The Aces And Ehs Of GFW Impact 8/3/17: Nothing Even Matters

Hello, and welcome to weekly Impact Wrestling coverage on With Spandex. And also welcome to me, LaToya Ferguson, your recapper and friend. We’re days removed from this episode of Impact, and I still can’t find a reason for the majority of this show to exist. For every promise that EC3 will be having sexual relations with his new championship, there’s literally everything else in this show. I’m certain I’ve reached a new record when it comes to With Spandex recappers jaded by Impact, but in my defense: They tricked me with how good Slammiversary was.

But don’t worry, I won’t get fooled again.

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 proved he can take out all of LAX, so let’s watch this week’s show and see if he can take out all of LAX.

ACE: That Was Three! That Was Three!

The most interesting part of this Super X Cup match is the story it tells for Dezmond Xavier and his insanely resilient never-say-die attitude. (Sorry, Eddie Edwards. Especially as you seem to officially die in this particular week’s edition of Impact.)

There are at least five different moments during this match where Drago appears to have signed Xavier’s death warrant, only for the guy to kick out at a count of 2.9. The most surprising form of this is when Drago goes for the killing blow with the move he used to finish off Sammy Guevara … and Xavier still kicks out. That’s the moment when Drago can’t believe this is happening, and the crowd is wondering what will have to happen to end the match. I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if Xavier had kicked out at 1 at one point, and it could’ve felt earned. Dezmond Xavier’s resilience is on full display in this match, and at the very least, hopefully Impact knows what they’re doing when it comes to making a star out of him with this tournament.

Xavier’s post-match, backstage interview is a nice character beat on top of this as well. His pre-match promo and post-match promo with Jeremy Borash was all about wanting a challenge and going out there to warn the X-Division Champion (whoever the hell that may be) that he should watch his back, but this particular interview has him completely humbled and beside himself over the fact that he even won in the first place. Stay humble, kid.

EH: Shh … Spoilers.

Hey, JB — since only one of the wrestlers in this tournament match speaks English, maybe you shouldn’t announce that you’re going to interview the winner once it’s over. That kind of telegraphs who’s going to win the match, don’t you think? Especially since Josh Mathews’ “I speak all the languages” bit is less funny the more he has to say something like El Hijo De Dos Caras (“El He-Ho De Dos Car-Os”).

This is honestly the mini-est “EH” of the whole show, so buckle in for the future.

ACE: Like NXT Pro, Like NXT Rookie

EC3 referring to Moose as “The Moose” just like his father … er … NXT Pro Daniel Bryan refers to Ryback as “The Ryback?” Roll that beautiful bean footage:

EH: Leave The Memories Alone

“I’ve faced the world’s strongest men and some of the biggest shows.”

So has Lashley, Matt. Don’t get me wrong — it’s the kind of corny joke I like, without being too much of a “TNA can’t stop being obsessed with WWE” thing — but Lashley has been there too. “ECW! ECW!” etc.

EH: Sure, Let’s Add In A “Who Can He Trust?” Plot

How exactly did the LAX/Patron family storyline all of a sudden turn into one where Alberto worries that his brother is going to betray him? You know, the brother who is only referred to as “Alberto El Patron’s brother?” The brother, who is constantly getting his ass handed to him by LAX, while old man Dos Caras actually finds a way to give as good as he gets? Actually, those are very good reasons, but Impact doesn’t address either of them, so again, I ask how we got here?

I know I’ve written about this story building on past history that you don’t need to fully know to “get,” but this right here is especially out of control. El Hijo De Dos Caras is best friends with Konnan?!?

And it’s information that has not once been available in this story, because LAX and Konnan have made it abundantly clear they only care about Alberto. I had no problem believing Konnan and Hijo met for the first time during the whole kidnapping thing, so what in the hell is this? “Can I trust you tonight,” Alberto asks, and based on me fastforwarding (for this recap — I definitely watched this whole show) to the main event, I guess the answer is yes. I mean, in terms of trusting Hijo to be a confident wrestler or useful member of the team, absolutely not. But he doesn’t turn his back on his familia.

This episode of Impact … strains a lot intelligent thought.

EH: Yes, This Can Get Dumber …

Karen Jarrett comes in to play mediator in this family dispute, officially erasing my attempt at defending the character’s uselessness from last week. In that case, as I questioned who exactly is the onscreen boss of Impact, I cut Karen some slack and said she’s specifically in charge of the Knockouts Division. Because, as Impact has weirdly been saying for many years, men and women need different authority figures for some reason.

However, Karen blows up my defense here, informing the Patron family that “family is everything.” Okay, sure, whatever. So are professional contracts in a wrestling setting, but one of these men definitely doesn’t have one, and I’m pretty sure the other one (who Alberto said is a contracted Impact wrestler, but come on) only has one because someone goofed and thought El Hijo De Dos Caras was just Alberto trying to do a lucha alter ego thing.

That person was probably Karen. She has no problem stepping in on this, but she’s still nowhere to be found during the Trevor Lee/Sonjay Dutt debacle and she doesn’t address that at all when Bruce Prichard — you know, the man no one else in a position of authority can apparently find, despite constantly having conversations or judging gimmick matches with on the same show — comes to defuse the situation. (Alberto tells Bruce to talk to Hijo and Konnan and then come to him. This never happens, by the way.

Last week, Bruce said he was staying out of this personal matter. This week, he’s pulling Karen aside to talk to her “alone,” on the same show where Dutch Mantel keeps going on about how he hasn’t gotten a chance to talk to Bruce alone.

EH: … And Dumber

Why is Sonjay Dutt banned from the building for wanting his championship? No, I know Bruce Prichard is a dirty rotten scoundrel, but why does no other authority figure step in? Bruce says he’s banning Sonjay from the building until until he figures out a solution; but from actually watching the show, we already saw him tell Trevor Lee he liked his logic and allowed him to keep the championship this way. If he doesn’t want Sonjay to have the X-Division Champion — and other than “he’s a bad guy now,” we have no idea why that is — he could just as easily “strip” Trevor of the title as well and hold it in abeyance.

Corrupt heel authority figures are nothing new and aren’t inherently bad, so Impact doing this story Bruce Prichard isn’t a problem on its own. But this is also a story where there are no checks and balances, no idea what anyone’s official title is, no reason behind any of this. When insufferable Josh Mathews is calling out the logic of this stuff, you know something is wrong.

By the way, Past Impact history says this is all going to lead to some type of power struggle, presumably with a faction that might just inspire the next Impact recapper’s format.

EH: Pro Wrestling Is Fake

Hey, Bobby Lashley is impressive as both a professional wrestler (and a pretty good one, at that) and an MMA fighter (though I have no idea about his actual ability in that sport). So you know what would be a bad idea on Impact’s part? Airing a video highlighting how much Lashley’s MMA team does not want him to be a professional wrestler, both because it makes him less of a good MMA fighter and because wrestling is dumb and fake.

Between his coach constantly calling him a “stud” and the cute one who busts out this quip —

“Wrestling is what it is. I mean, we’re real fighters.”

— I’m really not sure what the point of this segment is, other than to add to the “LOLTNA” moments on this show. There’s also a “This is real fighting.” and a “Just fight, man.” in there, in case the previous quote didn’t drive home just how fake professional wrestling is. Lashley doesn’t come out of this seeming like more of a badass because of his two careers: Impact just comes out of it looking like a goof of a company for airing it. You know a segment is a mess when King “What Do I Do With My Hands?” Mo is the only one putting over professional wrestling (calling it “harder than MMA”) and making Impact look good.

This show closes with the Impact World Champion spitting up fake blood though, so never mind.

The MMA guys were right.

EH: Let’s Wrap This Up

Grado is not a wrestling character who needs to have weekly stories; he’s a goof who can work in some comedy jobbing and skits, whether you think he’s funny or not. He should be inoffensive, at best.

Unfortunately, Impact feels like Grado can have a full-blown weekly story, and that’s where we’re at now. There was already a questionable aspect to the entire Grado/Laurel Van Ness courtship — and Impact has no problem constantly reminding the audience she’s not of sound mind, even though Laurel herself does things to show there is a method to her madness — but the longer it goes, the less compelling it is too. Throw in the fact Grado versus Kongo Kong is really not a match anyone needs — and Kongo Kong hasn’t exactly made a splash yet in his short time on the roster — and enough is enough.

EH: Eddie, Are You Doing Okay?

Eddie Edwards is now so inconsequential to the show that he’s used as fodder for Kongo Kong’s backstage meltdown. Along with poor Richard Justice, who sadly could have filled in for Edwards had Kong not also attacked him.

By the way, what did Eli Drake think of all this? Did he win by forfeit? How did EC3 and Moose avoid Kongo Kong’s path of destruction as they head to the ring? And why didn’t Bruce Prichard, Scott D’Amore, or Dutch Mantell — you know, the guys who come out in the next segment to judge a match — actually do anything or react to Kongo Kong’s destruction? We find out later that security escorts Kongo Kong out of the building, but: 1. Security actually doing something is probably the type of thing Impact should show onscreen, and 2. That doesn’t take. At all.

EH: Let’s Go To The Judges

During this match, despite the complete heel turn on Bruce’s part, everyone still addresses the fact that he and EC3 and just don’t along, meaning the show has to address the question mark over that whole “impartial” judges thing. But because nothing goes right in this week’s show, we’re left with more questions. Because JB says that Bruce made it clear the judges will be calling this “right down the middle,” only: When the hell did Bruce make that clear? It was definitely not at any point during this show, continuing this episode’s intense habit of completely failing at the concept of “SHOW, DON’T TELL.”

Watching this match, I basically disagreed with the judges on both rounds — I thought Moose should’ve won round one and EC3 should’ve won round two, the opposite of what the judges decided — because this entire atch concept is based on a difficult-to-achieve synergy between the actual story of match and the story the judges think it’s telling. For what it’s worth, it’s a pretty good Grand Championship match. There’s a nice touch on Tyrus’ part where his smirk basically tips off EC3 winning the first round. The match itself deserves an ACE, I suppose. But the end result is the kicker, at the point that everyone (commentators, two of the three judges) calls the third round “evenly matched”… only for the “twist” of evil Bruce Prichard heavily going in EC3’s favor, awarding him 10 points to Moose’s 8.

Still no literal mustache-twirling, but you can imagine it, can’t you?

None of Bruce Prichard’s corrupt authority figure stuff works, because it all requires everyone to be dumb as a box of rocks. Dutch Mantell complains about not knowing what Bruce is thinking and not talking to him about it… but he could honestly just go and talk to him. They’re at the same table. They get interviewed backstage by the same people. Dutch later makes a snarky comment about Bruce’s podcast, but really it’s more of an insult of Impact for allowing Bruce to be more of a walking self-plugger than it is the man himself.

“ACE”: Red Flags

For those wondering, the Knockout storylines on this week’s show are: Laurel Van Ness’ awful dating life and Allie literally being jerked around by her boyfriend. The latter gets an “ACE” because it’s good work by both, but oof. I’m grasping for praise for this week’s show, and I hate that.

Seriously: I know people joke about the very concept of Impact coverage, but I’m doing this because I want to. I wanted to cover Impact in the first place. I want Impact to do well. I want to be able to praise it the way I used to. But episodes like this, full of total nonstop holes in logic and little to actually enjoy match-wise, it’s not exactly a walk in the park. I go into this, doing all I can not to write a complete takedown of the show, but I can only grasp at so many straws

ACE: Say Anything

“Shut up, Random White Girl #5.”

As I pointed out last week, McKenzie Mitchell is pretty great… but so is the way Konnan sends her off during this promo. Mostly because it’s said in the presence of Diamante, who I think possibly has the least amount of characterization on this entire roster. (I say that with all the love in the world.)

Konnan does so much work to keep selling this feud and the impending mess of a main event, saying that there’s about to be “a new era of violence, brutality, and sadism.” He calls his face the thing that “ nightmares are made out of.” It’s the type of fire that works, especially for what the story originally started out as. Now it’s just a bright spot in an otherwise a very dull story. You can’t say the man is phoning it in.

EH: A Family Affair

Personally, my nightmares are made out of this main event. I have lame nightmares, though.

LAX gets to look much better in-ring here than they did when it came to their gauntlet match against Alberto El Patron. But that’s also very much because they have to do a lot of work to make Dos Caras and El Hijo De Dos Caras look like threats in this match. The fact that Dos Caras is even able to work a little is nice to see; but Homicide, who’s not exactly in his prime either, works his ass off to make the legend look as good as he does in their brief confrontation.

El Hijo De Dos Caras, on the other hand, is just a sloppy mess with poor timing on top of his characterization as “the brother of El Patron.” Also, he does a fakeout betrayal spot that still doesn’t make any sense, but since the script says that’s what they’re doing now, that’s what they do. Even commentary asks early on why we should think Hijo is a traitor considering how much LAX puts the beatdown on him. At least they’re trying to make sense of this. Maybe if Hijo’s attacks only happened offscreen — Big Cass style — it would be easy to believe he was in cahoots with LAX, but no, not even that exists to bail this story out.

EH: “It’s … It’s Low-Ki.”

“Wait, who the hell is that?!”

A bald, tan man in a very particular suit shows up on the top rope (and Impact’s sometimes existent security does nothing to stop him), Josh Mathews. Who the hell do you think it is? I take back my praise of the commentary in spite of things. What a dumb question.

Speaking of questions: Where were Veterans of War in all of this? They’re part of this now, right? No? Oh, okay.

Low-Ki joining LAX as their heavyweight contender — remember, the feud with Sonjay reminded us of Low-Ki and Homicide’s connection — should be a big deal. It’s objectively awesome. But it comes with a mess of a story and main event. LAX may come out on top, but coming out on top of garbage doesn’t mean too much, now does it?

ACE: Together, They’re The Match Of The Year

I figured I should end this all on a high note, so here it is: EC3 cuts an entire promo about how he plans to leave the Impact Zone and fuck his newly-earned Grand Championship. There’s just something about EC3’s particular brand of narcissistic psychopathy that will always be refreshing, especially on a show like this. EC3/Grand Champion would make Derrick Bateman blush, may he rest in peace.