The first post-PPV episode in any wrestling promotion is always a chance for re-evaluation. Stories concluded at the big show enable stars to take on new directions, whilst stories started are allowed to develop. It’s also a great spot to introduce new faces, as they can slot in to new programmes or become fixtures in existing ones without disrupting the pay-per-view.
This week’s episode of Impact Wrestling was exactly that, a chance for the pieces in the jigsaw to be reset, readjusted and reorganised as we put Bound for Glory in the rear-view mirror and start planning for Homecoming on January 6.
However, a big part of this reorganisation process stemmed from Austin Aries’ behaviour at Bound for Glory.
As Rich and Joe articulated on this week’s Flagship, it is more than fair to assume that Aries’ post-match tantrum was a shoot as the people behind the scenes now aren’t dumb enough to work something like that. The payoff is so low and it’d just further tarnish the company’s reputation. That said, it is questionable whether he’d have lost the title if he had shown a bit more self-control on Twitter, and if he’d kept the belt he would almost certainly have resigned with the company.
That’s a lot of ifs, but Aries’ departure will have ramifications throughout the roster. Johnny Impact as champion has no logical first opponent because Aries cannot invoke his rematch clause, so they’ve sensibly gone down the fighting champion route. Next week he will defend the belt against Fenix, a match I have no doubt will be a banger, but beyond that is anyone’s guess. My logic (I do love a bit of fantasy booking), is that he drops the belt at Homecoming, perhaps to Killer Kross, but that part of the puzzle still has lots of moving parts.
Kross is another directly affected by Aries’ sudden departure. He and Moose had begun to develop a real identity as the tandem backing up the champion and I had suspected they’d be moving into a tag team title programme against LAX. Now though, they lack a leader but that will allow one of them to take on the spotlight. Moose continues to be a fashion icon, but if this week is anything to go by, I am expecting Moose to continue his feud with Eddie Edwards and perhaps for Kross to get the big push as the faction leader. His promo work is chilling, he’s got a great look and whilst his in-ring isn’t at the level of some others, he’s been built well thus far. Kross as the final boss for Eddie Edwards to reach the summit in Impact also feels like the natural substitute for Aries/Edwards.
What about everyone else? Well, the X-Division and Women’s titles both already have clear and exciting directions. Sami Callihan’s pinfall win at Bound for Glory felt big and I think they are right to save that for the Homecoming show. I’ve loved Callihan’s work this year and the title shot feels justified, whilst Cage looked excellent once again this week against Swann. I like that everyone he’s worked against has utilised a sense of desperation in all that they do, that only a five, six move combination will be enough to derail the machine. Likewise, his power has also been built as the ultimate leveler in every match, it’s great.
Tessa Blanchard still reigns supreme and a rematch with Taya Valkyrie seems like the logical next step. Taya beat Katarina in solid little match this week, saying she has no respect for Tessa, and I’d expect that those two will square off again soon, perhaps in a hardcore setting of some kind. It was also announced this week that Jordynne Grace is debuting soon and I can’t wait for that. Her and Tessa have wrestled twice before outside the company, and that feels like a big rivalry for 2019.
LAX are the only titleholders without direction at the moment, but it was good this week to see that whilst their feud is over, the OGz may well be sticking around. Even though there are no obvious tag contenders at the moment, I’m sure that picture will become clearer in due course and there are a number of budding teams, including the Third Eye Brotherhood that is Matt Sydal and Ethan Page (Page is a massive human, but also a national treasure).
Below the surface, a number of secondary storylines are also already in place. Allie has gone to the dark side, and it seems like Rosemary will be the only one to snap her out of it. I cannot wait for the Queen to return. You’ve got Eli Drake fighting management, some Desi Hit Squad nonsense and loads more to come I’m sure.
Whilst the viewership stays low and Austin Aries’ departure is an undeniable blow, the jigsaw seems set for an exciting couple of months as the Impact train rolls towards Homecoming in January.
The Week in Review
- This week I will begin a counter, entitled ‘Where have the Best Boys gone?’ Said counter will refer to the absent Dezmond Xavier and DJZ, two of my favourite guys on the roster. Xavier hasn’t appeared since mid-July, whilst DJZ was last seen on Impact screens in June. I miss them.
- I do feel for whoever has to answer those emails for Scarlett Bordeaux. There’s going to be a lot of unsavoury material in there. Her first viewing party is next week.
- Talking of next week, Impact is moving timeslot on Pop. It will being at 10/9c, which means nothing to me but please do keep watching and adjust your DVRs accordingly.
- Next week’s lineup: Tessa on the mic, Scarlett’s viewing party, Killer Kross and Moose against Fallah Bahh and KM and Johnny Impact defends the World title against Fenix.
Well, until next time…