Impact Wrestling
Homecoming 2019
January 6, 2019
The Asylum
Nashville, Tennessee

Impact Wrestling returned to pay-per-view for the first time in 2019 yesterday, with Johnny Impact battling Brian Cage for the World Championship in the Homecoming main event in Nashville.

As per usual, it was Don Callis and Josh Mathews on commentary.

Ultimate X Match for the Vacant X-Division Championship
Rich Swann def. Trey Miguel, Jake Crist & Ethan Page

Part of me had suspected that this might, for set-up reasons as much as anything else, open the show and it turned out it was the best possible move to fire up an already hot crowd.

All four guys were new to Ultimate X but that didn’t show, with everyone working incredibly hard to produce a snug, entertaining match that didn’t overstay its welcome. They managed to avoid the tendency in matches like this to give away too many false finishes, instead of having a lot of the action take place away from the x-structure. Ethan Page, who was the standout name from a physique perspective, got a lot of shine, including landing a beautiful elbow drop from the X and a spear to a dangling Jake Crist. Trey Miguel also made himself look like a star, and it was an interaction between him and Swann that set up the finish. Miguel went for a top-rope hurricanrana but Swann landed on his feet and sprinted up the structure before Miguel had the chance to realize or stop him, allowing the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion to retrieve the belt and win his first title in Impact. Great stuff to start the show. ***1/2

Allie & Su Yung def. Jordynne Grace & Kiera Hogan

Whilst this didn’t end up going the way I expected results-wise, it pretty much met my expectations. It was a fairly basic tag team match, and whilst some of the interactions between Kiera Hogan and Su Yung were pretty rough, Hogan impressed me as much as she has so far in her Impact run. She showed great fire and set the scene for Grace to get a lot of shine. It looked as though Grace would clear house and get the win off the hot tag, only to get misted by Su Yung. That allowed Allie to hit Hogan with a codebreaker and lock in the mandible claw for the technical submission win. **1/2

Post-match, a coffin was brought to the ring to put Kiera Hogan in, only for Rosemary to spring out. Rosemary threw Su Yung into the undead bridesmaids and had a staredown with Allie, before Allie bailed. Whilst I expected Rosemary to return, I still popped massively for this spot. The Queen is back!

Falls Count Anywhere
Eddie Edwards def. Moose

Eddie jumped Moose during his entrance for this match, which is a real shame as Eddie has pretty great theme music that I thoroughly enjoy. Still, we got to hear it at the end of a tremendous contest.

These two had a brilliant brawl on Impact TV about two months ago and they topped it here, making the most of the time given to them and the stipulation. You had callbacks to early clashes in their rivalry with powerbombs on the apron from Moose, Eddie risking it all by jumping from the stairs in the crowd and both men just trading leather in the middle of the ring. Moose ended up going through the guardrail set up on the outside before Eddie looked to lay into him with his beloved Kenny. When Alisha, Eddie’s wife came down to the ring and took the kendo stick from him I worried about shenanigans, but she laid into Moose herself with the kendo stick before Eddie finished him with some more headshots and a DDT for the win.

This was just a tremendous brawl that had a very natural flow and felt like a massive win for Eddie in long redemption story. I didn’t like the chair shots to the head that Moose took, but that’s a fairly small thing. One for the notebook. ****

Sami Callihan w/Dave Crist def. Willie Mack

Callihan was recently awarded Wrestler of the Year by the Impact fans and he followed that up here with another very good performance in what turned out to be a tremendous little sprint. Dave Crist did run sporadic interference on the outside but as it’s part of the OvE gimmick, I didn’t mind it as much as I would normally.

Mack managed to get in a lot of babyface fire, coming close to victory a couple of times with his standing moonsault and the stunner, which Callihan only escaped by getting his foot on the ropes. Mack also showed tremendous fight in the closing moments, kicking out at one from both an avalanche Death Valley Driver and a stiff lariat, before Callihan hit another lariat and a piledriver to win and presumably set up your next X-Division title programme. ***1/4

Monster’s Ball
Eli Drake def. Abyss

I was pretty scathing of this in my preview for the show but when the dust settled this ended up being good. Abyss looked as good as he has done in a while but the star here was Drake. He took some big bumps to make the match feel entertaining and whilst it went a bit long for my tastes, he looked pretty dominant in victory and hopefully this should begin Drake’s ascent back up the card in 2019. **1/4

Impact World Tag Team Championships
LAX (C) def. The Lucha Brothers

Take a bow gentleman, this was outstanding.

This was a lock to be Match of the Night heading in, and it delivered. All four guys worked at 100 miles an hour from the opening bell and when the final bell rang at just 11 minutes of action, it took me a few minutes to get my breath back. Pentagon and Fenix immediately came out firing and put LAX on the back foot, only for Santana and Ortiz to respond and do the exact same to the challengers. Every time I thought this was about to slow down and transition into a more traditional tag team contest, it accelerated. Perhaps the best example of that was when Ortiz went for a pin and Pentagon used him to land a step-up Canadian Destroyer.

Both teams hit their tag team signature moves, the Fear Factor Piledriver for the Lucha Brothers and the Street Sweeper for LAX, only for both to be broken up at 2. From there it seemed that the end was close, but it came far faster than I think anyone was expecting. A codebreaker from Ortiz, who I thought shone here more than he’s ever done before, was followed by a superkick from Santana and a double-team reverse suplex finished off Fenix. ****1/4

Just like that, a tremendous tag team match was over. The abrupt nature of the finish, and the fact you could see Pentagon standing stationary during the final sequence, drags this down for me in terms of rating but I still thought it was tremendous. LAX retaining was not the result that seemed logical or that was expected, so perhaps those Lucha Brothers/AEW rumors have some substance to them.

Impact Knockouts Championship
Taya Valkyrie def. Tessa Blanchard (C)

I knew the Gail Kim angle was happening, I wrote as much in my preview for this show, but in the end, it ended up being so overplayed that it really detracted from my enjoyment of what was a fairly solid knockouts title match. It wasn’t quite at the standard of their two previous meetings, being worked at a more methodical pace that doesn’t really suit either woman’s style, but it was still fairly enjoyable until Tessa and Gail got into a shoving contest and then it went downhill. Taya eventually won after Gail hit Tessa with Eat Defeat and Taya hit the Road to Valhalla, making her the new Knockouts Champion. **1/2

Impact World Championship
Johnny Impact (C) def. Brian Cage

It’s a real shame that this was as underwhelming as it was, as I had been quite looking forward to it. These two have wrestled several times before in Lucha Underground so the chemistry was there but again longer form matches proved to be Cage’s downfall from a performance perspective.

I thought Cage’s entrance, with his black-and-red trunks and Terminator cosplay, was actually pretty cool and I genuinely think this would have been so much better if it had gone 15 minutes instead of 20. The extra length meant that whilst there were some real high points and great spots, the match also felt quite slow and never got much of a rhythm to it. For example, the initial part of the closing stretch saw Cage kick out of Starship Pain and the top rope Spanish Fly before delivering a series of powerbombs and Weapon X for a great nearfall, but those sequences were too few and far between.

Oh, and then the actual finish ticked all the boxes for me of things I don’t like in wrestling. Outside interference from random Z-list celebrities: Check. Cage getting a visual pin whilst the ref is bumped/distracted: Check. Cage then losing the match: Check. When the ref did eventually get back in the ring, Impact reversed the deadlift suplex into a sloppy roll-up that wasn’t immediately clear to retain. **3/4

I don’t want to be super negative. The match was perfectly fine to be honest, and perhaps I’m the low man (Cage is someone who I find hard to gauge with the consensus), but the finish made no sense. There was no need for the overbooking, it felt like something WWE would do, or perhaps more crudely the Impact of old would have done. It’s quite ironic in a way, them doing a classic ‘LOL TNA’ finish on a night where they celebrated their roots.

Post-match, Impact celebrated with his wife Taya with a clearly disgruntled Cage storming to the back, only for Killer Kross to come out and decimate both Impact and Taya, powerbombing the latter into the crowd.

Final Thoughts

Heading into the final two matches, Homecoming looked set to rival Slammiversary as the best show under the new administration. Following those two matches, it ended up being somewhat disappointing.

Both of the singles title matches were objectively fine, but the overbooking of both was frustrating and detracted from what had been a perfectly sensible, logical and entertaining show up until then. The announcement during the broadcast that the weekly show will now be shown on Twitch as well as Pursuit was a sensible one, and there were a number of good matches. The tag team title match is well worth your time, as is Ultimate X and Eddie Edwards against Moose, it’s just a shame about the last two bouts.