The main event of last week’s Impact Wrestling saw The North defend their tag team titles against the makeshift tandem of Eddie Edwards and Naomichi Marufuji.
The story leading up to the match was simple – Marufuji beat Alexander on Impact’s debut on AXS, setting up the title match here.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the match transpired to be a superb main event. It was built well, leading to a finish that put the champions over strong and there were excellent exchanges involving all four men. Ultimately though, it was not so much the action that left the strongest impression on me when all was said and done. Rather, it was the various thoughts that the match provoked about the tag team division, the standing of Eddie Edwards within the promotion and the importance of using talents like Marufuji.
Firstly, the match marked yet another defense for the North. The promotion has done a good job of establishing Page & Alexander as the new aces of the division following the departure of LAX. They may not always win clean, but they have regularly showcased their impressive offense and they have beaten a variety of teams in their run to date, including The Rascalz and LAX (twice).
However, now that they have been established, they really need a team that they can share a series of matches with. The North needs a defining feud. Looking at Impact’s tag team division at the moment, it’s hard to work out who that team might be. The Rascalz feel like something of an afterthought, while most of the other teams in the promotion are either heels or are only presented as the bottom of the card filler acts. That leaves one option, and that’s Rich Swann and Willie Mack.
Both are singles stars in their own right and they have shown great chemistry in their previous tag matches. The story of Swann & Mack not getting their two-on-two shot at the North is already there, waiting to be told after Rob Van Dam & Rhino were added to the match at Bound for Glory. Likewise, they are both not doing much else at the minute and matching them up with the North should create a great series that carries the tag division into the new year and beyond.
Watching Eddie Edwards in action in this tag team match offered a firm reminder of how good a tag team wrestler he really is. While the days of the Wolves are firmly in the rear-view mirror, Edwards needs something sensible to sink his teeth into after the storylines he’s had over the last year or so and he’d be a great addition to the tag ranks if there was someone that they could partner him up with long-term. At this point in his career with the promotion, where he’s firmly out of the World title picture, moving him to the tag scene would be a great move all-round.
Finally, Marufuji’s little stint back in the promotion has been a delight. While his lengthy career has had an obvious physical toll on his body and he is prone to take nights off, the Japanese wrestler has worked hard in his big matches and he’s added something to every show he’s been on. His little spell on loan from NOAH is the first use Impact has really made of that relationship since Taiji Ishmori’s run as X-Division champion last year and maximizing those partnerships is something Impact needs to do more.
There are more wrestlers in NOAH that Impact could make use of to add more international flavor to their weekly product and add greater variety to their shows. Why not bring in Daisuke Harada, Atsushi Kotoge or Minoru Tanaka for a few matches in the X-Division? How about bringing Katsuhiko Nakajima and Go Shiozaki in for a big match with The North? And there are numerous great matchups that the promotion could put together involving Kenoh, Kaito Kiyomiya and Takashi Suguira.
Maximizing these relationships is obviously constrained by finance, I get that, but the opportunities are there and not just for NOAH and bringing talent in. Why not look at sending talents over the annual block competitions in NOAH – there are a lot of the promotion’s younger workers that would learn a lot from that experience.
I may have got carried away thinking about positive avenues and possible directions the promotion could take in the months ahead while watching this week’s main event, but for a match that I already knew the outcome of to be so thought-provoking can only be a good thing.
The Week in Review
- The six-man opener to this week’s episode was wild. Trey Miguel won and he is now the top contender to Ace Austin’s title. While the stuff with Austin being ‘Mr Steal Yo Girl’ is never going to work with me, at least they’re doubling down on it.
- Josh Mathews undid a lot of the good things I’ve said about him recently during that match when he said ‘Could Aiden Prince shock the world and get a shot at the X-Division title?’ The line itself is irritating but it also demonstrated no acknowledgment of the promotion’s canon – Prince earned a shot and challenged for the belt while Jake Crist was champion!!!!
- Going back to the promotion doubling down on things, the stuff they’re doing with Johnny Swinger at the moment is superb. If you want to use someone like that, going completely in with the ‘man is stuck in the 80s’ gimmick works for me.
- Daga and Jake Crist’s match was really sloppy and not in a good way. Surprisingly clunky.
- Next week we’ve got Jordynne Grace vs John E. Bravo & Taya, The Rascalz vs Desi Hit Squad vs The Deaners vs Reno SCUM and a six-way elimination match to earn a shot at Sami Callihan’s world title involving Brian Cage, Moose, Tessa Blanchard, Daga, Michael Elgin and Rich Swann.
Well, until next time…