August 20, 2021
After watching Masato Tanaka putting on classics in NOAH, Jun Akiyama in DDT, and then Christian Cage rocketing back to prominence with an Impact title win, there’s an almost uncanny feel to wrestling this week, when I think about how guys from the VHS tape trading era are still rocking the wrestling scene in the age of streaming.
Anyway let’s get on with this review of Emergence, an Impact Plus special, that was perhaps not promoted as strongly as it could have been, but was nevertheless a pretty good card on paper. Did it live up to expectations? Let’s find out.
Matt Cardona def. Rohit Raju
My match notes here are “Rohit’s Jacket”. It’s a very nice jacket and I’m incredibly happy that Raju has come into his own and found his personality this year as well as being a well-rounded in ring performer too. You know when you have those match of the year polls for “most underrated wrestler” and everyone votes for someone who has been getting praise all year. Rohit is the dude who should be getting awards like that. The match was decent and an easy three stars. ***
Decay (Black Taurus, Crazzy Steve, Havok & Rosemary) def. Fallah Bahh, No Way, Savannah Evans & Tasha Steelz
Something that’s become apparent ever since the crowd came back to Impact is how over Rosemary is with the Impact faithful. She’s one of the few who have straddled the TNA/Impact handover and like Eddie Edwards has become part of the spirit of the company. If it wasn’t obvious from her custom shirt selling on ebay for over $1000 recently, more than any other Knockout, then it can be seen in a crowd that clearly love her and have designed a custom chant of “bite their face off” for her. Just like at Homecoming, this match was all pantomime and lots of fun. Decay fighting as a four piece unit is a treat for long term impact fans and they even did a pseudo M-Pro bully-pose spot too. We also got a hint that No Way Joseph could be a lot more than just a party gimmick. Let’s see what happens. Good stuff
Steve Maclin def. Petey Williams
Petey came out holding the Canadian flag and Maclin jumps him before the bell and OH MY GOD WE HAVE A FLAG DOWN I REPEAT FLAG DOWN. Does anyone else think that Petey Williams looks like a cross between Tim Roth and Scott Grimes from the Orville? Maclin is quietly being built up as a threat and thank god Impact made the right decision here in having him go over clean and decisively. Match was decent enough for what it was. I also found this bingo card you can use whenever Maclin is on screen:
Madison Rayne (w/Kaleb With A K & Tenille Dashwood) def. Taylor Wilde
Rayne and Dashwood are called ‘The Influence’ now. Good name. Wilde did a pretty sweet german suplex at one point and this was when I started noticing that the Impact producer was doing that thing where you switch camera in the middle of a move. I get that it’s wrestling and can be part of the smoke and mirrors, but not for everything please. The match ended in a rollup on a dazed Wilde. Was ok for what it was but nothing special.
Ace Austin def. Chris Sabin and Moose and Sami Callihan (11:21)
One way I like to think about whether someone is a good wrestler is whether you could recognize them if they were a silhouette. Like could you know it was them just from the way they move around the ring, and if that’s a good test then Ace Austin would certainly ace it (see what I did there?). I guess you could say that he does tend to prance about a bit around the ring doing flips and half cartwheels instead of just running the ropes like a normal person. But I like it and he’s a great homespun talent that Impact need to book carefully from now on. His Gambit Milfhunter gimmick is quite unique but he doesn’t really have heat as either a face or heel right now, let’s see if this Christian match gets him there.
Sabin is a great talent, but I feel like he needs to evolve in the same way that Eddie Edwards did in 2018. That doesn’t mean we need to get Sami Callihan to potato him with a baseball bat, or that he needs to become ‘Chris Sabin but edgy’ but he needs something more right now.
Callihan is over. Just like Rosemary, he’s become a fixture in Impact and after stealing the show and putting on Match of the Year candidates at Slammiversary every year, it’s understandable that he’s become someone that the fans maybe don’t want to cuddle, but would give grudging respect to.
Moose was decent enough in this match, but I’m still thinking about how great his match with Ishii in NJPW was. Go watch that if you haven’t yet.
Match was pretty darn good for a ten minute sprint. Four world class wrestlers on the top of their game. Only problem was Austin winning with a rollup and not a decisive finisher. This is your world championship picture guys, at least have the number one contender look strong going in?
Impact Wrestling X Division Championship
Josh Alexander (c) def. Jake Something
If you watch one thing from this show, hell, if you watch one Impact match this year, make it this one. Alexander is having a banner year in Impact, and has already generated some buzz for his Ironman match against TJP as well as recent X Division defence against Taurus at Homecoming. This was better than both and needs to go down as one of the greatest X Division matches of all times. It’s almost a shame this event is competing for airtime with about 5 other promotions holding big shows this weekend, because this match deserves to be seen. Remember when Impact gave review tapes of the Final Deletion to wrestling reviewers. They should do that again with matches like this and make the most of the taping schedule.
Anyway, why was this match so good? Like most Alexander matches the pacing was incredible and the technical side was superb. Pure method wrestling. This could be Something’s breakout match and the crowd got on side with dueling chants of “Walking Weapon” and the very cute “This is Something”. We even got a ‘Fight forever’ chant sneaking its way into the Impact zone.
I saw someone saying this was a match for people sick of flips. I wouldn’t go that far, while this was a technical match it wasn’t without its highspots. But this was the antidote to the myriad “I’m wrestling for an indie on WrestleMania weekend and want to get signed” spotfests we’ve been over-saturated with. Instead, the highspots were the exquisite punctuation to an unraveling back and forth bout that crossed the line from technical one upmanship to a war of attrition. You’ve probably seen a thousand suicide dives in the last year, but I challenge you to find one as impactful as Jake Something sailing over the top rope like the angel of death.
This was pro wrestling at its best, the only question is, what’s next for Alexander? Matt Striker called him the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the world right now, and it’s difficult to disagree on the strength of these performances. ****3/4
Deonna Purrazzo & Matt Rehwoldt def. Melina & Trey Miguel
I admire Impact for sticking with their guns on intergender. The recent mixed tag tournament was a lot of fun and these kind of matches are a welcome change of pace. Unlike WWE, they actually do have the men and women lock up and I thought the Deonna/Trey interactions were cute. Rehwoldt pinning Melina was kind of a odd ending though (with a small package finisher, goddammit). Match was there to sell the NWA match and was nothing special.
The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) (c) def. Violent By Design (Joe Doering & Rhino) (w/Deaner & Eric Young) and Rich Swann & Willie Mack
Another rollup win. Come on. This was a perfectly cromulent tag match for an Impact Plus show. I don’t know what else to say. It was ‘there’. It was something. It was not nothing. It was the wrestling equivalent of listening to Limp Bizkit in 2021.
Impact Wrestling World Championship
Christian Cage (c) def. Brian Myers
I have mixed feelings about Christian winning the Impact title from Kenny Omega. I’ve always been a massive fan of Captain Charisma and in many ways he embodies some of that TNA/Impact underdog spirit. His ringwork is like a fine wine in a scene where energy drinks are the zeitgeist and his homecoming to Impact feels like a necessary step in coming full circle on a storied career. With that said, the fact that at time of writing, it appears that the Omega in Impact story has finished, feels a bit off. Many assumed that the Summer of Kenny in Impact, having great matches with Swann, Moose, and Callihan and alongside the Good Brothers, making a nuisance of himself to almost the entire locker room, was leading somewhere. While Christian winning the belt is a feel-good story, replacing a possible scenario where Omega does business with Impact and puts over a homegrown talent with him putting over an AEW contracted wrestler in an AEW ring feels a bit like a story that ended halfway through. It works for AEW though and I suppose that Impact had little leverage to disagree with it.
This match was really short but it was pretty decent for what it was. Myers played the heel role well and Christian constructed a technical scaffold to build the match around. ***1/2 Myers and Sam Beale, with Beale playing the Rockstar Spud role to Myer’s EC3, could be a great future program going forward. Very much looking forward to Christian vs Ace Austin and it’s undoubtedly Austin’s biggest opportunity to show the world what’s he’s got.
Overall, Impact Wrestling’s Emergence 2021, like most of the Impact Plus shows, was a very comfy and easy watch. If you haven’t got time, watch the X Division match which was utterly sublime.