On 25th May, Impact Wrestling aired their 671st episode, taped at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida on 23rd April. Ethan Carter III, James Storm and Magnus battled to become #1 Contender to the Impact World Heavyweight Championship, KM & Kongo Kong tagged up against Mahabali Shera and Braxton Sutter leading to Rosemary making her presence felt when Sienna and Laurel Van Ness attacked Allie, as well as appearances from Lashley, a returning Scott Steiner, Joseph Park, Davey Richards and Angelina Love. But was it any good? Let's take a look...
- ICYMI - Low Ki is dominating the X Division (I'm not sure why they included this as there was no X-Division content on the show) and Ethan Carter III attacked Bruce Pritchard after getting told to grow some balls last week.
Prichard, Lashley, EC3, Magnus and Storm Segment
Nothing says hot wrestling TV show in 2017 like starting with a Bruce Prichard promo. Fair play to Prichard for selling his ribs from the Ethan Carter III attack the other week, but there really was no need for him to be in the ring at the start of the show, considering all he really did was introduce World Heavyweight Champion Lashley, whilst Tyrus stood about awkwardly. I feel having Lashley open the show alone in the ring would have been much more effective and given the open a much crisper pace, as with three contenders having to make entrances also the segment was already very stop and start. After Lashley had claimed to be "the man to beat, who can't be beaten", which is a great line by the way, we Ethan Carter III, Magnus and James Storm interrupting each other to lay down their cases for why they'd win the upcoming Triple Threat #1 Contenders bout. Out of the three, I was surprised with the performance of Magnus on the mic, with Brit sounding dynamic and at times irreverent as he referred to his opponents as "ham sandwiches". The segment closed with Prichard telling EC3, Magnus and Storm that if they touched each other before the main event that the bout would be cancelled and they would be suspended indefinitely, whilst also bizarrely making the match No Disqualification despite it being a three way.
KM & Kong def. Shera & Sutter
A dull opening tag bout here, that did very little for me, but luckily the post-match segment with Rosemary [Courtney Rush] saving Allie [Cherry Bomb] from an attack by Sienna [Allysin Kay] and Laurel Van Ness [Chelsea Green] was much fresher and got a strong reaction out of the crowd. The tag match plodded along with not a whole lot of note. There wasn't much that was actively bad, but there certainly wasn't anything to shout about with even the Braxton Sutter [Pepper Parks] hot tag feeling humdrum. By the time, Kongo Kong hit Mahabali Shera with a headbutt from the apron allowing KM [Kevin Matthews] to get a school boy roll-up victory with a handful of tights, the match had gone at least five minutes too long and I'd be surprised with some of the Impact Zone hadn't fallen asleep. Whilst Sienna and LVN chasing Allie around the ring in the match was probably the worst portion of the bout, their involvement after the blokes had brawled to the back was the saving grace of the segment. The two laying the boots into Allie made them look like massive dicks, with LVN's nutter bride gimmick adding a weird edge, before Rosemary's music hit and the Impact Zone woke up. The Knockout's Champion staring down Sienna and LVN, before spraying green mist in Sienna's eyes and hitting Red Wedding on LVN got a great reaction, with Rosemary looking like the bad ass bitch she is in the process. With the history between Rosemary and Allie on the Canadian indies, I'm very interested in seeing how this storyline plays out and hopefully we get to see them bring their rivalry to Impact Wrestling after a brief partnership.
VOW def. Bah & Bokara in GFW Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final
A straight-forward tag, but head and shoulders above the previous bout with the Veterans of War shining in their victory, whilst Fallah Bah and Mario Bokara looked more than capable in their roles. I felt like Mayweather [Crimson] in particular looked much better than I remember him being here, hitting a nice series of moves, including a Falcon Arrow, during the face shine as well as showing good timing in the finish as he came crashing into the picture to deliver a big boot to Bah on the outside. The crowd was into VOW, chanting "USA" throughout the heat sequence before the hot tag to Wilcox [Jax Dane] headed straight into the finish, with Veterans of War hitting M.O.A.D. (Fireman's Carry Flapjack and Cutter combination) on Bokara to send them into the Final against current Impact Tag Team Champions LAX (Ortiz [Angel Ortiz] & Santana [Mike Draztik]). After the previous confrontation between the two teams and their juxaposed idealogies should produce an intense match and I'm actually surprised we didn't see LAX head out to at least stare down with Mayweather & Wilcox post-match.
Mathews, Borash, Park and Steiner Segment
SCOTT STEINER IS BACK! He may be twenty years past his prime in the ring, but by Jove he's back on Impact Wrestling and heading to Slammiversary. Steiner was revealed as Josh Mathews partner against Jeremy Borash and Joseph Park [Abyss] for the 2nd July PPV. The build to Steiner's appearance was actually rather well done with Mathews initially attempting to apologise to Borash before losing his rag when Park came to ring, leading to Park challenging Josh to a fight and just after the bell rang, Steiner's music hit and the crowd popped. Mathews shone in this segment as his initial grovelling being relatable to everything people hate about no back bone politicians before exploding into his cutting promo on JB and Park, calling them "Tweedle dee and Tweedle Dumbass" before stating "I'm giving you two the rub", which you could tell he had a lot of fun with. The selling of Borash and Park when Steiner came out was ridiculously hammy and camp, whilst having D'Angelo Dinero on commentary describe Steiner as "one of the most feared men in all of professional wrestling" was unnecessarily over-the-top. Mathews kept things interesting by skipping about the place in joy as Steiner chased JB through the crowd, swung at some obvious plants in the crowd and then locking Park in the Steiner Recliner. I would've liked to have seen Mathews heat used to help get a younger talent over and I'm not quite sure of the benefits of this programme for anyone going forward.
- A natural promo from Impact Grand Champion Moose, explaining why the divisions rules play to his advantage and his plans on holding the title going into Slammiversary.
- After Eli Drake had goaded Moose into putting the Grand Championship on the line next week, Chris Adonis [Chris Masters] jumped Moose from behind, leading to a two on one beat down.
Alisha & Edwards def. Richards & Love
It looks like this feud is far from over as despite Alisha [Lexxus] getting a roll-up pinfall on Angelina Love, a theatrical post-match attack that saw Eddie Edwards hand-cuffed to the ropes by Davey Richards and Love powerbomb Alisha through a table added more fuel to the fire that has been burning since February. The interaction between Richards and Edwards was the good stuff in the match, as the two laid into each other with various strikes, before Richards took control focussing on Eddie's leg, including a lovely spot in the Figure Four Leg Lock with Love grabbing hold of Davey's hands for extra leverage. Beyond a nice diving crossbody to the outside from Alisha, the Women's portion was mostly cat-fighting, which I think we really should've moved on from in 2017. There are better and more interesting ways to sell the dislike between two women than having them grab at each others hair and roll around. The post-match angle was needed because Richards and Edwards really deserve to have a blow-off singles match, which has the opportunity to be something special, depending on what gimmick it's given.
EC3 def. Magnus and Storm to become #1 Contender to the Impact World Heavyweight Championship
This was a high-quality TV main event, with Ethan Carter III, Magnus and James Storm telling a classic triple threat story, with a strong babyface in the shape of Storm. We got to see The Cowboy lay some hard af chops into main rival EC3 early on, but after dishing out a double suplex onto the ramp, the heels controlled the bout, with Storm selling effectively and looking great when fighting from underneath. As someone who remembers Magnus' TNA World title a few years ago, I got a kick out of seeing Magnus and EC3 working together again! The build up towards the inevitable Storm comeback had the Impact Zone invested and was booked superbly as the heels took turns nailing him with a kendo stick. EC3 accidentally hit Magnus and profusely apologised by battering Storm with a couple of brutal shots to our hero, with the spot then being mirrored as Magnus hit EC3 with the stick, but the Brit didn't stop. Having the relationship between the villains break down, allowed for Storm to sell his beating and then come back on fire, hitting a DDT and Neckbreaker combo on the pair, before belting them with a steel chair. The first two thirds of the match managed to be a tonne of fun, but also tell an effective story that made everyone involved look good in their own way.
The final third of the bout continued Storm's underdog story, but also picked up the pace and featured a number of decent near falls. Highlights including Storm hitting a brutal-looking hangman's DDT onto the apron to Ethan, Magnus' Kings Lynn Cloverleaf on Storm being broken with an EC3 chair shot to the back, a nice tree of woe tower of doom with Magnus German suplexing EC3, but the strongest sequence saw Storm push Carter into a steel chair wedged between the first and second rope, then hit a running neckbreaker, only for the fall to be broken by a Magnus diving elbow drop. The finish completed Storm's valiant fight and then ripped away as Magnus ate a Last Call Super kick, only for EC3 to push the Cowboy out of the ring and steal the pin. This was an astute piece of booking that added to Storm's story as he chases another World title run, showing he has the potential, whilst furthering his feud with Carter. With the commentary repeatedly referring to GFW Global Champion Alberto El Patron [Alberto Del Rio] don't be surprised if we see another twist in the tale between now and Slammiversary.
ATPW Scale Rating - 4.92/10
This show was all about it's main event with the three talent shining in a well-put together contest. However, elsewhere some of the booking and talent positioning still leaves a lot to be desired. There was no need to have Bruce Prichard opening the show, Scott Steiner's return was bizarre and the opener was as dull as dishwater's dishwater. There were flashes of greatness like Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards' portions of the mixed tag, Rosemary saving Allie, the development of the Veterans of War tag team and Josh Mathews joyful performance in his segment and the fact that he and Jeremy Borash never shared the commentary desk. The new regime currently feels like one step forward and then another back, producing as many positives change as there has been negative, hopefully once we get to Slammiversary at the start of July we'll have a product that has found it's feet and ironed out some of the creases.