Impact Wrestling ran their 2019 Wrestlemania weekend show, United We Stand, this past Thursday (April 4) from the Rahway Rec Center, headlined by an extreme rules tag match between the Lucha Brothers and Rob Van Dam and Sabu.
The show, broadcast on FITE TV, was dogged by audio issues like many this weekend, meaning that the commentary often cut out or the crowd seemed mute, conflicting with the sentiments of those there live.
Johnny Impact def. Ace Austin, Jake Crist, Dante Fox and Pat Buck
There was no Kotto Brazil or Jack Evans in this one, but recent Impact signee Ace Austin coming in as the sole replacement. For me, Austin was the star of a match that was perfectly fine but lacked any form of real story behind it that would have enabled it to reach the heights it perhaps could have done. You had some good flying from Pat Buck, Dante Fox and Jake Crist but Austin got the highlight reel moment with his dive from the top of the structure.
.@The_Ace_Austin took one of the biggest risks in the history of Ultimate X at United We Stand.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) April 6, 2019
This was a good opportunity to push the young man and they did just that as he got some good shine, landed some big moves and then took a beautiful cutter from Jake Crist off the ropes above the ring, which allowed current Impact World Champion Johnny Impact to scamper up and collect the X and future title shot.
A fun match that was a little flat in places but was redeemed by Austin getting the spotlight and an interesting winner with a big pay-per-view not far off. ***
Team Lucha Underground (Marty the Moth, Daga, Drago and Aerostar) def. Team Impact (Brian Cage, Eddie Edwards, Moose and Tommy Dreamer)
There’s a lot to unpack here, but this match ended up being quite a disappointment after looking good on paper. First of all, I don’t think Aerostar is particularly good. I don’t know why but he often seems very unsure of himself or where to go. Daga was the standout on the Lucha team, and looked crisp in his interactions with the Impact guys, which can only be a good thing with Callis and D’Amore reportedly interested in using him more going forward.
Second, as much as I dislike Tommy Dreamer being the fourth man on the Impact team, it did mean we got to appreciate Moose (what a robe!), Brian Cage and Eddie Edwards coming out separately, with all three having quite cool themes. As for Tommy, I like the guy and I think he’s a consummate pro who cares about the business but I mean come on—you’ve got space for him on the card but not for Josh Alexander or Willie Mack?
Third, the finish here was a frustrating end to what had already been an underwhelming contest between 8 guys who are definitely capable of better, but hey, at least Dreamer ate the pin. The match felt really limp, a lot of the interactions were quite clunky and most of them seemed to be working at 50%, aside from Cage and Daga who did look highly motivated. The finish came when Moose speared Eddie, leading Tommy to attempt to hit him with a kendo stick and whiff quite badly and Eddie to connect with a suicide dive to the outside, leaving Marty the Moth, who had done nothing all match, to hit Tommy with an underhook DDT for the pin. **1/2
Taya Valkyrie (C) def. Rosemary, Katie Forbes and Jordynne Grace
The fact that I was right about the finish doesn’t really take away from the fact that this never really got into any sort of rhythm and ended up feeling quite sloppy and formulaic.
They started with the usual two in, two out format you often get with these matches with Taya working over Forbes. Forbes would later attempt to lift two of the other women in a fireman’s carry and fail quite awkwardly—I have no problem with ambition but surely she should have checked whether she could do the spot or not beforehand? Anyway, the interactions here between Grace and Rosemary were fun and were a taste of a women’s feud I’d be right behind, but Rosemary got distracted by Su Yung, taking her out of the proceedings. Grace connected with the Grace Driver on Forbes, only for Taya to steal the pin and retain. *1/2
LAX def. Promociones Dorado (Low Ki and Ricky Martinez)
The action in this one took an age to get going and when it did, it had almost no energy to it and seemed interminably long. I was pondering which Low Ki we would get before the match and whilst we got more methodical Ki than anything else, he seemed to be the only one who was able kick things up a notch. LAX eventually picked up the win, with Ortiz pinning Martinez after a Death Valley Driver. This was 12 minutes I won’t get back and it hurts me to write that as LAX are my favourite tag team in the world and I had high hopes for this one. **
Tessa Blanchard def. Joey Ryan
This is your typical Joey Ryan garbage. It’s not for me and never will be. I don’t like the fact Tessa was in this spot with a big match coming up, or the fact Callis and Mathews seemed so OTT on commentary. Why couldn’t Eli have taken this spot like he was supposed to? *
Rich Swann (C) def. Flamita
Losing Yamato from this match earlier in the week was a bit of a shame, but in many ways this was an upgrade and a match that I can actually be positive about.
A fairly clean-shaven Rich Swann is a slightly odd sight to behold but these two had a fun little back-and-forth match with some nice exchanges and good high-flying. Flamita hit a nice Spanish Fly in his big spot of the match before Swann closed the book on another title defence with a beautiful Phoenix Splash. For the time they had, this was really entertaining and I think if you took a couple of minutes of the LAX match and the Joey Ryan match, this could have been pretty special. ***
Sami Callihan def. Jimmy Havoc
Although not on the level of the match these two had on Impact’s show in the UK last September, this was probably my match of the night.
Whilst it is a disappointment the original Monster’s Ball rules aren’t implemented (you know, being locked up for 24 hours beforehand), you still got some good plunder here with staples, ringbells, a chain, chairs and of course some bodily fluids courtesy of Callihan’s spit and Havoc’s blood. You then had paper cuts, Callihan squeezing lemon juice in Havoc’s cut and Havoc biting those dastardly Ohioan’s toes! Havoc brought some Mega Blocks into play late on (not Lego as Don and Josh called it on comms—know your building blocks boys!), only for Callihan to piledrive him onto them for a one count. The end soon followed, with Callihan hitting a kneeling Havoc with his baseball bat and then hitting a piledriver onto two chairs for the win. Good fun. ***1/4
Extreme Rules Dream Match
The Lucha Brothers def. Rob Van Dam and Sabu
If I’m being honest, I hadn’t really got any conceptions of this beyond the visual at the start of these four standing in the ring together. That was great but beyond that, people’s mileage will probably vary. I thought the Lucha Brothers, particularly Fenix, worked really hard here and thankfully this only went around 8 minutes as I don’t think Van Dam had much more in him. Sabu and RVD got their big moment of the night with a double dive through a table but that was as good as it got. Pentagon nailed RVD with a chair as he was poised to hit a 5-Star Frog Splash, allowing Penta and Fenix to hit Sabu with the Fear Factor for the win. **1/4
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) April 6, 2019
From a nostalgia and novelty perspective this was an amuse bouche, but Van Dam didn’t look good. He went for a spin kick early on and looked as though he could quite legitimately have taken Sabu out, whilst his attempt at a Rolling Thunder was just that, an attempt. Oh and that double dive? Yeah, Van Dam and Sabu almost took each other out. Don Callis going extreme ECW fanboy to sell Van Dam and Sabu’s offence was irritating but my bigger issue is that Sabu looked better than Van Dam and it’s the latter who’s returning to Impact TV at the end of the month.
I realise that in this review I have come across as a curmudgeonly old miser. That’s probably an accurate indictment. For me, I feel that stance is somewhat justified when this show, which looked so good on paper, was dogged by lethargic wrestling throughout. I enjoyed Callihan/Havoc, Swann/Flamita and Ultimate X but the fact I only went *** or above three times on an eight-match card says it all really. A very pedestrian effort from Impact, which is a real shame at a time when they could do with as much buzz as possible.