Impact Redemption 2018 Review

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Let’s do this. Credit: Impact

Having enjoyed Impact vs Lucha Underground from WrestleMania Weekend, I have decided to once again slip into the pool that is Impact. The company formerly known as TNA has burned me before, but their relationship with Lucha Underground combined with the likes of Don Callis taking critical roles behind the scenes has got me intrigued. I’m leaping in and hoping they’ve finally sorted their shit out.

Aero Star defeated Drago

A quick note before we get into it, Callis has joined Josh Matthews on commentary and is an instant improvement. Sadly, the fact I’m used to Callis working with Kevin Kelly exposes how bad Josh is. He doesn’t so much interact with his partners as throw a never-ending stream of questions at them. I got tired of it, so God knows how Callis was feeling.

Anyway, we kick off with a couple of Luchadores, and if I had my way, that’s how every wrestling show would start. Drago and Aero Star packed their time full of fun dives and cool chain wrestling. It all built up to what Don Callis called a La Bombita from Aero Star which is a genuinely terrifying move. He leapt back first in a cannonball from the top rope to the outside, missing that would spell the end of your career. Bloody good fun to watch, though.

Sadly, the finish was slightly botched as Aero Star twice slipped on the ropes (although on the second attempt he still managed to stumble into a Codebreaker). While you could blame him for that, it set up a running theme for the night. Time after time people would attempt springboards in the back left-hand corner (looking at the ring from the hard camera’s angle) and find themselves struggling. There was apparently something up with them.

It was a bit of a shame as it was a dud ending to an entertaining showing. However, this was still a fun way to kick off proceedings.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Scott Steiner and Eli Drake defeated LAX (Santana and Tito Ortiz) to win the Impact Tag Team Titles

Why is Scott Steiner still here? Yes, I know he hit a Super Frankensteiner and well done him. However, go and watch this back and notice that the only reason Steiner looks good is that LAX work their arses off to make him look good. He’s not moving around the ring. Santana and Ortiz are running into him.

The story here was that someone had taken Konnan out pre-match. LAX, therefore, came into this heated and because of that ended up making mistakes. That would ultimately be their downfall as they set up for the Street Sweeper but Santana chose to dive on Steiner at ringside rather than completing the move. Meanwhile, Drake slipped out of the powerbomb position and hit the Gravy Train for the win. Callis made sure to emphasise that Konnan’s presence at ringside would have seen that go another way as he’d have told Santana to finish Drake rather than worry about Big Poppa Pump.

Look, this was what it was. You have a fantastic tag team working with a limited worker in Drake and a steroid-fuelled pensioner. While they did all they could, they could only do so much. It’s a shame that they were rewarded for that by having their belts taken off them.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Brian Cage defeated Dezmond Xavier, DJZ, El Hijo Del Fantasma, Taiji Ishimori and Trevor Lee

They’re working with two legal men while people can come in and out under Lucha rules. That is the perfect way to do a scramble, as it keeps the action flowing while giving us a reason for people lingering on the outside.

There was a hell of a lot of showing off in this match. Right from the start Xavier and Z were flying around the ring with some genuinely beautiful wrestling. I will never understand people who dislike this shit. Unsurprisingly, from there this became a total clusterfuck. There was a constant stream of bodies tumbling through the air as these guys did everything in their power to try and stand out.

It was clear who Impact wanted to stand out, though. At the start, one man was notable only for his absence. While everyone else went all out, Brian Cage stood quietly on the apron, observing. Meanwhile, Trevor Lee did everything in his power to keep him there, booting him in the face at every chance he got. That would prove a mistake. When Cage did come in, he took all that built-up anger and threw it at poor Trev.

From there, this was the Brian Cage show. He hoisted Xavier up in the air for one of the biggest Flapjacks I’ve ever seen. I swear there was a moment where you wondered if he was going to come back down. Annoyingly for Cage, he also slipped in that dreaded left-hand corner while going for a moonsault, but he quickly recovered and hit it anyway before putting Xavier away with the Drill Claw. I think it’s safe to say Impact has plans for Brian Cage.

I can’t pretend I’m thrilled at having Cage turn up and squash a sizable portion of Impact’s X Division. However, if you’re going to do it, it might as well be in an entertaining match. Keeping him out of the start was smart too, as it gave the likes of DJZ and Xavier the chance to impress before Cage stole the headlines.

Verdict: Four Stars

Taya Valkyrie defeated Kiera Hogan

At least Brian Cage was in the match when Impact was drawing attention to him. Poor Hogan and Valkyrie got overshadowed by someone sat at the commentary booth. A few minutes into their outing Tessa Blanchard made her way out to join Callis and Matthews. She was heeling it up and putting herself over which led to me having to mute it. I’ve not heard her cut many promos, so I can’t comment on that, but she is an awful commentator. If they have any sense, Tessa won’t be doing that again.

In the ring, they were a bit mediocre. Hogan is still green and looks like she is having to think about having everything she does. That, in turn, was highlighting that Valkyrie is not the crispest in-ring performer in the world. There was a lot of sloppiness even as Valkyrie showed some enjoyable power moves while she was in control and Hogan displayed some impressive athleticism.

Of course, none of that matters because Tessa Blanchard is here and that is what Impact cared about. At least she managed to make Josh Matthews feel palatable in comparison.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Matt Sydal defeated Petey Williams to retain the X Division Title

Matt Sydal’s current character is nails on a chalkboard to me. I know he’s meant to be irritating, he just goes a step too far for my liking.

I managed to survive it, however, and sit through him and Petey Williams having an entertaining outing. While they’ve both slowed down a bit in comparison to their heyday, they showed here that when push comes to shove, they can step up a gear or two. They built around Petey going for the Canadian Destroyer while Sydal wanted that Shooting Star Press.

All of which culminated in Williams hitting the Destroyer, only for Sydal’s momentum to take him out of the ring. Petey would try to follow up with a Super Destroyer, but Sydal held onto the ropes. He’d subsequently miss a Shooting Star Press, only to land on his feet and get a Pumphandle Roll-up on Williams for the win. It was a smart finish, as they put the emphasis on their finishers only to have both fail and Sydal have to rely on some old-fashioned wrestling for the win.

Despite that, I struggled to care. Matt Sydal and Petey Williams felt like two random wrestlers having a match. It could have any indie show in any company in the world. They never convinced me that they were desperate to hold the X Division title and be a crucial part of Impact.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

oVe (Sami Callihan, Jake Crist and Dave Crist) defeated Eddie Edwards, Moose and Tommy Dreamer in a House of Hardcore match

Can we stop booking Tommy Dreamer for big shows? Tommy seems like a lovely bloke who I bear no ill will. However, his time has come and gone. He doesn’t need to be in spots like this.

Except, it’s a hardcore match, which means that the Innovator of Violence has to hit some people with stuff. Your enjoyment of this will entirely come down to your tolerance of that style of wrestling. If you like watching people get thrown through tables or hit with bins, then dive right in. It’s got plenty of that. If at some point in the last few years you realised you need a bit more than that, well, I wouldn’t bother.

I will take a second to shower some praise on Jake and Dave Crist. Those two worked their asses off here for little credit. The story is not about them and yet they played the fall guys perfectly, taking all the big moves and hitting a few of their own. The highlight was Moose Splashing Dave through a pair of tables on the outside from the top rope. Except, as he came down Jake appeared out of nowhere to catch him with a mid-air Cutter. The timing of it was perfection as they earned a pop from me.

The ending played into the ongoing story between Callihan and Edwards. They were left alone in the ring and Sami went to get his baseball bat, this time placing a box on Eddie’s head rather than a chair. Before he could do anything, though, Dreamer appeared with his own bat covered in barbed wire. Tommy’s age must be catching up with him because rather than hitting Sami with it, he ate a low-blow and got rolled-up for the three.

That’s not how Eddie wanted this to end. Right after the bell, he went at Callihan. He beat him down before dragging the barbwire across his forehead leaving him a bloody mess. It still wasn’t enough as Eddie then tied Callihan to the ropes and proceeded to beat him with a kendo stick. The ref, Tommy, Jake and Dave all tried to stop him to no avail as he lost it on Sami Callihan’s defenceless body.

It was when his wife, Alisha, came to calm him down that events took a turn. Unaware it was her, he spun around knocking her to the ground with the stick. Suddenly, doctors were rushing to the ring as the commentary team reacted with shock. Because, you know, that is so much worse than people bobbing each other with barbwire baseball bats.

Honestly, I don’t like the implication that because Alisha is Eddie’s wife, she is somehow weaker than the six men that took part in that brawl. Sure, Eddie hitting her with a kendo stick can be seen as a horrible moment, but why does she have to be stretchered out like an invalid? She’s wrestled for Impact before! Let’s not treat like her a civilian.

Anyway, it was an okay match with an okay angle. If you’re into the story, you might get more from it than I did.

Verdict: Three Stars

Allie defeated Su Yung to retain the Knockout’s Title

Allie is great. I mentioned in my Impact vs LU review that she is what Bailey should be. It’s a shame then that she’s being held down by Braxton Sutter.

And I don’t have anything against, Sutter, it’s only his involvement in this angle that has annoyed me. It quickly became about him rather than the women in the ring as he had a shenanigan for every situation. I know Su Yung is the definition of cool gimmick poor worker, but I’d still have preferred to see her and Allie get the chance to tell a decent story. Their characters are opposites and you don’t need Sutter to make that work.

Hopefully, they will still get that chance as this was far from a decisive victory. Yung was going for the Panic Switch when Allie wriggled out and got the roll-up. Then, afterwards, Sutter tried to make things better by proposing to Yung, an invitation she responded to with a spray of mist and a Mandible Claw assisted by a particularly disgusting glove. Fingers crossed that means we’ll get a straight-up rematch sometime soon.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Pentagon Jr defeated Austin Aries and Rey Fenix to win the Impact Title

Thank God for the total lack of Alberto Del Patron in this match. I hope Impact have said goodbye to him for the final time because a world in which they highlight wrestlers like Pentagon Jr and Rey Fenix is a much better one.

Because damn, Fenix and Pentagon are spectacular. Fenix was going all out right from the start. The way he bounces around the ring is mindblowing, with the little hops from one rope to being made to look effortless (although it has to be said, even he slipped in that dreaded corner). Then, when he gets down to the ground, he starts dishing out slaps with those heavy hands. He has it all.

His brother’s not too bad either. Pentagon Jr is a scary motherfucker and is perhaps the coolest champion Impact have had in a long time. I don’t expect him to keep the belt for long, as it feels like this was a chance for a bit of Lucha Underground and Impact cross-promotion. However, if Impact’s new direction is going to highlight people like him, then I may well stick around. The duel Gory Special/Package Piledriver that he hit on Aries and Fenix was spectacular.

All of which brings us nicely to Mr Aries himself. While the new toys were a hell of a lot of fun, it’s worth saying that Double-A still has it. He was the glue that held this together, desperately trying to survive with his title. Every chance he got he was going to Last Chancery or a Brainbuster, hoping to get this over and done with as quickly as possible. Sadly for him, it wasn’t to be, and he’s now one belt down.

Pentagon, Aries and Fenix took the match they had at WrestleMania Weekend and turned it up a notch. Fighting for the title seemed to give everyone an added spring in their step as they brought their best to proceedings. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed an Impact main event this much, and if nothing else, that has to see it declared a success.

Verdict: Four Stars

Overall Show

Redemption is the best Impact PPV I’ve seen in a long old time. I’m not saying I’m going to become a regular viewer of the TV product because I’m not. Quite frankly, I don’t have time to fit more wrestling into my schedule. However, they did enough here to make sure that I’ll be keeping an eye on them. I don’t think I can say fairer than that?

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