Impact returned last night (Oct. 14) with their Bound for Glory pay-per-view (PPV) which emanated from the Melrose Ballroom in New York, New York. You can find the results at the live thread here.
I used to start these recaps talking about how their PPVs fit into the overall image of the company. And for the longest time, that was important because Impact had a terrible image for years.
I don’t feel I need to do that any more.
The promotion feels like it’s on better footing this year than it has in a long time. Don Callis and Scott D’Amore have brought a stability that was lacking for years. So I don’t need to sit here and talk about how this fits in with Impact’s bad image or what this means for a company on the brink. I can just talk about the PPV.
Their last PPV, Slammiversary, was a rousing success. A start to finish good show that gave fans a new image of the promotion. While this PPV was OK, it wasn’t a complete home run like their last one.
The biggest thing working against this show was the number of tag matches. On paper it’s four tag matches to three singles matches (though one of those singles matches was an Ellsworth pseudo squash so really only two singles matches). In general, one-on-one matches feel bigger whereas a card full of tag matches doesn’t feel as important. They turned the Eddie Edwards/Moose singles bout into a tag match involving Killer Kross and Tommy Dreamer, taking a personal feud and making it an impromptu tag.
Three of the tags were bunched in the middle of the show, making one long hour of tag matches. They did their best to make them look different, but the fact is, they were all no-rules tag bouts and it started to blend together. The show lost its momentum in the sea of tag matches.
Those were followed with a pre-taped video of Allie traveling into an Undead Realm which also doesn’t really fit on a PPV (which I’ll talk more about this in a bit).
The two legit one-on-one matches were great. The Knockouts title match was excellent (the best on the card). The main event world title delivered. But while none of the tag matches were bad, they needed to do more to make the matches on the PPV feel special.
Outside of that handicapping the show, it was an enjoyable wrestling show. It needed a better flow and more matches that had meaning, which goes back to the fact that the build to this PPV was rather underwhelming.
Let’s look at the matches:
Johnny Impact def. Austin Aries to win the world title
The promotion did a very good job making this feel personal given the lack of layers on television. Aries and Johnny spent the last week or so jawing online (with some personal tweets getting deleted), Johnny and his wife Taya Valkyrie, the subject those tweets, were on TMZ talking about how he went too far. They had a brawl at Abyss’ Hall of Fame ceremony Saturday night.
That allowed this match to have a personal aspect to it that it didn’t have just a week or so ago. Title matches need to feel big and they worked hard to get to the point it felt that way.
The match was good and that extra layer helped with it. Taya was at ringside and Aries would stare at her to the point it felt uncomfortable. When he purposely hit her with a suicide dive, it was a big heat moment. It also helped Johnny’s win feel special.
Now, let’s talk about that weird post match moment.
Aries got up soon after taking the pin, barely selling the finish, pointed at Don Callis, and immediately left, flipping off the crowd. Is it a work to get people talking? Was he legit angry about something and being a baby? Honestly, who knows?
It didn’t take away from the match or make Johnny’s win feel less special. But any time you have the loser not selling the finish takes away that suspension of disbelief we need to enjoy wrestling. Johnny won with a move that is good enough to put the champion away. That champion should be selling it. That’s why if it is a work (which is my guess still), it could end up being detrimental. But we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.
Tessa Blanchard def. Taya Valkyrie to retain the Knockouts championship
Hot damn that was awesome.
Despite Taya Valkyrie not being on Impact for the build to this match, it still felt like a big fight. Tessa Blanchard has been presented as a star in the company (that’s not too hard given she has that natural charisma and talent that screams superstar). Taya’s reputation outside Impact helped make her feel like a legit challenger.
Then they went to work, and it was incredible. Tessa Blanchard’s size/strength advantage was not much over Taya. It gave the bout a hard hitting feel. At the same time, Taya utilized a variety of submissions to try to overcome Tessa’s power advantage, even if it wasn’t a large advantage.
The match went to that extra gear that made it special. If it ended five minutes earlier, it would still have been very good. But they got to the point where the fans know they’re watching a war between two top talents. They each kicked out of the other’s finishers but the match was at a point where that didn’t feel wasted. It felt like an important enough match to do that.
In the end, a spectacular top rope Code Breaker from 2/3 the way across the ring was delivered for the win.
Just a fantastic match all around.
Sami Callihan & oVe def. The Lucha Bros and Brian Cage
The oVe rules match between oVe and the Lucha Bros and Brian Cage was styled as a Texas Tornado trios match. No tags. Just action.
Clearly, they made it work, though I think this match was put slightly behind the 8-ball being put on right after the tag match between Moose/Killer Kross & Dreamer/Eddie Edwards. They were pretty similar in style so this didn’t feel as unique as it could have if a different bout preceded it.
The main purpose of this was to build up Cage even more... before beating him.
Sami and the Crist brothers neutralized both Lucha Bros towards the end, and it was 3 on 1 from there. oVe vs. Cage. Then the X Division champion took a beating. They delivered the All Seeing Eye. He kicked out of that at one. Then kicks to the face, which he kept bouncing back from.
But in the end, he’s a man and not a machine. A piledriver from Callihan led to the pin, the first pin Cage has taken in the promotion.
The finish means we’ll probably see Callihan and Cage fight for the X Division title and the Lucha Brothers can move on to other ventures. A feud with LAX would be nice.
LAX def. the OGz in a Concrete Jungle Death Match
As much as I was done with the LAX/OGz feud long before this match, I appreciate they made the “Concrete Jungle Death Match” stipulation at least look different than all the other crazy no-DQ matches they had.
In this gimmick match, the ring had no apron to cover the wooden boards. There was no padding to cover the turnbuckles. It was barebones and looked dangerous. (The way those boards kept shifting, it probably was.)
They wrote Konnan out prior to the match, blaming a King attack backstage. But watching Konnan wrestle was never a selling point to this match. He came out at the end of the match so Homicide and Hernandez had to sell his flapjack shots before his boys hit the Street Sweeper on King.
Hopefully, this finally put this feud to rest. (Please?)
Eddie Edwards & Tommy Dreamer def. Moose & Killer Kross
The Eddie Edwards vs. Moose match turned into a tag match pretty quickly. Moose’s buddy Killer Kross attacked Eddie from the crowd, and it ended in a DQ within minutes. However, Eddie’s former rival Tommy Dreamer ran out to make the save, turning this into a tag match.
This was a risky move. The one-on-one match is always going to feel more important than an impromptu tag match, especially given this was built as a personal rivalry. That being said, this didn’t bother me too much because I was never too into this feud in the first place. Eddie’s relationship with Tommy Dreamer months ago was more interesting than his issues with Moose now.
Turning into a tag team hardcore match extends the feud between Eddie and Moose, and they can continue to work towards the point where a singles match will feel special.
Moose took the pin from Eddie, which is something he seems to do often (that dude needs a win). Afterwards, Kross and Moose beat the hell out of Edwards, which will be where this picks up next week.
In a vacuum, this was enjoyable. But it added another tag match to a card full of them.
The whole bit with Allie going into the Undead Realm was a pretape video, where she traveled into this other dimension to retrieve Kiera Hogan. She hatcheted bridesmaids... She hatcheted Su Yung. She saw her soul (but couldn’t take it back). Rosemary returned (!!!) to help her and Kiera escape (but she stayed behind). Rosemary and Su had some battle with cheap CGI coming out of their hands.
I’ve talked about how I overall enjoy the mystic in my graps, but this was too much for me. Some of the over the top stuff, I enjoyed, such as Allie hatcheting peeps as the blood flew. And of course I loved seeing Rosemary. But by the time they had the cheesy CGI battle between her and Su, though, I was like, “This is too much for me.”
How do they go about grounding this to the actual world of wrestling? The best of these stories in wrestling mix the fact these are people who wrestle with the fantastical stories they tell. Su Yung and Rosemary need to have these type of videos because it fits their characters, but they also need to remember that they’ll need to wrestle in a ring at some point. If they go too far with these types of videos, the matches won’t fit in.
Then there’s the fact they put this on a pay-per-view. They used it to cover time as they put the ring back together after the Concrete Jungle Death Match. But it never did anything in front of the crowd, connecting the video with the PPV fans at home and the crowd are watching. Without that fans in the crowd are watching something on a screen and the video feels too separate from the rest of the show.
Eli Drake def. James Ellsworth, gets beaten up by Abyss
Eli Drake’s open challenge followed the opening match. While the crowd wanted Chris Jericho, they got James Ellsworth instead. (they booed him pretty mercilessly for it the entire time - that and for the fact he’s a douche).
It was a funny segment, especially Ellsworth claiming he could respond to an open challenge meant for New Yorkers because he dated a girl from Staten Island. I’ll buy it, James.
He soon lost a match to Eli Drake, which is what he’s meant for. Drake demanded more of a challenge. In fact, he wanted Hall of Fame caliber talent. He got Abyss, who was just inducted into the Impact Hall of Fame.
It wasn’t an official match but a fight, which ended with Drake taking a chokeslam through a table, protecting him from taking a loss but giving Abyss a moment in front of the crowd.
Willie Mack & Rich Swann def. Matt Sydal & Ethan Page
The opening match featured two new talents for the promotion in Willie Mack and Ethan Page. Their respective partners, Rich Swann and Matt Sydal, are very talented. It was a great pick for the opening match. Four exciting talents putting on a very enjoyable tag match.
In the end, when it comes to a PPV you have to ask, “Was this worth the price you paid?” And that was $40-$50. Nowadays, that’s a lot to ask of wrestling fans in general with the PPV model phasing out. You can watch most wrestling via a streaming service for cheaper. So to ask fans to pay that much, you really need to deliver.
This was an above average show. Probably a B-. A B- is good, but is it $40 good? Probably not.
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