Instead of doing two show reviews, I figured I’d do a talent review. This past weekend IMPACT had Operation: Override on Twitch and Victory Road on IMPACTPlus. The shows drew less than fans than I would of liked, but considering the events only had several days of true promotion didn’t help.
The shows themselves delivered. They were different enough card-to-card to really add something unique to each offering and Victory Road had a nice surprise of Brian Cage returning to action. The talent though make these live event streaming shows always must see t.v. So many cool talent have been featured, to the point I could probably make my own promotion out of just guys and gals that impressed me from these respective promotions.
This time however, we’re in Oklahoma with World Class Revolution who had their Heavyweight Championship Chavo Guerrero against MVP. The two men are 48 and 45 respectively but can still go, as both men delivered high brand name value bouts against each other. The weekend played out a small angle, where Guerrero squirreled out with the WCR Championship at Operation: Override, before dropping the belt to MVP the next night at Victory Road.
And that’s we’re we’ll start, with the former IMPACT talent.
Chavo Guerrero and MVP both showed a lot still despite their ages. Chavo is using his old “OOooooh Chavo…” intro, while using the Lucha Underground mask-logo as his new entrance video. Chavo is still pretty nimble for a guy his age and Josh Mathews really pushed the fact that Chavo is still in demand these days; as Chavo’s on season three of GLOW.
MVP on the other hand is noticeably slower and thicker but it didn’t hamper his performance to much. It was mentioned on commentary that MVP had gained the weight to compete in a BJJ tournament – if I remember the discipline correctly – and that he was cutting weight again now that it was over. MVP defeated Chavo both nights, the 2nd (Victory Road) being where MVP won the World Class Championship in a good bout.
Let’s switch gears and talk the established talent.
Firstly, let’s talk Rich Swann. Swann was booked for a triple threat match at Operation: Override and a tag team bout at Victory Road that saw him partnering with Fuego Del Sol against the North. Swann didn’t make either show, and I believe it was because he had “…some personal situations” to take care of, as Josh Mathews said it. Retro Randy replaced Swann as Fuego’s tag partner, and the triple threat at Operation: Override was turned into a one on one with TJP taking on Rohit Raju.
Rohit Raju and Mahabali Shera had big weekends. While Raju went 0-2 and Shera went 1-1, both men made big splashes with the new look-look Desi Hit Squad. As we reported a while back, Shera’s return was always going to be a change in perception for the now quartet of Indian talent. Shera handled Flex Zerba at Operation: Override, while Raju had his best IMPACT bout to date with TJP in a losing effort. The next night the two had a stellar tag match against Eddie Edwards and the returning Brian Cage. It was a losing affair but the pair looked fantastic. It also gave Raju a chance to be the mouth piece for the group, as he spoke for Shera on both shows. Shera for his credit has gotten bigger and better since leaving IMPACT. He’s now far more aggressive in the ring and far more imposing too.
Speaking of talents who showed great leaps in 2019, that would be the perfect way to describe Kiera Hogan. She came up short in a Four Way for the Knockouts Championship on Friday’s Operation: Override, but had a good showing. It was Saturday’s bout with Desi De Renta (Desi DeRenta/DesiDeRenta – I’ve seen it all three) that really showed how good Hogan has become. The bout ended in a count out win for Hogan, but the striking, the set up for the finish, the charisma she’s tapped into is all fantastic. Hogan debuted in IMPACT with some real performance issues, but as time has gone by she’s become more accustomed to performing in front of a camera and acting. Her improvement is noticeable and she should be commended for it.
Rosemary and Taya Valkyrie spent the weekend fighting each other, so it’s fair to put their breakdown as one. Both women looked good in their four way encounter on Friday’s Operation: Override but it was on Saturday’s Victory Road that they really brought their A-game. Starting off the match with an in ring promo, where Taya asked Rosemary why she wasn’t answering her new phone was great. Rosemary responding that she blocked Taya’s “frequency” was a lovely little way for Rosemary to get over on Taya’s sudden-Valley Girl transformation. I love this new twist to Taya’s character. I thought for a moment that Rosemary would take the belt from Taya, but that wasn’t the case.
The North didn’t defend the tag titles once this weekend, but did have to work with relative unknowns in both their matches. On Friday The North fought and defeated the Step Brothas who…at best were ok. The match was not one of my stand out’s for the weekend. On Saturday though they got to face the outstanding Fuego Del Sol and Swann’s replacement Retro Randy. The match was a lot better than the night before, but Randy is no Rich Swann in the ring.
— Ethan Page played by Julian (@OfficialEGO) September 14, 2019
There was a report on Friday that claimed Ethan Page pissed off Jimmy Jacobs while in Las Vegas due to a lack of drinks on hand, causing Jacobs to lose his cool. A non-story really, as Page can be a bit sarcastic. The highlight of the weekend came on Saturday morning when Page posted a photo of Jacobs hugging several packages of bottled water.
Eddie Edwards had a big weekend, going 2-0. A far cry better than his last outings during their California trip, where Eddie went 0-2. The shock of the weekend came when the 3x world champ defeated the #1 Contender Sami Callihan in the main event of Operation: Override. Callihan attacked Edwards after their street fight, only for Brian Cage to run to the ring and save Eddie from a further beatdown. The next night he’d face off with Raju in a match that ended in a No Contest when Shera began assaulting Edwards. Cage would the make a save and the two would begin a tag match – Teddy Long style.
That’s a good transition into the next talent, Brian Cage. The IMPACT World Champion was scheduled for the events but not booked in any matches. At first his run-in was the base expectation for the weekend but when the tag match started on Saturday, fans were genuinely surprised. At first it was looking like Cage would do a match similar to his Bar Wrestling matches; where he doesn’t take any back bumps. Yet, that wasn’t the case as Cage took several lighter back bumps through out the match. Cage and Shera had some good exchanges but it was Raju who really sold well for Cage. It was good to see Cage getting back in there, as his run has been marred with his back injury, and it was good to see what Cage could do as champion.
Despite losing to Eddie Edwards on Friday and struggling with newcomer Hawk on Saturday’s Victory Road, Sami Callihan had one of the better moments of the weekend. While cutting a promo on Saturday, Callihan said Brian Cage was “…more broke down than a McDonald’s ice cream machine.” That was brutality. Callihan helped bring out the best in Hawk on Saturday and had a good bout with Eddie on Friday, so you can’t say that his weekend was bad. Callihan can really bring out the best from any talent.
In an interesting twist of fate, TJP may of been the M.V.P. of the weekend. TJP was the first one on the main show on Friday and had to re-work his whole match to accommodate just Raju Rohit and himself. The match really put over Raju and showed to fans what the Desi Hit Squad member could do and some of that is credited towards TJP and his talent. His main event match with Michael Elgin the next night was far better than I thought it had any right to be. I thought Moose and Stephan Bonnar was going last, but when I saw they weren’t and a different match was I was a bit taken aback to say the least. The main event was good, even if I didn’t like either guy in it.
Speaking of guys I don’t like, Elgin had a strong weekend. He had the main event on Saturday’s Victory Road but his best match of the week, or should I say most impressive, was against Fuego Del Sol on Friday at Operation: Override. Fuego is a relative unknown commodity so it’s always a gamble to put them against top talent on these type of shows. When it doesn’t work, it’s a disaster. When it does though? Star making. Fuego is a name you should pay attention to and that’s in part to Michael Elgin, even if I can’t stand the guy.
Of the contracted IMPACT talent, it was Moose who had one of my favorite matches of the weekend. I assumed that Moose and Stephan Bonnar was going to headline the show, as they were the first match announced for Saturday’s Victory Road, though that didn’t end up being the case. Moose and Bonnar were one of only a few groupings that had weekend arcs, with Moose beating down Hawk on Friday’s Operation: Override, only for Bonnar to run down and attack Moose. Then of course on Victory Road the next night, Bonnar dominated Moose, only for Moose to use the ropes to get a cheap pin. Moose had a good showing this weekend and my hopes of a strong match with Ken Shamrock at Bound for Glory are going up and up with the constant improvement from the big man.
Now to the World Class talent. We’ll get through the names that didn’t impress or weren’t given the right opportunity. That’s Randy Price, Damon Windsor, Double D, Prince Mahalli and The Step Brothas. None of them are bad, just none of them really impressed me in their performances. There’s talent there, just wasn’t their weekend to showcase themselves. That said Damon Windsor and Prince Mahalli are two names I think can do more if they dedicate to getting into the best shape they can.
Fuego Del Sol was the best worker of the World Class crew. He was a highlight machine against Elgin and he more than kept his pace with The North the next night. The mask is great and the name makes him sound super unique. He’s got great upside if he sticks to it.
The brother/sister stable of Hawk and Desi De Renta of the Arrow Club were both amazing. Hawk’s first match against Moose wasn’t too impressive, but when Hawk faced off with Sami Callihan you really got to see just how nimble and athletic Hawk was. He moves well, and his look is super unique. He just needs to work on his physique some. His sister, Desi De Renta, on the other hand is just as good. Her match with Kiera Hogan was surprisingly better than I ever thought possible and De Renta has a great vibe to her. Her attire could use some tweaking, as it was a bit basic, but she’s got what it takes to be a full time Knockout.
The next two are going to be lumped together due to the fact they should be brought in together as a tag team. That pairing is Retro Randy and Flex Zebra. Retro Randy shows up wearing an acid washed jean jacket, while rocking an walkman. He’s steeped in early 90’s culture and it works. He’s not the greatest worker in the world but in a profession that’s dominated by bland “workers”, guys like Randy are getting harder to fine. Flex Zebra on the other hand is a great worker but in “great” in a way that NJPW’s Yano is great. Flex showed up at Friday’s show on a limo, and coming out to the Oklahoma University fight song. He oozes charisma and paired with Retro Randy could be a huge get.
Lastly, and most impressively, we have to talk about Stephan Bonnar. Bonnar and Moose had an amazing match that Bonnar absolutely killed. Bonnar isn’t a WCR wrestler, nor is he a contracted IMPACT talent, and while yes Bonnar did wrestle for IMPACT before, that was just a one off. So I’m putting Bonnar at the bottom of the column because much like his UFC career, Bonnar is his own thing. Bonnar delivered a great showing both nights, getting the fans behind him on Friday when he ran in against Moose in the post match, but really starred on Saturday with a great use of kicks, submission holds and trash talk. Bonnar has a future in wrestling if he wants one.
Overall the shows were both hits. I wasn’t able to take a poll for Operation: Override because…I forgot to, but here’s the poll for Victory Road.
— NerdCorp (@NerdCorp) September 15, 2019
As you can see the show is trending well. As of 8:49 a.m. the show has an 84% positive reviews, with 74% giving it a grade of B (Great Show) or an A (Show of the Year Caliber). There’s only 16% of people who didn’t like the show at all and only 10% who thought it was a fine show (C). Overall a strong weekend quality-wise.
IMPACT’s lack of promotion though hurt attendance. I’d wager there was less than a thousand fans in total at both events. Each venue was held in an arena but only sold floor seats to the event. There was arguably as many people at these shows as previous events, and they did start around 5 on Friday and had to compete with the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys games on Saturday.
IMPACT needs to get better at synergy and promoting their products on their shows. We should’ve known a month in advance at least about this card, with some local advertising and interviews on local radio. Not sure why the company is so against advertising but it seems pretty silly that they still haven’t figured that part out yet.
The next event for IMPACTPlus is on October 18th and will be from South Bend, Indiana. Home of Notre Dame. Luckily there’s no game, home or otherwise that day. They’ll be in the Palais Royale ballroom
(more than likely) and the event will start at 7 p.m. (local time I’d imagine) and tickets are available now. Click here to get yours. This is all part of the pre-Bound For Glory festivities in Chicago that weekend.