Harry takes us on a few, more recent Impact Wrestling classics. He lends his experience to this new look Homecoming PPV! How does it stack up?
Welcome back into ‘What I Watched’, everyone. As you all know, Rebellion has come and gone from Impact Wrestling. Andrew does an excellent job of covering the show, which you can see (HERE). The idea for ‘What I Watched’ was to cover the PPV prior to Rebellion as a way to get everyone hyped for the show. Thankfully, the United We Stand review going up when it did basically served that purpose. Now, I get the chance to take my time and give Homecoming a fair and honest shake as opposed to the rush job that would have had to happen to get it up in time. As far as where ‘What I Watched’ goes from here…obviously back to PROGRESS for Chapters 6 and going forward. Chapter 5 is already in the queue as discussed before. Having subscribed to IWTV (Independent Wrestling TV) for the time being at least, I now have access to new CHIKARA, Glory Pro, Black Label Pro and much more. Plus classic independent wrestling shows as well. The Club WWN thing is still in the planning stages as well, though that may be a tougher nut to crack.
That brings us to why we’re here today. As mentioned, Impact Wrestling had the Rebellion PPV on the 28th of April. As has been the tradition of ‘What I Watched’, I usually look at the PPV before it to see what they need to improve and what stood out from the prior show. I honestly don’t remember anything about the card for Homecoming since I’ve been focusing on looking at the build to Rebellion as well as my coverage of ‘United We Stand’. All this said, it’s into the way back machine where we head to January 6th, 2019 as ‘What I Watched’ presents Impact Wrestling’s ‘Homecoming’ 2019.
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. If you are interested in reading any of my previous reviews here at the Chairshot, feel free to click my name at the top of this article to go to my archive of posted material.
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: ‘Homecoming’
From: The Asylum in Nashville, Tennessee
Date: January 6th, 2019
Run Time: 2:50:01 (Impact Plus (the new GWN)
*GENERAL NOTES: The nostalgia is strong with this show. I can remember watching some of the early TNA weekly PPVs, so for them to be back where it all started almost seventeen years later is quite the feat. Looking forward to see how much of the history of the building comes into play and if they bring in any blasts from TNA/Impact’s past…the building looks really well set up and most importantly, full.
*COLD OPEN: Narrated by Johnny Impact. It’s not bad. I think I liked the Bound for Glory narrated by LAX more but part of that is LAX comes off as more themselves, where as Impact comes off as playing a character most of the time. Still a nice way to look back at days of TNA past. It does a pretty good job of letting us know a good portion of the card for tonight.
*Match #1: ‘Ultimate X’ for the vacant ‘X Division’ Championship- Rich Swann vs. Trey Miguel vs. Ethan Page vs. Jake Crist
The Who: Rich Swann is the former WWE Cruiserweight champion, After personal issues, he left the WWE and ended up in Impact where his wife also is. He defeated Dave Crist to get into this match. Trey Miguel (just Miguel in Impact) got here by beating Trevor Lee. He’s one third of the Rascalz as Wentz (Zachery) and Dez (Dezmond Xavier) came out to the stage with him but then went to the back. Ethan Page beat his mentor (and the man he teamed with back at Bound for Glory) Matt Sydal to qualify here. Still doing the ‘Third Eye’ gimmick here, he has thankfully since dropped that and gone back to the much more familiar ‘All Ego’ Ethan Page. Jake Crist got here by beating Willie Mack. He’s one half of Irish Airborne and (at this point) was one third of oVe (Ohio Versus Everything) with his brother Dave and the leader of the group who we will probably see later in Sami Callihan.
The Why: Brian Cage was the X Division champion, however he cashed in that belt for this opportunity at the Heavyweight title later tonight. On the road here, the four men listed above had the qualifying matches where they advanced to compete for the title in ‘Ultimate X’. I believe they used the same format back in 2012 when Austin Aries cashed in his X Division title for a shot at Robert Roode’s heavyweight title and I want to say that DJ Z (Zema Ion) won the title in that ‘Ultimate X’ match.
The Match: Having just watched the one at ‘United We Stand’, I’ll be curious to see how it compares. I know I’m not supposed to compare one match to another, but it’s human and reviewer nature to do so…opening bell goes here…Ethan is a little big by X Division standards. Doesn’t really wrestle the X Division style either. But I like him as a character and a performer so I wouldn’t have been opposed to him winning here…opening sequence is everyone rushing the belt and then dropping off into frankensteiner when they can’t get to it. Different way to start, I suppose…well, that’ll work. Page body slams Miguel off the top onto Swann and Jake…admittedly choreographed sequence with all the kicks, but the fans liked it…Josh announces that the X Division title went into abeyance when Brian Cage got his opportunity at Johnny Impact later. Man, they sign all the former WWE people…double cutter by Jake to take down Swann and Miguel…showstopper elbow off the cables by Page. Damn, son. Prove me wrong why don’t you…Swann catches Page with a beautiful handspring cutter. His reward for doing so is a double stomp to the back of the head by Trey…so, one cool thing about this match is the guys using the cables to amp up their moves. Does it make a bit of sense? No. But it’s visually impressive and that’s also part of the point of wrestling too…someone needs a Heel Section sign in that crowd…did someone just grab a ladder? That seems moderately unsporting in this match…Trey uses Swann as a projectile off the Ultimate X holder and does a moonsault off it himself. Again, visually impressive and took out all three opponents…different take on the Tower of Doom…just noticed that the ref is ‘Kid Ref’ Kris Levin…Tombstone on the floor. Fuck that noise…Crist tries going across the cables and Ethan spears him off. The one at United We Stand looked better though…leap of faith (Jigsaw) style ’rana by Swann. Miguel tries to return the favor but Swann lands on his feet and races to the other side. He travels down the cable and right as Trey tries to reach out to him, Swann grabs the belt to win the match at 14:01…well, as I said, it’ll be hard not to compare this to the ‘Ultimate X’ match we had at United We Stand. While I thought that match was a better athletic display, I think this one tells a better story with all four men being first time competitors in this match type. Ethan Page impressed me the most with the way he adapted his style to the ‘Ultimate X’ playground. However, I can’t be mad at Swann getting the win here as he’s one of the better Jr. Heavyweight or Cruiserweight wrestlers in the world. Call this one GOOD but a slight step below the ‘Ultimate X’ from ‘United We Stand’, in my opinion.
*Announcers run down the card. Don Callis attempts in vain to keep his cowboy hat in place. The card itself looks pretty good. There isn’t a match here that looks like it’ll be bad. Impact has had two good PPVs prior to this so they seem to be in good shape to keep that run up…we then go backstage to a Brian Cage interview with McKenzie Mitchell. Cage isn’t the best promo but when you look like he does, you don’t have to be. Mitchell isn’t a bad interviewer, but this would have been a good opportunity to go into the Impact past and bring back someone like Goldilocks here.
*Match #2: Allie/Su Yung vs. Jordynne Grace/Kiera Hogan
The Who: Allie is the former Cherry Bomb on the indies and is a former Impact Knockouts champion. Su Yung is a former champion as well, having lost the title in between the Slammiversary and Bound for Glory PPVs last year. Jordynne Grace is making her Impact PPV debut here, but had been on quite the roll in the company up to this point having not lost. At this point in time, she may be the most sought after female talent on the indies. Kiera Hogan, I honestly don’t know much about. I’m starting to go back and watch some of the SHIMMER and SHINE shows, but she’s the wild card here to me.
The Why: Allie was feuding with Su in an attempt to save her friend Kiera, even traveling to the Undead Realm to rescue Kiera when Su abducted her (it‘s Lucha Underground rules at Impact these days). However when she did, she made a deal with Father James Mitchell to get into the Realm at the expense of her soul. A darker and more vicious Allie began to emerge and she eventually sided with Su against her former friend. That led to Jordynne making the save for Kiera during a two on one attack and thus bringing us to this tag match.
The Match: Knowing what we know now (Allie has since left Impact Wrestling and signed with AEW), I feel like Jordynne pinning Allie would have been a good way to announce Jordynne’s arrival into the upper tier of the Knockouts division. As they say though, hindsight is twenty-twenty, so let’s see what did happen…what the sam hill is Kiera wearing? Did she steal Natalya’s side gig as a dominatrix?…Josh: ‘Is Jordynne Grace the most powerful Knockout you’ve ever seen?’ Me: ‘Not in a world where Awesome Kong existed. But she might be second’…I like Jordynne. I am happy to report that she would eventually take her place in said top tier of Knockouts, getting the title shot at the next PPV. Su is a strong character but I’m not sold on her in-ring work. Allie, I like and I always have. But she’s now part of AEW, so I guess that’s irrelevant around Impact these days…opening bell goes here…Grace goes for a powerbomb to open the match. Yeah, I got nothing for that…a snapmare into a sliding clothesline is a much more appropriate opening spot however…tags made on both sides…Kiera’s dropkick does not look good…the hip attack and sliding kick do look better though…lengthy distraction sequence leads to Su pulling Kiera into the buckle…Dark Allie and Su take over at this point…man, Allie has quite the ass (I’m a guy, sue me)…tree of whoa neckbreaker by Su looks really nice. She’s gotten better in the ring in the several years she’s been doing this…good double team work by Allie and Su with the Arachnidrana into a lungblower…neither Kiera nor Su throws a good looking strike. Even the forearms look like they wouldn’t break a piece of paper…Jordynne’s strikes look much better…I actually think Kiera’s gear may be actually be a Harlem Heat tribute. Just saw the flames on the back. Wonder if she broke into the business at Reality of Wrestling…double team suplex and cross body to the floor. Give Su credit, that is a hell of a bump, even with the mats…Allie goes to the eyes and Kiera tags herself in. Allie takes advantage of that, but Kiera catches a swinging fisherman’s suplex…Jordynne with a fall-forward slam to Allie at the same time as she powerbombs Su…Su mists Jordynne sending her to the floor. Allie catches Kiera with a Codebreaker. Instead of going for the cover, she crawls over to Su and gets the glove that Su has used for the Mandible Claw in the past. Allie then applies the Mandible Claw herself on Kiera and the referee notes that Kiera is out, calling for the bell at 8:52…better then I thought it would be, but it wasn’t anything you need to see either. Su is much more sizzle then steak and while Allie isn’t a bad worker, she’s nothing to write home about either. Jordynne has the potential to be something special down the line and while Kiera is getting better, she’s by far the lowest of the four on the totem pole. Again, knowing that Allie would soon be gone, I think I’d have given the win to Jordynne and Kiera here, but all in all, it’s an AVERAGE match with a strong finish due to the mind games that Su has worked on Allie.
*Post match- the attack on Kiera continues and it leads to the Undead Bridesmaids bringing a casket onto the stage, much the same way Madison Rayne found herself inside of it at Slammiversary…Su grabs Kiera and sends her toward the casket, calling for it to be opened. When it is opened, Rosemary pops out. It would be the first time we’ve seen Rosemary at ringside since she tore her ACL back in early 2018…Rosemary lays out a few of the Undead Bridesmaids before throwing a charging Su into the pack…Rosemary and Allie come face to face and Rosemary goes for the ‘bunny pat’ but Allie slaps her hand away and escapes the ring.
*Match #3: ‘Falls Count Anywhere’- Moose vs. Eddie Edwards
The Who: Moose is a former NFL player who has made the transition to wrestling, first stopping at ROH on his way to Impact. Eddie Edwards is, well at this point, a crazy person. He’s also one of the few who can claim they are an Impact ‘Grand Slam’ champion, having held the Heavyweight, X Division, Tag and Grand Championships for the company.
The Why: This match was supposed to happen at Bound for Glory, but Killer Kross got involved at ringside and the match got turned into a tag match between Kross and Moose against Edwards and Tommy Dreamer. That didn’t settle the score and Impact management has given them a ‘Falls Count Anywhere’ match here to hopefully settle their differences once and for all.
The Match: Video package before as is the norm and man, that powerbomb onto the ramp had to hurt like hell. Screw that noise…they put Eddie in a mental asylum. The irony of that is there have been times where Impact’s booking has made me feel like I should be in one of those myself…Raven being used in the build makes sense though, given that they are in the Asylum for this show…Moose makes his entrance and Eddie jumps him in the aisle way, giving us our opening bell…Josh calls Eddie a ‘loose cannon’. Let’s not go throwing that around so flippantly, shall we?…that plancha looked really awkward…the suicide dive catch into the apron powerbomb looks a lot better…and that’s a double your pleasure moment…Moose uses the ring steps (one piece ring steps) to bridge a guardrail off the side of the ring. This probably ends poorly for someone…if at first you don’t succeed, suicide dive again…weekly PPV flashback time as they begin to brawl all around the Asylum…start my own ‘I can’t see shit’ chant at this point…we finally catch up as they make it to what used to be Raven’s Nest…plancha out of the Nest by Edwards. Nice move…Josh points out that ‘Anarchy Rules’ in the Asylum. Don’s microphone goes silent for a bit as I assume that popped him…Edwards is on those ‘red equals green’ types. For the second time in a big singles match at a PPV I’ve covered, he’s busted open…Edwards chair chucks at Moose twice, hitting him in the head both times. Sabu wouldn’t show back up until ‘United We Stand’, so someone had too…superplex into a chair stack…strike exchange and it actually looks good. Both guys are very believable strikers…and Moose goes through the guardrail. Well, it is Wrestling 101. ‘He who sets it up usually goes through it’. Usually works for tables, but I guess guardrails bridged like a table works much the same…it’s Falls Count Anywhere, Eddie. Just pin him there…kendo stick shots to the quad. That’s such a jerk move…Eddie’s wife Alisha comes down and pulls the kendo stick from him, yelling that it’s enough. She then proceeds to beat Moose with the stick herself. When in Rome, I suppose…Edwards gets in one last shot himself that splinters the cane. Eddie follows up with a double arm DDT and that’s three at 13:20…so, I’m a little torn here. The match itself was very good. Exactly what it needed to be with the physicality and Edwards finally able to overcome the size disadvantage to stand tall. I don’t care for the ending. I get that Moose has been mean to Alisha as well as Eddie, but her going off on Moose with the cane seemed like she took Eddie’s moment to me. I’m still going with a GOOD rating here, but I think it’s higher if Alisha isn’t involved.
*Sami Callihan promo to get us to the next match, which will be Callihan vs. Willie Mack. Callihan delivers his usual strong promo here, but for as much as I like Willie Mack, I can’t help but feel like Sami is underutilized here.
*Match #4: Willie Mack vs. Sami Callihan
The Who: Willie Mack made his Impact debut right around Bound for Glory last year, where he teamed with Rich Swann to beat Ethan Page and Matt Sydal. Sami Callihan had my best match of 2018 in Impact with Pentagon Jr. at Slammiversary. Sami was also voted Impact Wrestler of the Year and for those more into the WWE, was briefly known as Solomon Crowe in NXT.
The Why: Guessing it goes back to Jake Crist beating Willie Mack to get into the ‘Ultimate X’ match. Willie wasn’t cool with that after Sami cost him the match and went after Sami, despite Rich Swann telling Willie that Sami isn’t a war worth fighting.
The Match: Sami makes friends with everyone around ringside before eventually yelling at Don Callis. Who does he think he is, Austin Aries?…as soon as Sami gets into the ring, Willie charges in with a clothesline and an opening bell…Willie with a tope con hilo and lands on his feet. I’ll point out at this time that if you aren’t familiar with Willie, he also weighs about three hundred pounds. That’s insane agility for a guy his size…weird to see Mack controlling the opening part of this match. I do like he’s getting the chance to showcase some of his moveset…Willie decides to go after Dave and it turns the tables to put Sami in control…bicycle knee while Mack is trapped in the apron. Unique offense…that’s just fucking gross, Sami…pretty lengthy rest hold here. Not what you’d expect from these two…jaw-jacker by Willie to escape another sleeper. Not the Stunner he was using back in Lucha Underground though…that Samoan Drop->nip-up->standing moonsault combo by Willie always impresses me. An incredible blend of strength and athleticism…jesus, that cannonball…Stunner attempts gets countered but Mack catches the Sky-High (called such by Matthews) for a close two…speaking of bicycle knees. (Callis cant help but call it the ‘V Trigger’)…Mack does get the Stunner but Callihan is able to get a foot on the rope. Mack to the top but while Sami has the ref, Dave Crist distracts Mack long enough for Sami to get over and bring Willie down with an avalanche DVD…for a ONE COUNT! DISRESPECTFUL!…burning lariat gets another one count…fans rally behind Willie as Sami lays in strikes. Willie tries a lariat of his own, but it’s ducked and Sami turns him inside out with another burning lariat. Callihan then catches Mack with a piledriver (Memphis style) for the three count at 10:20…there we go. Leave it to Sami to once again deliver. I’m not going to say excellent, because I don’t think it’s long enough to justify that. That being said, it’s one of the better ten minute matches I’ve seen. I’ll go with a VERY GOOD here and these Impact PPVs just keep killing it.
*Eli Drake interview with McKenzie Mitchell here about Monster’s Ball up next…forget the promo for a second here…how did Impact let this guy fall so far? Yes, he’s not exactly great in the ring, but the guy has the kind of promo skills that can carry a company. For the longest time, he did carry the company. I get the whole ‘he was fired because of disparaging remarks about Impact’ thing. At the same time, his character at this time is anti-Impact Wrestling management. There’s nothing there that couldn’t have been worked out. Honestly, I would not be surprised to see him signing with AEW or the WWE by the time people are reading this if not shortly thereafter.
*Match #5: Monster’s Ball- Eli Drake vs. Abyss
The Who: Eli Drake, I talked about just above. Former Impact world champion and while he’s not anything special in the ring, he can talk them into the building. Abyss is the most homecoming of all the people at this show as he broke out as Abyss here in the Asylum in the early (ish) days of TNA. He was even on the first weekly PPV for TNA as Prince Justice (though that wasn’t here in the Asylum. That was in the Von Braun Center, I believe)
The Why: Eli has been speaking out against hardcore wrestling. Who better in TNA/Impact world to defend it then Abyss? There was also the whole Abyss put Eli through a table with a Chokeslam at Bound for Glory situation too.
The Match: Eli brings out what looks to be an ore as weapon. Why the hell not?…and yet again, another jumpstart as Eli attacks Abyss before the opening bell at…Abyss throws his jacket at Eli and misses, but Eli catches it in time for continue what they had planned. That’s a professional…Abyss has a staple gun. Eli tries a sunset flip. This goes about as well as you would expect for Eli…we’re almost two minutes in and Eli still hasn’t gotten his ring jacket off…Abyss sets up tables and goes for a Chokeslam but Eli goes to the eyes…they then begin brawling into the crowd which would have been a lot more effective if Eddie and Moose hadn’t done it less then an hour ago…traveling case as a weapon. That works…Eli calls himself the ‘last of a dying breed’. Well, he break into TNA with Eddie Kingston…JESUS! Overhead belly to belly from the ring to the floor through the tables! That’s a dummy no for Eli…and Abyss has the thumbtacks…Abyss calls for the Chokeslam but Eli escapes. Drake gets a handful of tacks, but Abyss ducks and Kid Ref takes them in the face. With Levin being attended to, Abyss hits the Black Hole Slam, but there’s no zebra to count, despite the crowd’s best attempt…corner charge attempt by Abyss meets a chair that was placed there I think at the start…Eli has a chair. Abyss has Janice. Eli proceeds to beg before a gut shot with the chair. Eli tries to use Janice but Abyss catches Eli in a goozle and this time, it is the Chokeslam into the tacks complete with full ‘FML’ face from Eli…jesus christ, his back is a pincushion…face full of tacks to Abyss this time and Eli tries to use zip ties. That does not work, so instead it’s a series of chair shots. I lost count around 10…it was an attempt at the Rock-Austin Mania X7 finish but Abyss out at two…Eli grabs the paddle (the thing I thought was an ore) and breaks it over Abyss’ head. That’s your three count at 12:12…by Monster’s Ball standards, it was a little tame. Having the Falls Count Anywhere match earlier in the show may have taken some of the shine off it as well. That said, I enjoyed the match. I thought Eli looked really good here and for as long as it’s been for Abyss to be a regular competitor in Impact, he more then held his own. Eli getting the win here made sense too because you could use it to springboard him back up the card (which they kind of were going to with Eddie Edwards before Drake got fired). Neither one of these guys is still with the company, but it was an ABOVE AVERAGE match to go out on.
*Killer Kross promo backstage with McKenzie Mitchell…and his promo ain’t make a damn bit of sense. He seemed to still be channeling his Lucha Underground Rabbit Tribe gimmick then anything that checks inside of Impact. He does call out Johnny Impact and hopefully, that’s not foreshadowing his involvement in the main event.
*Match #6: Impact Tag Team titles- LAX © vs. Lucha Brothers (Fenix and Pentagon Jr.)
The Who: LAX (Ortiz and Santana) come into this match after having successfully defended their tag belts at Bound for Glory in the ‘Concrete Jungle’ match, teaming with Konnan to beat the original LAX of Hernandez and Homicide along with Eddie Kingston. Lucha Brothers come into this on a PPV losing streak for Fenix, as he dropped the fall in the four way at Slammiversary and alongside Brian Cage and Pentagon Jr., they were bested by the Crist brothers and Sami Callihan at Bound for Glory.
The Why: LAX wanted to know if they could beat the Lucha Brothers. Sometimes, you don’t need a complicated story. Just a battle for respect.
The Match: I really didn’t feel the need to the talk about the who much here. I’m actually debating dropping that going forward. I can talk about people here on the match section and for some of these people, the who becomes very redundant…having watched Rebellion live, I know what they did in the match that followed this. I’m curious to see how this goes without the stipulation to guide it…then again, Pentagon Jr. might just have been the hottest wrestler in the world at this point not named Becky Lynch…Josh and Don do bring up a valid point going into this match as LAX is not accompanied by Konnan. The last time they had a PPV title defense not with Konnan, they lost the tag belts. Though Josh and Don don’t name who, the answer is Eli Drake and Scott Steiner…there is a sign at ringside they keep showing that does make sense. “LAX vs. Lucha Brothers. Los Ganadores: Nosotros”. Despite my limited knowledge of Spanish, the sign translates to “LAX vs. Lucha Bros. The winners: All of us” or something similar…opening bell here…and the opening double team starts just about a minute into the match. If I’m the referee here, it’s Lucha rules. Let them go balls to the wall. Everyone wants to see it, why the hell not?…double stomp powerbomb combo lands Santana square on the back of his head. Oops…man, Fenix eats shit to the floor…once Santana is able to cause shit-eating, LAX brings the double teams. I go back to what I’ve said before. I think LAX is one of the top three best tag teams in the world when it comes to double team work. I’d also put the Lucha Brothers either in the top five or really close to it…Ortiz with a tope con hilo of his own and almost eats it into the barricade. The adrenaline is flowing for all four guys to start this one…top rope Asai Moonsault by Santana. Yep, balls to the wall…I don’t even know how to describe some of the double team work in this match…what the hell was that? Like an overhead throw assisted suicide dive by the Lucha Brothers. That’s a new one for me…you get a tope, you get a tope, you get a tope. Everyone gets a tope…your referee is Brandon Toll. Or as he’s known for this match: ‘that poor bastard’…360 kick by Fenix sets up a Codebreaker with double stomp combo…that’s it. I’m out. I got nothing. Top rope splash by Ortiz on Fenix. He goes the cover which Pentagon Jr. breaks up with a double stomp. Pentagon Jr. goes forward from that double stomp into a Canadian Destroyer on Santana as well…and a near standing ovation breaks out from it…that whole exchange looks cool but comes off really choreographed…double stomp Fear Factor lands this time but Ortiz throws Fenix into Pentagon to break up the count…Fenix is the man of 1000 double stomps. This one breaks up the cover after the Street Sweeper. He came from completely out of camera range to hit it, which did make for a nice visual…shortly after the breakup, Pentagon Jr. rolls out to the floor, leaving Ortiz and Fenix in the ring. Santana gets the tag and a series of moves that I don’t try to describe leads to a double team chicken wing into a facebuster that gets the three count at 11:31…exactly what I wanted from this match. I’d put it as good as the ‘Full Metal Mayhem’ match they’d go on to have at Rebellion. This match here though had none of the toys to work with that match had. Instead it was just four dudes going out there and busting their asses to entertain the fans in attendance and the paying audience at home. A VERY GOOD match here but given the four, that’s probably not that much of a surprise.
*Post-match: Konnan comes out and puts over all four guys as well as the building itself. Josh wants to see more and we would.
*McKenzie Mitchell is now backstage with Gail Kim, who has quite the little referee outfit on. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Gail may have had some work done…Gail mentions everything that’s been going on with Tessa and says that she’s here to call it down the middle to make sure the right women is the Knockout’s champion.
*Match #7: Impact Knockouts title- Tessa Blanchard © vs. Taya Valkyrie with Gail Kim as the special guest referee
The Who: Tessa Blanchard is the current champion and is a third generation wrestler (Grandfather is Joe, father is Tully). Taya Valkyrie is still relatively new to Impact at this point but was a key player in Lucha Underground. Gail Kim is the most celebrated Knockout in TNA/Impact history. However, she’s been retired from wrestling (as a competitor) since Bound for Glory 2017.
The Why: Tessa beat Taya at Bound for Glory, albeit under some controversial circumstances with a referee paying more attention to a ring apron than to Taya’s pin after the Road to Valhalla. Taya was granted the rematch and Tessa began disrespecting everyone, referees and staff alike at Impact to the point where Gail Kim stepped up and said she’d be the referee for the rematch here at Homecoming.
The Match: Let me first say that I don’t dislike Taya. I’m just not a huge fan of hers. If I had to sum it up with one word, it would probably be indifference. That’s not a good thing. My adoration of Tessa is well documented by this point and I don’t wish to expand…the cameraman for Gail’s entrance is getting fired…crowd seems pretty evenly split here though…Gail and Tessa get into a verbal spat before the opening bell. Let’s go ahead and telegraph this one way out in front, why don’t we…opening bell here…and the opening collar and elbow looks awkward. Not a great start…most of the Lucha sequence that follows looks good, until a mess is made of a tilt-a-whirl head scissors attempt. Not on the same page at the start of this one…it has been the night of the double stomp. Taya with a standing one to Tessa’s back…DDT onto the apron turns the table, though…the Survivor schmucks they showed earlier (I did not make mention of it) have a “Dicks Out 4 Taya” sign. The fuck is wrong with you morons?…basement dropkick into the guardrail by Tessa. Looked vicious…well, that’s quite the arm bar…looked like a Zig Zag with the hair there by Tessa…Gail and Tessa goes nose to nose. It leads to Taya fighting back for a brief moment before Tessa regains control…release German by Taya looks good…charging hip attack by Taya leads to the double knees in the corner…Buzzsaw DDT attempt by Tessa is countered nicely into a northern lights suplex by Taya. Tip toe bridge too until Taya rolls back and hits another double stomp, this time to a flattened Tessa…Taya goes for and misses a moonsault leading to a Tessa spear for two…Taya ducks and Tessa drills Gail. Accidentally, but I don’t think Tessa cared. Tessa gets the Buzzsaw DDT, but Gail is down so there’s no count. Turnabout being fair play from the referee at Bound for Glory…Tessa grabs the belt, but by the time she tries to use it, Gail tries to pull it away from her. A tug of war leads to Gail smacking Taya with the belt as Taya smirks. Tessa demands a count and Gail does, not even looking at the shoulders for two…Tessa shoves Gail. Tessa with a second shove and Gail shoves back into a roll-up for two by Taya. Glad that wasn’t the finish…Taya also gets out of the corner trap chestblower. Tessa grabs Gail by the throat, forcing her into the buckle. Tessa takes a swing at Gail. Gail ducks and catches Tessa with Eat Defeat. Tessa stumbles forward towards Taya, who lifts Tessa up and plants her with Road to Valhalla. With no ring apron distraction this time, it’s a three count at 10:41…definitely had it’s ups and downs. The booking of the match made sense with the story they are trying to tell so I won’t be too upset about that. Unfortunately, there was a lot of other moments here and there where they didn’t seem to be on the same page that hurt the flow of the match. For as relatively good as I thought their match was at Bound for Glory, this is a bit of a disappointment to me. Call it AVERAGE, but slightly better then the tag match that went on second on this show.
*Post-match, Taya seems to be genuinely happy that she’s won the belt. I can’t hate that. Tessa looks furious and the stage is set for a Rebellion…we then go to Josh and Don who run down everything that’s happened before giving us the Impact to Twitch announcement. The announcers then set the stage for Johnny Impact and Brian Cage.
*Johnny Impact promo, once again with McKenzie. I still say they missed an opportunity with not using old Impact interviewers since they were back in the Asylum…Impact has become a little better at promos but he’s still not great.
*Match #8: Impact Heavyweight title- Johnny Impact © vs. Brian Cage
The Who: Johnny Impact is the former John Morrison, of course. He’s been the champion since Bound for Glory when he beat Austin Aries. At this point, he was still a baby face as well. Brian Cage was also loved by fans here (and still is). Bound for Glory was not so kind to him as he suffered his first loss in Impact when he was pinned in that previously mentioned six-man tag by Sami Callihan.
The Why: This is an ‘Option C’ match up, where Brian Cage cashed in his Impact X Division title for a shot at Johnny Impact and the Heavyweight title. To this point, I don’t believe Cage had been beaten in a singles match either.
The Match: Cage comes out looking like he found the Gauntlet from Lucha Underground…Josh puts over Johnny during his entrance. Callis then puts over Cage. I think we know who is siding with who here…I feel like Johnny’s and Survivor don’t mix. Whatever you do, don’t bring back Fairplay…opening bell here…Cage snuffs a single leg attempt and it ends up as a stalemate…Impact teases a test of strength before clocking Cage with a kick. Obviously, Impact is going to have to use stamina and intellect here…that was kind of a northern lights. I’m not sure what it was supposed to be but I’m guessing that’s not it…fans seem to be leaning Cage but Impact catches a pretty good looking springboard spear gets two for Impact…well, that’s one way to turn the match. Cage sweeps the leg and Impact goes back into the buckle before face into the mat…Cage’s strength does allow him to combine offense like few can…monkey flip. Because of course Cage does a monkey flip…Impact escapes a power slam attempt and sends Cage into the cover. Leverage is also going to be key for Impact here…Cheeky Nandos! And Callis gives credit to Will Ospreay on the call. Never change, Don! It sets up a really nice looking electric chair facebuster too…Cage going for more of a grounded match then I thought he would. It’s like he’s intentionally trying to throw Impact off his game…Impact with a big dive to the floor and flushes Cage in the face with his knee! Jesus, Johnny. Fans chant ‘TNA’ too, so they have been hit with the knee as well…that definitely turns the tide as Impact takes over…Johnny Impact with a discus forearm. He’s never been a strike guy though, so Cage takes over almost immediately thereafter…apparently Josh has forgotten that the neckbreaker is called ‘Moonlight Drive’…Impact goes for the Razor’s Edge Urinage but Cage escapes. Cage goes for the Drill Claw, but Impact escapes. Impact catches some, but not nearly all, of the rope-hang German suplex. Sometimes, I think Johnny’s offense is too fancy just for the sake of being fancy…that was a pathetic looking kickout…they are just trading bombs at this point…Impact out of the discus lariat which I believe was one of Cage’s primary finishers in Lucha Underground…Impact catches Starship Pain but it’s a clean kickout by Cage. I’m trying to remember if Aries kicked out of it at Bound for Glory. I think he did, but I’m not sure…Impact with a top-rope Spanish Fly. For one. Because of course…Cage looking for Weapon X and this time gets it, but Impact gets the rope at the last split second. Maybe even just after what would have been the three. Given what we know now, that moment makes a lot more sense in hindsight…and Cage launches a Survivor douche three rows deep with a shove. Hahahahaha!…Drill Claw but there’s no referee as he’s dealing with the Survivor schmucks. Referee finally in and it’s a last second kickout from Impact. Cage looks for the Cesaro superplex but Impact counters it twice. Impact finally swings around and it’s a sort of powerbomb kinda that just barely gets a three count (again, what we know now) at 19:12…the finish was blown to an extent but they recovered it enough to make it work for where it was going. In addition, I could have done without the involvement of the dumb asses from Survivor as well. As far as Impact and Cage alone go, the match was GOOD but never anything above just because it came off kinda clunky. Neither one of these guys is known as a match leader and it showed here as they battled some miscommunications. Middle of the pack match for the title, sad to say.
*Cage is fuming after the way the match ends, grabbing the belt from referee Johnny Bravo. Cage debates what to do before throwing the belt at Impact and storming off. Seems to be a theme around here…Impact slowly makes his way back up as Taya makes her way out to the ring. Fans are booing and I saw a couple water bottles chucked, but the final thing we see are Impact and Valkyrie celebrating their wins and titles…right as I type that Killer Kross jumps Impact. Valkyrie tries to defend Impact and Kross powerbombs her off the ramp into the crowd onto black shirt security (hey, a throwback) and Killer Kross celebrates as the last thing we actually see.
Match #1: ‘Ultimate X’ for the vacant X Division title- Rich Swann wins 4 way by grabbing X Division title @ 14:01 in a match that also included Ethan Page, Jake Crist and Trey Miguel (GOOD)
Match #2: Allie/Su Yung def. Jordynne Grace/Kiera Hogan, referee stoppage when Allie has Mandible Claw on Hogan @ 8:52 (AVERAGE)
Match #3: Falls Count Anywhere- Eddie Edwards pins Moose, double-arm DDT @ 13:20 (GOOD)
Match #4: Sami Callihan pins Willie Mack, piledriver @ 10:20 (VERY GOOD)
Match #5: Monster’s Ball- Eli Drake pins Abyss, series of paddle shots to head @ 12:12 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #6: Impact Tag Team titles- LAX (Ortiz/Santana) © defeat Lucha Brothers, Santana pins Fenix after a double team facebuster @ 11:31 to retain (VERY GOOD)
Match #7: Impact Knockouts title- Taya Valkyrie pins Tessa Blanchard ©, Road to Valhalla after Eat Defeat @ 10:41 to win the title (AVERAGE)
Match #8: Impact Heavyweight title- Johnny Impact © pins Brian Cage, quasi avalanche powerbomb @ 19:12 (GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
Another Impact PPV, another banger of a show to me. Was it to the level of Slammiversary or Bound for Glory? No. But to expect that on a consistent basis is to set yourself up for disappointment. There are two really good matches that are well worth your time (Sami-Willie and the tag titles) and two others that are almost to that level (Ultimate X and Eddie-Moose). That’s half the PPV at GOOD to VERY GOOD or above. You can’t argue quality like that.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Whoever made the decision to let the Lucha Brothers and LAX go out there and just bust ass. The match itself, officially. But honorable mention to that guy (probably Scott D’Amore). You da real MVP.
Worst match/moment: Dark Allie and Su Yung vs. Jordynne Grace and Kiera Hogan. Wasn’t a bad match but was the worst thing on the show. The booking in the main event is the runner up.
MVP: They call him ‘The Draw’ for a reason. When I saw that Sami Callihan was facing Willie Mack, I was disappointed. I like Willie but Sami has been the best thing in Impact for close to a year now. The match itself was a ton of fun though.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10
The next time I come at you guys with a review will be when I cover “All In” right before the ‘Double or Nothing’ offering from AEW. After that, my next review that comes to you guys will be PROGRESS Chapter 5, “For Those About to Fight”. Hopefully, I’ll get some more shows into the archive for you guys as well. 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.
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