In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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•Overall – HIT: With a big angle to close the show, and not much I disliked, this is one of the better recent episodes. Throughout the show they built up the situation with the ICU Hacker (including a cameo from Brian Cage’s brother), culminating the “surprising” reveal of the culprit. Some good matches, the debut of Chris Bey, a new gimmick and tag team, and an invitation from Father James Mitchell to Su Yung to have a match with Havok in the Undead Realm next week, are all highlights for me. But if you watch one thing, watch the Real Housewives of Slam Town. For better or worse… it will change your life.
•TJP & Fallah Bahh vs. The North – Impact Tag Team Championship Match – HIT: Ethan Page and Josh Alexander successfully defend their titles against the team of TJP and Fallah Bahh in an excellent match. TJP goes out there and gives his all every match he’s been in since showing up on Impact, proving just how badly the WWE misuses some of their talent. At one point in the match, TJP has Page locked in a submission and gets Page to tap, but the referee had been knocked down. Page and Alexander win with their finisher, that may FINALLY have a name, as Don Callis called it the Northern Assault.
•The Real Housewives of Slam Town – WTF: The Undead Realm crosses over with a Real Housewives of… parody in a skit that will either A: Leave you on the floor, roaring with laughter at the complete insanity of it all or, 2: Have your eyes rolling back so hard you detach your retinas at the complete insanity of it all. The “My brain tingles,” line nearly killed me, but as usual when Rosemary is involved, your mileage may vary.
•Chris Bey vs. Damien Drake – HIT: Finally, the much-hyped Chris Bey arrives to Impact Wrestling to show what he’s got in an enhancement match. Having no previous experience with Bey, I was curious to see what he’s got going forward. I’d like to see him eventually tangle with the likes of Rich Swann, TJP, Ace Austin, and Dezmond Xavier, just to name a few, based on what I saw in this match. Bey wins with the Famouser.
•Chase Stevens interview – MISS: Chase Stevens is interviewed backstage to promote the TNA show, when Moose confronts him, putting down the whole idea. Eventually it gets physical and the two get into a brawl. I watched TNA from the very first PPV, and I barely remember Chase Stevens, he made that much of an impact on me.
•Tessa Blanchard sit down interview – HIT: This is your basic, run of the mill, character reset moment where Tessa reminds the audience who she is, what she’s overcome, and what is coming next. It’s a fine performance from her, and got the job done.
•Joey Ryan (now Joseph P. Ryan) & RVD vs. The Deaners – SRLSY WTF: RVD, Joey Ryan, and Katie Forbes come to the ring, Joey Ryan dressed like a librarian (not the AEW one), and Katie covering herself up in a coat. Joey says that their team will now be called Cancel Culture and they are done pleasing the fans, meaning, no more “dick flips”. RVD got the mic and says that he is upset he has to wrestle two guys under the influence. This got the crowd chanting “How high are you?” The match itself is fine but ultimately unimportant, only serving to introduce this new gimmick. RVD wins with the Five-Star Frog-Splash.
•Ace Austin and Willie Mack Backstage – HIT: Ace proposes and alliance with Willie to go after the tag team championships. Willie refuses since Rich Swann is his partner so Ace appeals to Willie’s desire for gold. Willie lets him know that he does have an opportunity at gold, Ace’s gold, since he is in a scramble match next week to determine the number one contender for the X Division championship
•Kiera Hogan vs. Lacey Ryan – PUSH: Newcomer Lacey Ryan tries to defend her honor after some slights from Kiera Hogan a few weeks ago but is unsuccessful, losing to Kiera. The beginning of the match looked messy, as if these two were on different pages put it picked up as the match went on. Kiera gets a needed win if they plan on building her up to something.
•Jake Crist vs. Daga – HIT: Finally, a Daga match where I “noticed” him. Jake and Daga put together a good match and Daga showed some neat power moves, showing he has access to a larger stylistic repertoire than I’ve seen from him. He dropped some expletives in Spanish during the match so maybe he was feeling freer and at-home. More of this Daga please. Daga wins with his finisher that commentary refuses to name.
•Ken Shamrock Career Announcement – HIT: Throughout the show Impact teased that Ken Shamrock has a special career announcement to make. I’m not sure why they promoted it that way since he wasn’t “announcing” anything, he was invited by Impact management. Josh Mathews meets Shamrock in the ring and surprises him with the announcement that he would be inducted into the Impact Wrestling Hall of Fame. They aired a career retrospective but as it was coming to a close, the ICU Hacker took control of the feed. When they cut back to the ring, the lights go out and when they return, there is a disguised individual in the ring who fireballs Ken Shamrock in the face. He unmasks revealing himself to be, Sami Callihan doing his best Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs impression. He’s shuts off the lights and disappears again leaving the show to go off the air in the midst of disarray. Effective return for Sami, he continues to be a threat and the ICU Hacker mystery finally stand exposed.