Hello, and welcome to weekly Impact Wrestling coverage on With Spandex. And also welcome to me, LaToya Ferguson, your recapper and friend. I’m still not 100% in terms of health, but at this point, who is? Exactly. We’re all dying slowly. Now let’s talk about Impact Wrestling.
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: American Top Team boss Dan Lambert pinned James Storm. Don’t worry, I’m sure Impact Wrestling would never have that happen again, especially not in a match with any consequences. Also, unrelated to previous recaps but still relevant, I just learned that Moose and Lashley wrestle as “America’s Top Team” on the indies. No, that still doesn’t make any of this worth it.
EH: See You In Three Weeks
After this episode, the next two weeks of Impact Wrestling are 2017 recap shows. Will they be recap shows like the Eli Drake Gravy Train Turkey Trot was a recap show? We shall see. If not, then I’ll see y’all in 2018. I promise.
By the way, I originally wrote somewhat of a novella on how Impact Wrestling’s Alberto El Patron problem — just in terms of him as a character — but I decided I’ll see how things go in 2018 before I drop that bomb.
EH: No, They Haven’t Gotten Any Better
This EH is for both the current ring announcer and the referee I’ve dubbed a Poor Man’s Poor Man’s Dan Hedaya. For the ring announcer, he announces the #1 Contender Knockouts four-way match as “a four women match,” which means literally nothing. What follows is both Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash making sure the audience knows that this is “four-way Knockouts match,” because the ring announcer can’t be bothered to do his job.
As for the referee — who makes Child Ref look better and better every single week, but that’s also because Child Ref is a good-ish referee — they should probably stop putting him in matches with the main event players, because he always find a way to look completely lost in them. There’s an early moment in the six-man tag where he’s clearly confused on if Eli Drake made a blind tag on Chris Adonis — I too was confused, but I’m not, you know, a professional referee — and he spends way too much time trying not to draw attention to it, but he keeps looking in Eli’s direction for confirmation. He also doesn’t seem to know he’s supposed to do more than just count more than pins, which is why he just stands around without counting or pretending to want any extra bodies out of the ring in this tag match. Really, all I can see and hear when he’s the referee of a match is:
ACE: Movie Magic
Props to the post-production team for the video packages for the tournament, as you’d never know the tournament was as short as it is (two triple threats and the finals) with the footage they show and the editing. It looks epic, and if the quality of so many of Impact Wrestling’s video packages and pre-tapes could extend to the quality of storytelling outside of those things, the company would be in much greater shape. Because the show does a pretty good job to make the finals of the tournament feel like a big deal — it’s even the main event of the show — until maybe the main event itself. But we’ll get there.
ACE: It’s Allie’s Time
On last week’s show, Gail Kim gave a bummed Allie a pep talk, telling her it’s her time. Her time to shine, her time to take over the Knockouts division, etc. Because Allie is proof of the power of positivity, she immediately becomes number one contender to the Knockouts Championship as a result of this pep talk. She works this match with an added sense of confidence, a Gail Kim-esque sense of confidence if you will. And it’s pretty necessary, considering the fact that all three of her opponents in this match are heel. She tries to immediately bring the fight to Sienna, but that heel thing prevents her from doing so.
The rest of the match goes at a nice clip — it’s certainly faster than the X-Division match — and Sienna even uses Madison Rayne as a battering ram at one point. But it’s Allie’s time, so you know who wins. Rightfully, if the “ALLIE” chants in the crowd are any indication. Josh Mathews even makes it through the match without comparing Allie to an Easter egg.
Also: LOL “Allie Valley Driver.”
EH: Regarding Everyone Else’s Time
The segment of the match that was just a one-on-one focus between Madison Rayne and KC Spinelli was… a choice. Unless it was a prelude to a feud between the two, I really don’t see them actually giving KC Spinelli a story anytime soon. That’s not a slight on her, but Impact Wrestling isn’t exactly looking at stories outside of the title hunt for the Knockouts. They were for Rosemary and Taya Valkyrie — which is able to continue sans title, given the main event — but apparently they can’t have another story until that one’s done. Even in the interim.
Also, this is maybe an EH to Sienna if she doesn’t have a mental breakdown over constantly losing big matches? Because she’s not just “not winning” these matches — she’s the one taking the pin. But she’s arguably the top heel in the division — Laurel Van Ness currently transcends alignments — and it’s really not looking like that.
EH: “Fast-Paced” X-Division Action
You know how I said the Knockouts contendership match went as a nice clip? That’s because I needed the reference point for how slow the X-Division tag team match is. In terms of highlighting everyone’s talent and skill, it’s the opposite of the Caleb Konley/Taiji Ishimori singles match.
In theory, Josh is right that Dezmond Xavier and Ishimori are a dream tag team … but you’re not necessarily going to see why that is in this match, now are you? This is a popcorn match. Actually, it’s a worse: It’s a popcorn match without any salt or butter. The closest it gets to an ACE is its continuation of the Cult of Lee blaming Ishimori for Konley’s in-ring incompetence, especially as it focuses on Trevor Lee being a paranoid champion taking out top competitors (like Ishimori, not Xavier). That makes sense, considering Trevor’s already proven you can just steal a championship belt in this company without anyone doing anything to stop it.
The match also it brings up that whole “What was the point of the Super X Cup?” question, as (thanks to this match) the person who lost in the finals of the Super X Cup gets a one-on-one shot for the X-Division Championship before the person who actually won. It’s certainly not that Impact Wrestling forgot Xavier won the Super X Cup, because they keep on mentioning it and even talk about how he and Ishimori found mutual respect for each other as a result. So what was the point of him winning? If Ishimori won, that would have at least worked in the company’s “global reach” talking point, which apparently isn’t ending anytime soon.
ACE? EH?: This Ain’t A Scene, It’s (Possibly) A Race War
According to JB (during this X-Division match, which is why I’m bringing it up now), oVe and LAX are two teams who “were born to hate each other.” And especially with the Sami Callihan version of oVe (aka the version that should’ve existed from the very beginning), they’re been playing up the gang warfare thing a lot. See: the final segment of this show. Before Sami, all of Konnan’s cracks about oVe being annoying white boy tweakers felt just like a very appropriate joke, based on their look. But now I guess it’s what they are? And they’re also prejudiced Ohio natives. See: Sami’s previous promo on Canada. And what does that mean about or for Dezmond Xavier, as we’ve already had canonical confirmation of their friendship?
All I really know though: Based on where we are now, it’s even more insane that Impact Wrestling ever tried to call oVe the faces in this feud.
ACE: It’s Not Your Fault
Yes, I know that’s actually a quote from Good Will Hunting. And yes, I know that given what Matt Damon’s been saying lately, we should be telling him to shut up instead. But sometimes quoting “Oh Captain, my Captain” reminds you not of Dead Poets Society but instead of Bunheads. And no one should be reminded of Bunheads.
ACE: 30 Days Of Night
John Hartnett has added sunglasses (and wearing them indoors) to his injured ensemble. I love it. Holiday season spoiler alert: The true American Top Team was inside of him all along.
ACE: Your Lil’ Baby Petey
The first thing I noticed when they showed Petey Williams and Johnny Impact talking backstage is that Petey Williams is even smaller than I thought. I mean, even though Eli Drake threw him around during their one-on-one match, he still felt convincing as a heavyweight. Seeing him next to Johnny Impact — and then next to Alberto El Patron — he’s such a tiny little man! Even Alberto is amused by the height and size disparity between himself and the one they call “the Canadian Destroyer.”
EH: Leave The Memories Alone
Talia Madison (aka Velvet Sky) easily ruins every good thing Impact Wrestling attempts to do by showing this clip in the first place. It really could have just started at Gail Kim vs. Roxxi Laveaux, so no one would have to see Madison’s inability to run the ropes or, you know, take moves.
Also, no offense to the artist formerly known as Nikki Roxx, but in retrospect … Maybe a white woman being a voodoo queen was actually a bad idea? Not a worse idea than the Voodoo Kin Mafia in general, but still.
ACE: Jimmy Jacobs (And Others, As A Result)
Since he’s arrived in Impact Wrestling, I’ve waxed poetic about Jimmy Jacobs before in these recaps, but now we’re finally on to him doing stuff. Things, even. In this particular episode, that would be faking the audience out into thinking he’s the third man of Eli Drake and Chris Adonis’ choosing. As much as I would love that, unless DnA were looking for a little man to complement Petey Williams, Jimmy Jacobs would be a terrible choice. Unless — yes, an unless for that unless — they had no problem with their partner just busting out a spike on their opponents all of a sudden. And even that seems like a step too far for Eli Drake.
So instead, Jacobs comes out with his pretty cool ImpactTron and entrance theme, then goes on to cut a very good promo officially introducing himself.
“Jimmy Jacobs is here in Impact Wrestling and the only question is: Why? … Despite what anybody might tell you, I’m a good guy. See, I’m not here to hurt. I’m here to help.”
This introduction is key not just so the audience really gets a look at the guy, but look at how Petey Williams reacts to Jimmy saying that. Remember, Jimmy did commentary on Petey’s title match against Eli Drake, and he brought up how close they are and how long they’ve known each other. Here, Petey is almost amused, as though he thinks his friend is about to screw over his opponents. Even DnA think Jimmy’s screwed them for a moment as he continues on with his promo. Instead, his friend ends up giving him a huge problem to deal with (presumably even past this match).
That brings in the rest of the promo, something that actually makes Kongo Kong seem interesting. And considering Kongo Kong was introduced as a monster Sienna programmed to love and be devoted to Laurel Van Ness — a love and devotion Laurel threw away to be with Grado — you would think he’d have seemed interesting before. He did not.
“I promised them I would get them a partner. But gentlemen, forgive me. I didn’t get you a partner. I got you something so much better. I got you a savage. Walking proof that God did not create all men equal. The new monster of Impact Wrestling: Kongo Kong.”
That right there puts Kongo Kong over better than literally any segment he’s had before. And not that Sienna, Laurel, and KM didn’t try, but they objectively: 1. Weren’t (and generally aren’t, no matter the context) cutting promos at Jimmy Jacob’s level about the guy, and 2. Had to do so as Kongo Kong faced “hot prospects” like Mahabali Shera and Braxton Sutter. (No offense to Jerk Boyfriend Braxton Sutter the B.S. Man, wherever he may be.) I do wonder how Jimmy undid all of Sienna’s programming though…
There’s a spot in the match where Kongo goes for a splash from the top and ends up splashing onto nothing. I was ready to call Impact Wrestling out for finally selling Kongo Kong well in one segment and then ruining that in the next segment, but it’s the follow-up that keeps him going. He eventually catches Petey Williams mid-hurricanrana to the outside and throws him into the crowd. Then he picks him up and takes him to the back, King Kong style, with Jimmy — who was watching the entire match with hearts in his eyes for his savage — following to make sure he doesn’t kill him. (Or make sure he does?)
And all of this is because Petey was the one to move away during the splash attempt. He was also the first one to try to bring the fight to Kongo Kong, momentarily thinking better of it, then just coming at him him with shots that do a whole lot of nothing. And now I’m interested in a Petey Williams/Kongo Kong feud. (I’m also interested in Kongo Kong celebrating Laurel Van Ness’ title win with her, but that one probably won’t happen. Just putting it out in the universe.)
EH: JB Is Actually Bad
Welcome to installment No. 105 of “JB Is Actually Bad.” This time around, it’s when he calls Chris Adonis Eli Drake’s “tag team partner, friend, and mentor.” I don’t know about their behind-the-scenes relationship, but based on the show we’re all watching, Chris Adonis is not Eli Drake’s mentor. Based on the show we’re all watching, Chris Adonis is not in a position to be anyone’s mentor. Actually, KM could probably benefit from Adonis’ mentorship, but that’s because he’s a lost dweeb who’s desperate for acknowledgment and attention.
Fun fact: Eli Drake is a year older than Chris Adonis.
ACE: “Parks Are Fighters”
The only EH I can think of with this is another Allie situation, where we’re going to have to go through a lot of matches of Chandler Park being unable to wrestle well before we get into any really good in-ring stuff for him.
EH: Never. Let. Sydal. Speak.
“The Grand Championship is supposed to represent wrestling. It’s not supposed to be about winning on a technicality — it’s about the better man. … Making this match a three-way just convolutes the convoluted rules already. It strips away the pureness of the Grand Championship and adds a bunch of extra elements.”
- The Grand Championship is 100% about winning on technicalities. If it weren’t, there’d be no judges or scoring. Sydal doesn’t actually have a leg to stand on here, as EC3 at least used the ropes to beat Fallah Bahh. Yes, EC3 hit Sydal with a cheapshot, which got him a point (at least) deducted. They ended up tied, meaning EC3 would’ve beaten Sydal by points anyway had he not hit him with a cheapshot. You can say maybe Sydal would’ve been better if EC3 hadn’t done that, but that’s not Sydal’s argument, now is it?
- But then Matt Sydal negates his own point by calling the Grand Championship concept convoluted, which it is. Meaning he does know it’s about winning on technicalities.
- JUST KILL THE DAMN CHAMPIONSHIP IF YOU’RE ALLOWING TALENT TO OPENLY CALL THE STUPID CONCEPT A STUPID CONCEPT
- Oh, but the championship is pure? How?
- See point 3
EH: Little Moose Things
Moose can’t say “armageddon,” apparently. He says “amageddon.” Oh Moose.
He can, on the other hand, completely take Eddie Edwards’ “Bitch Boy Bobby” line — I swear, he just rewatched that segment and decided to copy nearly verbatim, skipping the “Triple B” abbreviation — and pass it off as his own. Dude, that happened in February. Of this year.
EH: Do You Realize?
“You know, I still can’t figure out why professional wrestling chose to pick a fight with the world of mixed martial arts. And I will never figure out why you singled out American Top Team.”
I know that’s a pretty decent heel line from Dan Lambert, playing the victim card when American Top Team is anything but. But I am willing to place a bet that no one at Impact Wrestling remembers how or why this story started. Also, in case you’re wondering: No, Lashley still hasn’t reacted to any of the disparaging things Lambert has said about professional wrestling. So it’ll be really great when (if) this storyline ends and Lashley just goes back to wrestling. You know, that thing his boss at MMA constantly called stupid and pathetic.
Oh, and KM continues to look lame in his quest to “prove himself” to American Top Team, as he gets himself a Last Call Superkick for his troubles. The pay-off to the entire American Top Team story is going to be absolutely worth it, right?
EH: Yeah, So About That Whole Thing …
The American Top Team segment of this episode is important because it sets up the “loser leaves town” one-on-one match between Dan Lambert and James Storm. If you read this website — it’s not even a matter of seeking out spoilers — then chances are you’ve most likely seen this article. Which means … Okay, I’ll just save this for the actual episode. Get ready for a rant in January, y’all.
EH: “The Main Event”
An EH to this match being the main event but losing its specialness both through the commercial break situation and the fact that it’s a “main event” that’s followed up by another segment that JB and Josh hype more throughout the show, the oVe/LAX summit.
I pointed out how the show did a good job of hyping this match and selling it as a big deal, but unfortunately, disappointment creeps in throughout. This match isn’t given enough time to be made a big deal, and the finish really doesn’t help things along. Just how many times is Rosemary going to get hurt her by her own mist before she either stops misting or figures out a way to not be hurt by her own mist? There are obvious ACE moments, like Laurel Van Ness trying to start a “LAUREL” chant during the “ROSEMARY” chants (and really, all of Laurel’s character work) and Rosemary suplexing the crap out of her throughout, but the match never gets to leave first gear, and then it ends with Rosemary being an idiot.
I’m not saying the wrong Knockout won — though, considering Laurel kept physically attacking the Child Ref, maybe she should have lost on a technicality — but … Anticlimactic is definitely the word, even with the Super Unprettier finisher this week. (Also, decide if it’s an Unprettier or a Killswitch, Josh, and then stick with that one. Just a tip, the former makes more sense for Laurel.)
ACE: This Ain’t A Scene, It’s (Possibly) A Race War (Part 2)
And now for the actual main event, a pre-tape segment of Sami Callihan and Konnan meeting to have a summit for their rival gangs. Seriously, they are gangs, talking about “territories” in a way that’s obviously not about AWA or NWA. Basically, this is one segment is better than every oVe/LAX pre-tape segment pre-Sami Callihan. Except for Konnan comparing Sami to Hollywood sexual abusers; that aspect of this segment is absolute garbage a return to the Pepsi Blue edginess of these crews. Sami shooting a fireball into Konnan’s face, however, is a worthy punishment for that misstep.
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 if you’re in the mood for something Impact Wrestling adjacent — without the frustration of being full Impact Wrestling — during the holiday season, might I suggest the SMASH Wrestling compilation, Rosemary vs. Allie: Demon vs. The Slayer? As I write my book on women’s wrestling (hey, I’m writing a book on women’s wrestling, by the way), I found myself taking this trip down memory lane, and it’s a good one. A good, brutal one.