Taiji Ishimori def. Trevor Lee to Win the Impact X-Division Championship
I'm hoping IMPACT has a renewed focus on the X-Division in 2018, so it was wise to kick off the new year with an X-Division match. These two have had a fun feud since right after Bound for Glory and I enjoyed this encounter quite a bit. Lee is perfect as the heel champ who will do anything it takes to retain his title, and Ishimori is one of the best they have. That said, him winning the title here was a cool moment, even if I didn't expect it to happen this soon.
Impact Grand Champion Ethan Carter III def. Matt Sydal and Fallah Bahh in a Three-Way Match
As I've said countless times in the past, I'm not a fan of the style of these Impact Grand Championship matches in the slightest, but at least they thought to switch it up a bit by having three men in the ring instead of the standard two. It actually made for a more entertaining match and there were a lot less dead spots. The finish was fantastic with Sydal nearly beating EC3 before the third round concluded, and he would have hit his finisher sooner had Bahh not knocked him off the top rope. Like Lee, EC3 has been perfect as the cowardly heel champion thus far and I like Sydal chasing the championship as opposed to winning it right away.
Dan Lambert def. James Storm in a No Disqualification Loser Leaves IMPACT Match
Needless to say, this wasn't much of a match at all. Rather, it was more of a one-sided beatdown. Storm got pummeled by the American Top Team as well as K.M. for a few minutes before eating the pinfall loss, but I loved the way it was executed with Storm kicking out of so much and looking like a hero on his way out. It was explained that Moose was nowhere to be seen because he was previously taken out by the heels. This marked the end of Storm's lengthy stint in the company and I hope he see him move on to bigger and better things (NXT, anyone?).
Chandler Park def. Jon Bolen
Before the bout, Joseph Park's Slammiversary 2012 match with Bully Ray was shown in its entirety. I assume that was done to kill time, but that was a waste considering their Global Wrestling Network has that match/event available as well. At any rate, this was Park's in-ring debut for IMPACT! and it was far from an impressive showing from him. Bolen dominated him for a majority of the match and then Park barely scored the victory. I know Ethan Page is better than this, so it was a disappointment.
Impact Global Champion Eli Drake def. Alberto El Patron
We were told this match was actually filmed last month at a WrestlePro event in front of what was probably a hundred people or less. Seriously, the turnout appeared to be bush league. For an independent wrestling event, that's fine, but IMPACT filming one of their world title matches there was lame. The match itself was solid from what was shown, especially considering it featured two heels against each other, but it definitely didn't have a big fight feel to it.
LAX def. oVe to Win the Impact World Tag Team Championship
If it wasn't already apparent, the double turn with these two teams is complete, which is the way it should be. oVe are much better in the heel role and LAX were already beloved, anyway. In fact, this was their best match to date that only got better as it progressed. They work very well together and the crowd popped for the finish that saw LAX become the new champions. Of course, the feud is far from over.
For the company's first show of 2018, all things considered, this was a pretty good edition of IMPACT! Wrestling. It was a fairly newsworthy night with four title matches taking place, two of those titles changing hands, Chandler making his in-ring debut and Storm wrestling his final match for IMPACT, so everything felt focused for the most part (i.e. no filler). Chandler's in-ring debut could have been better booked and the Global title match was uneventful, but those weren't major misfires. On the whole, IMPACT delivered for their premiere episode in the new year.
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