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    Friday, October 19, 2018

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Bound For Glory 2018

    Impact Wrestling has been true to their name, as the newly resuscitated promotion had their second PPV event this year with Bound for Glory. There are a lot to dissect here, so let's go straight to our review.

    Aaaaand new!

    There might have been more Match of the Night-worthy bouts in the card, but let's get the elephant in the room out of the way. If you thought the whole card was brutal, wait 'til we go through with just the build up of the main event.

    In our last Tales From The Impact Zone review, we caught the two combatants for the Impact World Championship in Mexico where Johnny Impact called out Austin Aries and dared the latter to go out alone in their meeting at BFG. Aries readily agreed to these terms but not without shenanigans. The reigning titleholder also had a leg up in the go-home episode, winning the six-man tag match involving him, Moose, and Killer Kross against opponents Impact, Eddie Edwards, and Fallah Bahh.

    Things got heated leading into the weekend of the fight when the two had a social media spat that escalated into an all-out brawl during Abyss's Hall of Fame induction the day before Bound for Glory. From there, their fight became personal and the reigning champion reneged in their previous arrangement, had his guys accompany him ringside and even told Impact to bring out his wife, Taya Valkyrie, with him.

    One could sense the tension within the venue, with some of the strikes appearing and sounding stiff. There were even moments where one wrestler was no-selling the move of the other.

    Either that, or it's just good psychology where everybody knows that something big is at stake and they're dishing out extra sauce on their spots with an "I don't care if I win ugly, as long as I win and I get to hurt you" attitude. Rightly so, the commentators called back to the infamous Montreal Screwjob of 1997 because it had that feel to it.
    And then there's the finish. After Impact landed the Starship Pain for the win and become his namesake promotion's top brass, Austin nonchalantly rose up and motioned towards the commentary table before leaving in a huff.

    This can be read in many ways. Was it a work? Was it a shoot? Was everything planned or did somebody go overboard and cross the line?

    At a time when kayfabe has supposedly died, blurring the lines between staged act and reality makes the audience think twice of the spectacle they are witnessing. If everyone can accept that Brock Lesnar busting Randy Orton open with elbow strikes -- no matter how gruesome it looked -- at SummerSlam some years back, and the frantic panic that followed, was part of the show, why can't this one be?

    No-selling the finish is a no-no for me, that I can side on. But everything else? It looks too contrived to me.

    I mean, getting interviewed by TMZ, of all media entities, and then replicating the Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier press conference dust-up (or for boxing followers and/or more chronologically advanced sports fans, the one where Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield engaged in their own press con)? Don't you think it was too convenient for Taya to be standing where she was when Aries hit her with a tope? When my girlfriend overheard the commotion during Abyss' HOF ceremony and asked what was going on, I replied it was an Andy Kaufman moment.

    TL;DR: some bounds might have been overstepped, but everything had the blessing of Impact management. Besides, when has pro wrestling stopped from being politically incorrect? Across another promotion, they have this one show that's going to be held in a place-not-to-be-named, so...

    Is it over?

    Another bout that had that main event aura and that everything-is-on-the-line stakes was the culmination of the LAX and OGz feud. Or is it?

    Would King let this be the end after he and his boys lost the Concrete Jungle Death Match despite having the numbers advantage for majority of the contest? Would he blame himself for not finishing the job on Konnan earlier in the night, letting the LAX elder limp his way to the ring at the tail-end of the fixture and be the cause of the OGz' defeat?

    Taking pages out of ECW, Wrestling Society X, and CZW, the spots were painful to watch. It might be a train wreck, but unlike the anxiety of the main event, this was more like orchestrated chaos.

    As an aside, one gets to realize that this is Impact's analogue to WrestleMania when wrestlers have a special entrance. In this case, it was LAX who got the treatment courtesy of rap group Bodega Bamz.

    Knockouts champ delivers blows

    Unlike Mr. Impact, Taya Valkyrie came away empty handed as Tessa Blanchard retained the Impact Knockouts Championship.

    The commentary's vote for Match of the Night, this one didn't scrimp on hard bumps as well. Blanchard's cred precedes her and this gives her offense more legitimacy (see above), but Taya is no pansy and she can deliver her own damage.

    oVe is good at everything

    The more I watch Impact and the more I see the sense of how various storylines progress, the more I have come to appreciate that long-term booking might not be about weekly live events but by having episodes taped in succession. For credence to this argument, compare RAW and SmackDown Live from NXT.

    Being able to tie together the flow of the narrative live and then have them spaced out in chunks on broadcast, one can outline the arc without missing a beat, and if necessary, call an audible right then and there. Sure, the WWE main brands might have that live sports event feel, but it's at the expense of a coherent overarching story. And then there are spoilers, and who likes those?

    Going back to my point, this makes it easy for oVe to smoothly transition from feud to feud even if there are a lot of moving parts. This benefits Sami Callihan, who can tape Impact episodes in advance and have the flexibility to go apparate in another promotion, televised or otherwise.

    This means that taping episodes in Mexico City took only days in real time, but the story is fleshed out for a month. This way, you have everyone in New York City fresh.

    Being an oVe Rules Match somewhat foreshadowed the outcome. And Callihan looked strong here as he gets the claim of being the first to pin Brian Cage at Impact and register as well the first defeat of "The Machine" in the promotion. Regardless, this doesn't diminish the finished product put out by the players in this show.

    A wild Tommy Dreamer appears!

    For those keeping count, we have recounted a main event that crossed the fourth wall, a Concrete Jungle Death Match, a hard-hitting Knockouts Championship skirmish, and an oVe Rules Match. What better way to cap the bedlam than a Tommy Dreamer cameo.

    The ECW original came out to help an old friend, evening the odds and turning a singles match between Eddie Edwards and Moose into a tag team battle between Aries' lackeys and the partnership of Dreamer and Edwards. With a cane at play, this is no straightforward tag team clash.

    Allie raises Kiera Hogan from the dead

    If you think Tommy Dreamer was the icing on the cake, there's more! 

    Back in Mexico, Kiera Hogan took the fall for Allie as Su Yung had the former locked in the coffin. Furious, Allie sought the help of Jim Mitchell.

    He promised her that she would have access to the Undead Realm so that she can have her friend back. But like any deal with the devil, make sure to proofread the offer, as Allie and Hogan almost didn't make it back before Rosemary offered herself to the Undead Bridesmaids and Su Yung.

    It doesn't end there though as the soulless Allie is hellbent on going back for Rosemary. "It's not OK," she said in her most horror effect cliché-laden voice.

    Being the place where the Broken Universe was conceived, Impact pulled this off quite smoothly. The grit of this segment, and others like this, is comparable to Lucha Underground's aesthetic. That doesn't mean one is ripping off the other, but this is what makes smaller promotions like them stand out from WWE, which has tried to imitate the tone but can't duplicate. Remember the House of Horrors match?

    New talents debut in big show

    In Mexico, we saw Ethan Page figure in Matt Sydal's victory over Rich Swann. Keen to close the chapter of their feud at BFG, "The Enlightened One" called on Swann to find a partner for their scrap in New York. In comes Willie Mack, a Lucha Underground transplant.

    Among all of the features in the card, the opener provided the purest form of wrestling. No stipulations, no complicated backstory. Just turnbuckle-to-turnbuckle high energy action.

    Surprises galore at Eli Drake Open Challenge

    Eli Drake supplied the lightest moment of the evening with his open challenge.

    Requesting for a native of where the event is held, Drake found himself with a non-New Yorker in James Ellsworth. Giving a nod to his time at the E, the chinless wonder claimed that he once dated someone from Staten Island and he lived at her basement for a while, and that should count. OK.

    Squash match done, Drake looks for a bigger challenge, a Hall of Fame level talent even. Out comes Abyss, who proceeds to beat up "The Undeniable Kavorka," and there's your obligatory pop-for-a-wrestling-legend of the night.

    All in all, Bound for Glory isn't your typical PG-13 PPV event. It's not All In in scale, either, but it makes do with the resources on hand. At the end of the day, it's not the size of the venue that matters, but it's whether the workers performed their best and the audience was engaged. To use the event's name, this show was bound for glory, and it got there.

    Images and video footage courtesy of Impact Wrestling and other sources


    JP Abcede, CIS, has an ongoing love-hate relationship with the WWE, depending on what Bret Hart's mood for the day is. A financial adviser and Certified Investment Solicitor (that is what the CIS stands for after his name) by profession, he catches up on his weekly dose of pro wrestling by streaming shows and using them as background noise while he is doing something else. This way, he is able to zone out the boring parts while remaining productive.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Bound For Glory 2018 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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