Taking a look at Impact Wrestling‘s Unbreakable in Santa Ana at the Esports Arena on Impact Plus. Featuring Sami Callihan vs. Tessa Blanchard in a rematch of their Slammiversary 2019 encounter and Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards.
For the first time in almost six years this upcoming October (15 if you asked Championship Wrestling From Hollywood earlier this week), Impact Wrestling held an event in Southern California. Back when it was known as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, the promotion held Bound For Glory 2013 at the Viejas Arena in San Diego. At the time, TNA was on Spike TV (now the Paramount Network) and holding more prolific pay-per-view events. The roster featured a range of stars such as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, Sting, and Jeff Hardy to name a few.
Nowadays, TNA is Impact Wrestling. The promotion struggles to find an audience due to it being on a cable television network that most people don’t get. It went from being able to draw thousands of people for live events to struggling to sell a few hundred. Despite TNA/Impact never being a big ticket seller, ratings draw, pr able to get a lot of PPV buys, the promotion has seen better days. In all fairness though, it has seen worse as well.
Since 2013, the company changed its name and ownership. Many of its top stars went to greener pastures. The enthusiastic fans who packed the Impact Zone at Universal Studios in Orlando left and probably go to NXT tapings at Full Sail University now. The promotion’s notoriety drastically went down the drain. After spending years as the second biggest promotion in the United States behind WWE, the discussion has now become whether or not Impact Wrestling is in the top five promotions in the US and Canada right now.
While things seem bleak on the surface, Impact Wrestling has its positives. At the moment, we’re seeing a promotion going through a rebuilding phase that could take some time to complete. The promotion’s product has garnered praise from people who had been critical of it in the past as the shows have become more stable. Promising new talent is being showcased and pushed as the faces of the product, whereas TNA use to rely on former WWF and WCW stars from the 80s and 90s, as well as recent WWE castoffs to get an audience.
Impact Wrestling has gone in an interesting direction recently. With the promotion utilizing streaming platforms such as Twitch and their Impact Plus service (formerly the Global Wrestling Network) more often, there have been more unique shows put on by Impact Wrestling where the promotion features more local talent alongside members of the regular Impact Wrestling roster. Tonight’s Unbreakable event in Santa Ana was an example of that.
Unbreakable was the first of three Impact Wrestling events to be held in Southern California this weekend. The show was streamed live on Impact Plus. Before the broadcast, Fidel Bravo defeated Mariachi Loco. I have no idea how it went, so use your imagination.
The main card started off with a music video highlighting the matches set to take place. I thought this was really well produced. It did a good job at opening the show. During the video, local ring announcer Adnan Kureishy could be heard counting down in the background. Great production work there by the audio team. After some shots of the crowd, it was time for the first match.
PPRay (Peter Avalon & Ray Rosas) vs. Chris Bey & Watts
Watts and Bey didn’t have a team name announced, but their entrance graphic said “DOUBLE PLATINUM” on it. Not a bad partner upgrade for Chris Bey. They also came out to generic metal music. It didn’t fit their characters at all. Ray and Peter were pretty over with the crowd. There was no commentary for the first few moments of the match. Eventually, the commentary microphones were turned up. This made me happy, as Don Callis is the best commentator ever. Long live The Network!
The match itself was short but solid. It didn’t have a basic formula where one team worked over a babyface for heat, leading to a hot tag and a babyface fire spot. PPRay got the win after hitting a Fireman’s Carry into a Brainbuster combo on Watts. There wasn’t anything spectacular or noteworthy in this, but it was a solid opening match to get the show going.
After the match, Don Callis and Josh Matthews talked about the card and the main event. We cut to a promo with Sami Callihan and Jake Crist. Sami was talking into the camera and Jake was being obnoxious. They ended up arguing a bit before ending the promo with their OVE catchphrase. The audio mixing in this was really bad, as there was an echo while the video played.
Impact Wrestling X-Division Championship: Jake Crist (c) vs. Trey Miguel vs. Ace Austin vs. Danny Limelight vs. Adrian Quest
Danny Limelight had entrance graphics saying “Danny Rivera” but was announced as Danny Limelight. Don Callis proceeded to make fun of Limelight for this after Josh Matthews explained the mishap and how he was being a typical millennial. He and Josh Matthews then made some really terrible millennial jokes. It’s sad how old people try to dog us millennials cause they aren’t young anymore.
The match started out with tons of action right out of the gate. There were a lot of spots in the opening moments, including a dive sequence involving everyone. Things broke down into a series of one-on-one sequences inside the ring while the rest of the workers in the match were on the outside. There was a unique four-man Tower Of Doom spot that helped set up Adrian Quest to hit a Phoenix Splash off the middle rope on Trey Miguel. Jake Crist eventually got the win after hitting Danny Limelight with an Ace Crusher as Limelight came off the top rope. I really liked this match. While there were some sloppy moments, it was a fun spotfest with some cool near falls.
Who's going to leave #Unbreakable with the X-Division Championship? It's anyone's match!
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) August 3, 2019
After the match, we saw a commercial for Bound for Glory 2019 in Chicago. You could hear the crowd in the background as this played. Whoever mixed the audio for Impact’s production team did a really bad job tonight. Then we saw a commercial for Impact’s upcoming tapings in Las Vegas.
Madison Rayne vs. Ayoka Muhara
As Madison made her entrance, Don Callis talked about how Madison gave him a high five during her entrance but not Josh Matthews. He then speculated about Madison being unhappy at home and possibly being upset about her marriage because she was probably married to a skinny dweeb. In real life, Madison Rayne and Josh Matthews are married, so this was pretty hilarious to me. Don Callis and Josh Matthews have great chemistry.
The match itself was more character-based and paced slower than the first two on the main card. Madison worked as a heel, while Ayoka Muhara had a decent showcase with a good amount of offense. Madison got the win in a quick match. This was short and simple. Nothing great, nothing terrible. It was meant to put over Madison, and it did just that. I feel like this show wouldn’t have suffered in terms of quality if this were scratched.
After the match, Taya Valkyrie with John E. Bravo was interviewed by Jimmy Jacobs about her match tonight. The production continued to screw up with the audio. The video played on the video screen in the venue but came up a second later on the stream. This resulted in an echo for a few moments. So far, not a good showing for Impact’s production team.
Eddie Edwards vs. Michael Elgin
I haven’t seen much of Eddie Edwards’ work since his days in Ring of Honor and PWG over a decade ago. He’s really changed in those years, as he seems to have developed a bit of charisma and personality.
This match went back-and-forth and was really fun. Neither guy gained an advantage or had much momentum, allowing things to be evenly matched. This match also had a good story behind it, with Elgin being much stronger than Eddie, and Eddie trying to fight back. Both guys seemed to lay into each other with stiff shots visually, but it was hard to tell because the audio mixing made it hard to hear most of the strikes. Despite that, both dudes killed each other and put on a fun match that the crowd was into. Elgin eventually got the win in a great match. The only downside was the audio not picking up the sounds of the strikes in this match better. I still highly recommend checking out this match.
After the match, a video package putting over women’s wrestling played. Following the video, a Rhino promo was played to build up his match with Moose. He cussed a lot. I love this version of Rhino.
Before the next match, Scott Steiner, Petey Williams, and Jordynne Grace entered the ring for their match. Steiner got on the mic and cut a promo. The microphone kept cutting out, which continued to make Impact’s production look amateurish. Steiner referenced his infamous “Steiner Math” promo during this and did a new version of it to include Petey and Jordynne. The man is a national treasure.
Scott Steiner, Petey Williams, & Jordynne Grace vs. Jervis Cottonbelly, Dicky Mayer, and Ryan Taylor
Ryan Taylor and Petey Williams opened the match and had a really good exchange. Ryan Taylor got a pretty good showcase in their minute-long segment. Scott Steiner and Dicky Mayer had an exchange that saw Dicky take some offense from Steiner. Aside from Jervis’ lame-ass comedy, this was a pretty competitive match. Petey Williams was worked over by the opposing team for heat before Steiner tagged in towards the final stretch of the match and took everyone out with suplexes. Scott Steiner a Frankensteiner on Ryan Taylor that got a huge reaction from the crowd. After that, Steiner and his team put the other team in Steiner Recliners for the win. I really think having Jervis in the match hurt it. This would’ve been better for Steiner, Williams, and Grace if they faced serious opponents who put up a fight before they got beat. Still, this was entertaining.
After the match, we saw a skit with the Reno Scum yelling at Rich Swann and Willie Mack for playing video games to hype the three-way tag team title match with The North. Following the skit, we saw the Bound For Glory promo video again.
Impact Wrestling Knockouts Championship Match: Taya Valkyrie w/ John E. Bravo vs. Jessicka Havok
The match started out with Jessicka Havok getting the early advantage, scoring some offense on Taya early on. Taya’s manager, John E. Bravo, distracted Havok, allowing Taya to make a comeback. She proceeded to work over the leg of Havok and did a bunch of character work. Taya’s offense wasn’t very good. Jessicka Havok didn’t sell Taya’s leg work very well either, as she was walking around fine after it was worked over and delivered offense with it as if nothing had happened. John E. Bravo got involved after Jessicka Havok pulled him into the ring after he tried assisting Taya. Moments later, Taya got herself counted out to retain the title. This was not a good match, and the finish wasn’t much better. Later in the show, it was announced Taya would face Havok again on Impact.
After the match, Jimmy Jacobs interviewed Moose. Moose asked Jimmy Jacobs where Melissa Santos was. He then cut a promo about his match with Rhino. This was really good. Moose is awesome.
Moose vs. Rhino
I was really looking forward to this, as it was a battle between two men named after animals. The fans were really into Rhino, and he seemed pretty hyped for this match during his entrance. This had a slow pace to it and was pretty story-driven. There was a ref bump that allowed Moose to hit Rhino with a kick to the groin, followed by a spear, resulting in a near fall. As the ref was down, Moose brought a chair into the ring and started to beat him with it for a bit. After several moments, Rhino was able to hit a Gore on Moose for the win. While this wasn’t a bad match by any means, it wasn’t the most exciting. Despite that, this was a solid heavyweight match.
After the match, a video for Impact tapings in Mexico played. Following the video, The North cut a promo about their match.
Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Championship Match: The North (Ethan Page & Josh Alexander) (c) vs. Reno Scum (Luster The Legend & Adam Thornstowe) vs. Rich Swann & Willie Mack
The early portion of the match saw The North working over Rich Swann for heat. Swann eventually made a comeback and got the hot tag to Willie. He proceeded to get a bunch of offense on The North. Things broke down after this, and the pace of the match started to pick up, as all three teams began to hit moves on each other. One spot saw Luster The Legend powerbomb Rich Swann into Willie Mack as Willie was in a tree of woe in the corner. The North ended up getting the win after hitting a double team move on Adam Thornstowe. I enjoyed this match. The latter portion of the match was pretty fun, and everything seemed to come off well.
After the match, Josh Matthews and Don Callis talked about what’s coming up next week on Impact. Then Jimmy Jacobs interviewed Tessa Blanchard about her match with Sami Callihan. I thought she did a really good job in this and hyped her match really well.
Number 1 Contender Match for the Impact Wrestling World Championship: Sami Callihan vs. Tessa Blanchard
This match had a really strong story behind it. These two had a really good match at Slammiversary 2019. Then on a recent episode of Impact, the two took part in and won a tag team tournament to earn this Number 1 Contender match against each other.
I’ve never been a fan of Sami Callihan’s work, but he had a really good showing in this match. Tessa Blanchard really stood out in this match though. She showed tons of emotion during this and came off as a great underdog babyface here. Her performance was really good. While the production made it hard to capture the vibe of the crowd, it seemed like they were very into this and really wanted to see Tessa win. Instead, Jake Crist came out for a run in, which led to Sami getting the win over Tessa. Overall, this match had some great storytelling, and the action was solid. I wouldn’t say this was a blow-away match in terms of quality, but it was a fun watch.
After the match, Sami and Jake were about to attack Tessa before Tommy Dreamer ran in with a Singapore Cane for the save. Tommy got on the microphone and put over Tessa Blanchard. The show closed with the crowd chanting “Thank You Tessa” as Tommy Dreamer’s music played. As the video feed went out, the audio from the show could still be heard as ring announcer Adnan Kureishy plugged the merchandise table.
Okay, let’s talk about the biggest negative from this show: THE AUDIO.
There were so many issues with the audio. From the poor mixing to the sounds in the ring not being picked up more clearly, and to the main live audio feed being broadcast in mono while the pre tapes were in stereo really hurt this show. I feel like if Impact had someone better running audio, this show would’ve been really great. Instead, it hindered it and hurt my enjoyment of several matches, like Elgin vs. Edwards. The production really came off as amateurish as a result.
With that said, Impact Wrestling had a good outing for their return to SoCal. Danny Limelight might’ve had the best showing on the card out of all the locals. His performance in the X-Division match was the highlight of that match. Elgin/Edwards was the best match of the night. I texted SoCal’s second favorite son, atox, and he said the strikes and chops were stiff. He also said (and I paraphrase) that it was a NJPW-style match in terms of stiffness. That makes me even sadder about the production. Despite that, Elgin/Edwards is worth tracking down. Aside from the Knockouts title and Madison Rayne’s matches, everything on this show was solid. Don Callis and Josh Matthews were great on commentary too.
If you want to check this show out, I’d suggest checking out Impact Plus’ free trial to see the show and maybe check out other stuff from TNA/Impact’s past. With that said, I wouldn’t say go out of your way to see this show unless you want to see Elgin/Edwards. Besides that, you’re not missing much if you skipped it. At the same time, even if it’s not something I’d check out again, this was a fun show to watch live.