This Week On IMPACT Wrestling – The First IMPACT of 2018 – January 4th, 2018

2017 is over, and the first IMPACT of 2018 is full of promises. After 2 weeks of best of (did you read the Nygma Top 10 of IMPACT in 2017? If not, read here), we start this new year with action and maybe the end of an incredible career. All the titles, excepted the Knockouts one, are on the line tonight, it may be “The Cowboy” James Storm last appearance in the Impact Zone, and Chandler Park will make his debut. Let’s get ready for action so, your French Enygma Steph way, of course…

Dan Lambert arrived at the arena, and he was not alone as the whole American Top Team headed in too. Lambert was decided to do his match against James Storm on his own…

X Division Championship Match: Trevor Lee (c) w/ Caleb Konley vs. Taiji Ishimori 

After some back and forth action and a couple of pin attempts, Lee went to the outside, expecting Ishimori to make a dive. But he faked it and Lee tossed him to the apron. Ishimori went for a springboard but Konley pulled him down the top rope to the floor. Lee then hit his big kick to the face on the apron. Konley distracted the referee to attack Ishimori before tossing him back to the ring.

Ishimori unloaded a springboard, charged Lee towards the corner, hit the double knees and the double foot stomp, but Lee kicked out. The Champion countered a handspring crossbody into a slam to the outside. Back from commercials, Lee went for a release suplex but Ishimori reversed and hit a handspring kick. Ishimori reversed most of Lee’s moves but couldn’t escape the sit-down powerbomb. Ishimori kicked out again, continued to reverse some of Lee’s moves, hit the double knees to the face before rising to the top and hitting his signature 540 for the win. It was meant to happen, Pro Wrestling NOAH’s own Taiji Ishimori has become X-Division Champion. He earned it but will now have to keep it.

After a promo for the upcoming Eli Drake and Alberto El Patron match, Konnan wanting revenge after being burnt by the fireball Sami Callihan got in his face, we saw Dezmond Xavier backstage congratulating Ishimori but also asking for a title shot. Ishimori agreed.

Backstage, James Storm told McKenzie Mitchell he is this company and he’s given everything he has to IMPACT and pro wrestling. He fully expected to send Dan Lambert back to Florida and confirmed tonight Lambert wasn’t fighting just him, but everyone in the back that he took time to help out.

Impact Grand Championship Match: EC3 (c) vs. Matt Sydal vs. Fallah Bahh

It was the first time the IMPACT Grand Championship had been defended in a 3-Way Match.

Round 1

EC3 went right after Bahh, Sydal too, but Bahh replied with a double clothesline. Bahh nailed some body slams to both Carter and Sydal. Sydal attempted a pin on EC3 but Bahh rolled over both guys (poor dudes…). Bahh threw EC3 in the corner, charged but got kicked. EC3 hit big chops on Bahh, Bahh fired back, Sydal tried to slow him down but was tossed out of the ring. Bahh hit a massive leg drop on EC3, a hip toss, then dragged EC3 over to the corner for a splash from the second rope but EC3 rolled out of the ring as the round came to an end (lucky man…). Bahh reigned supreme on this round.

Fallah Bahh won Round 1

Round 2

Sydal and EC3 worked on Bahh right in the round and sent him to the floor. Sydal tried to rise to the top but Carter stroke him from behind. Sydal replied with a load of kicks, Carter with a clothesline. EC3 then lifted Sydal up and threw him down on Bahh. EC3 went out to the floor to destroy his opponents. He hit a big DDT on Bahh and threw Sydal back in the ring. Sydal attacked with a spin kick, replied with an exploder suplex before smashing Sydal in the corner. Bahh came back to the ring to eat a big boot from Carter as the round ran out of time. This round was obviously for Carter.

EC3 won Round 2

Round 3

All three men were back in the ring. EC3 went for a suplex on Bahh who hit a crossbody to drop both Carter and Sydal. The crowd was massively and surprisingly for Bahh… EC3 tried to roll Bahh but Bahh just sat himself down on EC3 (vision of horror…) for a pin Sydal broke up. Sydal went up, hit double knees on Bahh and kicks to both Bahh and EC3. Carter connected with a TK3 on Sydal. But Bahh hits a Samoan drop on EC3 and splashed Sydal in the corner (another vision of horror…). Bahh headed up for a second rope splash, but EC3 dumped him to the floor. Sydal hit a knee strike on EC3, went to the top rope, Bahh shook the ropes and made Sydal fall. Sydal got up again for the shooting star press did the cover, but ran out of time. I would have given the round to Sydal but it wouldn’t have changed the result of the match as a tie favoured the reigning Champion…

EC3 won Round 3 and the match to retain the IMPACT Grand Championship

Backstage we saw Moose being hammered with a chair by KM, to prevent him from helping James Storm. Meanwhile, Allie couldn’t believe what she was living until Laurel Van Ness sneakily attacked her.

Career vs. Career No Holds Barred Match: James Storm vs. Dan Lambert 

No Holds Barred meant the whole American Top Team was able to be in the ring. So this match was an ambush. Dan Lambert didn’t even touch Storm, only to pin him. Lashley hit a spinebuster, KM smacked a bottle of the beer on the head of Storm, before a double beer bottle smash by ATT members. Like Jeremy Borash quoted, “James Storm has been with IMPACT since Day One, it was very difficult to see the departure of The Cowboy, especially at the hands of somebody like Dan Lambert.” Backstage a bunch of wrestlers gather gave a round of applause for Storm. We saw him calling his family to say he was coming home.

Before witnessing the debut of the nephew of Joseph Park, we saw a number of clips on Abyss and Joseph Park over the years (would these two be related?).

Chandler Park vs. Jon Bolen

Bolen quite simply destroyed Chandler until he trash talked Joseph. Park punched Bolen in the face, Chandler rolled Bolen up for the win. What else to say…

Backstage a revengeful Sydal said EC3 was able to put yet another intermediary between them, to stay just far enough away. Sydal added he felt like tonight’s defeat was like a victory for him, so it fueled it more to figure out a way to get the IMPACT Grand Champion. He asked everyone to question everything and think for themselves. Because a change is coming and he’s going to make it.

Impact Global Championship Match: Eli Drake (c) vs. Alberto El Patron

Before we headed to New Jersey Wrestle Pro, El Patron cut a promo on Drake being a “Paper Champion” as he was stripped of his belt. In the ring, the action went everywhere and weapons welcomed. El Patron hit a DDT on Drake on the ramp. The two fought in the crowd. Drake slammed Alberto on the announce table. Drake tried to hit El Patron with the belt but missed. Alberto dropped Drake on the title but bumped the referee so Drake hit Alberto with the belt for the win.

Impact World Tag Team Championship Match – If LAX loses, they are gone from IMPACT: oVe (Dave and Jake Crist) (c) vs. LAX (Santana and Ortiz)

Before the match started, a brawl started all over the Impact Zone. Callihan and the Crist brothers, in perfect heel mode, attacked Santana, Ortiz, Konnan and Homicide, the faces of the night. Callihan brought Konnan and Homicide backstage as oVe brought Ortiz and Santana in the ring. The bell finally rang and Jake and Dave attacked Santana, as Ortiz was still down on the outside. The Crist Brothers were in full control in this 2-on-1 situation.

Back from break, Santana was back and hit a cutter. He tried to tag in Ortiz who was on the floor. Jake popped Santana from the outside, Dave then dropped Santana in the middle of the ring. Ortiz and Jake were tagged in and punched away at each other. Santana fought off, hit a DDT hits and tagged in Ortiz. He crushed Dave in the corner, dodged Jake who hit his brother. Ortiz then picked Jake up and connected with a Death Valley Driver right into his brother Dave.

Ortiz caught Jake on the second rope and stole the LAX doomsday blockbuster (powerbomb/blockbuster combo) to hit Ortiz. oVe went for the All-seeing Eye but Santana knocked Jake down on the top rope. Ortiz hit a Death Valley Driver. Jake and Santana reached the top rope, Santana went for a splash but Jake caught him in mid-air with a stunning cutter (amazing move). Ortiz and Jake in the ring now, chopping away at each other. Street sweeper on Jake, pin, 1-2-3! Jake and Ortiz battled in the middle of the ring, Ortiz fired up with chops while Santana took out Dave. LAX then hit the Street Sweeper to become Tag Team Champions again. A sensational match, a well-deserved victory for LAX and a special mention to a fantastic Santana whose eyes were balling when the referee handed him the belt.

I can’t believe James Storm’s career was ended by Dan Lambert… For everything he has done with IMPACT Wrestling and a 14-year career stacked of titles and recognition, James Storm deserved way better. It’s sad to see one of IMPACT’s pioneers going away. Thank you, Cowboy, you’ll never be forgotten… At the same time, Taiji Ishimori is the new X-Division Champion and LAX are Tag Team Champions again. New year, new Champions, new faces, action, IMPACT in 2018 is starting well. If you agree with me, of course, I see you next Friday… 

All pics, videos, and screenshots courtesy of Impact Wrestling. Photomontage by @frenchnygma exclusively for @steelchairmag.