At Under Pressure, Impact Wrestling Flattered to Deceive
“I honestly can’t remember a better episode of Impact in the time I’ve been following the company. Packed with action from start to finish, it was masterful.”
This week, we got the second TV special in the Don Callis era. Entitled Under Pressure¸ the show had been built as well as any PPV in the recent history of the company. There were four clear matches advertised, all with a backstory and all with obvious future direction. This time I had no reason to feel apprehensive. No reason to doubt that they’d hit another home run. This time, however, Impact seem to struggle under the weight of expectation. Maybe the pressure got to them…
The show opened with a match between former tag team champions Eli Drake and Scott Steiner. It wasn’t good, but what more do you expect of a 55-year-old man who has been doing this for over 30 years. Eli Drake worked hard, got a definitive win and is now free to re-enter the world title picture. The finish was a great callback to the way they lost the tag straps, but this was very skippable. Not a great start.
Then came Tessa Blanchard against Madison Rayne. I’m probably the high man, but I thought this was great. Tessa is obviously someone Callis and D’Amore see potential in, and I agree. No, her in-ring isn’t faultless, but she’s improving and she’s already got a brilliant grasp of presenting herself. The match was worked at a brisk pace, with Tessa getting a lot in, before being caught out by her haughtiness. Rayne’s shock win immediately cements her as a contender, and adds a new wrinkle to Tessa’s character growth.
If that match got the good ship Impact firmly sailing in the right direction, the following contest between Brian Cage and Dezmond Xavier kicked it up a few notches. Their match, a first-time encounter in Impact, was everything it needed to be. Xavier sold the size discrepancy between the two, knowing that speed and high-flying offence was the only way he could topple The Machine. Eventually though, Cage’s size and power told and he put the much smaller man down in just over five minutes. Cage is now the top contender to the X-Division title, and I bet you that we see this match again in the future.
Those three contests were all over in the first 45 minutes of the show, so over an hour left for the two big title bouts. Good pacing, meaning both would get time and a chance to really make this a stellar episode. In the end, neither delivered on their promise.
The Last Rites stipulation for Su Yung’s rematch with Allie was never going to do much for me, as it inevitably hamstrings the match. It did, and whilst both women worked hard, the constant working back towards the coffin took me out of the match. It happened, I was pleased Yung won as she seems the hotter act right now, but it was **1/2 at best. So basically the same level as their clash at Redemption. Allie’s cosplaying of Rosemary was a nice touch, but it kind of fell felt. I laughed, but I doubt that was the intended outcome…
Then onto Aries against Pentagon. One-on-one for the first time in Impact. Anyone who reads these columns (thank you, truly, you are wonderful people) will know Austin Aries holds a special place in my heart. Since coming back to the company he has been the centre of everything good and has knocked it out of the park every time he’s been in there. Pentagon is a star and together I was expecting these two to produce magic.
Earlier in the show Austin Aries had cut a tremendous promo, genuinely it was excellent. It may have stemmed from the same tired backstage intro, but he made that segment and it got me hyped for the main event.
Sadly, a series of screwy finishes took me out of the match and meant I left the show with a sour taste in my mouth. The action between the two was good but not exceptional and then got not one, but two dodgy countout finishes. I hate overbooking, especially in world title matches. It’s a trope of Impact’s past that I thought we’d moved past.
Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. Aries victory came as a result of him punting Pentagon’s undercarriage all the way to Ontario, firmly establishing ‘A Double’ as a heel. Pentagon hasn’t shown his vicious side yet in Impact, so that opens the door to a much hotter rematch, potentially at Slammiversary.
Still, I came into this week’s Impact with as much anticipation as I have in a long time and they were found wanting. I’m still firmly all in on the new Callis administration, but they’ve got work to do. Thumbs firmly in the middle on this one.
The Week in Review
- You’ve got to think they’ll be disappointed with this week’s viewership. What with the build the show had got, to only get 283,000 was a surprise. Only three episodes have done worse all year.
- Eddie Edwards threatened a homicide on national television. Good thinking Edward, nice and subtle.
- Those LAX segments are funky and highlights the disconnect between social media and kayfabe. Santana is such a humble guy on social media, grateful for all opportunities he gets, so how am I supposed to believe that he’s part of some drug ring using women like pieces of meat. Anyway, the LAX story is one of the best in Impact right now and their path to redemption starts next week.
- The mystery ‘X’ attacker struck again this week. The amount of traction they’ve given this make me think the final reveal has to be a big name. But who could it be?
Well, until next time…