Hello, and welcome to weekly Impact Wrestling coverage on With Spandex. And also welcome to me, LaToya Ferguson, your recapper and friend. This week, it’s Destination X, an Impact show you might remember as the pay-per-view that gave us such things as Senshi (remember when Low-Ki was Senshi?) defeating THE Austin Starr (remember when Austin Aries was Austin Starr?) in a Crossface Chickenwing match and … I dunno, some match with some guys. Hold on to those memories.
Now for some good housekeeping: You can follow me on Twitter With Spandex here, and Uproxx here. And don’t forget to watch Impact on Pop at 8 pm on Thursdays so you can read these pieces and share them with the online world. How else will people witness my absolute mental breakdown?
Previously: Alberto El Patron was stripped of the GFW Global Championship (yes, I finally figured out the official name!) offscreen, all while GFW was pushing Tyrus versus Kongo Kong and Pope’s appreciation of Dezmond Xavier. Since that airing of this week’s old taping, both Tyrus and Pope have bailed on GFW. I’m sure GFW won’t have any jab at defectors (not even pointed specifically at these two, but still) in this episode though.
Also, I guess Tyrus wasn’t going over Kongo, since going from being a silent bodyguard to having a singles feud would usually count as a good thing — maybe not for the audience though.
ACE: You’ve Still Got It! You’ve Still Got It! You’ve Still Got It! You’ve Still Got It! You’ve Still Got It! You’ve Still Got It! You’ve Still Got It!
Gail Kim versus Sienna for the GFW Knockouts Championship is a good opening match, and while commentary brings up the concept of ring rust when it comes to Gail, that’s clearly not a factor. Commentary also tries to bring up a “bigger, stronger, faster” comparison when talking about Sienna, and while she’s definitely the first two, Gail has the “faster” part down. In fact, this is all basically Gail Kim’s match to win… which is why it makes sense the only way Sienna retains is due to the return of Taryn Terrell aka “The Arch Nemesis of Gail Kim.”
The JBL-esque “You’ve Still Got It!” obviously applies to Gail Kim, but it also applies to everyone’s beloved Hot Mess. For the unaware, Taryn Terrell’s tenure in TNA (after being introduced by Brooke Hogan and everyone wondering, “Oh, isn’t that Tiffany from WWE ECW) involved having great matches and often practically killing herself to do so. The nickname “Hot Mess” is said with all the affection in the world.
(Points deducted for everyone pretending a very pregnant Taryn Terrell wasn’t around for Gail Kim’s Hall of Fame induction just last year, but when there are so many greater things to call out in an episode of Impact, these are definitely the least amount of deducted points.)
EH: Wasn’t This A Pay-Per-View?
This is your weekly reminder that GFW did so well with Slammiversary that all the other crap after the fact sticks out even more.
I understand that Destination X is no longer a pay-per-view, but the key to these former pay-per-views turned weekly shows is that they should still strive to be special. They shouldn’t just be another episode of the show, and that criticism includes long-winded promos from Impact vague onscreen authority figures. Remember when SmackDown did the “Wildcard Finals” at the end of 2016 and we spent the entire build-up clowning on that, because what fuck are the “Wildcard Finals???” Well, that actual show ended up being something pretty special, because — repetition of a still pretty unknown concept aside — it was treated basically like a pay-per-view on free TV. That’s what Destination X (and whatever other former pay-per-view we get next) should feel like and be presented as.
Commercials, I can deal with, but you’ve got to at least try to present all of this as special and not just sometimes say, “oh yeah, this is special.” The name Destination X promises absolute excitement and the way this show is taped, they don’t even have time to edit in replays. Oh yeah — this super duper “live” show was taped, on an hour delay. Words have meaning! Go figure! The one thing that would’ve shown some means of actually trying to make Destination X special and they don’t do it.
It’s not like GFW — and no, I will not call it “the GFW,” Bruce Prichard, since that doesn’t even make sense — edits out botches and inconsistencies in the regularly tape weekly show anyway. So even less editing than usual is really obvious.
EH: Cameras, How Do They Work?
You know the surprise about it being Jim Cornette? It wouldn’t actually be a surprise if the camera operator who first spotted him backstage just lifted the camera up to show Cornette’s head. There’s no in-story reason for it to be filmed this way — especially since Impact’s established world has these camera operators constantly sticking their cameras where they don’t belong to get the dirt — just “This is a choice the people behind Impact made with no actual thought.” Fans may want to praise Impact’s camera style for these backstage things, but this moment is just mind numbingly dumb.
EH: Days Since Last Company “New Day” & Power Struggle: 0
If you want a real example of just how much the GFW folks are making things up on the spot, watch Bruce Prichard cut a promo on what his job description is. That’s right, it took this long for anyone on this show to even address what it is Bruce Prichard does, despite having ample time to do that back when he first showed up to talk about the new day for Impact and how they were all going to make Impact great again.
For those wondering, by the way, Bruce is apparently “a corporate consultant for the GFW” (ugh) and it is his “job to oversee the on-air talent here in the GFW.” The way he delivers those lines come off a lot like a necessary evil, like they just now realized that in all the weeks of his “just because” heel turn and none of the other authority figures doing a damn thing, they never made it clear how he has the authority to even do anything he’s been doing. They also came to the conclusion that wrestling fans (or people just at Universal Studios) care about anyone’s professional title as a corporate consultant, so they’re not great at figuring things out and executing them.
In the same promo, he also calls himself the “head corporate advisor.” Say, do you think a lot of planning was put into any of this?
Then comes Jim Cornette, a “corporate specialist” (shoot me), and a man who a bunch of folks on the internet were buzzing about being back on Impact but no one in the Impact Zone cares an ounce about. No, Jeremy Borash, you saying the crowd is “shocked” does not cover for the fact that no one cares.
Not even accounting for Jim Cornette’s extreme social media and podcast/interview persona, I’m curious why no one remembers Cornette as a man who represents both TNA’s/GFW’s/Impact’s/whatever you want to call it’s incessant need to make COMPANY MANAGEMENT a storyline (say what you will about WWE, but “general manager” and “commissioner” will never sound as sterile as “corporate specialist” or “management director”) and the champion Davey Richards era of Ring of Honor. Cornette’s a man with stories and is a fountain of knowledge… but he’s not someone you get to usher you into a new day. He’s just a sign GFW will be going on about another new day in a couple of months. Also, he compared Kenny Omega to Hitler, so GTFO of here with that garbage.
For a company that talks a lot about its new days and looking toward the future, the people they hire to mold the company aren’t exactly bastions of the future. They have a certain mentality about wresting — whether it’s something as tedious as “funny don’t make money” or that women shouldn’t try to be wrestling “like the men” — that, even if they can put them aside for good of the future of the promotion, they’re always going to hold on to those ideas.
Anyway, Alberto El Patron is done with GFW, I guess. They sure made certain to call him out in this segment, though I hope everyone reading this remembers: GFW is stupid for putting faith in Alberto El Patron in the first place. The erratic behavior, the drunk Periscopes, the repeated no-shows. Alberto’s unreliability was almost as well-documented as every power struggle in the history of Impact Wrestling.
I can’t wait to see what embarrassing faction Bruce Prichard comes back with to take control of the company that fired him.
EH: Earplugs, Anyone?
If you were to tell me the word “shrill” was invented to first describe Karen Jarrett specifically, I would believe you. I’d also tell you, “I don’t even know what Karen Jarrett is shrieking about right now.” I know, I know, there are a million things wrong with me saying both of those things. But like I said: Words have meaning, and Karen Jarrett is best defined by those words.
She tells Bruce Prichard he’s “sticking [his] nose in places it doesn’t belong.” Are we supposed to know what that means? Does it have to do with their secret argument which has so far yielded no actual reason for existing? Actually, don’t answer that. Let’s not given Karen or Bruce a reason to be on the show.
EH: Easy ACE, Pt. 2: The Super X Cup Finals
I’d say I’m surprised that Impact lost all its gas when it came to the two most important matches in the Super X Cup — the final two matches — but I’m not. The last semi-finals match saw Impact brick and easy lay-up in making ACH versus Ishimori as important or even good as it should’ve been, so of course they do the same thing for the actual finals.
People (erroneously) say the indies are just guys wrestling, but if the guys in the “minor leagues” are doing a better job on basic commentary than the ones who get paid the medium bucks, then maybe Impact should get some of them here. Pope’s gone now, and while he was really not a good commentator, he wasn’t a David Otunga type who actively harmed the commentary; so now it’s not like JB and Josh Mathews can bounce back from that, because he wasn’t dragging them down in the first place. They just need to step it up or get gone. Also, maybe choose something other than the finals (and every round, really) of your X-Division tournament on what was supposed to be your X-Division pay-per-view to be the match where you promote everything else.
Also, if “just guys wrestling” was enough to sell a match, these last two Super X Cup matches would light things up. It’s not until much later in the match that JB even really addresses what these two men are fighting for: Xavier wants to put the X-Division and X-Division Champion on notice, while Ishimori wants to bring prestige and fame to Japan. If only there were, like, these videos you could play before the match to make sure the audience knows that going in. And if only commentary treated this like a big deal and not just another match. And if only Xavier and Ishimori (sorry guys) worked like this a big deal and not just another match.
This wasn’t even a big tournament: There’s no excuse for the amount of phoning it in, whether it came to presentation, commentary, or the in-ring work. Xavier and Ishimori have a fine match here. But “fine” is basically mediocre (for wrestlers of their caliber) considering the circumstances.
ACE: By The Way
Thanks to commentary during the Super X Cup finals, we know GFW is planning to launch its own network a la the WWE Network or New Japan World, the Global Wrestling Network. Also, Pluto streaming app is about to have an Impact Wrestling channel.
Pro tip: If you have Pluto on Roku, you can already watch pretty much non-stop TNA (with some WWE movies peppered in) on their pro wrestling channel. So it will just be a matter of time before they officially dub it the Impact Wrestling channel.
“Whenever somebody leaves this company, they’ve always got something to say. But you’re not gonna hide behind a keyboard. You’re not gonna talk to the poop sheets. You’re not gonna be, as the boys call it, a mark, and talk about it on Twitter or Instagram.”
He forgot to add, “You’re not gonna get a job that pays you on time and then finally reveal you were lying before about how Impact never paid you late!” I don’t know why this just came to me, but … Remember how adamant Matt Hardy and Mike Bennett had been before that TNA actually paid them on time? What assholes, right, Joseph Park?
ACE: Justice For McKenzie Mitchell
Like Jabberjaw and Rodney Dangerfield before her, McKenzie Mitchell gets no respect. Now this is the type of power struggle Impact should get behind: McKenzie reclaiming her power against the Impact talent who constantly insult her and treat her like she’s not even a real journalism.
She watches the product, guys. Cut her some slack. It’s hard.
EH: You’re The Lamest
Last week, I called both Sonjay Dutt and Trevor Lee lame. But it was solely out of love, as it was actually an ACE — their respectively failure at basic things and delusions of grandeur are beautifully lame.
This week, Sonjay’s lameness manifests itself in a different way, which in proving is that he really can’t do anything by himself. He won in India because of the power of India, he beat Low-Ki in the rematch because he yanked Low-Ki’s dumb target known as a tie, he got his title stolen and couldn’t even think to talk to an authority figure who’s not Bruce Prichard to settle things. (Although, he probably went to Dutch “Squeaks” Mantell, saw him moderating a weird pow-wow about who’s the second to last worst wrestler on the roster or something and decided to press his luck against Impact’s notoriously shoddy security.)
So who gets him out of a jam, as he’s about to lose a championship he shouldn’t have even had to put up in this type of match? The answer is “The Canadian Destroyer” Petey Williams. (Bruce Prichard getting fired means Sonjay should’ve gone to Jim Cornette and asked if Anthem Sports would put an end to this whole fiasco. But Sonjay’s lame, so, you know.) But the thing is, even after Petey takes Caleb Konley (who is now Team Trevor Lee), Sonjay is so close to actually losing you’ve got to kind of wish he would. He’s just an embarrassing champion, and as the crowd’s reaction to Petey proves, he’s not even more over than the guy who’s most memorable for: 1. One wrestling move. 2. Scott Steiner cosplay.
I’ve said before, I have fond memories about old TNA, but a lot of that fondness comes from discovering awesome new wrestlers more than seeing ones I already knew. I flipped past the channel the one time I saw Billy Gunn and K-Kwik in some segment on TNA, but I stayed the other time when I saw Kevin Nash talking to some snarky young guy I’d never seen before, talking about a division I wanted to learn more about. Petey Williams’ return got the pop of the night, and I don’t begrudge the Impact Zone for that. But maybe instead of bringing back people from the past — and hey, way to finally appreciate the TNA originals you had — they focus on getting the crowd to care about the new guys.
For all my problems with the way the Super X Cup went down, the crowd loves Dezmond Xavier and want him to be a star. Yes, Trevor Lee and Caleb Konley are the type of young guys you want people to discover with this show. But Impact’s track record and GFW’s initiative to bring back wrestlers they remembered people liked on their show never bode too well on that front.
EH: Who Even Watches The Product?
As far as Caleb Konley as presented lately goes, in all of his “What’s His Deal?” form, there’s been absolutely no onscreen relationship between him and Trevor Lee. Caleb is a plucky loser who may or may not have a mask fetish (just like RELLIK may or may not be KILLER spelled backwards). He’s a North Carolina boy just like Trevor Lee, but them being friends or friendly has never been part of the equation. That doesn’t mean he and Trevor couldn’t have come up with a deal — in fact, it’s a nice touch during Trevor’s entrance for him to tell Caleb to stay back, even though commentary doesn’t address it at all — for Caleb to help.
The problem is JB pushing a narrative about Trevor Lee and Caleb Konley developing a relationship lately, one that that “we” have supposedly seen. Caleb Konley’s not even on the show enough to actually form any relationships, especially not with Trevor Lee, who’s regularly featured on the show. Unless Caleb Konley has John Cena cloaking abilities, this has not been happening, and GFW has just gone straight to “I dunno. Make something up.” as a way to try to sell its stories.
EH: Ohio Versus Do Overs
I say this as someone who can enjoy a good OI4K/Crist brothers match: This was all a bad idea.
Jake and Dave Crist’s entrance is kind of cringey, but it’s something that can get better with time. The booking of the debut match is sadly here to stay. The problem being, instead of a match to make oVe look good, it was a match to make oVe and their friends (Jason Cade and Zachary Wentz) look good. This should’ve been destruction on oVe’s part, but I guess no one ever taught the Crist brothers to be selfish as wrestlers, and what we get is Zachary Wentz kneeing the hell out of Jake Crist in the opening seconds of the match, discombobulating the guy for the entire match, the crowd chanting “LET’S GO JOBBER” at Wentz, and oVe looking like… Well, if I were unfamiliar with all four of these men and saw this match live at the Impact Zone, I’d be all in on Wentz and Cade (and surprised oVe won).
Not to use YouTube as a primary source, but:
(Even there, no one like V.O.W.)
Also, JB mentions the Young Bucks on commentary, and I was offended on their behalf. If Impact’s going to mention the Bucks, they should only refer to them “Generation Me” and live with the choices they made. They should also elaborate when they say that Jake and Dave Crist’s personalities are completely different, because there’s literally nothing but commentary’s dumb words to explain this to us, and they’re not even doing that.
EH: Pro Wrestling Is Fake, Pt. 3: MMA = Money, Wrestling = Poop Emoji
Um, so the American Top Team guy who choked out Brian Hebner … ? Does he not know pro wrestling’s fake? I guess he doesn’t watch Impact, as this is the third week in a row of them reminding us how fake it all is. Also, MMA is where the money is. ALSO, wasn’t the story that ATT would be happy if Lashley lost, because it would push him more towards MMA? You lost a fake sport, Bobby — walk it off.
Beside the Lashley/MMA stuff, I think my biggest problem with this story is that it’s basically the Lashley/Eddie Edwards story again, only without a title (and with a weird subplot where they’re fighting to be the third best wrestler). Everything Lashley says about Matt Sydal, especially when it comes to X-Division stuff and corny expressions like “flapping his gums,” are pretty much verbatim from that story. It’s not even a matter of Lashley hypocrisy, it’s just bad storytelling. Plus, all that Lashley/MMA stuff telegraphed Sydal’s win, so bad storytelling on top of bad storytelling.
ACE: I Guess He Finally Finished
EC3 is back — barely — for this week’s show, so we can assume he and ol’ Grandy finally tired each other out. No, I won’t let this ship die.
ACE: The Thursday Night Delight
Johnny Mundo/John Morrison/Johnny Nitro/Johnny Blaze/Johnny Spade/John Hennigan is coming to Impact Wrestling, and given his past resume: At least he won’t embarrass the company and have to be stripped during his eventual title reign.
But more seriously, the man now known as Johnny Impact is something to look forward to in a company that is more than content repeating history. Impact Wrestling logic says he wins next week’s 20-man Gauntlet For Gold, especially after Cornette’s promo about new guys not getting hotshotted right to the top. It’s just Impact’s way. But like I said, I least he won’t embarrass the company. I just need them to get to a Johnny Impact/EC3 feud sooner rather than later. You know, before Johnny just stops appearing on the show and Impact never addresses it, even when he ends up having a GFW title of some sort. (Remember Cody and Brandi Rhodes? What are they up to these days?)
ACE: The POP TV Movie Of The Week Gets Me
The post-Impact movie of the week was Lethal Weapon, a movie that I clearly needed. “I’m getting too old for this shit,” indeed.