Bound For Glory 2017
Aberdeen Pavilion
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 5, 2017

The Aberdeen Pavilion looked borderline indistinguishable from the Impact Zone, just bigger. They had on brand Canadian red and white ropes though – better than lime green eye sores at least.

Impact X-Division Championship
Trevor Lee (c) def. Matt Sydal, Garza Jr, Petey Williams, Sonjay Dutt, Dezmond Xavier

Petey entered to the original Team Canada music to a huge reaction. This was wrestled under lucha tag team rules to a single fall. Garza Jr’s shoulder was taped up and he looked in no condition to perform, heavily favouring it throughout the match. A really fun match though it certainly felt like there was another level there if these guys had more time. Not everything clicked but Petey being super popular was the glue that held the match. Interesting choice for Xavier in particular to take the fall, though he didn’t have the cleanest of matches here. The finish was a little trite, Petey hit the Canadian Destroyer but Lee stole the pin. A finish that’s been done a million times but you can’t fault how immaculately timed it was. ***1/4

Taiji Ishimori def. Tyson Dux

Tyson Dux was returning to Impact for the first time since 2008. He was a member of Team Canada in the 2006 World X-Cup and Team International in the 2008 World X-Cup. He was most recently seen in the Cruiserweight Classic. Ishimori, representing Pro Wrestling NOAH, reached the finals of the Super X-Cup during the summer.

Laurel Van Ness was at ringside and became the focus of the match, utterly disrespecting Ishimori and Dux.

“Pro Wrestling NOAH and Impact is such an important relationship” said Josh Mathews and yet they decided to distract entirely from the match. Ishimori won with a 450 Splash. **

Alberto El Patron made his return for the first time since having to be suspended and stripped of the heavyweight championship for publicly embarrassing the company. Jeremy Borash and Josh Mathews began talking as if Patron is an utter uncontrollable trainwreck. Patron complained about the company mistreating him despite being accused of domestic violence. A handful of people chanted “You deserved it” about Alberto being suspended and I am a fan of those people. I’m pretty sure Alberto was meant to come off as a bitter angry heel here, but the crowd cheered him.

Thankfully Patron rambled incoherently long enough for the crowd to turn on him. Patron’s character consisting of being angry that he was suspended due a very public domestic abuse inquiry is just the kind of nonsense that makes people look down on this company. This received the same amount of time as the X-Division title match and 33% more than the women. Priorities.

Monsters Ball
Abyss def. Grado

James Mitchell was nowhere to be seen. There was Janice, thumbtacks, barbed wire—standard Monsters Ball fare. Laurel Van Ness interfered and dropped Grado with the Unprettier. Rosemary appeared and took out Van Ness, for some reason. Rosemary got a big reaction at least. Abyss, blinded by mist, chokeslammed his former Decay stablemate into thumbtacks. Grado then rolled up Abyss for two, despite that however the bell keeper rang the bell. Abyss then hit a sloppy Black Hole Slam to win. Grado’s visa will continue to belong to Abyss. This was going along as a pretty standard Monsters Ball before the nonsense kicked in and things just got messy. *1/2

Team AAA vs. Team Impact
Ethan Carter III, Eddie Edwards and James Storm def. El Hijo Del Fantasma, Pagano and Texano

The fact that EC3 didn’t get a huge reaction shows just how flat he’s been in Impact this year. He seems like the coolest guy in the room everywhere but Impact’s television. I like Texano. I really like El Hijo Del Fantasma. Pagano is sort of terrible. This didn’t have the sense of urgency and drama that you’d hope for from a six man tag for the honour of your company (though the name of the company changing between tapings probably doesn’t help that), but it was a simple, enjoyable six man tag. Storm won with the Last Call after EC3 finally fully embraced Team Impact. ***

Impact World Tag Team Championships – 5150 Street Fight
oVe (Jake and Dave Christ) def. The Latin American Xchange (Ortiz and Santana w/ Konnan)

This got nutty real fast as they didn’t have a tonne of time to work with but tried to make the absolute most of it. They worked with an intensity and ferocity that merited the biggest show of the year. Santana dived off a scaffold, Ortiz powerbombed Crist through a table, there were a bunch of wacky chair spots. Sami Callihan debuted and nobody really knew who he was. The crowd didn’t know how to take oVe with Callihan – they seemed to inherently reject them. A double turn wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. oVe haven’t popped as babyfaces and LAX’s offense is too nifty to not cheer. The finish was a little flat but these guys absolutely busted their asses. ***1/4

Impact Knockouts Championship
Gail Kim def. Sienna (c) and Allie

The crowd seemed pretty tired at this stage and you’d have to be a little disappointed with the reaction Kim got (especially compared to Petey at the start of the show) but that speaks to the missed opportunity regarding the retirement story they failed to tell. They worked really hard and this was very enjoyable at times but it equally didn’t entirely click either. A straight Gail Kim vs. Sienna match likely would’ve worked a great deal better in a number of ways. Kim winning the belt and building to losing somebody passing the torch in the process should be an easy satisfying story for the rest of the year. **1/2

Six Sides of Steel
Bobby Lashley and King Mo def. Moose and Stephan Bonnar

I have to give a tonne of credit to Moose here, he absolutely worked his butt off to make this match work. He was bumping like a madman and even hit a crossbody off the cage. An MMA fight broke out between King Mo and Bonnar in the middle of the match and it wasn’t the most interesting. Fun fact: Last time Impact was in Canada they held the dreadful AJ Styles/Frank Trigg faux-MMA match so they clearly love fake MMA in Canada. They totally defeated the purpose of the cage match, as you seemingly do in all cage matches these days, with American Top Team getting involved. This was as messy as you’d expect a match with two MMA fighters to be but I rather liked it. Moose was the little engine that could here and I’ll be damned if he didn’t nearly single handedly make this work. ***

Impact Global Championship
Eli Drake (c) def. Johnny IMPACT

This may have been a small bit long in the tooth (the middle portion of the match dragged a little) but these two worked super hard here to try and deliver a strong main event. It was an uphill battle – Drake has no credibility as champion and IMPACT was just a goof beaten up a few times without ever being made care about him getting revenge. They bust out some really strong sequences and few very good nearfalls, slowly winning over the crowd.

Then the TNA formula kicked in.

El Patron pulled the referee out after IMPACT hit Starship Pain (Chris Adonis interfered a couple of times earlier in the match and while that harmed the pacing it wasn’t horribly obtrusive), struck IMPACT in the head with a vile, despicable unprotected chair shot that has absolutely no place in wrestling before draping Drake over IMPACT for the win.

So let’s recap.

Eli Drake is a goof who can’t retain the belt to save his life. Nobody on earth could possibly be invested in him as champion.

Johnny IMPACT is a goof who should be champion but isn’t and he got pinned. I’m sure some will claim “this protected IMPACT” or some other nonsense but that doesn’t work anymore. Audiences see through it and simply blame the company for failing to deliver. Plus Drake has no credibility and IMPACT got pinned. Everybody loses.

Impact Wrestling just failed to deliver a satisfying outcome in the main event of one of its only two big yearly events.

Impact clearly has no faith in IMPACT or Drake as performers because rather than relying on those two to create drama, relying on those two to deliver something memorable in the main event they felt the need to tack on STORIEZ to undermine and disrespect their ability. You don’t tack this stuff on if you believe in your wrestlers. You just don’t. You feel they need the crutch. Because nobody could possibly care about two guys wrestling. So STORIEZ!

NJPW’s Power Struggle delivered huge announcements and angles with the returns of Chris Jericho and Jay White, but the show still delivered on the stunning Ibushi/Tanahashi main event. NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III delivered the huge, brilliantly executed debut of Adam Cole along with Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, but the show still delivered on a killer undercard and a fully featured Roode/Galloway main event. It is not a case of either/or.

You can introduce Alberto El Patron here in a way that doesn’t sleazily play off a real life public domestic assault accusation and you can do so in a way that doesn’t undermine Drake, IMPACT or the main event people paid to see. Just have him come out after and challenge the champion. It’s not that complicated.

And last but not least Alberto El Patron is being rewarded for embarrassing the company by standing tall at the end of the biggest show of the year. Eli Drake doesn’t matter. Johnny IMPACT doesn’t matter. Alberto El Patron does. Everybody else is just background noise.

Three years ago I wrote the first draft of a piece about the death of TNA. Here’s an excerpt:

The second, and perhaps more immediately fatal, failing was a systemic inability to learn from mistakes. Running a company is not easy. Mistakes are going to be made but as clichéd as it sounds if you don’t learn from mistakes you are doomed to repeat them, and never has that been more the case than with TNA. Over and over and over again TNA would repeat the same mistakes. Years of illogical swerves, a total disregard for future planning, terrible angles, focus in all the wrong areas, constantly disrespecting the viewing audience, poor PPV’s and an inability to capitalize on any momentum and not once did the approach change. The format for Impact has remained the same for nearly its entire thirteen year run.

New owners, new creative, new wrestlers – same outcomes. And so the cycle continues. ***1/4 (I don’t want to punish Drake and IMPACT’s efforts for the sins of creative)

Final Thoughts:

First things first, the talent worked their butts off on this show. I don’t think anybody could reasonably watch this show and come away feeling anybody was giving anything short of 100% across the board.

The booking was head-scratching though. The tag title was more about a flat Sami Callihan debut than the retaining champions. Jimmy Jacobs showed up randomly in the middle of the show and few knew who he was. Taiji Ishimori was presented as window dressing for Laurel Van Ness in the crowd. The decision to allow Alberto El Patron, who was suspended for publicly embarrassing the company during the summer, to get the shine as the show closed was a slap in the face of the Impact roster – particularly Eli Drake and Johnny IMPACT.

The finish to the main event was as strong an admission that they haven’t learned from past mistakes as humanly possible. It was everything that has been wrong with TNA main events for the last fifteen years and a slap in the face of the small portion of people who still buys these shows. If you were to ever ask yourself “Why has Impact driven away the vast majority of paying customers its ever had?” and don’t come to the conclusion that its thoroughly unsatisfying big match conclusions like this then you’re foolish.

The biggest concern however was the crowd. Not that they weren’t a good crowd – they were engaged and responsive – rather the issue being that they were fairly obviously not familiar with the Impact product. They reacted big for hometown hero Petey Williams, got excited for big moves and high spots but were obviously unfamiliar with the characters. That deeply worries me. This wasn’t a theme park audience hustled in by some wrangler. This was a group that sought out and even paid to attend the show. And they didn’t know the characters. They aren’t connecting. That is the real frightening thing coming out of Bound For Glory. The TV is achieving nothing.