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  1. TonyPulis'Cap

    Is Impact the best promotion in wrestling history?

    This sums up a lot of my own feelings well. I'm not a Cornette: "funny don't equal money" guy, but agree that Impact's ratio has been creeping a bit too high on the 'wacky' side in the last few months. For example, I know a lot of people on here really seem to like the wedding shooting angle, but it's just not for me. Not saying it's bad - people here seem to like it - it just disconnects me from the world the rest of the show is being presented in. I've always been someone that recognises that wrestling is at its best when you have variety, and having comedy and campy over the top stuff is just as vital a part of wrestling as 'good matches' and blood feuds, but it'a all about the balance, and Impact, to me, feels like it's just gone a bit too heavy on that side recently. It means some of the people involved come off looking like real geeks to me. I'm still a supporter and fan of the product overall though, which is why I was disappointed when Bound for Glory felt like a pretty poor show when compared to their more recent PPVs. Reading the results and seeing the clips from Turning Point last night though, that sounded like a much better show with some interesting debuts to replenish some of the talent they are losing like the Rascalz.
  2. TonyPulis'Cap

    Is Impact the best promotion in wrestling history?

    The Deonna Purazzo vs Kylie Rae match was the one I was most excited/intrigued by going in, so that's really disappointing to hear that she was off the card and the match got changed. If it's an injury then there's not too much you can do about that sadly, but I really hope they weren't trying to overthink it, especially given how good the build up show they did which focused heavily on that match. I haven't seen the show yet, so it would be wrong for me to offer too much of an opinion... But watching the TV every week going in, some of the results seemed a bit strange and not the direction I would've gone in e.g. whether it was to be Kylie Rae or Su Young in the match I thought the Purazzo title run had much more to run, same for the MCMG's holding the tag titles which have been two of the best things about the company the last couple of months. But as I say I will hold off too much on snap judgments until I've actually seen it!
  3. TonyPulis'Cap

    [2002-06-22-ROH-Road to the Title] American Dragon vs Doug Williams

    This is a really good match, with fantastic grappling and matwork between the two. As SLB has pointed out, there's a really nice little story line and dynamic running throughout with Dragon, who at this point in his ROH run had been able to dominate guys in his matches when it came to technical wrestling, coming up against someone in Williams that has more experience and that has the British/WOS counters that Dragon struggles to be able to counter. Williams dominates a lot of the match, which really gets him over with the crowd with lots of impressed reactions to the traditional British style of wrestling that a lot may not have been familiar with. Interestingly Dragon would go on to pick up a lot of that style and add it to his repertoire when he would do extended tours of the UK in the coming years. In this one he plays a great fiery babyface. again as SLB notes, fighting from underneath. At the time it seemed like an upset when Williams went over, but it established him well as someone towards the top of the crowd in the first couple of years of ROH and someone that seemed like a big deal when he came over. Really enjoyed this one, with great exchanges between the two. (*** 3/4)
  4. This match is for the FWA All England Title (the FWA’s IC equivalent belt). Zebra Kid had started the Tour as champion, had lost the belt to Chris Hamrick as part of the tour, who had in turn lost it to Jonny Storm, also as part of the tour. So Zebra Kid is coming in as the challenger here. The British Breakout Tour had been designed to help expand the FWA out of its regular markets, with the multiple title changes a tactic of drawing up local interest in other parts of the county. That could also be seen by the fact the FWA Tag Titles also changed hands on this show and then changed back again the next night on the last leg of the tour. Spoiler alert: with the title ending up back where we started on the Zebra Kid, it allowed them to effectively reset as they got back to their ‘regular’ shows. On a little trivia note, this night of the tour was back in the FWA’s original home base of Portsmouth but would be the last time the company would ever run the town. As might be expected, this is an all action match between the two, with little let up. Initially Storm manages to frustrate ZK with his quickness, until Zebra manages to use his aggressive style and being unafraid to put his body on the line to take control. Given his strength is brawling, I liked that he was always trying to throw Jonny to the outside and take it to the floor, while Storm was always trying to increase the pace which is his strong suit – it makes for a nice dynamic and storyline through the match. As is very much the way in indie matches, there’s a lot of back and forth, and I think that if Zebra Kid had managed to have a longer control/heat section it really would’ve helped Jonny’s comebacks get that little more steam and impact. Overall there is good fire and intensity from both - they don’t treat this as more of a ‘b show’ given it wasn’t one of the FWA’s more in canon main shows – and there’s a nice finish with Storm leaping to the top only to get German suplexed off the top. (***)
  5. We are on night 6 of the British Breakout Tour, which I’ve described in more detail here. Earlier on the tour, Hamrick had defeated the Zebra Kid for the FWA All England Title, so this is title vs title, with Jonny’s ‘prestigious’ XPW European Title also on the line. In storyline terms, Jonny was fresh off turning heel on Jody Fleisch, but given this isn’t your usual hardcore FWA crowd and probably only a tiny fraction of the crowd probably would’ve been up-to-date with all the company’s angles, Storm wrestles 100% babyface here. Hamrick tries the same stooging as in his match with Doug Williams earlier on the tour, but it works better here, matching up with Jonny’s more over the top character. Storm plays a good face in peril, keeping the crowd engaged with nice hope spots. Compared to Hamrick’s match with Doug Williams this is more of an all action, indie spot style contest, with big moves and fast sequences, including Jonny being vaulted onto the basketball hoop in the sports centre they are in and turning it into a rana. They spectacularly blow one of Jonny’s trademark rewind ranas, but Hamrick manages to win the crowd back into things with two sick looking piledrivers, including a sit down tombstone, Owen Hart/Steve Austin Summerslam 97 style. I chose to write off the logic gap of the piledriver being banned under FWA rules by thinking to myself that as it’s also for an XPW Title so it’s cross promotional rules (not that I was thinking far too much into a random match from 17 years ago or anything…). After a good series of nearfalls from both guys, Storm picks up both titles with a rana from the top. These two have good chemistry (they wrestle again later in the year at Hotwired) and match up well, and it ends in a nice gentlemanly handshake. It doesn’t fit with the fact that the company was just starting to promote Jonny as it’s new top heel but it’s a decent match! (***)
  6. This match is from the FWA’s British Breakout Tour, which was part of the company’s desire to become a more national promotion, branching out of the South coast and London area which was its base. We are in the glamorous setting of Cleethorpes on one of the nights of the tour in the North of England at the Winter Gardens, which was one of your classic British seaside music hall venues. This is very much a ‘house show’/B show type card, compared to the bigger standalone shows the FWA was putting on in and around the London area. Doug is a month on from defeating Christopher Daniels for the FWA Title at ROH Night of the Champions to begin his second reign. Worth noting at this point FWA Title matches were 2/3 falls. Hamrick would be a semi-regular for the FWA in 2003, and for this match is billed as ‘representing XPW’ which the FWA had a partnership with. In the opening exchanges, Hamrick is in full stooging heel mode, trying to convince the ref Doug’s used a closed fist on him behind his back. We also get a load of spots involving atomic drops, with the early stages being worked as a comedy match. It plays well to the family type crowd in attendance, but you have to think they wouldn’t have gone down this route in front of the regular more hardcore FWA fanbase. What’s good though is that Doug, as the top guy in the company doesn’t get portrayed as an idiot, and doesn’t fall for any of the mind games. Things start to pick up with some brawling on the outside, and from there we lead to a sequence back in the ring where William’s picks up the first fall with a tornado DDT. The start of the second fall sees Hamrick faking trying to leave, but again Doug isn’t your standard babyface idiot and continues to be on top. With his regular tours to the US, Doug is so smooth and confident in everything he does. One of the problems with the match however, is that every time it looks to be escalating, Hamrick rather jarringly goes back to the stooging and there’s an odd sequence in which he goes for a split legged moonsault, but ends up botching it and selling that he’s seriously injured. The ref calls for assistance with other wrestlers coming out, and given the old school/family seaside crowd, people seem to buy it’s a real injury, but he then hops up to superkick Doug and get the second fall. Usually on a fake injury angle you don’t go to the trouble of deliberately botching a move badly, but then I guess, he could’ve in kayfabe terms be covering the fact he’s made an error and sees it as a way of working an opening? Either way, it’s all a bit odd in the execution. The final fall is more serious and moves into a more typical indie back and forth contest with Hamrick getting a series of near falls, including his top rope leg drop. However, we then get a convoluted ending with the ref being knocked down when Doug has the match won with the Chaos Theory, allowing Hamrick to hit a low blow and a piledriver (illegal in the FWA) to seemingly win the title when Head Ref Steve Lynskey runs down to count the pin…however, as you probably guess, we get the original ref waving it off – not clear if it’s because he’s the designated official or if it’s because of the use of the banned piledriver – and restarting the match. From there, it’s another Chaos Theory and Doug retains. This ended up really disappointing me. If you’ve read any of my FWA reviews, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Doug Williams, who was consistently putting in excellent performances at this time, and I also like Chris Hamrick, but this is a really schizophrenic match alternating between stooging comedy and indie nearfalls, and includes both a fake injury angle and a Dusty finish that suffocates any of the good parts. (**)
  7. And didn't they used to get the best ratings on the show as well? They also had women with lots of different looks to them as well, whereas WWE at the time only seemed to be hiring, or featuring women that all looked the same.
  8. TonyPulis'Cap

    Is Impact the best promotion in wrestling history?

    Co-signing all these points. I've been a big fan of Impact for the last couple of years, but while there's been a few bright spots, a lot of the matches have felt very lethargic these last few weeks. A huge part of that has been the lack of crowd of course, and just shows how soulless no fans wrestling is. Kylie Rae has been very good thought - loved her match with Keira Hogan at Rebellion. And the Moose hype video that opened the show a week or so back was absolutely tremendous. Just a perfect example of a disingenuous over the top heel promo that is wrestling 101, but with the brilliant twist of mixing in old spliced together clips of former stars as talking heads. What with it taking quotes out of context, and spinning a false narrative it felt very 2020 as well
  9. TonyPulis'Cap

    The Cancellation of Jim Cornette

    Yep. Very much an indictment of the things wrong are that "...plus she's really good" is the fourth reason given for trying to convince Vince she was worth hiring.
  10. TonyPulis'Cap

    Greatest year ever by a wrestler

    Have always loved Bret's 1997. There's a couple of great matches of course (Mania 13 vs Austin, the 5 on 5 Canadian Stampede, the Taker match at One Night Only) but I just love the character arc he goes through on screen (which in a way is also mirrored off screen) where you basically see one man's descent, if not into madness but a form of despair at his complete disdain for how the world is changing around him. It's one of those brilliant wrestling arcs where art imitates life, and Montreal caps off the true end for a fallen hero that had become so embittered and angry at the world. I think it's a really strong in ring year for him despite the injury layoff, but it's also all the promos and the angles as well - it's probably my favourite calendar year for any one performer.
  11. This is in the tried and tested tradition of putting a company ace up against an up and coming face where the rookie gets to shine, but ultimately falls to the veteran’s greater skills and experience. As befitting that formula, we get a fast start from Xavier with a series of arm drags and a good early nearfall of a sky high/elbow drop powerbomb. I really liked the sequence where Williams, showing his experience, rolls to the outside to break the initial flurry from Xavier and then moves away from his technical wrestling wheelhouse to strikes and punches after realising he’s now in a fight. However, we then get Xavier going to the outside when the match is going against him, showing he is learning, and earning a round of applause from Doug. We then get Doug slowing down the match and returning to his strengths, by working holds and him taking control. During this portion, Williams shows just how good a wrestler he is; everything is so slick and there’s real snap behind all his offensive moves. Xavier gets in some hope spots to keep the crowd invested, but while the match is on the mat there’s only going to be one winner, so when he creates an opening by moonsaulting over Doug, he realises he has to up the pace and he gets a close 2 off a rolling release X-Plex, which was one of his signature moves, and something Pete Dunne uses a lot now. This is where the match escalates – Xavier trying to keep up the pace, while Doug starts to go for some big bombs to try and put the youngster away, including a series of powerbombs, as the crowd is now really invested in the rookie hanging with the ace. Ultimately it’s William’s greater technical skills that end up winning the day with him getting a roll up into a bridge. This match though was successful in getting Xavier over as someone that could hang with guys at the top of the card. (***)
  12. This is another match that is part of the FWA’s overarching ‘Old School v New School’ feud that dominated the company in 2002. Parker had become No. 1 contender by defeating Justin Richards at the previous show Vendetta, in a match interestingly reffed by Jake Roberts. Flash is coming in as the FWA Champion, and with the belt on the line here, this is the first match on the show that creates some drama with the crowd and this starts with some good intensity. In doing this FWA re-watch, I’ve been really impressed by Barker, who is never less than solid in his matches. Here he is nicely vicious working over Parker’s ribs, which is a nice bit of continuity from them being injured by Doug Williams in the FWA Title tournament the previous year. Parker was a fairly decent hand, although would suffer as the promotion became more work rate heavy in the next couple of years and would drop down the card pretty much after this. Here though he has good fire, and I enjoyed the ringside brawling, making use of the old school WCW style entrance ramp and entrance way. Unfortunately, the match breaks down after this, and they seem to rush into the big kick outs, with each hitting the others finisher for a near fall, before interference from Mark Sloan (the old school’s manager Dean Ayass had been banned from ringside) see’s Barker get the win. After a decent start, the match doesn’t really progress anywhere, and you feel it was just an excuse to get to the post match stuff, which admittedly is very heated. (** ¼) Firstly the Old School do a beatdown on Parker including cutting his hair, which would ultimately lead to him heading into a losing streak and ending up turning heel as a member of The Family. Ayass then gets on the microphone and reissues a challenge for the title to Jody Fleisch that he had made in advance of the show, saying he can have that match right now if he can get to the building. This is a classic bit of heel bluster, with the commentators pointing out that Fleisch had been on tour in Japan, however we get the big reveal that Fleisch has made it to the building! And we have ourselves a second FWA Title Match… Flash Barker vs Jody Fleisch This doesn’t go long, although these too have great chemistry – Flash can move and bump really well for a guy his size, while Jody makes Barker’s offence look killer. Highlight’s include Fleisch’s signature shooting star press to the outside and a really nasty back breaker from Barker using one of the guard rail’s. During the match we get Ayass taunting Jody on the mic, which brings a great sense of urgency and the crowd are really behind Fleisch, who after hitting the 720 DDT wins the title! This impromptu match would ultimately culminate in the main event of the first British Uprising, with the disputed title put up for grabs in a ladder match, where Fleisch would ultimately get his big win.
  13. TonyPulis'Cap

    Is Impact the best promotion in wrestling history?

    Haven't seen the Hard to Kill match yet, but Tessa was in four (I think) of my top 10 Impact matches last year, which says a lot. She was fantastic in 2019, building on from a strong 2018, and while I hate making comparisons, you'd argue that she is far more consistent than someone like Charlotte, who tends to have high highs, but also some real off nights. Not to just copy and paste what others have said, but she has real fire and intensity in everything she does - her matches feel like a real fight. In an age where it's been hard to make babyface's the crowd connects with, she is able to elicit sympathy whilst still coming across as a badass. It's a fine tightrope to walk, but she manages it. Having seen her wrestle live for the first time at the York Hall for Rev Pro a couple of months ago, she also carries an aura and a presence with her, that commands the room. That night she wrestled Gisele Shaw who has lots of potential but is still fairly green and they had a fantastic match, I'm sure a lot of which was down to Tessa. It will be fascinating to see how Impact treats her title run, and deciding on if they want the fact she is a woman holding what has been a 'men's world title' or if they try and move away from that and as @SomethingSavage I think said, the story is her being an underdog champion but in the sense of her size rather than her gender.
  14. TonyPulis'Cap

    Is Impact the best promotion in wrestling history?

    Overall, looking forward to the show tonight. In 2019, Impact was arguably my favourite of the promotions that is a television product, where a lot of the time rivalries and feuds are built on personal issues and where you can identify with the motivations of people involved. For anyone that's looking to jump on board the Impact train, and that wants to pick out some of the best matches from last year to revisit to give you a flavour, this is my top 10 of Impact matches from 2019 based on my match ratings: NB - these are in chronological order rather than ranked 1-10 on which I thought was best. You can see the same names often cropping up. 01/06/2019 Homecoming: LAX vs Lucha Bros 02/08/2019 Impact: LAX vs Lucha Bros 02/15/2019 Impact: Tessa Blanchard vs Taya Valkyrie (Street Fight) 04/29/2019 Rebellion: Tessa Blanchard vs Gail Kim 04/29/2019 Rebellion: LAX vs Lucha Bros (Full Metal Mayhem) 07/07/2019 Slammiversary: Brian Cage vs Michael Elgin 07/07/2019 Slammiversary: Sami Callihan vs Tessa Blanchard 08/02/2019 Impact: The North vs The Rascalz 11/19/2019 Impact: Tessa Blanchard vs Brian Cage vs Rich Swann vs Michael Elgin vs DAGA vs Moose (Gauntlet match) 10/20/2019 Bound for Glory: Jake Crist vs Ace Austin vs Tessa Blanchard vs DAGA vs Ace Romero (Ladder match)
  15. TonyPulis'Cap

    Is Impact the best promotion in wrestling history?

    In total agreement with this. In addition to the Sami/Tessa video, the package building up this match was really good - once again getting across real motivations for the people involved, and showing that it's a match that's been built for months but without the teams just having endless matches against one another. At the moment it feels very similar to the Christian/Jericho vs Booker T/Goldust rivalry, where the heels were hammering Goldust as the weak link and getting him to doubt himself. First off, both these teams are excellent so the match itself should be very good, but there's also great intrigue as there's lots of different ways you can go with the storyline: does the Mack overcome his doubt and The North's manipulation of his emotions for the big triumph against adversity moment? Does the Mack finally listen to all the baiting about Swann's achievements and get jealous of his partner and turn on him? Or does Swann feel like the Mack is holding him back and stuffing up and turn on him? Lots of options.