Impact Wrestling Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction, Highlights from October 14
Just nine nights from its Bound For Glory pay-per-view, Impact Wrestling hit the AXS TV airwaves with an episode of its weekly television show aimed at building top feuds and stars.
It accomplished that, highlighting men and women who will play key roles in the October 23 pay-per-view and wrapping up the night's broadcast with a face-to-face segment featuring world champion Christian Cage and top contender Josh Alexander.
What went down with those combustible elements in the same vicinity and who emerged with momentum on their side elsewhere?
Find out with this recap of Thursday's show.
X-Division Title Tournament Match: El Phantasmo vs. Rohit Raju vs. Willie Mack
El Phantasmo of Bullet Club, Rohit Raju and Willie Mack battled kicked off this week's show, with a spot in the X-Division Championship Tournament awaiting the victor.
An energetic, fast-paced match that showed off the size and strength of Mack while highlighting the talents of all involved, it featured strong near-falls late. Mack, looking to negate the potential distractions of Bullet Club's Hikuleo and Chris Bey, wiped them out at ringside.
Back inside the ring, ELP paired off with Raju. The New Japan Pro-Wrestling star picked up the win, earning a shot at the X-Division Championship on October 23.
ELP defeated Mack and Raju
The story here was strong, with Mack using his size advantage, but when he took his eye off the proverbial prize and wiped out Bullet Club, he opened the door for ELP to go through Raju for the win.
ELP joins Trey Miguel and Steve Maclin in a battle for the gold. Miguel has been there before and ELP fits the mold of a fearless, high-flying X-Division champion. That makes Maclin the most intriguing participant in that championship match.
Savannah Evans vs. Lady Frost
Fresh off an impressive victory in the women's Monster's Ball match at Knockouts Knockdown, Savannah Evans sought to continue her winning ways as she battled Lady Frost in singles competition.
Evans dominated early, her power advantage too much for her smaller opponent to overcome. Despite a spirited comeback attempt by Frost, Evans dropped her with a massive clothesline and added a Full Nelson slam for the pinfall victory.
After the match, Tasha Steelz joined her tag team partner in the ring until Knockouts champion Deonna Purrazzo made her way to the ring with Matthew Rehwoldt. The Virtuosa formerly selected Evans as Mickie James' opponent, hoping the dominant competitor would wear James down ahead of her match with Purrazzo at Bound For Glory.
Evans defeated Frost
Evans has six years under her belt, but she is still growing and evolving as a performer. She's raw, powerful, has a great look and a bright future. The more she competes on television and has the opportunity to share the ring with more experienced competitors, the better off she will be.
That starts next week against James. She can prove herself in a way that a win over Frost, herself a talented wrestler, does not offer.
Inserting her and Steelz into the Knockouts title picture is indicative of where management sees those two women and that means big things for both of them are likely on the horizon.
VSK vs. Rich Swann
The Learning Tree's VSK, accompanied by Zicky Dice, Sam Beale and Brian Myers, battled former world champion Rich Swann in singles competition.
The sprint of a match highlighted VSK but culminated with Swann delivering his signature Phoenix Splash for the pinfall victory.
Swann defeated VSK
This served no real purpose, though the effort from the performers was there.
Maybe it got The Learning Tree on television at a time when the company is pushing that faction, but the match itself didn't do anything of note for either VSK or Swann, rendering it relatively pointless from a creative standpoint.
Perhaps they both appear in the Call Your Shot Battle Royal and the story resumes there, but this acceptable wrestling served no greater purpose.
Chris Bey vs. Chris Sabin
Backstage, Heath signed his Impact Wrestling contract, under the stipulation that Rhino is his tag team partner for a match against Violent By Design.
Back in the Impact Zone, Bullet Club's Chris Bey, accompanied by Hikuleo and El Phantasmo, battled Chris Sabin in singles competition.
Bey controlled the match, grounding the former world champion and cutting off his speed advantage. Sabin fought back and wowed commentators D'Lo Brown and Josh Matthews with a rolling fisherman buster. The Ultimate Finesser responded with a torture rack neckbreaker for a two count.
Moments later, Bey crashed and burned off a frog splash attempt and Sabin rolled him up for another close two count. Sabin eventually rocked Bey with a jumping enzuigiri and pinned him following Cradle Shock.
Sabin defeated Bey
It's no surprise Bey and Sabin had a strong match. They are two of the best wrestlers in the company. What was surprising was Bey's loss.
The Ultimate Finesser loses more than he should for a performer whose status as part of the Bullet Club is expected to make him a bigger part of the promotion. That will never happen as long as he is perceived to be a talented wrestler who loses all the time.
He needs some momentum, and losing matches to Sabin, who would not lose anything by dropping a match to Bey, is not the way to go about generating it.
The Battle Royal to determine the No. 20 entrant into the Call Your Shot Gauntlet Match at Bound for Glory featured both men and women. While the competitors understood the last wrestler standing would enter the upcoming match last, it was also revealed that the runner-up would enter the match first.
Moose, W. Morrissey, Laredo Kid, Raj Singh, Brian Myers, Rachael Ellering, Alisha Edwards, Matthew Rehwoldt, Fallah Bahh, Hernandez, Kimber Lee, Brandi Lauren, Jake Something, Madman Fulton, Ace Austin, Black Taurus, Matt Cardona and Chris Sabin made up the field.
Late in the match, Lauren and Lee maced Fulton in the face, but an opportunistic Austin saved his bodyguard in time for him to eliminate the women. Fulton continued his streak, dumping Cardona to the floor. He squared off with Moose and Morrissey, refusing to back down.
Fulton tried to dump them but was eliminated. With Austin's muscle gone, the former X-Division champion was on his own. Moose and Morrissey sent The Inevitable crashing to the floor, then turned their attention to Sabin.
The former X-Division champion eliminated Moose and worked on Morrissey. Interference from Moose cut Sabin off and allowed Morrissey to overpower him and score the win.
Battle royals are rarely good, if only because of their makeup. There are too many competitors, too much going on and little opportunity for more than punches and kicks. This was no different. There were hints of ongoing feuds, some individual stars highlighted, but it was more of the same.
Sabin positioned as the underdog forced to fight from underneath against two big, physical heavyweights is a great role for him. You want to see him overcome and win.
Now, he faces the uphill battle of entering the Call Your Shot match at No. 1, forced to overcome 19 other competitors to earn a title opportunity. His, more than any, figures to be the story worth following in that high-stakes match.
Bound for Glory Summit
Josh Matthews hosted an in-ring interview segment featuring Impact world champion Christian Cage alongside Josh Alexander.
Cage discussed holding the Impact world title again and recounted how important it and the company were to him.
He would later say he watched Alexander from afar and was familiar with him. He has been on the big stages, as champion and challenger, but Alexander has not.
The Walking Weapon, irritated, played a clip of Cage admitting he didn't know who Alexander was and said the champ's words mean nothing before walking off the set to close out the show.
Exposing some disingenuous words from Christian was a nice touch. The fact that Cage didn't know who Alexander was before the match was made will only serve as fuel for the challenger as he looks to change his career fortunes.
The segment itself was OK otherwise. It didn't enhance the rivalry or elevate anticipation for the match, even with the potential exposure of Cage as a fake. That could have been handled in a pre-taped video package. This setup was all for naught, but that's fine because the match sells itself and could be one of the best of the year.