One of the things that irritated me about Impact this week was Josh Mathews repeatedly stating that this week marked Ace Austin’s official debut with the company.
My main bugbear was that that statement was false, with the 22-year-old Austin having appeared on Impact TV last September in a six-man tag team match alongside Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz against OvE, and on Xplosion later in the year against Shawn Donavan.
Still, to dwell on Josh’s deliberate falsehood, which was a basic storyline device to promote the newest addition to the roster, would be to miss the point of what I wanted to talk about in this week’s column.
It’s an oft-used expression in wrestling to ‘get in on the ground floor’. Simply put, the expression means to get invested in something or someone at a very early stage and Ace Austin is someone, to extend the business metaphor, we should all be buying stock in.
The youngster from Atlantic City, New Jersey, made his professional debut back in 2015 and has subsequently worked in a variety of promotions across North America, picking up titles in CZW and Mexican company DTU whilst also working in MLW, AAW and House of Hardcore.
Whilst he is still very much in the development phase of his career, Austin has all the tools, in my opinion, to be a breakout star over the next few years. He moves around the ring with great poise and has the sort of moveset that will get him over with any audience. Add to that his earrings and his well-cultivated hair and you’ve got a distinctive and marketable look for the young man.
In terms of his gimmick, he describes himself as the ‘One True Ace’. That’s the sort of moniker that works in either heel or babyface roles, as does his look. That versatility and clear ability are the things that got me in on the ground floor, but I’m not sure Impact did a lot to help others do the same this week.
First of all, the vignettes aired in the weeks running up to his debut were just 20 seconds or so that revealed very little about who Ace Austin was, what he’s capable of and what his backstory/character is. Whilst there’s no need to give everything away at once, in fact, it’s important to hold some stuff back for future development, there was very little to really sink your teeth into ahead of his debut match against Jake Atlas.
Atlas is another young guy who’s impressed me on a couple of prior indie appearances, but he’s not the new signing for Impact, so this should have been a super quick squash for Austin to get over his top moves and give him a statement ‘debut’ victory, which is what they marketed it as. What we actually got was a match that went about three and a half minutes and one where they went close to 50/50. That isn’t necessarily the end of the world and this may be a case of me nitpicking and reviewing what I want to see rather than what I did see, but his ‘debut’ came off a little flat to me.
This may only be his first appearance and I may be being overcritical but when you’re as high on a talent as I am on him, things like this are frustrating. Austin is clearly very talented and he’s a great get for Impact Wrestling. To my mind he’s not only a future X-Division Champion, he’s a potential future Ace of the division.
In order for people to get in on the ground floor as I have though, Impact need to up the presentation. He’s the sort of talent that definitely deserves it.
The Week in Review
- I enjoyed Rich Swann’s match with Ethan Page this week as they worked a nice sprint and the news of Ethan Page’s new deal last week should mean ‘All Ego’ starts getting pushed at the next tapings.
- The Dark War stuff was very corny and not a great match if we’re being honest but it was so great to see Rosemary back in an Impact ring to wrestle for the first time in 10 months. I’d missed her.
- We had a couple of ‘problematic’ segments with The Desi Hit Squad and Glenn Gilbertti. The DHS one was a little more forgivable as they’re the jobber heels and it was cheap heat to get them over and also continue the far more fascinating Eddie Edwards/Eli Drake storyline. As for Gilbertti though, that stuff sucks.
- The backstage segments involving Johnny Impact, Brian Cage and that bloke posing as an investigative reporter are really starting to wind me up. Impact’s heel turn is so telegraphed at this point, the reporter guy is so unnatural and it comes off really badly and it’s clear all of this is just designed to drag Cage’s big title win out until Rebellion at the end of April. Belt the Machine up already.
- The main event between the Rascalz and the Lucha Brothers was great fun and makes me really want to see a full-length PPV style match between the two as that’d be some hot fire.
- Next week we’ve got Glenn Gilbertti in action, Callihan & OvE against Willie Mack, Rich Swann and Tommy Dreamer, Edwards and Drake against the Desi Hit Squad and Tessa Blanchard facing Jordynne Grace for the number one contendership in the Knockouts division.
Well, until next time…