With Rebellion on the horizon, Harry brings us Impact’s WrestleMania week show! Is it time to start buying in to the company again?
Hello everyone and welcome back to ‘What I Watched’, now under the ‘Chairshot Classics’ banner. This will be the eighth review here for me. PROGRESS Chapters 1-4 as well as Slammiversary and Bound for Glory 2018 from Impact Wrestling are already posted on the site and are available in my archive, which you can reach by clicking my name at the top of this article. To update everyone on future plans for ‘What I Watched’, Chapter 5 of PROGRESS is currently in the queue. I’ll be getting to Chapter 6 soon to help keep those rolling. In addition, there are definite plans to get to both CHIKARA and AAW in the future here on the reviews as well. We’ve also tossed around the idea of getting Club WWN, which could lead to reviews of companies such as EVOLVE and SHINE down the road. I have yet to review the ‘Homecoming’ pay-per-view for Impact from January of 2019, but the plan for that remains that it’ll be done once we get closer to ‘Rebellion’ later in the month of April.
That brings us to why we’re here today. Impact Wrestling finally decided that as a wrestling company, they should probably be involved in the biggest weekend of the wrestling calendar year. That of course being WrestleMania weekend. This will be there contribution to the festivities that took place. The main event is Rob Van Dam and Sabu returning to Impact to face the current Impact tag team champions of the Lucha Brothers, Pentagon Jr. and Fenix. In addition we have ‘Ultimate X’ announced, Tessa Blanchard takes on Joey Ryan and much more I’m sure. With that said, it’s into the slightly back machine, as we head to April 4th, 2019 as ‘What I Watched’ presents Impact Wrestling’s ‘United We Stand’.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating.
Impact Wrestling: ‘United We Stand’
From: Rahway Rec Center in Rahway, New Jersey
Date: April 4th, 2019
Run Time: 2:31:00 (Fite TV)
Total Run Time: 3:08:15
*GENERAL NOTES: The setup actually looks pretty cool. Rahway Rec is a pretty good building for wrestling. ROH has run here before and if memory serves, it was the home of a company called JAPW (Jersey All Pro Wrestling), which long time independent wrestling fans should know. Building is pretty full as well. I wouldn’t call it a sellout or anything, but it’s definitely not as empty as some of the old Impact shows could be.
*There was a pre-show on Twitch. Honestly, if you don’t watch it, you don’t miss much. One of the referees commandeers what looks to be a GoPro and goes around showing various people. Otherwise, there doesn’t appear to be much of significance, at least until we actually get a pre-show match…
*Match #1: (Pre-Show) WrestlePro Tag Titles: New Heavenly Bodies (Desirable Dustin/Gigolo Justin) vs. KM/Fallah Bahh vs. Team Espana (Jos A/Jos B) ©
The Who: This is sadly going to come off uncultured here, but I can’t say I’m super familiar with any of the six. Desirable Dustin and Gigolo Justin are doing the old Jimmy Del Rey and Tom Prichard deal from Smoky Mountain which later moved into the WWF in 1994. They were apparently known as Dustin and Justin Corino before they became the new Heavenly Bodies. I can not confirm any ties to Steve Corino however. Team Espana (pronounced ‘Hose A’ and ‘Hose B’ respectively) are the WrestlePro Tag champs and it comes off to me as a Hispanic soccer stereotype gimmick. KM and Fallah Bahh are the team I am most familiar with here. I’ve seen them in bits and pieces when I did watch the Impact TV show on Pop, but in the two PPVs I’ve covered here on the Chairshot, neither has appeared thus far.
The Why: It’s a pre-show match to get the fans hyped up before the show went live on Fite TV.
The Match: Let’s see if these six can impress me in my first time seeing this. Plus, this is a match that had the chance to secure a couple last minute buys for the show on Fite, so we’ll see if they put their best foot forward…opening bell here…KM calls the GoPro holder ‘Kid Ref’ (Kris Levin) and has to at the last second censor calling him ‘baby dick’. Oops…Fallah does move well for a heavyweight…wouldn’t that double splash that KM and Fallah do hurt Fallah more then the opponent?…watching this move through a GoPro makes you really appreciate the hard work that the camera crews do…KM chops the bejesus out of Jos B. One way to tag someone into a match, I suppose…hey! No New Age Outlaw finishes!…Black Hole Slam by Fallah. Abyss just left, man…the teamwork for the NHB is impressive. They don’t stand out on personality, but the ring work is not bad…Rocket Launcher by the NHB. I always appreciate the classics…moonsault attempt off the second rope by Jos B almost nails referee Brandon Toll. Yeah, that could have been very bad…KM gets a tag late and goes to town on all four opponents. Some of it more realistic then others. A comedy steamroller spot sets up the big man Bahh going Lucha with a tope to take down the other four on the floor. Jos A gets rolled back in and KM greets him with the ‘Ego Driver’ (powerbomb into a backcracker a la ‘Project Ciampa’) and that gets the three count at 9:58…Much better then I personally expected it to be. KM and Fallah have become quite the team, even if they don’t always get the opportunity to show it. For as generic as the gimmick is, Team Espana held their own here. I was honestly the most impressed by the teamwork of the New Heavenly Bodies. I seem to recall them being on Impact before and I do think they would make for a strong addition to the tag division on a permanent basis for the company. All told, given my expectations and the performances, I’m going with a GOOD rating here. Well played, boys. (GOOD)
*Cold Open is here and it’s not bad, but it’s nothing blow away either. As I said above, I do like the setup for the show and it looks like we’ll open with ‘Ultimate X’ for a future title match against the X Division champion.
*Match #2: ‘Ultimate X’ for future X Division Title match- Jake Crist vs. Dante (AR) Fox vs. Pat Buck vs. Ace Austin (replacing Jack Evans) vs. Johnny Impact
The Who: Jake Crist is one half of the Crist brothers alongside Dave. They are currently members of oVe (Ohio Versus Everything) which is led by Sami Callihan. They also previously made up the tag team known as Irish Airborne. Dante (AR) Fox has made waves across the US independent scene in companies such as CZW and DG-USA. He’s coming off his first major national exposure in Lucha Underground and would make an excellent (IMO) addition to Impact. Pat Buck: yeah, I can’t help you guys here. Apparently a star for WrestlePro (who runs at the building they are running in. Upon a bit of research, he also owns WrestlePro. Which makes this make a lot more sense. Ace Austin has been on Impact a bit recently. I’ve not seen much of him, but what I have seen has been impressive. That being said, he hardly seems like a fair replacement for one of the best high flyers in wrestling in Jack Evans. Johnny Impact is the current Impact Wrestling Heavyweight champion, having beaten Austin Aries for that title at Bound for Glory in 2018 (review available in archive). Johnny recently turned heel on an episode of Impact and decided that he didn’t wish to be a part of Team Impact later in the show, thus he put himself into this match instead.
The Why: In addition to putting one of the biggest spectacle matches Impact has on a major scale, Impact is also using this match as a way to crown a ‘Money in the Bank’ style eventual challenger for the X Division title down the road.
The Match: Kotto Brazil of MLW was also advertised for this match but ended up not being here for it. Tried to look into this, but couldn’t find anything of relevance to share here…opening bell goes here…near miss sequence to open leads to everyone down but Impact. Cute but a little gimmicky…Impact and Fox renewing acquaintances reminds me how much I miss Lucha Underground…camera crew misses a pair of dives during the dive sequence that almost always happens in X Division matches. Not sure if that’s on the boys or on production, but it shouldn’t happen…good thing I don’t do play by play anymore. A lot of stuff going on early here…hiptoss on the apron to Ace Austin. Why?…and the audio issues hit again in full force as the chase to the X begins. You are literally a television company, Anthem. The fuck, guys?…Austin reaches out and gets the ‘X’. Buck grabs him and tries to pull Ace down. Austin loses his grip and ends up landing square on the side of his face. Yee-ouch…nice looking superplex there by Jake…and now it’s every indie match ever with the Tower of Doom spot…splash mountain bomb (Razor’s Edge) lift into a urinage by Johnny Impact. Alright, that was new…match of the powerbomb. That was like the fourth or fifth one already…imploding shooting star plancha by Dante Fox. I see you, Dante. Get that contract…and that was just fucking stupid, Ace. I hope he’s okay…thankfully, it looks like he is….Jake and Pat recreate the Edge-Jeff TLC spear spot. Not bad but not quite as impressive with the height difference…the Crist and Austin cutter off the cables looks a lot cooler. Ace is clearing showing the most of the men in this match…and mere seconds after I write that, Impact grabs the ‘X’ to win the match @ 13:03…Lots of effort from all five guys here, all of whom bumped their asses off to sell the danger of the match. Not much of a story but in a car crash such as this, there doesn’t really have to be. A special shout out to Ace Austin, who as I mentioned above impressed me the most. (GOOD)
*Backstage: Eddie Edwards, Moose and Brian Cage discuss the upcoming Impact vs. LU match. I’d tell you what I think, but the sound went out during it so I couldn’t hear anything anyone was saying…
*Match #3: Team Lucha Underground (Aerostar/Daga/Drago/Marty ‘the Moth’ Martinez) vs. Team Impact Wrestling (Brian Cage/Eddie Edwards/Moose/Tommy Dreamer)
The Who: Team Lucha Underground has several people most will be familiar with. Daga has appeared in Impact before but I don’t believe he’s been used regularly in a while. Aerostar and Drago were two third of the Lucha Underground Trios champions at one point with I want to say Fenix. Marty Martinez, known as Martin Causas on the Tough Enough re-launch a few years back, really came into his own as a singles competitor on Lucha Underground. He’s someone I genuinely hope Impact gives a shot, much more then any of the rest of the team (okay, Drago’s pretty cool too). Team Impact has people you’ll know from my previous reviews. Cage is the current number one contender, scheduled to face Johnny Impact for the title at Rebellion. Eddie Edwards on TV is currently teaming with Eli Drake (who recently got himself fired for comments made during an interview). Moose is kind of in limbo but he’s grown on me quite a bit over the years. Tommy Dreamer…well if you don’t know who Tommy is by now, I can’t help you.
The Why: Much the same way they did last year before WrestleMania, Impact and Lucha Underground are facing each other here. I wouldn’t mind if this became an ongoing theme on the Impact TV show as well since Lucha Underground is probably not getting a season five.
The Match: It was originally played up as a four on three advantage to Team L.U. since Johnny Impact decided he was out. He is replaced with Tommy Dreamer, as you saw above…opening bell goes here…I like Tommy more then most, but he should not be a regular wrestler in 2019. For the sake of this show and it’s location, it at least makes some sense here…fun exchange by Edwards and Aerostar to get us going. Matthews (for as much crap as I’ve given him in the past) is really good at putting over Edwards’ credentials…Martinez is definitely more sizzle then steak, but sizzle is something I think Impact could use more off…Cage battles Daga and I’m guessing these two are really familiar. It sure flows like they are…Cage busts out the Cesaro apron superplex on Drago to the floor onto everyone…that was fucking gross, Eddie. I’m with Don here…we’ve already seem some of the old Lucha Underground elements sneaking into Impact. I would not mind a full on roster vs. roster invasion battle playing out on Impact TV…don’t care for Daga and Drago’s double-team work. Comes off really clunky. Aerostar and Drago work much better together…add the diamond cutter to the superkick and enzugiri on my list of most spammed indie moves…and Moose lays out Cage with a spear, one assumes to set himself up as a title contender should Cage beat Impact at Rebellion…match breaks down with in-fighting from the Impact team. Tommy cracks Moose with Kenny the Kendo Stick after the spear and Edwards dives onto Moose once Moose goes to the floor. In the ring, it leaves Dreamer open to a butterfly implant DDT from Martinez and that’s a three count at 10:22…solid but not great. Effective for the finishing angle but leaves the rest of the match feeling inconsequential as a result. I like Marty, but not sure this is enough to get him a spot with Impact. Call the match itself ABOVE AVERAGE, which has to be a disappointment given the talent involved. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Taya Valkyrie promo…yeah, I’m still not sold on her. I know she’s a big deal in Mexico, but I feel there are better performers in Impact to carry the crown.
*Match #4: Impact Knockouts Title: Taya Valkyrie © vs. Rosemary vs. Katie Forbes vs. Jordynne Grace
The Who: Taya Valkyrie is Mrs. Johnny Impact and the current champion, having won the title from Tessa Blanchard back at Homecoming (sumbitch). While I’m may not be sold, I will say that she does carry herself like a star. I’m sure there are other factors at play in terms of her elevated status, she portrays herself as the biggest deal in this match. Rosemary has recently returned from an injury and lost her best friend in Impact when Allie got killed off by Su Yung and the Undead Brides. Katie Forbes is making her Impact debut, one assumes because of the relationship with Rob Van Dam (who returns to the company himself later). Her ring entrance does proceed to set the women’s revolution back about a decade and a half. Jordynne Grace has really been a breakout star in Impact over the last six months or so. I think she has a new hair style here and it looks good on her. A much more dignified entrance too.
The Why: It’s for the Knockouts title. Pretty self explanatory for this one.
The Match: Production issues in full force for Rosemary’s entrance. You can’t hear a word Josh or Don are saying because of how cranked up the music is. I like Rosemary’s music but some may not be as forgiving…opening bell goes here…Rosemary gets sent to the floor and it sets up a triple knuckle-lock eventually leading to a series of roll-ups. I do like that they incorporate more then two into the opening sequence…running hip attack square to the jaw followed by a double knees in the corner. Forbes literally taking it on the chin in this match…Rosemary is by far the best character in this match. Certainly the best developed of the four. I’d say that Jordynne and Taya are both better workers, though…Forbes looks clunky in the ring. But I don’t think she’s been active that long. A quick Google search tells me three years, which really doesn’t surprise me. Her timing and fluidity is not even close to the level of the other three…car crash spot puts all four down. It looked good though…the ‘Upside Down’ by Rosemary. Touch on the nose with the name there but it looks visually impressive. Reminds me of Candice Michelle’s old rope choke…Forbes goes for a double Samoan Drop but loses Rosemary. So Grace missile dropkicks Forbes into a Samoan on Taya. Good save…looks like Rosemary has put on a little weight during her downtime. I’m sure it’s a factor of not being back in the ring regularly…Su Yung shows up and it draws Rosemary’s attention, leading to them brawling (somewhat poorly) to the back. Forbes lifts Grace up onto her shoulders and proceeds to squat with her. That seems a bit gimmick infringing there, Katie…not sure what Katie is going for but Grace escapes and plants her with a Grace Driver (Matt Sydal’s old Here It Is Driver). That would be a three count for Jordynne but Valkyrie tags with a single foot dropkick to the mush and takes the pin herself at 9:00…had it’s moments but the result was never in doubt with the TV already taped and the Knockouts title match for Rebellion of Taya vs. Grace already being set. Unsurprisingly, Forbes eats the pinfall which protects everyone else. The story to tell coming out of this though is that Grace had the match won with the Grace Driver until Taya stole the pin. AVERAGE match but a good finishing sequence helps. (AVERAGE)
*Tessa Blanchard promo: Tessa comes off like the biggest star in the division hands down and I think you could make the argument for the biggest star in the company. Seamlessly transitions from talking about want her title back to how she’ll make sure Gail Kim gets what’s coming to her at Rebellion to making Joey Ryan famous for being Tessa Blanchard’s bitch tonight. Very well done.
*Hype video here for the LAX vs. Ricky Martinez and LowKi match. LowKi’s voice sounds so dignified. It’s really too bad that the guy behind the voice is such a massive asshole.
*Match #5: LAX (Santana and Ortiz) vs. Promociones Dorado (Golden Promotions) (LowKi and Ricky Martinez)
The Who: LAX has been arguably the best thing going on Impact since I started reviewing these show. The ‘5150 Street Fight’ at Slammiversary and the ‘Concrete Jungle’ match at Bound for Glory were both amazing performances for Santana and Ortiz. Promociones Dorado, I don’t as much about since I don’t really watch MLW. Ricky Martinez is a new name for me. Can’t say I know much about him other then he was on an episode of 205 Live a while back in a losing effort to Lio Rush. LowKi is someone who has been everywhere. WWE, ROH, TNA, New Japan, Zero-1. You name it, he’s probably worked for them before.
The Why: There’s a bit of history between LowKi and LAX, which is addressed in the hype video that airs before this match. Ricky Martinez and LowKi came together in MLW to form the Promociones Dorado team and in this instance, that gives a challenge to the former multiple time Impact Tag Team champions.
The Match: Instrumental version of ‘The Truth’ by Beanie Sigel brings out LowKi and Martinez. Quasi shout out to another one of LowKi’s former tag team partners in Homicide, with whom LowKi formed the Strong Style Thugs…if the tag title match for Rebellion wasn’t already set, I’d be more expecting of a LAX loss here. Now, I don’t see it…I question why LowKi thought the Irwin R Schyster school of ring gear was a good decision. Yes, I get the whole ‘Hitman 47’ character but still seems like it would be a pain in the ass to wrestle in…opening bell goes here…Josh kissing corporate ass by talking about the Impact and MLW relationship. Don Callis takes the chance to put over “Joey Ryan’s Penis Party” (things I’d never thought I’d type)…took almost two full minutes for the first physical interaction. Crowd’s invested though…LowKi is still so sudden almost two decades in. I’ve never doubted his in ring ability. His attitude sucks most of the time though…cross armed northern lights suplex by Ortiz. That’s a new one for me…double team wheelbarrow X-Factor by LAX. I’d say they are top three in the world in terms of their tag work. Them, the Young Bucks and the Revival for me…and now a little double teamwork from Martinez and Ki. Kitchen sink knee lift into a basement dropkick…Martinez busts out the skullfucker. Throwback to an old X Division rival of LowKi’s in Alex Shelley…corner kangaroo kick by LowKi. Almost a tip-up version of the Warrior’s Way/Ghetto Stomp (take your pick)…one way to get into a hot tag, I suppose…Ortiz just clocks LowKi with a missile dropkick. That looked super snug…action is way too fast here to call it all. Another LAX double team (superkick assisted Tower of London) gets broken up by a Swanton from LowKi…Doomsday gamengiri by Promociones. Good looking move. A clean kickout by Ortiz tells me it’s not their finisher though…Santana sends LowKi face first into the post. In the ring, Ortiz counters Martinez and lifts him up into a Death Valley Driver, which is enough for the three count at 12:39…GOOD but the anti-climatic nature of the finish hurts it from going any higher. When you get double team after double team during the course of the match, you come to have a certain expectation for finishing sequence. Especially when LAX has one of the best double team finishes in pro wrestling with the ‘Street Sweeper’. Match was strong up to that point though despite the slow start, so I can’t knock it too bad overall. I wouldn’t be against more of LowKi and Ricky as a team in Impact but we’ll have to see there. (GOOD)
*Sami Callihan promo: the cult leader type persona that Callihan has with oVe fits him so well. He’s one of the better promo guys on the indies. I’m actually really looking forward to the Monster’s Ball match a little later on the show…
*Match #6: Tessa Blanchard vs. Joey Ryan
The Who: Tessa Blanchard is in my opinion one of the five best women’s wrestlers in the United States currently. She is the complete package as she can talk, she has a presence about her, she’s a strong worker and she has the ability to get a crowd to react to her. Joey Ryan is a bit of a mixed bag. While I think Joey is a competent wrestler, his current persona does absolutely nothing for me.
The Why: I can truthfully say I have no clue.
The Match: So, I’m coming into this match with a bad bias and I’ll be the first to admit such. Having seen as much PWG as I have, I’m very well aware of what a focused Joey Ryan is capable of. His current shtick (and it’s a lot of shtick) does nothing for me. I don’t really have an interest in this match because with Tessa having the match with Gail Kim coming up, any efforts that Impact may have put into making Tessa a viable threat to Gail will be damaged by the shenanigans that will occur here…then again, Joey’s selling a shit ton of merch, so what do I know?…Callis pops Josh (and myself) by approving of Joey’s Speedo…that blow pop spot with the fan. Pretty sure that’s how you get herpes…the ‘you sick fuck’ chant towards the fan is well deserved. Couldn’t pay me enough to do that…opening bell goes here…and Joey tries to go with the ‘touch it’ penis spot early. Tessa naturally responds the national bird of the USA, the middle one…Callis keeping popping Josh on commentary. He used to do that all the time to Joey Styles in ECW and Kevin Kelly in New Japan. I don’t think Don gets nearly enough credit for how good he is at the comic relief aspect of his color commentary duties…corner trap chestblower by Tessa looks really good…see, that’s the Joey Ryan I know. The ‘Technical Lizard’ Joey Ryan. For all the sizzle he currently uses, there’s a lot of steak there. He just doesn’t show it enough…top rope senton and a beauty by Tessa…pumphandle suplex by Ryan just launches Tessa in retaliation…Blanchard is so smooth in the ring. It’s too bad her attitude is what it is because could easily be the biggest star in women’s wrestling if it wasn’t…Callis is at least making the Ryan shenanigans more entertaining then usual…match is making Tessa look resilient at least…Ryan goes for a superplex. Tessa fights it off and tries a tornado DDT which Ryan counters by putting Tessa back on the top rope. A palm strike to the boob (I think, bad camera angle) sets up another try at the superplex. Tessa knocks Ryan back into the ring and then comes flying in with ‘Magnum’ (she’ll be sponsored by Trojan soon) which gets the three count at 10:46…better then I expected but not what it could have been due to the antics involved. Tessa came out of this looking much better then I feared she would and Joey kept it to a greatest hits of the sleaze department while still working a reasonable match. I’ll call it AVERAGE+, which is as good as possible given the circumstances. (AVERAGE+)
*Quick plug for the Rebellion PPV and the impending title match between Johnny Impact and Brian Cage. I believe (if memory serves) they went one on one at Homecoming as well. That’ll be my next review here on the site to get everyone ready for the Rebellion show on April 28th.
*Match #7: X Division Title Match: Rich Swann © vs. Flamita (representing AAA)
The Who: Rich Swann is the defending champion here and has re-established himself as one of the better Jr. Heavyweight workers in the world since he arrived in Impact in June of last year. Flamita is someone I know almost nothing about. I don’t watch a ton of legitimate Lucha Libre so Triple A isn’t on my view list. Upon some research, I find out he’s 24 with about a decade of experience, having debuted at the age of just fifteen in his native Mexico. He’s also worked with Dragon Gate in Japan and is a former Tag Team and Jr. Heavyweight champion there.
The Why: For Swann’s X division title. This is actually a replacement match as Rich Swann was originally supposed to defend the title against Dragon Gate’s YAMATO.
The Match: Little disappointed that we aren’t getting YAMATO here, but I’ve heard good things about Flamita…opening bell sends us on our way…amazing athleticism in this match early. These are the kind of matches the X Division was based around back when TNA started in 2002…once we go back to the ring after Swann’s dive, pace is a lot slower though…Flamita comes out with a tope of his own. I think Swann was fancier but Flamita’s was smoother…tiger bomb into a lungblower by Flamita. The innovation on this show in general has been quite impressive…Swann with a Buzzsaw kick, ala Tajiri. Wonder what he’s up to these days. Last we saw him was briefly in NXT…Flamita reminds me of 2 Cold Scorpio in the way he strings high impact offense. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not…breaks down in a strike exchange. Not what you’d expect from these two…the Tyler Bate style fake out by Flamita was nice. It was immediately undone by a Rich Swann handspring ace crusher, but still appreciated…leap of faith (Jigsaw from CHIKARA style) frankensteiner by Swann pulls Flamita from the buckle. Once Flamita is down, Swann goes up to the second rope, where a Phoenix Splash (impressive from the second as far as timing goes) equals a three count at 7:46…I get that it was super late by this time and I’m guessing the building had a curfew. That being said, that is just tragically short given what these guys are probably capable of doing with another four or five minutes. What we did get was entertaining, but ultimately the brevity holds it back from being anything super memorable. Call it GOOD but a little disappointing given what it could have been capable of. (GOOD)
*Van Dam and Sabu promo: Van Dam does most of the talking, which really isn’t a surprise. Hearing Sabu actually talk is still something I’m not sure I can wrap my head around…it’s not that I dislike Van Dam and Sabu because I don’t. A match like this shows that Impact still hasn’t quite gotten that they need to focus on their own talent rather then relying on stars of the past. That has always been TNA’s mistake in the past and it seems like those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it…
*Match #8: ‘Monster’s Ball’: Jimmy Havoc vs. Sami Callihan
The Who: Jimmy Havoc has been a focal point of my PROGRESS reviews, so I’m quite familiar with him. There’s actually a lot of similar between he and Sami . Both are kind of death match hybrid wrestlers in that they can work basically anything style without being too far out of their element. Sami Callihan is the bigger deal in Impact since Jimmy rarely comes over to the US. Callihan was involved in my pick for the 2018 Impact match of the year as well with his brutal war with Pentagon Jr. back at Slammiversary in the ‘Mask vs. Hair’ match.
The Why: Well, frankly, because why not? I don’t think there was anything specific that set this match up but it should be good all the same.
The Match: No music for Jimmy that I can hear. Either it’s muted on the feed or someone at the venue screwed up. Either are likely, truthfully…and Callihan assaults Don with his hat. What is with wrestlers picking on announcers these days…opening bell goes here…Callis laments being the poor official in this contest and I couldn’t agree more…thumbs up by Sami is countered with Jimmy figuring out the national bird of the US as well followed by a short right that gets us going…staple gun to the vest. Sounds good but probably not very painful. The follow up one to the balls is most likely a little more effective…crowd chants ‘you sick fuck’. Josh wonders if they are talking to Callihan or Havoc. In unison, Callis and I say both…Sami lawn darts a chair at Jimmy and Jimmy comes up bleeding…chain in the mouth choke. That checks…fake out by Jimmy leads to a chop to the back. What a jerk!…that trash can almost went into the crowd like it was a ladder at an ROH show…not sure what the hell happened there, the camera missed it…running eye poke by Jimmy. Effective, I suppose…Cactus Driver on the apron and he stuck him with it. Dangerous as all hell spot but very visually appealing…sunset flip attempt is countered with a stapler. Well, of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be?…and Sami kicks Jimmy clean in the dingus…ECW staple of the frying pan gets introduced. Using it to the back doesn’t sound as good as the head shots did, but probably safer…lemon juice in the cut. I’m gonna be sick…baseball swing with the trash can by Havoc…paper cuts are now a weapon. Those damn things hurt…Sami needs a shower…as if lemon juice wasn’t enough, now its time for salt…he’s biting the bare foot. Now I really am going to be sick. I don’t do feet stuff…death valley driver into the trash can…colorful building blocks…piledriver onto said building blocks gets a one count. DISREPECTFUL!…Sami grabs the baseball bat and smacks Jimmy in the side of the face with it. A pair of chairs get set up facing each other and Callihan delivers a piledriver onto the standing chairs. That’s your three count at 13:50…not as bloody as the old Abyss ‘Monster’s Ball’ matches used to be but I’d say that’s a good thing. Some innovative spots here and there but ultimately not nearly what these two are capable of. As a death match, I’ve seen both of these guys involved in far more gruesome matches. For the needs of this show though, it worked. The fans were invested, the guys busted their butts to give the fans their money’s worth and all in all, its not a bad way to spend about fourteen minutes. Call it a GOOD rating, but know they are capable of much worse if you are into that kind of thing. (GOOD)
*We recap everything that has happened thus far. Josh then plugs the Rebellion PPV and we see the same hype video we saw earlier promoting the Cage and Impact title match. After that, it’s a hype package for the main event, which is next.
*Match #9: Lucha Brothers (Fenix/Pentagon Jr.) vs. Rob Van Dam/Sabu
The Who: Fenix and Pentagon Jr. are one of the hottest acts in the US independent scene right now. Both were incredibly successful during the Lucha Underground series and as such, have been catching promoter eyes all around the country. Rob Van Dam is a former multiple division champion in TNA who is just now making his return to the company. He’s also signed a deal that will keep him around for a while going forward. Sabu at one point was considered to be the best high flyer in the world. Father time has not been kind to him recently but he’s hoping to at least capture the magic one more time while teaming with former ECW Tag Team championship partner Van Dam.
The Why: Some would say it’s a dream match. Personally, I’m not one of those people but I am a fan of three of the four men in this match. Specifically Van Dam, who I’ve always said is either in my top five for favorite wrestlers or just outside of it (Jericho, Punk, Hero, Daniels and Quackenbush are the other usual suspects).
The Match: I appreciate everything Sabu has done for the sport of professional wrestling, but at some point you have to know when to let go. That time for come for him but he insists on sticking around. Hopefully, the rest of the guys in this match can help him make his way through…not sure why the Lucha Brothers entrance video went full screen as long as it did but it does look cool…Pentagon Jr. is someone who could easily be a main event player in Impact. I don’t know if I could say the same about Fenix though…Hulka Blues knock off is about a pretty good rip. It’s not quite to the level of Harry Slash and the Slashtones but it’s close…Sabu comes out with a woman who I’m not sure I’ve seen before. To the Google, I go…and Google is of no help. Maybe Josh will tell us her name…Van Dam has his old TNA theme song. Still doesn’t make a damn lick of sense. Van Dam is still in pretty good shape for his age. We’ll see if it translate in ring…production has to get better to justify the cost of these shows. Josh spends a good minute putting over Van Dam’s accolades and you can barely hear them over the music…Don almost calls Josh ‘Joey’. As in Styles. That’s just blasphemous, sir…opening bell here…Sabu does look to be in good shape here. Given that he was bedridden in a hospital recently, that’s a good thing I guess…once again, almost two minutes before the first physicality…breaks down into a brawl at ringside real quick…Van Dam almost brains Fenix with a leg lariat and clips Sabu with the kick as well…Van Dam doesn’t get anywhere close to any of Rolling Thunder. Sabu’s flipping legdrop did look good though…Van Dam makes up for it with a huge monkey flip on Fenix…rope springboard 360 kick by Fenix. That looked nice…Sabu just eats a double superkick…excellent double team work by the Lucha Brothers with the wheelbarrow splash…Josh plugs the Van Dam documentary called ‘Head Strong’. Gee, I wonder why…that is not a good looking table…alright, the old school double legdrop through the table does bring bit a nice bit of nostalgia…Van Dam looks for the Five-Star and eats chair from Pentagon Jr., which sends Van Dam spilling to the floor. A double kick puts Sabu down and once Sabu is grabbed up by Pentagon Jr., the double team Fear Factor (double stomp assisted package piledriver) spells the three count for a Lucha Brothers victory at 8:03…kept short for obvious reasons, but fun enough while it lasted. Van Dam and Sabu aren’t going to be able to put on the fifteen to twenty minute wars that they used to, so it made sense to use them for the name value to pop the crowd and to give your tag champions a big win. This match was too short to tell if Van Dam will add anything to the Impact roster, but I will give credit to Sabu who looked a lot better then I thought he would here. Call the match AVERAGE but that’s actually higher then what I anticipated. (AVERAGE)
*Show of sportsmanship mid-ring post match, as Josh hyperbolically states that it’s a night we’ll never forget. That is how we go off the air for United We Stand.
Match #1: WrestlePro Tag Titles- Fallah Bahh/KM defeated Team Espana © and the New Heavenly Bodies, KM pins Jos A with the ‘Ego Driver’ @ 9:58 (GOOD) (Pre-Show)
Match #2: Ultimate X for #1 Contendership to X Division title- Johnny Impact grabs ‘X’ to win match @ 13:03 (Match also involved: Ace Austin, Dante (AR) Fox, Jake Crist and Pat Buck) (GOOD)
Match #3: Team Lucha Underground (Aerostar/Daga/Drago/Marty Martinez) defeat Team Impact (Brian Cage/Eddie Edwards/Moose/Tommy Dreamer), Martinez pins Dreamer after a butterfly implant DDT @ 10:22 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #4: Impact Wrestling Knockouts Title- Taya Valkyrie © wins 4 way, pinning Katie Forbes after stealing the pin from Jordynne Grace following the Grace Driver @ 9:00 (Match also involved: Rosemary) (AVERAGE)
Match #5: LAX (Santana/Ortiz) defeat Promociones Dorado (LowKi/Ricky Martinez), Ortiz pins Martinez after a Death Valley Driver @ 12:39 (GOOD)
Match #6: Tessa Blanchard pins Joey Ryan, ‘Magnum’ @ 10:46 (AVERAGE+)
Match #7: Impact X Division Title- Rich Swann © pins Flamita with a 2nd rope Phoenix Splash to retain @ 7:46 (GOOD)
Match #8: Monster’s Ball- Sami Callihan pins Jimmy Havoc with a piledriver through a pair of open chairs @ 13:50 (GOOD)
Match #9: Lucha Brothers (Fenix/Pentagon Jr.) defeat Rob Van Dam/Sabu, Pentagon Jr. pins Sabu after a springboard double assisted Fear Factor @ 8:03 (AVERAGE)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
It’s a mixed bag to me. There are things that are definitely worth your time to check out. ‘Ultimate X’ and ‘Monster’s Ball’ are both fun matches. But there’s some stuff that will leave you scratching your head as well. I get why they put Katie Forbes into the Knockouts title match but she definitely brought it down. Wasting Tessa Blanchard on Joey Ryan pisses me off. The eight man tag match basically turning into just a storyline development tool does no favors to any of the men in that match. It’s not all good, it’s not all bad. But there is quite a bit of both.
So where does this leave us? It leaves me getting ready to type the preview and introductions for Homecoming since that show is just five days away at the time I finish this (see, I can math Andrew). It leaves you guys hopefully continuing to check these reviews out here on the Chairshot. Finally, it leaves me on my way to the fridge to get something to drink. Not hungry yet but I will be by the time I get Homecoming started, I’m sure.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: I’m going to go with ‘Ultimate X’ here and specifically Ace Austin’s performance therein.
Worst match/moment: The whole Joey Ryan and Tessa Blanchard debacle. I don’t put that on the performers though. I blame the match making committee for this one.
MVP: Don Callis for being super entertaining throughout the show. No one individual effort stood out to me so I’ll give it to Don.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10
My next review that isn’t with PROGRESS will be Impact Wrestling’s Homecoming 2019 to get everyone ready for Rebellion. In addition, check out PROGRESS Chapter 4, which is available now in the archives. Chapter 5 should be out soon and once I finish Homecoming, I’ll begin work on Chapter 6. I would also hope that you guys will check out the Raw Reaction every Monday night at 11:30 PM (EST) to hear Tony Acero, Andrew Balaz and myself break down the important news and cover Monday Night Raw over on the Chairshot Radio Network.