SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
L.A.X. vs. Conley and Lee: All right, to get my weekly, obligatory Trevor Lee complaint out of the way, this guy deserves so much better than being stuck in a silly tag team with Caleb Konley. With that said, this was a good way to kick off the show. L.A.X. continues to excel as a duo and they bust out innovate offense every time out. In order to keep their momentum going, Impact desperately needs to line up some legitimate challengers for them to battle. As of right now, it’s not clear who that would even be.
Ishimori vs. Sydal: Due to how good Ishimori has been in the ring, I would have liked to have seen him enjoy a longer run with the X Division Title. But Matt Sydal has finally received some character development so I’ll hold off judgment and see how this plays out in the coming weeks. The two delivered one of the top three Impact matches of the year so far and it was refreshing to see them not kick off the show with an X Division title match for once.
Allie Wins Gold: Allie has floundered badly ever since Maria Kanellis left the promotion. This move could help her get back on track. Maybe. The key is in the follow-up. It’s hard to book the underdog once they’re on top. But with Laurel Van Ness out of the promotion, creative needed to give someone else the opportunity to shine. Allie was a logical choice for this role and she delivered one of her best matches in the promotion yet. Another cool moment was seeing a Gail Kim cameo to tie in how Allie was there for her hero’s retirement speech.
The Main Event: Austin Aries and Johnny Impact ended the pay-per-view-esque night with a solid match and a surprisingly clean finish. Impact also had a decent promo (albeit a bit of an awkward one) before the match where he took a couple of nice digs at his opponent. It’s actually a bit of a shame they went with this match on the free show and you have to pay to see Alberto El Patron vs. Aries. Even though Patron is a clear-cut heel, his character’s best days were roughly seven years ago.
GWN Footage: Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take almost any opportunity to relieve some Monty Brown (“Poooooooooooooounce!”) but these clips are bizarrely random and way too long. Watching the final couple minutes of a decent Brown/Christian Cage match isn’t going to get me to drop $8 a month on their network. It just makes me kind of long for the days when they had more star power and the crowd actually cared…
The Crowd: Yikes. The people who actually attend Impact aren’t invested in what is taking place in front of them. The promotion threw out some of the biggest matches they had and most big moments didn’t elicit much of a response. It’s probably going to take months of quality shows to get diehard fans back in the building, but until then, I just feel bad for the wrestlers.
OVE vs. Lashley: A huge miss. They aired a video with shot after shot of Sami Callihan blasting Eddie Edwards in the face with a bat. They got it over as a devastating, nefarious move. In the match on Impact, Callihan hit Lashley in the face with a bat (a safe, worked spot) and it had almost no effect. Boy, that Edwards sure is a wuss! A bat shot to the knee didn’t do much either. Did Lashley forget how to sell? The weird thing is how easily Walking Armageddon manhandled OVE. It was an especially stupefying call since he is leaving soon. Plus, Brian Cage came in at the end and tagged himself into a handicap match. What? Another miss here is that Cage shouldn’t have touched main roster guys for weeks/months yet to come. Make fans anticipate what it would be like when he finally got to the regular roster. This all felt rushed and continued to damage the credibility of OVE.
Commentary: Josh Mathews and Sonjay Dutt just can’t deliver the big, emotional calls that make a moment feel special. Listen to them react to Allie win the Knockouts Title. They showed some degree of shock but their delivery was sorely lacking. Dutt provides some good insight during the matches, he just doesn’t have the range to earn the job on a weekly basis. My vote would still be to give other wrestlers a chance for the night and see if they have the goods. I’d also say Mathews should leave commentary altogether but I’ve probably said it 50 times already.
7/10. It’s hard to get a bad score with so much good wrestling. Now Impact has to get to work on building up some compelling angles and matches if they want to get people to pay to see Redemption next month. With their heavily depleted roster, that’s going to be a bit of a challenge. Hopefully some overlooked midcarders are able to step up and make a name for themselves.