Last weekend was the first of three in August featuring a number of significant cards from a variety of promotions. You had the debut episode of AEW’s Rampage, AAA’s Triplemania XXIX and New Japan’s first big stateside show in over 18 months, Resurgence. A common theme across all of them? Impact Wrestling, or Impact Wrestling talent, having a presence. As such, I thought I’d devote this week’s column to reviewing those matches that have taken place outside the confines of the Skyway Studios in Nashville.
Now, it’s worth noting that Josh Alexander has appeared twice on NJPW Strong in recent months, while The Good Brothers have been regulars in AEW and Strong. However, having so many notable matches packed into one significant weekend felt worthy of some verbiage.
Impact World Tag Team Championships
The Good Brothers (C) def. The Dark Order’s Evil Uno & Stu Grayson
AEW Dynamite #98
August 11, 2021
In many ways, I often feel like The Good Brothers were built to be television wrestlers. They’re effective as irritating heels who’ll inevitably get their comeuppance and work the sort of plodding, solid style that fits in nicely around the ad breaks. They have a good look and they can hold tag team titles when you want those to be more about the story than the work rate in the ring. However, all of that means that their TV matches tend to follow a very set pattern and fail to set the pulses racing.
Their title defense against Uno and Grayson was fine. It was a solid little match. Uno and Grayson worked hard but there was never really any sense of drama that they might win – any sense of ominous formality does drag a rating down, as does a rather large ad break right in the middle. Still, it was good and comes it at a shade under the gentleman’s three. **3/4
Impact World Championship
Christian Cage def. Kenny Omega (C) (w/Don Callis)
AEW Rampage #1
August 13, 2021
Going into last week’s Dynamite, Omega vs Christian for the AEW World Championship at All Out didn’t feel like particularly hot. Given AEW’s selling power at the moment, it ultimately didn’t to be that hot but announcing the Impact title match for the debut of Rampage added a wrinkle. There was the chance to build familiarity with the audience and give them a hot angle that they can work on for the next few weeks – either Christian beats him and has his number, or Omega screws him over and then the stage is set for no seconds at All Out.
Christian winning seemed, to me, the logical outcome as the bell rang but to see it happen was still a surprise. That their match was superb was less so. Omega gets the best possible match out of everyone he’s in the ring with, so there are no shocks there, but I’ve personally loved Christian’s style since his return. While not explicitly addressed by the commentary team, there’s always been the sense that he’s battling ring rust. The idea is planted in your mind that he’s always prone to a slow start and is left chasing the match from the get-go – the naturally more haggard and chiseled nature of his appearance somehow adds to that presentation.
These two had seemingly great chemistry and Omega made that Unprettier look like a million dollars. I’ve seen people go four stars for this, I’ve seen others at three-and-a-half or a tad lower. It’s between the two for me and with that in mind, their All Out match should be a belting MOTY contender.
With the hand AEW had, I honestly don’t think there could have been a better way to kick off Rampage. It immediately gave the show the significance they want it to have, and created the sort of buzz the All Out match probably needed. It also provides a new direction for the Impact title – Kenny might win it back, but the stage seems set for Christian to drop it to Moose (or fellow Canadian Josh Alexander) at Bound for Glory. It also righted the wrong that Christian had never been Impact World Champion. That’s the main thing. ***3/4
Title vs Title match for the Impact Knockouts Championship and AAA Reina de Reinas Championship
Deonna Purrazzo (C) def. Faby Apache (C)
August 14, 2021
When Purrazzo and Apache got the chance to have clean, straightforward exchanges, they worked a watchable, intriguing, technical style. There were the building blocks of a really good match here but, to belabour the metaphor, AAA inevitably found a way to take all the cement away.
The longstanding feud between Apache and the referee, Hijo del Titanes, undermined the match’s structure, and while Deonna’s spike Queen’s Gambit piledriver looked great, the finish seemed an afterthought with the two seconds, Lady Maravilla and Lady Shani, having their own scrap in the ring.
As I said, there were elements of good here but not enough. Impact did tease some AAA presence at Bound for Glory, so perhaps we’ll get some form of rematch there. That’d be good, as I think there’s a really good match here; it’s just a shame we didn’t get it on Saturday. **1/2
Tomohiro Ishii def. Moose
August 14, 2021
At the beginning of the match, Ishii and Moose went head-to-head in the middle of the ring. Well, I say head-to-head, it was actually head-to-chest. Either Ishii looked very small or Moose looked enormous, I’ll let you be the judge. The visual, though, was stark and stuck with me throughout.
When all was said and done, this was probably my favourite, or joint-favourite, match from an enjoyable Resurgence show. Moose and Ishii had a vicious, hard-hitting encounter that had great pacing from the off. The gulf in size allowed Ishii to do his thing, suck you into that babyface vortex of chops and headbutts that makes you believe that anything is possible, and Moose to make the most of his size. Moose has been having a career year, at least in my view, and that continued here. He didn’t look out of place in this environment and, in fact, the strong style of NJPW allowed his bursts of athleticism to really stand out and change the pace of the match. His big moments felt properly impactful and added drama.
Ishii, after a struggle, put him down with the brainbuster and then the match was wrapped up perfectly by Kevin Kelly, who stands head and shoulders clear in the field of wrestling commentators. His ability to use canon and history is sublime and that was the case here. When Ishii beat Moose in 2016, it took him eight minutes; five years later, it took him 16. ****
The Good Brothers vs Jon Moxley & Yuji Nagata
August 14, 2021
Jon Moxley and Yuji Nagata are like a weird Andrew dream team. On one side of the metaphorical ring post, you’ve got Moxley, the renegade who has a natural aura unlike anyone else in wrestling right now, and on the other, you’ve got the Blue Justice, a personal, evergreen hero.
The match itself was an upgrade on the Dark Order one reviewed above, just having that bit more structure and energy about it. However, I felt I got sucked out of it by the obviously unintended fireworks going off in the background. It seemed to put the guys off for a stretch, and unsurprisingly distracted the crowd, which made a good portion of the match seem to drift and become rather forgettable (there’s a joke there about all Good Brothers matches).
The finish saw Anderson and Gallows hit a chair-assisted Magic Killer on Moxley on the outside, leaving Nagata to battle bravely in the ring before succumbing to the same recipe. Only a three from me, but I feel there would have been a tad more here were it not for the fireworks. ***
Impact have their own monthly special this Friday with Emergence, headlined by Christian Cage defending his newly-acquired Impact World title against Brian Myers), with Deonna Purrazzo defending her Knockouts title on NWA’s Empowerrr the following weekend.
Keep that Forbidden Door open, chaps, it makes for some good viewing.