After the main event match for the Impact tag team titles between FinJuice and Ace Austin & Madman Fulton, your new champions are… Rhino & Joe Doering.
I had fancied Rhino and Doering to potentially dethrone FinJuice at some point – the numbers advantage of Violent By Design would have got the belts off the New Japan talent without doing them any damage – but I would be lying if I said that I thought they’d do it on this week’s Impact on AXS TV. That big SWERVE threw my initial column idea into the ether but I’ll revisit that at a later date.
While it’s natural, and justifiable, to question the validity of putting the belts of two men with a combined age of 84 and the mobility of men far older, I like the switch.
First off, as I’ve already said, it was a surprise. Impact TV has been solid and steady of late, predicated upon simple A to B to C booking. However, the vacuous nature of the bubble environment means that every show needs energy and a proper spark and this delivered that. The main event match was good, probably FinJuice’s best straight tag in Impact, and the post-match angle was unexpected and delivered, to pardon the pun, an impactful end to the show.
My concerns about Rhino and Doering as performers are allayed by the fact I can envision Impact introducing the Freebird rule for Violent By Design, with Deaner coming in to up the workrate capabilities and get whichever partner he has over as a monster. The Freebird rule is something, if memory serves, Impact has only used once before, and that was when Eric Young won the belts with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, (although that’s probably a time best left unmentioned).
Similarly, it’s likely that any workrate limitations they have will be masked by the multi-team matches that Impact likes to do. The promotion like to get as many people on shows as possible and that normally means an X-Division scramble or a multi-team match. The latter would suit Rhino and Doering, allowing them to stand on the outside for the most part and then look dominant whenever called to action.
Also, it’s worth noting that over the last six months the tag division has solely revolved around The Good Brothers in some capacity, and for good reason considering their influence on the promotion, but they weren’t exactly taking the viewers to workrate city. (Writer’s note: That might the most WWE speak sentence I’ve ever said and I now hate myself). Rhino and Doering can be paired off with fun babyface teams and if their matches are a little more story-focused, especially while Josh Alexander and Kenny Omega deliver bangers further up the card, that’s fine by me.
I’ve noted in previous pieces, mostly show previews and reviews, that Violent By Design needed a direction. The faction has existed for six months or so now and they needed something to sink their teeth into, otherwise, they’d have drifted aimlessly. With no other belts attainable for them at this time, giving them the tag title belts makes a lot of sense and should help to really get them over. Putting them in this position also gives Eric Young a useful platform while he’s on the shelf for the foreseeable, indeed probably the rest of 2021, with an ACL injury. His promos over the last few months have been stellar and this move allows him to continue delivering them as the group’s mouthpiece.
Something I’ve also noted before, with regularity that strikes of a bad case of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, is the looming specter of Heath. When he’s healthy (or if he even still exists?!), a feud with Rhino in and around the tag titles would make a lot of sense and would allow the promotion to go in a few different directions.
While I feel like I’ve presented a profound case for the defense here despite having some reservations about the switch, the other thing I like about the title change that it validates the Call Your Shot trophy gimmick.
Ok, the trophy itself looks like something you might grab from a local shop for a children’s sports day, but it’s the concept that has more baggage. The anytime, anywhere nature of the Call Your Shot battle royals, as opposed to Impact’s previous Gauntlets for the Gold, has roots in the WWE’s Money in the Bank, a concept that, while fun at first, has become so unimaginably stale because of its repetitiveness and the way it’s overegged and overplayed by commentators as soon as the person wins it.
Despite the tiresome commentary style of Matt Striker, both he and D’Lo Brown have done a good job of not overdoing the Call Your Shot angle. They’ve reminded audiences now and again with a “oh, that trophy he’s got entitles him to a title shot of his choosing whenever he wants it” or a “oh, he could cash that trophy at any time” rather than “wIlL iT bE tHiS wEeK” every time someone has a match. Having Rhino and Joe Doering come out, probably surprising some people with the cash-in, and take the titles to end the show was a great visual and adds value to the concept for its assumed third running at Bound for Glory 2021.
Most of all though, I like the fact Impact has surprising new tag team champions because it was an exciting way to end the show and promotions should always look to deliver exciting moments.