POLLOCK’S IMPACT REPORT: Sami Callihan wins the Impact title

John Pollock's review of Impact Wrestling's debut on AXS TV featuring Sami Callihan defeating Brian Cage to win the Impact title, a street fight, Joey Ryan confronts Ken Shamrock & more.

The show began with a video package stating that the roster has become ‘a dominant species in a world of giants’ and standing tall on the legends that preceded them with shots of past Impact performers. They said this was the dawning of a new era.

Josh Mathews and Don Callis began inside the ring at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario.

NAOMICHI MARUFUJI VS JOSH ALEXANDER

Mathews noted their relationship with NOAH and bringing worldwide talent to Impact. Ethan Page was in Alexander’s corner.

Alexander caught him with a rolling fireman’s carry out of the corner and a knee strike coming off the turnbuckle. Alexander attacked using the Garvin stomp as the crowd booed Alexander. Marufuji got up and the shiranui was stopped. Alexander sent Marufuji off his shoulders with a spinning slam for a near fall. Marufuji landed the bicycle knee and got a two-count. He hit the shiranui and pinned Alexander.

WINNER: Naomichi Marufuji in 9:31

I would say this was a fine match but the crowd didn’t come across well on the broadcast and brought down the atmosphere.

Marufuji offered his hand but Page stopped Alexander from doing so. Alexander then extended his hand before pulling away from Marufuji and laughed with Page.

oVe arrived and security informed them that the Crists and Madman Fulton were banned from the building by Impact management.

The Rascalz did their ‘70s show sit-down segment. Dez and Wentz were talking about how hot Trey’s mom is, and revealed Trey lives with his Mom. Fallah Bahh sat down and they compared him to Gucci Mane, and they got Bahh high to start speaking and quoting Shakespeare. This probably reads terrible but it’s all because of these four that made this work.

TAYA VALKYRIE, KIERA HOGAN & MADISON RAYNE VS ROSEMARY, JORDYNNE GRACE & ALEXIA NICOLE

Nicole is from Ontario and has been wrestling since 2013.

Valkyrie kicked Nicole from the apron and the heels were in control. Hogan hit Nicole with a huracanrana and landed on her shoulder. She told the shoulder and then attacked Nicole before tagging out and never came back in.

Rayne wouldn’t tag in as Grace was in with Valkyrie. Grace hit the Vader Bomb and Rayne entered to break up the cover. Valkyrie was left alone as Grace used an inside cradle to pin the Knockout’s champion.

WINNER: Jordynne Grace (pinned Taya Valkyrie), Rosemary & Alexia Nicole in 5:39

The match was designed to set up Valkyrie’s next challenger in Grace, which is a good direction go in and something of substance for Grace.

Rob Van Dam and Katie Forbes were in a pool. Van Dam said all the current wrestlers have stolen his moves. He said without Van Dam there would be no Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, or Daniel Bryan. He complained about how small all the wrestlers are compared to when he came up and isn’t sorry that he turned on Rhino. He said he carried ECW and he’s one of a kind. All I can say, I’m glad they didn’t try this in front of the live audience.

DESI HIT SQUAD VS RICH SWANN & WILLIE MACK

Swann attacked Raj Singh with leg kicks until he was cut off and the Desi Hit Squad took over.

Mack received the tag and attacked both. He hit a senton onto Singh and a standing moonsault on Rohit Raju for a two-count.

Swann was attacked with a wheelbarrow by Singh into a DDT from Raju. Mack returned with a stunner to Raju, Swann hit the handspring cutter on Singh, and it ended with Swann hitting Raju with a spinning neck breaker off Mack’s shoulders for the win.

WINNERS: Willie Mack & Rich Swann in 4:57

It was a fine match and showcase for Mack and Swann as the next tag title challengers, even though it was Swann that took the fall in the three-way match at Bound for Glory.

Rhino was pissed searching for Van Dam backstage. He was told he’s on vacation and cut a promo about beating Van Dam within an inch of his life and then tearing him in half with a gore. If there is one emotion this man has mastered, it’s anger.

Moose was on a golf course. He explained how he made the “easy transition” from the NFL to wrestling and is one of the best wrestlers in the world. He beat Ken Shamrock and proved he’s one of the best MMA fighters, ever. To prove he is a great multi-sport athlete he went to hit a hole in one. He launched the ball and nearly hit some guys on the green and he attacked them. He accused one guy of taking his ball, took it back and dropped it in the hole. Moose was great in this segment.

Ken Shamrock came out dressed like a 2008 Affliction ad.

He discussed his loss to Moose at Bound for Glory and did a lot of soul searching and was clearly stalling awaiting the interruption, which was Joey Ryan.

Ryan said Shamrock has another mountain to climb as he looked down at his trunks. Shamrock didn’t know who he was, and Ryan said he’s the guy that made wrestling fun again, Shamrock called him “the penis guy” and called him “a gimmick”. Ryan asked why he is afraid to touch it and asked if he’s scared that it will tap him out faster than “the Gracie choke”.

Shamrock stated he isn’t retiring and is putting Impact on notice for anyone that gets in his way. They set up a match for next week.

ACE AUSTIN VS EDDIE EDWARDS IN A NON-TITLE STREET FIGHT

Edwards landed a suicide dive and dropped Austin on the ramp with a vertical suplex. Edwards brought out weapons and attacked Austin with a trash can lid.

Austin brought out a table but then left it on the floor as the audience booed. Edwards smashed him with another trash can lid and brought the table into the ring.

Reno Scum ran into the ring to attack Edwards. He fought them off and sent Adam Thornstowe through the table set up in the corner.

Edwards had a trash can and Austin came off the top with a leg drop to Edwards onto the trash can for a near fall.

After the commercial, Edwards blasted Austin with a chair shot to the back and suplexed Austin off the turnbuckle.

Austin blocked the kendo stick shot with his X Division title, hit Edwards with the belt and Edwards kicked out. Austin used the kendo stick on Edwards and broke “Kenny” in half.

Edwards sent Austin into the trash can, blasted it with a chair, and brought a table into the ring.

Austin put his wrist brace on and hit Edwards with it and put Edwards through the table by hitting The Fold off the turnbuckle and pinning him.

WINNER: Ace Austin in 12:52

They started with no heat from the crowd and it was just lots of weapon use, which is hard to get into. The two worked very hard and the audience picked up and were chanting for Edwards. They have very good chemistry together and by the end, this was easily the best match of the show to this point.

Edwards also won the Call Your Shot Gauntlet match, so he is owed a title match of his choosing in the future.

Su Yung appeared backstage without the makeup on and was scaring people. There were two production guys sitting down, one of them ran away from Su Yung. I’m pretty sure she was just going to ask if they had seen her diary or wanted to look at her career in retrospect. The Deaners couldn’t believe it was her and Yung said she didn’t know what she’s doing here but thinks she should be here.

Johnny Swinger was hitting on Alisha and Ace Austin kicked him out and said she is a married woman. Austin asked why she didn’t come celebrate after he won the title and she said things are complicated with Edwards. She agreed to have dinner with him next week.

BRIAN CAGE VS SAMI CALLIHAN IN A STEEL CAGE MATCH FOR THE IMPACT TITLE

Callihan dropkicked the cage door into Cage on the floor and then Cage powerbombed Callihan into the side of the cage from the floor. They brawled around the ring. They made it into the steel cage and the bell rung.

Callihan attacked him with a bat and began to bite Cage as he was cut open. Callihan spat at Cage as they went to a commercial break.

Callihan hit Cage with a lariat and the Cactus Special piledriver that Cage kicked out from at one. Cage fired back with a buckle bomb and tried for the Drill Claw but it was countered with an inside cradle for two.

Callihan hit a big sequence of kicks followed by three consecutive piledrivers. Cage still kicked at two.

Callihan hit a piledriver off the second turnbuckle and pinned Cage.

WINNER: Sami Callihan in 9:46 to win the Impact title

They did have to rush at points as they had a commercial break in the middle and then closing minutes saw Cage kicked out of multiple piledrivers before the final one off the turnbuckle. This was not at the level of the Bound for Glory match but they work very well together.

Tessa Blanchard came out went face-to-face with Callihan inside the ring as they chanted “Tessa” and that’s how the show ended with the big match down the road between the two as the ultimate destination.

FINAL THOUGHTS

They opted to go with the title change and stare down with Tessa Blanchard as the closing moment on television rather than Bound for Glory and you can understand why they did it that way.

Overall, I thought this show had its pacing issues as there was a lot that dragged especially in the first hour. It felt like a long two-hour show to get through. I don’t know what the crowd was like in the building but it didn’t come off great on television and it made a lot of the matches drag. They seemed to get into Eddie Edwards by the end of the street fight and reacted well to the title change and confrontation with Tessa Blanchard at the end.

I was a bit disappointed with the opening match as I was expecting it to tear down the house and it didn’t.

The announcers did a good job of doing a bit of catch-up with the idea that new viewers were watching the show or lapsed fans that didn’t follow the product during the Pursuit era. That said, it was never at the expense of the audience that is up to date and I thought Mathews and Callis did a very good show throughout the show.

In the big picture, they have a lot of programs in place that you can see developing and they don’t have a pay-per-view until January so they shouldn’t be peaking now.

It was an average show and with the street fight and the main event serving as the top matches on the show.

About John Pollock 1327 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.