For the first time in… well… since 2013 I am paying for an Impact! PPV. Last time I did this, it was still TNA and Dixie Carter was involved and I swore I’d never waste my money supporting them again.
But… new owners. New booking committee. A renewed focus on in-ring excellence. And people are telling me Impact! is worth watching again.
TNA used to name their PPVs after Phil Collins references. Now it’s Steven Seagal movies? Oh well. Beats No Way Out Of Texas.
So why this one? Two reasons. First, a new year. I’m going to try to watch more NJPW, more ROH and more Impact! this year. They’re available on Fite in Australia, so – why not? (Okay, not NJPW, but they’ve got their own stuff… look, you get where I’m coming from.) I’m also going to keep on with my AEW watching because, frankly, as my top matches of 2019 column indicated, they are, to my mind, bringing the goods. So what’s going to give? After this week’s Smackdown – WWE TV is gone. Maybe an NXT here and there? WWE PPVs will probably not be a priority. After the drizzling sh*t (™JR) we were fed in 2019 and 2018 and 2017… for too long, it’s not going to be a great loss.
The second reason is Tessa Blanchard. I wanted to see if they could book a female to be a legitimate contender to a world title. Now, before I get hounded away, I like women’s wrestling. My top 2 matches from WWE were both women’s matches. And I have no doubt Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Rhea Ripley and probably Charlotte Flair and Nikki Cross could hang with a majority of guys. But Bayley? Alexa Bliss? Lacey Evans? No f’n way. And even those I mentioned I think would struggle against a Mark Henry, Big Show, Undertaker.
But Impact! features a lot more wrestlers who are not huge, who do not weigh 400lbs. It features athletes. So I was interested enough to put my $19.95US ($31.12AUS) on the table and go for broke.
Okay, enough of my bullsh*t – here’s 10 thoughts! (And I missed the pre-show.)
1) Ken Shamrock v Madman Fulton
First up – how old is Shamrock?! If I look that freakin’ good in my 50s (which, admittedly, is really close, like next year close) I will be ecstatic. But he’s 50, so I was not expecting much. This was actually not that bad. Some of the wrestling was a little loose, but after Shamrock beat up the outside interference and they were sent to the back and Shamrock worked on the shoulder, I didn’t mind it. Shamrock got the win with a submission. Not a bad opener.
2) X-Division Title: Trey v Ace Austin (c)
The whole “Ace going after Trey’s hot mum” thing just reeks of Attitude Era WWF/E. Blergh. The match, though, was fine. Not the heights of the X-Division I remember watching in the early 2000s, but entertaining enough. Austin wins to retain. Then he goes to get a kiss from Trey’s mum , and Trey beats the snot out of him.
3) Knockouts Title: Jordynne Grace v ODB v Taya Valkyrie (c)
Yeah. Not a good match. I’ve only seen ODB before, so I can’t judge by this one match. This was… yeah. Taya (longest ever reign by a Knockouts champ) won with an assist from the guy with her to retain.
[4a) RVD making out with Katie Forbes… this is a different character for RVD. It felt… odd… But surprisingly good.]
4) RVD v Brian Cage
An extended squash? RVD against a former champion and he treats him like a jobber? Okay, sure, I know Cage is apparently off to AEW, but this is a PPV. RVD spends 5 minutes treating him like he was a mid-carder. Sure, Cage got a few shots in, but… RVD won after hitting a coast to coast Van Daminator (Terminator now, apparently), Katie holding the chair in front of Cage’s face. Ref then stops it. What the…? No bell, just ref stoppage. Daga comes out to see what he can do.
5) RVD v Daga
The bell rings, so I guess this match is official suddenly? Well, another extended squash. Daga got some moves in, but, really, RVD was it. RVD gets the win with the 5-star frog splash (probably not allowed to be called that anymore) in short order. I like heel RVD. So… he’s getting a push here? Is he being geared for a run with the title? This was just an RVD showcase for whatever reason.
6) Call Your Shot Trophy Match: Michael Elgin v Eddie Edwards
This felt different. It was a hard-hitting match, not a high-flying spot-fest, and really good to boot. This was just two guys beating the crap out of each other for our entertainment. Really good. 20 minutes and Edwards retained the trophy with a last gasp, desperate roll-up. It was like it was all he had left. They told a story of knowing one another, they sold like champs and they kept on belting each other. What more do you want?
7) No DQ Match: Moose v Rhino
This was a bog-standard weapons/hardcore match. Not terrible, but nothing great. The gore versus the spear. There were weapons shots, tables breaking, a ref bump (that looked painful for a change), near falls and Rhino being Rhino. It was what it was. Moose won.
8) Tag Team Championship: Rich Swann & Willie Mack v The North (c)
But Rich Swann hurt his ankle badly the other night, so this is now a handicap match. This was booked really well. There were times when you legitimately thought Mack could do it and win the titles alone! It was really nicely done. And Mack hitting the top rope destroyer… wow! But as soon as Mack asked for the ref not to DQ the North, you knew he was going to lose. But this set up really strongly a rematch down the line that should be off the freakin’ charts. I am looking forward to that. Good match, and it surprised me. The North won and retained with a double team spinebuster.
9) Impact Heavyweight Championship: Tessa Blanchard v Sami Callihan (c)
Well, looks like the latest Moolah-like controversy surrounding Blanchard has not affected anyone; she is cheered like you would not believe. Now, she is not short and she is built. Not fitness model built, but with decent size.
Brief rant: Why isn’t she in the women’s division? Because she would be like Chyna – a division killer. It took a fake injured neck angle to get the title off her, and then she won the IC title. Well, I think Blanchard would have to be the Knockouts division killer.
This match surprised the hell out of me. Her Magnum move would take anyone out. Her forearms look solid. And she is not afraid to take an absolute beating. This was a really, really good match. I was impressed by both of them. Callihan working the knees to counteract the Magnum and trash-talking her was masterful. Tessa’s selling was superb. They played the little vs big match that Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio Jr have made their own. Tessa being a female did not matter.
They had this crowd eating out the palms of their hands.
And then… then!… Blanchard won! Holy f*ck! What a match!
10) Now… This was not a blow-away show. There were many matches that were not that great. But the Eglin/Edwards match was really good and the Blanchard/Callihan match was far better than it had any right to be. Was it perfect? No, but it was emotional. And it told its story brilliantly. We’ll see what I think come year’s end and I watch these PPV matches I liked again.
And that’s my first Impact! PPV for a long time.
All right, as we were in the middle of everything burning, I didn’t really write up my 10 thoughts on NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14. So, here’s a quick over-view, in that these are my 5 favourite matches from the 2 nights:
Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Naoki Sano & Ryusuke Taguchi def Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tatsumi Fujinami, Tiger Mask & Great Sasuke. So sue me, I thought it was fun.
IWGP US Title: Texas Death Match: Jon Moxley def Lance Archer to become new champion. Really intense.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Hiromu Takahashi def Will Ospreay to become new champion. My favourite match of the 2 nights.
Chris Jericho def Hiroshi Tanahashi. Jericho is some sort of wrestling machine at this point.
IWGP Champion vs. IWGP IC Champion, Title for Title Match: Tetsuya Naito def Kazuchika Okada. And we finish with some good old-fashioned wrestling.
Tags: Ace Austin, Brian Cage, champion, Daga, Eddie Edwards, Hard To Kill, impact, Jordynne Grace, Katie Forbes, Ken Shamrock, Knockouts, Madman Fulton, Michael Elgin, Moose, ODB, Rhino, Rich Swann, RVD, Sami Callihan, Taya Valkyrie, Tessa Blanchard, The North, Trey, Willie Mack, X-Division