Like I told you last week, before an epic first IMPACT of 2018, we’ll be on “best-of” mode for the next 2 weeks. I absolutely don’t know what IMPACT decided to pick, so I’ll find out with you, review you it for you, but also try to remember with you why these matches were important. 2017 has been a complex year for IMPACT, management wise, but, as you know, all I love to describe is action, and just action (and Garza Jr. ripping his pants off…). So we’ll stay on action mode for the rest of the year and 2018, of course. Let’s get ready to rewind 2017, the “Doctor Frenchy” Steph way, of course…
The return of Bruce Prichard, “TNA is dead”, Alberto El Patron makes his debut (March 9, 2017)
Bruce Prichard was a backstage agent and producer for TNA from 2010 to 2013. That day of March Prichard went on-screen to change the fate of the 3 historical letters that were defining the company, TNA. Prichard said Impact wasn’t what he remembered, but had hope while they were on the cusp of greatness, but it didn’t work. He claimed “TNA is dead” and now called the show “Impact Wrestling”. Because he spent 22 years with WWE, he said he knew how to make wrestling great and that was starting with a face for the company. TNA World Heavyweight champion Bobby Lashley came to the ring to say he had walked through everyone that had gotten in his way. Prichard confirmed there was simply nobody in the back that can take on Lashley, so here came Alberto El Patron. For his first appearance on the Impact Zone, Alberto didn’t impress Lashley.
What IMPACT didn’t show was EC3 coming to the ring to ask Lashley to give him a title shot. Bruce Prichard turned down his offer and made for the same night Lashley vs. Alberto El Patron for the now IMPACT World Tag Team Championship.
Impact World Championship Match: “Walking Armageddon” Lashley (c) vs. Alberto El Patron (March 9, 2017)
First match and first controversial win for El Patron. Lashley was handling Alberto fairly easily, even when the action went to the outside. Lashley continued with a neckbreaker, pin, too. Alberto rolled all the way to the floor but Lashley threw him to the steel steps. Lashley was in absolute control but when he went for the spear, El Patron replied with a kick to the face. While the referee was doing his 10-count, we saw EC3 watching the action from the ramp.
Lashley tried to keep the momentum, even if El Patron was countering him more often. The fate of the match changed when Lashley went for a clothesline and hit the referee instead. Alberto locked him in the cross arm breaker as a new referee rushed into the match. Lashley was able to get out of the submission by lifting and hitting a powerbomb Alberto. Lashley then charged the corner and missed. Alberto hit a double stomp, Lashley rallied with a spine buster but pulled out the referee when Alberto went for the superkick. Another referee was KO. Lashley hit another spine buster but no one was there to make the count. Lashley headed out to take the belt but Alberto welcomed him with a kick to the face, grabbed the belt, nailed Lashley right in the head. Just in time for the second referee to wake up and give the 3-count to El Patron. Referees and officials rushed to the ring unhappy as Alberto celebrated.
Big moments, big feuds and LAX’s lair
Josh Mathews recapped some of this year’s big moments, Alberto El Patron and EC3 battle for the Title, Sienna, Allie and Laurel Van Ness’s feud, Cody and Brandi Rhodes appearing on IMPACT, Cody feuding with Moose, Bruce Prichard building up the tag division and the return of LAX.
LAX came back on March 16 to bring back violence to the Impact Zone. Josh Mathews added LAX was like a clubhouse and their lair is a place he would like to check out but probably not be allowed to enter.
Low Ki is back on the IMPACT Zone
The X-Division has been the identity of TNA/GFW/IMPACT since their very beginnings. In 2017, pioneers of the division came back like Low Ki, Sonjay Dutt or Petey Williams, ready to cross path with the new faces of the division. The following match marks the comeback of both Low-Ki and Sonjay Dutt on the Impact Zone.
X Division Championship Match: Trevor Lee (c) (w/ Gregory Helms) vs. Andrew Everett vs. Suicide vs. Low Ki vs. Dezmond Xavier vs. “Playa from the Himalaya” Sonjay Dutt (April 20, 2017)
At that time, Trevor Lee was a part of The Helms Dynasty and a 2-time X-Division Champion. This match was everything X-Division has always been about, high-flying moves, quick action. The action was coming from everywhere, Suicide working on both Everett and Xavier, Dutt hitting a running DDT on his 5 opponents, and then all opponents going together for a dropkick.
As Lee was cheering up in the middle of the ring, he ate 5 dropkicks right in the face. A festival of kicks, moonsaults, suicide dives, hurricanrana and flips followed from all sides. Action everywhere, even to the floor, not easy to describe when there are so many people in the ring and action on every side of it. As Andrew Everett was about to win the match, Low Ki hit a big kick and connected with The Warrior’s Way on Trevor Lee. Low-Ki has just become a 5-time X-Division Champion. This match is a must-see and maybe the best X-Division match of the year.
This match is also to relate to the beginning of the war of the announcers, as Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash got into a verbal fight and Mathews taunted Borash for cheering on Low Ki. Borash ended up popping Mathews in the face.
Impact Tag Team Championship Street Fight: Decay vs. LAX (April 27, 2017)
At that very time, the TNA Tag Team Championships were vacant as The Broken Hardys teleported themselves out of the company. A 5-on-3 match as Konnan, Homicide and Diamanté were at ringside for LAX and Rosemary accompanied Decay. A table and two barbed wire boards quickly came in the ring. Homicide also slid in a chair. Trash cans were also on the menu and sent across Steve’s back and Abyss’ face. LAX used every possible weapon they could find and made The Decay suffer a living hell. A bag filled with thumbtacks appeared momentarily. Abyss and Steve answered with kendo stick and trash can shots on LAX. Abyss continued by throwing a chair at Ortiz’s head.
Rosemary came to mist on Ortiz but hit Abyss instead who got put through a barbed wire board. Diamante suplexed Rosemary and then beat her up on the outside. Barbed wire side was put on Abyss, Santana connected with a running senton on the board to crush him. Steve came back in the ring but Konnan pulled the referee out. Homicide got involved again, Steve threw him out and opened the magic black bag full of thumbtacks. He threw them on Ortiz, on a table, headed to the top rope. But Homicide distracted Steve, Santana kicked him in the face and LAX then hit their powerbomb/blockbuster combo through the table and the thumbtacks for the win. Incredible match that made LAX the first IMPACT World Tag Team Champions.
The Mumbai interlude
IMPACT went to India last April and recorded 4 episodes in Mumbai. An important moment for the whole roster who enjoyed the ride. Mahabali Shera talked about what it meant to him to wrestle in his country and getting a chance to see his family. Sonjay Dutt, another Indian wrestler, had the chance to win his first-ever X-Division title in Mumbai as the exclamation point of his feud with Low Ki.
X-Division Championship Match: Sonjay Dutt vs. Low Ki (c) from Mumbai, India (June 15, 2017)
A very important moment for these 2 X-Division pioneers who have known each other very well and, mostly, respect each other. I personally relate this match to my official debut as your IMPACT reviewer… The crowd was totally behind Dutt who attacked Ki’s injured eye right in the match. Dutt started with a hurricanrana and an arm drag. Low Ki tried to charge Dutt in the corner but missed. Low Ki was sent to the outside, Dutt came with a baseball slide, but Low Ki sent him into the barricade. He then dumped Sonjay into the crowd. Back in the ring, Dutt hit a superkick and sent Low Ki back into the ring apron. Dutt hit a bad-looking moonsault so Low Ki slammed Dutt into the steel steps.
Low Ki was in control but Dutt countered Low Ki attempting to springboard him off the second rope. Low Ki fell flat on his back. Dutt then connected with a dropkick to the face while the crowd was more and more on fire. Then came a flurry of high-flying, death-defying moves. Then Dutt went for a sunset flip, Low Ki countered with a double stomp and put Dutt on the top rope. Dutt fought him away, hit a tornado DDT off the ropes, before coming back to the top rope for a tremendous splash for the win. A very emotional Lee celebrated in front of “his” crowd. Mahabali Shera, Matt Sydal, Swoggle, Eddie Edwards and other wrestlers joined him in the ring to celebrate with him.
A few weeks later at Slammiversary XV, Dutt and Low Ki reached new highs when they competed in an amazing 2 out of 3 falls match for the belt. Maybe a match we’ll have the chance to see next week…
Good choice from IMPACT for the first part of the year. I won’t say Alberto El Patron’s debut was my preferred moment, but the choices of the return of LAX and the X-Division matches are justified ones. My advice, watch this match back, enjoy them again… Next week, we’ll see what the second part of the year brought us best. But if you carefully read my reviews every week, you already know what was good and what was not…
On my behalf and the whole SteelChairmag team one, have the happiest and sweetest Christmas ever… 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.