Hello, and welcome to weekly Impact Wrestling — that’s what this is, it probably won’t change again — coverage on With Spandex. And also welcome to me, LaToya Ferguson, your recapper and friend.
Now for some good housekeeping: You can follow me on Twitter here, With Spandex here, and Uproxx here. And don’t forget to watch Impact Wrestling on Pop at 8 pm on Thursdays so you can read these pieces and share them with the online world.
Previously: Literally none of it matters.
EH: Failure’s Not Flattering (What’s Your Problem)
Because of when I started writing these recaps, Slammiversary XV is an Impact Wrestling pay-per-view near and dear to my heart. I still look back at that pay-per-view and see it as a great show from top to bottom, still surprised it was even a fraction as good as it was considering iffy storytelling leading up to the show.
But post-Slammiversary storytelling — and Impact Wrestling, in general — has been a mess. A shitshow, even. And in a way, even that could be described as “from top to bottom.” I’ve written thousands upon thousands of words about the mess Impact Wrestling has been on a weekly basis, so I don’t need to reiterate on every front right here.
But even with that mess, I’d hoped the promotion would pull a Slammiversary and pull a creative rabbit out of a hat for Bound For Glory. After all, Bound For Glory is this company’s WrestleMania. And while that particular comparison may mean something rather disappointing depending on your stance on WrestleMania these days, one thing should be taken from it: Bound For Glory, no matter the match quality, should always feels like a larger than life spectacle. It should never feel small or like an episode of #ImpactOnPOP.
If only most of Bound For Glory could be so lucky to even have a fraction of the quality of an episode of Impact Wrestling. Instead, we’re welcome to the new normal for the promotion, which is a lot of the same (of course because #LOLTNA) but also somehow worse. New referees who are absolutely not on the level (or even have the combined experience) of all the referees who just left Impact Wrestling; a new ring announcer who both doesn’t know the product and can’t announce without blowing up his voice; an inability to get working mics for backstage segments.
These are all just basic things you’d expect a professional wrestling company — with television deals — to get right. And they’re just scratching the surface of the problems with this show and this company. You can’t blame pre-taping for this; it’s a live show. You can’t blame Jeff Jarrett for this; he’s completely gone. By the way, the Bound For Glory pay-per-view video package is the same stuff we’ve been seeing on television for months. They couldn’t even shoot more footage in those Global Chamber Rooms for this.
What is it about this company that, even with new people in charge and behind-the-scenes, it still repeats the same mistakes?
ACE: All Downhill From Here
Bound For Glory starts off extremely hot. It does everything it possibly can after that hot start to cool it down, but for a moment, Bound For Glory is on fire. The biggest thing from the non-wrestling parts of this match — other than Trevor Lee’s new “Cult Of Lee” tron and Josh Mathews mentioning Trevor’s PWG credentials — is the Ottawa crowd’s love and devotion to Petey Williams. “The Canadian Destroyer” is easily the most over person on this entire card. He’s even busting out the original Team Canada theme and a Sharpshooter just to prove how Canadian is! So it’s disappointing when he loses, but it’s in a way where it makes sense: “Genius” Trevor Lee naturally capitalizes on Petey’s work to get the pin on Dezmond Xavier.
This X-Division match is “different” from the one this past Thursday because it’s a title match and it’s lucha rules, a concept Josh Mathews barely understands but still spends the first quarter of the match trying to explain to the audience. When he realizes there are tags after going about how there are no tags — classic Josh Mathews. However, even though the rules are slightly different (not that anyone’s following them by the end of the match), the match is still very, very good. It’s an outlier for this pay-per-view both from a quality standpoint and the heat of the crowd.
Dezmond Xavier remains unreal in the ring, Trevor Lee is a jerk who tries to start “USA” chants in Canada — the crowd even chants “X-DIVISION.” Remember all of this when you read excuses about Impact Wrestling not mic-ing the crowd properly, because there was no problem at all when it came to hearing them during this match. For good reason.
By the way, after I questioned Garza Jr.’s ability to perform at the same level as his opponents (after his performance on the go-home episode of Impact Wrestling), we get an definitive answer here. And the answer is: “No.” Because Garza shows up this match with a taped up shoulder and basically has to wrestle (and remove his pants) with one arm, making him the weak man in the match even more than when he’s 100%. He also hasn’t learned how to avoid the hard camera when he’s just standing around, waiting for his spot either. Laredo Kid did not die for all of this disappointment.
EH: It’s Not Your Fault
Doctor Philfer Tyme? Paging Doctor Philfer Tyme.
This was probably a good match. It’s hard to tell though, as it was 100% in service of Laurel Van Ness’ “storyline.” Even worse, there’s actually no reason for her to show up during this match. There’s no reason her introduction couldn’t have just been during the Monster’s Ball match, considering she doesn’t get involved in this or any other match. And Tyson Dux, who commentary goes on about being the hottest free agent in all of Canada loses this match. Meaning Canada officially sucks and the first two matches of this card put Canadian talent 0-2. And while the first one makes sense, this one doesn’t.
Impact Wrestling didn’t even announce this filler match. They also didn’t think to put Global Forged winner Hakim Zane — who they do show sitting in the crowd — make his in-ring debut here instead. And it’s not as though what they do with Rosemary (who doesn’t get her match) is worth it, because like Moose, Impact Wrestling appears to be dedicated to making her look like an absolute dweeb. To the point where I have to use the word “dweeb.”
EH: This Disaster
How dare Impact Wrestling suspend Alberto El Patron for being part of a very public domestic violence investigation? How dare they not just believe him and look even more unprofessional by doing absolutely nothing? There, in those two sentences, I got Alberto El Patron’s return promo down — didn’t even have to take longer than the Knockouts Championship match.
This never ending rant also includes Alberto voicing his displeasure with Jeremy Borash not calling him. In fact, they set up Alberto’s heel turn by having JB essentially disavow any relationship with him when Josh Mathews mentions him being “a big supporter” of Alberto. Alberto physically intimidates JB, which leads to JB repeatedly bringing up how intimidating Alberto was all night long.
Alright, um: Based on what we’ve seen simply on Impact Wrestling television, when exactly were Alberto El Patron and Jeremy Borash friends? This promo spends a considerable amount of time on Alberto’s broken friendship with JB, but based on literally Alberto’s entire onscreen career in Impact Wrestling, these two have zero connection. It’s the opposite of Gail Kim/Jeremy Borash.
And surprise, surprise: After cutting this entire promo and promising to mess up the main event, Alberto El Patron shows up at the end of the show, to mess up the main event. (He calls Eli Drake a “paper champion,” so of course he makes sure he wins. I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense. It’s just bad.) This has been expected since the announcement of his return, but it’s amazing that this company just can’t help itself when it comes to clusterfuck finishes. Especially when it’s actually a big show.
Also, because they just can’t seem to learn their lesson, the pay-per-view ends by immediately returning Alberto El Patron to the main event. He’s the final image you see as this show ends. Johnny Impact winning clean would’ve been a better option, because at least he has a history of being a reliable employee. Alberto El Patron has none of that and apparently doesn’t even have to prove he can be one before this company makes him a focal point again.
EH: Barbed Wire
I should say more than that, right? Fine.
This match is a worse version of that One Night Only Monster’s Ball match Abyss and Grado had last year. Commentary even says Grado’s never been in a match like this, so it’s truly deja vu all over again. (Commentary — meaning Josh — also calls this match “bedlam,” but what else is new?)
What I’m saying is: This match is the Gus Van Sant Psycho of wrestling matches. And the one thing anyone expected of it — for it to be saved by pre-tape shenanigans — doesn’t happen because Impact Wrestling apparently doesn’t have the resources to show video on the screens in the venue. (This becomes a problem for the tag match, both with a “CAN’T SEE SHIT” chant and no one realizing Sami Callihan is oVe’s third man. People in attendance reportedly didn’t realize Jimmy Jacobs debuted until after they read recaps, also because of this.) And because someone at this company thinks Grado is a capable wrestler and Abyss isn’t a broken down wrestler. That person is JB, isn’t it?
As I’ve already said, Laurel Van Ness interfering makes sense — she deserves to get her revenge on Grado, though there’s really no reason for any of her “lookin’ for a man” stuff these past weeks. (And if they do create a payoff to that, there’s still no reason. Trust me.) What makes less sense is Rosemary interfering in the match to attack Laurel and … make the save for Grado? But then to also heel turn (?) by siding with Abyss, a monster you might remember she brainwashed to form Decay. But then she accidentally mists Abyss and he accidentally chokeslams her into thumbtacks, so I guess she’s a face (?) again (?). Because this isn’t enough, there’s a miscommunication between the referee and the time keeper, and it looks like Grado wins. But he doesn’t, because Abyss has to win with an awful Black Hole Slam. Of course, this is a match with a stipulation that only applies if Impact Wrestling returns to the United States for tapings, so it means nothing.
Somehow, all of that makes this less embarrassing in comparison:
EH: Such A Mess
I may write about Brian Hebner being The Worst Ref, but come on. He’s an accomplished professional who I only call out either: 1. When he’s just being The Worst in an intentional way to the story of the match, or. 2. When I notice him making obvious mistakes (and Impact Wrestling catching it on camera, which is their mistake too) he should know better about. He’d at least know how to count someone pinning two wrestlers on top of each other or that Triple Threat matches are No DQ.
Bright side? At least the child referee on this show doesn’t ruin the finish like the referee in the Monster’s Ball match.
ACE?: My Friends Over You
Fun fact: Based on the pre-match interview, James Storm has absolutely no idea what Eddie Edwards and EC3’s titles are called. In the case of EC3 though, who could blame him? Plus, at least James Storm would know how to introduce EC3 during his entrance if given the chance, without stopping and starting over because he couldn’t see his note cards in the dark.
So, this match finally happened. And it happened on Bound For Glory instead of an episode of #ImpactOnPOP. Yes, Bound For Glory 2017 basically is an episode of weekly Impact Wrestling — but longer and for a fee — but at least most of the matches try to create the illusion it’s not. It doesn’t really work, but they try. But seriously, what exactly is gained from either Team Impact or Team AAA winning? I can tell you, since Team Impact wins, the answer is nothing. I mean, this is a match where the crowd chants “AAA” and “LUCHA LIBRE,” so clearly they didn’t get the memo about battle lines and the way they were particularly drawn.
This is an ACE though, simply because it’s finally over. Unsurprisingly, the non-Pagano parts of this match are decent (Texano) to good (everyone else). EC3 sells the whole “ego” storyline in the match, even though it’s just more of this storyline conveniently forgetting the part of it where EC3 shook James Storm in solidarity. Which is weird, because that’s in all the video packages for this feud. EC3 also does his best to rile the crowd up once he gets into the ring, but that obviously doesn’t happen. They had to sit through everything before this match, remember?
Really, this is all just worth it for James Storm and EC3 drinking beer in the ring while Eddie Edwards recovers from being murdered by El Hijo Del Fantasma, only for Storm to eventually pour some beer into ghost Eddie’s mouth.
Also: Pagano is awful. Just plain bad. The ghost of Eddie Edwards should be offended that Impact Wrestling considered this guy his AAA equivalent in this feud. EC3 was right to tell James Storm to “kick his fucking head off.”
ACE: Head On Collision
Ortiz and Santana become a team of two Jeff Hardys in this match, and that’s awesome. As are their chic “51” and “50” jerseys they wrestle in. Nice touch indeed.
And while this right here is technically an EH for just being another lame oVe thing, it’s so hilarious it has to be an ACE: Jake Crist setting up chairs to superplex Ortiz, only to overshoot it and hit all the chairs himself. Ouch, yes — but after seeing Jake Crist slip and legitimately tombstone AR Fox on a chair earlier this year, it’s interesting to see a move not go his way in a completely different fashion. (It’s certainly less scary.)
It’s … It’s Bound For Glory in a nutshell.
As for the double turn and officially turning oVe heels, it makes sense and appears to be the case even before the post-match stuff: At one point, JB says that Konnan had apparently “found respect for oVe.” Of course, this is a “FOOTAGE NOT FOUND” situation because that literally never happened in this storyline, but it’s a line that plants the seeds of a turn. Plus, no one should ever be told to like oVe, so it works out perfectly. After all, this is the first match where oVe truly look worthy of being champions … but it’s also because of the work LAX puts into making their opponents look like a million bucks. Of all the talk about this match before the finish, the only oVe talk is the botched superplex.
EH: Happy Being Miserable
First of all, let’s never forgive JB for saying, “WE’VE SEEN THAT THUMB BEFORE.”
The entire concept of the 5150 Street Fight was that all of LAX (sans Low-Ki, who died on his way back to his home planet of Laycool) would be fighting. While it makes sense and adds intrigue for Sami Callihan to jump a Homicide body double before the match, since Diamante is also not there, the entire point of the match is gone before it even starts. Then we’re shown that oVe (just the Crists) can barely survive a match that’s essentially two-on-two, with Konnan hobbling around. The finish — with Sami’s reveal and official debut — wouldn’t even work if the crowd could see what’s going on, because it’s literally Sami single handedly taking out all three members of LAX and oVe making the cover.
ACE: All About Her
This match is fine. That’s enough reason for an ACE here, because like so much of this show, there’s no larger than life aspect (or even just “life”) to it. There’s no reason they shouldn’t have put Rosemary in this match, just like there’s no reason Alberto El Patron’s promo should’ve lasted longer than this match. By the way, as Josh Mathews goes on about the Canadian history Gail Kim will make if she wins this match, he apparently doesn’t realize that Allie is also Canadian. She’s even wearing red gear with the maple leaf, so it’s confusing how he misses it, but it’s true.
Still, the crowd wants the ‘more Canadian’ Gail Kim to win, so at least Impact Wrestling gives them what they want with this match. They also deliver by not having KM show up, despite Gail Kim’s entire argument against Sienna’s championship reign being that Sienna uses KM to retain. Well, Sienna is the one who Gail pins, so I guess that means she was right.
EH: The Goodbye Song
This show is the 10 year anniversary of the Knockouts Championship. This show is Gail Kim’s last Bound For Glory. This show has Gail Kim beating the record for most Knockouts Championship reigns. Gail Kim’s celebration barely lasts 10 seconds before they cut right to American Top Team garbage. There are no post-Bound For Glory videos about Gail’s celebration on the Impact Wrestling YouTube. Can’t say the same about American Top Team. “YOU DESERVE IT!”
EH: At Least I’m Known For Something
Words cannot describe my appreciation for Jimmy Jacobs as a talent and a storyteller. I probably wouldn’t even be writing about professional wrestling had I not fallen in love with independent wrestling, and Jimmy Jacobs was a huge part of that love. But his “debut” involves an interaction with the worst wrestling commentary team on television. Remember, I started off begrudgingly addressing how bad oVe has been in Impact Wrestling, and I only “kind of liked” them outside of this company. Now Jimmy Jacobs is making an “unprofessional” — because that’s his thing now — entrance and Josh Mathews is smirking at his own lame selfie jokes about the guy.
EH: Anthem For The Unwanted
Are you surprised that the Bound For Glory crowd doesn’t care when this match is about MMA guys Stephan Bonnar and King Mo instead of Lashley and (especially) Moose? Even though Josh Mathews salivates over that “MMA dream match” and the very existence of Colby Covington? If you are, you really were too caught up in how “legit” this American Top Team storyline has been to see just how detrimental it’s been to this company and its stars. And now that we know it’s not — and possibly never — ending, it’ll be great to see more people go on about how Dan Lambert is a revelation, ignoring how his promos are 98% about himself, 2% about the stupid crowd, and 0% about the actual in-ring talent. Remember when Lashley was more than a non-playable character on Impact Wrestling?
And despite being the only saving grace of this match, Moose goes out on his back to confirm what this entire storyline has said every single week: He’s a chump who can’t take on real fighters. Or criticism, apparently:
At least he got another good entrance out of it.
ACE: Ending In Tragedy
Johnny Impact is still trying to get “sneaky meatheads” over and that’s bad, but at least this match is good. Until, you know, the thing. (But I’ve already written about the EH that is Alberto El Patron, so I might as well end this on a high note.)
As I’ve mentioned before, Eli Drake does a phenomenal job selling the … um, impact of Johnny Impact’s twirly, flippy offense. And in this particular match, Johnny Impact comes prepared with even more of that offense for Eli Drake to take. Hell, Eli even sells Johnny doing this:
Who does that? Seriously? Again, Eli Drake gets to show off he has some athleticism of his own, even if he’s not sliding under barricades. Commentary even correctly points out that Johnny has gotten Eli to wrestle his own match, which isn’t exactly something you get a lot of. It’s a reminder that all of Eli’s bluster re: Johnny is just that — even though he got the upperhand on him like a true psycho on the go-home show — and it makes Eli Drake’s eventual victory not feel like such a forgone conclusion.
Now imagine if Eli Drake had found a way to win (while still cheating) without Alberto El Patron coming in and Impact Wrestling making him the focus on this match? Chris Adonis’ interferences in this match are so blatant that the referee should have ejected him, and had he done so and the match carried on without interference, it would be an interesting dynamic to see. Then again, that probably would’ve meant Johnny Impact would win.
But that’s not what happens because of literally everything I’ve written about this pay-per-view and this wrestling promotion. Because the “biggest show of the year” should obviously be in service to upcoming months of taped television that’ll probably be obsolete weeks into airing, not a culmination of all the (poorly told, anyway) stories leading up to it. If this sounds like an anticlimactic conclusion to this recap, excellent. I’ve gotten the tone just right then.
Now it’s your turn. Please don’t forget to share this recap, because otherwise I won’t be able to keep these up. And I am really not at a point in my life where I can afford to lose this coverage.