SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The Opening Segment: Well, personally, I’d like to thank Eddie Edwards for saving me from some more of the Grado/Katarina nonsense. This makes him babyface of the week in my eyes. Besides that, his attack and hijacking of the show got the night off to a surprising start, which usually isn’t a bad thing in wrestling. However, this angle has been all over the place. Last week it was cheesy and absurdly over the top with a fight in the woods that featured teleportation and attempted murder, this week they’re working in the deaths of real life wrestlers to move the story forward?! WHAT?! Pick a tone and go with it.
Taya’s Return: It’s nice to see them get back on track with Taya Valkyrie. Or at least try to. For some inexplicable reason, they jobbed her out a few times before she went away. She’s back now and even got some promo time. With so few women in the division, the company can’t afford to make Taya so expendable.
LAX: More good stuff from the company’s most consistently entertaining act. Eddie Kingston is displaying some underrated acting chops in these backstage segments and Diamante is being set up nicely to foil his nefarious plans. We don’t know his end game, which makes this angle another fun mystery to tune in for. These segments are so consistently good that it feels there are two different creative teams at work here.
Hogan vs. Blanchard: A minor hit. While Tessa Blanchard and Kiera Hogan delivered an entertaining match, it was bogged down with some nonsensical referee involvement. I don’t get it. Is Blanchard going to face the ref in a match? Is her character going to be complaining about how management is against her? Here’s a better idea: just have her win wrestling matches in convincing fashion.
The X Reveal: I’ll admit I’ve never seen Kevin Kross wrestle a single match in my life. Still, I’m intrigued just by his appearance and demeanor in this reveal. I’m glad they didn’t go with an already established wrestler on the roster, as most of them wouldn’t have made any sense, and likely would have been a letdown. The key here, of course, is the follow up. But overall, this was an intriguing angle built up over weeks and didn’t end with a thud.
Rebel’s Return: Let’s be honest for a moment. If Rebel was ever going to be a halfway decent wrestler, it would have happened by now. She had her first match on Impact nearly four years ago and she’s still greener than Kermit in front of a green screen. And considering how she’s been positioned in the past, there’s no way she should have gone nearly six minutes with the returning Valkyrie. Management should have called up a local indy wrestler and had Taya squash her in 30 seconds. It would have been a far more effective use of TV time.
Bahh and KM: Just like Scott Steiner and Eli Drake breaking up within weeks, Fallah Bahh and KM seem to be going their separate ways far too soon for anyone to care in the slightest. When is their best of collection going to come out? So the entire point of this pairing was to go from Bahh vs. KM to get right back to…Bahh vs. KM? Why put them together in the first place then? Did Vince Russo land another consulting gig with this company? Otherwise, I don’t see much of an explanation for why they keep rushing through angles to swerve us, bro.
Drake vs. Moose: Right now, this was the most important match Impact could deliver. Moose vs. Eli Drake was designed to set up who would be heading to Slammiversary, to main event one of their three main pay-per-views of the year. So how did they present it to the audience? They didn’t do intros, they shot it at House of Hardcore, and they jumped around in time in the match, skipping out entire portions. To borrow Don Callis’ go-to quote for a moment, “What the hell?!” This should have main evented the show, it shouldn’t have been shot in at another promotion, and they should have aired every single second of the match and made it seem like a major deal. How is any of that even up for debate? Moose is already struggling to feel like a top guy, having him earn his big moment this way didn’t do him any favors. Of all the stupid things the promotion has done this year, their half-asssed approach to this number one contender’s match ranks pretty high up there. However, it wasn’t even the stupidest thing they did all night…
Cage Loses: Not often in wrestling do I watch something play out, take a moment to digest it, and go “did that really happen?” That’s how I felt watching Brian Cage lose by countout to Matt “Maybe someday this Guru gimmick will get over” Sydal. I assumed they were building this up to mimic Goldberg’s WCW streak. Cage would beat a bunch of midcarders, then, like Goldberg, win a secondary title in convincing fashion (where he did so against Raven). Considering it’s been 20 years since that successful angle went down, it would be fresh for a large segment of the fan base. But Impact had their unbeatable star in the making lose his winning streak…for a countount? So all those weeks of Cage going across the globe to take on indy wrestlers, and the payoff was…a countout? If they wanted to get to Kongo Kong vs. Cage, just have Kong attack him backstage! Have Jimmy Jacobs challenge him in a promo. Have Kong interfere in the match and save Sydal via DQ, leaving the winning street intact. Plus, Kong’s mystique is already damaged as he lost to Moose a couple weeks ago. We’ve already seen the monster slayed on recent television! Impact needlessly threw away something good and got absolutely nothing out of it.
Overall Show: The past couple weeks, the overall show deserved a hit. No so with this head-scratching offering. One step forward, between two and five steps back every week with this company. 4/10