Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Bound for Glory 2017 Review // Johnny Impact vs. Eli Drake

On 5th November 2017, Impact Wrestling broadcast Bound for Glory 2017 live on PPV from Aberdeen Pavilion in Ottawa, Ontario. Johnny Impact [John Morrison] challenged Eli Drake [Shaun Ricker] for the Global Championship, James Storm, Ethan Carter III and Eddie Edwards tagged up as Team Impact to take on El Hijo del Fantasma, El Texano Jr. and Pagano representing AAA, as well as appearances from Alberto el Patron [Alberto Del Rio], Matt Sydal, Bobby Lashley, Abyss and Gail Kim. But was it any good? Lets take a look!  

Global Championship Match: Eli Drake def. Johnny Impact (19:30) 

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Eli Drake and Chris Adonis with some terrible audio, but Drake continuing to grow into his role as Global Champion. The bad audio continued later as Johnny Impact cut a rather dull and slow promo in an interview with McKenzie Mitchell that was nowhere near the energy level you'd expect for someone competing in the main event of a companies biggest show.

Before the finish, I found myself surprisingly into the main event between Eli Drake and Johnny Impact, even if the same couldn't be said for the Aberdeen Pavilion crowd. Despite the uninspired build-up and lack of heat, the two worked well together to put on a series of impressive moment, with Impact's cat-like agility front and centre on a number of occasions. The former Lucha Underground Champion, produced plenty of gif-friendly action, like getting whipped towards the barricade only to slide underneath it, an avalanche Samoan drop rolled through into a standing corkscrew shooting star press and a Spanish fly, whilst Drake upped his game, mostly matching Impact's smoothness, hitting a tasty springboard moonsault and one of the best jumping superplexes that you ever did see. The pair battled against an apathetic crowd, who had been given very little reason to care, with Impact having only debuted at the end of August (on the same episode that Drake won the title) and with the duo having already had a match on TV just over a month ago. The booking let them down, but Impact and Drake did the best they could with the very little that they had to work with.   

Lets talk about that finish. In a baffling moment, Alberto El Patron would cost Impact the win, pulling the referee out of the ring, before nailing Impact with a pair of nasty looking chair-shots, hitting Drake with the title belt and then dropping champion on top of challenger for the pinfall. On which planet was this a good finish? Maybe, it would be acceptable on an episode of Impact, maybe it would be ok on B PPV (which the company doesn't run), but on your main show of the year? We didn't even get the surprise factor from an AEP return because he'd turned up to rant earlier in the night. The supposed biggest night of the year ended up feeling like any other night because they pulled a TV angle in the main event. (The unprotected chairshot from AEP to Impact was atrocious and really has no place in 2017)

Team Impact (Eddie Edwards, Ethan Carter III & James Storm) def. Team AAA (Pagano, El Hijo del Fantasma & El Texano Jr.) (15:27)

McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Team Impact (Ethan Carter III, Eddie Edwards & James Storm) with horrible audio problems and EC3 mostly staring into the middle distance.

I've never really got these inter-promotional rivalries, to be honest. They only really ever work when a high percentage of the audience has a strong feeling about one or both of the promotions involved and that couldn't be said for Impact or AAA here. How is it possible for anyone to currently get strongly behind a company like Impact that doesn't seem to know what it's own identity is? Beyond some heely cheating from Team AAA and ETJ pulling out his bullrope, the dislike between the two teams that had been pushed on Impact wasn't there. The story kept the focus on Team Impact and at times Pagano, ETJ and EHDF felt like bodies to facilitate that story. Not neccesarily a bad thing, but on the big stage I'd expect a little more substance. Also, anything involving Pagano tended to be clunky, with the standout moment being him just chilling on the apron whilst ETJ and EHDF bumped and fed for the EC3 hot tag.

What did work about the match however, was the relationship between Ethan Carter III and his team mates, which whilst being a little played out, came across well, especially at the beginning and towards the end. The match built nicely towards EC3's hot tag, showing him initially reluctant to help, before roaring into the bout when needed. The finish also played into this well, with EC3 on fire, escaping a double suplex from Pagano & ETJ, before nailing a pair of low blows and One Percenters and tagging in Storm to get the victory with a Last Call to Pagano. Carter screaming "Kick his fucking head off" as he tagged in the Cowboy seemed to put to be their problems and end EC3's short heel run, tying off the story well. It's just a shame it didn't come five minutes earlier. Special shoutout to the Package tombstone that EHDF gave Edwards on the apron as well, because that was clearly the highlight of the bout.

Monster's Ball: Abyss def. Grado (10:35)

Abyss and Grado had a confrontation backstage, with a fire-up Grado cutting a pretty good promo on their upcoming match and how much it meant to him. Moments before their match, Abyss berated Grado, asking him to dance, with Grado complying only to kick Abyss in his Monster's balls.

Good goly, where to start with this? This was not a good showcase for either man. The action was a times passable, with credit needing to be given for the bump that Grado took off the top rope through a barbed wire board, but quickly devolved into something else entirely. The spots with the board later on were poorly done, with the bout not only struggling to match the earlier highspot, but also not doing a good job of performing the following moments. Clunky spots like Abyss taking a shoulder block onto the board, before having to hold another one on top of him, so that Grado could deliver a top rope splash were poorly conceived in the first place, but weren't helped by how they were performed. Laurel Van Ness and then Rosemary getting involved saw the match devolve further, even if Rosemary got a good pop for turning up to nullify LVN's "threat". Then the bell went when the referee had clearly counted two, dragging an already poor match towards shambles territory. Close off with perhaps one of the worst Blackhole Slam's that Abyss has ever hit, that ended up looking like too drunk lads falling over on a Saturday night and you have a contender for the worst worked match in Impact (and perhaps beyond) for the year.

X Division Championship Match - Trevor Lee (C) def. Matt Sydal, Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams, Dezmond Xavier and Garza Jr. (12:26)

Six good wrestlers, a decent amount of time and you've got yourself a strong opener, that ended up being one of the best matches on the show. It wasn't always as crisp as it could've been, mostly down to how fast the action was, but we did also get a number of brilliant one on one sequences thrown into the mix. Sydal and Dutt began with a great back and forth sequence, Sydal and Xavier were smooth as silk together, concluding with Sydal nailing a standing moonsault and a brilliant stretch between Lee and Dutt ended in a wonderful Orange Crush near fall for Lee. The champion being the bouts only heel worked well, whilst the crowd backing native Williams was used well, with the two elements driving the match and helping it to fill it's time, remaining interesting without becoming an out and out spot-fest. The build to Williams hitting the Canadian Destroyer produced some excitement in the closing stages, with multiple attempts getting good reaction from the Pavilion. I feel the finish was a little bit of a misstep, with a wonderful moment being teased as Sydal missed a Shooting Star Press and ended up in Williams' path, only to escape the Destroyer. Had that spot been completed and resulted in Williams winning the belt then you would have had a great moment that would've got people talking and elevated the match as a whole. Instead Williams hit the move on Xavier and Lee stole the pin to retain and we ended up with a cliche conclusion instead.

Six Sides of Steel Match: Bobby Lashley & King Mo def. Moose & Stephan Bonnar (10:39)

Dan Lambert psyched up Bobby Lashley, King Mo and the rest of American Top Team backstage, despite saying they didn't actually need it. Later on, Moose and Stephen Bonnar touched each other quite a bit and said "in the cage" a lot. 

There were moments were I felt like this match was leading to a really good pay off. Those moments were when Moose was just ploughing through American Top Team lads, hitting daft Go to Hell's (Double chokebomb) off the top rope and looking like a real beast of a man. Looking like a star and someone the company could potentially strap the rocket on. The rest of the match wasn't for me. With very little knowledge of or care for MMA, Bonnar and Mo scrapping meant nothing to me, so having he majority of the match centre around the potential of them fighting turned me off almost instantly. The fact that the fight amounted to the pair rolling around on the floor for a little bit, whilst the crowd sat in silence or chanting "GSP" for some reason turned me off even more. All of American Top Team's representatives would eventually get in the cage, in another shitty TNA cliche and even after Moose had crawled back inside the cage (he got locked outside after following Mo out there like a silly Moose), he ended up losing to a Lashley spear. What does American Top Team winning achieve? No one wants this story to continue and a Moose win could have potentially marked him out as a future star for the company. But that would've made too much sense.

World Tag Team Champion 5150 Street Fight: oVe (Dave Crist & Jake Crist) (C) def. LAX (Ortiz [Angel Ortiz] & Santana [Mike Draztik]) (10:21)

Backstage, we see a body laid out on the floor, drapped in a Mexican flag, with a figure standing over it, before offering us a thumbs down. Could it be?

This was match of the night, but wasn't above being fucked by the terrible creative that blighted the evening. Dave, Jake, Ortiz & Santana put on a thrilling spot-fest from the very beginning. Highlights included Ortiz nailing Jake with a sitout powerbomb off the ramp through a table, Santana climbing some scaffolding and diving onto Dave on a table below, Jake hitting a superplex on Ortiz through a bunch of seated chairs and a Street Sweeper from LAX to Jake onto a stack of chairs. Then came the matches main problem, the debut of Sami Callihan. Whilst we were told that 5150 Street Fight was like nothing we'd ever seen, there was no mistaking that the gimmick was a normal street fight, with no other members of LAX present with Low Ki having left the company, Diamante nowhere to be seen and Homicide "laid out". Had we seen Jake & Dave in unbelievable peril, battling against the whole group, before Callihan came out and cleaned house, it would have felt special, it would've been a moment. Instead, Callihan seemed to randomly walk out, to no reaction, throw something in 53 year od Konnan's eyes, before destroying Ortiz and Santana in two spectacular spots. As good as those spots looked, the right notes hadn't been hit and the crowd didn't know how to react to Callihan or a group in oVe that is yet to get over with this audience. The finish was flat. I was so excited to see Sami Callihan debut in Impact and they botched it. 

oVe laid the boots into Ortiz & Santana, with a quick soundbite promo from Callihan. 

Alberto El Patron Returns (10:08)

Fuck sake. Seriously? Who thought this was a good idea? This was ten minutes of AEP complaining about being suspended after being part of an alleged domestic violence incident earlier in the year. Ten minutes of him just droning on about it, aimlessly. He also kept randomly jumping on the middle rope for reasons known only to him. "They didn't care about my family. They didn't care about my three little babies" is one of the most bizarre arguments anyone could have in this situation. However, the weirdest part was AEP threatening commentator Jeremy Borash and then not actually doing anything. At best, this was uncomfortable viewing, at worst it was an embarrassment to professional wrestling.

Knockout's Championship Match: Gail Kim def. Sienna [Allysin Kay] (C) and Allie [Cherry Bomb] (9:43)

Terrible crackly audio as McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Gail Kim ahead of Knockout's Championship match. 

This match did very little for me, with the three often looking awkward and stunted together. The big moments of the contest were more often than not detracted from by sloppiness, with Sienna taking a nasty looking double back suplex onto the barricade, that had very little height on it. Sienna's avalanche fallaway slam on Allie, followed up with a spinebuster to Kim stood out as the opposite however, being well-timed, if not for the referee fannying around on the count. Story-wise, the match focused around Sienna's dominance and Kim and Allie's teamwork, but nothing stayed around long enough to create a coherent flowing narrative, with the bout seemingly looking to coast on a feel-good finish as Kim won in her final match. Personally, I think Allie taking the belt and Kim passing the proverbial torch would have been a more effective conclusion, with the right story, but I'm not majorly against what is in essense a nice gesture from the company for one of their hall of famers. Although, I think replaying match with Awesome Kong from Final Resolution 2008 would have done her career more justice! 

Taiji Ishimori def. Tyson Dux (4:47)

Extended squash match here as Dux made his first Impact appearance since Victory Road 2008. The bout was pretty much also Ishimori for the five minutes, who picked up the win with 450 splash, in a match the crowd couldn't have cared less about.

Jimmy Jacobs made a surprise appearance, briefly chatting to the commentary team and indicating that he now worked at Impact.

I didn't hate Bound for Glory 2017. I hated the booking, the creative and the lack of anything feeling remotely special, surprising or fresh. Whatever is going on with Alberto El Patron is trash. Grado vs. Abyss was really poor all on it's own, as well. But I thought the X-Division six man showcased some real talent, whilst the 5150 Street Fight featured some spectacular spots and would have unarguably been match of the night, had it not been for the flat finish. There was so much talent and potential on this show. But they were all to greater or less extent let down by terrible creative decisions and direction that dragged the show as a whole down.

Review by James Marston 

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