The Impact Wrestling Knockout Report 1/21/20: A World Of Awkward Possibilities

Hello Impact fans and curious rubberneckers! I’m Elle Collins, and this is the Knockout Report. I’ll fill you in on everything that happens in Impact Wrestling, but I’m always going to start with the Knockouts, because they tend to be the best part of the show. You can follow me on Twitter here, With Spandex here, and Uproxx here. You can watch Impact Wrestling on AXS TV every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Then you can read this column and share it with everyone you know.

Last time on Impact, we talked about the Hard to Kill PPV, and the problems with Tessa Blanchard winning the World Title. Then Impact ran a clip show last week, most notable for an RVD segment that got them kicked off of Twitch.

Now without further ado, here’s the Knockout Report for January 21, 2020:

Impact’s Definitely Still All In On Tessa Blanchard

I said before that in light of everything that’s come out about Tessa Blanchard’s unfortunate real-life personality, it would be rough if Impact stuck with her as not just the top champion and face of the company, but as an unproblematized babyface in that role. It’s clear as of this episode that that’s absolutely their plan. It was unrealistic, in retrospect, to expect anything different. This is Impact Wrestling, where they don’t care what you’ve done. It’s like the French Foreign Legion of wrestling companies.

So here we are with Tessa opening the show with a promo about how much it means to her to be Impact World Champion, and then she gets interrupted by Knockouts Champion Taya Valkyrie and X-Division Champion Ace Austin. It makes sense that they would both now see the World Championship as more attainable (especially since they’ve both beaten Tessa in the past).

I previously advocated Taya taking the belt from Tessa, but that was before the backstage rumors that Taya’s about to leave Impact, so it sounds like a short feud for the World Title may be her final storyline here, rather than the beginning of something. I’m just going to be really honest with you and admit that I’m currently thinking I’ll stick with Impact until Taya’s gone and see if there’s anything that makes me want to hang around after that.

Everybody’s After Taya

The other bit of unfinished business that Taya has to take care of if she’s on her way out is finally dropping the Knockouts Championship. Before Hard To Kill, she promised title shots to Kiera Hogan and Madison Rayne, and now they’ve both come to collect. Then later in the show, Jordynne Grace demanded a chance to face Taya as well, which she’s more than earned after the shenanigans at Hard To Kill.

All three of these women have a claim on a one-on-one title match with Taya Valkyrie, but of course they agree to a Number One Contender’s Triple Threat all the same. I’m assuming Jordynne will win that, and I don’t mind the idea of her as Knockouts Champion in Taya’s absence. It would be nice to see Kiera in that spot at some point too, but they definitely haven’t been building her up for that lately.

Jessicka Havok (with James Mitchell and Susie) defeated Rosemary

I really like Rosemary, if I haven’t made that clear in the past. She’s pretty close to my age, and she really embodies a very specific sort of nerdy goth girl that I came of age with in the ’90s. Just by the way she moves her hands during her entrance, you can tell that she’s watched all the Tim Burton movies and read all the Neil Gaiman comics. Her gimmick is basically “Has seen every episode of Buffy and Angel multiple times” and she makes it work.

That said, I’m starting to think she’s been trapped in this supernatural war with Father James Mitchell for too long. She made her return into the Su Yung/Allie storyline at last year’s January PPV, and it’s pretty much been nonstop since then, even as Allie left/died, Jessicka Havok returned, and Su Yung turned into somebody else.

And frankly, what is it gaining her? She seems obligated to fight Mitchell and his minions, but even when she wins it doesn’t seem to have a negative effect on the volume of evil doin’s he can accomplish. And she shows interest in Susie, but doesn’t seem to put as much effort into saving her from Mitchell as she does into fighting Havok in a random match with no stipulations.

And of course the other related thing is that we don’t really understand Susie’s deal. Does Rosemary want to save her from Father James because Susie’s a pure soul now? Or does she want to tempt or torment Susie into turning back into Su Yung because Rosemary knows she’s really a monster? I have no idea, and based on what we’ve seen I’m not sure the bookers know either.

I will say that as long as we’re going to keep doing these supernatural stories that keep Rosemary away from the title picture and most opponents who don’t dress like her, it would be a lot more interest if she helps Susie evolve into some kind of babyface Su Yung who wrestles, than if she just turns back into the same old Undead Bride.

Taya Valkyrie and Ace Austin defeated Tessa Blanchard and Trey Miguel

This turns out to be a solid tag match, even though it ends with the most obvious outcome of Ace pinning Trey again. There’s also a fun moment in the usual Rascalz toking up segment, where Dez and Wentz make fun of Trey for how excited he is to tag with Tessa Blanchard. Then they take peyote and see evil Lucha clowns, but I digress.

The tag match and the heel team winning are obviously all about getting us to Tessa versus Taya for the Impact World Championship, which as I said before is not a destination I object to. I just have a hard time at this point not rooting for Taya, even though she’s both the narrative villain and unlikely to win due to her rumored departure. There just turns out to be worse people around than kayfabe mean girls in earmuffs. Also? I love when Impact goes to Mexico and Taya does half her promos in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish, but I enjoy it anyway.

Meanwhile, in Guyville…

Taurus defeated Moose and Rhino

See, Taurus is a bull. I mean literally, he’s a horrifying minotaur of a luchador. So naturally, Impact put him in the ring with their own horned mammals, Rhino and Moose. Do moose count as horned? I know what they have are antlers, but I feel like in a broader sense it’s basically the same category. Regardless, even if Moose and Rhino aren’t the two most exciting wrestlers on the roster, it feels pretty shameful that all Impact has for them is “Your names are animals and we’re booking you based on that.”

Joey Ryan defeated Maximo

This was probably my favorite match of the night, and I’m fine if I’m alone on that count. Maximo is an exotico, part of the long lucha libre tradition of effeminate gay wrestlers. He’s actually considerably more masculine than a lot of the exoticos I’m used to seeing, in that he’s not a literal drag queen, but he’s still pretty festive.

Joey Ryan, of course, is the world famous dick wrestler, and he’s not the sort of guy who objects to a kiss from a man. So basically, these guys are ideal opponents. Joey’s like “touch it!” and Maximo of course wants to, because he’s all about touching those, but he resists because I guess he’s heard how Joey Ryan wins matches. Even within the silly gimmick that Joey Ryan matches generally have, this one has a different flavor, and an equally goofy opponent that he has some nice chemistry with.

Joey Ryan should maybe tour Mexico and fight all the exoticos, is what I’m saying.

Willie Mack defeated Rohit Raju

I mean, of course Willie Mack won this match. There was never a world where Rohit was going to. I like watching the Mack work, but next time I’m hoping for a more exciting opponent. (Sorry Rohit!)

That’s all for this week’s Knockout Report. Join me next week when Dr. Wagner Jr. makes an appearance, the Knockouts have a Triple Threat for the #1 Contendership, and Michael Elgin and Eddie Edwards begin a Best of Five series, because that was definitely a thing we needed.