Impact had great energy this week. Josh Mathews and Madison Rayne wearing new gear was the first tell that we were into new tapings, as were the returns of Jordynne Grace and Taya Valkyrie, while every segment mattered, or at least felt like it did.
Jake Crist ditched his brother and joining up with Joey Ryan in Cancel Culture. Ok, not great on paper but Ryan needs something to do in the absence of Rob Van Dam and it gives them a few story options. The real ace Johnny Swinger set up a tag match with Chris Bey against Willie Mack & Jake Something next week, and Michael Elgin advanced his issues with Ken Shamrock and Sami Callihan.
The piece de resistance was the last 40 minutes, as The Rascalz became No #1 contenders for the tag team titles and Ace Austin earned the same status for Tessa Blanchard’s World title.
One of my biggest bugbears with the promotion over the last 18 months has been their inability to give The Rascalz a sustained push. In fact, one could argue, as I have, that they’ve been underpushed.
— Zachary Wentz (@zachary_wentz) June 3, 2020
I always had this nagging suspicion, especially with AEW on the scene, that the Rascalz would eventually leave the promotion and they’d not have even scratched the surface of what they were capable of. As a passionate and unerringly loyal fan of the promotion, that worried me and made me sad.
They’ve had good matches on TV and the odd PPV and Impact Plus special when given the chance but those chances have been few and far between. Dez and Wentz have had tag title shots, and were built well before Slammiversary last year but The North were belted up instead and they’ve had them ever since. Aside from that, Dez and Wentz have usually been confined to putting other teams over in bigger matches and cheery skits in the treehouse. They bring fun and energy to the product but it’s never in a prominent spot.
Of late, it looked like Fallah Bahh and TJP were originally going to get the tag team title shot at Rebellion but the promotion obviously had to change tack. Dez and Wentz then won more or less a replica of the same match Bahh & TJP had won before the pandemic wrestling kicked in, leveling up the scores as it were and setting the table for a proper No. #1 contender’s match.
I hoped, truly, that Dez and Wentz would win. Bahh is my guy and I truly think TJP is in the best shape of his career right now, but to my mind, the next contender for The North had to be the team to beat them. That had to be The Rascalz, because if they didn’t win them then, they’d never win them. It felt that clear cut to me, but there again I don’t have the pencil and that’s probably wise.
As it happened, Dez and Wentz did beat them in an entertaining match that managed to tell a consistent story. TJP and Fallah might have had advantages in technical wrestling and physicality, but raw speed, teamwork and creativity got the Rascalz over the line. Unity won the day.
Ace Austin should have then met Trey in the main event to determine the top contender for Tessa Blanchard’s title. Trey, the pushed singles commodity of the trio, has challenge for the X-Division title on PPV but arguably had his breakout moment last week against Michael Elgin. He was beaten down backstage though, (WHO COULD DO SUCH A THING?) opening the door for one his brothers.
Wentz, fresh off that tag match, came out like a house of fire, challenging Austin to a match to protect the honor of his teammate. The intimation that Wentz would’ve been top contender if he’d won the tournament final, despite winning nothing to get there, was an issue but the match made up for it. Wrestled at a good pace, with the appropriate intensity, Austin and Wentz had a great main event that culminated with the right man winning but, perhaps more importantly, the Rascalz getting further over in defeat. Wentz left the ring a made man and hopefully opened a few more eyes to his fantastic potential.
The unit was the driving force for the final half of the show and it felt wonderfully right and natural. There was a pop, energy and intensity to Wentz’s work that we’ve simply not seen before and he proved that they were more than the happy-go-lucky trio chilling in the treehouse. It felt like The Rascalz had arrived and within the space of 40 minutes, the promotion had pulled the trigger and made them matter more than they had at any point previously in their tenure with the promotion.
It’s certainly about time. Dez and Wentz have the potential to be one of the best tag teams in the world and they possess the athletic ability and style to permeate the all-important social and digital space that Impact need to target. Putting them in a more prominent spot allows them to tap into that all the more.
As alluded to earlier, their push comes at a good time. The North will have been tag team champions over a year by the time we get to Slammiversary and the obvious pivot is having The Rascalz, who looked set to win the belts the year prior, dethrone them. With some brand new faces likely to join the promotion, it would make sense to have some new faces on top of the division.
Likewise, Trey still has that big singles match to get back against Ace Austin, potentially at the PPV or earlier, and they could go in a variety of different angles with the beatdown angle. The promotion could simply run with the premise that it was Austin, as assumed, or they could go down the road that Wentz or Dez laid him out to get themselves an opportunity, as Madison Rayne teased on commentary.
Either way, this week’s events struck me. It was as though Impact finally remembered that they had three exciting talents on their hands and decided to make the most of them. The Rascalz have finally, truly, properly arrived in Impact Wrestling and that’s something to be excited about.
The Week in Review
- Johnny Swinger is a star.
- Rohit Raju’s post-match promo after his win over Chase Stevens was interrupted by Rhino, presumably setting up a match between the two down the line. Not a terrible idea, especially if the promotion continues to really develop Raju as a character and let him kick on.
- Deonna Purrazzo makes her debut next week and I’m very intrigued. With a Knockouts title match on the bill as well, you’d hope that her path to an immediate title shot starts then.
- We need to talk about that final video package. Anthem has money, lots of it in fact, but it’s doubtful that they’re bringing in all those ex-WWE talents. It’s a great tease and it’s got people talking. EC3 would get a hero’s reception if he were to return, especially with the live crowds, as would Eric Young. Gallows and Anderson would be great foils for The North and The Rascalz, while Rusev would slot in immediately as a top star. Conversely, I’m not a particularly big fan of Mike Bennett or Maria, although they were over before, and I’m not too sure what Brian Myers adds to the mix, but the point is there are options. There’s excitement. There’s anticipation. Not often you can say that about an Impact PPV.
You never know where future endeavors may lead.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) June 3, 2020
Well, until next time…