Impact Wrestling presents their Bound for Glory pay-per-view tonight from the Melrose Ballroom in Queens, New York. The venue is sold out and holds approximately 1,000 people so the atmosphere for the show should be a positive much like Slammiversary was in Toronto. I don’t sense the buzz is near the level Slammiversary had, even though I expect tonight’s show to be a very good show. This show has a main event that hasn’t connected as the major championship match of the year despite some great promo work from Austin Aries.
The company has not publicly announced their time slot change on POP TV, but it is moving to 10 pm on Thursday nights. Television viewership has dropped noticeably since July and there isn’t a straight answer to explain the drop. They had so much fanfare and positivity following Slammiversary and led to one episode of Impact holding up before numbers sunk and have stayed down. You can’t write off the drop as a minor blip because it’s been over two months lower than usual viewership. Most would agree that the product is going in the right direction, but the audience isn’t sticking with the week-to-week television as they did prior, so there’s something there.
The company is not solely reliant on POP TV and have several television deals worldwide that are more significant, but the big money is landing a major U.S. based distribution deal. POP TV is not going to grow Impact’s notoriety and it’s not a sustainable deal long term. If an executive at DAZN or ESPN+ or any other streaming startup were to be following the industry and amazed at what the WWE earned in their last set of negotiations, it could be a game changer for Impact if they wanted to latch onto professional wrestling and saw Impact as a viable alternative that is also available. In 2018, perception carries a lot of weight as Bellator showed with audience numbers dropping and landing an enormous rights deal with DAZN, which is huge for that promotion.
As for tonight’s show? I don’t know what defines a success for Impact. Slammiversary proved you can put forth one of the best shows in the U.S. of the year and it meant nothing for growth, although Impact has a much better reputation of putting on stronger shows than a year ago and that probably helped move tickets for this card. Television means a lot more than pay-per-view will for Impact and finding a strong deal in the U.S. is going to be the task if they want to make a dent. One of the biggest obstacles is the limited hours a wrestling consumer has weekly to give. With yet another hour of original content from the WWE starting this Wednesday, it’s another hour Impact competes with when a fan budgets their time of what they want to follow and what is manageable.
Here is a preview of tonight’s show and we will have a Bound for Glory POST Show up late tonight with Nate Milton and I reviewing the card.
AUSTIN ARIES VS JOHNNY IMPACT FOR THE IMPACT WRESTLING TITLE
As I stated, for the big show of the year, this doesn’t feel like a special main event. Johnny Impact has always been a difficult character because his athletic abilities scream babyface and when he speaks, it screams heel. I think the best use of Johnny has been by Lucha Underground as the heel Johnny Mundo with the Worldwide Underground group.
They shot a last-minute angle at the end of the Hall of Fame ceremony where Aries went to make a serious apology over comments he made toward Taya and then lost it over Johnny & Taya speaking to TMZ. They had a pull apart in the brawl and was a better angle than anything on television between them.
As a rising babyface ready to knock off Aries for the championship, I thought Moose had a much stronger case for that role than Impact. Aries has been very strong with his promos and wouldn’t be taking the title off him.
As a match, these two should have a solid main event even if it doesn’t feel like the main event on the show.
SANTANA, ORTIZ & KONNAN VS HERNANDEZ, HOMICIDE & THE KING IN A CONCRETE JUNGLE DEATH MATCH
I felt this was the match promoted the strongest and feels like the true main event of the show.
The stars of this program have been Konnan and Eddie Kingston with some of Kingston’s best work of his career and being seen on a national level.
This program hasn’t been without issues as the hit-and-run angle with the child being struck didn’t land with people and I felt was a turnoff done for shock value in a vacuum and didn’t advance the story. It was a two-week issue and the child was deemed fine and they dropped it.
The 5150 Street Fight in Toronto was done very well and while it ended with the image of Kingston being struck with a pool ball in a sock, he too managed to live.
The Melrose Ballroom is the same building where MLW held their 40-man Battle Riot match recently featuring Konnan, who received a thunderous reaction and I’d expect a big reaction for him tonight. The key is keeping him limited to a few spots and building to him getting his hands onto Kingston.
I would close the show with this match and position the tag champions, Santana & Ortiz, as a main event act.
SAMI CALLIHAN & oVe VS BRIAN CAGE, PENTAGON JR. & FENIX
On paper, this could be the best match on the show and just be insane for the 18-20 minutes it lasts.
At Slammiversary there was the concern of too many matches being brawls with heavy violence and they structured them so well and made each unique. So, I don’t worry about this match and the LAX vs. OGz match colliding.
I cannot imagine this disappointing anyone with the level of talent involved. I like the idea of Cage winning strong and being positioned as the next challenger for Austin Aries.
TESSA BLANCHARD VS TAYA VALKYRIE FOR THE KNOCKOUT’S TITLE
This hasn’t had a deep build behind it as Taya challenged her out of nowhere and it’s the latest challenge for the dominant champion in Blanchard.
I think Blanchard has been a big bright spot on Impact Wrestling in 2018 as she has an outstanding presence, has improved in many areas and has gotten the Knockout’s title over as a valuable title in the promotion.
It’s hard to imagine Taya and Johnny losing both matches, although I don’t see a need for either champion to be dropping their title now.
EDDIE EDWARDS VS MOOSE
This just feels like another match on the show. Edwards has morphed from the out-of-control psychopath to a comedy version of the same character that wields a kendo stick that was bestowed onto him by Tommy Dreamer.
I get the sense Moose is enjoying playing a heel a lot, but it feels like a step backward going from title challenger that failed to the lackey of the champion. It’s a lot like Hirooki Goto losing his latest IWGP title match to Kazuchika Okada and then joining CHAOS and taking a backseat to Okada.
This is the latest wrestling feud to alert all babyfaces that when your friend is injured, always send them a text message to see how they are doing or else there is hell to pay.
ALLIE VS SU YUNG
This is going to the heavy production match where Allie enters the “undead realm” to fight Su Yung and save Kiera Hogan, who I assume is in purgatory.
Father Jim Mitchell is involved with this, Allie is an excellent performer and Su Yung is great with her character so I’m going in with an optimistic view, not to mention that Impact is usually very creative with these types of segments and is a break from the other types of matches this card has. If it’s awful, I take all this back.
RICH SWANN & WILLIE MACK VS MATT SYDAL & ETHAN PAGE
This is a sleeper match on the show that sounds like a lot of fun on paper. Mack making his Impact debut should be positive for the audience and this could serve as a great opening match. It will be curious if Mack is sticking around for the television tapings and what his future with Lucha Underground is.
Page has dropped the Chandler Park character and is now Ethan Page. Impact is a great place for strong talkers and Page is a great one, so this new direction should see a lot of upside for Page.
ELI DRAKE’S OPEN CHALLENGE
The challenge is only open to New Yorkers. Obviously, this is an easy way to introduce someone with a big win.
Bound for Glory 2017
Sunday, November 5th
Ottawa, Ontario at the Aberdeen Pavilion
*Trevor Lee over Dezmond Xavier, Petey Williams, Sonjay Dutt, Garza Jr. & Matt Sydal to retain the X division title
*Taiji Ishimori over Tyson Dux
*Abyss over Grado in a Monster’s Ball match
*EC3, Eddie Edwards & James Storm over Texano, El Hijo del Fantasma & Pagano
*oVe over Ortiz & Sanatan in a 5150 Street Fight to retain the Impact tag titles
*Gail Kim over Sienna and Allie to win the Knockout’s title
*Bobby Lashley & Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal over Moose & Stephan Bonnar in a Six Sides of Steel Cage match
*Eli Drake over Johnny Impact to retain the Impact title