SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Overall – HIT: I lieu of the Turkey Trot Invitational Tournament that Impact has cobbled together for the week of Thanksgiving in the United States for the last few years, this year, Impact has instead presented us with a parody episode where, for one night, we are transported to the days of the territory system with an episode of Impact Provincial Wrestling Federation (IPWF). Creating a good parody is hard. It requires a healthy respect and deep understanding for your target, or else parody becomes ridicule. My concern going into this episode was whether Impact creative was deft enough to handle this task. I’m happy to say that despite a handful of missteps where some segments fell flat, they largely succeeded.
The wrestlers were great in their new roles and we get to see new facets of their personality. This was not a high work rate presentation, instead relying on storytelling in the ring. They performed forgotten, seldom used, maneuvers like the nerve hold and the back rake. Even the ring, with a stain on the canvas and squeaking with every bump, was its own character. Bringing it all together was the ridiculous commentary by Sexton Hardcastle (Don Callis) and son of the promoter, Guiseppe Scovelli Jr. (Josh Mathews).
And there were zero dives to the outside. Zero.
Rip Rayzor (Ace Austin) vs. Rapid Delivery Pete (Rich Swann) – HIT: Before the first match begins, Ring announcer Doug Stevenson named all the officials involved in the event, the timekeeper, the physician, the referees, the sanctioning body, etc. This was a wonderful touch and gave the event an air of authenticity. Rip Razor comes to the ring smoking a cigarette dressed in the “punk” style replete with spiked collar. Pete, a pizza delivery boy, comes to the ring with three pizzas and a skateboard. This pretty much sets the tone for the ridiculousness we would be treated to (subjected to?) for the rest of the show. There was a neat spot where Pete tries to apply a headlock but couldn’t because of Rip’s spiked collar. Pete wins with the Special Delivery Splash. Rich was really into his role and the crowd was chanting for Pete.
Xcessive Force and Plunder & Pummel (Falah Bahh & D-Lo Brown) vs. The Hard Workers and Oats & Hall (Cody Deaner & Cousin Jake) – MISS: Before the match, Xcessive Force was interviewed by The Iceman. They cut a vintage big-man style promo (think Road Warriors) that was a bit of fun. The Hard Workers for their part, had a music video made by what, I can only imagine, was a drug addled mind. There is a “boring” nerve hold in the middle of the match that had me smiling nostalgically. The match ends with Pummel getting pinned by a sunset flip. Afterwards Xcessive Force, angry at their loss, assaults the Hard Workers and destroy the top hats the Hard Workers came into the ring with. I think Cody over-acted a bit too much pushing the segment a little past “parody” and into “ridicule” territory.
Buck Gunderson vs. Johnny Swinger – HIT: The Johnny Swinger character in present day Impact Wrestling is a throwback to the days of wrestling yore, so it makes perfect sense that the same Johnny Swinger character in the era of IPWF, is an innovator of offence, pushing the boundaries of wrestling. This is a squash match, but the commentators did a good job of selling the story of Swinger. Swinger wins with the Swinger Neckbreaker.
Jazzy Fitbody (Madison Rayne) vs Agnes Beerhart – HIT: Jazzy Fitbody comes straight out of a Jazzercise video. Sebastian Baker, the Hitmaker (Jimmy Jacobs) comes out, wanting Jazzy to sign a contract with him. Jazzy beats Agnes with a second rope splash that looked (intentionally) horrible. Afterwards, Jazzy signs the contract despite the crowd shouting “no”. However, once the two shake hands, Jazzy punts Sebastian in the dangly bits and tears up the contract. The thing I most like about Madison Rayne is how she goes all-in on any character she is asked to play.
Tim Burr (Josh Alexander) & Jim Nasium (Dezmond Xavier) & Bill Ding (Trey Miguel) & Ray Strack (Zachary Wentz) vs. The Rough Riders, Georgia Cobb (Jordynne Grace) & Mildred Moore (Alexia Nicole) & Lady Bird Johnston (Jessicka Havok) & Blanche Ardmore (Tessa Blanchard) – HIT: Before the match each member of the men’s team cut individual promos informed by their professions. They are Tim Burr, the lumberjack, Jim Nasium the P.E. teacher, Bill Ding the evil architect, a Ray Strack the race car driver, just in case you weren’t up to date on your dad-joke puns. Of these, Zachary Wentz as Ray was especially endearing. The Rough Riders, a parody of the Four Horsemen, did their promo as a group. It was a hilarious spoof of Four Horsemen promos replete with sexual innuendos including an offer to visit the “Tunnel of Love” (as opposed to “Space Mountain”). The match ends with Blanche inventing the DDT and delivering it to Ray Strack. Everyone involved did a great job and these were my favorite segments of the show.
Kongo Kong $3000 Body Slam Challenge – HIT: It was nice to see Kongo Kong on Impact again. The $300,000 Man offers prize money to the first man to slam Kongo Kong. The first taker, Mr. Atlantis fails but then Muscles McGhee (Brian Cage) hits the ring, a scuffle ensues, and he successfully slams Kong. More cool nostalgia to wallow in.
Frank the Butcher (Rhino) and Tommy Dreamer promos – MISS: What is supposed to be a promo introducing “Frank the Butcher” to the territory was instead a mess. Rhino missed the “parody” window and instead landed smack dab into “stupid” territory. Too, much from Rhino in this one. Later Tommy Dreamer does the same.
***WARNING*** Captain Joystick (Joey Ryan) sighting ***WARNING***
“The Cockpit” interview segment – HIT: We are first treated to footage from a match between Captain Joystick and DJ 2 Large (Moose). The Captain, with his stewardess Ms. Mile High (Kiera Hogan) at his side, talks to DJ until the interview flies off the rails leading to some fisticuffs between the two. I love how the Captain Joystick character is supposed to be a classy figure while Joey Ryan is quite…not.
*** END OF WARNING ***
Gama Singh (yes THAT Gama Singh) vs. “Cowboy” Colt McCoy (Eddie Edwards), Blindfold Match – HIT: After Dada and Gama Singh blinded Colt with a fireball a month ago, management ordered a blindfold match between Gama and Colt. Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel is a match I remember fondly so I enjoyed this. The crowd was into the match, trying to help Colt find Gama. Despite multiple attempts at cheating by Gama and Dada, Colt wins with a neckbreaker. After the match, Bruiser and Sergei (Michael Elgin and Madman Fulton), the Soviets, attack Colt. The owner of the promotion, Giuseppe Scovelli (Scott D’Amore) runs in to make the save but is also taken out. The best moment of the segment was Sexton going absolutely apoplectic at the sight of Colt being covered by the Soviet flag. After the break Giuseppe goes ballistic and says he is coming out of retirement to wrestle one last time in a match with Colt against the Soviets next week. In a total non sequitur, he then gave the crowd a 50% discount on popcorn and hotdogs for the rest of the night.
Downtown Daddy Brown (Willie Mack) vs. Julian Cumberbun (Ethan Page) – HIT: Julian is the International Commonwealth Television Champion and is managed by Sonny Sanders who is parody of Jim Cornette (complete with tennis racket) and is portrayed by Sami Callihan. If the wrestling thing doesn’t work out for Sami, he has a future as a manager. Julian and Sonny cut an entertaining promo at the start of the show which ended with Julian having his pants ripped off in a brawl with Downtown. At one point in the match proper, Julian tries to hide by sitting with the crowd, stealing an audience member’s beanie, and pretending to be a fan leading a Downtown chant. It didn’t work. Downtown overcomes Julian and Sonny shenanigans and wins the championship when he rolls up Julian for the win. The locker room empties, and the wrestlers carry Downtown on their shoulders celebrating the win. I can not wait to see what the new era with Downtown Daddy Brown as champ has in store for us starting next week.