Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Thursday, April 20
Universal Studios
Orlando, FL

LAX def. Jake Holmes and Joe Coleman

An extremely effective squash as the new LAX ran through a bunch of double teams before finishing Holmes with the Street Sweeper (a Powerbomb/Blockbuster combo). The reintroduction of LAX has been the biggest success story of the last couple of months – they feel like the freshest act in the company. After the match Decay came out and brawled to set up a title match and Crazzy Steve’s Impact departure next week. **

Karen Jarrett made her way to the ring and announced the official merger of Impact Wrestling and Global Force Wrestling, though it’s less a merger than one of those parasites that invades your brain and slowly takes control. Fair play to Jeff for managing to fulfill his vision for Global Force within TNA. Let’s see how that vision holds up.

Karen mispronounced Andrew Everett’s name before Sonjay Dutt, last seen as a Global Force invader two years ago, interrupted her. Sonjay gave the X-Division stump speech and suggested an X-Division title match, involving him, be made the main event. Andrew Everett, who had rightfully earned an X-Division title shot at Trevor Lee, was understandably perturbed. It somewhat undercuts the idea of investing in Impact’s stories if they are randomly dropped at the start of a new set of tapings. Shane Helms (with Trevor Lee) was also upset. Because one authority figure wasn’t enough, Bruce Prichard came out and made a six way X-Division title main event. Helms, Dutt, Karen Jarrett and Bruce Prichard all got promo time here – what do they all have in common?

TNA Knockouts Championship
Rosemary (c) def. ODB

I desperately feared they’d switch the belt here and thank goodness they didn’t. Rosemary is a strong enough act to serve as a pillar of the entire brand, not just the Knockouts division. She’s a commanding presence and the best worker in the division, she can bear that weight. Pretty bleh match though, Rosemary picked up the win with the Red Wedding. *

Kongo Kong def. Chris Silvio

Squash. Literally. *

Josh Mathews accompanied Bobby Lashley to the ring before joining the announce team. I’m fine with Mathews seguing into a manager role but not for Lashley. They are a terrible fit together but even more than that Lashley certainly doesn’t need somebody to talk for him.

Let’s take stock of the last two months for a moment. Impact deliberately sabotaged their commentary for the JB/Josh Mathews dispute. For seven weeks the announcing was unbearable – utterly counterproductive and undermining everything on the show. Everybody and everything that was sucked into that orbit suffered for it. The supposed blow off last week resulted in 7,000 less viewers watching than the week prior. So rather than take reasonable stock of a clear failure and cut the losses, Impact decided it was best to renege on a stipulation (lessening the credibility of future stipulations), reinstated the deliberately destructive announcer and continued the Borash/Mathews saga. That is decision making so illogical and self defeating that it is beyond belief.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Bobby Lashley (c) def. James Storm

There have now been two World title matches under the Jarrett regime. The first involved a ref bump and a Dusty finish. The second involved a ref bump, interference and a heel turn. EC3 turned on Storm and struck him with a beer bottle – handing Lashley the win. If you were concocting finishes to make people lose faith in the legitimacy of the current regime’s promise of change then these are the finishes you’d present. Rather than making you upset that Storm was screwed or Lashley was undeserving of being champion, it just leaves you ambivalent toward title matches. If you don’t believe you will get a satisfying conclusion, why would you ever invest in title matches? If you are ripped off every single time then the whole thing becomes meaningless. Their match last August was more enjoyable but this was a fun effort before the inevitable nonsense kicked in. ***

TNA X-Division Championship
Low Ki def. Sonjay Dutt, Andrew Everett, Suicide, Dezmond Xavier, and Trevor Lee (c)

Low Ki made his return for the first time since 2015 in what is at least his fifth run with the company. This was Sonjay Dutt’s 39th failed attempt at capturing the X-Division title. Desmond Xavier is exactly the kind of wrestler Impact should be aggressively pursuing right now. Aside from a baffling Lee heat sequence in the middle (where four men randomly disappeared for a while) this was a super fun match. Flips and dives and ‘ranas galore. Xavier in particular stood out and impressed on his debut. Impact has tried to reboot and rebrand and re-present the X-Division over and over for the last few years. Just let these guys tear it up every week. Low Ki pinned Lee after a Warrior’s Way to capture the X-Division title for the fifth time. ***3/4

Final Thoughts:

This show has been incredibly frustrating lately. On the one hand they’ve introduced or reintroduced some extremely promising performers. The roster is still more than strong enough to produce a compelling weekly show, some acts like LAX have some real juice and if tonight was a true relaunch of the X-Division then that is an exciting group of talent. On the other hand, ego is getting in the way as a bunch of hangers on are sucking up oxygen on the show and some of the decision making is flat out self-defeating. For every step forward there’s a step back and if that continues to be the case this show simply can’t move forward.