Predicted Winner: RVD via outside shenanigans
Eddie Edwards vs. Michael Elgin
Throw out any storyline about the ‘Call Your Shot Trophy,’ Impact’s version of Money In The Bank. Forget scientific grappling.
These two guys just want to beat the hell out of each other. Elgin wants to prove he’s the toughest, meanest guy in Impact. Eddie Edwards basically likes to fight. Sure, they’ve put the Trophy up for grabs, but in the end it comes down to two guys just beating the crap out of each other. And whoever wins could just be a future Impact champion.
This one is, in my opinion, a real tossup. Elgin is very strongly recently, and even has a win over Eddie going into this on the January 7th Impact. And a heel Elgin with a guaranteed title opportunity? Storylines just write themselves there.
On the other hand Eddie seems to have earned the respect and trust of Impact management again recently, having won more often than he’s lost. And he connects with the crowd in a way Elgin just doesn’t.
Simply to provide some balance to a card that’s already been pretty heel heavy here, I’m going to go with my gut. Unfortunately it means some 50/50 booking here, but that’s the breaks.
Predicted Winner: Eddie Edwards
World Tag Team Championship Match: The North (Ethan Page & Josh Alexander) (c) vs. Rich Swann & Willie Mack
If you’d asked me a month ago who was going to win this match, I’d have said The North easily. Page & Alexander have been very strong, and Impact likes to give champs in rebuilding divisions long runs with the belts. Besides, while Rich Swann and Willie Mack work well together, they still don’t quite have that team vibe that Impact likes in their champs. They’re still referred to by their individual names rather than a team name, for Pete’s sake.
Add to that the storyline ‘stress’ between Swann & Mack, and things get clearer. A good match, probably some good spots in there, and The North wins. Swann & Mack then can then fight over Willie trying to get his mojo back.
Then Josh Alexander injured his arm in late November. For a few weeks, Impact’s done a good job of hiding it, and I’ll give them credit for that. Rather than stripping The North of their championships right off the bat, they’ve given Alexander time to try and heal and rehab.
The question is, is seven or so weeks enough time? A biceps tear is a tricky injury. Some athletes, from bodybuilders to football players, have come back in that amount of time. But it can also shelve you for a long time. If it’s the former, and Josh can at least play a good role in the match before nursing the injury through the next set of tapings and onto three more weeks of rest, expect The North to stand tall.
On the other hand, if Alexander really is hobbled, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Swan & Mack take the titles. Still, Impact’s going to be real wary of pulling the trigger on a title switch here. The North’s just starting to gain momentum. Expect Page to handle the majority of the match, and even if they lose, they’ll keep the belts via DQ or something.
Predicted Winner: The North (retain belts even if they lose)
3-Way Knockouts Championship Match: Taya Valkyrie (c) vs. Jordynne Grace vs. ODB
Talk about a match that was clear cut until a few weeks ago. If you’d asked me when Impact wrapped up their latest tapings if Taya was going to retain the Knockouts Championship, I would have told you damn straight.
Let’s face it. Jordynne Grace isn’t as over with the crowd as Taya. She needs seasoning still, and the fact that Impact booked ODB into this match told me that they wanted to protect Jordynne. It was no lose for ODB, who I figured would take the pin from Taya. ODB gets a paycheck and can rebuild her food truck life, Taya gets to cement her name as the Knockouts Champ to measure everyone against, and Jordynne can say she didn’t win, but she didn’t lose either.
One door opening on Smackdown threw all of this into disarray. Now you have to wonder if the Queen of Slamtown is going to be looking to join her husband in WWE. I said in my Impact Profile I don’t think it’d be a good match for her, but at 36 Taya doesn’t exactly have a lot of years left to try and have her WrestleMania moment. And with Johnny going back to WWE, perhaps the door’s open for her.
That being said, I don’t see Impact pulling the trigger on a title change just yet. Taya’s contract is up or nearing being up, and after all she’s done she deserves a farewell match to Impact. And I just don’t see Jordynne Grace being deserving of sending La Wera Loca packing.
Predicted Winner: Taya Valkyrie
X-Division Championship Match: Ace Austin vs. Trey Miguel
Man, I said back in one of my previous articles that Impact needs to work on giving their wrestlers characters, and have they delivered here! There’s a lot of reasons for guys to want to beat the crap out of each other, but wanting to sleep with a guy’s mom? Yeah, that’ll do.
Now, do I agree with booking such an angle? Honestly, I could do without it. I think there’s a lot of ways to make a guy a disgusting Lothario type character without him hitting on people’s moms and wives. Especially because Ace Austin just isn’t all that good looking. That being said, it’s a step up from Alisha Edwards. Best of all, Trey Miguel shows more personality and depth of character now than just being a guy who gets stoned backstage.
Again though, is Impact ready to pull the trigger on a title change? I don’t think so. Ace just won the belt on the last PPV, and in a rebuilding X Division he needs to hang onto that belt a little bit longer. That’s not to say that I can’t see Trey Miguel becoming a champ at some point… but tonight’s not Trey’s night.