Today we’re going to look at the show as a whole while also breaking it down a little bit to see what worked and/or made sense and what didn’t, though more importantly why that’s the case in each segment.. I watched the show live but looking back at it later always changes things a bit.
The opener was the six way match for the X-Division Title with Trevor Lee defending against a host of others who don’t exactly stand out. We’ll get to that in a minute, but we’ll start off with the problem of this match being a rematch from the previous TV tapings. Everything suggested that this would be Ultimate X, including the spoilers from the tapings and the Fite TV preview. I have no idea why it wasn’t Ultimate X (given recent reports, I’m thinking it was somehow financial) but that brings up the question: why do the same match?
If you can’t do Ultimate X, have someone come out at the top of the show and say it’s now an elimination match. Or a gauntlet match. Heck make it a battle royal. Just do SOMETHING other than the exact same thing we saw three days ago. This is supposed to be a special event and yet we already saw this match. Just make a minor change to the thing and let it feel special.
Then came the other problem: Lee won. I’m sorry what now? Lee is, like most of the X-Division, pretty standard. There’s very little that defines him (He’s from North Carolina, looks like a caveman and has two lackeys. End of unique characteristics.) and it’s not like he’s setting the division on fire. Is there ANY reason they couldn’t have put the title on Petey Williams in Canada to pop the crowd to start the show? If Lee being champion is that important to you, give it back to him on the first show of the taping cycle. But now on to the real problem with the division.
Someone tell me what makes these X-Division people stand out. Here are the details about the people involved in the match:
Garza Jr.: He’s from Mexico and TAKES OFF HIS PANTS!
Dezmond Xavier: Has some good looking flips and won the most meaningless tournament in years.
Petey Williams: Canadian, used to be a big deal, has a cool finisher.
Matt Sydal: He’s good in the ring and used to be a hot prospect in WWE.
Sonjay Dutt: He used to be the best X-Division wrestler to never win the title but now he’s just an X-Division guy.
Trevor Lee: From North Carolina, looks like a caveman, has two lackeys.
If that’s the best you can do at defining your characters, just scrap the title already. It’s not like it’s meant anything in years anyway.
Moving on (the rest of these shouldn’t take nearly as long) we have Taiji Ishimori vs. Tyson Dux. This was a bonus match and there’s not much to say about it. It was thrown onto the card to fill in some of the time lost by Rosemary vs. Taya Valkyrie being canceled. The match was fine with Ishimori winning in short order. It’s kind of hard to criticize free wrestling but this was just a TV match on pay per view.
That’s enough wrestling for now, so let’s have Alberto El Patron come out for a long speech. Let me sum this up: the company treated him badly because he was accused of domestic violence, the internet makes up stories, Jeremy Borash was threatened but nothing happened, and somehow ten more minutes had passed.
Next up was a match with an actual story as Grado fought Abyss in a Monster’s Ball match. Basically Grado is trying to stay in the country as Abyss’ brother’s client but it wound up being a rip off. Grado was fighting for his freedom….but that’s not exactly his strong suit. Grado is a glorified comedy wrestler and he’s being thrown into one of the most violent matches the company has to offer.
The problem with Monster’s Ball is the same as always: it’s the same as always. You know the spots they’re going to do, you know the weapons they’re going to use and you know that Janie isn’t going to make contact. Laurel Van Ness and Rosemary got involved here and the whole thing was overbooked, even for a Monster’s Ball match. Abyss won and the heels are now 2-0 on the show (I have no idea if Ishimori is a face or a heel).
The third match was Team AAA vs. Team Impact in a feud that has been death for the parties involved in recent weeks. Basically it’s AAA invading for no reason other than the script tells them to and three Impact guys fighting back for the same reason. The fans chanted for Lucha Libre because there’s no reason to cheer for Impact Wrestling in general, leaving the three of them to fight the AAA guys just because that’s what they do. The invasion story hasn’t worked so far and didn’t work here when the Impact guys won.
The Tag Team Titles were on the line next as OVE defended against LAX. The idea here was supposed to be LAX using their numbers advantage to win….except they didn’t. Until the very end, LAX fought a fair two on two match until the interference started. That’s all well and good, but it was OVE benefiting from the interference. The debuting Sami Callihan came out, attacked Konnan, and helped OVE retain the titles. I think they were going for a double turn here (it certainly came off like OVE turning heel), meaning that the heels would now be 3-1 (assuming you count Team Impact as faces, despite the fans cheering for their opponents).
That’s where this show is coming off the rails: what am I supposed to cheer for so far? El Patron returning? Well we knew that was coming and he wasn’t exactly popular to begin with. I guess you could go with Team Impact, though it was in the least interesting story on the show. No matter how you look at it though, this show really didn’t offer much to cheer about so far, which is a bad sign given that there are only three matches left.
Santino Marella is in the front row. He doesn’t actually say or do anything, but he is in fact here.
So now we move on to the Gail Kim Show, starring Gail Kim, featuring Gail Kim, co-starring Gail Kim, directed by Gail Kim and with special thanks to Gail Kim. In the weeks leading up to this match, there was absolutely no secret to the fact that this was all about giving Kim another title reign to go out on and that the other two were just there to give her someone to beat. The match was acceptable enough and Kim won the title clean, making her a record seven time champion. I guess this is the first thing you can cheer for tonight, assuming you’re not completely sick of Kim being treated like the greatest thing in wrestling history.
Assuming Kim actually does just vacate the title and retire, this is a celebration for someone who doesn’t need it. Kim is easily the most accomplished and important name in the history of the division (and nearly the entire company). Having a match with two people actually sticking around being used as cannon fodder is rather ridiculous and does nothing for the future, which is what the promotion needs to be focusing on. The old expression in wrestling is you go out on your back. Kim went out being given another title reign that she didn’t need after years of being praised for her greatness. Let someone else have the spotlight.
Jimmy Jacobs, recently of WWE Creative, is here, suggests that he’s now an employee, and leaves. This means nothing at the moment.
Next was the real main event of the night as we had Bobby Lashley and King Mo facing Stephan Bonnar and Moose. Now we’ll ignore the fact that this should have been Lashley vs. Moose as the two MMA guys offered nothing and were unnecessary “celebrity” participants and get on to the same problem this show has had all night: the heels went over, again.
Think about this one. The entire point of this feud was MMA vs. pro wrestling. For months we heard the MMA guys talking about how great their sport was and how much more legitimate it was and all that jazz. Then, they win the big match. Why? So the feud can continue? Why does the feud need to continue? You just had the big gimmick match. Why do we need it to continue? Why did the first match need to be in a cage? This felt like the blowoff match but instead it’s the first big match. The wrestling guys lose in the big spot and now I’m supposed to want to see more? From these losers? I’m good actually.
If you give the faces everything you can, this makes the heels 4-3 on the night with the faces’ biggest win being Kim’s. This is turning into “Starrcade 1997” territory with the villains taking everything and the fans being ground down into submission with nothing to cheer about. I have no idea how that line of thinking works from a booking perspective but I’m sure they had roughly 14 other things they needed to satisfy before the fans.
Finally we had Eli Drake defending the World Title against Johnny Impact. This is one of the brighter spots of the card as you have Drake putting in a good performance for the better part of twenty minutes against one of the best athletes in the wrestling business. They were doing some good stuff here…and then it was the El Patron Show (which had a decent lead-in from the Gail Kim Show).
After these two had put on a good match, El Patron came in and laid them both out, giving Drake the win. In theory this sets up El Patron vs. Impact in the future, making me wonder what Drake is supposed to do. Not that it really matters as this made him look like a lower card player by comparison, which really isn’t how you want your World Champion looking. El Patron is clearly the star of this promotion now and will be pushed harder than anyone else. We’re just that lucky I guess, just like we are to see another heel win.
Overall….what was this mess? This show started off with the fans being let down by a boring champion retaining his title and was capped off by a more entertaining champion being treated like a loser to retain his title. In between they saw mixed martial arts prove its superiority to wrestling, a tribute to the most tributed wrestler the company has ever had and an invasion that isn’t exactly thrilling.
I liked the show to a certain point while it was airing but looking back on it….egads. The problem here is rather simple: there’s very little to get excited about. The wrestling was good at times but the booking is a disaster. Between the dominance by the villains and the rather non-conclusive endings to the biggest matches on the show, this was one of the biggest misfires this company has had in a good while, which seems to be the case almost all the time.