Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Thursday, September 7
Universal Studios
Orlando, FL

Josh Mathews really needs to work on expectations management and maintaining the integrity and meaning of words. He was talking about how the X-Division opener was a monumental match and how everybody was talking about what happened last week. The opening tag wasn’t monumental nor was it ever designed to be. Promoting it as such was silly and also weakens those words when you want to apply them to thing that is actually monumental. Some may see that as a small detail but words have meaning and carry weight. If abused or misused, announcers lose credibility. Messages that the company want to project to their audience become empty rhetoric rather than meaningful branding and promotion.

Petey Williams and Sonjay Dutt def. Caleb Konley and Trevor Lee

A solid opening match serving predominantly to showcase Petey and Dutt. While its nice to see Konley being featured a little more after some strong performances on Impact, he is still just fulfilling the role of Lee’s lackey and fall guy. Better than nothing I guess. They seem to be continuing to position Lee as the biggest challenger to Dutt’s title. Dutt won with a Frog Splash after Konley also ate a Canadian Destroyer. **1/2

LAX def. Zachary Wentz and Jon Bolen

This was a considerably better squash than many of the recent oVe matches. LAX worked with energy and enthusiasm – engaging the crowd and showing a sense of urgency. Not to mention they unloaded a bunch of nifty double teams. oVe came out afterwards and challenged LAX to a title match, Konnan accepted but the match is to take place in The Crash (but will stil lair next week). Dave Crist didn’t entirely look comfortable cutting a promo but that’ll improve with time. Konnan seemed considerably more confident in what he was saying. **1/2

Taryn Terrell and Sienna def. Allie and Gail Kim

Gail Kim went right after Terrell, which was a nice little touch to tie in to Terrell’s recent attack (especially given that happened a few weeks ago at this stage and needed to be brought forward). Simple match, lacking any real ambition to rise above a formula tag. Sienna and Taryn attacked Kim and Allie after the match. Rosemary made the save but also got beaten down. Just listen to audience during this segment. Listen to the way they invested in Rosemary as she’s running wild and IMMEDIATELY lose interest when she’s overwhelmed. They had a moment where that audience bought Rosemary as a total bad ass asskicker and then immediately took the wind out of her sails.

Setting Rosemary up for failure there when that run in should’ve been designed as a hero spot (and the audience invested in it as such) was impossibly counterproductive. Sympathetic characters need to be knocked down. They need hurdles to cross. Without struggle, triumphs feel meaningless and unearned. It’s about picking the right times for that knockdown. Rosemary coming out fresh after the other two had wrestled to make the save only to be beaten up herself was always just going to undermine Rosemary’s credibility, not establish sympathy with the audience (which should be the intent of a beat down like that).

To make matters worse, Taya Valkyrie debuted looking like she just won first prize at an Elsa cosplay competition (she looked good in fairness just the resemblance to the Frozen character was striking) and pretended to be friends with Rosemary before also beating her up. So Rosemary came to the ring as all conquering hero, got beaten up, looked stupid and then got beaten up again. Great day at the office there for one of the hottest babyfaces in the company. *1/2

Johnny IMPACT was introduced by Jim Cornette. IMPACT talked about wanting a title shot before LAX interrupted him. IMPACT and LAX brawled after Low Ki became extremely animated over how IMPACT jumped the line – seriously, that was the most passion and emotion I’ve ever seen from Low Ki. Likely because it came from a place of real frustration given he quit at the end of these tapings. A Johnny IMPACT vs. Low Ki number one contenders match was made for next week.

There was a long stretch of video content focusing on DJZ, Lashley, Everett and Moose at TripleMania, a focus on the Sexy Star/Rosemary situation (where they talked about how dire shooting on somebody was on a show where people attempt to kill and maim each other regularly), as well as a feature on Garza Jr. They also mentioned Eddie Edwards’ GHC title win but didn’t have any follow up. Creating character defining video content around that around a moment like that should be a no brainer. It was nice to see DJZ on the show again.

GFW Global Championship
Eli Drake def. Matt Sydal

A frustrating element of Impact lately has been that longer matches have generally meant matches having a longer middle. It feels like they decide to pad matches with more filler content rather than adding substance to the opening exchanges or fleshing out the closing sequences. This suffered a little from that as Drake worked over Sydal for too long before things did pick up once Sydal made his comeback. Of course this being a title match on Impact, chicanery came into play (there is a 50/50 chance of that happening by the way). There was the bones of a better match here, the usual TNA formula kicked in though as the match was hitting its final sprint which never ever helps. Especially when that sort of finish serves little purpose other than a fear of making braver decisions. Drake pinned Sydal with the Gravy Train after a belt shot. ***

Final Thoughts:

More than a lot of shows recently the holes in Impact’s presentation showed here. It’s usually stuff I can shake off but not this week. When held up to closer scrutiny the flaws in the characters, stories and angle construction simply don’t hold up. Stuff happens, but rarely does it serve the character or some broader story. The characterisation is extremely surface level with little growth to be seen. The storytelling rarely leads to satisfying pay offs or even interesting developments. And the ideas are still dated. The wrestling is still pretty good but without being laid on a firmer scaffold the whole presentation just feels flimsy.