When the cards for Wrestlemania weekend started rolling out, Impact vs Lucha Underground grabbed my attention. It wasn’t as stacked as some of the others and didn’t have your star attractions like a Daisuke Sekimoto or a Hiroshi Tanahashi, but it was a fun concept and a chance for Impact to continue their momentum after a really strong start to 2018.
Live from the Sugar Mill, the show made use of two ring announcers–Mackenzie Mitchell representing Impact and Melissa Santos for Lucha Undeground–which I personally thought was a nice touch. Commentators for the evening were Josh Mathews and Matt Striker.
Matanza def. Caleb Konley, Jack Evans, Chavo Guerrero, Moose and Matt Sydal
A simple yet effective way to open the show. There really wasn’t much to this, although I did appreciate the staredowns between Matanza and Moose, as that’s a match I’d quite like to see down the track. Everyone managed to get their stuff and get a little bit of shine without any real disruption, with Matanza eventually hitting Wrath of the Gods on Caleb Konley for the win. **1/2
Impact Knockouts Championship
Allie (C) def. Taya Valkyrie
Had there been some real drama in Allie losing the championship, I think I would have been more invested in this match than I ended up being but that’s not to say it wasn’t good. Taya was superb as always and Allie’s gradual momentum surge throughout the match was incredibly entertaining. I’d personally have liked to see it go a little bit longer, but for what it was it was fine and I doubt it’s the last meeting we see between these two women in an Impact Wrestling ring. **3/4
Teddy Hart & Scott Steiner def. OvE (Dave & Jake Crist)
Boy oh boy was this terrible. From Teddy Hart’s Create-a-wrestler impression to OvE putting on one of the dullest control segments I’ve ever seen, this just wasn’t good. Scott eventually got the tag and landed some awkward looking throws before locking in a weak Steiner Recliner on Jake for the win. Just boring. *1/2
King Cuerno, Aerostar & Drago def. Dezmond Xavier, Andrew Everett, DJZ
Ok, this is a lot more like it! An incredibly fun 10 minutes, full of flips, dives and lovely sequences, which is exactly what I expected when this was announced. The airhorns for DJZ in the crowd were a particular highlight and it was great to see him back in an Impact ring after his injury worries; he looked fantastic. Xavier also looked very smooth, demonstrating clear improvements from his time with Dragon Gate earlier this year. For their part, the Lucha Underground team were great, and King Cuerno was clearly presented as the star, which makes sense given his status as a semi-regular with Impact. The sequence of moves from DJZ and Andrew Everett that nearly got them the win was a thing of beauty, but it was all in vain as Cuerno would eventually make Everett tap to a modified Indian deathlock. Best thing on the show thus far. ***1/2
Trevor Lee def. Marty the Moth
So Trevor’s original opponent was meant to be Famous B, which did seem a little odd when the card was announced the other day. His replacement was Marty, who is a perfectly solid hand on LU and definitely made for a better opponent. This was ticking along quite nicely, with both men showing some good chemistry, before Caleb Konley interfered, distracting Marty for long enough to allow Trevor to pin him with one of the worst roll-ups I’ve seen in quite a while. Disappointing. **1/4
Impact Tag Team Championship
LAX (C) def Killshot & The Mack
On my preview for this very show, I said that I thought this was an excellent match on paper and one that would allow LAX to show what they can do in a competitive setting and boy was I proved correct. Killshot (Shane Strickland) and The Mack are both excellent and they work well as a team, and proved tremendous foils for an LAX team that are one of the best in the world right now. Killshot’s transition from a Samoan drop to a double foot stomp was excellent, as was The Mack nailing an excellent Monty Brown tribute spot. Yes, that’s correct, his POUNCE was majestic. The tag team moves these teams pulled out were quite something and despite the obvious outcome of the match going in, by the end I wouldn’t have been shocked to see LAX dethroned, which is a testament to the work the four men put in. A couple of botches towards the end really seemed to throw LAX’s rhythm for a bit, which is a shame as they’d been so crisp until then, but the match was still excellent. A Street Sweeper eventually did for Strickland as LAX retained in the match of the night. Those botches do stop me going the full four snowflakes, but this was excellent. With greater stakes on the line this could be even better. Do it again! ***3/4
Brian Cage def. Eli Drake
It was going to be tough for anything to really follow up the match before, with a little under an hour of the show to go, so putting this here as a fun little sprint made sense. I’m a big fan of both guys and I enjoyed what they were able to put together in only a few minutes, and it’s a match I expect we’ll see a few more times on Impact throughout 2018. Drake’s heat segment was enjoyable and I thought it was interesting that Cage won with the spinning snap neckbreaker rather than the Drill Claw. Building up two or three believable ending moves is key to adding drama, so this was a nice touch and means that will make for believable finishes in future Cage matches. **3/4
I Quit Match
Jeremiah Crane def. Eddie Edwards
I Quit Matches aren’t my cup of tea. I think the stipulation gets the referee too involved and leads to constant breaks in the action, which makes it almost impossible to draw a crowd in and keep them engaged. Both men worked hard here, and you could feel the anger Edwards was trying to convey, but there were long periods of setting up spots and getting weapons that inevitably slowed the action down. That, coupled with Josh Mathews and Matt Striker shouting at each other throughout the middle portion of the match, takes it down a few notches, as does the finish. I expected OvE to get involved, as this feud was obviously far from over, but the addition of Don Callis to the mix wasn’t expected. Crane had Edwards set-up for a repeat of the baseball spot a few weeks ago, but Callis ran in to throw in the towel on Edwards’ behalf. If that plays out as Callis merely trying to protect one of his guys and not the start of him as an authority figure, I’m fine with it, but if there’s one thing Impact doesn’t need any more of, it’s authority figures. Time will tell. **1/2
Moose running out at the end to save Edwards presumably leads us to some sort of six-man tag at Redemption, which has the potential to be very good.
Pentagon Dark def. Austin Aries and Fenix
So first things first, Alberto El Patron was nowhere to be seen. He was at the Redemption press conference just a few hours beforehand, and did seem to get legitimately pissed off with Aries and Sonjay Dutt, but that’s still no reason to no show this event. It might be a work, but with El Patron’s track record it’s very hard to tell.
In any case, this triple threat turned out as well, if not better than, the original tag bout would have been. The chemistry between the Lucha Brothers was fantastic as usual, and Aries more than played his part. Fenix and Pentagon couldn’t stay on the same page for long though, and eventually they began laying into each other with strikes. Aries ate a pair of superkicks for his troubles, and Pentagon eventually picked up the win after a Penta Driver. An excellent little sprint, and a great way to end a solid show. ***1/2
It was announced before this match that Pentagon will face Fenix at Redemption in April, which is just an excellent addition to an increasingly strong-looking card.
Final Thoughts: Impact vs Lucha Underground
A fun concept on paper ended up producing a really solid outing. There was nothing quite great, although the tag title bout wasn’t far from achieving that status, and only the Scott Steiner/Teddy Hart tag match could be considered bad. Given that the show peaked at 17k on Twitch, it has to be considered a success from that point of view, and hopefully isn’t the only collaboration we see between the two companies during the year.