For a show whose tag line is “Wrestling Matters,” Impact Wrestling sure features a lot of, um, non-wrestling. Last night’s event opened with Immortal in the ring for a group interview, closed with a contract signing, and included plenty of backstage segments in between. In the midst of all the melodrama, they did find time to present six matches, so it wasn’t all bad. All of the action (and lack thereof), including an injured James Storm, a dreamy Miss Tessmacher, and a pissed off Samoa Joe, after the jump.
- The show opened with Immortal in the ring, minus Hulk Hogan and Bischoff, for a group promo. Bully Ray introduced each member, showering them with praise, until he got to Mr. Anderson. Ray called Anderson weak, to which Ken responded by challenging him to a match at Hardcore Justice. Bully Ray hocked a loogie right into Anderson’s face, but before things could escalate any further, Fortune’s music hit and the face stable appeared on the ramp. Kazarian, speaking for the group, said that they were ready to take on Immortal, and the foursome charged the ring. Fortune easily cleaned house, but their dominance was bittersweet as James Storm appeared to injure himself during the brawl. It should be mentioned that Jeff Jarrett was carrying a Mexican title belt, declaring himself “King of Mexico.” Ugh. Remember when he lost to Kurt Angle and vowed never to come back?
- Mickie James sat in for commentary during a Miss Tessmacher vs Madison Rayne match. I love the knockouts. They are universally both more attractive and better wrestlers than their WWE counterparts. Tara had to leave ringside for this one, at the demand of Madison. The Queen Bee dominated most of the match, but Tessmacher was able to steal the victory with a roll up. After the closing bell, Madison Rayne attacked her opponent, choking her on the mat. Mickie James took her time before she decided to make the save, actually continuing to commentate for the first part of the attack. When she finally did begin to approach the ring, she was assaulted by Angelina Love and Winter, who left her laying after a shot to the head with the Knockouts Title. Mickie vs Winter at Hardcore Justice, and I’m looking more forward to that match than I am most of the card. Which probably says more for the quality of the rest of the card than it does that match.
- Devon picked up seven points in the Bound for Glory series with a pinfall victory over AJ Styles. Damn, I hate it when AJ jobs. Double damn, I hate it when Devon wins. The ending came about when Christopher Daniels showed up in the entry way to observe the match, inadvertently distracting AJ and causing him to miss a springboard from the apron. The Pope was at ringside too, celebrating Devon’s win with his family, which didn’t sit too well with the former Dudley Boy. This Pope vs Devon feud is one of the worst angles in recent memory, and the sooner it’s dropped, the happier I’ll be.
- In another Bound for Glory series match, Samoa Joe forced The Pope to submit to a rear naked choke. However, after refusing to release the hold, Joe had the decision reversed on him, giving The Pope the disqualification win and three points. Joe had a crazed look about him as he wrenched the choke on Pope, and while it certainly wasn’t what I’d describe as “good,” it looks like it’s the start of Joe moving in a new direction, and his character most definitely needs some refreshing. After the match, Joe cut a very angry promo.
- Bully Ray is backstage on the phone with Hulk Hogan, who insists that he apologizes to Mr. Anderson. Reluctantly, Bully Ray agrees to do so out of respect for Hulk. Yawn.
- James Storm was scheduled to take on Hernandez in a street fight, but due to the apparent back injury he suffered earlier in the night, the Cowboy was replaced by his Beer Money partner, Bobby Roode. Despite his injury, Storm still accompanied Roode to ringside for the bout, while Hernandez had Anarquia, the masked Sarita, & Rosita in his corner. This one was a good back and forth fight, climaxing when Hernandez went for a big Border Toss. Roode managed to fight out of the move and connect with a double arm spine buster, which he followed up with an armbar. Hernandez tapped, but the referee was distracted by a brawl ensuing on the outside of the ring. Super Mex was able to use the distraction to roll Roode up and nab the W with his feet on the ropes for leverage. He catches a lot of flack for working too stiff (among other things), but I’m a Hernandez fan. I could do without Anarquia and company, though.
- Bully Ray approached Mr. Anderson backstage and apologized to him for his actions earlier in the evening. It was evident that neither man cared too much for the apology, but Anderson appeared poised to accept it anyway. When he extended his hand to Ray, however, wrestling’s biggest Bully reciprocated with a low blow that brought Anderson to his knees. It looks like Ray vs Anderson at Hardcore Justice is going to happen.
- Austin Aries defeated Alex Shelley in a nifty little match after nailing him with a brainbuster. Aries is working well as the X Division’s cocky heel, as he paraded around the ring in Shelley’s jacket during their match last night. Post-match, Aries grabbed the microphone and bragged about winning with a clean wrestling move. When he started to put the boots to the downed Shelley, Brian Kendrick made the save. I am eagerly anticipating this Sunday’s triple threat between these guys. Kendrick can do no wrong, and he’s set up with a great supporting cast for Hardcore Justice.
- Rob Van Dam picked up a handful of Bound for Glory points while teaming with Crimson after a 5-Star Frog Splash on Scott Steiner, who was partnered with Gunner. The seven points for Van Dam moved him up the leaderboard to the number two spot, trailing only Crimson, who he will meet one-on-one at Hardcore Justice. Neither of these guys should win the series. Mike Tenay, prior to the opening bell, said “wins and loses are so damn important.” It was one of the most forced uses of “damn” I’ve ever heard, and the overall content of that statement is just preposterous.
- There was a contract signing between Sting and Kurt Angle, and it was pretty awful. Sting is apparently no longer crazy, or at his insanity at least had a temporary lapse last night, as he cut a completely coherent, non-Joker-ish promo. The whole thing was a mutual respect party, with both guys fawning all over the others’ work. Blaaah.
So that was Impact. Kind of a disappointing go-home show, although the Hardcore Justice card is kind of disappointing itself, so what can you do? I’m looking forward to the X Division and Knockouts Title matches, but beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot reeling me in.