Impact Wrestling Homecoming
January 6 2019
We’re in Nashville, Tennessee at the Asylum. This is the first Impact show I’ve seen in a while and I’ve been hearing good things about the promotion. I guess I’ve just been burned one time too many and they’re still booking Sami Callihan but I’m trying to hit 2019 with an open mind so here we are. Hosts are Josh Matthews and Don Callis. The latter is a fantastic addition to both the creative in Impact and the onscreen comms.
Impact X-Division Championship
Rich Swann vs. Trey Miguel vs. Ethan Page vs. Jake Crist
Ethan Page is the odd man out here as he’s bigger as less of an aerial combatant. This isn’t a match that relies heavily on that style as it’s all about eliminating opponents before climbing so there are a lot of superkicks. They do a fine job of convincing me that guys are laid out after big spots thus allowing them to cycle through guys being active. It’s a big spot heavy contest and it really works. There are excellent flippydos and everyone has a lovely time. Crist and Miguel try very hard to get themselves over because they’re lesser names coming in. I love the finish too with Rich Swann doing the 450 flip to escape a super rana, a la Ospreay, but Miguel being unaware of it, thus not stopping him scurrying up top to pull the belt down. By the time Trey realised what was happening Swann was nearly at the belt and Miguel couldn’t stop him. Great stuff.
Final Rating: ***3/4
“Dark” Allie & Su Yung vs. Jordynne Grace & Kiera Hogan
The video leading into this reveals that Allie has gone off the rails a bit. Teaming with the Undead Bride will do that to you.
Her best friend Hogan finds herself across the ring and the storyline is all about Allie. Kiera shows terrific fire. She’s the highlight for me. I’ve seen Su and Grace and I’m familiar with their strengths and weaknesses but seeing Hogan excites me. She has a lot of attributes that I dig. I’m not convinced by some of her bumping but that’s the kind of thing you can iron out given time, hopefully.
She doesn’t launch herself into her dive like she does into her other work so you can tell she’s a little nervous about doing it. These are thing you would hope will come in time. She’s at the point in her career where she’s about to get good. Grace eats the poison mist and Allie puts Kiera away with the Mandible Claw. Fun story, patchy execution.
Final Rating: **1/2
Post Match: The Undead Bridesmaids bring a casket out here but Rosemary is in it!
Video Control gives us this…
What the heck is going on in this company? I love it!
Falls Count Anywhere
Moose vs. Eddie Edwards
Moose is doing his dumb “Moose” entrance when Eddie jumps him from behind! Edward Edwards, my personal hero! Moose wrestles here like it’s Contract Season and Elite eyes are on him. It’s a wild brawl and both guys bump around like maniacs. Eddie’s bumping does not equate to his age. I guess he’s only mid 30s but that Bump Clock is a thing. How many bumps is a balcony bump worth because Eddie comes off a gantry here with a slingshot plancha. The match doesn’t stop there. Eddie bleeds and they start chucking chairs at each other like nobody involved gives a single solitary fuck. The trading back and forth that leads to Moose getting backdropped out of the ring through a guardrail is fantastic. It’s two guys going at it like the outcome is important. Edwards chopping Moose down to the size with the kendo stick is great but then his wife coming out and doing the same thing is fucking brilliant. Love stories! Moose is beaten long before the DDT lays him out. Brilliant, brutal match up with a backbone of storyline in there.
Final Rating: ****
Willie Mack vs. Sami Callihan
The crowd seem quite invested in this. I’ll give them that much. Callihan has had a hair cut and looks like less of a greasy dork. Willie Mack a guy I like. He has a nice mixture of flippy moves and powerhouse stuff, including solid strikes. He’s a good all-rounder. The match ticks along at a decent pace until Dave Crist interferes on behalf of Sami. I like Callihan wrestling heel way better than him working face because he’s a detestable prick at the best of times. His inconsistencies in the ring are what bother me the most. He has flashes of being good and then some ugly moves where he doesn’t realise how much his lack of size effects him. Anyway he stuffs Mack with a piledriver and gets the win.
Final Rating: ***
Abyss vs. Eli Drake
Watch Abyss in the background. That bump. Yikes! pic.twitter.com/oFchb9ivN6
— Arn (@ArnoldFurious) January 11, 2019
This match is disjointed but lovingly crafted with daftness. This bump up here. Wow. Abyss has this won with a Black Hole Slam but the ref has thumbtacks in his eyes. It had to happen sooner or later. Plunder is dangerous.
Abyss ups the ante with Janice. Eli Drake feels like someone who doesn’t belong here, which is almost ideal for him taking sickening bumps. It’s like ECW back in the day where 911 would kill former WWE guys with chokeslams. They attempt a dumb zip ties spot but Abyss breaks them accidentally. The idea is that Abyss can’t defend himself as Eli hits him with plunder in the latter stages, although the zip ties spot going wrong prevents logic playing into the finish. Drake plunders his way to victory by breaking a paddle over Abyss’ head. This was fine for what it was but that zip tie spot going wrong was a big issue.
Final Rating: **3/4
Impact World Tag Team Championship
LAX (c) vs. The Lucha Bros
This is the kind of match you’d expect to see BOLA weekend in the non-tournament main event. Rey Fenix is one of the best wrestlers in the world. Penta is one of the most charismatic. LAX might be the best team for double teams in the biz. It’s Fenix who steals the show in the early going with a rampant high-octane style. The dives in this feel like lives depend on the outcome. Fenix has developed a style of doing this where it feels perfectly organic. He tells his opponent where to be and then he gets there in ridiculous fashion.
The action here is fast and fluid and the crowd eat it up with a big old lucha spoon and come back for seconds. The only trouble is that the crowd love everyone and everything so they start chanting “all these guys”, which, to me at least, is a weak ‘on the fence’ approach to crowd support. Pick a side! They do incredible work in going from the opening bell to insane high spots to the near falls immediately. It’s a match that gives no fucks and operates at breakneck pace. The only major complaint is the match is way too short so there’s virtually no selling. It’s like that All In main event when the PPV had ran out of time. It’s ten minutes with 25 minutes of spots in it. Pretty great, in my opinion, but could have been a genuine MOTYC spread out over a longer run time.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Impact Knockouts Championship
Tessa Blanchard (c) vs. Taya Valkyrie
Tessa has been long rumoured to be a WWE signing and I’m sure All Elite Wrestling have eyes on her too. It’s a good time to be a big name Indie star. The options are there. Whether she has the right attitude to be a big signing is up to her. She’s certainly in a tidy spot here, going second last on a big Impact show. They have to follow that crazy lucha tag and they certainly try. There’s tonnes of effort and the pacing is solid. The X-Factor is the referee; Impact HOF member Gail Kim. The idea being that Tessa has issues with Gail’s counts, which unfortunately takes away from the match and sets up a blatantly obvious ref bump. When Tessa pulls in the title belt Gail accidentally causes Taya to get hit with it.
They make a hash of a roll up spot after that. The positioning just isn’t right from Taya. The problem with the referee angle is it overwhelms the momentum they’d been building. Plus Gail is the one who hits Tessa with a finisher and fast counts her down for the babyface win for Taya. Not exactly babyface behaviour all round!
Final Rating: **1/2
Impact World Championship
Johnny Impact (c) vs. Bryan Cage
They try some near miss stuff at the start and it’s really sluggish. Not a good start for the main event. Cage is completely off the pace. Impact is on far superior form. His springboard spear is wicked slick. His bumping is better too and could it be that Cage is a little nervous here? Johnny Impact certainly isn’t. His 450 knee strike from the top to the floor is just incredible. There’s no escaping the feeling that the match isn’t as fluid as it should be, despite these crazy big spots that work.
It’s easy to forget what a natural Impact is because he makes wrestling look easy and always has done. It’s all on Cage. Look at the sliding German suplex spot where Cage waits for Impact to be outside the ring before taking a perfunctory bump. When they have pre-arranged sequences everything is perfectly fine but maybe it was all too much for Cage to remember? So this effects Impact’s confidence and every now and again he whiffs on what should be a home run spot. The whole match feels underwhelming as a result.
The only time the match is consistently good is near the finish when they’re throwing big bombs and it’s all very clearly pre-planned. Unfortunately even that goes off the rails because Cage gets into it with Johnny’s mates from Survivor and the ref ends up fucking around with them when Cage has it won with the Screwdriver. Then they fuck the finish up. Oh dear.
Final Rating: ***
It was Homecoming in more ways than one. Back at the Asylum in Nashville and me, back in the company that I followed religiously from 2002-2009. It was a genuine alternative to WWE then. It didn’t always work but that was part of the charm. Then Hogan and Bischoff came in and ruined everything. 2019 is the year Impact needs to make an impact with AEW coming into view and WWE signing everyone with a heartbeat. It feels like Impact is the underdog now. The little company that fought the big dogs despite a multitude of talent raids. Were mistakes made? Sure. I’m back though. Hopefully Impact can hold my attention. Based on this, I’m sure they can. The quality of the wrestling is there.