*Match #1: Four Way (one fall to a finish)- Petey Williams vs. Fenix vs. Taiji Ishimori vs. Johnny Impact (Morrison/Mundo/Nitro/Spade/take your pick)
The Who: Petey Williams (a former multi time X Division and tag team champion) is a last minute addition to the match, replacing the injured Rich Swann (concussion). Petey is a local guy to these fans, so not the worst replacement they could have had. That said, it has to be a little disappointing for the Impact team that they couldn’t get Swann on PPV while he still had a major buzz from just coming over. Fenix has gotten a ton of hype over his work in Lucha Underground. I will agree that it has been excellent, but to me, he’s been hit and miss outside of there. Taiji Ishimori is going to be my least familiar of the four participants here. I just don’t watch enough NJPW to know much about him. I do think I remember him having a run with ROH a couple years back, though. Johnny Impact is clearly the biggest name of the four in this contest. Impact, under the name John Morrison after a few others, had a lengthy and rather successful run in the WWE. This would be his first match back for Impact Wrestling in some time after taking time off to film this season of Survivor, currently airing on CBS.
The Why: To get this show off to a hot start would seem to be the obvious one, so I’ll go with that. Going into this match, I felt like it was clearly set up for a Impact victory but we’ll see how that plays out…
The Match: As Josh is going over the accolades of Impact during his entrance, I believe he breaks the news about Impact appearing on Survivor this season. In addition, he mentions that Impact got married over the summer. We’ll discuss that a little more later in the review…opening bell goes and here we go…‘Impact Wrestling’ chant. Not sure if for the company or that they are happy to see Johnny Impact wrestling…and the first springboard move happens fifty four seconds in. Of course it does…breaks down to Impact and Ishimori. Fans respectfully chant ‘welcome back’ to both…Impact and Fenix now and you’d think these two would be familiar with each other…little bit contrived for the Fenix second rope ’rana, but cool looking…for doing this as long as he has, Petey still moves like a much younger man…‘O Canada’ nut stomp. Appropriate place for it, I suppose…Fenix springboard dropkicks Ishimori as he goes for a cover. Don’t think it was planned, looked like it hurt…it’s hard to keep up with everything going on here…Moonlight Drive by Impact to Petey, but a sliding kick to the face by Fenix breaks the cover attempt…leads to a rolling ace crusher by Fenix. He’s clearly motivated tonight…Ishimori busts out the Balor/LowKi ‘Jon Woo’ dropkick. Tenchi Crash (tombstone turned lungblower) gets two before the save is made by Williams…and we take a tasty cake break as kicks are exchanged putting everyone down…it has broken down here. Finisher fest aplenty…450 splash, then a Canadian Destroyer which is followed by a springboard double stomp from Fenix on Petey. He hooks Petey for a Muscle Buster to finish, but Impact superkicks him mid move. Starship Pain on Fenix (End of the World in Lucha Underground) spells curtains for us at 12:28 as Impact gets the duke…man, talk about your hot starts. Balls to the wall action and very rarely did they take a break. These are four guys who were getting an opportunity to do their thing on PPV and they did not disappoint. Awesome way to kick off the show as it was a very good spot fest that didn’t overstay it’s welcome or get too sloppy. (VERY GOOD)
*Highlights are shown of Impact throwing out the first pitch of that day’s Toronto Blue Jays game. It’s good for Impact (the company, not the person) to get this kind of exposure in a positive light. Scott D’Amore and Don Callis deserve a lot of credit for the way they are trying to turn around the perception of Impact Wrestling.
*Promo vignette/hype by Homicide, Hernandez and King (Eddie Kingston). For as long as all three of them having been doing, they seem extra motivated these days…I’ve always been a huge fan of Eddie Kingston. Homicide has been kind of hit and miss for me, but is usually more hit then miss. Hernandez is someone who I’m pretty indifferent towards, but most of the best matches I’ve seen him have are tag matches where he teams with Homicide.
*Match #2: Tessa Blanchard vs. Allie
The Who: Tessa Blanchard is a personal favorite of mine. A third generation wrestler (father being Tully Blanchard of Four Horseman fame), she’s taken to the sport like few before her have. She’s also very attractive, which brings in another demographic that companies such as Impact will appreciate. Allie has had quite the little run here in Impact, starting as the girl who was just attached with Braxton Sutter who didn’t know much about wrestling (despite the fact that independent wrestling fans knew her as Cherry Bomb for years). At this point, she’s a former two time Knockouts champion (having lost the belt to Su Yung).
The Why: These two have been exchanging attacks and words on Impact. My assumption is this would be a ‘number one contender’s’ match to the Knockout’s title, even if it isn’t explicitly announced as such.
The Match: Before the match, a bit of bad camera work as they miss the opening wink from Tessa’s entrance. They do get the one in the ring, however…I keep forgetting Allie is from Toronto. Wrestling theory states this does not end well for her…Josh and Don discuss Rosemary’s injury and it’s affect on Allie. Hopefully, she’s back in the ring sooner then later. I’m a big fan of Rosemary/Courtney Rush…very slow and sloppy opening exchange between the two. Some definitely early miscommunication issues…very intricate rope counter exchange…Allie with a big diving cross body from the 2nd turnbuckle to the floor. For the early issues, that looked nice…the ring work hasn’t always been the cleanest, but there is a lot of personality being shown in this contest. If you can’t have one, you better have the other. If you have both, that’s when magic happens…Tessa locks on what appears to be a modified Indian Deathlock. Not a move you see very often anymore…Tessa eats shit on the ramp and falling to the floor. That had to hurt…get out of the way, cameraman!!!…Allie with a DVD on the floor. Like, why?…both ladies barely make it back into the ring at nine after that. Good spot to give them a break…picking up a bit now compared to the slow start…that was a dropkick to the ass…Tessa just knocked her stiff with a forearm. She hits harder then some dudes…top rope hurricanrana driver. Don’t think it was intended that way, but Jesus…give these ladies credit, they have taken some big bumps in this match…Allie gets the Codebreaker but Tessa gets out to the floor…not to continue to harp on this, but I have to give them credit for turning things around after a rough start…Allie goes for another DVD (she calls it the Allie Valley Driver), but Tessa is able to counter out and into her hammerlock DDT (which doesn’t have a name to my knowledge but needs one) and that’s the finish at 10:58…well, I guess you could say a tale of two halves here. The first part of this match was rough. They were clearly not anywhere close to being on the same page and it showed. After they got pass the initial issues however, it turned into quite the contest. Tessa, if she can control her attitude, is going to be something special in pro wrestling. Allie, while a little hit and miss in the ring, has such an infectious personality that you can’t help but root for her to succeed. Started eh, but got better. (AVERAGE)
*Promo with Moose. He certainly looks the part of champion, but I don’t buy it. He’s not an especially strong promo. He’s also not a gifted enough wrestler to be able to overcome his shortcomings on the microphone. He’s charismatic, sure. He does have the athletic background to give him the resume you’d want. But in this day and age of professional wrestling, I don’t think charisma alone is enough.
*Match #3: ‘House of Hardcore Rules’ Eddie Edwards vs. Tommy Dreamer
The Who: Eddie Edwards is a former grand slam champion in Impact, if memory serves. I believe he’s held all four titles that were available to him. I know he’s a former Heavyweight, Tag Team and X division champion. I think he’s a former Grand champion as well, back when that belt was a thing. Tommy Dreamer is a man whose reputation speaks for itself. Dreamer has been involved in the national scene for professional wrestling since he started with then ‘Eastern Championship Wrestling’ back in 1993. Known for his violent ways of utilizing every day objects as weapons, the ‘Innovator of Violence’ is one of the longest running mainstream pro wrestlers in the world at this point.
The Why: Eddie Edwards was obsessed with ending Sami Callihan. Tommy Dreamer, trying to look out for his friend, attempted to inform Eddie of the error of his ways. Edwards went off the deep end and when Dreamer stopped Edwards from ending Callihan, Edwards turned his venom towards Dreamer instead. A series of weapons based attacks by both men have led us to this ‘House of Hardcore’ match where there are no count-outs and no DQ’s. House of Hardcore is also the name of the independent promotion that Tommy Dreamer runs that I hope to one day cover as well.
The Match: Tommy dropped a lot of f bombs in the hype video leading to this match, so you know he’s angry…Tommy’s ‘Man in the Box’ parody is just awful. The WWE version of that was so much better…collar and elbow tie-up to start a hardcore match. That makes sense…innovator of water bottle attacks. Come to a wrestling show, get a shower…suicide dive attempt meets trash can. Nice…can Josh and Don use the word ‘ECW’ without being sued? Is that public license now?…Edwards has a staple gun. Of course he does…I’m with Callis. Staple guns are gross…and Tommy cracks Eddie with a replica ECW title. Good for Tommy to finally get another one of those…Edwards is actually a pretty good wrestler. He’s turned into a pretty good brawler. The problem is he’s not super charismatic…Edwards tells the cameraman to ‘get out of my face’. I feel like Tessa feels the same way…kendo sticks suck. They don’t hurt for an extended period, but they sting like a sumbitch…well, Eddie asked for it. Tommy was only happy to oblige…the classy Toronto fans with a ‘fuck ’em up Dreamer, fuck ’em up’ chant. Stay classy San Di…Toronto…avalanche Spicolli Driver into two open chairs. JESUS!…Tommy grabs a table. It’s like there was a blowout sale at Home Depot…they tease a flaming table. There is literally zero chance of that happening…huge Future Shock style DDT by Edwards after a low blow by Edwards. Edwards sets Dreamer up laying across a chair, and the Boston Knee Party (cool name) using the chair finishes things for us here at 11:09…dumb start aside with the collar and elbow tie-up in what is essentially supposed to be a blood feud, they used all the smoke and mirrors they could to help get Dreamer and Edwards through this match. At this point in his career; if you told me that Tommy Dreamer was going to go for eleven minutes on a pay-per-view, I’d say that this is about as good as he’s capable of with everything he’s been through. I actually do like Edwards, even if I don’t find him charismatic. I certainly like him a lot more then his ‘American Wolves’ tag partner, who has thankfully disappeared. This was a good carry job by Edwards, but Dreamer did hold up his end of the bargain. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Post match, Eddie Edwards gets the official seal of approval in the way of a kendo stick from Tommy Dreamer. This would be the end of the feud for these two. We will see Edwards at Bound for Glory. I don’t think Dreamer is on the show, however.