wrestling / Columns

The ZWI Impact Rebellion Preview

April 28, 2019 | Posted by Dino Zee
Tessa Blanchard Gail Kim Impact Rebellion

Folks we’re only days away from the HUGE Impact Wrestling Rebellion pay per view spectacular, and I don’t think I have to tell you that we here at the ZWI headquarters are absolutely pumped for what, on paper at least, appears to be an incredible show!

As is customary in Impact, tempers have been flaring and egos have run wild over these last few months, and these men and women are itching to get in there and do their worst to each other. This columnist, personally, is greatly invested in the Tessa Blanchard/Gail Kim contest (duh), as well as the clashes for the Impact Tag Team and World Championship. That’s not to say that every announced match to this point isn’t something interesting – but these three matches have provided some intriguing twists and turns recently, and I’m quite curious to see where we go from here.

With no disrespect intended to the rest of the 411 family, here is the Official Impact Wrestling Rebellion preview, brought to you by ZWI!

Taya Valkyrie vs. Jordynne Grace – Impact Knockouts Championship

To say that Taya hasn’t faced another Knockout like Jordynne Grace is obvious and understating the matter. Of course she hasn’t – there isn’t another Knockout like Jordynne Grace. Her incredible power is just rarely seen, but the fact that it’s mixed in with surprising speed and agility makes Grace quite the threat to the reign of La Wera Loca.

Grace may still be relatively new to Impact, but she’s shown in that small amount of time that absolutely nothing intimidates her, as she’s stood up to other men, and even assisted Rosemary and Kiera Hogan in their quest to save Allie from being devoured by the Undead Realm. While most people would want absolutely nothing to do with Su Yung and her Undead Army, Grace was all too happy to jump in almost immediately upon her debut.

After defeating a returning Madison Rayne, Grace earned her spot as the Number One contender, and immediately became a marked woman as far as Taya is concerned. And while Grace may not scare easily, the fact is that she may very well be out of her league for the time being.

Taya has seen it all and done almost as much, winning championships everywhere she’s been. She’s dealt with the worst of AAA, the most sinister of Lucha Underground, and even managed to steal a few victories over Tessa Blanchard to become Knockouts Champion and stay that way. Sure, Gail Kim had a bit to do with that (more on that later), but Taya’s still put in the work and earned her place. It also doesn’t help that her husband has apparently been running schemes even deeper than I could have ever dreamed to run things behind the scenes, but not giving Taya her due would be a huge error.

Since she and Johnny revealed their true selves a few weeks back, Taya appears to have taken her entire game to another level. Without underhanded tactics, she’s one of the very best wrestlers in the sport today, possessing great ring awareness, and always with an excellent economy of motion, Taya makes sure everything she does hurts badly, and does big damage. Against someone like Grace, she’s going to have to use both of those assets to their fullest.

One small mistake opens the door for Grace to pull of the monumental upset, but I don’t think Taya’s going to make one. I may not be a fan of the tactics she uses, or how she became champion in the first place, but I know just how good she truly is. At this point, I’m not convinced that Grace is there yet. She may not be intimidated, but that might also be shielding her to the fact that she’s out of her league. I don’t see this one going so well for Thick Mama Pump.

Winner: And Still Knockouts Champion, Taya Valkyrie

The Lucha Bros vs. LAX – Impact Tag Team Championship, Full Metal Mayhem

It’s funny to think about it in retrospect, because it causes me to say something I never thought I’d say: Konnan was right.

I know, I know… far be it from me to ever break from long-held routines, but in a world where my journalistic integrity is everything, it’s only fair that I point out that, from the minute LAX entertained the idea of wrestling against their (at the time) friends The Lucha Bros, it was Konnan who was dead set against it. It was Konnan who said that nothing good was going to come from it. It was Konnan who basically called it out as a giant mistake.

At the time, I questioned his belief in Santana and Ortiz. I wondered if he felt that they simply couldn’t beat Pentagon and Fenix, and was trying to protect them. Konnan doesn’t like to be associated with losers, and we’ve seen him worm his way out of situations in the past. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary on that front.

Of course, LAX thought he was acting silly, too, and they took the match. And at Homecoming, they were victorious over The Lucha Bros in a match that was fantastic, and has been raved about in these very pages. With the win LAX was definitely feeling themselves, and that led to Ortiz making the fateful remark about how whenever The Lucha Bros wanted to come catch another beating, LAX would be more than happy to give it to them.

In the moment, it was just light-hearted trash talk from a gloating champion. No one really felt like Ortiz was being so disrespectful to two men he professed respect for. Well, no one except for those two men. Pentagon and Fenix would, after getting the victory over LAX in a six-man encounter, call for a rematch. And they’d get it. And this time, it was The Lucha Bros who were victorious.

Now it was LAX that was angry. Now it was LAX who wanted the rematch. They’d get one a couple weeks later, and would again fall short. Wanting to give LAX a taste of their own medicine, the Lucha Bros now engaged in some light-hearted trash talk, refusing to shake hands and instead getting in the faces of the defeated challengers.

And, just like The Lucha Bros before them, LAX demonstrated that they don’t have the best sense of humor, either, as they assaulted the champions and unmasked them. From that point on, this was no longer an uneasy friendship that had been betrayed by competition. These were two teams who were hell-bent on destroying the other and staking their claim as the best team in professional wrestling.

At Rebellion, in Full Metal Mayhem, it’s almost impossible to make a call. We know what LAX can do as a tag team. They’ve been my personal favorite team for nearly three years now, and continue to impress me each and every time out. They’re down to brawl, and I feel that they’ll be right at home stuck getting their hands on any weapon they can to hurt their opponents.

On the other hand, PENTAGON JR is on the other team. This is a man who, four years ago, I called the most evil man, and I loved him for it. The very idea that anyone would want to provide the man countless weapons with which to see that evil through is confounding to me. We saw in his Cero Miedo match with Vampiro years ago that giving Pentagon a playground is a very bad idea.

Sure, some may feel that teaming with Fenix has softened Pentagon somewhat, and there may be something to that idea. I tend to think that it’s Pentagon that’s bringing out a darker side of Fenix, but I could be dead wrong on that front. Either way, Fenix has also shown a lack of concern for his physical well-being, and giving him all sorts of ladders so that he may fly onto his helpless opponents is a definite recipe for disaster.

What I like most about this match, if I’m being honest (and I am), is that it takes out any type of fluke rollup victory, or some other flash pin. The winners of this match will have beaten their opponents so badly, that they’re incapable of stopping them from climbing the ladder and retrieving the championships.

You hate to see a friendship fall apart, especially when it’s one as beautiful as the one that lived between LAX and The Lucha Bros. But if one’s going to fall apart, the least it can do is provide you a ton of great wrestling action, am I right?!

I hate to pick against Pentagon, I really do. But I have a feeling that LAX is going to show up at full power, and will do anything they can to get their belts back.

Winners: And NEW Impact Wrestling Tag Team Champions – Santana and Ortiz, LAX

Sami Callihan vs. Rich Swann – X Division Championship

From a friendship that slowly crumbled under the weight of competitive jealousy to one that crumbled because of the complete lack of self-awareness held by Sami Callihan.

It was clear from the second that oVe started making overtures to Rich Swann to join up with them that, despite past connections, Swann was not feeling what they were doing. Callihan, fresh off a year that saw him smash Eddie Edwards’ face with a bat, harass his wife at her home, and engage in an incredibly violent feud with Pentagon that ultimately cost him his hair, was as angry as ever, and couldn’t believe that Swann didn’t want to run with his old pal.

Of course, Callihan operates under a Everything I do is necessary and right mantra, so of course he was taken aback when Swann showed less than 100% enthusiasm to join up with oVe. And he certainly didn’t see anything wrong with savagely attacking Swann back in February, piledriving him on the ramp and putting him in the hospital.

Rich Swann, though, is no dummy. He knows Sami, as Sami made sure to remind everyone over and over. He knows how Sami’s head works. He knows that he lives in a world where all that he wants is good, and all the he hates is bad. So Swann decided to have a little fun with his friend as well.

When Callihan visited in the hospital, Swann would get on his good side by telling the nurse that Sami was family, which immediately eased Sami’s tension, and made him believe that he had finally gotten through to Swann. Because why wouldn’t he get through? He was right all along, and it was just a matter of making Rich see that. The piledriver, it seemed, helped him get there. You could see the sense of accomplishment on his face in early March when he again attempted to get Swann to join up with him once again, this time sure that his family would be with him.

Only, he wasn’t. For some reason, Swann didn’t appreciate the assault as much as Callihan had deluded himself into thinking he had. For some reason, Swann was actually still quite mad, and was definitely ready to get himself a little payback from the man that claimed to love him like a brother. And for some reason, Swann knew exactly how to set up his big-talking foil. Sami’s pride was always going to be his downfall.

Since then, the two have done whatever they can to hurt the other, directly or indirectly. Tommy Dreamer and Willie Mack have been caught up in this feud, as well as the Crist Brothers, Sami’s devoted oVe sidekicks. Heading into Sunday’s clash, the fire in this fight is burning brightly.

While I feel that Swann has the mental edge heading into the clash, I do wonder if he has the tools needed to physically beat Sami Callihan. The man may be a lot of terrible things, but a terrible wrestler is not one of them. He’s hung with the very best in Impact since his arrival, grabbing big wins along the way. Swann is no slouch, but is he on the level of an Eddie Edwards or a Pentagon? We’ll definitely find out, but I have a feeling Callihan started this for one simple reason – he knew Swann was a beatable opponent, and it’d end up with some gold around his waist.

Winner: And New X Division Champion, Sami Callihan

Tessa Blanchard vs. Gail Kim

Who I think will win this match is hardly up in doubt. Gail Kim obviously realized that Tessa’s star was about to shine brightest in the sky, and has done everything possible in 2019 to get people to stop talking about her. It’s probably one of the sadder displays seen in recent memory, but Gail Kim’s always found herself attracted to other people’s spotlight, so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

From questionable officiating in Tessa’s Homecoming loss to Taya Valkyrie, to constantly interfering in Tessa’s matches, to trying to use her position as a member of Impact Management to force punishment on Tessa for things that Gail initiated, this match is nearly five months’ worth of built up frustration ready to come to a head for Blanchard.

It seems that no matter what she says, Gail Kim just can’t go away, so now it’s up to Tessa to force her out. If she fails in that task, who knows what kind of long-term retaliation she can expect from the offices of management. But a win over Gail not only gets rid of this constant nuisance, but it also puts her back on the track towards the top of the division.

It should not be forgotten that Tessa already owns a victory over current champion Taya Valkyrie at Bound for Glory last year. Oddly enough, there was no “special guest referee” in that match, and Tessa was able to secure the victory. Crazy how that changes once Gail Kim enters the picture.

And look, I’m not trying to sell Gail short. She’s Impact’s greatest Knockout, a former champion in both WWE and Impact, and someone who has delivered countless classics over the years with everyone from Awesome Kong to Sienna to Taryn Terrell and everyone in between. In her prime, she was absolutely unstoppable. Hell, even in her retirement match, she won the Knockouts Championship (how nice of Impact to give her that opportunity in the first place), proving that even with a lost step or two, she’s still really, really good.

That’s all fine and dandy. Tessa is better than really good. Tessa Blanchard is the best thing going in the promotion today, and she’s the one that will finally put Gail Kim down for good. Gail had her year long retirement tour, and she got her final championship. This comeback is a huge mistake, and I’m banking on Tessa to prove it to her.

Winner: Tessa Blanchard

Johnny Impact vs. Brian Cage – Impact World Championship, Lance Storm Special Referee

It’s almost natural to want to see someone get their comeuppance. To want to see someone who so flagrantly flaunts the rules, who sets up his own rules and then breaks those, to want see someone like that fall on their face is always the most logical thing for those of us on the outside.

It’s also natural to see someone try to do things the right way, to work their asses off and improve and try to earn everything in their life, and to root for them wholeheartedly. It’s natural to want to see someone like that rewarded for their effort.

What’s become of Impact Wrestling’s World Championship since it’s been in the hands of Johnny Impact, however, is absolutely not natural. Johnny’s created this synthetic being that exists only to make sure that he stays on top. He did it with the help of his wife, a crooked referee, his Survivor castmates, and a management staff all too happy to appease the man who doesn’t rock the boat like an E_Li_Drake or even an Austin Aries did.

In their rush to placate Johnny, the company clearly missed the obvious signs that he was doing things his way, above their heads, and without any fear of repercussions.

I tried to shine a light on it, but so many were so devoted to the man, and so sure that I was simply griping because a wrestler I happened to like more wasn’t getting the opportunities he was, that I was ignored. I pointed out the obvious favoritism the man was receiving in 2017 when he was granted title shot after title shot, be it against Drake or Alberto El Patrón. It was obvious that they wanted to reward the man who showed his devotion by making the company name his surname. But hey he’s a nice guy, so it was all good.

I again returned to showing the obvious underhanded tactics when, during his defense against Cage at Homecoming, the referee decided yelling at some Survivor castmates was of far more importance than officiating the actual action taking place in the ring. This lapse in judgment – which at the time seemed innocent enough to many – would lead to a missed pin cover by Cage, and ultimately to Johnny sneaking out with the belt.

Then came the promises of a rematch… as long as Cage just did one more thing for him. And wouldn’t you know, for some reason, that one more thing was always interrupted by something else that now needed Johnny’s full attention?

Impact Management was all in on having their Royal Couple, though, so it didn’t matter. They set Gail out to torpedo Tessa and get the belt around Taya, and they let Johnny do whatever he had to do to keep the belt, without the Championship Committee ever once stepping in to force his hand.

All along, all Brian Cage wanted was a fair rematch. He’d happily team with Johnny, or try to help Taya, or wrestle Moose, or wrestle Killer Kross… whatever it took to get another attempt. And for some reason, he couldn’t see through the obvious lies that Johnny kept feeding him. For Cage, this was simply about trying to find out who the better man was, and there was no need for shenanigans.

For Johnny, however, this was about life. Without his championship, all of his bravado rings supremely hollow. He’s just another pretty boy with a loud mouth. So he made sure, at every turn, to have back up.

March 29, Johnny finally showed the world what I had long known – he’d been playing Cage (and the rest of us) for idiots. He’d already turned on Cage, but it was the reveal that referee John E. Bravo had been a part of it that really blew it all up.

He was the referee at Homecoming that conveniently missed the cover when Cage had Johnny beat. He was the one every single time when a match ended under odd circumstances. And no one ever noticed. For four months, this crooked official did everything he could to help Johnny maintain his grip on the championship.

To be honest, I’m not sure that Lance Storm is going to make a difference. Hell, there’s a good chance he’s also on board the Johnny Impact Express, and will do his best to make it look like an accident when he also conveniently misses Cage having Johnny in a perilous situation.

It’s natural to want to see Brian Cage beat Johnny Impact. It’s natural to want to see Johnny finally pay for his sins. But nothing about this has been natural. It’s been carefully curated by the champion since it all started. Sunday night, I don’t think that changes.

Winner: And Still Impact World Champion, Johnny Impact

article topics :

Impact Rebellion, Dino Zee