It seems very peculiar to be writing a preview for a wrestling special in these challenging times, but that’s exactly what I find myself doing. Impact Wrestling has found a way to stage their April PPV Rebellion as a two-part television special in Nashville, so here I am with the first of two previews for the shows.
Rebellion 2020 NIght 1
April 21, 2020
Watch: AXS TV & Twitch.tv
While the card for the first week has been finalized, with one title match, two more singles matches and a six-man tag, the card for the second may well change by the time we get to next week.
Tommy Dreamer (1-3) , Rhino (9-3) & ???? vs. oVe (Madman Fulton (2-7) , Jake Crist (1-7) & Dave Crist (1-7))
Partially inspired by AEW’s use of win-loss records on TV, I’ve included the overall win-loss records for all of the wrestlers on Impact promoted shows this year. As you can tell, the overriding story with oVe has been that they’ve struggled and lacked direction during the absence of Sami Callihan. Loss has followed loss, with the most recent coming for the Crists against the team of Dreamer and Rhino, which has led us to this six-man to kick off Night One.
Whether or not this match marks an upturn in fortunes for the Ohioans really depends on who the mystery third person is on the other team. It could either be someone cool, like a returning talent or a new signing, someone that turns on Dreamer and Rhino (again potentially being a new talent) and gifts oVe the win, or another old guy like Sabu. Options one and three seem the most likely at the moment and both seem to point in the direction of a win for Dreamer’s team. Prediction: Dreamer, Rhino and ????
Kiera Hogan (5-3) vs. Kylie Rae (1-0)
Kylie Rae recently made her official television debut for Impact Wrestling, defeating Cassandra Golden before announcing that she’d signed a long-term deal with the promotion. That led to Hogan, who has had a sneaky decent run this year, winning all five of her singles matches on Impact, Xplosion and Impact specials, confronting her and telling her that she’d have to get in line, a process that would start with a singles match at Rebellion. Simple yet effective storytelling.
Hogan is a real talent in her own right and this match should be good if they’re given time, but the correct booking decision here is to have Kylie Rae win. She’s the breath of fresh air that the Knockouts division so desperately needed and the process of elevating her to title contendership starts here. Prediction: Kylie Rae
X Division Championship
Ace Austin (C) (8-3) vs. Willie Mack (9-3)
Ace Austin is one of Impact’s biggest successes over the last six to eight months. They took the decision to elevate him to X-Division champion at Bound for Glory last year and he’s grown into the role, developing in-ring while also adding layers to his character. He’s become ever cockier in his own abilities, especially since adding Reno SCUM as his enforcers. He’s played mind games with everyone he’s faced, from Eddie Edwards to Trey Miguel and now Willie Mack.
Mack, on the other hand, has been in a weird situation for much of 2020 to date. The obvious story with Rich Swann and the tag titles was thrown off course by Swann’s ankle injury, which left Mack to trundle from week to week tagging with Johnny Swinger and then wrestling Swinger and Glenn Gilbertti in a series of pointless matches. Then along came Austin, who assisted him in one of those matches and tried to suggest going for the tag titles, only for Mack to insist once more that he only has one partner and that instead he was going after that X-Division gold.
Whatever the outcome of this match, the feud between these two looks set to continue and will almost certainly include Rich Swann much more as he recovers from his injury. Will it be that the mind games affect Mack, costing him the match and leading to an eventual heel turn, or will that come about because he doesn’t want to defend the title against Swann? The promotion has developed a tendency for giving their champions record-breaking reigns (Taya, The North), so that makes me lean towards Austin retaining but I do think Mack wins here. His run with the belt might not be long but it feels the right time for a change. Prediction: Willie Mack
Sami Callihan (2-1) vs Ken Shamrock (1-0)
An unsanctioned match in an empty arena. These matches are starting to feel all too familiar…
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) April 17, 2020
It was refreshing to see Callihan actually go away for a bit and come back with some new wrinkles in his character because he had become really stale. The ‘hacker’ gimmick is a bit naff and doesn’t do it for me but at least it feels fresh and different. Likewise, Shamrock still has an air of intrigue to him because they’ve kept his in-ring appearances to a minimum since he returned to the promotion. They managed to make his match with Moose, like this one, feel important and special. The promos and the contract signing segment for this match, however over the top they ended, actually delivered a level of intrigue for a match that otherwise would not move my needle.
However, it’s the in-ring that concerns me. When Shamrock got in the ring with Moose it very quickly petered out, veering into overbooking and overall it didn’t work for me. My biggest worry here is that the unsanctioned stipulation for the match and its position in the main event means it’ll go far too long, turning into a plodding walk and brawl that does nothing for anyone. I may well be proved wrong and I’d love to be, but that’s how it seems at the moment and it doesn’t fill me with confidence.
This match with Shamrock feels like the start of Callihan’s ascent back up the card, so the prediction here feels obvious enough. Prediction: Sami Callihan
It’s not Rebellion related, but it’d feel wrong not to end this piece with the highlight of the last week from Impact…
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) April 15, 2020