Impact Wrestling Multiverse of Matches
April 1, 2022
We’re in Dallas, Texas at the Fairmont Hotel. Hosts are Matthew Rehwoldt and Tom Hannifan. The latter being former WWE announcer Tom Philips, famous for having a raging boner on a plane. Rehwolft is Aiden English. I knew I recognised his voice on that ROH show. Impact has changed a lot since I last saw it. Their cards used to be dominated by terrible people. Now they just have a few friends of terrible people scattered around. All the worst scum are gone. Impact was hugely impacted by Speaking Out because of their propensity for hiring wrong uns. Let’s see what a post-SO Impact looks like.
As with ROH they have production values and it’s a clear step up from the normal GCW/Wrestlecon business.
Trey Miguel (c) vs. Jordynne Grace vs. Chris Bey vs. Blake Christian vs. Vincent vs. Rich Swann
Vincent is former ROH grappler Vinny Marseglia. Bey and Swann are former champions. Miguel, incumbent champ, has never won an Ultimate X match. As with scramble matches they switch who is in the ring to do high spots and sequences. It’s all nicely clean and good all round fun. Some of the spots make less sense than others. Blake Christian feeling the need to drop into a Canadian Destroyer instead of just staying on the cables and grabbing the belt is dumb. He’s quick enough to scurry across and just get that pay day.
After Blake has flipped onto everyone else Miguel pulls the belt down to retain. ***
Matt Cardona & Chelsea Green vs. Nick Aldis & Mickie James
There’s some sort of beef between these couples. Mickie looks out of sorts and she’s the only person in this match I care about. They have Mickie play spouse in peril, which should be vicious for Aldis and he should be angry about it but he doesn’t seem to give a shit. If my wife was getting beaten up by Zack Ryder I’d be pretty hot about it. Nick gets the lukest of lukewarm tags and safely hits a bunch of TV spots from the 1970s. Cardona now has a double problem; having to wrestle a match and stay awake during this boring offence. Aldis gets a Cloverleaf, Chelsea jumps in with the belt and Mickie is so late they have stand around like melons waiting for her. She breaks it up and babyfaces finish with stereo cloverleafs. This was fucking terrible. Nobody gave a single shit about this. DUD
Nick Aldis has one match this weekend. ONE. A seven minute mixed tag where his wife does most of the legwork and he still dogged it. Aldis has a time and place, working old school NWA title matches against flamboyant Americans. This was not his kind of match and Impact wasted everybody’s time by booking it.
A word on comms at this point too. It’s clear they’re used to working a televised environment. It comes across as slick and professional. It’s a good team. Rehwoldt provides good analysis and I like that he’s not doing the stereotypical heel colour guy shtick.
Mike Bailey vs. Alex Shelley
No funky monkey, no party.
I haven’t seen Shelley since the NJPW days. I find it strange that someone who’s so well respected and liked is in Impact and not somewhere more important. Shelley works heelish, trying to assert his dominance over an Impact newcomer.
I’ve always rated Shelley’s mat work but I’ve never really been into his character work and match style. I feel like this is personal preference rather than anything he’s doing wrong. It’s Bailey who takes the risks for him. Like the moonsault knees on the apron or taking a vicious DDT on the apron to follow. Bailey’s best tricks, like his moonsault to the floor following a rope dodge, are magnificent because you know they’re coming but they still surprise you. Who’d have thought I’d be hearing people chant “Impact Wrestling” in 2022? Not I, gentle reader. I love how Shelley gets obsessed with making Mike tap out that almost leads to him getting rolled up out of the Border City Stretch. I’m also loving his selling setting up Bailey’s more ambitious looking spots. It ends with Bailey sneaking out of Shellshock and using the ropes to get momentum into a roll up. Bailey beats Shelley. Really good match up. Shelley told a good story of wanting to impose himself on Mike but discovering in the process that Bailey was better than he thought and had more weapons than expected. Rock solid grappling in between. ****
Impact Knockouts Tag Team Championship
The Influence (c) vs. Decay vs. Gisele Shaw & Lady Frost vs. Tasha Steelz & Savannah Evans
Shaw & Frost are running a ‘tag team partners who don’t get along’ gimmick. If we were watching WWE they’d be a sure-fire winner here.
The champions are Madison Rayne and Tenille Dashwood (the former Emma). Steelz is the current Knockouts Champion. This leaves Decay as the babyface choice. Due to this the match has weird chemistry and there are too many moving parts. You can feel people thinking about their next move. The best part of the match is the ‘everyone hits a spot’ one after another bit. Decay fight Steelz & Evans to the back and the Influence pick off Shaw for the win. This mostly made sense. The Steelz issue with Rosemary overwhelming her chances and Shaw & Frost never being on the same page took them out of it. **¼
Eddie Edwards vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Edwards is out here repping NOAH and Ishii is forced to defend New Japan’s honour. Edwards comes into this wanting to have an Ishii style match, which makes it a lot easier for Ishii to just do his thing. Edwards is an all-rounder so he can change depending on his opponent. He doesn’t bring the same heart and drive as Chris Dickinson did though. Ishii goes through the motions a lot more here than he did against Dickinson. You must push Ishii, or you won’t get a great match. This is Ishii’s third match in two days and his second today. The first was a main event so you know where Ishii’s efforts have gone today. Not that the match is bad but it’s clearly a level below what they could do in a different scenario. The no selling towards the end is where the match hits higher gear. Ishii deciding that NOAH ain’t shit. Ishii does this great thing where he no sells but you can tell he’s hurt. That’s great Fighting Spirit. I never bought into Hogan’s no selling because there was no acting in there. It was just him living his own bullshit. Ishii’s is more like; “AAAAAAAAARGH (my neck hurts) AAAAAAAAARGH”. Anyway, the last five minutes of this is really good but I felt it was sluggish until that point. Brainbuster finishes for Ishii. ***½
Josh Alexander & JONAH vs. Moose & PCO
This is due to some bitter blood feud between Alexander and Moose.
Impact are doing a fine job of making people hate nonce-defender Moose. It’s been a decent Mania weekend for avoiding people I think are absolute cunts, but Moose’s arrival takes us up one instance of complete disgust. I really like Josh Alexander, so I try to pay attention to this match. On the hard-cam you can see someone by the entranceway visibly yawning. I think that about sums it up. Moose bails near the end, leaving PCO to eat the C4 and give Josh the big win. He’s challenging Moose soon. I like Alexander and JONAH as a team. JONAH is a big old hoss and Alexander, while also large, a great technician. Shame about Moose. **
AAA Reina de Reinas Championship
Deonna Purrazzo (c) vs. Faby Apache
This is the “Champ Champ Challenge” with Purrazzo putting one of her belts on the line. It ends up being the Mexican one with visiting Faby Apache taking the shot. Faby has wrestled in Impact before and even had a Knockouts title shot against Tessa Blanchard.
When I stopped watching wrestling Purrazzo was in WWE. Apparently WWE thought she wasn’t “TV ready”. Considering some of the shit they put on TV that’s a bit of a shock. It does seem to have dented her confidence a bit. The last time I saw her wrestle was probably SHIMMER or ROH or something and she was great. Having not seen her in anything else since, I can put this down to a lack of chemistry with Faby. They have multiple timing issues and communication problems. Purrazzo ends up tapping Faby out with an armbar. This had too many issues to be good but some of the mat work was nice. **¼
Post-Match: Taya Valkyrie makes a surprise return to Impact and challenges for the AAA title at a future show. Taya hasn’t been in Impact for over a year. Her last match? Losing to Deonna Purrazzo.
Jay White vs. Chris Sabin
Jay beat Sabin in New Japan’s American promotion last month. Sabin looks like a biology teacher now. His grown-up face is not reflected in his outstanding technical stuff. He’s so quick and smooth at 40 years young. I’m five years older than Sabin and my back is sore sitting here watching this. Jay finds himself inferior on the mat and uses his Japanese experience, and better build, to hit meaty strikes. The match is helped by Sabin being capable as a striker and Jay being capable as a grappler. So, each area of dominance is met by partial competence. The Impact crowd becomes the first to start doing the “woop, woop”, proving it’s a company that has harboured wrong uns over time. Jay piling on the heat with chops is great stuff and even better is Sabin having enough of that shit and fighting back. Sabin showing his guts off leads directly to Jay panicking and trying to finish with the Bladerunner but Sabin counters out and gets the pin. Some very competent wrestling here, but not engaging enough throughout to get onto the reccs list. Very close though. ***¾
The Good Brothers vs. The Briscoe Brothers
This is the only appearance all weekend for Gallows & Anderson and based on how many of their matches I’ve seen in New Japan it’s a relief to be honest. Anderson can be sensational in singles but in this tag team it’s usually gimmickry. The Briscoes wrestled FTR in a MOTYC earlier tonight so it’s unfair to expect miracles from them. They give it the old school try and the pacing is decent considering the earlier match.
Jay White runs in to interfere, for Bullet Club reasons, and the Magic Killer finishes Mark off. This is exactly what you’d expect of the Bullet Club in 2022. **½
A hit and miss show. Probably more hit than miss. The Shelley vs. Bailey match was excellent and both Ishii vs. Edwards and Sabin vs. White weren’t far behind. There wasn’t much else going on but for Impact to land a show with three good matches on it and have nothing be completely offensive* is basically a win by their standards. Drawing from all different promotions they managed to have a good show. Utilising the Mania weekend concept in a way that makes a few other promotions look a little bit dimmer in the process. On paper I was quite excited for the card but the reality of the situation is I’m getting horribly burned out by this point and everything that’s left is big, long epic shows.
*As I was writing this I had completely forgotten the married couples tag existed