Best: Joseph Park high-fives
It’s like he’s high-fiving my heart and oh god never leave ever please
Best: DJ Xema
I haven’t gotten to write too much about Xema Ion since his return, given the holidays and whatnot, but I think we can all agree that turning his obnoxiousness up to 11 and giving him an airhorn sound clip is what’s best for business.
My great wrestling loves are usually…well…big fat guys and disproportionately tiny ones…but aside from that, I love ridiculous characters. The most over the top heels, the silliest of gimmicks. That moment of “what on earth is even happening” that turns into “oh lord this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen let me love you” makes me giddy. It’s why, aside from a few moments of misogyny, I can get behind the Bromans. It’s why I will forever treasure Magnum Robbie T for giving me the posedown I longed for, and then some. It’s why I have an Akeem the African Dream action figure (see also guy, fat). All of these things are a crucial part of my wrestling happy place landscape, somewhere between Dynamite Kid in Japan Boulevard and Tommy Rich’s Beautiful Head of Synthetic Doll Hair Avenue.
This is a perfect example of what I mean when I say Impact is moving on, and is better off without some manic homophobe sputtering out pap balms. Enjoyable television is fun to watch. Who knew?
Plus if he tanks out, I can start calling him DJ Eczema. I mean come on it’s right there.
Best: I love it when a plan comes together
Prior to the match, we’re shown two quick clips of Dixie Carter first addressing Lei’D Tapa and Gail Kim, then the Bromans, asking them if they understand what they have to do. See, AJ Styles has friends (aww, friends) in the back, and with the deciding title match fast approaching, Dixie is going to distract, root out, and eliminate anyone who could possibly come to his aid. Do I like seeing Joe Park get beat up? Of course not. He should be showered with hugs and given an Andy Richter puppy suit so he’s happy all the time, but I accept it because it’s exactly what needs to happen. By beating up ODB, Kim and Tapa get to act like the assholes they are, assert their dominance, and it takes Eric Young, bearded babyface and potential Styles supporter, out of the picture. This leaves the Bromans to double team Joseph Park, get the victory, and nip any thoughts of rushing to AJ’s defense in the bud. Dixie Carter is a bad, bad lady, and she’s turning her line in the sand into a barb wire fence.
Best: Samoa Joe whoa wait what
No. Really. I am going to best the heck out of Samoa Joe, and not just because he clearly stated that he doesn’t threaten ladies instead of calling her a dumb hosebeast bitch or whatever…well, okay, yes, that’s part of it. Thank you for that. Joe simply stating his intentions and letting her know that he stands with AJ Styles (aw, friends, wrestle friends) is a good match for Dixie’s unf-ckwithable attitude. Both understand what the other is capable of, and neither is going to be intimated. Both look like strong enemies instead of one subjugating the other and making it uncomfortably gender-specific. Hooray! You did it! AND it sets up a match with consummate Best EC3. Even better!
The worst thing that ends up happening when you have a main event storyline like this is that it feels like it exists in a vacuum. You have your main players, and the rest are left to float around on their own, with no connection to the most important thing that’s going on. Dixie systematically eliminating anyone who could be connected to AJ means that those people are suddenly part of the big picture. They serve a purpose. And when was the last time that happened?
Worst: We have stuff in common, wanna fight about it?
James Storm loves to fight! So does Gunner! So does Finlay! We’ve got ourselves a match, but really, I’m just wondering how many pens you could stick in Gunner’s beard before they fell out.
Best: Ethan Carter III vs. Samoa Joe
Is this the most I’ve ever enjoyed a Samoa Joe match? No, but it’s pretty darn close. EC3 goes after Joe’s legs to take out his base for submissions, knowing full well he is a machine made of them. Simple and smart. The match is short, but well-paced, fast, and most importantly, involves puns.
Oh yes. Really.
Rockstar Spud, our intrepid bowtied minion, runs out to interfere. He successfully distracts Joe long enough for EC3 to attack him from behind with a wrench. But then, oh, then EC3 tell Samoa Joe that he’s “thrown a wrench” into his plans.