the title, she slipped into ordinary heel mode by showing fear of her babyface challengers.
Overall show: Impact continues to shine when it sticks to traditional pro wrestling and avoids its silly sports entertainment sagas (Undead Realm, Wrestle House, Swinger’s Palace, etc.). They did a great job of making the main event feel like the special event that it was. Bringing in Maura Ranallo to call the main event was a great touch that added to the big match feel. Impact is typically a well booked product, but they need to get better about creating stars. They are currently trying with Josh Alexander and Trey Miguel, but they need to deliver more often and make the right homegrown stars feel like they are among the real faces of the brand.
Impact Wrestling Misses
Brian Myers vs. Matt Cardona: A soft miss for a match that didn’t appeal to me on paper. I love that Myers has reinvented himself in Impact, but his feud with Cardona is an unwelcome reminder of his Curt Hawkins days and all those losses. It might be a different story if it felt like Cardona had changed anything other than his name since leaving WWE.
Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz vs. Jordynne Grace and Rachel Ellering for the Knockouts Tag Titles: This match had the same issue as the Knockouts Title match. The finish just sort of came out of nowhere to the point that it even caught Matt Striker by surprise.