SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Overall – HIT: Impact Wrestling presented another enjoyable episode. It helps when you have your storylines staggered so you have some angles ending just as others are beginning, while others are at their midpoint. New directions being charted for characters like Rosemary and Suzie/Su Yung, and the new arrivals like Kylie Rae and XXXL are helping to keep things fresh, something I couldn’t say during the Mexico taping episodes. One point of weirdness was the lack of Don Callis on commetary. Instead Josh was joined by Madison Rayne. I did see Callis a few times at ringside with Josh during the episode, so my guess is the commentary was re-recorded due to changes brought about by current events.
Josh Alexander vs. Eddie Edwards – HIT: Josh Alexander and Eddie Edwards are excellent wrestlers in their own right, but put them together, and they can cobble together a good match without even trying. Ethan Page distracts Eddie leading Josh to score a surprise pin on the number one contender to the Impact Championship. Josh and Page then proceed to beat up Eddie after the match, setting up a Tessa Blanchard save. While I’m not too fond of (one of) your number one contenders losing in singles match, it did lead to The North cutting a promo after the match, with an especially fiery Ethan Page challenging Tessa Blanchard to a match later in the show. Later, Eddie looked up Tessa and offered to help her by countering Josh Alexander’s presence as pay back. She refused his help.
Kylie Rae vs. Cassandra Golden – HIT: Kylie Rae makes a triumphant Impact Wrestling return by defeating Cassandra Golden by submission. They made a good choice in picking a larger opponent for Kylie since she is great in the babyface-in-peril position. I’m looking forward to what Kylie can do. Perhaps Rosemary found the reincarnation of her bunny? After the match, Jimmy Jacobs interviewed her, and she announced that she’s signed a long-term contract with Impact.
Steiner Math replay – HIT: Normally I don’t bother mentioning the Impact Plus or Moment of the Week stuff Impact uses to pad out their run time, but… this is the famous (infamous?) Steiner Math promo, and it always brings a bit of warmth to my otherwise cold, dead heart.
Moose vs. Kid Kash- MISS: Moose comes out for an in-ring promo, putting himself over the former TNA legends when Kid Kash interrupts him, leading to a quick impromptu match that Moose wins with his No-Jackhammer-Needed Spear. The more they trot out their TNA also-ran wrestlers to promote the TNA Anniversary show, the more obvious their lack their actual TNA Legends is. When I think TNA I think, AJ Styles, Fallen Angel, Jeff Jarrett, Loki, Amazing Red, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, Raven, Hogan, Jeff & Matt, LAX. Not Kid Kash. When your likely top guy for the special is going to be Chris Harris… well these are talents worthy of respect, but there is no top draw.
XXXL Promo – HIT: A new team debuts in the form of Larry D and Acey Romero, a massive guy and a super massive guy. They cut an old-school kind of promo but were interrupted by TJP and Fallah Bahh giving them a “friendly” welcome while also establishing the tag team pecking order. These two teams gonna fight soon? Sign me up.
Rich Swann satellite interview – HIT: I liked this. I liked it a lot. Jacobs (who is earning that paycheck this week) interviews Rich Swann to get an update on Swann’s recovery from the leg injury he suffered at Bash at the Brewery 2. Unfortunately, Rich said it was not going well and when Jacobs shifted to talking about Willie Mack’s shot at the X Division championship, Ace Austin, the current champ, interrupted. Ace picked up where The North left off, continuing to try and drive a wedge between Mack and Swann. Swann did not take the bait and instead supported his boy in his quest for singles success. There is a knock at the door at Swann’s place, Ace Austin insinuating he sent his goons, Reno Scum to pay Swann a visit. Swann, not believing anyone would stoop so low, answered to prove Ace a liar, but no… you hear Swann get attacked off camera. Later, Mack was seen trying to get at Ace. Ace underlined what a scumbag he is like good heel, you got sympathy for Swann who is a loyal friend to Mack, and a fiery Mack wants to take revenge. Good stuff.
Sami Callihan in-ring promo – HIT: Let’s start with Sami’s entrance. There is fog layered in the entrance ramp completely obscuring Callihan. On the screen, there is a loading bar slowly climbing to 100% at the same time the fog is dissipating. This give the impression that Sami is being rendered in as the loading bar goes up. I don’t know if that was the intent, but it looked awesome. In his promo he blasted “other companies” for using legends to push other talent down but that in Impact, legends need to earn their spot, and admits that Ken Shamrock (which Sami had blinded with a fireball) wouldn’t have it any other way. Shamrock needs to earn his spot by beating Sami, and Sami is coming for Shamrock’s “world’s most dangerous man” moniker. Of course, all this talk about legends can only mean one thing…
Sami Callihan vs. Tommy Dreamer, Old-School Rules (ECW Rules) Match – HIT: Tommy Dreamer is like Candyman, say “legends” five times and he’ll appear. This time is no exception. Tommy interrupts Sami and challenges him to an Old School Rules match. Fine match held back thanks to the frequency we see this kind of match due to all of the former ECW talent that they have on the roster. I like the spot mid-match where instead of a back and forth chop battle, they went back and forth stapling each other with staple guns (Tommy wins the exchange by stapling Sami’s crotch). Sami wins with the Cactus Special Piledriver. After the match, Sami tries to end Tommy when another ECW original, Rhino comes to make a short-lived save. Short-lived due to OVE running out to help Sami. OVE goes to celebrate with Sami, doing their “thumbs up, thumbs down” spot but after doing the “thumbs up” part, Sami hits a button on his hacking tool, plunging the venue into darkness, and having disappeared when the lights came back on. OVE was confused with Madman Fulton raging. Throughout the match, commentary put over the idea that Sami’s continuing relationship with OVE was in question.
Rosemary Skit – PUSH: Seemingly putting behind the memory her “bunny” and how it humanized her, Rosemary apparently is ready to re-embrace her Demon Assassin persona and use mortals for her own needs instead of lowering herself to try and live among them. Is this a heel turn for Rosemary? Time will tell.
Undead Realm Chronicles, The Return of Suzie??? – HIT: It is the return of fan-favorite Suzie (and yes, I am fully aware I may be the only “fan” I’m referencing to when I say fan-favorite). People quickly freak out and leave in panic as Suzie wanders around in the back. Eventually she runs into the Deaners who couldn’t get away in time. Suzie notices their distress and confides that she understands their apprehension. She recognizes that she is also Su Yung and remembers the evils Su Yung has done. However, she prefers being sweet, innocent Suzie since stabbing and murdering people is bad. A petrified Cody Deaner excuses himself since he has a match with “the guy who used to do the dick thing.” I look forward to seeing where they are going with this split persona thing now that both Suzie and Su Yung are aware of each other.
Joseph Ryan vs. Cody Deaner – PUSH: This match is what it needed to be, low to lower mid-card stuff with enough entertaining action to keep you mildly amused while you build Ryan’s new persona. Cody wins with a DDT after getting a bit of help from Cousin Jake on the outside.
Elgin promo – MISS: Elgin is not a great promo and the Eddie Edwards part of the promo retreads the same ground repeatedly trodden upon during the lengthy feud with Edwards. When he pivots to Tessa Blanchard, it is more of the same uninspired monologue. I’d really like to see what an Elgin with a Paul Heyman-esque manager can do. Or maybe even a Gedo.
Tessa Blanchard vs. Ethan Page – HIT: The match is what you’d expect from a confrontation between these two, Ethan Page manhandles Tessa Blanchard for the majority of the match, she turns things around getting a few hope spots in, and he cuts her off with his power advantage. Tessa for her part has the crowd behind her which is easier to accomplish when your opponent is an unlikable, arrogant heel like Page. Eventually, Tessa gets the upper hand and climbs the top rope when Josh Alexander interferes. Eddie Edwards runs out to help her and takes Josh out. Tessa hits Magnum for the win. After the match Eddie retrieves the belt and hands it to Tessa but refuses to relinquish it. Just then, a wild Elgin appears, smashes the belt out of their hands and assaults them both. Tessa and Eddie turn the tide and together rebuff Elgin. Impact isn’t adding new chapters to the Book of Booking here, but it was effective in building up their eventual three-way clash.