For the second successive week, Impact Wrestling TV was fine. Nothing to set the pulses racing but also nothing egregiously bad. You take what you can get.
That said, this episode did deliver on one thing – the archetypal ‘feast or famine’ approach prevalent throughout the Callis/D’Amore era. It’s not always a bad thing but you’ll have weeks of just singles matches and then you’ll have weeks with just tag matches. You’ll have weeks where every match features some sort of angle and then you’ll have weeks where there’s no real progression of anything and just filler. You’ll have weeks where it’s all clean finishes and then you’ll have weeks where every heel has to do heelish things to win because heels gonna heel. You catch my drift.
This was one of those weeks but not for any of the above reasons. Well, maybe for the angles one, but that’s not the point I was trying to make and we know how easily distracted I can get. This week was veritably saturated with heavies. Not heavyweights, but heavies. You know, the bodyguards, hired muscle, goons that do the bidding of only the best heels.
It overwhelmed me like the expansive trays of pot pourri I encountered as a child in the homes of my relatives. You know, that pungent, synthetic smell of flowers that’s too fragrant to be real and gets stuck in your nose for what seems like days.
Don’t believe me? Let me walk you through the show…
We start the show with Tasha Steelz against Havok, because that feud over the Knockouts Tag titles must continue. After that, the Goon klaxon hits one as we get a recap of Ken Shamrock, Sami Callihan’s enforcer, going ham after last week’s show. He got suspended indefinitely by Scott D’Amore, so guess that’s him off into the sunset (NXT). Nice knowing you, Ken.
That’s one down. The Good Brothers are the next to make an appearance and yes, you’re right. There’s no heavy/hired muscle there as they’re a tag team. But, we know how that tandem will look when we eventually get a Karl Anderson singles run…
Match two brought us to two on the goon counter as Madman Fulton went down against Josh Alexander. Fulton might have come out to his solo music here but he was still flanked by the wonderful Ace Austin and his primary function in the promotion remains being the large mammal flanking Austin during his matches. Fulton losing again points to something larger and more problematic, but I’ll address that in a bit. We’ve got more counting to do.
THREE. Brian Myers hit the ring, cutting a promo on Eddie Edwards biting his eye last week. Except, instead of dealing with Edwards head on, ‘The Most Professional Wrestler’ employed the services of Hernandez to lay out Edwards before they were run off by Matt Cardona. I get that SuperMex’s gimmick is being a gun for hire but it’s the same story – heel doesn’t want to fight babyface, so they get bigger heel in to do their bidding.
XXXL’s beef with Decay and Jordynne Grace’s match brought some bright relief but you know what’s coming. Number Four in our list is Mahabali Shera, who ‘returned’ to lay out TJP and help Rohit Raju secure another title shot at No Surrender. Now, for those true Impact aficionados out there, they’ll know that Shera *actually* returned at the end of last year on Xplosion and through January, the big man went 1-1, losing to Rhino but defeating Shogun. I love Rohit Raju and when you think about the India TV deal, Shera is excusable. It’s not like he’s a mega act, either.
We get a Violent By Design vignette, with Eric Young offering Jake Something a spot in the faction. Guess what? He’s flanked by his muscle, Joe Doering. That’s five. All bingo cards are now complete and can be returned to the front desk for cashing. We’re all winners here, it’s the Wrestler w/Bigger Wrestler derby!
Maybe it was the fact Tuesday, when Impact aired, was Groundhog Day. Maybe it was the fact Tuesday, when Impact aired, was Groundhog Day. Maybe it was deliberate or maybe I was over sensitised to non-existent patterns.
Having a monster/heavy behind you is a gimmick as old as the business itself. It speaks to that infamous playground refrain of ‘I’ll get my brother/cousin/dad on you, he’s massive! He’ll knock you out!’ When done well, and in moderation (a key point), they’re a very effective tool. The heavy is booked strongly and their sheer size and/or strength is magnified. They become the final obstacle before the babyface finally gets their hands on the heel in a one-on-one setting. They never win the big one but they win enough to be a serious threat and warrant commentary billing as a ‘future star’. Unless you’re Jake Hager and Jim Ross. That was odd.
Yet, when everyone has one, as anyone who was anyone seemed to this week, why should you fear them? Why should they feel special? They become part of the furniture, like the tag team division. And, intuitively, if everyone else has hired protection from someone bigger and stronger, are the babyfaces just stupid and foolhardy for continuing to fight alone or relying on their ‘friends’, something we’re conditioned to believe aren’t possible in a business (or sport, if you’re Matt Striker) as cutthroat as professional wrestling?
I mentioned that I’d address Fulton losing earlier. It’s something I like to call the Fulton Conundrum. How many times can a monster lose before they lose all credibility? Impact’s Youtube video of his match with Alexander was labelled ‘SHOCKING UPSET’. Yet, a quick search on Cagematch paints that as plainly untrue. He’s 10-11 in singles matches since joining the promotion in early 2019. A fair few of those losses have been by disqualification but then again, three of his wins have come on Xplosion. He never wins any meaningful singles matches, so him losing to Eddie Edwards or Willie Mack or Josh Alexander doesn’t carry the gravitas the promotion obviously want him to. I think he’s got far more ability that most – I think he’s got a good look, he moves well and he can go in the ring, unlike Shera and, potentially, Joe Doering.
Now, it would be remiss if I didn’t finish before noting that Shamrock appears to be done with Impact and Doering is less pronounced as it’s part of Young’s second attempt at leading a faction. That leaves three and Hernandez working with Myers seems short-term to the max. I maybe overreacting, it has been known.
Even so though, moderation is everything and Impact effectively had five variations of the same gimmick on this week’s show. If they want the monster/heavy backup to be the effective storytelling tool it can be and an important part of the product, they may need to make some tweaks.