IMPACT Wrestling: Against All Odds 2023 Review

impact wrestling against all odds review

We crown a new #1 Contender through the unique 8-4-1 match and find out if Alex Shelley can finally win the big one.

On paper, this show is the best that Impact have put together since their January PPV, Hard to Kill. For once this year, the company hasn’t been ravaged by injury just before a big show so that’s a real positive heading in to Against All Odds. With most of these monthly specials, the winners seem predictable but I know the match quality should be pretty high.

On the pre-show, KiLynn King defeated Neveah and Joe Hendry successfully defended his Impact Digital Media Championship against Dirty Dango. They were both short matches and only went around 5 minutes. It’s a busy long weekend here in Australia, so I’ll keep things in summary style for this show and then go play-by-play for the main event.

Against All Odds Main Show: Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio

Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt ran through the card as the pre-show ended and then they had the usually-impressive video package to open the show.

Match #1: Frankie Kazarian vs Eddie Edwards w/ Alisha

I thought this was a clever choice as the opening contest, pitting two veterans who are good workers against each other. Kaz showed he is still working at a high-level with great offense like the springboard hurricanrana to the outside. Kaz wanted the springboard legdrop, but Alisha got up on the ring apron to block him. He went to the other side of the ropes and nailed the move, without interruption. Kaz nailed a reverse piledriver, spiking Edwards right on his head but Alisha put his foot on the rope just before the 3 count. The referee finally stepped in and sent her to the back. Edwards hit a superplex but Kaz hooked his legs around Eddie’s after they crashed to the floor and the referee counted 3, but then called it only 2. That was an odd spot. Shortly after, Kaz stacked up Edwards and got the 3 count so I think the original 3 count that the referee made was probably the plan. The match went 13 minutes.

Winner: Frankie Kazarian

Analysis: ***1/2 A great opening contest that showed how talented both men can be. I like Alisha in this role too, more so than wrestling as she adds more value here. The ending was a bit botched so I didn’t rate it that little bit higher than I could have if it was clean.

Match #2: Impact World Tag Team Championships: Bullet Club (c) vs The Good Hands w/ Brian Myers

Bey was on fire in this match. He hit a rolling Code Red for a very close nearfall, but then they almost lost the titles when Austin accidentally kicked Bey leading to a spear from Hotch. A rare miscue from the champs. There was a lot of interference from The Good Hands and Myers throughout the match, including a spear on the apron by Skyler who wasn’t legal. Myers used the championship belt to nail Austin over the head on the outside. Myers tossed Austin back into the ring and The Good Hands hit the Magic Killer but somehow Austin kicked out! Austin fought out of the Favour and then he and Bey hit a ridiculous hurricanrana into a cutter from the top rope, then Austin finished off Skyler with The Fold for the win after 12 minutes. Really good action here.

Winners by pinfall AND STILL Impact World Tag Team Champions: Bullet Club

Analysis: ***1/2 That was an action-packed tag title match, which allowed The Good Hands to really show that they’re a solid team when they have good opponents and a decent amount of ring time. Ace and Bey are just such a smooth unit and their tandem offense looks so impressive.

Match #3: Dog Collar Match: Masha Slamovich vs Killer Kelly

This is the best Knockouts’ feud currently and that’s impressive when Trinity/Purrazzo/Grace/Shaw have all been featured in top spots as of late. These two have a really heated rivalry and you can really feel the intensity when they step into the ring together. Kelly probably hasn’t had as many big wins that I thought she might have since debuting, but might get back on track with a win tonight. Both women are chained together by the neck, with no disqualifications, and a pinfall or submission must occur inside the ring. The opening minutes focused on both women trying to establish the chain as a weapon, with Slamovich using it to choke Kelly and wrenching at her mouth with the chain. She also wrapped the chain around Kelly’s hand and stomped on it hard. The action eventually spilled to the outside where Slamovich used the chain to ram Kelly into the steel ring post. She choked her around the ring post with the chain. Back in the ring, Masha dragged Kelly around the ring by the chain. Kelly wanted a top-rope move, but Masha cut her off and sent her to the outside so that the chain was draped over the ropes. Masha used the ring ropes to choke Kelly in mid-air. Back in the ring, Kelly almost won the match with Slamovich’s Snow Plow. She tried to lock in a sleeper using the chain, but Slamovich slipped out and wrapped the chain around Kelly’s neck then hit the Snow Plow for the win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Masha Slamovich

Analysis: *** These matches are obviously harder to rate than a regular match, but they used the chain well as a weapon and came up with enough creative spots to fit the intensity of the rivalry. Not the prettiest match, but it suited the feud to a tee.

Match #4: Impact X-Division Championship: Trey Miguel (c) vs Chris Sabin

Miguel defeated Sabin two weeks ago but it was in controversial fashion so Sabin has another shot at winning the championship for a 9th time here. Miguel spent the early portion of the match trying to avoid any contact with Sabin. Sabin brought out a ‘Best Hits’ of sorts here, trying everything to get the victory such as Christopher Daniels’ Angel’s Wings for a close 2 count. Miguel was able to continuously counter the Cradle Shock and even hit one of his own for a very close 2 count! Miguel then went under the ring to get his spray paint cans. The referee took one off him, but he sprayed the second can in the eyes of Sabin. Miguel rolled up Sabin but he kicked out. Miguel to Sabin to the top, but Sabin dumped him onto the ropes. Sabin tried to clear his eyes with some water and then hit the Styles Clash for 2. Sabin hit the Clothesline from Hell and the Cradle Shock to finally put Miguel away after 14 minutes.

Winners AND NEW X-Division Champion: Chris Sabin

Analysis: ***3/4 That was a great match. I enjoyed the way that Miguel continued to avoid the Cradle Shock, so Sabin had to dig deep into his bag of tricks and was finally able to get the win with the move after many attempts. The spray paint shenanigans could’ve hindered the match but actually added to it, as Miguel has used it to cheat so many times, but it didn’t pay off tonight. A historic night for Sabin.

Match #5: 8-4-1 8-Man Tag Team Match: Moose, Rich Swann, PCO & Mike Bailey vs Nick Aldis, Jonathan Gresham, Heath & Bully Ray

The mixed teams make this match intriguing but I fully expect Aldis’ team to get the win here. It was a pretty lacklustre 8-man tag and the end saw Moose accidentally spear his own teammate, Swann, then Gresham dumped Moose out and pinned Swann to win the match.

Winners by pinfall: Nick Aldis, Jonathan Gresham, Heath & Bully Ray

Analysis: **1/2 That was rushed and very basic. It moves straight into a Fatal-4-Way for the #1 Contendership.

Fatal 4-Way #1 Contender’s Match: Nick Aldis vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. Heath vs. Bully Ray

Early in the match, the faces ganged up to give Bully the Wassup headbutt move which was funny. Bully’s facial expression was beyond ridiculous. Gresham was given plenty of time to shine this week (in the main event tag on Impact, getting the winning pin in the 8-man tag and featuring in the 4-way). He faced off with Aldis who nailed him with a Brainbuster. Bully got a steel chair and brought it into the ring. He was about to use it on Gresham, but Scott D’Amore returned from being burnt to a crisp to disarm Bully. Bully taunted D’Amore and turned his back on him, daring him to strike him with the chair. D’Amore gave in and smashed the chair over Bully’s back. Heath came in and nailed Bully with the Wake Up Call on to the chair. Gresham hit a splash on Bully but Aldis broke up the pin. Aldis nailed Heath with a Michinoku Driver for a close nearfall. They did the superplex tower spot and Heath almost got the 3 on Aldis. Gresham took down Heath with a leg lock. Heath was about to tap but Aldis sailed through the air and nailed the top-rope elbow on them both. Aldis locked in the King’s Lynn Cloverleaf and Heath tapped out. That match went 8 minutes.

Winner by submission: Nick Aldis

Analysis: *** Even though it was only 8 minutes, that was a fast-paced match that made up for the pretty lacklustre 8-man tag before it. Aldis was the predictable choice here, but they gave Heath and Gresham credible showings as threats to win it. Aldis will face either Shelley or Maclin at Slammiversary.

Match #6: Deonna Purrazzo & Trinity vs Gisele Shaw & Savannah Evans

This was just a basic tag match, that probably belonged on the weekly show. Trinity played the face-in-peril a little bit, Purrazzo tagged in and locked in the Fujiwara armbar. Shaw almost tapped, but stretched and made the ropes with a foot. Purrazzo was about to be double-teamed, but Trinity came in for the save with the Rear View on Shaw. On the outside, Vidal took out Trinity and then back inside the ring Purrazzo rolled up Evans and pinned her right in front of Shaw. That ending sequence seemed very rushed or something wasn’t quite right there. Purrazzo did not look impressed after the match. It lasted 9 minutes.

Winners: Deonna Purrazzo & Trinity

Analysis: **1/2 Just a simple tag team match that made the Slammiversary combatants look strong, but didn’t do much for Gisele and friends.

Gisele & Savannah beat down Purrazzo after the match. Shaw went to hit her running knee but Trinity came in for the save with a clothesline. Trinity cleared the ring of Vidal and Evans, too. Purrazzo and Trinity shook hands afterwards.

Match #7: Ohio Street Fight: OVE (Sami Callihan, Jake Crist, Madman Fulton) vs The Design (Deaner, Angels, Kon)

It’s good to see Fulton back here and featured straight away in an important match. Weapons were introduced immediately including trash cans, crutches and steel chairs. Callihan slammed Deaner back-first into a ladder that was wedged against the ring apron. Crist set up a trash can against the head of Deaner and did a running dropkick with a steel chair. He brought out the barbed-wire rolling pin and raked it over Deaner’s back! Callihan hit a devastating Exploder suplex on Angels on top of a chair set up in the middle of the ring. Callihan brought out the staple gun. Angels tried a sunset flip, but Callihan held on and stapled the face of Angels. He set his sights on Deaner, but Kon protected him and turned the gun on Callihan and stapled his chin. Callihan told Fulton to get the wire! He brought out a barbed-wire table. Fulton was about to powerbomb Angels on the table but Angels held on to the dreadlocks! Angels wrapped the barbed wire around his arm and nailed Fulton with a discus clothesline. There was an incredible spot where Angels took down Callihan and went to the top rope to hit a splash. Crist went to the adjacent corner and timed his dive perfectly to catch Angels in mid-air with a cutter! Callihan then hit a suplex on Deaner on the barbed wire table! Later on, Deaner hit the reverse Death Valley Driver on Crist, through the barbed wire table on the outside! He and Angels faced Callihan in the ring. Deaner set Callihan on top of a table whilst Angels hit a splash off the top of a ladder! Somehow, Callihan kicked out! Deaner brought out the bat but Callihan ducked and Deaner took out Angels. Callihan hit the Cactus Driver 97 but Deaner kicked out! Callihan bashed Deaner’s face in with the baseball bat and hit the Cactus Driver 97 on the barbed wire board to win the match after 14 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: OVE

Analysis: ***3/4 That was a really entertaining fight, which fit the feud really well and felt like the final chapter in this storyline. With Deaner kicking out of the Cactus Driver the first time, it felt like a big moment so it took another baseball bat shot and the piledriver again to put him away. That’s why I feel that it might be the end of the Callihan/Design feud.

Match #8: Impact World Championship: Steve Maclin (c) vs Alex Shelley

I’m really glad Shelley gets another shot in the main event scene, even though it just feels like filling in time for Maclin until he faces Aldis. The story continues to be that Shelley hasn’t won the World Title in 20 years of being in the company, yet Maclin has done it within his first 2 years of being here. Shelley certainly deserves it, but whether they finally do it here or not we will find out now. If they do pull the trigger, the talk will always somewhat be around does he deserve it because he’s a big star or is a reward for 20 years of loyalty? Disappointingly, in a 3:27 show, by the time the bell sounds to begin the match, there’s only 24 minutes of TV time left. They lock up and Maclin overpowers Shelley into the corner. Shelley tries to remain composed but you can see the pressure on his face. Shelley tries to target the left arm but Maclin scrambled to the ropes. Maclin heads to the outside for a breather and taunts the crowd a bit. Shelley tries a headlock and grounds Maclin with it. Maclin gets the first real offense of the match with a running elbow. Maclin chops away on Shelley in the corner. He hits him with several chops and sends Shelley across to the opposite corner. Shelley blocks a running attack and wrenches at the left arm of Maclin. Maclin bails to the outside again, so Shelley springboards over the top and hits a kick to Maclin’s arm. He hits a running knee off the ring apron that takes down Maclin. Shelley stomps down hard on the arm of Maclin on the apron. He tries to climb back in the ring but Maclin hung Shelley’s arm off the top rope. Shelley tried to get back into the ring and nailed Maclin with a Dragon Screw. He hit a knee drop across the chest of Maclin, who was caught in the ropes. Maclin kicked out at 2, and Shelley locked in an armbar straight away. Maclin stood up in the move and got to the ropes. Shelley targeted the shoulder of Maclin and nailed him with a knee to the spine. He went for a running kick but Maclin moved out of the way and hit a German suplex. Shelley rolled out of the ring, so Maclin ran the ropes and hit a diving spear through the second rope! Maclin hit a back suplex on the ring apron, then he hit a suplex on the floor area. Maclin rolled into the ring to break the referee’s count. Maclin dived from the ring apron and hit an elbow on Shelley, who was still on the floor. Maclin nailed a backbreaker but Shelley kicked out at 1. Shelley blocked a suplex, so Maclin clubbed him across the back. Shelley targeted the left arm again and hit a series of chops. Maclin used his one good arm to hit an Olympic Slam for a 2 count. Maclin dropped a knee across the spine of Shelley and tried to lock in a crossface. Shelley stood up and broke the hold. Maclin fought back with elbows and hit a clothesline, then another backbreaker for a 2 count. He tossed Shelley into the ropes and hit a hard forearm into his back. Shelley tried a chop block, but Maclin rained down the elbows to the back of his neck. They exchanged forearms and Shelley eventually took Maclin off his feet. Shelley hit a reverse DDT for a 2 count. He took Maclin down with a kick to the head and then hit a Dragon Screw to Maclin’s left knee. Shelley tried to lock in a Figure-4 but Maclin grabbed Shelley’s ears to block it. Shelley hit a running punt to the face and then locked in the Figure-4. Maclin dragged himself backwards to reach the ropes and grabbed the middle turnbuckle. The referee was checking on Shelley, so Maclin removed the middle turnbuckle pad. Shelley hit a twisting neckbreaker. He went for another running kick but Maclin blocked it and hit the Busaiku knee and a Brainbuster for a close 2 count. Maclin climbed to the top and hit a diving headbutt for another 2 count. He set Shelley up in the Tree of Woe. Shelley avoided Maclin’s spear and they fought on the ring apron. Shelley scored with a DDT and then a Sliced bread on the floor. He tossed Maclin back into the ring but Maclin blocked Shell Shocked and hit the KIA. Maclin rolled into a cover but Shelley got his foot on the rope at the last moment. That’s the first ever kick-out of that move. Maclin wanted the KIA off the top rope but Shelley wrenched at the left arm to stop him. Shelley nailed Sliced Bread off the top rope and scored a very close nearfall. Maclin backed Shelley into the exposed turnbuckle and hit a spinning piledriver for another 2 count. Maclin set Shelley up in the Tree of Woe but missed and ran into the exposed turnbuckle. Shelley rolled Maclin into the Motor City Stretch. Maclin rolled out of the move and Shelley nailed him with a Flatliner into the exposed turnbuckle. Hannifan was going berserk at this point. Shelley hit a superkick and Shell Shocked and won the World Title after 23 minutes.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW Impact World Champion: Alex Shelley

Analysis: **** That match started off slow but the last 5-6 minutes were filled with great action and close near falls. We all knew how tough Shelley was, but when he kicked out of the KIA I thought perhaps they’re going to pull the trigger here and even when he won I was still surprised. There was some really good back-and forth action, although their submission focus ultimately didn’t lead to a win via that method, it was still some good ring psychology throughout. I did not see that result coming and I don’t think a lot of people did. I’m not sure it is the right booking decision at this point of the year. He certainly deserves it, but I don’t think a face vs face Slammiversary main event is the best idea. I think Maclin did well as champion. I didn’t expect him to face PCO straight up, but they had a fun program that was better than it should’ve been. And this match with Shelley I just expected to be another good/great match up on the road to a showdown with Aldis at Slammiversary. I’m disappointed that this won’t happen now and I am wondering why they’ve gone with Shelley at this point in time.

Shelley hugged the referee after the bell and looked genuinely shocked. Sabin went into the ring and celebrated with Shelley. The best tag team in Impact Wrestling history are now simultaneous singles champions.

Analysis: Congratulations to Alex Shelley, who is a real workhorse and staple of Impact Wrestling.

Final Rating: 7/10

Final Thoughts:

I thought it was a good show but overall it didn’t live up to the expectations I had going in. That’s mostly because the 8-4-1 match seemed to be rushed through and only got about 15 minutes on the card. I think they had too many backstage segments tonight. That’s not that important on a PPV/monthly event, because you have already engaged your audience to buy the show/ tickets, so the focus should be on the action. I think a few matches would’ve benefited from an extra 5 minutes. The main event between Maclin and Shelley was definitely the best match on the card as I expected. I did not expect that result and, whilst I am really happy for Shelley, I question that decision mostly because of the timing as well as the fact that Maclin was doing really well. I don’t think in a company as small as Impact you could talk about being a draw or merchandise sales etc. being a factor because they’re only getting about 120,000 viewers per week. It’s an interesting decision and I will eagerly watch how it unfolds. I was certainly an advocate for Maclin as champion and feel he had more to achieve as the top guy. The OVE Street Fight was probably the next best match, although it was more of a brawl, and definitely had the entertainment factor with it. Sabin and Miguel had another great encounter and I am looking forward to Sabin being a fighting champion because there’s many guys I’d like to see him take on.

Any feedback or comments are welcome. My email address is in case anybody wants to get in touch with me and my Twitter handle is @thomok6 as well. Thanks for reading!