(Promotion: IMPACT! Wrestling – Location: The Asylum, Nashville, TN – Announcers: Josh Mathews & Don Callis – January 6, 2019)
Opening package is solid. It is focused on the history of the organization leading into the present day. This is Impact’s first time running The Asylum since 2004.
Vacant IMPACT! Wrestling X-Division Championship
Ultimate X Match
Rich Swann v. Trey Miguel v. Ethan Page v. Jake Crist (w/ Dave Crist)
The announcers are hard at work, first implying that Crist looks up to Sami Callihan as a role model and then running down the list of former X-Div. champions. (AJ Styles made the list.)
The fans are animated. There is an “Impact Wrestling” chant.
This is a first-time Ultimate X match for all four participants.
The crowd energy feels like it drops around the 10-minute marker.
Page hits a vulnerable Crist with a mid-air spear, but it lacked sizzle.
Swann gets the belt from above the ring just as Miguel out to retrieve it himself. The drama for the moment was off. Perhaps it was mistimed?
The match was fine but not dazzling.
Winner and NEW X-Division Champion: Rich Swann
Previews air for matches later in the evening.
McKenzie Mitchell interviews Brian Cage. Cage compares himself to LeBron James and Bo Jackson. He talks about sacrifice. By-the-numbers wrestling promo.
A package airs about Allie’s descent into the dark side.
Allie & Su Yung v. Kiera Hogan & Jordynne Grace
Allie and Yung’s entrance is cool and atmospheric. They gel well as a unit. The announcer’s put over Yung’s “Mandible Claw.”
Based on her look, Grace feels miscast as a babyface, though she does pull off some nice power spots.
Hogan is a bit sloppy at times.
Yung blows mist in Grace’s face. She gives her bloody glove to Allie, who gives a “Codebreaker” to Hogan before locking her in the “Mandible Claw” for the win.
After the bell, a group of “undead bride’s maids” carry a coffin out to the stage. Before Yung can toss Hogan in the coffin, Rosemary pops out of it and goes after her. She tosses Yung at the bride’s maids and the entire group goes down like bowling pins. If only the director would have cued the sound of pins falling.
Allie escapes from Rosemary after an awkward staredown in the ring.
This felt like a good GLOW match…but a GLOW match nonetheless.
Winners: Allie & Su Yung
A package airs hyping Eddie Edwards v. Moose. It covers Edwards’ stay in a mental asylum.
Falls Count Anywhere
Eddie Edwards v. Moose
The match quickly degenerates (as advertised) into a standard brawl in the audience. Edwards soon gets color. Moose eats unprotected chair shots to the head. Not cool. A chopfest erupts that pops the crowd.
Moose is driven into the barrier by a suicide dive from Edwards. Later, he is back body dropped over the top rope and onto the barrier. Damn.
Edwards retrieves his kendo stick (“Kenny”) and comes after Moose.
Callis: ” That might be the most dangerous ‘Kenny’ in the wrestling business.” LOL. Callis clearly taking a friendly shot at Kenny Omega.
Eddie Edwards’ wife, Alisha, is out. She goes after Moose.
Edwards drills Moose with the cane and a DDT to secure the pinfall.
This was a little plodding at points. Definitely not a fan of the unprotected head shots. There was nice heat at the end for Edwards and his wife.
Sami Callihan promo runs. It’s a great, intense interview. Callihan has “crazy” in his eyes and voice. He doesn’t seem like a fun guy to run into at a bar.
Willie Mack v. Sami Callihan (w/ Dave Crist)
Both men are over with the audience.
The two trade leather.
Mack is incredibly athletic for his size, announced at 280 lbs.
Callihan scores with a “V-Trigger.”
Mack kicks out of a “Death Valley Driver” at ONE and a lariat at ONE before falling to a lariat and piledriver.
Callihan has tangible charisma and aura. I first saw him wrestle at an old movie theater in Barberton, OH. He has come a long way from being that chubby young kid.
So far, this was the best match of the show.
McKenzie Mitchell interviews Eli Drake, who is blindfolded. I assume this is to play off the current popularity of the film Bird Box on Netflix, which is a bit of a mainstream phenomenon.
Monster’s Ball Match
Drake comes to the ring carrying an oar.
The Monster’s Ball IS Abyss’ match. He pulls out a stapler and gets Drake in the chest.
The two are involved in spots with tables and garbage cans.
Drake accidentally tosses a handful of tacks into the referee’s face. Abyss follows with a “Black Hole Slam,” but the ref is down.
Abyss gets “Janice” (his studded 2×4) from beneath the ring.
Drake kicks out of being slammed on tacks. There are hundreds stuck in his back. He throws a handful of tacks into Abyss’ face. He gets zip ties from beneath the ring and binds his opponent’s wrists.
Abyss breaks the ties.
Drake beats on him with a chair. Abyss kicks out of a pin attempt. Drake breaks the paddle over his head and scores the pinfall.
I enjoyed this match. There was a lot going on…probably too much…but the charisma and physicality of both men made this work.
Winner: Eli Drake
Interview: Killer Kross.
Nick Wilson and Davie Rickenbacker of Survivor (Season 37) are shown at ringside. They are friends with Johnny Impact.
IMPACT! Wrestling Tag Team Championship
LAX (Santana & Ortiz) v. Lucha Brothers (Fenix & Pentagon Jr.)
The crowd is amped for this one.
It opens with the expected flying, flipping and combo spots.
The Lucha Brothers hit a spiked “Fear Factor” for two.
LAX rock Pentagon with a “Street Sweeper” for a nearfall, which is broken up by Fenix.
LAX use a combination sequence involving a cutter, “Codebreaker,” superkick and rotation slam on Fenix to gain the pinfall.
LAX retain in a highly physical, jaw-dropping match. This was a helluva showdown between two evenly matched teams.
Konnan comes out and takes the microphone. He puts over the match and both teams.
Interview: Gail Kim. Kim says that she will call it down the line when she referees the Knockouts title match.
IMPACT! Wrestling Knockouts Women’s Championship
Tessa Blanchard (c) v. Taya Valkyrie
Guest Referee: Gail Kim
A number of minutes in, Blanchard accidentally bumps Kim. She hits the “Buzzkill” on Valkyrie, but Kim is unable to make the count. Blanchard grabs the belt. Kim tries to take it from her and Valkyrie is hit in the melee. However, she manages to kick out at two. There are a couple more near-falls. Blanchard chokes Kim. Kim retaliates with “Eat Defeat” allowing Valkyrie to capture the Knockouts title.
Blanchard has great facials. She is a thoroughly unlikable heel. When Blanchard’s run with the company is complete, I’d love to see her in an extended feud with Alexa Bliss.
Winner and NEW Knockouts Women’s Champion: Taya Valkyrie
Josh Mathews announces that with the weekly show making the switch to the Pursuit Channel beginning this week, it will also begin being streamed on Twitch as well. I’m not sure what the national clearance is for the Pursuit Channel, but the addition of Twitch is undoubtedly a wise move.
IMPACT! Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
Johnny Impact (c) v. Brian Cage
Promo package airs. Impact reminds the audience that the match isn’t about friendship, it’s about the title.
Cage is out wearing a cyborg arm and eyepiece. Dude cuts an imposing figure.
The ring introductions were terrific. They added to the atmosphere and made the match feel important.
The audience does the “Terminator” clap.
The match is methodically paced in the early minutes.
Cage is dominating. For his bulk, Cage is incredibly agile. He hits an “F5” for two.
Crowd: “New Champ!”
Cage blasts Impact with a gnarly discus clothesline.
Impact hits the “Starship Pain” for two. He follows with a top rope “Spanish Fly” for ONE(!).
Cage hulks up. He shatters the champion with a powerbomb, “Bucklebomb” and twisting powerbomb for a two.
The challenger connects with the “Weapon X,” however, Impact buys himself more time when he gets a foot on the rope.
Outside the ring, Cage gets into an altercation with one of the Survivor cast members and shoves him. Back inside, he catches Impact with the “Falcon Arrow,” but the referee was outside tending to the reality star.
Brian Cage goes for a second rope suplex but he struggles getting Impact over. (No pun intended.) He crumbles and Johnny Impact rolls him up in a janky finishing sequence to retain his championship.
Cage threw the title belt at Impact and stormed to the locker room.
Fans are booing. They wanted the company to pull the trigger on Cage.
Mid-ring, Impact poses with his wife.
Killer Kross comes out as the announcers sign off. Valkyrie confronts him and he powerbombs her into a group of men in the audience.
Fans chant, “Kill, Kross, Kill” as the broadcast goes black.
This was a decent match. It felt a touch overbooked. The finish was sloppy and a bit confusing.
Winner: Johnny Impact
The tag title match and Callihan/Mack were the highlights of the show. The women’s tag was the lowlight. Nothing, however, was unwatchably bad. It was an adequate show but not enough of it felt important or big. Considering they are only running a handful of pay-per-views each year, that’s a bit of an issue. They really should feel like special events. That’s something to work on.
LAX, Trey Miguel and Tessa Blanchard have bright futures ahead of them. I’d like to see the company pull the trigger on Cage sooner than later. They don’t want to squander the momentum he has in the eyes of the audience. As stacked as the Fed is, I think IMPACT! is a better fit for him so I’d like to see him shine.
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