(Promotion: Impact Wrestling – Announcers: Josh Matthews & Don Callis – Location: Melrose Ballroom, Astoria, Queens, New York – October 14, 2018)
Opening video package feels modern and cool. It features LAX (Ortiz & Santana) cutting a promo from various locations around New York City.
Rich Swann/Willie Mack v. Matt Sydal/Ethan Page
-Fans: “Return of Mack!” They are white-hot.
-Rich Swann wallops Ethan Page with a killer dropkick.
-Don Callis takes a jab at the WWE/Vince McMahon in a comment regarding Matthews commentary. He says Matthews is a better announcer when there is “yelling” in his ears.
“We set this bitch on fire!” —Willie Mack
-“Holy shit” chant for a Willie Mack flip-dive off the apron. Callis compares Mack’s clothesline to that of Stan Hansen.
-“This is Impact” chant.
-Page swantons Swann.
-Handspring cutter into “Phoenix Splash” by Swann to Matt Sydal for the win. Swann & Mack dance after the bell. Mack takes the microphone as the crowd chants for him.
-Josh Matthews feels well-informed and confident.
-There are members of the New York Giants in attendance.
-I haven’t watched Impact in a very long time. It is refreshing to see a hot crowd supporting the show.
-This match was fun and sets the tone for the rest of the evening.
-Willie Mack is hella over. He has improved greatly since I last saw him wrestle. There are shades of the Junkyard Dog in him.
Winners: Rich Swann & Willie Mack
A package airs about Johnny Impact and Taya Valkyrie appearing on TMZ earlier in the week. This definitely makes Impact feeling big league. Impact implies that Austin Aries is insecure about his height.
Footage airs from the Hall of Fame ceremony the night before. Aries anger bubbles over during a press conference and he and Impact get into a pull-apart. Someone has been watching their UFC. The incident felt dangerous and real. Good stuff.
The camera cuts to the locker room where Konnan is laid out. LAX (Ortiz & Santana) come to his aid. He tells them that “King” jumped him.
Open Challenge to Any New Yorker
Eli Drake v. ???
-Eli Drake insults the city. He addresses the New York Giants at ringside and disparages the team.
-Even though he isn’t from New York, James Ellsworth answers Drake’s challenge. Fans chant “Delete” at him. He is then heavily booed while members of the audience chant, “Fuck you, Ellsworth!” Ouch.
-Drake hits the “Gravy Train.” Fans chant, “One more time!” He levels Ellsworth with a second one for the pinfall.
-Drake is on the mic. He says that he didn’t ask for Ellsworth. He didn’t ask for garbage. He asked for a Hall of Fame quality opponent. Abyss’ music hits. Abyss comes out and demolishes Drake, giving him the “Black Hole Slam.” He gets a table from beneath the ring. Drake begins to fight back. Abyss chokeslams him through the table. His music plays out the segment.
-Drake has a great look and is fantastic on the microphone. He has the slightest touch of Steve Austin and The Rock to his delivery.
-I was a bit shocked by how negatively Ellsworth was received. I guess people are over him. He certainly turned his two runs in the WWE into more than anyone could or would have predicted.
Winner: Eli Drake (err…sorta.)
A Tessa Blanchard pre-tape promo airs.
Impact Knockouts Championship
Tessa Blanchard (c) v. Taya Valkyrie
-Callis points out that Blanchard was trained by Lance Storm.
-Valkyrie avoids the Buzzsaw DDT three times during the body of the match.
-Tessa kicks out of a moonsault and curb stomp.
-Valkyries hit the “Road to Valhalla” but the referee was out of position to count the fall. Crowd: “That was three!” She then kicks out of a Buzzsaw DDT by Blanchard.
-Blanchard hit a flying “Codebreaker” to retain her title.
-This was a helluva match. It was competitive and hard-hitting. I’ve never been a huge fan of Tessa Blanchard but she is becoming undeniable. This will most likely prove to be the match of the night. We shall see.
Winner: Tessa Blanchard
Pre-taped interview: Moose, followed by a package for the Moose/Eddie Edwards match.
Moose v. Eddie Edwards
-Moose is accompanied to the ring by three “lovely ladies.”
-The match ends in short order when Killer Kross appears at ringside and locks Edwards in the “Kross Jacket” choke at ringside. The match is immediately thrown out. Moose and Kross whoop on Edwards until Tommy Dreamer runs out to make the save.
Winner: Eddie Edwards via DQ
Moose/Killer Kross v. Eddie Edwards/Tommy Dreamer
-Tommy Dreamer is wearing black pants with yellow polka dots down one leg in tribute to Dusty Rhodes.
-This match quickly degenerates into a wild brawl. At one point Dreamer is on the apron and takes a swig of water. Edwards, who is on the floor, opens his mouth and lets Dreamer drip the water into his mouth and then spits it into Moose’s face. Umm…gross.
-Fans: “You sick fuck!”
-Moose shoves one of the Giants players.
-A “chop-off” breaks out between Moose and Edwards. Edwards gets the better of his opponent.
-Audience: “Im-pact Wrest-ling!”
-Moose swings the kendo stick at Edwards and gets school boy’d and pinned for his trouble. Moose spears Edwards after the bell, and powerbombs him on the apron.
-Moose and Kross are a great pair of villains. They are two big, jacked-up assholes and it works.
-After two decades of abuse, Tommy Dreamer still looks good and moves ok. I bet it is another story when he gets up in the morning.
Winners: Eddie Edwards & Tommy Dreamer
Pre-tape interview: Ohio Versus Everything (Sami Callihan/Dave Crist/Jake Crist). Really nice intensity. Callihan cuts a mean promo.
“For Ohio. By Ohio.” –Sami Callihan
oVe Rules Match
oVe (Sami Callihan/Dave Crist/Jake Crist) v. Pentagon Jr./Fenix/Brian Cage
-Fans: “Ciero Miedo!”
-Callis calls the Crists “brainless mongrels.”
-This match immediately starts breaking the speed limit.
-Fenix hits double back handsprings into headbutts to the Crists.
-Brian Cage wrecks Jake Crist with a fallaway slam over the top rope to the floor.
-Callihan eats a spike “Fear Factor” from Pentagon and Fenix. He then piledrives Pentagon on the apron.
-The Crists give the “All-Seeing Eye” to Cage, who kicks out of the subsequent pin attempt.
-Cage eats multiple boots from all three opponents. Callihan spikes Cage with a gnarly piledriver for the win.
-Cage is ungodly jacked. That guy is never not in peak form. He reminds me of an athletic Don Muraco.
-The announcers do a good job reinforcing the significance of this being Cage’s first pinfall loss in the company.
-The Crists have come a heckuva long way since their days as the Irish Airborne in Ring of Honor.
Winners: Sami Callihan/Dave Crist/Jake Crist
Interview with Impact Wrestling World Champion Austin Aries. He says that when he returned to the company it was in shambles, but he has resurrected it. He calls Johnny Impact a “Johnny Come Lately.” He questions his motivation for being in the company.
Aries cut a solid, intense promo. He underscored that the issue between him and Impact is a personal one.
Backstage promo: King takes a slug from a flask, dedicating the shot to Konnan who “slipped” earlier in the evening. He promises that the “young boys” will learn that the OGz grew up in a NYC that hadn’t been cleaned up by Mayor Rudy Giuliani yet.
Concrete Jungle Death Match
The OGz (King/Homicide/Hernandez) v. LAX (Konnan/Ortiz/Santana)
-The canvas, padding and turnbuckle covers have been stripped from the ring. There are tables at ringside tagged with “LAX” and “OGz”
-LAX has a really cool ring entrance. The arena goes dark and searchlights light up while audio of a police dispatcher plays. Bodega Bamz and the Tan Boys accompany them to the ring, sans Konnan.
-The match starts hot, while fans chant “Boriqua!”
-The boards composing the bed of the ring are unstable with no canvas holding them snug. This could be a disaster.
“Whaddya all say I kill this motherfucker?!?” —Santana
-Hernandez gets color early.
-King eats a guardrail.
-Hernandez gives the “Border Toss” to Homicide over the top rope and onto their opponents. He then puts Ortiz through a table.
-Konnan’s music hits. He hits the ring and dukes it out with King.
– King goes through a table. LAX hit the “Streetsweeper” on him for the pin and win.
-LAX’s entrance with the live music was super dope.
-The visual of the stripped ring was cool and original…but limiting during the body of the match.
Vignette: Allie goes into the “Undead Realm” to rescue Kiera Hogan. She trades her soul to Jim Mitchell for the opportunity. The segment involves axes, fake blood, stabbings and interdimensional travel. Rosemary ultimately makes the save to allow Allie and Hogan escape the realm.
-This was fucking stupid. The segment drug on far too long and pushed believability to the absolute max. It just didn’t feel as if it belongs in the rest of the universe that Impact resides. There was some porno-level acting during this segment.
The announcers revealed that Impact will be running at the Asylum in Nashville this coming January.
Johnny Impact promo. He called Aries a “short, narcissistic asshole.” A photograph from Impacts wedding was shown. It featured him, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and Zack Ryder. Like I said, Impact takes digs where they can.
Why talk about your opponent’s shortcomings? If he beats you, you got beat by a midget.
Impact World Championship
Austin Aries (c) (w/ Killer Kross & Moose) v. Johnny Impact (w/ Taya Valkyrie)
-Aries entrance is stylish and cool.
-Crowd: “Austin Aries/Johnny Impact!”
-Impact avoids a charge outside the ring by leaping straight up and planing one foot on the apron and the other on the barrier. He then moonsaults on Aries from that position. Really cool spot.
-Aries taunts Impact’s wife.
-The pace of this match is methodical.
-Impact connects with a springboard corkscrew.
-Aries locks in the “Last Chancery.” He connects with a “Hurricanrana.” Aries avoids the “Starship Pain.”
-Impact connects with a top rope “Spanish Fly.”
-Aries destroys Impact with a “Death Valley Driver” on the apron in front of Valkyrie. He follows with a 450 Splash for a two-count.
-Impact retaliates with a “Starship Pain,” but Aries gets to the ropes. Aries hits a running dropkick and a brainbuster, but Impact gets to the ropes.
-Valkyrie brags that she is taller than Aries.
-Champion and challenger exchange a litany of slaps to the face.
-Aries dives through the ropes and buries Valkyrie. Impact is pissed off. Aries schoolboys him for two.
-Impact hits a brainbuster and “Starship Pain” to become the new Impact World Champion.
-Aries bolts from the ring, not selling the finish. He flips off the audience and Don Callis.
Solid, well-paced and conceived match by two talented veterans. Did it feel like the most important match on the biggest show of the year by the company? That’s debatable…but there was legit heat and tension. Aries actions after the finish are curious and the Internet has been speculation whether it was a work, shoot or somewhere in between.
Winner and NEW Impact World Champion: Johnny Impact
(Photographs and video courtesy of Impact Wrestling)