SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The Opening Match: This was a return to form for fans who miss the days of TNA’s car crash style of opening matches. The amount of dives from the eight competitors was dizzying and the action was relentless. A couple things to note, though. First is that tag rules were simply thrown out the window halfway into it. Wrestlers just kept jumping in and double teaming each other without any repercussions. It was also disappointing to see Lucha Underground’s Drago not being featured in any meaningful way. His inclusion still feels bizarre to me. There had to have been something they could have done with him! Still, a fun way to start off the night.
DeAngelo Williams: Celebrities and athletes beating actual wrestlers is one of the things I dislike the most about the business. With that being said, Williams looked very impressive for his first match ever. He greatly exceeded my low expectations and the crowd seemed to enjoy his work and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, it’s a shame he wasn’t able to break the table on the Frog Splash. The better finish would to have just have a little fun with the botch, set the table back up, and have him do it again.
Mathews vs. J.B.: So help me… I… I actually liked this! On the Impact Hits & Misses column at PWTorch, I’ve been complaining about Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash on a weekly basis. It’s truly the worst thing in wrestling and has been for months. Somehow, they put on a memorable affair, though they had to break every known wrestling narrative structure known to man to do it. Shark Boy randomly swimming around in a pool and biting Mathews on the butt is so insanely random I couldn’t help but laugh. And seeing “Sinister Minister” Jim Mitchell again was a true “holy sh–!” moment. For some, this will be the biggest dud of the night and that’s completely understandable. But the live crowd loved it and they kept it at just the right length to not overstay its welcome.
Sonjay Dutt vs. Low Ki: A minor hit here. The match started off slow and never quite ended up finding its groove. Enjoyable, but you have the feeling they could have produced something much better. Having Dutt go over is also disappointing. Ki is the far more charismatic and cooler of the two, but now he’s lost twice in a row, which means he’ll likely step aside for a bit. Love to see him chase after Alberto El Patron to mix things up in the main event scene, but knowing TNA’s history of pushing smaller wrestlers, that is unlikely to happen.
The Commentary Team: I will trade Robert Flores and Don West right this second for J.B., Mathews, and The Pope and never look back!. That’s not even to say West and Flores were all that good, they just weren’t obnoxious and overbearing. It was great to hear announcers talk about the in-ring action and not insult each other for hours. What a novel concept! Sadly, it’s likely a one night thing and we’ll soon be back to Impact’s audibly painful trio in no time.
Overall Show: Not an overwhelming success, but overall, it was an enjoyable night of wrestling. The past three weeks of Impact have been terrible, which led me to believe this was going to be a trainwreck. And actually…it kind of was, but more like the entertaining kind of trainwreck. There was some frustrating booking decisions, an over-reliance on outside interference, and a lack of vision, but if you watched the show in a vacuum, it was entertaining enough way to spend three hours. Personally, I enjoyed this more than Money in the Bank, Extreme Rules, and Backlash. But did I enjoy it four times more than those individual shows to justify the $40 price point? No. That’s what the company is going to have to figure out in the future in order to bring any lapsed fans back into the fold. The landscape has simply changed far too much to keep that price point and deliver this kind of product. They certainly have their work cut out for them.
EC III vs. James Storm: I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this feud just isn’t clicking at the moment. The match also under-delivered and fell completely flat with a lousy finish. The 32 strap shots were brutal, but other than that, the strap match just wasn’t as intense or as long as it needed to be at this point in their rivalry.
Full Metal Mayhem: This also needed 5-10 more minutes. Davey Richards vs. Eddie Edwards has been Impact’s best feud of 2017 and it’s not even close. With all that TV time devoted to them and their wives, they received a little over 8 minutes for their match. What we saw was good, and pretty memorable at parts (pouring tacks down Eddie’s throat is my cringiest moment of the year so far), but it was far too rushed. Also, Eddie needs to thank the wrestling gods today for not impaling himself on that table for his sunset flip powerbomb.
Sienna vs. Rosemary: It’s cool that the women’s match was treated as a big deal on the show. The results just weren’t very good. There was far too much outside nonsense going on to really get invested in the in-ring action and the finish was a bucket of garbage. Apparently, the green mist is acid and can burn hands. If that’s the case…then how does somebody keep it in their mouth?!?! And since Rosemary was the babyface, she looked like a fool for having her plan backfire on that one. Also, much like Dutt vs. Ki, the wrong person won. Sienna is like Nia Jax to me, in the sense she simply doesn’t play a believable villain. Rosemary is the far more interesting character and is actually quite over with the Impact crowd. Here’s to hoping they put the belt back on her before too long.
The Main Event: Sorry El Patron, this match was not “one million” times better than Samoa Joe vs. Brock Lesnar will be. I say that with full confidence despite not travelling into the future to watch next week’s match. Patron and Lashley seemed to try hard but they didn’t produce anything memorable in the slightest. It didn’t help that they were held back from TNA/Impact’s tradition of extreme shenanigans in big matches. King Mo and Dos Caras took away from the big fight feel and should have never been allowed at ringside. El Patron only won because Lashley was distracted. Is that the feel good moment this had been building to for months? Despite the match being pretty good overall, it was still disappointing and didn’t end the night on a hot note. For the show’s $40 price tag, they needed to produce a match of the year candidate and came nowhere near close.