This Friday, Impact Wrestling will once again air a ‘TV Special’, entitled Cali Combat, which I believe was taped in the same building that Championship Wrestling from Hollywood uses.

Throughout 2018, the company would use these TV specials at six-to-eight week intervals to offer a pay-off to smaller feuds and add further fuel to those programs that were heading to the PPVs. In 2019, however, these specials have largely not been utilized.

I personally think the concept is a good one. In a promotion that only runs quarterly PPVs, you need some degree of extra hook every once in a while for the television. You need something that is going to entice more fresh eyes and a well-built TV special, with a number of good featured matches, should do that.

In an ideal world, the specials should be done live to further pique people’s interests and make promotion easier, because it’s hard to earnestly promote title matches when a lot of people who want to know what happened will have seen it already on Twitter, Cagematch or some other suitably reputable website. Ostensibly costs are the reason that these specials aren’t live, but the advantage next week’s show has is that the results are not on Cagematch, which offers some degree of intrigue for a couple of the matches.

As things stand, the card will feature Havok vs Alisha Edwards, Willie Mack vs Trey Miguel, Rhino vs Elgin, Sami Callihan vs Tommy Dreamer in a No DQ match, The North vs Reno Scum for the tag team titles and Jake Crist vs Rich Swann for the X-Division title.

On paper, much of the show seems fairly easy to break down:

  • Jessicka Havok is entering into a program with Su Yung, so her match with Alisha will presumably be a squash, which then leads into a segment involving Yung.
  • Willie Mack faced off with the Rascalz on Impact TV this past week, so his match with Trey is a logical continuation of that. I see Mack & Swann challenging for the tag titles at Bound for Glory, so Mack winning her to set up a contendership bout with the Rascalz in Mexico makes sense.
  • Likewise, Rich Swann should lose his X-Division title rematch with Crist. They are clearly doing something with Jake, presumably building towards a match with Tessa Blanchard at Bound for Glory, so he should win to bolster his credibility, whilst if Swann is moving to the tag title scene a loss isn’t that important.
  • The Impact twitter account announced that Rhino and Michael Elgin would be facing off in a street fight in Mexico, so a non-finish to their match in California would make sense to set up the stipulation pay-off.
  • Impact is also clearly trying to bolster the North heading to Bound for Glory, so giving them a clean win over Reno Scum, a team who’ve worked for Impact before but aren’t roster members, helps with that.
  • Tommy Dreamer has been coming to the aid of Tessa Blanchard in her feud with Sami Callihan, and the ‘Innovator of Violence’ has had issues with the OvE leader previously. The match makes sense and its outcome is obvious – Dreamer will get the crowd onside before losing. It will be a standard Dreamer main event in 2019, meaning that isn’t great but is serviceable and works better for the live crowd than it does for TV.

That breakdown, albeit a little rough and rudimentary, encapsulates both what I think works with the TV special model but also Impact’s problems with executing them properly.

Everything on the show makes sense. It is either the direct continuation of something or a tangential link that will help build to something else. There are logical pay-offs and storyline directions up and down the card, which is what you should want from a weekly TV product. However, it is also far too predictable. Not just because of the way the stories have been told, but also because more TV has been taped since which means certain things need to happen.

Having a TV special every six weeks or so is a good idea; it’s something a little bit different. In this current wrestling landscape, being different is good but being too predictable isn’t. In this landscape, having good ideas is important but strong promotion and detailed execution is more so. Trying to find a happy medium between all of those things is what Impact needs to be working towards.

The Week in Review

  • Moose vs Fallah Bahh was good fun. Bahh continues to work hard and he actually brought some good intensity from Moose, who I am still pondering exactly what Impact plan to do with over the next few months.
  • The women’s tag team match was also good, with Alexia Nicole showing some good stuff and Jordynne Grace impressive as always. The Rosemary return was also done well.
  • The Eddie Edwards/Ace Austin stuff continues to suck, as did whatever the segment involving Taya and John E. Bravo was.
  • Rob Van Dam had his best showing since returning to Impact, and that was solely a product of the five guys he was in there with. Mack & Swann for a tag team push right now.
  • The Desi Hit Squad/Deaners match was fine but the stipulation was daft. Really daft.

Well, until next time… (P.S, good luck gents but also this is a shame)