SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment: Tessa Blanchard looked more comfortable in her show opening promo with Madison Rayne than she has at anytime in her run on Impact so far (though she’s still overacting way too much at this point). The two also delivered an entertaining main event later that night. And while I’m not overly excited for Rayne vs. Su Yung, they’re doing a nice job of making Rayne feel like a real person with real world responsibilities who wants one more shot at gold.
Moose’s Video: Moose’s babyface push has been botched for so many months now, it’s going to be a challenge to ever take him seriously. He’s been booked as the biggest idiot on the roster, making his sudden elevation to the main event of their second biggest show of the year feel like a big stretch. However, the video they aired highlighting his life in football and wrestling performed some much needed damage control. It’s the best he’s ever come across during his run in the company. It’s too bad they didn’t produce something like this long ago, but it’s a nice start into making his match against Austin Aries feel important.
Kingston and Konnan: Once again, Konnan and Eddie Kingston blew away any other performance on the show. Can they start teaching acting classes to the rest of the roster?
Katarina is Winter: Well, Impact finally got around to admitting the obvious: we’ve seen Winter before in a TNA ring. It’s just a bit strange that Katarina had to tell us herself that she’d won the Knockouts Title and the announce team never noticed it.
The Desi Hit Squad Debuts: The match itself was fine, but nothing spectacular. The hit here is for the fact that there’s another tag team in the division! Now only three or four more to go to make holding the belts actually mean something.
Sydal vs. Xavier: A great seven minute match that highlighted the impressive athleticism of both men. It also put over that there are consequences to performing high-risk maneuvers when they played up Dezmond Xavier tweaking his knee after a big spot. Matt Sydal winning another match cleanly is refreshing to see, as the company continues to do a good job of pushing him as one of the most dominant X Division champions in years.
Production Values: Almost every week I complain that the company should get out of the Impact Zone. And while this Canadian crowd was more into the show than the Orlando tourists, it looked and sounded worse than what fans have grown accustomed to. One glaring problem was that the color grading was way off, Madison Rayne had a different skin tone from cut to cut. The hard camera angle was also distractingly shaky throughout the show. All in all, things looked pretty rough.
Swann Wins: Ah, the proud tradition of recently released WWE talent immediately going over TNA talent continues. Who has the potential of being a bigger star in two years: Rich Swann or Trevor Lee? The vast majority of fans would likely pick Lee. We’ve seen what Swann can do in WWE. It was fine. Good wrestler. Bad promo. Goofy dancing gimmick. Impact hasn’t tapped into what has made Lee such a standout on the indy scene and he was chosen to put over the new guy. I don’t get why they can’t have Swann, a former Cruiserweight Champion, come in and do the job in his first match. He could say he didn’t realize how incredible the talent in Impact is and needs to train harder. Then you put over the promotion and let people know we still haven’t seen the best of Swann. But it seems Sydal vs. Swann is something they’re likely going to build to in the next couple months, which means two guys cast off from WWE will be anchoring the division.
PCW Footage: Don Callis and Josh Mathews yelled for OVE to not unmask Pentagon Jr. They pleaded that the stable must be stopped! Um…that footage wasn’t live. They knew it wasn’t live. Why did they pretend it was live? Within their storytelling universe, how are these cutaway portions of matches supposed to be framed? Are we supposed to believe they are going to the PCW shows to commentate them? To make things easier, why don’t they just have the announcers say “check out this sickening footage of PCW sent us of OVE trying to take off Pentagon’s mask?” Then they comment on it while acknowledging it already happened. Also, they made it seem OVE stole Pentagon’s mask, then he showed up later in the night in a pre-taped promo wearing a mask. Guess he has a closet full of them.
Mask vs. Hair: As far as I can recall, Sami Callihan has not once, ever, talked about his hair on Impact television. Therefore, why would I care if he loses it? The stipulation doesn’t even seem to fit his character. If he was a Rick Martel or Jessie Godderz type act, it would be infinitely easier to buy into. This angle also exposes the overall tone mismatch issue Impact has going on at the moment. A couple of weeks ago, Eddie Edwards straight up threatened to murder Callihan in the woods, and then he attempted to do so. Now, Pentagon Jr. is threatening to cut off Callihan’s hair. Big whoop.
GWN Flashback: This week they jumped right into the middle of a King of the Mountain match, one of the the crappiest gimmick matches the company has ever created. The timers on the screen likely confused a good portion of the audience. But hey, they got to show Abyss getting shot in the privates with a staple gun. Take my money GWN Network!
Blanchard Loses: The announcers sure seem foolish now for hyping Tessa Blanchard as a major signing. She lost again to Madison Rayne, which seems pretty absurd. Much like Swann and Lee, Tessa has far more upside than her opponent. Oh well, guess they’ll just have to sign another talented woman from the indy scene, and this time not screw it up.
Commentary Weirdness: Shouldn’t Josh Mathews have been more concerned (or shown any concern) that his wife was being beaten up by six women? They’ve acknowledged that they’re married on-air, so his non-chanlant approach to what he was watching was bizarre. Even if they’re back to pretending the two aren’t living together, the announcers should have still been fearing for the life of Madison, considering Rosemary was apparently burnt to death in a casket. To top it off, Allie chasing off six women was ridiculous and damaged the mystique of Yung. A lousy and weird way to end the night.
Overall Show: Three weeks in a row of mediocre to bad episodes. The ratings have reflected this as Impact has hit year lows for the year. Blame nice weather or other televised competition if you’d like, but the booking is chaotic and nonsensical far too often. The hundred thousand extra people who were watching not long ago seem no longer interested in continuing to watch this mess. 5/10