I looked forward to last week’s episode of Impact Wrestling. It was the first one after I had completed my final university exams and it was the first week of the material taped in Philadelphia. I was in a position to wholeheartedly enjoy what was put in front of me without thinking about studying or revising the history of the modern Middle East.

Unfortunately, the opening segment of the show ended up leaving a rather sour taste in my mouth.

Whilst battle royals are not particularly my cup of tea (they tend be rather formulaic until the very end and, as a match type, they are vastly overdone), I had no real objection to the Knockouts one opening the show as it gave them an opportunity, in theory at least, to set up some new angles in the division as the company moves towards Slammiversary in July.

It all seemed to be going swimmingly until Disco Inferno/Glenn Gilbertti came out and started cutting a promo on why women’s wrestling was bad and that the only way people would enjoy the match was if it was a Bra and Panties battle royal.

My objections to Disco’s appearance were manifold. Firstly, what appeal is there to using Glenn Gilbertti in 2019? When there is so much good wrestling out there and so much brilliant and versatile talent available, why bring in a 51-year-old who has not been relevant for more than decade? Likewise, they had already done a ‘Glenn hates women’s wrestling’ story at the Las Vegas tapings that culminated in him getting beaten by Scarlett Bordeaux, so what was the appeal in doing it again?

I do understand that intergender wrestling is becoming ever more popular and is something Impact management are keen on. It might not be my thing all of the time but it reaches out to a wider audience and captures public imagination a bit more, so I understand why they would be interested from a business perspective. However, there are ways and means of doing it where it comes off as natural and authentic. Using Glenn Gilbertti to hate on the female roster and then get beaten up is not one of them.

Those issues dogged my early perception of the battle royal (which was actually quite decent, clocking in for me at **1/2) but as it progressed I started to become less aware of my gripes with Gilbertti and more focused on the match. Even his OTT commentary gradually became background noise as I watched the knockouts tell an interesting story in the ring.

But then the sucker punch came.

Gilbertti claimed he was in the match, leaving the commentary table to throw Tessa Blanchard out of the ring and claim the victory for himself. I didn’t know at first whether I was more annoyed by Gilbertti winning or by the fact he had eliminated Tessa Blanchard to do so. The latter though, was the one that ended up bugging throughout the rest of the show.

After the whole feud with Gail Kim, in which Blanchard was able to develop a much more aggressive side to her character, produce the best women’s match in North America this year and enjoy an authentic babyface turn, this was the programme they decided to give her.

The only logical payoff to this angle is a singles match between Blanchard and Gilbertti, which she’ll inevitably win in a matter of moments. Ultimately that achieves nothing. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t affirm her new babyface status and it feels like a major-league relegation after that big Kim feud.

There is sufficient depth in the female roster to give Blanchard a meaningful feud whilst they play out Taya/Madison Rayne for the title without needing to resort to this rubbish. Why not match her up with Kiera Hogan again or Jordynne Grace, or even with Rosemary now that her feud with Su Yung seems to have come to a close?

I partly think my gripes with this whole thing stemmed from the fact that the women’s division has been so well presented since Callis and D’Amore took the rein, making this stuff seem even more out of place and trashy.

Hopefully the feud will be brief and the payoff will be as expected and we can move on, because frankly Tessa deserves better and so do the rest of the Knockouts. My only worry is that they persist with it, as it popped the second biggest number on Youtube for the show at the time of writing, second only to the Rosemary-Su Yung match by around 5,000 views.

I realise this was an incredibly negative column this week, and very much like an old man yelling at a cloud. I am sure this stuff does appeal to some appeal (I mean it clearly does, the Youtube views indicate as much) and there is nothing wrong in wrestling with admitting that not everything a company does is for you. Moreover, on a more positive note, this week’s episode was by and large really good after that, highlighted by a fantastic main event between Michael Elgin and Rich Swann.

The Week in Review

  • It would be remiss to write this without acknowledging that Garrett Kidney, who was responsible for a great deal of the excellent Impact social media over the last 18 months or so, has now left the company. Garrett taking that job allowed me to start reviewing Impact for Voices of Wrestling and I have to say his departure is a huge loss for Impact because he genuinely was excellent in his role.
  • On a Voices of Wrestling/Impact related note, I was on the ‘Music of the Mat’ podcast last week with Andrew Rich to discuss the Impact TV themes since the company’s debut on Fox Sports Net. You can check that out here.
  • Rosemary against Su Yung in the demon collar match was alright. It never really kicked into a higher gear but considering the last dog collar match I saw was up there with the worst matches I’ve ever seen, this one wasn’t bad at all.
  • Madman Fulton got a very impressive looking squash win this week – I hope they have a more firm direction for OvE moving forward.
  • Killer Kross has recently requested his release from Impact, which is a shame albeit understandable, but he was very impressive in his match with Eddie Edwards this week. He brought the intensity and his snapping of Kenny popped me, I have to say.
  • Michael Elgin against Rich Swann in the main event was brilliant and a notebook match. It was probably Swann’s most complete performance since joining the company a year ago and he played his role as the underdog babyface perfectly. Elgin looked like a complete beast and the finish protected both guys and likely sets up an all-star tag match between Elgin and Johnny Impact against Swann and Willie Mack.
  • Next week we’ve got LAX vs The North, Taya defending the Knockouts title against Madison Rayne, Rob Van Dam against Tommy Dreamer, Ace Austin, Dezmond Xavier, Rohit Raju and Petey Williams in a fatal four-way and Sami Callihan against my guy Fallah Bahh.

Well, until next time…