WADE KELLER PODCAST - EARLY PREVIEW OF ROYAL RUMBLE 2020 MEN'S MATCH, PLUS 2019 AND 2010 LOOK-BACK ROUNDTABLES
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IMPACT HARD TO KILL PPV REPORT
JANUARY 12, 2020
DALLAS, TEXAS AT THE BOMB FACTORY
AIRED LIVE ON PPV
REPORT BY GREG PARKS, PWTORCH COLUMNIST
Announcers: Josh Mathews, Don Callis
-A video package opened the show, focusing on the Sami Callihan-Tessa Blanchard feud over the Impact World Title. Included in the package were comments from Magnum T.A. and Tessa’s mother.
-In the arena, the show went immediately to the opening contest.
(1) KEN SHAMROCK vs. MADMAN FULTON
The Crist Brothers accompanied Fulton to the ring. Shamrock peppered Fulton with kicks early on. Fulton, who looks like he has really slimmed down since his NXT days, tried to avoid Shamrock’s submission attempts. Fulton hooked in an arm-bar on Shamrock while in the ropes. Shamrock dove over the top rope but Fulton caught him; Shamrock ended up giving him a released German throw. Both Jake and Dave Crist were knocked down by Shamrock, and referee Mike Posey ejected them from ringside. Fulton continued to work on Shamrock’s arm.
After a chokeslam, Shamrock dodged a second one and “popped” Fulton’s shoulder out of place. The ref tried to stop the match but Fulton, arm hanging at his side, wanted to continue. Fulton tried a one-armed powerbomb, on which he didn’t get much height. Shamrock went after Fulton’s shoulder again. Fulton seemed to tap out with his head, having no hand available to do so.
WINNER: Shamrock, at 9:19.
(Parks’s Analysis: Shamrock was a fun return at Bound for Glory against Moose, but even in that match, it was evident he had little left in the tank. He did nothing in this match to make me rethink that analysis.)
-On-camera, the announcers discussed the rest of tonight’s card. They showed both Tessa Blanchard and Sami Callihan arriving at the building separately earlier in the day. Plus, they showed a clip of Rich Swann injuring his ankle on Friday night, putting his status for tonight in jeopardy.
-A recap aired of the Ace Austin-Trey Miguel feud.
(2) TREY MIGUEL vs. ACE AUSTIN – X Division Championship Match
Miguel was aggressive at the start, aggrieved about Austin fawning over his mother. Austin awkwardly avoided a Miguel dive outside the ring in a sequence that looked like it was occurring in slow motion. Miguel did end up moonsaulting onto Austin from the second turnbuckle. Back in the ring, Miguel continued the offense. Austin eventually knocked Miguel out of the ring and connected on a space flying tiger drop. The two exchanged blows outside the ring. Austin chopped Miguel right in front of Miguel’s mom in the front row.
Once again in the ring, Miguel appeared to miss some sort of Pele kick where once again they didn’t seem on the same page. Miguel tried to gain an advantage, but a chop block by Austin halted that momentum. Wheel kick in the corner by Austin. Bang-O-Rama got him a near fall. He then went back to work on the knee. Miguel got back into it at the 9:00 mark. Dragon sleeper applied by Miguel, but Austin escaped. Austin put Miguel on the top rope, but Miguel broke free to hit a Cheeky Nandos kick. Austin crotched Miguel though. Austin then hit the Fold for the victory.
WINNER: Austin, at 12:54.
(Parks’s Analysis: I’ve seen better from both men, but the athleticism was a welcome sight after the opener. Both men are entertaining in their own ways, with Austin cast well as a heel and Miguel showing aptitude as a babyface as part of The Rascalz.)
After the match, Austin tried to hit on Miguel’s mom so Miguel attacked. The two brawled until referees, The Rascalz, and Reno Scum came out to quell the situation.
-Gaby Loren interviewed ODB backstage. ODB plugged her new food truck coming in April and talked briefly about her upcoming match. A video package then aired on ODB’s success since her return to Impact.
(3) JORDYNNE GRACE vs. ODB vs. TAYA VALKYRIE – Triple-Threat Match for the Knockouts Championship
ODB cleaned house as fans chanted “food truck.” Valkyrie let ODB and Grace fight it out but picked her spot to dropkick ODB off the apron. Powerslam by Grace on Valkyrie. They had a nice sequence there. Grace then dove through the ropes onto Taya. ODB stopped Grace from capitalizing back in the ring. Taya worked over ODB as Callis compared Taya to Nick Bockwinkel. Grace got back in the mix but Taya didn’t allow her to get untracked. She even bit Grace’s wrist.
Grace lifted Taya onto her shoulder and ODB bulldogged her down off the second rope. The match reset at about 6:45 of the bout. Taya kicked out of a Grace spinebuster for a near-fall. All three women broke up each other’s pins and submissions. Grace landed on ODB with a back splash, but Taya broke up the pin attempt. ODB hit something resembling a TKO on Valkyrie, but Grace splashed ODB off the second rope to break up the pin. Grace Driver on ODB but Johnny Bravo, Taya’s second, got on the apron to distract the ref. Taya then stole the cover and the pin while Bravo pulled Grace out of the ring.
WINNER: Valkyrie, at 11:34.
(Parks’s Analysis: I liked this match. I think it would’ve been fine as Grace vs. Valkyrie, but the fans love ODB and it’s nice of Impact to give her a few paydays given the situation with her food truck. They also managed to work the Triple Threat gimmick well, avoiding some of the pitfalls that come with such a match.)
-RVD and Katie Forbes were to be interviewed backstage, but they were busy making out. Forbes took the mic and “interviewed” RVD. He talked about what he’d do after he beat Brian Cage, then made a double entendre about rolling a video package.
(4) ROB VAN DAM vs. BRIAN CAGE
Forbes came to the ring with Van Dam. Another woman in the front row, dressed in the same outfit as RVD and Forbes, distracted Cage and allowed RVD to attack before the bell. Callis referred to the woman as RVD’s “girlfriend’s girlfriend.” RVD came off the top rope and kicked Cage, with the ref checking on Cage. Mathews said Cage suffered a shoulder injury last night, though not bad enough to keep him out of competition. The bell still had not rung to start the match even as both men seemed ready to go in the ring.
Cage, favoring his shoulder, grabbed a chair that Forbes slid into the ring. RVD kicked it into Cage’s face. Cage was bleeding from the mouth. Forbes entered the ring and held the chair in front of Cage’s face. The announcers talked about this match as if it was underway. Van Terminator connected. Van Dam went for the cover but the ref said Cage is hurt and the match apparently had not begun. Daga entered the ring and stood between RVD and Cage while refs helped Cage out of the ring. Daga turned his back on RVD, so Van Dam attacked. And now we have a bell.
WINNER: No match.
(4) ROB VAN DAM vs. DAGA
Spinning heel kick in the corner by RVD. Daga kicked away at RVD, eventually sending him to ringside. Springboard splash by Daga on RVD outside the ring. Van Dam was slow to his feet inside the ring, then was mysteriously on the mat and Daga came off the top with…something landing next to RVD. That was odd. The announcers sold it as if Daga had missed though it didn’t appear RVD moved. Forbes grabbed Daga’s ankle to allow RVD to take over. Five-Star frog splash by RVD to pick up the win.
WINNER: RVD, at 4:10.
(Parks’s Analysis: Not much to this one. Looking at RVD and Daga is like looking into the past and the future. Van Dam as a heel was a risky proposition, but Impact and Van Dam seems to have pulled it off well.)
RVD’s girlfriend’s girlfriend, apparently named “Jennifer,” celebrated with them in the ring, and quite provocatively I might add.
-Gaby Loren tried to get a word with Sami Callihan backstage, but Jake Crist wouldn’t allow it. He kept insisting that Callihan was “fine” however.
-A video package on the Eddie Edwards-Michael Elgin feud aired.
(5) MICHAEL ELGIN vs. EDDIE EDWARDS – Call Your Shot Trophy Match
Elgin and Edwards fought the bulk of the opening minutes at ringside. Elgin flipped Edwards off the apron and onto the concrete beneath the protective ringside padding. First cover inside the ring for two by Elgin. Edwards took momentum from Elgin but in suplexing Elgin outside the ring, Elgin held on and brought Edwards out with him. Tope by Edwards onto Elgin. With Elgin seated on the top rope, Edwards kicked away. He nailed the backpack stunner and got a two count at 9:27 of the match.
Blue Thunder Bomb by Edwards for another near fall. Elgin fired back with corner clotheslines. Elgin shrugged off a rolling German suplex and continued to work Eddie over. Mid-ring, Edwards and Elgin exchanged forearms, with Elgin’s shot causing Edwards to crumble to the mat. Another exchange, same result. Edwards was able to fire back with chops and a Tiger Driver for two. “This is awesome” chants. Elgin kicked Edwards down.
Elgin German suplexed Edwards off the top rope, with Edwards doing a full mid-air flip, and a cover by Elgin only registered a two-count. Clothesline turned Edwards inside-out. Powerbomb only for two. Edwards went after the knee of Elgin, which had a brace on it. Edwards still couldn’t hit the Boston Knee Party. Cross-face applied by Elgin. Edwards reached the bottom rope. Another hard clothesline by Elgin. Buckle bomb by Elgin, but on the Elgin Bomb attempt, Edwards slid out the back and rolled Elgin up for three.
WINNER: Edwards, at 19:53.
(Parks’s Analysis: Hard-hitting, at times intense, match. Easily the match of the night thus far. If I had one complaint, it’s that the men were selling fatigue too early in the match as if it had been a long, draining brawl up to that point.)
-Rhino cut a promo backstage for his match tonight.
-A video package on the Moose-Rhino feud aired, focusing on the Gore vs. Spear aspect.
(6) MOOSE vs. RHINO – No-Disqualification Match
Moose’s outfit was an ode to “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Moose speared Rhino about 20 seconds in, but Rhino rolled out of the ring. Moose grabbed a chair and hit Rhino in the back with it. Moose bit Rhino to sustain the advantage, but Rhino back dropped a charging Moose on the ramp. Rhino wielded the chair next, poking it into Moose’s ribs and hitting him in the back. Moose pulled a table from under the ring and set it up at ringside.
Rhino used the table, picking Moose up and powerbombing him through it. Rhino went under the ring to collect more chairs and a garbage can lid. Callis suggested Moose could use a manager. Moose went to the top and landed an elbowdrop, continuing the homage to Savage. But it only got him a two-count. Rhino hit a superplex of Moose onto a pile of chairs, again only for two. Rhino set up a table in the corner, wanting to Gore Moose through it. Moose countered with a boot.
Moose kicked out of a running clothesline from Rhino. Rhino went for another Gore through the table, but Moose pulled the ref in front. Moose and the ref both went through the table. Rhino went for the pin and another ref came out, but it was only good for two. A low blow by Moose led to a Spear for the win.
WINNER: Moose, at 12:26.
(Parks’s Analysis: Fine for the hardcore portion of this show. Rhino was decent here, but you have to wonder about Impact giving guys like RVD, Rhino, and Shamrock spots on a major PPV over some of the younger talent they could be spotlighting. It doesn’t seem as if those guys are really difference-makers when it comes to even having “recognizable” names draw the company an audience on TV. I guess if they’re using those wrestlers mostly to put over others, it’s a fine use of them.)
-A video package aired hyping the next, tag team, match.
-Backstage, Rich Swann on crutches was desperately trying to convince the doctor to at least let him go to ringside to support Willie Mack. The doctor wouldn’t allow it. Mack said he’d do it himself.
(7) WILLIE MACK vs. THE NORTH – IMPACT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Good to see Ethan Page out there after battling salmonella earlier in the day. The North attacked Mack two-on-one very early in the contest. Mack was able to fight back from that, dropping a knee across the throat of Josh Alexander. Swann was shown watching on a monitor backstage. Presumably he was watching this match, though we’ll never know because he was watching the TV at a normal angle and the camera was positioned behind the TV to get his reaction.
Mack positioned Alexander and Page in opposite corners, running roughshod over them with clotheslines. Samoan drop by Mack then a nip-up. He tried a standing moonsault, but Page pulled Alexander out of the way. Mack hit Alexander with a spinebuster but on a pin try, Page broke it up. Mack stayed on the offensive. Page grabbed Mack’s foot as Willie went to the top. That was enough to disrupt his momentum. Double-team face-plant on Mack but he kicked out at two.
With Alexander on Page’s shoulders, Mack came off the top with a Canadian Destroyer. Mack dove onto Page outside the ring then went to the top rope for a Six-Star frog splash on Alexander. Page pulled the ref out of the ring at the count of two. Mack didn’t want a disqualification. A DQ though would probably allow Mack and Rich Swann to get another shot at the tag titles, perhaps at a time when Swann would be healthy. Double-team slam maneuver on Mack by The North for the win.
WINNERS: The North, at 10:34.
(Parks’s Analysis; The announcers did a nice job telling the story of Mack facing long odds in this one and analyzing the match from that standpoint. The North came off as really effective heels in the two-on-one situation as well. We’re bordering on too many matches with referee shenanigans, however.)
-An ad was shown for the next PPV, at Terminal 5 in New York City, Rebellion, in April.
-The Tessa vs. Sami feud was chronicled with a video package.
(8) TESSA BLANCHARD vs. SAMI CALLIHAN – IMPACT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Formal ring introductions took place for this match, the only title match on the show to receive that privilege. Callihan attacked before his ring intro was finished. He piledrove Blanchard, but Blanchard kicked out at two. Blanchard bit Callihan to break free of him. She came off the top rope and hit Magnum for two. Both finishers were hit less than a minute into the match. Blanchard dropkicked Callihan off the apron then dove onto him three times; the third time Callihan caught her, with Blanchard countering into a hurricanrana.
She went to the top and somersaulted onto Callihan. Callihan though assaulted Blanchard at ringside. Blanchard checked on her knee as she hobbled back into the ring. Callihan wrapped Blanchard’s knee around the ring post. Despite her weekend on social media, the crowd was fully behind Blanchard here. Tessa tried to fight back but delivered a stunner for two. Callihan stepped on and over Tessa. Blanchard tried to make a comeback but her shots didn’t seem to have an effect on Callihan.
Tessa dove onto Callihan at ringside, but Callihan caught her and powerbombed her through a table. Somehow, Blanchard, beat the ten-count back into the ring. The concrete floor was exposed by Callihan. The two exchanged blows on the apron. Callihan gouged at Blanchard’s eyes, so she returned the favor. Blanchard connected on Magnum on the apron. Blanchard sold more knee pain while Callihan stirred at ringside. At the count of nine, both reentered the ring (though Blanchard looked to be a beat late).
In mid-ring, the two challenged each other to give their best shots. Callihan delivered chops but Blanchard kept coming back for more. He kicked her knee, though she was able to land a Samoan drop. Callihan kicked out of another Magnum. Tessa got a very near fall on a cutter at the 17:30 mark. Callihan surprised with a sit-out powerbomb for two, floating over into a stretch muffler. He continued working submissions focusing on the knee. Callihan took the World Title from the corner, but the ref took it away.
Callihan applied brass knuckles while the ref’s back was turned, but Blanchard countered with a low blow. Tessa climbed to the top and hit a fourth Magnum of the match, only for Callihan to kick out. Callihan broke free of a submission and piledrove Blanchard for two. After a back-and-forth, Tessa hit a Canadian Destroyer, and a second one. Buzzsaw DDT and Blanchard won the title.
WINNER: Blanchard, at 23:50.
(Parks’s Analysis: Had the epic feel of the culmination of an intense, long-term feud, of which Blanchard vs. Callihan certainly was. This felt like the right time to put the title on Blanchard. The fact that Blanchard, a woman, is holding a major company’s top title is newsworthy in and of itself. If you’re going to do that, Blanchard is a great choice for that mantle.)
They barely showed Blanchard celebrating before cutting out with eight minutes left until the top of the hour. Felt like they could’ve gotten a few more minutes out of that, especially given the historic nature of the win.