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Impact recap & reactions: Ace Austin becomes #1 contender in bait-and-switch main event

The latest episode of Impact! (June 2, 2020) featured a #1 contender bout for the Tag Team titles, Jordynne Grace getting her next challenger for the Knockouts belt, a new member recruited to Cancel Culture, the conclusion to the World Championship #1 contender tournament, and a tease for new talent in Impact.

Impact crowned a new #1 contender for Tessa Blanchard’s World Championship, but the main talking point will be the talent tease during the announcement of the Slammiversary PPV on July 18. A mysterious man sat sipping an alcoholic beverage as images of Eric Young, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Drake Maverick, Curt Hawkins, Mike & Maria Kanellis, and EC3 flashed on the screen.

That was a well done vignette to produce interest and gossip. The vibe of the mystery person seems to be EC3, but perhaps it is a swerve for someone not shown. Zack Ryder and Rusev are the biggest names from WWE’s recent releases that aren’t teased.

Back to the show at hand. The big stories for this episode revolved around the Rascalz. They were in line for a major night of opportunities. Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz talked their way into a #1 contender match for the Tag Team Championship. Trey Miguel earned his way into the #1 contender tournament final for the World Championship.

First up, the tag bout. Dez and Wentz took on TJP and Fallah Bahh in an energetic contest. For the finish, TJP had Dez hooked in a single leg lock. Dez continually tried to reach the ropes, but TJP kept dragging him back to the center of the ring. Dez was almost to the ropes again. This time, Wentz provided a bit of ingenuity on an assist. Wentz pushed Dez backward to create a bridging pin. Dez had TJP trapped for the 1, 2, 3. The Rascalz became #1 contenders for The North once Ethan Page and Josh Alexander return from exile in Canada.

The main event was supposed to be Trey against Ace Austin in the #1 contender tournament final, however, Trey was found beat down backstage moments before the bout. An angry Wentz stormed the ring accusing Ace of shenanigans. Executive vice president Scott D’Amore came in to make Wentz the official replacement for the #1 contender main event.

Wentz fought with fury and rage, but Ace stayed in the game as the more strategic of the two. In the end, Ace got his knees up on Wentz’s swanton. That led to The Fold as Ace earned victory. He is now the #1 contender for Tessa Blanchard and the World Championship.

I have mixed feelings about this turn of events to replace Trey in the tournament final. On one hand, I like the intrigue presented in the whodunit story. On the other hand, this was not the optimal time for it occur. It felt like a bait-and-switch main event. Impact asked us to spend weeks watching a tournament unfold and then the final involves someone who wasn’t even in the competition. That makes the tournament a big waste of time. There is the future possibility that Ace was the culprit and he has to defend his top spot against Trey. That would be worthwhile to watch, but today I’m feeling let down about the tournament conclusion.

As for the whodunit list, I only have two potential names. Ace is the obvious choice. The other candidate is Moose. He interrupted an earlier backstage promo from Ace to convince him to challenge for the TNA Heavyweight Championship. Moose keeps trying to build the prestige of his self-crowned title, but everyone brushes him off. Maybe Moose is taking matters into his own hands to create top-name challengers to re-establish the TNA Heavyweight Championship as the top belt in Impact.

Let’s cruise through the rest of the show.

Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz defeated Kylie Rae & Susie. Hogan and Steelz were sassing strong to control the pace. The match broke down for the finish. Kylie ate a superkick, then Steelz hit Susie with a handstand hurricanrana off the top turnbuckle. Kiera closed out with a swinging cutter to pin Susie for the win.

Joseph P. Ryan defeated Crazzy Steve. The Crists were ringside to observe Cancel Culture in action. Ryan had trouble handling Steve’s fast and furious style. The Crists provided a timely distraction so Ryan could superkick Steve for the win.

Dave Crist joins Cancel Culture. After the match, Ryan asked the Crists if they want to join Cancel Culture. Both said yes, but Ryan turned his focus to Dave. Ryan needs a signal of Dave’s virtue that he will put Cancel Culture ahead of everything and everyone. Ryan turned his back. Dave then unleashed a roundhouse head kick to Jake. Ryan and Dave shook hands to make it official.

Rohit Raju defeated Chase Stevens. Rohit was extra aggressive, but Stevens fought him off as the bigger man. Rohit used trickery to win when Stevens kicked him in the midsection. Rohit claimed it was a low blow. The referee got in Stevens’ way to investigate. Rohit used that moment to attack with a jumping knee strike. A flying double stomp won the bout for Rohit.

After the match, Rohit jawed at the camera. Rhino activated stealth mode to sneak into the background. Once Rohit turned around, Rhino gored him.

Nevaeh explained that she has come to Impact to personally check on Havok after the issues with James Mitchell. Havok is a destructive force on her own. As a team, they are unstoppable.

Locker Room Talk. Madison Rayne and co-host Johnny Swinger welcomed Chris Bey as their guest. Swinger was overwhelmed with excitement to bring his new friend on the show. Bey side-eyed him like a loser. Swinger kept interrupting Bey to put him over. Swinger mentioned their new tag team name, The Finesse and Bench Press Express. They will debut next week against Willie Mack and Jake Deaner. Bey agreed to the bout and then emphasized that he will focus on winning the X-Division Championship from Mack.

Knockouts title bout. Jordynne Grace has been scouting all the new Knockouts in her time off. Taya interrupted to accuse Grace of hiding with the belt. Grace then offered Taya a title shot tonight, but Taya backed off. Grace ham-fisted Taya into a match next week.

Deonna Purrazzo is paragon of excellence. She is a threat to anyone who doesn’t give her what she deserves. She has long been prepared for Impact Wrestling. Is Impact ready for her? Purrazzo has a match next week.

Date night. John E. Bravo and Rosemary were strolling down the street on a date. Rosemary wanted to seduce Bravo into biting a drugged apple. At that moment, Taya called Bravo. He left in a panic to buy dog food for Taya’s canines.

Michael Elgin hijacked the ring. Elgin walked up to production and demanded they play his music. Elgin entered the ring to complain about losing to Ace Austin last week. Sami Callihan cost Elgin the match with SCU tricks. Elgin wouldn’t leave the ring until Impact management names him #1 contender or World Champion. Ken Shamrock came out to further their feud. The two brawled with Shamock getting the upper hand. Shamrock went for an ankle lock, but Elgin escaped and backed away.

There were a lot of little story developments on this episode. Impact had a fresh set of tapings last week, and I like how they used that new footage of Jordynne Grace and Taya to set up the title match next week. It would seem like a lock that Grace retains, but perhaps Impact will have something up their sleeve.

Cancel Culture took a dark vibe real quick to become cult-like. Joseph P. Ryan demanding devotion from Dave Crist is literally tearing families apart. I always thought it was weird that Ryan is the one in charge to make Cancel Culture villainous, when he is an active participant in cancel culture in real life. I’m guessing RVD won’t be with the group anymore. Those new rules wouldn’t fit his chill vibe.

Final thoughts. I really enjoyed Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz as a team. Their sass game was strong. Rohit Raju looked impressive with his mean streak. I don’t see him becoming champ, so this might be character development instead of an actual story. Although, he seems like a ripe candidate for Cancel Culture. The three-way interactions were enjoyable between Michael Elgin, Sami Callihan, and Ken Shamrock. Callihan is the weak link in competition at this moment with recent losses to both men, so he may end up standing tall to recoup his status. Johnny Swinger is still the best. The Finesse and Bench Press Express is a fantastic name.

Share your thoughts on Impact. Which match stole the show? Who put in your favorite performance? Did the switcheroo main event story leave you satisfied? Or were you disappointed about not getting Trey Miguel versus Ace Austin?

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