Eli Drake def. Scott Steiner
Although the promo battles could have been something special, I'm glad this wasn't dragged out into a full-fledged feud because Drake deserves better. Plus, this wasn't good, like at all. In fact, it was straight-up terrible. Steiner was fine while wisely protected in his tag team outings alongside Drake, but in singles competition, his limitations/weaknesses are exposed big time. It didn't help that they're both heels and thus the crowd had zero incentive to cheer for either of them. On the bright side, Drake won, hopefully putting an end to Steiner's latest IMPACT tenure.
Madison Rayne def. Tessa Blanchard
I really liked the layout of this match with Blanchard on offense for a majority of it with Rayne scoring some hope spots at various points. Blanchard looked super impressive against the former five-time Knockouts Champion and came across like a star. Rayne also played the underdog role well, though her win took me by surprise. I didn't expect Blanchard to be beaten so early into her run in IMPACT, but I assume that was done to prolong the program.
Brian Cage def. Dezmond Xavier in an Impact X-Division Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
Cage has been on an absolute tear since arriving in IMPACT and although I had no doubt he would have his hand raised here, this was a fun little match. Xavier had a very good showing in defeat by pulling everything out of his arsenal and taking the behemoth to his limit, ultimately to no avail. With this victory, Cage has an X-Division title shot lined up and I look forward to him and Matt Sydal for the strap as the David vs. Goliath dynamic could be great.
Su Yung def. Allie in a Last Rites Match to Win the Impact Knockouts Championship
This was your typical Casket match, just with a different name. I'm not often a fan of the stipulation because it tends to make for a slow matchup, but it was certainly fitting for this feud. Granted, it wasn't a mat classic, but it didn't need to be because the drama was well done with Allie attempting to channel her inner demon to rival Yung. In the end, it wasn't enough and it cost her the championship. It's awesome that Yung is being positioned as the top heel in the division and I'm interested to see who will be first to step up to challenge her.
Impact Grand Champion Austin Aries def. Pentagon Jr. to Win the Impact World Championship (The Impact Grand Championship Was Not Defended)
The crowd not being as hot as they should have been bothered me a bit, but the in-ring action was entertaining enough to make up for that. Aries and Pentagon have excellent chemistry together by this point and both of them put forth a hell of an effort. Unfortunately, the overbooking hurt the flow of the matchup during the final stretch, but it did lead to Aries' official heel turn and subsequent title win. That puts Pentagon in chase mode and breaths new life into this rivalry that has been a blast to watch over the last month.
You could tell that this was taped toward the end of this batch of tapings, because the audience was rather flat for the most part. It was disappointing because the show itself was actually a hit in my book, outside of the opener that is. Everything else was above-average, and as I've said in the past, IMPACT does a strong job of delivering when it matters most with these occasional special shows. They'll look to maintain the momentum next week with Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan in an Unsanctioned Street Fight (in the woods?), so I'm digging the new direction the company has been going in for a few months now.
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