‘United We Stand’ Failed and IMPACT’s Future Has Been Altered

I’ve always considered myself an honest guy, with an honest opinion. I can admit when my fandom or biases exist because I don’t let them influence how I see things.  I know LeBron James is a great player; still don’t like him.  I know pizza everyday is a bad idea, still wanna eat it nonstop.  I can admit the truth, even while admitting my bias.

Pizza for breakfast everyday is a great idea and LeBron James is a dork.  It’s still a bad idea to test either on a nightly basis however.

So I can say that I love IMPACT Wrestling, always have, probably always will but also say that United We Stand was a mess.  Last year’s event, the Lucha Underground vs. IMPACT Wrestling event was the best show of the weekend. WrestleMania included.  Scott Steiner and Teddy Hart tagged together people.  Let that sink in.

This year’s however was lacking a lot from last year’s show.  The talent was almost as good, but there were a lot of things on this years show I wasn’t in love with.  That’s not even taking into considering the production quality…

Last year’s event was ran through WrestleCon, it was one of WrestleCon’s big events of the weekend.  The Sugar Mill that they hosted from was a beautiful and intimate; yet spacious and accommodating venue.   This years was at the Rahway Rec Center and yeeeesh.  Not great.  The event was co-produced by WrestlePro, a promotion I have usually high praise for, so this isn’t me taking digs at them.  I like them.  They produce great talent.  This was a miss though.

The audio was bad.  I want to believe it was the venue, and not the production crew that WrestlePro used, because god forbid if WrestlePro was the reason that show’s audio quality was so bad.  Even worse if it was IMPACT’s own fault.  The crowd was basically muted, the entrance music couldn’t be heard until it was piped into the actual broadcast through the announcers headsets.  Backstage interviews were pointless as they were essentially inaudible. Then there was the camera set up with was just bad.  It was too narrow and it was an ugly shot.  This has been IMPACT’s big Achilles heel though, as this was an issue at the Rebel Entertainment Complex in Toronto for Slammiversary.

I understand working with what you’ve got but still…

So no promos, no music, commentary’s a mess and a bad camera perch.  What could go wrong?  Oh yeah, half the roster seemingly cancelled.  Not half, there were only three replacements that I noticed, but still.  Kotto Brazil was a no-show due to double booking; that’ll earn him a black ball I’d imagine because he was booked MONTHS in advanced and I can’t imagine IMPACT is happy with Major League Wrestling over it.  Jack Evans also was not there, though I don’t remember if or what the reason was as to why he couldn’t attend.  He doesn’t appear to have wrestled anywhere that weekend, so he might be dealing with an injury.

Then of course we have to mention the Eli Drake of it all.  Drake was booked to face Tessa Blanchard in an intergender match and Drake publicly pulled out, denounced the entire sub-genre and did it all without contacting his bosses to let them know.  I think I know where Magic Johnson got his decision making abilities from.

Of course Drake was removed from the card, Joey Ryan replaced him and the quality of the match hit a new low in my opinion.  Ryan to me is a buffoon.   He’s the lowest common denominator in every match he’s ever in.  He’s the high school nerd who thought wrestling would make him cool, but the all the cool kids did it too, and better, and now Ryan is now still trying to validate himself by being “different”.  He’s also someone who brought sleazy into the forefront, but is now getting mad at people for being sleazy (i.e. his fanbase).

So, no me gusta Joey Ryan.  That being said, the biggest issue with the whole ordeal was the loss of Drake on the card, as I and many others expected him to be on Team IMPACT for the 4 on 4 bout with the left overs of Lucha Underground.  That didn’t happen, as Tommy Dreamer took the slot.

So with that being said, how was the show as a whole?  About a ‘C’ – ‘C+’ show.  Having Joey Ryan on any card would lower the entire thing by a letter grade from me.  Then no tag title, or world title on the card?  What?  Putting Rob Van Dam’s not-so-talented-girlfriend into the Knockouts title match?  Who the hell booked this?

I don’t get putting Johnny Impact in the Ultimate X match at all.  I do, after the fact.  They lost Evans and Brazil, I get they needed name power, but they didn’t have that spot filled for months.  I don’t believe that Impact was added due to their cancellations.  Ace Austin was added due to the cancellations and he was the MVP of the match.  Jake Crist was reliable an did some great stuff in the Ultimate X, while Pat Buck and Dante Fox did what they could being Ultimate X virgins.  Austin hit the spot of the weekend with a leap off the top of one of the Ultimate X trusses.  The match was fine and Johnny Impact winning made sense but he really should of headlined the event in a title bout.

The eight man tag was ok, Moose turning on Cage, Edwards and Dreamer allowed Team Lucha Underground to win.  They should’ve made this a 3 on 3 and put Impact against Daga for the belt, but whatever.  Here we are.

The four way knockouts match was forgettable.  Rosemary isn’t back yet fully from her knee injury.  She clearly needs to improve her conditioning.  Taya Valkyrie has never been someone I overtly enjoy, so selling me on her match was always a tall task.  Katie Forbes had no business being in the ring at this show and taking a booking date from Alisha Edwards, Kiera Hogan or eve Scarlett Bordeaux.  It’s also pretty obvious that there might be only ten women in the world on Jordynne Grace’s level, and one of them is Tessa Blanchard.  Obviously Taya retained.

The tag match with LAX taking on Promociones Dorado was good, but it started really slow.  If I find out there were time issues with the card, I’m looking at this match as being the one that went over.  The four men had good chemistry, Ricky Martinez really did his part in contributing with more noteworthy names and I think people should be happy Low Ki showed up healthy and ready to go.  LAX got the win.

Tessa Blanchard defeated Joey Ryan in a match I could barely stomach.  Ryan’s whole gimmick is just gross and if the mainstream was aware of this clown anymore than they are, we’d all have to watch wrestling with our heads in the sand again; because he’s that embarrassing.   Tessa looked great though, as always.  She’s easily the best women’s wrestler in the world.

Flamita didn’t gel well with Rich Swann in Swann’s successful defense of the X-Division Championship.  The match never felt like it got going, and that could be due to language barrier issues, as Flamita is Mexican.  It could also just be due to on chemistry.  The match was fine but at this point in the show, with all the issues going on, the match unfairly needed to be better.

The Monster’s Ball Match was good, typical bloody, brawling and brutal as they all are.  Jimmy Havoc is amazing at what he does, but I’m not a big fan of the over reliance on death match types, which is his jam.  That being said it was a cool little encounter but nothing to write home about.  Callihan got the win, and the placing of this match on the show has to be talked about…

Then the main event happened, Rob Van Dam and Sabu returned to the promotion for the first time in years to take on Pentagon and Fenix in a hardcore tag team match.  The bout went around eight or nine minutes as the main event was hurried.  The Lucha Bros’ pinned Sabu, because RVD doesn’t job to no one, not even his ex-wife’s lawyers.  The match ends wildly too soon and fans are wondering “what-the-fuck!?”, and rightfully so.

The show could of been better booked, better constructed and better timed.  You could of easily of replaced the intergender mtach with an IMPACT World Title match, put Tessa in the women’s match and make a five-way, open the show with the Monsters Ball match, put the Ultimate X at the mid way point, then do RVD’s return in the semi-main with the World Title going in the main.

Also, why do Fenix and Pentagon vs. Sabu and RVD?  They should’ve had Fenix and Sabu vs. RVD and Pentagon.  That would of been a once in a lifetime match up.  Again, bad booking and pacing killed this show.

Of course the fallout really falls on the fact that Drake is now longer with the promotion; something that needed to happen but still doesn’t hurt any less.  You can’t be as unpredictable as Drake has become publicly and expect a rebuilding brand to put faith in you.  Whoever steps up to replace Drake will be interesting, but props were props are due to Ace Austin,who really stepped up.  I don’t believe at all that Ace Austin is ready to take Drake’s place but someone has to and that’ll be fun to see who IMPACT picks.

Overall it’s not bad, the show is far from unwatchable; in theory.  It literally is unwatchable with the audio issues, but not because of the quality of the matches.  Most of the matches were good to great, with only a dud here or there. Nothing too problematic.   Overall an average show; with a need to do better next year in Tampa Bay.