SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
LAX Messes Two Dudes Up: I’ve given this group a hit every week they’ve been on TV, and that’s going to continue here. The LAX stable just brings an energy to the Impact Zone that no one else does. They’re cool, they’ve got a good look, Konnan cuts realistic promos (imagine him having to work in a Fast and the Furious line like Charlotte) and they started the show off with a solid squash match. It was a fun way to kick off the night, but it got my hopes up that the episode itself was going to be consistently good!
Crimson’s Video: Excellent work here. The James Storm video at the beginning of the show was superb as well, but that one-minute Crimson vignette made me care more about him than at any time in the past. When he was pushed as the company’s version of Goldberg, perhaps a few videos like this along the way would have actually helped get him over. I’m curious to see him return, as I always thought he was just starting to develop into a decent wrestler when he was released.
X-Division Ends The Show: The match wasn’t a classic, and it’s annoying that six people needed to be involved, but I’ll take it. The company has done a great job over the past few months in giving the X-Division Title, Tag Titles, Grand Championship, and Heavyweight Title the main event slot on Impact. It’s been a refreshing and positive change to how they book their shows. Next up, the Knockouts deserve their shot again.
Kongo’s Win: I’m a sucker for a good squash, and this was another enjoyable one. Kongo Kong came in, manhandled his opponent, and left him convulsing on the mat in 90 seconds. I can’t ask for much more.
Low Ki’s Return: I had never seen Ki’s Hitman inspired gimmick before, and I thought it was pretty badass. He looks to still be in phenomenal shape and he adds some much-needed depth to the X-Division. Since A.J. Styles is in WWE and Jerry Lynn is retired, Ki is the best “legacy” X-Division guy they can bring back to the company at this point in time.
Sonjay’s Eye: Major props to Sonjay Dutt for still competing (and looking good) after that nasty, enormous bump over his eyes. Things like that get fans to respect the wrestlers more. So even though it likely didn’t feel too good, it probably helped out his latest run a little bit.
Thank You, Karen!: Why does the crowd keep chanting “Thank you Karen!” on Impact? Thanks for what? Merging GFW and Impact? I would bet good money that 98 percent of the live audience has never been to a GFW event. It’s not just her, as both Dutch Mantell and Bruce Prichard were on the show again helping run the ship. In my mind, one regular authority figure on a wrestling show is one too many (Dario Cueto notwithstanding), three is maddening.
Storm vs. Lashley: Honestly, I don’t know if this match was good, I don’t know if it was bad. I couldn’t get into the flow of it whatsoever because I was distracted and annoyed over the return of Josh Mathews. That’s the effect he has on the show.
Storm’s Bottle: However, I didn’t enjoy the fact that Storm was about to cheat! During the match, he kicked a chair out of the ring, which was a solid babyface maneuver. But he only did that so he could grab a beer bottle to smash over Lashley’s head. Weak. I must say it takes away the effect of EC III’s turn because after all, he was saving a man from being cracked over the head with a glass bottle!
Mathews Is Back: I’ve been doing some thinking since last night, and I can’t recall a wrestling stipulation that was reneged on ever making me so mad! Not at the promotion in a good heel heat kind of way either. This is “I don’t want to watch this show anymore because it makes me want to throw things at my TV” kind of heat. I saved this for last, as I complain about the announcing every week. It’s probably tiring to read, but it’s 100 times worse to listen to. This is atrocious on every conceivable level. Josh isn’t funny, he isn’t interesting, he relies on the same dumb lines over and over again (“This reminds me of when I used to compete!”). Without him on Impact, I would give this show the edge over Raw and SmackDown this week. That should be their goal. With him on the show, Impact comes in last. Maybe some people can overlook or tune out the announcing, but it drags things down to painful levels for me. Instead of being able to celebrate Low Ki coming back, we’re watching Jeremy Borash punch Mathews in the mouth. WHO CARES? Where in the hell is this headed? A match at Slammiversary? Not since Vince Russo was running creative has Impact had such an easy way to make their shows much better: take Mathews off the announce team! Okay, thanks. I feel a little better but will, unfortunately, have to talk about it next week.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: IMPACT HITS & MISSES 4/13: EC3’s promo, Josh Matthews gone, return of Magnus, “Adonis” Chris Masters, a phantom poll, more