SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Sonjay Dutt: It was completely disheartening to hear Josh Mathews remain on commentary after news broke that a new team was taking over. And initially, it was a downer to hear Dutt on the team as well. After seeing him on TV for years, nothing lead me to believe he would be a great color commentator. And he wasn’t great. But he was… okay. Still, okay is far above the level Jeremy Borash was performing at and it’s above Josh Mathews as well. I’m hoping they scrape this team entirely as the show desperately needs new voices who are truly great at their jobs. But for his first night, Dutt was better than I had expected.
The Press Conference: Austin Aries was interviewed by a handful of people after his big title win, giving his victory a sports-like feel. Love it. I’ll take this new approach to enhancing a character over WWE’s cheesy and horrible looking selfie videos any day.
Backstage Videos: Jimmy Jacobs with Kongo Kong in the backstage of the Impact Zone was actually well-lit, had good audio, and didn’t look super grainy! Holy crap! It looked better than any of the pre-tapes the promotion has shot in some time. I also enjoyed the first person videos of OVE attacking Bobby Lashley. While neither approach was revolutionary, just doing something new is badly needed in this promotion.
Allie’s Admirer: It’s going to take a lot of work to get the Allie character back on track but it appears the creative team is trying their best. Next week we’ll find out who her secret admirer is, which is a fun hook to tune in. Impact (and all wrestling shows) should be going out of their way to continually give fans a reason to return on a weekly basis
Overall Show: A minor hit. Impact has been more entertaining than it’s been in some time the past couple weeks, though that’s not saying much. There’s still no indication that it’s time to get excited about their future. The crowds don’t care about anyone on the roster in a meaningful way, the show should shake up its look more, and the commentary team needs to be overhauled. However, it feels like they are making small steps in the right direction. The question is now, how many weeks (or months, or years) is it going to take until the show feels nothing like the Impact of old? In order to bring back lapsed fans, that’s the goal they need to be aiming for.
Opening X-Division Match: When Don Callis joined the company, did he have grand visions of continuing random X-Division contests that have zero storyline backgrounds or implications to them? If so, then he’s following exactly what the company has done for about the past decade. As fun as the opening match was, I couldn’t find it in myself to care, because Impact didn’t tell me why I should.
Rohit Raju: The laziest repackaging I may have ever seen for a character in wrestling. Raju used to be Hakim Zane, who we knew absolutely nothing about. Now he’s Rohit Raju. The poor guy didn’t even get a pre-match promo to explain the change. Mathews and Dutt talked up that he was part of a new stable, the Desi Hit Squad. Okay… well, where are they? Raju even took the pinfall in his first match as a new act. Not a good start.