Sunday, 19 November 2017

Impact Wrestling 696 Review // Eli Drake vs. Petey Williams

This week's Impact Wrestling saw the company continuing to rebuild after Bound For Glory, as the Aberdeen Pavilion in Ottawa, Ontario (taped 6th November) witness Petey Williams challenging Eli Drake for the Impact Global Heavyweight Championship and James Storm side with Moose following an assault from American Top Team. But was it any good? 

Impact Global Heavyweight Championship // Eli Drake [Shaun Ricker] (C) def. "The Canadian Destroyer" Petey Williams via pinfall // 13 minutes

The show began with separate Eli Drake and Petey Williams interview talking about their Global Championship match, over some footage of them competing in the ring. Eli Drake told Petey Williams that if he could last 3 minutes with him he'd be a Canadian Hero, because it doesn't take much, in an interview with McKenzie Mitchell. Petey Williams spoke about his Grandfather passing away and his loyalty to Impact, over highlights from his career. 

This was one of the best matches to have aired on Impact Wrestling for quite a while and for me, it was also Eli Drake's best performance in a six sided ring. The match told a simple story, with the commentary team making a point of telling us that no one had ever kicked out of a Williams Canadian Destroyer and Williams repeatedly looking to hit the move, whilst Chris Adonis ran constant interference on the outside to keep Drake in control. This meant that when Williams took out Adonis with a suicide dive, then escaped a Gravy Train and nailed the Canadian Destroyer, it felt like we could potentially see a new Global Champion, creating a world-class near fall. Drake kicking out rises his stock as champion and Williams deserves credit for selflessly allowing that to happen. Drake would eventually win with a Gravy Train, after a few near falls for each side in a tremendous final stretch that featured the momentum swinging either as Drake showed he capable of working a style more akin to the X Division. With a livelier crowd and had this not been pre-recorded then it would have been a great match, as it stands it is still worth giving a chance on My5 in the UK.

James Storm saves Moose from American Top Team // 13 minutes 

An intriguing segment as James Storm aligned with Moose in his feud with American Top Team (because why Stephen Bonnar was defending the honour of professional wrestling before I have no clue). This included the highlight of the show, when ATT's John Hartnett (wearing a neck brace) decided to slap Storm, before The Cowboy replied by smashing a beer bottle in his face in what many would call a massive overreaction! Storm's promo afterwards was utterly brilliant though. It was full of passion, it was funny, but most importantly, it felt real. Storm spoke at professional wrestling and what it meant to him. He talked about receiving advice from his Dad, he talked about America's Most Wanted and Beer Money Inc. and you could tell that he meant every word that came out of his mouth. Knowing that he's leaving the company after these tapings added an extra dimension to the promo as well. They also threw Hartnett's shoes into the crowd. On the other hand I could've given or taken Dan Lambert's promo, where he spent three minutes running down Canada. He seems like he's watched loads of pro wrestling and is trying a little bit too hard, but it wasn't unwatchable and his voice breaking at points made it quite humorous at times.

Backstage KM asked American Top Team for a chance, with Bobby Lashley telling him to prove himself. 

Impact Grand Championship // Ethan Carter III "EC3" def. Fallah Bahh [Franciz] // 9 minutes

Without the Grand Championship gimmick (three rounds of three minutes) this wouldn't have been much of a match, but with it it worked reasonably well. The first round with Fallah Bahh in control didn't do much for me, as he did his Akira Tozawa impression and tried to get a Bah chant going, alongside a number of poor comedy spots. The second round went to Ethan Carter III, taking control after Bahh ran into the post and then the rest of the round happened. The third round was probably the strongest as EC3 looked to bring Bahh down, couldn't hit the One Percenter after a rake of the eyes, but then managed to trip Bahh off the ropes, as he seemed to be attempting a Banzai Drop and then used a jacknife cover to get the win with his feet on the ropes. The wrestling wasn't great, but the gimmick allowed for a decent story to be told and EC3 came out with a win over a much bigger competitor. I was surprised we didn't get a reply from Matt Sydal after EC3 ran him down last week though.

The Latin American Xchange (Homicide, Santana [Mike Draztik] & Ortiz [Angel Ortiz]) def. Ohio Versus Everything (Sami Callihan, Dave Crist & Jake Crist) via pinfall // 9 minutes

A stylised handheld camera promo from oVe aired, mostly done by Sami Callihan, having very much a feel of the old Shield promos.

A good clash here, even if it felt like only scratched the surface of the potential the two sides have. There was frenetic feel from the very beginning as oVe launched into the ring to scrap wit LAX, before the match transitioned into a "Get your shit in" sequence and then a multiple dives sequence, highlighted a suicide senton from Homicide. It appears that oVe are the heels now, even if this had been unclear after Bound For Glory, as Callihan nailed Homicide with a mule kick blow, before Homicide became the Notorious face in peril. Homicide played the role well, scrapping against with Jake Crist, before escaping a back suplex and flying into an EYFBO hot tag. The gear change in stretch was great to watch as Santana and Ortiz flew around, oVe got a near fall off a Tombstone Piledriver from Jake on Santana, before Ortiz was able to block an All Seeing Eye attempt and LAX picked up the win with the Street Sweeper to bring a frenzied sequence to a close. There's more that these teams can do together and I hope that we get to explore that on Impact. 

Sonjay Dutt, Dezmond Xavier & Garza Jr. def. Trevor Lee, Taiji Ishimori & Caleb Konley // 7 minutes

This bout was a little overshadowed by the other six man tag on the show, having no real consequence and a surprising lack of action. The first two thirds were lethargic for this division, with a Sonjay Dutt and Taiji Ishimori in particular looking uninterested, phoning in their early work and looking way too cooperative, which both talents should be above at this point in their careers. The crowd was flat throughout, to the point that I noted that they may as well have been working in an empty building. Also Garza Jr. spent the entire match holding one arm towards his body, clearly injured, which makes the company look incredibly second rate and shows a clear lack of interest in safety of the performer. This shouldn't have happened, although Garza did pull out an impressive hurricanrana with the arm still well and truly held against his stomach. The last few minutes were a good watch with a lot going and Dezmond Xavier continuing to shine before pinning Caleb Konley with the Final Flash.

Gail Kim Retired // 4 minutes

Allie hugged Gail Kim backstage.

After this moment had been built to for quite a while it ended being quite underwhelming as Gail Kim announced that she was retiring. Part of this was damaged by the fact she had already announced she was retiring at the end of the year and also for the fact that only Allie was present for it and Kim lowballed her speech, mentioning a few people she'd wrestled and that was about it.


The GWN flashback was Ken Shamrock defeating Malice with Ricky Steamboat as special guest referee to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at NWA Total Non-stop Action #1 at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville, Alabama on 19th June 2002.

In catering, Joseph Park apologised to Grado, gave him an American visa, only for a Mountie (not The Mountie) to turn up and tell Grado he was being deported from Canada.

The Pluto TV rewind was Chris Rock saying "NWA: TNA is the best professional wrestling in the world" from NWA Total Non-Stop Action #16 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville, Tennessee on 9th October 2002.

A good two hours of Impact Wrestling this week, building on last week's and head and shoulders above Bound For Glory. Out of all the segment, only the X-Division six man under-performed. The main event did a great job of making Petey Williams feel like a threat and featured some brilliant wrestling, whilst the LAX v oVe match was also a good watch and EC3 vs. Bahh used the Grand title gimmick just about well enough. James Storm's promo was excellent also and with not much talking on the show it ended up really standing out. If Impact can continue in this vein for the next few months, then Anthem might finally start to shake the stink off, but the Ottawa crowd and awful venue choice might very well end up holding them back.

Review by James Marston

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