Around the ring: IMPACT Slammiversary a hit, WWE gets extreme
(Thumbnail image above courtesy IMPACT Wrestling)
By Mike Pankow
July 12, 2019
It may not be the “Attitude Era,” but professional wrestling is rocking nowadays.
People are talking about the emerging AEW or the longtime king WWE preparing to engage a feud for a talent and eyeballs, but sometimes companies like IMPACT Wrestling fly under the radar.
IMPACT certainly made a statement last Sunday night (July 7) in Dallas with a dynamite Slammiversary show. The card was stacked with action from top to bottom with the last four matches composing one of the best stretches of quality wrestling and storytelling all year.
The main event of Sami Callihan against Tessa Blanchard delivered in many ways. It was the type of “history” Blanchard referred to during her appearance on IMPACT’s Press Pass Podcast in May. It was the first intergender match to main event a pay-per-view.
“I want to make history in my own way, in a way that other girls in our industry haven’t done,” Blanchard said in May.
On the surface, Callihan dominated the offense with Blanchard absorbing the blows and standing up to her male counterpart. With the fans behind her, Blanchard got in some hope spots and nearly pulled off the victory a couple of times.
Callihan finished the match off with a piledriver and a 3-count, eliciting IMPACT play-by-play announcer Josh Mathews to utter, “We don’t get the conclusion that we deserve.”
Blanchard added on her May Press Pass appearance: “I love intergender wrestling. I think that there’s a way to do it. There’s a way to tell that story, a way for that to come off properly. Hopefully we can change people’s opinions of that.”
Blanchard, Callihan and IMPACT Wrestling accomplished that in front of a sold-out crowd at Gilley’s with some great storytelling and in-ring psychology.
IMPACT also delivered big time with the four-way women’s Monster’s Ball match with Knockouts Champion Taya Valkyrie stealing the victory after Jessicka Havok did the big damage on Su Yung with a super tombstone piledriver onto thumb tacks. Valkyrie also hit a big spot by putting Rosemary through a table on the outside of the ring.
In a brilliant match, the perennially-underrated Rich Swann retained the X Division Championship by pinning Johnny Impact following a Phoenix Splash in one of Swann’s biggest victories of his career.
In the semi-main event, IMPACT World Champion Brian Cage retained the title in a hard-hitting affair over fellow big man Michael Elgin.
During Slammiversary, IMPACT announced Bound for Glory will be coming to the Chicago area on Oct. 20. The show will eminate from The Odeum in West Suburban Villa Park.
Weekend showdown: All Elite Wrestling will hold its third major show this weekend with Fight for the Fallen in Jacksonville, Fla. The main attractions are a dream tag team match with Cody and Dustin Rhodes taking on The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega facing Cima. Chris Jericho will also have a live mic during the show, which will stream Saturday night on the B/R Live app.
Meanwhile, WWE Network is countering by airing EVOLVE 131, the company’s 10th anniversary show, live from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. WWE already works in conjunction with EVOLVE by using NXT talents on EVOLVE shows. The top matches are Adam Cole defending the NXT Championship against 205 Live’s Akira Tozawa and EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory going up against WWN Champion JD Drake in a Winner Take All Match. Matt Riddle and Drew Gulak will also square off.
WWE Extreme Rules: WWE has its final major event before SummerSlam on Sunday night when Extreme Rules comes to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia live on WWE Network.
The match getting a lot of buzz is WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins and WWE Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch teaming up to defend their titles against Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans in an Extreme Rules match with the winning team taking home both titles.
Also, the Undertaker returns to ring action in the United States for the first time since his impromptu match against John Cena at WrestleMania 34 as Undertaker and Roman Reigns will team up against Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre.
In other top matches on the show, Kofi Kingston defends the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe, Bayley defends the SmackDown Women’s Championship in a handicap match against Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, Aleister Black faces Cesaro and Ricochet defends the U.S. Championship against newly-minted heel AJ Styles.
Extreme Rules has a chance to be a pretty good show as most WWE pay-per-views have been this year despite the TV shows being hit or miss at times.