Impact Wrestling’s latest TV special kicked off this week with the first night of Emergence, headlined by The Motor City Machine Guns defending the Impact Tag Team titles against The North.
Overall, I thought the set for the shows looked visually good – the blue color scheme and lighting made for a different feel, even if the production was a little dark at times. My only ongoing gripe is that I feel the promotion could be doing more to freshen up the Skyway Studios for matches; if the Wrestle House matches are allowed an audience, why aren’t the others? Anyway, onto the wrestling.
Rohit Raju def. Chris Bey (C) and TJP
A booking swerve! I did not see Chris Bey as a transitional champion, and I felt his reign had barely got started (especially in terms of the viewers learning more about his character and motivations). However, Raju is a vastly underrated guy, a good heel capable of fulfilling his role perfectly, and he’s worked tremendously hard with everything he’s been given since joining. I also think it’ll be interesting to see how they book things moving forward.
In terms of the match, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It wasn’t 100% smooth and the whole ‘it’s a three-way dance but it’s basically a handicap match’ gimmick in the first half really slowed things down. That said, TJP looked brilliant and I thought things picked up well down the stretch. Raju saving Bey from a submission defeat looked like it was a nice touch to maintain Raju as Bey’s insurance policy, and a set up for a future one-on-one rematch for TJP, but it actually transpired to tie in well to the finish. Raju broke it up to keep his chances alive, and he then claimed the title with a double stomp on Bey for the win. ***1/4
TNA World Championship
Moose (C) def. Trey Miguel
I feel confident saying that this was Moose’s best match since the empty arena era began. He controlled the ring well, his trash-talking added something to his control periods and Trey’s bumping made him look great. To be honest, this was effectively a glorified squash, with all of Trey’s hope spots short-lived before Moose cut him off. The result was never in doubt but the presentation was good. ***
Post-match, EC3 laid out Moose once again with the Inverted DDT before leaving the arena with the TNA title, because clearly the only way you can win the inactive belt is by taking it.
The Good Brothers def. Ace Austin & Madman Fulton
In another case of people looking good, I think it’d be fair to say that Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are possibly in the best physical shape of their careers and it’s helping their work no end. This was a really solid, well-worked tag team match with a simple story to it.
Austin & Fulton were presented as a credible tag team, and they even worked some interesting offense of their own around Austin’s knees. We had the initial hot tag from Gallows before everything broke down into a series of tag team moves and near-falls. Gallows secured the win when he took out Fulton on the outside before popping in with the blind tag, finishing Austin off with the Magic Killer. ***
Kylie Rae def. Taya Valkyrie
As Wrestle House offerings go, this was the longest and best match in the series so far. Mileage on the skits will vary, but I think they’ve had more than their five minutes by this point. I doubt it’s going anywhere, considering the taping schedule Impact have been working, but I hope it does.
You had a bit of comedy to start, Taya got some offense in, there was a miscommunication with Rosemary (the referee) and then Kylie hit the superkick for the win. It was short, inoffensive and hopefully, now Kylie moves towards a title program.
Impact World Tag Team Championships
The Motor City Machine Guns (C) def. The North
I know I’ve said this already, but it is remarkable how slick Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin still are given their respective injuries and the periods they’ve not worked together for.
Their intense ‘indie’ style meshed tremendously once again with the more methodic, cerebral (arguably traditional) approach of Ethan Page and Josh Alexander to produce a really good main event that was probably a bit better than their first meeting a few weeks back.
The Guns looked to take the advantage early on by using their quickness before the first break, after which The North worked over Shelley. I liked the sneaky veteran manoeuvres that the Guns have weaved into their matches since coming back – little touches like Sabin sneaking in to break something up before jumping out. It’s nothing much but it’s the sort of thing that separates good teams from great teams and you know which category I’d put the Guns in.
After the hot tag to Sabin we got a traditional high-paced sprint finish packed with finisher attempts and nearfalls. This included a nice callback to their first match, with Alexander spotting the inside cradle that cost them the titles and rolling it over for a nearfall. After that it all broke down once again before the Guns hit the Splashbreaker, the move that won them the titles the first time, on Page to retain their straps. ***3/4
Impact Wrestling’s Emergence Night 1 was a strong show from top to bottom. Kylie Rae against Taya would have benefitted from being in a proper setting with a bit more time but everything else was really good, predicated on good storytelling and slick action. Moose looked very strong and we got more advancement in his feud with EC3, Ace Austin and Madman Fulton got the rub in defeat while the Good Brothers remain a hot act, we got a surprise title change to start the show and a good main event (although I’m not sure where The North go from here). Add in the great video package involving Eric Young, and the setup for stuff next week, and you’ve got a show well worth your time.