THIS WEEK: Giving Impact ANOTHER Chance Pays Off, PWG Announces The Tournament Worth Travelling For, Yes - I REALLY Watched Impact and Liked It, 'Mella May Be Money, but MITB Qualifying Matches Don't Seem To Be, AJ Styles LOVES Spaghetti, and This Week's Podcast/Classic Match Of The Week!
1). PWG Announces BOLA Dates
The Battle of Los Angeles is one of the most famous annual tournaments in independent wrestling. If you're the type of fan that travels for big shows, but are craving something a little different, this should be something on your must-see list. Since 2005, the event grew from a one night to a three night event, and has been a launching point for many big names.
This year's tournament will take place September 14, 15 and 16 at the Globe Theatre in Los Angeles.
Past tournament winners include Kenny Omega, Joey Ryan, El Generico (Sami Zayn), Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Zack Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, and two-time winner Ricochet. Those aren't the only names that have passed through Pro Wrestling Guerilla for the event. Names like AJ Styles, Kevin (Owens) Steen, Roderick Strong, Claudio Castagnoli (Cesaro), Austin Aries, Daniel Bryan, Chris Hero, Pac (Neville), Bryan Kendrick, Drew Galloway (McIntyre) and many many more have competed only to move on to even bigger stops in their career.
On a recent episode of "Talk is Jericho", Chris Jericho spoke to the Young Bucks about their love of PWG. They say that the promotion is one they will always work for, no matter how big they make it elsewhere. Currently the hottest act going as far as tag teams in the independent scene, the Bucks lead the way in merchandising, and are a part of the "All In" show scheduled for Chicago later this year - a show which along with Cody Rhodes, they hope to sell out a 10,000 seat show at the Sears Centre. Tickets for that go on sale May 13.
2). IMPACT to Increase TV Tapings
Impact Wrestling (Formerly TNA) reportedly has plans to increase their TV taping schedule. Since being acquired by Anthem Sports last year, Impact has virtually been restarted from the ground up. After a string of talent releases, production woes, and scrambling for content from different sources, it seems as though the new regime of Scott D'Amore, Don Callis, Jimmy Jacobs and Sonjay Dutt along with Impact management have found a formula to make it through the lean times.
For all the years that Impact/TNA took a lot of flack from fans for one reason or another, if one goes back into the archives and watches some of the matches that came from the company, even in its worst-of-times, it's hard not to give it the credit it deserves for giving a platform for some of the most entertaining wrestlers in the world. With things on an apparent upswing, it could be an interesting time to give them ANOTHER chance.
3. SO I DID JUST THAT...
Admittedly, it's been a while since I sat down for a full episode of Anthem's flagship wrestling program, but I did like a lot of what I saw.
Impact does seem to be gaining some stability with their roster. It seems they are doing what TNA/Impact has always had to do to stay compelling - build their OWN stars. The former WWE stars are mostly gone, with the exception of those like Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne) who have reinvented themselves.
Storyline wise, there's an interesting power play brewing, as "The Belt Collector" Austin Aries recently lost the Impact World Championship to Pentagon Jr., but is now touting that the Impact Grand Championship should be the marquee title in the company. There are also a number of contenders lining up or the World title, which is refreshing to see. Other talents that caught my eye were oVe (Ohio Versus Everything), the Super-Heavyweight Fallah Bahh, and the heir apparent to the top spot, Moose.
The Knockout Division is quite strong as well, as BC's Taya Valkyrie is a force, and up until seeing Su Yung, Rosemary was the wildest character I've seen in a while. If you haven't had the chance to see either of these women yet, imagine Sensational Sherri, Papa Shango and that girl from The Grudge movies in one character.
4. MONEY IN THE BANK QUALIFYING MATCHES FAIL TO KEEP FANS
I'm a WWE guy. I love the big brand, and believe in being a fan that "likes liking things". This week's episodes of Raw and Smackdown were both full of great wrestling, but much like regular season sports rivalries, these episodes didn't have the usual buzz you feel after a Pay-Per-View happened.
Yes, in case you forgot, Backlash happened this past weekend. Let's face it - NOTHING happened. I thought maybe we would see both the Intercontinental and United States championships switch brands... maybe a cool run-in... SOMETHING. The wrestling was superb (Miz v. Rollins stole the show), but after a Pay-Per-View has nothing to hang off of, there isn't much to engage into the weekly TV for. Oh... unless you hadn't heard that Carmella beat Charlotte Flair...
The opening qualifying matches for the Money in the Bank Men's and Women's matches have no real stakes yet, so hopefully things pick up next week as the herd begins to thin. Also, WHY WOULDN'T YOU PUT ZACK RYDER ON A LONG ISLAND SHOW? I really thought he would end up in that main event, if for no other reason than to take the pin... but come on WWE - Give me hope! Even if it's false!!!
Reports said that Raw took a HUGE ratings dip this past week, and honestly, it's almost like they planned it that way. The numbers show that this week's past Raw is actually the least-watched of 2018.
5. AJ Styles Still Gives Me Hope
How good is AJ Styles? That's a pretty smarky statement to make - almost wrestling-fan-hipster or something like that when it comes to over-obvious statements... but while I was lamenting Raw and Smackdown, I decided to check out the latest episode of WWE Network's "Table For 3", and I wasn't disappointed.
If you haven't checked out an episode yet, I recommend it. It's usually highly entertaining - a shoot-ish style show where 3 subjects reminisce about their careers over a meal. This episode, featuring AJ Styles, also featured Shane McMahon and Kurt Angle. Titled "Show Stealers", the episode features the 3 talking about their insane stunts with each other, and in their careers in general.
While the internet was ablaze about the fact that Anthem's GWN (Global Wrestling Network) licensed some footage from TNA of Angle and Styles performing some insane stunts of their own, something far more subtle caught my eye during this episode: AJ Styles eats spaghetti like I do!
Sure, this past weekend, AJ ate a chair to the face against Shinsuke Nakamura at Backlash, but even that wasn't with the passion and fury he attacked his plate of pasta during the show. The discussion is great to watch, but try not to be mezmerized at how much spaghetti AJ can fit onto a fork and into his facehole. It's... phenomenal.
CLASSIC MATCH/PODCAST OF THE WEEK
CLASSIC MATCH: SLAMMIVERSARY 2009 - KING OF THE MOUNTAIN
Since there's been so much talk about Impact this week, as well as matches with insane stunts and AJ Styles, I thought I'd take us back to one of the more complicated, but entertaining matches by a group of stars who make it bearable.
The "King of the Mountain" matches in TNA were a little hard to follow. Instead of a traditional ladder match, where one must grab the title off of a cable over the ring, participants in this match must score a pinfall on any of their opponents for the opportunity to try and climb a ladder and hang the title themselves.
To make things MORE convoluted, wrestlers could find themselves in a shark cage at ringside, known as a penalty box for two minutes if they were pinned or submitted.
Even with AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle and Mick Foley, this match was an example of some of TNA trying to be different. Some things worked, some things didn't, but the wrestlers still gave their all - even in the main event stage.
As for this week's Podcast, if you were like me and brought to the world of podcasts by this show, but wondered what happened to it, Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling has re-emerged and is better than ever as the Art of Wrestling: Road Diaries.
The founding father of wrestling podcasts has shut down his weekly interview style of shows, in favor of a weekly audio journal. Multiple stars, multiple stories, and a true look at what life on the road is like for one of the most successful independent wrestlers in history. Every week, listeners are also offered the chance to ask Colt's Mom to watch something crazy and weird in wrestling, and get her views on it. It's shorter, faster moving, and a great listen for any fan.
THANKS FOR READING! Feel free to leave any and all opinions, arguments (keep it friendly) and ideas in the comments section!