From The Impact Zone – February 8th, 2018

New pages of the new Chapter are set to be unveiled tonight. Austin Aries is now the IMPACT World Champion. Even if his comeback was unveiled by IMPACT when the episode was taped, I have to say it’s pretty cool to see him back in the Impact Zone. I love action, you love action, this week’s episode is made for us. The Cult of Lee will be in action. Hania, who attacked Rosemary two weeks ago, will make her in-ring debut against Amber Nova. Laurel Van Ness is putting her Knockouts title on the line against Kiera Hogan, who earned the shot thanks to Allie. And a new #1 contender for the IMPACT World Championship will be determined tonight in a Fatal Four Way match with Moose, Alberto El Patron, Johnny Impact and EC3. Let’s get ready for action so, your French Enygma Steph way, of course…

You all know that Jeremy Borash left IMPACT Wrestling for WWE. IMPACT decided to redo the commentaries with Sonjay Dutt, currently sidelined by a torn Achilles tendon, replacing Borash alongside Josh Mathews. We don’t know yet if it was a one-time shot or a permanent change, but we’ll tell you all as soon as we know…

IMPACT Grand Champion Matt Sydal & IMPACT X-Division Champion Taji Ishimori vs. AAA Latin American Champion El Hijo del Fantasma & Rohit Raju 

Many champions for this X-Division Tag Team bout. Rohit Raju was formerly known as Hakim Zane, Global Forged winner but now a member of the Indian Stable The Desi Hit Squad. We got handshakes and back and forth between Sydal and Raju to begin. Ishimori and Fantasma pushed and shoved, Fantasma seemed to take control but tagged in Raju. Sydal picked up the pace, with the standing moonsault. Ishimori was tagged in, he and Sydal worked on Raju. Lots of tags made the match seem messy. Sydal locked Raju in a single leg crab. Ishimori came back, Sydal a few seconds after.  Fantasma hit a Superkick on Ishimori and put Sydal into the Romero Special (the surfboard submission lock). Ishimori made the save and attacked Raju.

Raju in his a suicide dive on Sydal, Fantasma went for The Thrill of The Hunt (Samoan Driver) but Ishimori sent him to the floor and dove onto his opponent with the golden triangle moonsault. Back in the ring, Ishimori worked over Raju, but Raju locked on an armbar submission. Ishimori escaped, tagged in Sydal and he laid in kicks on Raju. Double team work on Raju who tasted the boots of both Sydal and Ishimori, but Fantasma made the save and cut them off with backbreakers and chops. Raju was tagged in and they double-teamed Sydal. Sydal fought back, fighting off both men. Ishimori rushed to help and hit The Dodon’s Throne (Taguchi’s double chicken wing double knee gutbuster) on Raju, Sydal followed with the Shooting Star Press for the win. More marks of respect and handshakes before the celebration.

– Austin Aries spoke with the media after winning the title last week. He said he knew he would win the title, but he didn’t expect it to be on the first night. He announced he didn’t sign with IMPACT and was allowed to defend the title anywhere around the world. Drake showed up to request a rematch, Aries quickly agreed. Aries said to go get ready for it, so Drake didn’t have any excuses. The match will happen next week.

– I usually don’t review the GWN Flashback moment of the week, but I share the segment with you this week as IMPACT chose to air Austin Aries’ first World Title victory, against Bobby Roode at Destination X on July 8, 2012.

Trevor Lee and Caleb Konley vs. TECH (Mike Monroe & TC Reid)

Lee and Konley appeared with LAX bandanas, mocking the stable. TECH tried to get in some offence but Monroe was kicked in the back by Lee on the apron. Lee hit some big chops and worked on Monroe. Lee and Konley did a great teamwork, with a Dropkick/powerbomb combo on Reid. The spiked piledriver followed and finished both Read and the match. Not a great match, but a good way to establish The Cult of Lee as a powerful tag team.

After the match, LAX showed up on the big screen. Konnan said Lee and Konley are a bunch of wanna-be pretenders and if they want some then LAX is coming. LAX music was played, making Lee and Konley nervously rush out of the ring.

– Backstage, as Moose was confirming McKenzie Mitchell he would make it to the big game tonight, Allie was telling Kiera Hogan how she was super impressed with her win over Laurel Van Ness last week. Allie then received a “top-secret” envelope. The giant card in said “Meet me in the Impact Zone the day after Valentine’s day. Your secret admirer”.

Impact Knockouts Championship Match: Laurel Van Ness vs. Kiera Hogan 

Laurel Van Ness didn’t let many chances to Hogan, dominating almost all the match. Hogan went for a dropkick but LVN hit the curb stomp. She then stunned her off the ropes and worked her over in the corner, making her taste every level of turnbuckles. She choked Kiera on the middle rope and whacked her in the back of the head.

She continued with a big splash in the corner. Laurel went for The Unprettier but Hogan rolled up. She fought back with a high cross and a Superkick. Van Ness countered a suplex, whipped Hogan off the ropes and hit the Unprettier for the win. After the bell rang, Laurel continued to beat up Kiera with kicks in the corner and shoved the referee away. Allie rushed to the ring, hit some clotheslines and a codebreaker. Laurel bailed to the ramp while Allie grabbed the belt, as a sign of rematch.

– A new video announced “The Machine” Brian Cage would make his debut next week. EC3 told McKenzie he’s the true one percent of this industry and will become a 3-time IMPACT World Champion. Namasté Matt Sydal gave props to his partner of the night Taiji Ishimori, the X-Division Champion will defend the title against El Hijo Del Fantasma next week.

– Backstage, Jimmy Jacobs was with Kongo Kong. Jacobs said he was very clear that he just wanted Abyss to show up this week, but it didn’t happen. Jacobs said s if Joseph Park didn’t bring Abyss then they would drag out his Monster (could Abyss and Joseph Park be related? That’s a mystery for Sherlock Holmes…)

– In the parking lot, oVe were scouting out Lashley and laughing creepily. They ambushed him, attacked him with a pipe and locked him in the trunk of his car. oVe looked at the camera, “Thumbs up! Thumb downs!” said Callihan.

Hania vs. Amber Nova

Hania was making her official debut with IMPACT even if she attacked Rosemary two weeks ago. She refuses a handshake from Amber Nova and tried for a cheap shot, but gets popped instead. Hania choked Nova’s neck over the second rope and hit an axe kick. She missed a second, allowing Nova to hit an enziguri, a clothesline, a dropkick and a big boot to the face. Nova yanked Hania’s neck into the top turnbuckle and went for a hurricanrana. Hania countered the move into a powerbomb and hit the inverted DDT for the win.

After the match, Rosemary ran in from the crowd and attacked Hania. She went for Red Wedding, but Hania ran away. Rosemary smiled and bowed to Hania as her music hit.

#1 Contender Match for Impact World Championship: Moose vs. EC3 vs. Johnny Impact vs. Alberto El Patron

Everyone brawled as the bell rand. Impact and El Patron paired off. Moose and EC3 brawled on the floor. Patron and EC3 double-teamed Moose and rolled him back in the ring. Impact returned, making the save for Moose, beating down El Patron while Moose beat down EC3. Alberto dumped Johnny and worked on Moose with EC3 with a double DDT. El Patron then attacked EC3. The two brawled but Johnny fired up with a corkscrew from off the top rope. He connected with a kick to Alberto, Moose broke up the pin. Moose hit a pop-up powerbomb on Johnny and big boots to Alberto and EC3.

Everyone was down but started to brawl again. Post break, Moose dumped Impact to the floor. El Patron followed Moose to the floor and hey battled in the crowd (that is where Moose legit hurt his knee, even if we didn’t really see it on TV). EC3 whipped Impact to the steps. Alberto returned, worked on Johnny and EC3 into the barricades. El Patron put Johnny in a trashcan, but Impact escaped and threw a can in the face of El Patron (you could notice that Johnny Impact can be recycled… ). Johnny sent the trash can into EC3’s face.

Back in the ring, Johnny went for a pin but El Patron stopped the count and cut off Johnny. El Patron and EC3 worked together again and beat down Impact in the corner. They set him on the top rope and followed him up. Impact fought them off and tried for a double float over powerbomb. Moose limped back to the ring and helped Johnny to connect with a double powerbomb. Moose was very hobbled but kept fighting. He hit a massive lariat on El Patron, a headbutt on Impact. Johnny countered a Go to Hell from Moose into a hurricanrana. EC3 hit Moose with the One Percenter.

Johnny made the save, Moose rolled to the apron to rally. Impact connected with the swinging neckbreaker on EC3 but Alberto cut him off, hit the backstabber to Moose and locked EC3 into the cross arm breaker. Moose broke the move with a running senton. Alberto clotheslined Moose out to the floor, Johnny wiped El Patron out too. EC3 tried for a roll-up and a One Percenter on Johnny, but Impact was able to counter and roll through for the pin. A very good main event, special mention to Moose who worked through the match injured. Johnny Impact is the #1 contender again, is this time going to be the right time?

This new Chapter of IMPACT may be interesting, this episode was very unequal. Good X-Division tag team match, great main event, but in the middle of it the other matches were lacklustre. They set up some matches for next week but they were not thrilling. With the IMPACT World Championship rematch and the debut of Brian Cage, next week’s episode should be quite interesting to watch. Some pages are harder to turn than others, as no Chapter is absolutely perfect. But anyway, can do better… And if you agree with me, of course, I see you next week… 

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