Impact Wrestling – December 20, 2018

Impact Wrestling
Date: December 20, 2018
Host: Josh Matthews

It’s the end of the year and therefore it’s time for something a little different. For the next two weeks we’ll be looking at the Best Of 2018, which could be an interesting collection. I’m not sure what to expect from this as Impact’s definition of best could be all over the place. There’s good stuff in there though and this could be entertaining. Let’s get to it.

Note that I’ll be posting the full versions of any matches or segments rather than the clipped versions aired on the show.

Opening sequence.

Josh is in a full arena for the intro, which is rather odd to see.

Video on Rich Swann.

From Bound For Glory.

Willie Mack/Rich Swann vs. Ethan Page/Matt Sydal

Interesting choice for an opener. Swann strikes away to start and it’s Sydal telling him to open his third eye. Instead it’s off to the Mack for a heavy flying tackle to drop Sydal, meaning Page comes in to try his luck. Swann headscissors him down but a backdrop gives us a 450, sending Swann face first into the mat. Sydal comes back in to start on the arm, including a Fujiwara armbar.

A big boot from Page and a kick to the face from Sydal send Swann outside, where there is barely any room between the ring and the barricade. It doesn’t seem to bother Mack, who cannonballs down onto the other three. That’s still not enough for the hot tag though as Sydal cranks on something like a cobra clutch back inside. A side slam cuts Swann off again but he rolls over and brings in Mack to clean house. That means a Cannonball in the corner and a German suplex to set up a standing moonsault on Page.

Swann comes back in for a flapjack/bulldog combination before taking Page to the top. That’s not the best idea, as Page slams him down and hits a Swan Dive for two more. Sydal knees Mack in the face and hurricanranas Swann off the top, only to have him land in a hurricanrana to send Page flying instead for a cool spot. Everything breaks down and it’s a series of kicks to the face to put everyone down. Page kicks Sydal by mistake and takes a Stunner, leaving Swann to hit a Lethal Injection. The Phoenix splash is good for the pin on Sydal at 12:34.

Rating: C+. Good choice for an opener here with the fans loving Mack and Swann being his usual charismatic self. IT makes sense to have Sydal take the pin as well with Page being the newcomer and full of potential. As usual, Sydal is much easier to watch when he’s in the ring instead of talking about the third eye stuff. Just stick to what you do best.

Post match the fans seem to like Mack, who grabs a mic and says there are two empty seats in the front row. Therefore, whoever cheers the loudest is getting an upgrade courtesy of the show’s sponsor. Nothing wrong with that.

Tessa Blanchard talks about how awesome her first year here was. She’ll continue her dominance at Homecoming against Taya Valkyrie.

From Slammiversary.

Tessa Blanchard vs. Allie

Allie gets the hometown pop and is in a hybrid of her two gears. They talk a lot of trash to start and Allie kicks her down, followed by a basement crossbody. Tessa isn’t happy with this getting beaten up thing and forearms her down, only to have Allie come back with a spinning crossbody to the floor. A hot shot onto the barricade rocks Allie though and Tessa is getting the swagger going.

More forearms and right hands to the head have Allie in more trouble but she manages a hurricanrana to the floor. Tessa comes up limping a bit so Allie hits a Death Valley Driver on the floor to put them both down. They do the double slide back in and it’s time for the slow motion slugout.

Tessa gets the better of it again and chokes Allie down followed by a scary super hurricanrana to drop Allie on her head for two more. Allie avoids a top rope backsplash and the running Codebreaker sends Tessa outside. The Best Superkick Ever gives Allie a near fall of her own and frustration is setting in. Another Death Valley Driver is countered into the hammerlock DDT to give Tessa the pin at 10:58.

Rating: B-. Tessa is as good of a Charlotte clone as you can get and that’s not a bad place to be. The win is the right call and a suggestion that Madison Rayne actually picks up the title later on. It’s not like there’s anyone else to challenge for the title and Tessa has history with Madison already. Allie will be fine as she’s charismatic enough to make anything work. Shame about losing in her hometown, but it makes sense.

Video on LAX vs. Lucha Bros.

Brian Cage talks about how great this year has been, including fighting OVE, and now it’s time to win the World Title.

From Impact, March 29.

Brian Cage vs. Bobby Lashley

They waste no time with the power lockup and neither can get much of anywhere. A hurricanrana sends Lashley down and a clothesline puts him on the floor as Cage gets the early advantage. Back in and Lashley gets two off a clothesline, followed by a neckbreaker for the same. Cage powers back up and sends him outside for a running flip dive. They both jump from the apron the floor but it’s Cage scoring with a series of kicks. Lashley slams him off the top though and we hit the chinlock.

That goes nowhere so Cage fights up and hits a springboard tornado DDT of all things. Josh: “HE SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO DO THAT!” I can’t believe I’m saying this but Josh is absolutely right. Back up and Cage gets two off a floatover spinebuster but Lashley is right back with a running powerslam for two. Cage misses a discus lariat and gets speared to the floor for a delayed near fall. The second attempt at the discus lariat connects to give Cage the big upset at 11:03.

Rating: B. This was a lot of fun as Cage looks like the new beast on the block, which is exactly the point of this match. Cage pinning Lashley clean is a big deal for him and not something that happens very often. Lashley is on his way out so putting someone over clean like this is a great parting gift.

Eddie Edwards talks about how bad his year has been, as he’s basically gone insane but he’s still kicking. He likes what this year has done to him and at Homecoming, he’s finishing Moose for good.

From Impact, March 1.

Sami Callihan vs. Eddie Edwards

Eddie sends him outside for the suicide dive five seconds in but Sami rolls back in to hit one of his own eleven seconds in. Eddie hits another though and we get to thirty seconds on the replays. Some chops rock Sami and OVE is ejected for a distraction. Sami gets in an apron kick to the face though and we take a break. Back with Eddie fighting out of a chinlock and chopping away, but getting caught in a piledriver on the apron. Since this is a regular TV match though, Sami doesn’t even bother to cover.

Eddie fights out of something like a standing Crossface and kicks Sami in the face to catch him on top. A superplex brings Sami back down for no cover as Eddie can’t follow up. The Backpack Stunner gets two but Sami is right back with the running knee in the corner. A slingshot suplex neckbreaker gives Sami two and an exchange of kicks to the head puts both guys down. Sami loads up a powerbomb but Eddie backdrops into a cradle for the pin at 15:04.

Rating: C+. I liked this better than most Sami matches as it actually felt like a match. I’m still not sure why Sami and OVE are going after Lashley and Eddie but I’m guessing it’s something to do with the team being insane. Eddie winning makes sense as it’s not like a member of the team losing a singles match to a former World Champion is a huge blow.

Callihan gives him a double underhook shoulder breaker and we cut to the back where OVE beats up Lashley. Back in the arena, Sami puts a chair on Eddie’s chest and hits it with a baseball bat…but the bat keeps going and HITS EDDIE IN THE FACE (with a sickening sound) to end the show. That shot to the face wasn’t planned, mainly because it’s about as dangerous of a thing as you could have done.

KM and Fallah Bahh can’t believe they’re here and Bahh they’ll win gold soon enough.

From Impact, September 13.

Impact World Title: Fallah Bahh vs. Austin Aries

Aries is defending as Josh talks about some of the greatest upsets in sports history. As you might expect, Aries has Moose and Kross, both armed with chairs, backing him up. KM is there with Bahh as well. We even get some Big Match Intros with a good sounding announcer. Aries isn’t exactly looking nervous to start and slaps on a headlock to frustrate Bahh early on.

Bahh’s headlock works a bit better as Aries can’t do much with him. Back up and Bahh makes the mistake of running the ropes, leaving him sucking wind on the ropes. We come back from a break with Bahh running Aries over and chopping him down in the corner without needing oxygen. Aries is smart enough to go after the leg but Bahh is right back with more chops. The sitdown splash misses so Aries tries the brainbuster due to reasons of temporary insanity.

Bahh eventually reverses into a suplex and goes back to the chops. The Samoan drop gets two and a belly to belly is good for the same. Bahh tries to roll over Aries but gets reversed into the Last Chancery. That means a foot on the ropes for the break so Aries tries another brainbuster. This one is reversed and a crossbody gives Bahh two but the Banzai drop is broken up again. The Last Chancery goes on for the second time and Bahh taps at 16:22.

Rating: B-. Part of that is due to a surprise as I never would have guessed that this would have been any good and it wound up being rather entertaining. I had a good time watching this, mainly because it wasn’t Bahh doing his annoying comedy. Instead it was a good performance from a guy knowing how to use his size to his advantage. I wonder how much Aries had to do with that, as it was easily the best Bahh performance ever.

Post match KM gets laid out with chairs as the fans still cheer for Moose.

Moose isn’t sure what his best moment of 2018 was but it involved him on some big vacation. He’ll end Eddie at Homecoming.

From Slammiversary.

Impact Wrestling World Title: Austin Aries vs. Moose

Aries is defending and Curtis Granderson of the Toronto Blue Jays is holding the title. Feeling out process to start with Aries’ headlock getting shoved away with no trouble. Aries gets in a hard elbow to put Moose down so Moose nips up with no trouble. He sends Aries outside in a heap and the champ collapses on the floor.

Moose’s big dive sends him sailing over the barricade though and Aries is already trying for the countout. Back in and Aries gets one off a slingshot hilo but Moose shrugs off the shots to the chest. A headbutt has Aries sprawling into the corner and there are some rapid fire chops in the corner.

One heck of an elbow drops Moose but he’s fine enough to hit the discus lariat. The spear is countered into the Last Chancery (cool) and Moose takes a long time making the rope. Moose can barely move so Aries hits a Death Valley Driver on the apron, setting up the big suicide dive.

With nothing else working, Moose wins a slugout and throws him over the barricade. Another dive misses though and Aries gives him a brainbuster on the floor. Somehow that’s only good for nine so Aries grabs the belt. Granderson takes it back and Aries gets rolled up for two, only to have him grab the brainbuster to retain the title at 15:55.

Rating: B+. That’s the kind of main event they needed with Moose fighting as hard as he could but coming up short. It didn’t seem likely that he would actually win the title so seeing him get this close and make you believe he could pull it off was quite the accomplishment. Aries is going to lose the title in a big deal down the line and this was the kind of win that is going to make it seem that important.

Video on Cage vs. Johnny Impact.

Impact is glad to win the title and it’s time to move forward from the top of the Impact mountain.

From Slammiversary.

Petey Williams vs. Johnny Impact vs. Taiji Ishimori vs. Fenix

Williams is replacing an injured Rich Swann. After a quick staredown, everyone is sent into the corner with Ishimori getting a very early advantage. Impact sends Williams to the floor for the big showdown with Ishimori. Both of them miss standing flips and that means a staredown. Fenix comes back in and bounces off the ropes for, of course, a staredown.

A series of bounces on the ropes send Impact to the floor so Petey comes back in with a flying headscissors. There’s O Canada to Fenix but Ishimori comes back in with a hurricanrana on Fenix and Williams making a save. Impact hits a big dive onto Fenix and Williams so Ishimori hits an even bigger one onto the other three. That gets a rare IMPACT WRESTLING chant, which doesn’t have a great cadence but it’s a nice idea.

Everyone comes back in with their series of springboards, capped off by Petey getting the Sharpshooter on Ishimori. Fenix is back in with a 619 on Impact before rolling through the ropes for a cutter. Ishimori knees Fenix in the corner and a Tombstone gets two. Impact uses the ramp to flip into the ring and it’s a circle of strikes for a four way knockdown. Ishimori hits the 450 on Impact but gets caught in the Canadian Destroyer. The springboard double knees drop Petey for two more but it’s Impact with a superkick and Starship Pain for the pin on Fenix at 12:27.

Rating: B. That’s how something like this should have gone as it was four guys going nuts and getting to showcase their talents. That’s how you want to open a show: fast, getting to the point, not putting the big match on first and just letting the fans have a good time. Impact will be a big player again soon, just for the presence that he brings to the matches.

A Josh voiceover wraps us up.

Overall Rating: B+. Yeah this worked as Impact has gotten that much better over the last year. The wrestling has been better put together and the storylines have been that much more interesting. If nothing else, it’s an improvement on the Best Of shows when this company couldn’t figure out how to put up the dates of the shows. It’s almost amazing how much better this place can get in a year, and hopefully that continues next year as well.

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