Hello, and welcome to weekly GFW Impact coverage on With Spandex. And also welcome to me, LaToya Ferguson, your recapper and friend. I really mean that. I want you to consider me your friend. Just don’t look me directly in the eye when you speak to me. Also, don’t speak to me.
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 on Pop at 8 pm on Thursdays so you can read these pieces and share them with the online world.
Previously: GFW messed with the space-time continuum, and I was tasked with trying to make sense of it all.
ACE: Trevor Lee Top Team
Trevor Lee is great. So great that he made that whole “I stole the title, so I’m the champ now — ask R-Truth” thing kind of work. Of course, it was only his parts of that that kind of worked, but the point remains: Trevor Lee is great. For some reason, a good portion of Trevor Lee’s Impact Wrestling career consisted of him being a lapdog for Shane Helms (meaning Andrew Everett was of course the lap-BIG DAWG), but now the tables have turned as Trevor Lee has his own protege in Caleb Konley.
So now Caleb dresses and walks to the ring like Trevor, but even that’s not enough. During the match, Trevor’s just shouting orders at Caleb Konley — yes, Konley, not “Connelly,” commentary — telling him to do basic things, like “GET HIM” or “CALEB! I’M READY TO GET IN!” This company still hasn’t done a bit of work to explain the union (other than “North Carolina”), but you can’t say Trevor Lee isn’t putting in the work. Trevor Lee always puts in the work.
EH: Awesome, Josh Mathews Is Right
If the intent is for Josh Mathews to be right about Sonjay Dutt relying on Petey Williams because he can’t do anything on his own, then congratulations. I can’t wait until the reveal that Sonjay being booked as a complete loser who can’t do anything right outside of India was totally the plan all along.
EH: These Are The Matches They DON’T Put On The Air
Okay, the matches themselves are actually varying levels of ACES, and I’ll let you know why. First is the X-Division matches that apparently fell into the Creative Has Nothing For You/Super X Cup Doesn’t Need More Color, Just Keep Saying Super X Cup realm of things. Remember, the Super X Cup was the best Davey Richards has been in ages, and this Xplosion match reminds us of that:
Yes, Kongo Kong is bad. Yes, KM is also not great. But you know what? Naomichi Marufuji and Eddie Edwards are not in the same boat, even if they’re put in the same match with these guys.
Also, for laughs: Remember when Impact Wrestling was trying to make El Hijo De Dos Caras a thing? That thing being “Alberto El Patron’s brother”? This match clearly exists from that timeline:
EH: Brian Hebner Is STILL The Worst Referee Ever
This EH was literally just a note I wrote off to the margins of the rest of my notes. I’m pretty sure this has to do more with the Xplosion matches than the main event full of fuckery, but it’s also a pretty evergreen EH.
ACE to EH to maybe ACE again: LAX: We Get The Job Done
I was going to directly quote Hamilton there, but then I didn’t want to make assumptions about LAX’s citizenship status.
Anyway, this is how to take down a team of jobbers. Zachary Wentz does not ring anyone’s bell in this match either, so that works. This is just a straight up beatdown, and you’d think LAX was the new team on the block the way they take their opponents of the week down.
As I’ve pointed out, the first oVe match primarily suffered from it clearly being an attempt on oVe’s part to make their friends look good too, and the following matches highlighted a need to get acclimated to the Impact style of wrestling. But now they’re challenging LAX for the tag titles at The Crash in Tijuana, so I suppose there’s no need to worry about that acclimation problem now, right? I realize it’s supposed to sound cool (both in terms of being different and part of the Global Force) and possibly dangerous for oVe … but after what I pointed out about oVe in Impact, this feels more like an attempt to mask their current weaknesses. Which is technically good, because that’s something wrestling should do — play up strengths and mask the weaknesses — but if you need to mask those very glaring weaknesses at this point, maybe they shouldn’t even have a title match yet? That’s the problem with recording so many weeks in advance — the tepid (at best) response to oVe tells us they’re not ready, but Impact already made and taped a course of action.
Then again, Veterans of War got two title matches, and that team’s all weakness.
By the way, +1 to oVe’s “family” promo and Konnan calling out their meth head look, but negative infinity to Konnan’s oVe/”ovaries” joke.
ACE: Taryn Terrell Top Team
Based on all my praise of Trevor Lee on this week’s show, I think it’s only fair for me to call Taryn Terrell the Trevor Lee of the Knockouts division. And not just because they both have such great hair. Plus, “Top Team” works for so many things, so I guess that’s one ACE to come out of the Lashley MMA storyline.
Props go to all the women in this tag match, but the key aspects of the match are really the result of all things Taryn Terrell:
- Gail Kim immediately making her entrance with murder on the brain and her eyes set on Taryn, to the point where Allie has to actually hold her back
- Taryn spending the entire match making Sienna do all the work, then acting like she just went through an Iron Man match when she puts in random spurts of 20 seconds offense
- Taryn’s post-match “HOLD ME BACK” gestures behind Sienna as Taya approaches the ring
Okay, Sienna doing “SUCK IT” to Allie — with her pinkies out — is one key aspect that has nothing to do with Taryn Terrell.
ACE: Way To Luck Into This Working
So, Taya Valkyrie’s debut. It’s a success on its own, but here’s what I mean about Impact lucking into it work. The way she slowly walks to the ring after Rosemary has just gotten her ass kicked implies nothing but heel for the debuting Taya. In fact, despite the way she reacts to this entrance, there is no actual reason for Rosemary to get excited and think that business is about to pick up (in her favor).
What makes it work, strangely enough, is knowing what just happened at TripleMania and even some basic AAA nonsense. When you go into this moment with all that on the brain, there’s a layer of logic where it actually makes perfect sense that Taya would help out a stranger like Rosemary. Kind of like an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” situation. Plus, one person thinks she’s a demon and another thinks she’s a valkyrie. These weirdos are perfect for each other.
Then you throw in the fact that, despite the problems with Impact’s taping schedule and basic ability to plan things around that, the image of Rosemary even coming to the ring to save Allie and Gail in the first place (post-Sexy Star incident) ends up feeling kind of badass. Congratulations on something bad accidentally ending up making your storytelling look logical, Impact Wrestling.
EH: LOL Wrestling Matters Here
As we all know, the two best things to come from the Bound For Glory Series were:
- The line “Why is daddy cheating,” from Bobby Roode’s wife (while quoting their child). Yes, that was never in the series itself, but it was all based on the aftermath of that aftermath. It checks out.
- TNA not really knowing how their own system works, because they’re a wrestling company, not a math company.
The creation of the series itself was a major part of TNA’s “Wrestling Matters Here” image campaign at the time. If you don’t remember that campaign, that was when TNA would try to prove it cares more about wrestling than WWE does by airing multiple videos of fans and the talent saying how much TNA cares about wrestling, instead of showing wrestling.
The first three matches mentioned here are the only matches on this show besides the main event. Think about that. These matches go back-to-back-to-back, and one of them is an absolute squash — while the other two are just fodder for the larger stories they’re telling. Everything from the end of the Knockouts post-match segment to Eli Drake versus Matt Sydal is all talk, no action. Or, slightly better, just talk about action. That’s weird, right? I actually had to check my notes thrice to make sure I didn’t miss a match. The closest we get to more action is in the Jim Cornette/Johnny Impact/LAX segment, and the action is a means to Cornette shoutin about a cat on a hot tin roof or something.
The lack of wrestling isn’t even so much a problem as the poor structure of it all is. Three shorts matches at the beginning and then no match until the main event. The Gauntlet For The Gold show had the main event take up the entire second hour, and even the actual placement of segments and matches in that was pretty solid in comparison.
So yeah, this show isn’t heavy on actual wrestling — even going as far as just not having a match that technically was supposed to be on the show — instead focusing on recapping (some of) the roster’s work in another promotion. In fact, the recaps mark the returns of both DJ Z and Andrew Everett from injury before either one has set foot back in the Impact Zone. Welcome back, boys. DJ Z, you’ve missed a lot.
A small ACE goes to the Matt Sydal hype video package never once actually showing him talk though. It’s a voiceover, but usually Impact goes to at least one shot of the wrestling speaking. But not here, and it’s a very good example of masking weaknesses. Especially when he calls himself “Transcendent Matt Sydal.” It’s all too much. (You see, Matt Sydal is not a great talker, but he’s especially worse when you have to watch him talk.)
On the other hand, an EH goes to this company just now pointing out that Matt Sydal is undefeated. This is something you should let marinate — not necessarily make the focus though — especially since it should be a big deal Eli Drake beats him. Then again, that whole main event falls in line with the messiness.
AAA: This Is The Show, I Guess
Instead of just one recap to TripleMania, there are multiple recaps, including a belligerent Jeff Jarrett yelling at La Parka for the Sexy Star thing (or just because he’s a belligerent Jeff Jarrett). And in case you were wondering how they would handle the whole Sexy Star/Rosemary thing… they spend a good portion of this time hyping up that segment of the show, only to take less time talking about it then I did explaining the situation (pretty quickly, mind you) to my mother.
Like I wrote last week, very few of us really signed up for Global Force Wrestling, but it’s what we’ve got. And that means recaps of a AAA show. Not even full matches from the show to fill out this show better, just bits of it. Then again, Impact has done worse in the TNA years. Remember (and this was from Destination America through the Billy Corgan era) when they would show recaps of matches (from either earlier in the show or the week before), and the recaps would be 90% of the match, untouched? That was the ultimate waste of time.
For all the Lashley/American Top Team stuff we have to deal with on a weekly basis, naturally, they make sure to bury it in one of these TripleMania recaps. You might think, “Hey, Lashley’s frustration is pretty predominant in the recap,” and you’d be right. But, assuming there are “casual fans” when it comes to Impact, I can’t really see them caring about TripleMania or even really knowing what it is. I can, on the other hand, imagine them fast forwarding through it to get to the actual action of this show or at least not really paying attention to it. Lashley literally drops the “pro wrestling isn’t for me” bomb in this segment, which I’m sure we’ll see again in a video package next week, treated as though it’s brand new information.
EH: Same Old Shit
How many times are they going to have Jim Cornette cut a promo about how things are going to be different around here, only for him to continue to do the same thing every other authority figure in this company has done?
We already know this impartial authority figure has no problem showing favoritism. Eli Drake has a video package where he calls Johnny Impact Jim Cornette’s “golden boy,” only for the show to go right into an in-ring promo where Cornette’s thisclose to giving a Johnny Impact a title match for simply being a “recognized international superstar.” The only thing that stops that is a pissed off Low-Ki and LAX, some accurate (despite Cornette’s protestations) cries of “white privilege,” and the very important tidbit that Johnny hasn’t even won a match yet in the company.
And in this week’s showing of not taking things personally, Jim Cornette punishes them both by putting them in a #1 Contender’s match against each other, getting red faced because they caused “bedlam” (Josh Mathews’ favorite word) over the fact he probably should’ve just put them in a #1 Contender’s match in the first place. Actually, Low-Ki should’ve just been made #1 Contender in the first place, because he already was and the company took away his one-on-one title match. No, I will not get over this: I’m still waiting for Shane McMahon to give AJ Styles his one-on-one title rematch “at a later date.”
ACE: A Pissed Off Low-Ki
“This ain’t WWE, this ain’t Lucha Underground. This is Global Force, bitch.”
Pissed off Low-Ki sounds so amazing — and completely different from typical serious warrior Low-Ki — that he almost makes makes “Global Force” not sound goofy as heck. “BRING HIM TO ME,” he yells, and okay, bring him to Low-Ki. I mean, if Low-Ki yelled that to me, I’d bring anyone to him.
This segment also succeeds in the crowd giving a proper “LET THEM FIGHT” chant, so bring on John Morrison versus Kaval.
EH: Just Deport Grado Already
Grado dumps Laurel (meaning another wedding has failed for the Evanescence enthusiast), so she’s crazy again. If you’ve been keeping up with these recaps, I literally don’t need to write anything more about that. You know what I want to say.
Real talk: Is Grado’s “humor” derived from his accent? Is it like a Fez from That ‘70s Show thing? No actual jokes, but listen to him talk, right? That has to be it.
ACE: ohio Versus Lifelong Friendships Created Through Professional Wrestling
This is great, Dezmond, but I honestly don’t think Sonjay Dutt knows who you are. Have you tried stealing the X-Division Championship?
EH: EC3 Got Screwed (And I’m Not Talking About His Championship)
Jim Cornette said last week that the reason EC3 wouldn’t be a part of (the already lapsed) TripleMania is because he’d be taking on “Fantasma Jr.” … er … El Hijo De Fantasma (who did participate in TripleMania — in the bloody main event that Impact even shows) in a Grand Championship defense. EC3 does not take on El Hijo De Fantasma this week. He does not even show up on Impact at all this week. Will this happen next week? Will this happen at all?
If this shows up on Xplosion, I quit. Also, if you’re wondering if EC3 tweeted anything about this (or the show at all), he did not. So we’ll never know, I guess.
ACE: Impact Comedy’s Top Team
God I wish I had video of this. Whenever we see McKenzie Mitchell, no matter how much the talent insults her, she’s always doing her job to the best of her ability. Even when she’s rejecting Grado. Actually, especially when she’s rejecting Grado, because she’s just trying to do her job. She’s just trying to get by — after all, it is hard being the only one on the show who watches the product.
The only exception is when she’s interacting with The Standby Wrestler Richard Justice.
Think about it. When she first notices him off to the side and doing squats, she asks him what his deal is … and then legit tells him it’s the stupidest thing she’s ever heard. Basically the opposite of professional, really just happy to be here (despite the lack of respect) McKenzie Mitchell. And now when she asks him what’s up this week — after his very losing effort against Kongo Kong last week — she basically asks him why the hell he would even show up. Like, he should’ve just quit. What a jerk, right? It’s so great.
McKenzie Mitchell/Richard Justice is Impact’s true comedy team. In fact, McKenzie is responsible for the funniest thing to come from the entire Grado/LVN storyline:
EH: In The Words Of Ashley Banks, Make Up Your Mind
I’m just trying to figure out: What was the point of Eli Drake winning the Gauntlet For The Gold clean (from the #2) spots and getting a pretty cool nickname in “The Defiant One” out of it if his reign is then going to be constant interference and foreign object shots for the win? You give him the “I told you so” victory — make it secondary to the Lashley stuff — and then go straight to him being an undeserving champion. Why?
When showing their pre-match routines, as well, Eli is getting hyped up, 100% focused on the title. When he cut his celebratory title last week, he talked about basically being angry it took him this long in the first place to reach the top of the mountain. The type of desperation he might show in matches shouldn’t be as simple as, he’s a slimeball heel who always cheats. This match from beginning to end is Eli trying to take shortcuts, like he’s afraid of Matt Sydal. That might be the story Impact wants to tell with his reign, but absolutely nothing until this match has fallen in line with that.
A special ACE goes to that pop-up slam Eli hits on Matt in this match. The transcendent one got hang time so good, I heard this in my head. The match as a whole sadly suffers from being the result of an important #1 Contender’s match … that leads to a title defense where the title obviously won’t change hands.
EH: You. Record. This. In. Post.
As you might remember from … basically all of these recaps: Actually, Jeremy Borash is bad. Specifically, at commentary, to the point where he’s easily able to commit a worse commentary sin than Josh Mathews on this particular week’s Impact. Keep in mind, this is the same Impact episode where, during the first match, my mother felt the need to ask, “Who’s that whiny person?” about Josh’s commentary.
So what does Jeremy do that’s so bad? Well, in explaining the tag team main event from last week — the one that determined whether or not Eli Drake would have to defend his title against Johnny Impact or Eddie Edwards — he says that the tag match featured Johnny Impact and Garza Jr. Garza Jr., as you might remember, was around on last week’s Impact to check on Allie and get sent away by Jerk Boyfriend Braxton Sutter the B.S. Man. He also gets his own profile video package on this week’s show.
But he was most definitely not in the main event. You might even remember that they film all of these episodes in the same span of days, Josh and and Jeremy now record commentary in post-production, and you have to actively not be watching your own product to completely miss this point. This is the same show where they congratulate Eddie Edwards for winning the GHC Championship, yet then they end up erasing him from last week’s main event with a simple messed up line.
Also, continuing the fact that no one at GFW knows how a calendar works, the Eddie Edwards NOAH thing should have been announced last week (especially when you think about how the opening segment was three major champions, not just two).
But congratulations, Eddie. Seriously.
ACE: What About Bob?
Of all the post-Impact Wrestling Pop TV movie choices, this is definitely the most recent. Also, the least onbrand when you factor in things like Fear, almost all things Keanu Reeves (I’m still waiting for Sweet November or Hardball), and Forces Of Nature. But given Pop TV’s brand when it comes to television (Schitt’s Creek is one of the best comedies on TV, okay?!?), it all makes sense. And that’s really all I expect to happen at least once during Impact coverage: For something to make sense, even if it just comes down to Pop TV scheduling.
EH: Glass Houses, Stones, Etc.
“I’m sick of all these old wrestlers coming back. Where were you when we were on Destination America?”
Josh Mathews finds time to insult former Impact home Destination America early on during commentary. They’re all just lucky Dixie Carter isn’t still around to send an ill-conceived email to the Pop TV folks and make Impact go crawling to Investigation Discovery.
Does anyone actually enjoy when Impact/GFW/TNA goes with the petty or unprofessional remarks? Whether it’s this or Joseph Park saying Grado won’t complain about the company to Twitter or the “poop sheets” — if you’re going to break the fourth wall, at least don’t make it a reminder about your company’s failure. Remember that Josh, at his most insufferable, insulted the Impact Zone crowd for not being able to get NXT tickets. Yes, the self-burn of Josh Mathews calling Impact Wrestling lower than WWE’s “developmental” brand aired on television. As it stands, these just reminders of how unprofessional this company — new management can’t erase them still making same mistakes over and over again — can constantly be. Keep in mind, this is what someone within a position of authority retweets when he’s going a social media spree of denying that anything’s wrong in the company:
If you don’t know what John Gaburick looks like, just know the actual joke is that he’d even think he falls more in the David Lee Roth realm of things. No offense to Elvis Costello.
This isn’t another soapbox, but I will say one more thing about this particular brand of Impact unprofessionalism: Every time the Impact staff and wrestlers get super defensive on social media and the like about “lies” and “rumors” from the dirtsheets, it always ends up they’re just covering for the company because it’s true.
Again, remember how happy Matt Hardy and Mike Bennett (and Maria Kanellis) were with TNA and how the company always paid them on time? That tune changed as soon as they were out of the company for good, and it’s the patten every. single. Time. “Oh, we’re not leaving Spike TV. Marks.” “Oh, we love Destination America.” “Oh, we’re definitely getting paid on time.” It’s arguably impossible to separate this company from the outside turmoil, because every chance it gets, it makes sure to bring the turmoil up. So to that, I say:
Now for your end of this devil’s bargain. Don’t forget to share this recap, as it’s textual evidence of … so many things.