April 22, 2018
Impact Wrestling’s return to pay-per-view last weekend, Redemption, was headlined by a triple threat for the World Championship involving Austin Aries, Pentagon Jr and Fenix. On commentary for the event were the ‘Golden Announcer’ Don Callis and Josh Mathews and they seem to be the regular duo moving forward.
Before the event Impact revealed their new belts and they all looked great. Many recent belt redesigns have been too ambitious but these were fairly simple, each title distinctive enough to clearly demarcate them, and generally quite aesthetically pleasing.
Aerostar def. Drago
I had a sneaking suspicion before the show that this could go on first and in theory it was a good way to open the show. Whilst this was fun in places, featuring some excellent dives from both men, they didn’t have particularly great chemistry and there were several moments in the match where you could demonstrably see both men waiting for the other to get into position. Once I noticed the first couple, it was distracting for the remainder, and I did feel that it went a bit too long. Still, an enjoyable opener that saw Aerostar pick up somewhat of an upset victory. **3/4
Impact Tag Team Championships
The Big Bad Daddies (Eli Drake & Scott Steiner) def. LAX (Ortiz & Santana) (C)
I’m probably the high man here, but I thought this was a whole lot of fun. Given how Steiner looked at Wrestlecon I was slightly worried but he was much better here, even pulling off a freaking top-rope frankensteiner! (even if he did land on his head) LAX got some shine here but they never seemed quite themselves, something that was expertly conveyed by Callis on commentary, who repeatedly emphasizes Konnan’s absence from ringside and how important he is to what the two men do. That narrative worked really well and is something I feel they can play up over the next few weeks and give LAX some time away from the titles. A Gravy Train from Eli Drake secured him and Steiner the titles, and whilst I expect their reign to be brief, it was a fun change. **1/2
Brian Cage def. Trevor Lee, Dezmond Xavier, DJZ, Taiji Ishimori and El Hijo del Fantasma
The obvious focus coming in was ‘The Machine’ Brian Cage and that was how this incredible fun six-way played out, with Cage spending much of the early going on the outside. Once in the ring he laid waste to most of his competition and whilst each man got some offence in on him, it was never really enough and he was presented to be a class above. I really enjoyed the structure and pace of the match, with DJZ and Xavier getting a lot of rub. Xavier looks so much slicker for his time with Dragon Gate and he figures to be a big player for Impact in the second half of the year, whilst it was just so good to see DJZ back after their injury nightmares he’s been through. Cage eventually picked up the win with a Drill Claw on Xavier and now looks potentially set for collision course with the X-Division champion at Slammiversary. ***1/4
Taya Valkyrie def. Kiera Hogan
This was a match not announced prior to the show and was ostensibly a three-pronged addition: a means to give Taya a big televised win, a showcase for recent addition Hogan and a debut for Tessa Blanchard, a new acquisition for Impact. Blanchard joining the commentary team was the story of the match and did distract from the action, which was a shame for the two women in the ring, who put together a decent performance. Taya eventually picked up the win with a Road to Valhalla. **
Impact X-Division Championship
Matt Sydal (C) def. Petey Williams
Earlier in the evening a segment aired showing Sydal and his ‘spiritual adviser’ Josh Mathews going their separate ways, which was a great move. Their pairing was not really coming across well and Sydal doesn’t need a manager. The match itself was worked in a much more methodical manner than many would have expected, with Petey working on Sydal’s lower back and legs and Sydal attempting a variety of different submission manoeuvres. As with most Williams matches, the Canadian Destroyer was the fulcrum of the closing stretch. He landed it but Sydal rolled to the outside. In desperation Williams went for an avalanche Canadian Destroyer but it was to no avail, with Sydal reversing and eventually putting him away with a pumphandle driver. I enjoyed this, but the slower pace meant it never really reached the level I was expecting it to. ***
House of Hardcore
OvE (Sami Callihan and the Crist brothers) def. Eddie Edwards, Moose & Tommy Dreamer
Stories like the one they’ve been trying to tell with Edwards and Callihan aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but it’s been personally entertaining and the crowd were hot for this match. The match was just a car-crash with some really big spots and everyone taking a load of bumps I definitely wouldn’t want to. The one Moose took to the ladder on the outside didn’t look pleasant, and to their credit the Crists both took an absolute beating. The flying cutter on Moose by Jake Crist through two tables was a highlight and really set the stage for the closing moments. There was another baseball bat spot tease, only for Dreamer to break things up with a barbed wire bat. Callihan got the upper hand though, rolling up the ECW Original shortly after to pick up the win for his team.
As much as ending a hardcore match with a roll-up is so frustrating, the post-match angle prevents me from dropping my rating. Eddie completely lost it at Sami, slicing his face open with the barbed wire and taping him to the ropes with the duct tape that Dave Crist had used as a choke earlier in the match. Eddie then laid into the detestable Callihan with some vicious cane shots, also swatting away the Crists and Dreamer in the process. His rage was only ended by an accidental shot to his wife Alisha who’d come out to calm him down. This really was a great segment and I like the freedom the new regime have given these guys to do something a bit more edgy. It’s working and the feud still feels very hot heading to Slammiversary. ***1/2
Impact Knockouts Championship
Allie (C) def. Su Yung
Allie’s matches have become increasingly formulaic as she’s had more exposure in Impact – she has a fiery start, gets beaten down and then rallies to take home the win. That was the same here and whilst I’m not a big fan of Yung’s work, this was fine. There were some Braxton Sutter shenanigans but that was the only interference on the entire show so it didn’t even annoy me that much. Allie retained her title with a roll-up after countering Yung’s finishing manoeuvre, the panic switch. **1/2
Impact World Championship
Pentagon Jr. def. Austin Aries (C) and Fenix
WOW. I was not expecting that result at all.
My only gripe with this match came before it even began – I’m sure this was a mistake on McKenzie Mitchell’s end, but there’s no way that Aries was the heaviest man in that match. In the words of VKM, no chance in hell.
That aside, this was a tremendous contest well worthy of ending this show. Every time two men were in the ring the exchanges were really strong and unlike many triple threats, it never really felt as though the third man’s return was super telegrapher or obvious. Aries was largely presented as the star of the match, which made sense as he’s the Impact guy, but the other two had a series of excellent spots too. There was a moment where Fenix decked it a couple of times on the ropes, which had appeared really greasy throughout the evening, but his aerial assaults were a delight as always. The match’s finish harked back to their original match at Wrestlecon, with Aries eating a double superkick. This time however, Pentagon stepped it up, landing a Gory special on Fenix and a piledriver on Aries simultaneously, before finishing Aries off with a Pentagon Driver for the shock win. A quality contest between three great men that opens a whole world of possibilities for Impact. ****
Impact’s first PPV under the new regime can only be considered a success. In avoiding the tropes of most past Impact specials, they managed to produce an excellent three-hour show that was a breeze to watch. There wasn’t much that really stood out but there was also nothing dreadful. Every match felt significant and the results from this show will have a big bearing on the directions they take over the coming months. If you’ve got time, check out the main event and the hardcore bout, especially the closing segment.