PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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Overall – HIT: Despite what I thought was a poor start to the show with the RVD/Rhino match, and the first pretty big MISS in the Tessa Blanchard story, I like the overall show. My favorite segment is the Wrestler’s Court segment that is sure to be divisive, with some people liking the irreverent comedy, and others waging a war against fun. Sorry, I mean disliking the frivolity of the segment. Impact also sowed the seeds of new possible feuds between Brian Cage and RVD, and between Madman Fulton and Ken Shamrock. There was a lot happening this episode, so much that I was worried their PPV, Hard to Kill was this week and Impact was in a hurry to set up the card. There was that much to unpack.
Rob Van Dam vs. Rhino with Tommy Dreamer as guest referee – MISS: A boring match to open the show despite it being an “old-school” rules match (how many ways do we need to call a no-disqualification match anyway). I still question why this feud is even a thing since it doesn’t really elevate anyone. The highlight of the match happens after Rhino retrieves a table from underneath the ring. A kid in the audience yells to set the table on fire. Rhino turns to the audience, points in the kid’s direction and yells, “That’s how you raise a kid.” The kid also throws out few great bon mots throughout the match. RVD beats Rhino with a five-star frog-splash following some interference from Katie Forbes. Afterwards, Dreamer seems to criticize RVD before raising RVD’s arm in victory. RVD offers Dreamer his hand, Dreamer accepts, then RVD superkicks him.
Sami Callihan and OVE taped promo – HIT: Sami produced an intense promo where he touches upon all OVE related matches coming up, Madman Fulton vs. Tessa Blanchard, Dave and Jake Crist in the Tag Team Open, and Sami vs. Ken Shamrock. Sami’s intensity was on full display here and he is solidly Impact’s top heel.
Moose vs. Acey Romero – HIT: If the idea of seeing two bull elephants smash into each other, while occasionally uncorking a suicide dive or jumping off the top rope is appealing to you, then do I have a match for you. Impact Wrestling newcomer, and super heavyweight, Acey Romero looks impressive despite losing to the more established Moose by way of No Jackhammer Needed Spear. This is a good example of a match that gets both guys over, Moose with the victory, and Acey with his performance. The match justifiably earned an “Impact Wrestling” chant from the fans. It also felt like the two held back so hopefully we will get more with maybe an angle attached.
Raj Singh vs. Fallah Bahh – HIT: This was a fine match with pleasing action. Fallah succeeds in getting a measure of revenge against the Desi Hit Squad, overcoming interference from Rohit Raju and Gama Singh to win the match. Rohit attacks Fallah after the match and Raj joins in soon after. A (conspicuous by his absence) TJP makes his return, hitting the ring to make the save. Looks like we’re heading for a TJP and Fallah Bahh vs. Desi Hit Squad match. This is fine, though eventually TJP will turn on Fallah. When, is the question.
Wrestler’s Court starring Joey Ryan, Johnny Swinger, and Tommy Dreamer with guest cameos – HIT: When Joey Ryan is the voice of reason, things have gone awry. Due to Joey’s perceived betrayal of Johnny Swinger last week, Swinger has called Joey to stand before Wrestler’s Court, a parody of a court show, presided over by Tommy Dreamer. This skit is chock full of inside references to the business aspects of wrestling, call backs to the Brian Cage and Melissa Santos wedding, references to outside stories, self-deprecating humor (from the company and wrestlers), and more. Joey is a great straight man and everyone’s comedic timing was spot on. My favorite moment came when Dreamer mistook Kiera Hogan for Hulk Hogan’s daughter. The more into the wrestling scene you are (by following podcasts, news sites, wrestling history, etc.) the more you can get out of the skit. While this kind of skit in a wrestling show is not for everyone, I was laughing so hard I had to pause several times to wipe away the tears. Spoiler, the case goes against Joey and his punishment is wrestling Acey Romero next week.
Tag Team Open: The Rascalz & Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz vs. OVW & Jake & Dave Crist vs. Reno Scum, Adam Thornstowe & Luster the Legend vs. Rich Swann & Willie Mack – HIT: The team that wins gets a shot at the tag team titles at the Hard to Kill PPV. The match hass all you expect from a four-way Texas Tornado style tag match. There is lots of chaos with some impressive hard-hitting spots (Luster crucifix-powerbombing Rich into Dave Crist who was hanging upside-down in the corner is especially brutal-looking). The match is intended to get Rich Swann over as the man who can face impossible odds when Wille Mack is taken out of the match with a knee injury. Good selling of the knee as Impact had me wondering if it was a legit injury until it became obvious it was part of the storyline for the match. An out numbered Swann wins with a victory roll on Dave Crist. As Rich celebrates, we see The North looking on and Josh Alexander gets ready to go down to face Swann. Ethan Page holds him back, telling Josh to stick to Ethan’s plan. I’m interested to see where this goes.
Jimmy Jacobs interviews Brian Cage backstage – HIT: Cage gives an open honest interview, coming to terms with his recent failures, and discussing what comes next. He is putting over the roster, naming people he’d like to face, when the interview is interrupted by RVD and Katie Forbes making out. After getting called out, RVD apologizes and leaves, but not before taking shots at Cage by saying he lost to “a girl”. The interview part of the segment was good. Cage seems better in an open and frank conversation that cutting a promo. I’d like to see more interview style segment like this one with him in it.
Tessa Blanchard vs. Madman Fulton – MISS: My first thought when I saw this match was booked was how they were going to get out of it. Answer: Disqualification. The Crists show up and attack Tessa mismatch and the referee calls off the match. They beat on her for a bit until Ken Shamrock comes in for the save. Unfortunately, the shear difference in mass between Tessa and Fulton is too vast so almost all of Tessa’s offense came across as ineffective, even the offense Fulton sold. I can suspend my disbelief to a certain point, but Tessa vs. Fulton is too much.
Ken Shamrock vs. Sami Callihan – HIT: Picking up where the last match ended, Shamrock had cleared the ring of the Crists and Fulton, when Sami Callihan comes out and prevents Fulton from going after Shamrock, sending Fulton to the back. I am still not totally sure what to make of this version of Ken Shamrock. He looks good while striking but his wrestling has been rough. He played the role of the juggernaut this match, which I think suited him, no-selling most of Sami’s strikes and countering with tremendous force. The referee gets knocked out and Fulton reappears and knocks out Shamrock. The ref recovers to the sight of Sami applying the ankle lock on an unconscious Shamrock and gives Sami the win. Fine match but we finally get some character development for Fulton when after the bell he continues to go after a recovering Shamrock, going so far as to push Sami away when he tries to rein the crazed Fulton in.