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Brace for IMPACT: The Cowboy rides again

Americas Most Wanted

Americas Most Wanted Reunite

“The Cowboy” James Storm was the main story on the latest episode of IMPACT. According to data collected by Cagematch.net and later confirmed by IMPACT, the main event between Eric Young and James Storm was Storm’s 1000th match for the company. Storm, at 43, was on the first-ever TNA live event in 2002. Later he formed the America’s Most Wanted tag team with his partner “Wildcat” Chris Harris. The duo went on to become one of the most popular teams in TNA history and were a pivotal act in the early days of the company.

During his pre-match interview, Storm told a story about Bob Ryder pleading with TNA management to use him and Harris in the early days, but they weren’t interested initially. It took plenty of prodding by Ryder to get the duo signed.

Storm was tremendous in this interview. In fact, he’s always tremendous. He is the best on promos in the company right now. No one is as believable as him. Very few characters can make you laugh, cry, and get pumped for a fight all in the same interview, but Storm pulled it off here. He went from telling the emotional story about Ryder’s support, where he showed vulnerability and love, to the ass-kicking “Cowboy” who threatened a whoopin’ on Eric Young.

His interview ended when Sabin and Jake Something brought Storm a surprise guest: Chris Harris. The two stared each other down for a moment, then embraced. It was an awesome moment for those of us who’ve watched since the early days of TNA/IMPACT.

James Storm is one of the more iconic yet unsung heroes in the company’s history. After America’s Most Wanted broke up in 2007, Storm went on to form another more popular tag team, Beer Money, with Bobby Roode. The two went became a top act in the company and had notable feuds with the Motor City Machine Guns and Team 3D. After they broke up, both headlined PPVs against each other, and later both became TNA World champions.

He returned the company after being gone since 2018 at last year’s Bound For Glory as part of the annual gauntlet match. Earlier this year, when Alex Shelley was sidelined due to pandemic travel restrictions, Storm and Chris Sabin of the Motor City Machine Guns formed Beer Guns.

What felt short-term now feels like it should be a full-time gig for Storm. I don’t see how you could watch him tonight’s and not want him as one of your top guys. He can talk his ass off, he’s in great shape, and he can still hang with the best of them inside the ring.

His ring time with Young lasted about ten minutes, but they maximized their minutes and had a really good television match. Unfortunately, about halfway through, Eric Young tore his ACL, but he still finished the match. Chris Harris even got involved here, which was fun to see. Storm would defeat Young, then posed on the ramp with Harris, Something, and Sabin, and thanked Bob Ryder again. What an awesome, feel-good moment.

 


Ratings analysis

There’s a discrepancy with the total viewers for this weeks episode. IMPACT did not make the Showbuzz Top 150 for the first time since AXS began reporting their ratings: It’s being reported that IMPACT averaged 38000, but it seems way off. On his forum, Mitch from Showbuzz said IMPACT scored a “0.01/38k,” which makes me think he was referring to the 18–49 demo.

PW Insider is now reporting that IMPACT Averaged 148,512 viewers with a 0.04 rating in the 18-49 demo. That would be up from last weeks 116,000 viewers and more in line with their weekly average. It is still down from February but not as bleak as it appeared initially.

There are a number of excuses as to why the ratings are down this month. NCAA March Madness dominated, as usual. Young Rock on NBC, the wrestling-centric show about Dwayne Johnson’s childhood, also airs when IMPACT does. Dark Side of the Ring: Confidential, too.

Ultimately, if IMPACT gave the fans more of a reason to prioritize their show, ratings would be better.


IMPACT Wrestling review

Really fun show this week. The saga of James Storm was great. Kenny Omega and Don Callis were also good as we head towards Rebellion. Some matches were also announced for Hardcore Justice.

(You can watch the full episode here.)

HITS

“The Cowboy” James Storm: Loved his promo, loved his match with Eric Young and his Bob Ryder tribute, loved everything.

America’s Most Wanted reunion: It was so great seeing AMW back on television. Chris Harris still had fire and still could throw a hell of a punch. I hope we get to see him in the ring soon.

IMPACT favorites vs. the Elite: Don Callis was trying to court Willie Mack to his “Elite” group of Kenny Omega and company. Swann called Callis out and said if Callis weren’t his boss, he’d slap him. Callis made it seem like he was about to fight Swann when Omega & the Good Brothers, arrived to beat down on Mack and Swann. Eddie Edwards made the save and sent the Elite packing.

This set up main event for IMPACT’s return to Thursday nights, with Swann, Edwards and Mack taking on Omega and the Good Bros. It should be an awesome match, and this segment was effective in drumming up my interest.

Omega visits Swinger’s palace: I loved this more than you will ever know. We finally get to see Johnny Swinger and Kenny Omega on the same screen. It was pretty funny: Callis and Omega entered the palace to place a wager on Omega at Rebellion. They asked Swinger what the odds were, and he said they were even, which insulted Omega. Callis showed Swinger the One-Winged Angel video to convince him to make Omega the favorite, so the odds went up to 3:1. Then, Callis placed a $20,000 bet. If you know anything about gambling, you’d know that what Callis did was preposterous. He should have kept the even odds.

Sami Callihan vs. Larry D: Very good match. Larry D looked great. I even dug his 1992 Koko B. Ware gear, with the bright lime-green tights and headband. Sami won with a piledriver, but Acey Romero and Larry attacked him after. The announcers wondered if Trey Miguel would return the favor and make the save, but he didn’t.

Callihan confronted Miguel backstage about not helping him. Trey questioned why he should, and Callihan mentioned their long history together. Miguel said their history is irrelevant. Callihan then said he has a tag match next week against XXXL needs a partner. Callihan is clearly manipulating and playing mind games here. Very good stuff from all involved.

Fire ‘n’ Flava vs. Havoc and Neveah: Fun opener. It was the best match both teams have had in their series. Fire ‘n’ Flava won with Havoc taking the pin. After the match, Neveah turned on Havoc in an angle that we could all see coming from a mile away. If you’re keeping score, IMPACT broke up one of their two Knockouts division tag teams.

MISSES

Knockouts gauntlet match: Again, this was just bad. Tommy Dreamer is hit -or-miss for me. He made the announcement that all the Knockouts will be in a Weapons Gauntlet where the winner will become number-one contender to Deonna Purazzo, the current Knockouts champion. Each Knockout went up to Dreamer and delivered lame lines about how they felt about it. Poor acting. Believe or not, Alisha Edwards was the only one that was entertaining in this.


NEWS

  • ICYMI, IMPACT will be moving to Thursdays starting next week. This column will go up on either Fridays or Saturdays from then.
  • As mentioned above, Eric Young told the Wrestling Perspective podcast that he tore his ACL in his match against Storm. He also said that he wrestled an eight-man hardcore war (likely taped for Hardcore Justice), and a match against Chris Sabin after. He is expected to be out six to nine months, but he hopes to act as the mouthpiece for Violent by Design in the meantime.
  • Fightful reported that Taylor Wilde and Rachael Ellering both worked the recent set of IMPACT tapings. A vignette aired last night for a new wrestler that I am almost positive is set to be Wilde.
  •  Jazz puts her career on the line against Deonna Purazzo at Hardcore Justice when she challenges for the Knockouts title. She was coaxed out of retirement to have one last run by Tommy Dreamer, so this will likely be it. If it is, I am sure she will go out with a bang.
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