Rhino and Big Mike collide, The X-Division and Tag Titles are on the line and Taya makes a major announcement as IMPACT presents Cali Combat.

Last week on IMPACT: Moose foiled Fallah, Rosemary returned to help Jordynne Grace stave off the Best Frenemies, The Rascalz fell short against RVD, Willie Mack and Rich Swann, The Deaners defeated The Desi Hit Squad into indenture and Tessa and Tommy overcame oVe.

And now the IMPACT recap for Aug 23:

This week IMPACT Wrestling brings us Cali Combat!

What is Cali Combat, you ask? Well, it’s just like a regular episode of IMPACT, but it takes place in California and has an alliterative title (so you know I’m about it).

Things kick off with an absolute bruiser as Rhino and Michael Elgin finally meet in the ring after brawling around Windsor, Ontario for the past month. The match isn’t Big Mike’s or The War Machine’s finest, but it sets the tone of what to expect going forward, while also allowing the two to have someplace to go in their future clashes — a guarantee, as this match ends in a double count-out with the two sluggers throwing haymakers past the official’s 10-count.

Would it have been more rewarding with a clean finish? Sure, but also short-sighted. While IMPACT does its best to make its weekly programming matter, with championship matches and narrative establishment and continuation, this rivalry deserves a pay-per-view payoff. Big Mike and Rhino both have been consistent in the main event scene since their debuts/returns to the company and having their feud last one official match on IMPACT — even if it is Cali Combat (!) — wouldn’t be the prudent play.

Side note on the match: we don’t laud the announce team often, but props to Don Callis for responding to Josh Matthew’s acknowledgment of an ECW chant as a testament to Rhino’s legacy, by saying “he’s also been World Champion here as well.”

Never understood putting a defunct organization over the one for which you currently work.

After the match, Big Mike cuts a nonsensical promo about how Rhino is using every rule to his advantage, like “using a mask and sneaking up from behind” (which I will readily admit I did not know was a rule of sorts in IMPACT Wrestling), when Rhino storms through the locker room door throwing bombs and screaming “I will end you.”

One of these men is objectively more terrifying than the other, and it’s the one 10 years older who wants to be involved in local politics, not the one who reminds everyone he likes to send people to the hospital.

Up Next, The North defends their World Tag Team Championships against Reno Scum and what a change a venue makes. The last tapings were in Toronto, so, despite being heels, The North was revered, and here in California, Ethan Page and Josh Alexander are booed while Reno Scum receives possibly the pop of the night.

For those unfamiliar, Reno Scum is a team of former IMPACT roster members Adam Thornstowe (a regular dude) and Luster the Legend (the son of Zangief and Starburns). Here they put on a decent showing against the Tag Team Champions, who are borderline incapable of having a mediocre match. While not on the level of some of The North’s other defenses against teams like LAX and The Rascalz, there’s a lot worth checking out. Page and Alexander make Reno Scum look like credible challengers, but come out on top by virtue being the smarter, more capable team.

Post-pinfall we go backstage to see attempted adulterer Ace Austin attempting to remove his shirt and feigning injury to acquire concern from Alisha Edwards. As Alisha helps the magician take off his tee, Ace attributes his condition to her husband. Mrs. Edwards leaves Austin to head to the ring, while Ace smirks, drops his crutch and walks away entirely ambulatory.

Next up Jordynne Grace is approached by Madison Rayne in the women’s locker room. Rayne, not wanting to run afoul of Rosemary, warns the young powerhouse not to trust the Demon Assasin. Grace responds by saying she doesn’t need The Queen’s advice or Rosemary’s help.

The second match of the night is between Alisha Edwards and Havok and although Alisha demonstrates more bravery and lands more offense than expected, it definitely still qualifies as a squash. Edwards attempts a crossbody, but The Kaiju Queen easily counters the featherweight Edwards into a Tombstone for the win.

After the match, Ace Austin hobbles out to check on Alisha, prompting an irate Eddie Edwards to accost him. The homewrecking magician alludes the maniacal Eddie thanks to interference from Havok, as the former Knockouts Champion levels the former Heavyweight Champion with a choke slam, allowing Ace to escort a near unconscious Alisha behind the curtain.

We cut to an interview with Moose strolling along the beach, where “Mr. Impact” puts Ken Shamrock (yes, that Ken Shamrock) on notice, escalating an innocuous Twitter beef by challenging The World’s Most Dangerous Man to show up in Vegas at the next IMPACT tapings.

Turning Moose into a legend killer and having him tackle IMPACT’s first Heavyweight Champion, after taking down RVD at Slammiversary, is a nice way to further establish the former NFL player as one of the anchors of the promotion, and though nostalgia acts are tricky in wrestling, I won’t lie, I’m excited to see Shamrock return, at least for a one-off.

Our third match of the evening is an X-Division Championship bout between champion Jake Crist and former champion Rich Swann. This is Swann’s first attempt to win back the belt he lost to the oVe member and it’s kind of shocking it occurs without much build-up or fanfare considering Swann’s impressive run as champ.

The two go back and forth, and while it wasn’t quite as stellar as their initial showdown in which Crist captured the gold, these two will always put on a match worth watching; they’re individually too talented not to, and they possess pretty solid chemistry.

Crist picks up the W with a suave rollup and the main take away is that, unlike the match in which he won the belt, he defeated Swann without any assistance from his oVe stablemates. IMPACT seems to be investing in Crist as champion, and it’ll be interesting to see precisely where his run goes.

After the match, we see a quick video on the Deaner Compound, where The Desi Hit squad are shown adapting to life on the farm. Raj and Gama are indignant at their new status; meanwhile, Rohit (Undisputed FanSided IMPACT Recap MVP) is taking to it like a fish to water.

Taya Valkyrie addresses the state of the Knockouts division next, stating that she’s approaching the record for longest reigning Knockouts Champion and declaring that before she achieves this milestone, she intends to defend her title against “someone everyone is talking about” — likely a debuting Tenille Dashwood.

While Taya’s math may be wonky — she’ll be around day 250 and Wikipedia has Taryn Terrel’s record at 279 — the match should be an absolute barn burner, so if IMPACT wants to flub some dates, that’s fine by me.

Our next match is Willie Mack versus Trey Miguel of The Rascalz, as the high flyer seeks retribution for his team’s loss in a trios tag against the Mack’s squad last week.

This bout is more friendly exhibition than rivalry, and that’s all well and good, as these two babyfaces execute a fast-paced, exciting affair. The crowd loves both participants equally, with competing chants occurring throughout.

Eventually, Mack wins by countering a meteora into a stunner, which is a spot that would have left a normal human’s knee caps up by their hips.

Finally, in the main event, Sami Callihan takes on Tommy Dreamer in a No Disqualification match, aka, the only match Dreamer is allowed to have in 2019. Canes, Trashcans, ring bells, chairs, ladders, all the works are included, and it’s the spectacle everyone expects.

Callihan wins with a Cactus Special through a table, which is precisely the way it should have wrapped up. Tommy is only here to take beatings for Tessa Blanchard and provide even more additional motivation for Tessa’s eventual revenge victory, plus Dreamer probably has a winning percentage below the Mendoza line in singles action dating back to 2005.

Blanchard runs out to save Dreamer from any additional damage, but Jake Crist pops up to deck the “Undeniable” one with the X-Division Title, allowing Callihan to execute a Cactus Special on Tessa as we head off the air.

In the end, Cali Combat was only unique in nomeclature and served primarily to only further feuds, hint at possible storylines and provide some top-notch professional wrestling. It was just another edition of IMPACT, which, if you’ve been watching, you know, isn’t a bad thing at all.

Next: Grappling with nostalgia: Then, now, forever

Until next time, thanks for reading, and chime in to contribute to the conversation in the comments below

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