Impact Wrestling on Pop TV
Thursday, November 16
Aberdeen Pavilion
Ottawa, Ontario

Dezmond Xavier, Sonjay Dutt and Garza Jr def. Trevor Lee, Caleb Konley and Taiji Ishimori

Garza Jr was still wrestling entirely on one arm which just seems dangerous. Ishimori didn’t get along with his partners which allowed Xavier, who had a much crisper night here than he did at Bound For Glory, to pick up the win. Ishimori beefing with Trevor likely sets up the next X-Division title programme. These X-Division tags have been perfectly enjoyable but they have lacked a little pop. **1/2

Impact Grand Championship
EC3 def. Fallah Bahh

Fallah Bahh has never won a match on Impact. Now he’s getting a title shot. Bahh totally dominated Round 1. EC3 stalled his way to a Round 2 win. EC3 stole the win with his feet on the ropes in Round 3. I know the referee didn’t see it but what about the three judges at ringside? Do none of them say “Ehhh, he cheated!” I get that Bahh’s size will usually lend him an easy base level of credibility but a guy who’s never won a match on Impact taking EC3 to the limit seems a poor choice. Even if you want to use this as a launching pad to start taking Bahh more seriously this seemed to put the cart before the horse. **

LAX (Santana, Ortiz and Homicide) def. oVe (Sami Callihan, Dave and Jake Crist)

I adore the intensity of the matches between these two groups. There is no messing around, no feeling out period. This was basically two wild gangs going all out from the beginning. A brief regular six man tag broke out in the middle but that was the exception rather than the rule. These six just went nuts. It’s a shame that it seems to take an absolute tonne to get this building going, as there really isn’t a tonne of energy in the building most of the time, because in most other buildings this probably tears down the house. JB finally acknowledged Diamante’s absence, saying she’s recovering from a knee injury. LAX eventually put Jake Crist away with the Street Sweeper, likely setting up another title match. Impact’s tag division does need more than just two teams though. ***

Dan Lambert came to the ring, gloating about how his American Top Team pals beat Moose and Bonnar at Bound For Glory. Lambert buried Anthem for abandoning Orlando because he felt the people in Canada were more gullible. There was some Bret Hart slander, Lambert also requested that Canadian’s no longer holiday in Florida. Dan Lambert’s sheer hatred of all pro wrestling audiences is a delight. Lambert demanded Impact release Bobby Lashley. Lambert was interrupted by Moose but he continued to rant and rave over Moose’s music. I love that. I hate the pro wrestling trope that music suddenly everybody and anybody in their tracks no matter what.

American Top Team beat up Moose until James Storm made the save. Storm then proceeded to cut a superb promo in defense of pro wrestling talking all about his time as a wrestler, the wrestlers in the back and the production people from Dave Sahadi and Keith Mitchell in the truck to the stage manager Stevie (who long time TNA viewers will have noticed as the red haired lady frequently just out of frame). Give Storm a little bit of meat on the bone and he’ll knock it out of the park. With a little substance there are very few better in wrestling than Storm. He provided the perfect antithesis to Lambert’s brilliant antagonist. This segment ruled.

Jeremy Borash introduced Gail Kim. They played a delightful little career retrospective beforehand. Gail Kim gave a lovely speech about how everybody should chase their dreams before thanking Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, Awesome Kong and Taryn Terrell. Kim announced she was vacating the title and retiring.

Small boo boo point first. I’m not a fan of Kim retiring as champion. While she tacitly passed the torch to Allie here and not a person on earth could deny her one final title reign, her losing and passing the torch onto somebody else would have been a tremendous opportunity.

Gail Kim was the rock of the Knockouts division. For ten years (bar a little three year absence) Kim was a pillar of consistency, the beacon of quality the fledgling Knockouts division desperately needed. It was her fiery, intensely likable undeniably dynamic babyface performances vs. the towering Awesome Kong that gave the Knockouts division legitimate credibility. It was her poise and class and consistency that held the division together at times when it looked like it may crumble. She made everybody across the ring from her better, no more clearly shown than her matches vs. Taryn Terrell. When the Knockouts division needed her for ten years, she was always there. She embraced that role. The division was hers and she represented it with class.  The Knockouts division will miss her but the fact that a bunch of talented women are primed and ready to step into her place is her legacy. Without Gail Kim the Knockouts division doesn’t succeed – and for that she should be immensely proud.

Impact Global Heavyweight Championship
Eli Drake def. Petey Williams

“Nobody has ever kicked out of the Canadian Destroyer.” That is how Josh Mathews decided to introduce this match. Guess what happened in the match? When Petey actually hit it he also started shouting about how nobody had ever kicked out, he smothered the moment. He ruined the biggest spot in the match by blatantly telegraphing it. It’s one thing for the announcer to lead the audience, another entirely to signpost things for them. Provide the context after the surprise of the moment. Don’t spoil it.

It’s a shame how hard these two had to work to get the crowd on board because this was an extremely strong main event with superb performances from both men. Petey was the plucky hometown babyface and Drake, rather than working the tired cowardly heel role, was a great deal more confident wrestling a smaller wrestler and breaking out some of his cooler power spots. Seeing this kind of match consistently would do Drake a world of good. Competitive, engaging well worked matches where he is simply better. The idea that we should hate heels because they cheat (which simply doesn’t work in modern wrestling and there’s more than enough failed pushes to support that) instead of hating them for their character needs to be left in the past.

They worked the match around their respective Gravy Train and Canadian Destroyer finishers in really neat ways – countering in and out of each move – while weaving in some great nearfalls. The Canadian Destroyer kick out felt like a legitimate moment (despite Josh Mathews’ best efforts to utterly forecast it) and Drake kicking out of the move felt like a strong endorsement of him considering how much that move has been protected in Impact. Really good stuff here. ***3/4

Final Thoughts:

Aside from the lethargic crowd, from a sheer content perspective this was one of the best episodes of Impact this year. Storm and Lambert delivered killer promos, Gail Kim’s farewell was a touching moment, LAX vs. oVe was raw and kinetic while the Global title main event was the best Eli Drake has been presented as champion from a wrestling perspective to date. This was the most focused and clear episode of the year. Everything had plain purpose and it felt like everything was given its best opportunity to succeed. Watch this show.