IMPACT HITS & MISSES 6/2: Ace Austin vs. Zachary Wentz, Joseph Ryan vs. Crazy Steve, Rohit Raju vs. Chase Stevens, Rae & “Suzie: vs. Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz

By Javier Machado, PWTorch contributor

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Ultimate impact – HIT: The main event threatened to bring down my enjoyment of the whole episode, five weeks of investment tossed aside for a nonsensical final tournament match, compounded by similar shenanigans over on WWE Smackdown with their tournament. Still, the rest of the work of the supporting cast for this episode and even the in-ring action and character work by the players in the main event salvaged the whole thing. The North was missed but having Jordynne Grace and Taya Valkyrie back in the fold is welcome and I can’t wait for the women’s division to get going full throttle with a full cast.

Kylie Rae & “Suzie” vs. Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz – HIT: “YES! Gods damn it! Why don’t you! PLEASE!” is what I yelled at my monitor as I watched this otherwise fun match. More on why in a moment. Stemming from a run-in last week where Kiera and Tasha beat up Kylie and Suzie, Suzie wins a moral victory when she recovers Kylie’s bow that was stolen by the duplicitous duo. Unfortunately for Kylie, “actual” victory eluded her grasp when Kiera beat her. As to my outburst? These four women have a good verbal back and forth going throughout the whole match, a fact Josh Mathews pointed out yet made sure to plow on over yelling over everything. A few minutes into the match, Josh has the temerity to say that they were still going at it and that he and Madison can probably “lay out” and let the wrestlers carry the match with their banter. Seriously Josh, why don’t you. 

Ace Austin backstage interview – HIT: Ace Austin gives an interview to promote the finals of the number one contender tournament, playing his character perfectly as he sizes up Gabby Loren as if she were a piece of meat. He is such a scumbag. Not to be outdone in scumbaggery, Moose interrupts to promote the TNA Heavyweight Championship as the “superior” Impact championship, and as subtly as a moose in a pool, he insinuates that the winner should be challenging him instead. Ace seems to consider the idea.

Joseph P. Ryan vs. Crazzy Steve – HIT: This is a fine match, mainly serving to get Ryan over as he wins thank to interference from the Crists who were at ringside by his invitation. After the match, Ryan offers an invite to join Cancel Culture, but he mainly directs it at Jake. Needing a leader, Jake accepts but Ryan demands a “signal of his virtue”. Jake and Dave both understood what that meant, Jake steeling himself and Dave begging Jake to reconsider. But, alas, with a knock-out kick, the remnants OVE is no more. 

Rohit Raju vs. Chase Stevens – HIT: You go get that spotlight Rohit. It belongs to you. Degraded for years you have the opportunity to be a player. Forget the spotlight, aim for the sun. I’m invested in the character of Rohit Raju, I like the fire he shows in his promos and while in front of a camera, but maybe tone it down one notch in the ring since its bordering a bit on the cartoonish side. Hopefully, Rohit’s victory over Stevens with the double stomp to the back, means he’s rebounded and on the upswing. Unfortunately for Rohit, that bastard Rhino gored him with no provocation! The nerve. Rhino better have a good excuse next week else I’m throwing away his toy… erm, action figure.

Havok and Nevaeh backstage interview – MISS: Looks like Nevaeh is taking over as Havok’s mouthpiece now that Father James Mitchell (R.I.P.) is out of the picture. I did not find Nevaeh particularly convincing here but its early days yet and I’m willing to follow along for now.

Locker Room Talk featuring Chris Bey – PUSH: I was excited for this segment to see what Chris Bey can do in a longer-form speaking role. Johnny Swinger stayed true to his overbearing self however and wouldn’t let Bey get a word in edgewise. Normally, I’d be fine with it since it plays into Swinger’s character, but his material wasn’t particularly engaging. The segment did reinforce the idea that Bey is willing to play along with Swinger’s delusions, for now, just so Bey could use Swinger against Willie Mack, but while I’m all for “maintenance” segments, I would prefer them to be shorter.

Jordynne Grace backstage interview – HIT: Jordynne Grace is back and is happy with the new influx of women to the Knockout’s Roster, and for once, a comment like this didn’t seem like a desperate ploy from a company lacking talent to gaslight you into thinking otherwise. There legitimately is a wealth of talent in the women’s division. Taya Valkyrie then interrupts, also making her return to TV. Taya says some Taya stuff we all love her for (or love to hate, same diff.) and all is right with the world again… Within context, of course.

The Rascalz vs. TJP & Fallah Bahh – HIT: I was really looking forward to this match going in since at stake was the number one contender shot for The North’s titles, and therefore additional drama on top of wanting to watch two fun teams do their thing. The match started friendly with some light comedic moments as the action slowly ratcheted up. This match could’ve been so much better if enhanced by crowd noise. The only intrigue for me in regard to the result of the match for me was whether TJP and Fallah Bahh were going to win outright or if something was going to happen to necessitate a triple threat match against The North. Since TJP and Bahh seemed to have been positioned to challenge The North for months now, I was really surprised when Dez and Wentz picked up the win and are going on to be the next challengers.

Deonna Purrazzo video promo – PUSH: Better than last week’s promo for me, unless they were the same and I’m just in a better mood today but still, her pomposity is still verging on the cartoonish.

John E. Bravo and Rosemary post-date – HIT: No, the skit doesn’t go there. Rosemary and Bravo have a good time summoning locusts and Rosemary invites Bravo to work for her. As he considers her offer and is about to accept, Taya calls him, and he rushes to his mistress’s side much to Rosemary’s chagrin. Bravo seems appropriately, pitifully pathetic. I love how Rosemary is always drawn to the lost and the fragile, usually with ill intent, but eventually making the right decision on the end.

A wild Elgin appears – HIT: Elgin shows up and browbeats a producer into hitting his music since he is going to the ring. Impact should invest in the RFID technology the WWE surreptitiously implants into wrestlers that triggers their music whenever they pass gorilla position. Elgin hit the ring and calls out Sami Callihan. Sami’s presence is felt in an ICU hack of the feed, but Sami doesn’t come out. The one that does come out is Ken Shamrock to take revenge on Elgin for costing him an opportunity at the number one contender spot. They brawl briefly but Elgin manages to get away.

Ace Austin vs. Trey Miguel – MISS: Why do you like to hurt me Impact?  If your tournament has Moose, Trey, Elgin, Sami, Shamrock, Rhino, Hernandez, and Madman Fulton as the competitors, and the finals of said tournament is decided between Zachary Wentz and Ace Austin, well then you have something between a farce, and a complete clusterfrak. Trey’s music plays but he doesn’t come out. They cut to the backstage area where the Rascalz find Trey unconscious. An angry Wentz rushes the ring. There he confronts Austin, accusing Austin of taking out Trey. Austin denies it setting up a myriad of possibilities as to who the assailant could be.

Ace Austin vs. Zachary Wentz – PUSH: Scott D’Amore heads to the ring to try to defuse the situation between Wentz and Austin, with Austin demanding to be declared the number one contender. D’Amore decides to let Wentz take his fallen partner’s place in the match. It was a fine match but I couldn’t help but be distracted by the “bait and switch” or “swerve” or whatever you wish to call it. Wentz for his part showed a great intense fire he normally doesn’t show, and I believed that he really wanted to destroy Austin. Unfortunately, he is unsuccessful, defeated by The Fold. With that, Ace Austin is the number one contender… but for which belt?

Bonus: Impact World Championship Number One Contender Tournament

It is hard to be invested in a tournament final when someone who did not participate was given one of the two final spots. From a booking standpoint, it is stupid. Even if the decision might have been necessary if Trey had been legitimately injured and a replacement needed to be made, the replacement should have come from those already in the tournament pool, instead of pulling from any Tom, Dick, or Harry that might be around. Since it was announced, five weeks of investing myself into a tournament with a farcical ending works against ever investing in something like this in the future. I’m fine with the changes made before the tournament began, with Moose dropping out (replaced by Rohit Raju) and Shamrock being taken out by Elgin (replaced by Ace Austin), but all of this happened prior to the their respective first round matches. Why not replace Trey with Shamrock (who was there) instead? Ace, the opportunist used Elgin’s attack to steal Shamrock’s rightful spot and it’s only right he has a chance to reclaim it. Then Elgin can cost Ace the match, furthering that feud.

Well, enough griping over fumble opportunities. When the smoke cleared, Ace Austin is apparently faced with a decision; go after Tessa’s Impact World Championship or go after Moose’s TNA Heavyweight Championship. While I think some fun character moments could be had from interactions between Moose and Austin, I think Austin will go after who perceives to be the easier prey between the two. Plus, I think Moose is the one behind the attack on Trey, fearing Trey would come after him instead of babyface Tessa had Trey won. I’m looking forward to what comes next from this mess, but one thing is for certain, the next Impact tournament won’t get this level of investiture from me.

CATCH UP… IMPACT HITS & MISSES 5/26: Hernandez vs. Ace Austin, Kimber Lee vs. Havok, Chris Bey vs. Cousin Jake, The North vs. Cody Deaner & Wheelz, The Rascalz Treehouse, Elgin vs. Trey

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