Impact returned to New York City’s Melrose Ballroom last night for their biggest pay-per-view of the year, Bound For Glory. The stars of the promotion went in with high expectations from the crowd, and they knocked those out of the park. Every fan went home happy after a night of spectacular wrestling action. Still Real To Us was in attendance for the card, and had a unique perspective on a show that simply felt different.
At 7:39 PM, pens and koozies were thrown into the crowd to get the fans riled up for the evening’s festivities. It was a nice gesture on Impact’s part. Music started blasting at 7:54 PM as Bound For Glory inched closer to going live. Fans started chanting for the New York Jets, as players from the Giants were in the house, and sitting in the crowd. The chant then switched to “We Want Scarlett,” in reference to Impact star Scarlett Bordeaux. Make no mistake about it, Bordeaux’s character has caught the attention of wrestling fans in a major way.
The opening video package had a very New York feel to it, and set the tone for the rest of the night. Eli Drake got a big pop when he was shown on the screen. It’s hard to deny the connection that Drake has with the audience. The first match quickly got underway, as Rich Swann made his way to the ring.
Rich Swann and Willie Mack vs. Matt Sydal and Ethan Page
Swann was the perfect guy to send out first. He received a warm New York welcome from the Queens crowd. Willie Mack followed, the the roof blew off the place. Impact made a wise decision in bringing in Mack. His relationship with the fans was a true sight to behold. Mack received one of the biggest reactions of the night, and deservedly so. He looks different, wrestles different, and is just, well…different.
Sydal and Page entered together, as legit tag teams do. Sydal’s look is working for him. There were thunderous cheers of “Return of the Mack” for Willie Mack, as he grappled with Sydal. There was a nice sequence between the two competitors. Mack then showboated for the crowd, including doing a version of John Cena’s “You Can’t See Me” taunt. The people in the audience got a big kick out of that. Ethan Page slowed the action down with smart mat work.
What followed next was total nonstop action after Sydal put a sleeper hold on Swann. A hot tag was made to Willie Mack, and insanity broke loose. Page hit a swanton bomb at one point, but Rich Swann found it in him to not stay down. “This is Impact” chants broke out. There was another hot sequence, with bodies flying all over the place. A chant of “This is awesome,” followed. After delivering a Stone Cold Stunner, a Trouble In Paradise, and finally a Diamond Cutter from a 450 Splash, Willie Mack and Rich Swann picked up the big win. A dance party followed.
Winners: Rich Swann and Willie Mack
After the match, Mack got on the mic. There was a production issue, where the mic was not working, but the team of Swann and Mack were experts at controlling the crowd. The team plugged the sponsor of the night, upgrading seats for a couple of lucky fans. Mack got the crowd going, shouting in the mic, “We set this b*tch on fire!”
Footage from TMZ aired on the screen next, showcasing the heated Johnny Impact and Austin Aries rivalry. Getting airtime on TMZ is a big deal. Kudos to Impact Wrestling for getting Harvey Levin to go along with their big angle. Impact made jokes about Aries’ height.
After the package, there were chants of “We want Don.” Nobody sells merchandise better than Don West, and that’s a fact. Chants of “Y2J” broke out, as fans hoped that the legendary Chris Jericho would make a surprise appearance during the pay-per-view. Finally, Impact aired footage from their Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday, where Abyss took his rightful induction. It was a nice moment for the big man, as there isn’t a wrestler that’s been more loyal to Impact than the monster.
Another quick video showed the controversial Konnan being taken out backstage. His involvement in Bound For Glory came into question.
Eli Drake’s Open Challenge
Eli Drake entered, and quickly mocked New York City. He said New York’s claim to fame was its pizza. He wasn’t wrong, and the fans agreed with him. They chanted for “pizza.” Who’s hungry? Drake took control, and started mocking the Giants players that were in the crowd, making fun of their 1-5 win-loss record.
Out from nowhere, former WWE superstar James Ellsworth made a surprise appearance. He received no love from New York, unfortunately. Still Real To Us will always have a soft spot for Ellsworth. How can NYC hate an underdog?
Ellsworth tried his best out there. He referenced his former “girlfriend from Staten Island,” and it was a truly hilarious moment. Ellsworth got in Drake’s face and stated, “I might not have a chin, but you don’t have any balls.” Oh, it’s on now. The crowd gave love to the deceased Balls Mahoney.
The crowd was solidly behind Eli Drake. Chants of “Gravy train” broke out. Ellsworth got to do some sweet-no-chin-music, but Drake kicked out. Ellsworth then tried going for the Styles Clash, in reference to his feud with WWE Champion AJ Styles, but Drake kicked out again. Drake recovered enough to put Ellsworth down to the mat, not once, but twice, and picked up the win. The crowd liked that a lot.
Winner: Eli Drake
After the match, Drake demanded more competition. Hall of Famer Abyss came out from the back, with encouraging chants from the crowd. Abyss took off his jacket, and meant business. He set up a table and delivered a menacing chokeslam to Drake. The New York crowd had a lot of respect for Abyss, and gave him a heartwarming ovation. Abyss bowed to the crowd. How can you not love this guy?
A hype video played for the Knockouts Championship match.
Tessa Blanchard (c) vs. Taya Valkyrie
The match started with fast reversals from the women leading Impact’s Knockouts division. Blanchard, the 23-year-old champion, is a major star. Having such control in the ring at such a young age is a testament to her ability as a competitor. Valkryie carried her weight as well, proving that she could hang tough with the champion.
The challenger hit a huge spear on Blanchard, but the match wasn’t over. The crowd was heavily invested in the contest. Tessa slowed the pace down a bit with nice rope work. Blanchard has a veteran mindset. Her dad, Tully, taught her well. There was nice aggression displayed by the fighting champion. Still Real To Us can easily tell why Brittany Blake wants to go one-on-one with Impact’s Blanchard. Tessa hit a vicious DDT on Taya, but the challenger had the will to kick out of the pinfall attempt. Blanchard picked up the victory with an impressive flying Codebreaker from the top rope. That was shocking to see in person, and the crowd responded in a big way.
Winner and STILL Knockouts Champion: Tessa Blanchard
There was a hype video for Moose. He came out to the ring, with women by his side. He sent them to the back, and the crowd booed. That was to be expected. Eddie Edwards came out with a kendo stick. The crowd liked that more.
Moose vs. Eddie Edwards
This wasn’t much of a match, but instead, an angle to set up what was about to happen next. The ref threw out the contest, and awarded the victory to Eddie Edwards in a DQ win. Edwards was battling Killer Kross from the outside.
Out from the back, the hardcore icon Tommy Dreamer came out to a big pop. New York City will always love the innovator of violence. A new match was made, as Bound For Glory got an unexpected tag match on the card.
Moose and Killer Kross vs. Eddie Edwards and Tommy Dreamer
If you wanted brawling and violence, than this is the match that you were looking for. There were big “ECW” chants for this one. There were also spots that awed the crowd, including a sweet hurricanrana from Edwards. Moose hit a stiff clothesline on Dreamer, showing him that he means all business. A punch-off between Moose and Edwards happened, and the New York crowd played along with them. Another “Impact Wrestling” chant broke out, showing that the audience was liking what they were seeing. The kendo stick came into play by Moose, but Edwards wasn’t having any of that. Edwards got the surprise pin on Moose, shocking the crowd. Well played, gentlemen.
Winners: Eddie Edwards and Tommy Dreamer
After the match, Kross got the best of Edwards, while Moose hit an ungodly spear. Kross and Moose hit a double powerbomb on the apron, and left their mark. They might not have won the match, but the damage to Edwards was done.
oVe (Sami Callihan, Dave Christ, and Jake Christ) vs. Brian Cage, Pentagon Jr., and Fenix
How do you call a match like this? With the competitors involved, fans knew this one was going to be a wild contest. Set under “oVe rules,” the clear advantage was with Callihan’s crew.
Make no mistake about it, every person in the ring impressed. Fenix hit a solid cutter after popping off of the ropes. He makes it look effortless. You have to see Fenix live to understand how good he is.
Pentagon would get his moves in as well, getting a codebreaker on Dave Christ.
Callihan has a weird charisma about him, and was one of Impact’s best signings in a long time. Brian Cage also held his own in the match, using his size (and agility) to his advantage. oVe got the last laugh, as the three men assaulted Cage with a brutal beatdown, and didn’t stop. They kept kicking Cage, harder and harder. Cage finally fell in defeat, giving him a loss that the crowd didn’t see coming. He looked strong while losing, though. He didn’t go down easy.
This was a match with excellent booking, and a true highlight of the show. It is recommended that you get the Bound For Glory replay to watch the spectacle with your own eyes.
Winners: oVe (Sami Callihan, Dave Christ, and Jake Christ)
There was an interview backstage with Austin Aries. Aries always knows how to deliver great intensity in his promos. He really is great at what he does. He ended the interview talking about how being a World Champion “is his life.” The crowd saw the ring crew rush into the ring to set-up the big Concrete Jungle Match. They moved quickly to set the atmosphere just right.
LAX (Santana and Ortiz) vs. The OGz (King, Homicide, and Hernandez)
You had to see this match live to truly “get it.” Being in the Melrose Ballroom, Still Real To Us couldn’t believe how deadly this match was. Everyone involved stepped up, and showed how brutal professional wrestling can be. The crowd popped big for the stipulation. There were just wooden boards inside the ring. The turnbuckle pads also went bye-bye.
Hernandez was busted open right away. The blood that was pouring out of his skull was no joke. He handled it well, and showed New York City that he hasn’t lost a step. Having a long history with Impact, Hernandez really impressed in his outing at Bound For Glory. The ref was trying to fix the boards, but it made no difference. This was a match that wasn’t for the faint of heart. Hernandez hit a boarder toss on his own partner, Homicide, to the outside. That’s why they call them the OGz. Santana at one point flipped to the outside, and THANK GOD the boards didn’t give out on him. That could have been very scary.
LAX’s music hit, and yes, Konnan came out to a big pop. NYC respects K-Dawg. Konnan got solid shots in on King, sending him into the corner. LAX got it together, and hit the Street Sweeper on King for the win.
Credit to everyone involved in the match. They survived an insane stipulation, and put on a great show.
Winners: LAX (Santana, Ortiz, and Konnan)
The Allie vs. Su Yung video played as the ring crew raced back to fix the ring. The crowd couldn’t really tell what was going on while this was happening. From what the Melrose Ballroom could see, this had elements of Matt Hardy’s “Broken Universe.” Fans either love or hate that kind of stuff. The big moment of the “match” had the return of Rosemary, who the crowd went wild for. Rosemary is a true MVP. She warned Allie and Hogan to leave while they still can. Allie escaped from the insanity with Kiera Hogan. Allie wanted to return to the undead to help out Rosemary, but Kiera said it was too dangerous.
I’m sure the experience was better for the viewers watching at home. This was placed in the correct slot to get the crowd ready for the main event.
It was also announced that Impact was returning to its roots in January for a “Homecoming” pay-per-view, which will take place in Nashville at the good ol’ Asylum. It should make for a unique atmosphere.
Another excellent hype package played for Aries vs. Impact. The main event arrived, and blew everyone away, for multiple reasons.
Austin Aries (c) vs. Johnny Impact (Impact World Championship Match)
It was a true battle of egos as Aries finally collided with Impact. The crowd was split down the middle. Aries had his fans, and Impact had his. Aries had his team, Moose and Killer Kross in the corner, while Impact was accompanied by his wife, Taya Valkyrie. It created a nice dynamic, filled with a lot of tension. The two skilled wrestlers took their time, feeling each other out. They worked smart, and didn’t do the flashy moves right away. They had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands. Bound For Glory viewers were in for a true treat.
Aries tried going for the Last Chancery in the early portion of the contest. A portion of the crowd chanted “205” [Live] at Aries. He didn’t like that. There was an out-of-this-world spot where Johnny Impact hit a split-legged moonsault on Aries by using the apron edge and barricade. It was unreal, and the crowd responded appropriately.
Both men were working tight, making the match an intense viewing experience. Another big moment is when Impact hit the Spanish Fly on Aries. Only these two could pull it off with such style.
Aries would get in strong offense, including a 450 Splash. Impact wouldn’t stay down, and the champion began to get very frustrated. Impact would recover to hit the Starship Pain, but Aries used his intelligence to break up the cover by getting to the bottom rope. Very smart. Aries gets another Last Chancery locked in, but Impact escaped.
The match got to its final moments when Aries hit a suicide dive on Impact’s wife. The anger that Impact showed was off the charts, and the challenger went in on the attack. Johnny Impact kicked it into the next level, and fired off with a sharp kick to Austin’s throat, followed by a hard brainbuster, and finally, a Starship Pain to win the Impact World Championship.
Winner and NEW Impact World Champion: Johnny Impact
After the match, Aries got on his feet and looked furious. The crowd had no idea what was going on. Aries seemed to be yelling at someone and flipped the audience off. New Yorkers looked at each other, trying to make sense of what just happened. Johnny Impact kept the party going, and celebrated his big victory with Taya by his side.
Still Real To Us highly recommends wrestling fans to catch a replay of Impact’s Bound For Glory. The show featured great professional wrestling action, and stars that put it all on the line for the company. The pay-per-view was entertaining from start to finish, and that’s hard to find in today’s wrestling landscape.
Photographs taken by Kyle Stevens and are exclusive to Still Real To Us.