IMPACT Wrestling Bound For Glory featured Alex Shelley defending the World Title against Josh Alexander in the main event, Trinity vs. Mickie James for the Knockouts Title and more!
I won’t write much of a preview today because I covered a lot of my thoughts about Bound for Glory in my weekly Impact column which you can read here. It is probably the best card Impact has put out for the year and I’m excited to watch the show. Let’s get to it.
The Countdown show featured the Hall of Fame inductions of Traci Brooks, Don West (deceased) and Mike Tenay. They have each given a lot to Impact (TNA) in their own unique ways. I’m glad there was more than one inductee this year as it makes the history of the company feel more important. Some would argue that having just one inductee makes it feel special, but by doing that I think you are missing out on acknowledging a lot of talent. I am choosing not to review those speeches as it’s better to watch (just like a promo) rather than read someone’s rushed summary as they try to cover it as best as you can. There’s this site called YouTube that you can watch videos on nowadays, or that’s what the kids tell me anyway! The pre-show with the Hall of Fame speeches is available in the video below.
Onto the main show!
Impact Wrestling Bound for Glory 2023: Cicero Stadium, Chicago Illinois
There was the usual awesome opening video that they have on all their monthly shows and PPVs. We are kicking off with X-Division Championship action.
Match #1: X-Division Championship: Chris Sabin (c) vs KENTA
I’ll admit to not following KENTA much since his NXT days as I don’t really watch NJPW but it is always nice to see him in Impact Wrestling, albeit on sporadic occasions. Sabin won the championship back on the Impact 1000 show about a month back. There was a video message saying KENTA was coming to Bound for Glory and that’s all they did to build to the match. I wish they would do more with these type of matches as there should be better stories behind them. I like psychology in wrestling. They locked up and Sabin wanted a handshake but KENTA wasn’t having any of that and kicked him in the gut. Sabin fought back with right hands but KENTA gouged the eyes and hit a big boot. It’s obvious that KENTA is in heel mode here. Sabin took KENTA to the outside and dropped him face-first on the apron and hit a diving senton to take out KENTA on the floor. This match is off to a hot start. Sabin tossed KENTA back into the ring and hit a crossbody off the top rope to get the first nearfall of the match. KENTA tried to crawl out of the ring but Sabin grabbed him by his legs to stop him. KENTA bailed out of the ring so Sabin tried to hit a crossbody over the top rope but KENTA side-stepped it. KENTA rammed Sabin hard against the ring apron and threw him into the guard rail. The referee had counted to 8 but KENTA tossed Sabin back into the ring and then started abusing the fans. He had a little bit of blood coming from his mouth. KENTA hit a neckbreaker and covered for 2. He tried repeat pins but Sabin kicked out every time. KENTA got right in the referee’s face and signalled that he should be counting faster. He slapped on a sleeper hold and Sabin was grounded against the mat. Sabin slowly made it to his feet and used a jawbreaker to break the hold. He ran the ropes but KENTA ducked and locked the sleeper in again. KENTA took Sabin down to the mat with the hold cinched in. Again, Sabin was able to get to his feet and break free with an elbow to the ribs. Sabin bounced off the ropes and took KENTA down with a dropkick. He went to the top and nailed a missile dropkick and then a big boot with KENTA slumped in the corner. Sabin leapt through the air and connected with a Tornado DDT for a close nearfall. He picked up KENTA on his shoulders but KENTA broke free with a thumb to the eyes. KENTA hung Sabin up using the top rope and then climbed the turnbuckle to connect with a diving clothesline for 2. Sabin broke free of a Draping DDT attempt and tried to spear KENTA in the corner but KENTA missed and Sabin ran into the ring post. This time KENTA nailed the Draping DDT and then a huge boot, followed by a dropkick against the turnbuckle. Sabin avoided a stomp from the top rope and nailed a single-leg dropkick. The pace has really picked up in the last few minutes. Sabin wanted the Cradle Shock but KENTA held on to the referee to avoid the move. KENTA rolled up Sabin and put his feet on the ropes but the referee spotted him. KENTA hit a DDT and went up to the top rope for a double stomp to the chest of Sabin. KENTA made the cover but Sabin barely got the shoulder up. KENTA called for the GTS and then flipped off the fans. Sabin avoided it twice but KENTA clobbered him with palm strikes. Sabin fought back with a superkick. KENTA avoided the Cradle Shock again but Sabin hit an enziguiri then a missile dropkick to KENTA’s neck. Sabin hit the Clothesline from Hell and the Cradle Shock for the win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND STILL X-Division Champion: Chris Sabin
Analysis: ***3/4 Terrific opening contest that I just wanted a few more minutes of. It had turned into an enthralling affair by the end but would’ve benefited from a few more near falls from KENTA. On a night when there’s not too many matches, I think they could’ve afforded this one 4-5 more minutes.
Match #2: 4-Way Monster’s Ball Match: Moose vs Steve Maclin vs PCO vs Rhino
The idea here is that everyone is locked in a pitch-black room for 24-hours without food or water which makes them unhinged and ready for the match. I don’t think PCO’s face-paint would’ve lasted 24 hours but that’s being picky. It’s a no-disqualification match and the first fall wins. Rhino came out first but Maclin attacked him from behind before he could enter the ring. Moose attacked next with a briefcase shot to both Maclin and Rhino. Maclin and Moose brawled around the ring and Moose destroyed Maclin with a powerbomb on the apron within the first 30 seconds. Moose measured Maclin for a spear but the lights went out and here comes PCO. PCO went straight for Moose and PCO met him with a clothesline against the ropes. PCO clotheslined Maclin over the top rope and into the French announce desk. He ran back into the ring but Moose back body dropped him over the top rope and onto a ladder! It has only taken PCO 30 seconds to almost kill himself this week. The fans chanted accordingly and they showed a replay of the ladder snapping on impact. Rhino took a chair and smashed Moose over the back a few times. He hit Maclin too before he could get taken down by a trash can shot. Rhino set Moose up in the corner but Maclin hit him in the face with the trash can. Moose took down Maclin with a Pump Kick and bounced off the ropes so Maclin took him out with a Death Valley Driver into a trash can set up in the corner! Maclin took a trash can lid and beat up PCO a bit with it. He suplexed PCO on to the ladder that was now on the ground. Maclin hit PCO repeatedly with a steel chair then tossed him into the ring. He went back to the chairs shots on PCO. PCO fired up and did his insane Cannonball through the middle rope to take out Rhino on the outside. He went back inside to seek out Maclin and nailed a lung blower in the corner. PCO went to the top and hit his diving legdrop to the back of Maclin’s neck. He clubbed Maclin over the chest on the ring apron. PCO set up for the Deanimator but seemed to lose his footing a bit and still hit the move on the ring apron. Moose returned to the fray with trash can lid shots to the back of PCO. He nailed a Uranage but PCO got straight back up so Moose nailed another one. PCO kept sitting up so Moose stomped on him repeatedly. Moose tossed PCO out of the ring and got some thumbtacks. He set them up on the cinder blocks and power bombed PCO onto them! Moose started celebrating but Maclin came flying through the second rope and took him out with a suicide dive. Maclin nailed Moose in the corner with a spear and was setting up for KIA when Rhino came in with a clothesline. Rhino hit a spear in the corner on Maclin and then called for the tables. He pulled out a barbed wire table much to the adulation of the fans. Maclin took him out with a chair to the previously injured knee. Maclin hit Rhino with repeated chair shots and then Bully Ray ran down to the ring. Bully got up on the apron as Maclin was setting up to dive off the top to take out Rhino. Bully looked at Maclin and pushed him off the ropes so that he went crashing through the barbed wire table. He barely grazed the table there it seemed but still a cool spot. Bully went to the back as PCO and Moose brawled in the ring. PCO hit a DDT in the centre of the ring and went to the top rope again. He was pretty slow getting to the top so Moose clobbered him about half a dozen times with the steel chair. Moose turned around and got The Gore from Rhino but also protected himself with the chair so Rhino took some of the punishment. PCO recovered and nailed the Deanimator on Moose and the steel chair to win Monster’s Ball after 13 minutes. PCO still had thumb tacks in the back of his head while he was celebrating.
Winner by pinfall: PCO
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a fun brawl with some decent spots but nothing too thrilling. I don’t see Bully being a face going forward but his issues with Maclin have now become physical so that could be interesting going forward. I don’t think the 50+ year old PCO needed the win but the fans do love him. I would’ve gone with Moose to keep his momentum going.
Gia Miller interviewed Mickie James about her first-time match up with Trinity later on tonight. James put over Trinity as a great champion and there’s only one way to find out who the best woman is: inside the ring later tonight.
There was a video package for the Tag Team Championship match. Bullet Club/ ABC have had a lot of issues with The Rascalz and now have a 1-on-1 shot tonight.
Match #3: Impact World Tag Team Championships: The Rascalz (c) vs Bullet Club
Miguel and Bey kicked the match off. There was definitely a personal feel to this match from the outset. Neither man really got any offense in so Bey tagged in Austin and they hit a double team double stomp for the first nearfall of the match. Miguel blocked a back suplex and ran the ropes so Wentz could blind tag in. Miguel hit a neckbreaker and Wentz followed up with a running Shooting Star Press for 2. The match was being wrestled at a pace that was too fast for my fingers to keep up with. Wentz choked Austin against the middle rope and then took him into the corner for some chops. He got a 2 count and then landed a bit right hand on Austin. Wentz distracted the referee so Miguel nailed Austin with a neckbreaker on the ring apron, after he had flipped over the top rope. Wentz rolled Austin back into the ring and got another 2 count. He trapped Austin on the mat and landed several elbow strikes to the chest. Miguel tagged back in and stomped on Austin who was on the mat. He took a cheap shot on Bey to take him off the apron. Austin dropkicked Miguel through the ropes and then nailed a running backflip over the top rope which took out both of the Rascalz. Austin made it back inside the ring and tagged in Bey. He tossed Miguel over the top rope and nailed a clothesline on Wentz. Bey still had his headband on. He nailed a running chop and a splash in the corner. Miguel came back in but Bey connected on he and Wentz with a Flatliner/DDT combo. Bey covered Wentz for a 2 count. He missed a move from the top but rammed Wentz into the corner and tagged in Austin. They hit a double-team neckbreaker on Wentz but Miguel broke up the pin. Bey tossed Miguel out of the ring and they set up for the Art of Finesse but Wentz ducked out of the way so Bey went crashing on his back on the mat. Wentz hit a running punt on Bey to take him out of the ring. He nailed an uppercut on Austin in the corner. Wentz tagged Miguel in and they hit a double-stomp from the ropes but Austin kicked out. Wentz took out Bey on the outside with a suicide dive. He tagged back in and they set up Austin for another double-team move but Bey cut Miguel off with a kick on the top rope. Miguel nailed a Meteora on Austin and then Wentz hit the Swanton but Bey broke it up with a top-rope clothesline on Miguel which sent him crashing into Austin and Wentz. Wentz went to the outside to grab the spray paint can. The referee confronted him so he shoved him out of the way and accidentally sprayed Miguel in the face. Austin and Bey hit a double superkick on Wentz and nailed the Art of Finesse/Fold combination for the win after 10 minutes. Wentz’s selling there was excellent.
Winners AND NEW Impact World Tag Team Champions: Bullet Club
Analysis: ***1/2 It was pretty good but I was hoping for The Rascalz to retain as another Austin & Bey title run doesn’t really thrill me. Their shenanigans finally caught up with them and Bey and Austin got a win for the good guys. Both teams have had longer tag matches on Impact weekly shows. Why can’t we have some 20-minute matches on this PPV? And bring back Subculture!
Match #4: Non-Title Match: Will Ospreay vs Mike Bailey
They put more effort into the 60-second video package for this match than they have over the last month of television. Ospreay is one of the best, if not the best, wrestler in the world at the moment. I would probably vote his match with Kenny Omega in AEW as the best match of the year so far. Ospreay came out to a great ovation, the loudest of the night so far by far. The commentators mentioned that Ospreay had beaten Bailey on the last 3 occasions. They locked up and brawled against the ropes in the early goings. Ospreay got a few chops in but Bailey hit a kick off the ropes. Ospreay used his feet to flip bailey over onto the mat. They battled on the ring apron and Bailey kicked Ospreay hard in the back. Bailey hit a perfectly-executed springboard moonsault off the second rope to the outside. Ospreay avoided a kick in the corner and hung Bailey up on the top rope and then nailed a brutal-looking big boot. That looked stiff. Bailey crashed to the outside so Ospreay hit a springboard crossbody. Back in the ring, Ospreay teed off on Bailey with forearms. Ospreay hit a Colossal backbreaker but Bailey kicked out at only 1! Bailey began to fight back with chops but ran into an Abdominal Stretch. Bailey fought out with a hip toss. Ospreay tried to lock in a sleeper but sent Bailey into the ropes. He chopped Bailey down hard to the mat. Bailey got up and hit several kicks to the chest but Ospreay chopped him hard into the corner. He sent Bailey onto the top rope and chopped him so hard that he went crashing to the floor. Ospreay fired up the crowd and went for a baseball slide but Bailey avoided it and hit a springboard moonsault off the top rope. Back in the ring, Bailey nailed a missile dropkick and an axe kick to the back. Bailey connected with a running Shooting Star Press for 2. Ospreay ducked 2 kicks but couldn’t avoid a 3rd. Bailey looked for the Flamingo Driver but connected with an enziguiri. He set Ospreay on the top rope and hit a hurricanrana. The crowd had duelling chants for this match. Ospreay nailed a ridiculous flipping kick and then took down Ospreay with another athletic single-leg dropkick. He climbed to the top rope and hit a Phenomenal Forearm for 2. Ospreay nailed a Big Boot in the corner and placed Bailey on the top rope to deliver another kick to the face. He went for a powerbomb but Bailey popped out of it. Ospreay used his agility to hit another kick around the corner. He looked for the Os Cutter but Bailey turned it into a backslide attempt. Bailey nailed a Poisonrana and Ospreay was stunned. Ospreay rolled to the ring apron area so Bailey swept his legs out from under him. Bailey was going to hit the double knees on Ospreay on the apron but Ospreay used his feet to shove Bailey into the ring post. Ospreay used the ropes in the opposite corner to launch himself into an Os Cutter on the ring apron! Bailey barely made it back into the ring before Ospreay launched himself off the top rope and hit a diving legdrop. Ospreay ran the ropes and nailed the Os Cutter again but Bailey popped out at 2. Ospreay measured Bailey for the Hidden Blade but Bailey collapsed in the centre of the ring. He mocked him with some soft kicks and then nailed Bailey in the face with a hard forearm. Ospreay hit another forearm but bailey began to fire up with forearms of his own. They exchanged kicks and then Ospreay nailed a Superkick but Bailey stayed on his feet. He nailed another one but Bailey blocked a 3rd and kicked Ospreay in the back of the head. They did a ridiculous sequence of kicking each other hard in the face and then Ospreay finally nailed the Hidden Blade on Bailey but was too exhausted to cover him. Bailey barely got to his knees and Ospreay was on him with a kick. He jumped to the top for another Os Cutter but Bailey timed his counter perfectly with a Backstabber. Bailey backed into the corner and Ospreay missed a corner attack. Bailey hit a kick to the left arm of Ospreay and then nailed Ultima Weapon from the top! Ospreay kicked out at 2 and 9/10ths. That was a fantastic nearfall. The crowd was very loud (for Impact standards) at this point. Bailey measured Ospreay for his Tornado Kick but just like a flash Ospreay exploded out of the corner with a running elbow. Ospreay set up for the Storm Breaker but Bailey countered into a hurricanrana for another very close 2 count. Bailey caved in Ospreay’s chest with another kick and then hit a double knees. He took Ospreay to the top and hit an incredible Super Fisherman’s Suplex from the top rope and once again Ospreay kicked out. That was so smooth. Bailey hit the Tornado Kick right on Ospreay’s jaw. Ospreay countered a Flamingo Driver attempt into a roll up for 2. Ospreay held onto Bailey’s legs and nailed the Styles Clash for another nearfall. Hannifan was screaming at this point and rightly so. Ospreay decimated Bailey on his head with the Storm Driver but Bailey kicked out again. Ospreay destroyed Bailey with the Hidden Blade and Storm Breaker for the win after 18 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Will Ospreay
Analysis: ****1/2 Wow! That was an absolutely fantastic, high-octane match that had some of the best near falls in recent memory. It was a perfect illustration of why Ospreay is so great and why Impact keep giving Bailey these marquee match ups. Ospreay’s offense is just so smooth. There’s never any down time either; he is just straight on top of his opponent to follow up with the next move. My only gripe for this match was that after kicking each other in the face multiple times over a number of spots, the selling could’ve been a little better. That’s the one area Bailey can improve and has done so over the last 12 months. All my complaints about having not much storyline and they almost hit a 5-star match, makes me look silly! Bailey 100% looked like he belonged in there with Ospreay which hopefully gets more eyeballs on him. Bravo, gents.
Match #5: Call Your Shot Gauntlet Match (part 1)
The winner of this match gets a shot at any title at any time. And a big trophy! Two wrestlers start, then after 2 minutes a third enters. Then for the next 17 entrants it’s 60-second intervals with over-the-top rope eliminations. The final two left square-off in a singles match.
Entrant #1 Jake Something
Entrant #2 Eddie Edwards
Edwards did some stalling in the early going then connected with a chop. Something told him to hit harder so Edwards chopped him a few more times but that didn’t do much. Something ran the ropes and took Edwards down with a big body splash. Edwards avoiding elimination and hit an Atomic Drop. Something was unfazed and nailed a scoop slam and then whipped Edwards hard into the turnbuckle. Kenny King was the third entrant. He wasted no time entering the ring and hitting Something with a spinning kick and a Scorpion King. King and Edwards hit a double-team Legsweep/ clothesline on Something and hugged to relive their Honor No More days. Juventud Guerrera was a surprise entrant at #4. The legendary high-flyer took down Edwards and King. He chopped King down to the mat and hit a kick to the head. Guerrera took Jean off the apron but ran into a spinebuster from King. Johnny Swinger entered at #5 to groans in my lounge room. What a waste of an entry. He went after Kenny King, who he has previous beef with, but King hit him with a jawbreaker. Guerrera eliminated King with a clothesline over the top. The horrendous booking of Kenny King continues. Crazzy Steve ran into the ring for some reason and nailed Guerrera and Swinger in the back with his briefcase. Gisele Shaw was entry number 6 but security ran straight past her to escort Steve from the ring. Shaw ran into the ring and tossed Swinger out. Yes, Gisele! In even better news, Steve took out his fork and targeted Swinger but Tommy Dreamer came in for the save. What a shame. Entrant number 7 was Jody Threat who hasn’t been on TV a great deal lately. She went straight after Shaw with a double knee against the ring ropes and a sloppy German suplex. She dropkicked Shaw out of the ring but her buddies caught her and put her back into the ring. KiLynn King was entry number 8. She hit Threat with a big kick and nailed her in the corner with a clothesline. Threat fought her off but Shaw nailed her with a running uppercut in the corner. On the opposite side, Edwards took out Guerrera with a tackle off the apron to eliminate him. The crowd was booing loudly. A debuting Sonny Kiss was entry number 9. I wasn’t a fan of his in AEW and not excited by his appearance here. He went right for Shaw with an athletic somersault kick, then launched Shaw over the top rope with strength. Bully Ray ended the crowd’s fun at entry number 10. Bully was not impressed by Sonny’s shenanigans but did some hilarious dancing of his own and then went back to heel mode. Bully hit KiLynn King with a hard right. Matt Cardona was back at #11. Now there’s a surprise! Cardona ran straight into a scoop slam from Bully and Sonny went upstairs for the Wassup diving headbutt. Bully wanted the tables but King took down Kiss with a big kick. Jordynne Grace was entry number 12 and she went right for Bully Ray. Edwards attacked Bully from behind and tackled him into the corner repeatedly. There seemed to be a new wrestler every 30 seconds now! Eric Young came in at #13. His return has felt underwhelming but that’s not necessarily his fault. He nailed Edwards with a suplex and then a piledriver on Cardona who still hasn’t had any offense. Edwards and Young exchanged blows and then Young took Edwards over the top rope with a clothesline. Cardona took down Young from behind as Joe Hendry entered at #14. The crowd sang his theme with gusto. Hendry and Cardona renewed their rivalvry in the ring. Hendry chopped Cardona’s chest to the tune of his theme song. He hit a nice stalling suplex on Cardona as the #15 entrant Brian Myers made his way to the ring. Myers nailed Hendry with the spear to save his former tag partner. Myers eliminated Hendry over the top rope. Hendry and Cardona hugged in the centre of the ring. Kiss hit a double-team head scissors on them both but then they tossed him over the top rope with ease. Heath was #16 in the match and took down the Major Players with a double clothesline. He hit The Wake Up Call to Something and Young, and then one for King and Cardona. Myers popped up and tossed Heath over the top. That didn’t last long. Kaz came in as entry #17. He hit a legdrop on Cardona and slingshot DDT on Myers as soon as he entered the ring. Kaz almost eliminated Cardona, but he held on. Kaz was going to clothesline him over, but ran into the Roster Cut from Myers. Here comes Rich Swann as #18. Swann took down Myers with some kicks. Kaz used him as a weapon and sent him flying into Cardona. #19 is Jonathan Gresham. It would be funny if it came down to him against his wife as the final two. Gresham easily eliminated Threat. The camera wasn’t on them, but Hannifan said that Gresham went after Grace! He’ll be sleeping in the dog house tonight. Here comes the final entrant, Dirty Dango. Alpha Bravo was dressed ridiculously in all orange. Dango ran at Something and went straight over the top rope! They really wasted that #20 spot and all the build up with Dango being eliminated after 2 seconds. Oleg Prudius went into the ring and took down about 4 wrestlers in a rage. Security came out to send the heels to the back. Myers and Cardona tossed Kaz over the top rope. Gresham tried to eliminated Grace again to the disgust of Hannifan. Gresham and Grace tried to eliminate King. King looked like a giant compared to Gresham. All of the competitors were locked in now. Cardona eliminated Swann in low-key fashion. Young battled Myers on the apron, then Cardona came out of nowhere to eliminate Young. Something picked up Gresham and tossed him over the top. Myers and Cardona tried to double suplex Something, but Something reversed it to nail a dodgy-looking double-suplex of his own. Something nailed big splashes on both of them in the corner. He nailed a spear on Myers in the corner and then Into the Void. Something dropped Cardona with a big body splash. He tried to eliminate Cardona but Myers snuck up behind with a low blow. Myers sent Something over the top rope and then Cardona eliminated his buddy! The final 4 were Jordynne Grace, KiLynn King, Bully Ray and Matt Cardona. That didn’t last long because Bully and Grace clotheslined King and Cardona almost straight away.
Match # 5 (Part 2): Bully Ray vs Jordynne Grace
This will end in a pinfall or submission victory only. Grace tried some forearms on Bully with no effect. Bully took her straight down with a chop but she bounced up straight away. He put Grace up his shoulders but she slipped out. Bully took her down with a clothesline. He missed a splash in the corner but connected with a kick. Bully missed a top rope splash so Grace hit a couple of back elbows but Bully pulled her down by the hair. Grace avoided an elbow drop and went back to the elbow strikes. Grace nailed an impressive Grace Driver (Hannifan called it the Juggernaut Driver) to beat Bully. The length of the whole Gauntlet and this match was 30 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jordynne Grace
Whole Gauntlet Rating: ***1/2 I thought the whole thing was good fun and they used some of the slots on some cool surprise (no, not Swinger). I liked seeing Cardona back in and he and Myers did very well as a team before we saw the usual ‘Every man for himself’ shtick that you see in battle royals. For some reason, I thought it was going to be every elimination via pinfall and then the next wrestler came in, but I think they may have changed the rules this year. Grace is a great choice as the winner and she gets a bit of revenge on Bully, too.
Straight after the match, Grace took the trophy and the microphone. She called her shot for the Knockouts Championship at the January PPV, Hard to Kill.
Analysis: I don’t mind calling it early. It gives plenty of time for a storyline as opposed to some random cash-ins that are exciting but lack substance.
There was a very good video package for this Knockouts Championship match, which included showing Mickie James being forced to hand the title in due to injury. I think I read that they taped the Knockouts Tag Team Championship match to show at a later date, so that’s not making it onto the broadcast tonight. That’s a shame for those 4 talented ladies, on the biggest night of the year for Impact.
Knockouts World Championship: Trinity (c) vs Mickie James
They had the big-match introductions when both women entered the ring. James tried to target the left arm early but Trinity forced her off with a kick. James smiled in approval as it was clear that Trinity was bringing it. James tried a side headlock but Trinity stomped on James’ knee and took a headlock of her own. She took down James with a shoulder tackle and used a backslide for the first nearfall of the match. Trinity tried to surprise James with Star Struck early, but James locked in a head scissors which forced Trinity to break the hold. They tried a Test of Strength and Mickie won it and forced Trinity’s shoulders to the mat for a 1 count. James did a handstand into a knee drop and tried a second but Trinity shoved her to the mat and hit the splits leg drop. Trinity took down James with a Thesz Press. Trinity avoided a clothesline by doing her Matrix-style slide. James immediately followed up with a kick to the mid-section. Trinity blocked an attack in the corner with a hard kick. She nailed a head scissors which sent James flying across the ring. They exchanged forearms in the middle of the ring and then both missed spinning kicks. Both women collided in the ring as they both sought a crossbody. Trinity connected with a neckbreaker and they both rolled out of the ring in exhaustion. The referee started the count with both women down. The count got to 9 before they slid back into the ring. Both women went face-to-face in the centre of the ring and began clobbering each other with right hands. James bounced off the ropes but ran right into the Rear View. Trinity covered but only got a 2 count. She ran at James who hit a flapjack to take her down. James went to the top rope and nailed a seated senton for 2. Trinity reversed the pin and almost stole the win there. She hit an enziguiri and placed Trinity in the drop zone for a split-legged moonsault. Trinity connected and scored another 2 count. She went for a running bulldog but James sent her into the middle turnbuckle. Trinity bounced off the turnbuckle into a Mick Kick! James covered but again only scored a 2 count. Trinity reversed a Mick DT attempted and nailed the Full Nelson Bomb for 2. She used her legs to roll up James in a pin for 2 again. Trinity went for another roll up but again James got out of it at 2. James blocked a splash in the corner with her feet and nailed a Tornado DDT from the middle rope for a close nearfall. Trinity battled back with a hard kick to the head but James sent her to the ring apron. She nailed Trinity’s own lifting knee/DDT maneuver that spiked Trinity. Trinity looked woozy so James got her up for the MickDT but Trinity threw her off and spiked her with a DDT using her legs. Mickie kicked out at 2 but Trinity locked her in Star Struck in the middle of the ring. James rolled through for a pin attempt but Trinity held onto the move. James tried to fight it but couldn’t get to the ropes and had to tap out. The match went just 11 minutes.
Winner AND STILL Impact Knockouts’ Champion: Trinity
Analysis: **** That was an excellent match and the last five minutes were wrestled at a frenetic pace with really smooth sequences of action. James hasn’t really had a stellar match since her Death Match with Deonna Purrazzo a number of years ago so it was great to see that these two really clicked. The Knockouts usually perform at high levels but when it comes to the Championship matches, there haven’t been too many classic matches lately. I’m glad to see these two hit the heights that I hoped for tonight. Looking back at the match length, I’m disappointed that they only got 11 minutes but they made the most of it.
Moose was interviewed by Gia Miller and he said that he was going to cash in his World Championship shot at Hard to Kill.
Analysis: We could have Jordynne Grace vs Trinity and Moose vs Shelley/ Alexander at the January PPV. Awesome.
There was a video package for the main event, which has been built-up quite well despite both wrestlers not being face-to-face each week.
Impact World Championship: Alex Shelley (c) vs Josh Alexander
This should be a tremendous wrestling match and if it goes under 4 stars then I’ll be really disappointed. Dave Penzer did the big-match introductions as Shelley paced around the ring. This is Alexander’s first match for or defending the championship since February and he injured himself a few weeks later. Shelley tried a front-facelock as the match kicked off. There was some mat wrestling but no one really got the advantage. Alexander reversed a wrist lock and grabbed one of his own. Shelley made it to the ropes to break the hold but trapped Alexander’s own left arm against the ropes. Shelley ran right into a C4 Spike attempt but he floated out of it. Alexander tried for the ankle lock but Shelley was right against the ropes so the hold was broken. Shelley rolled out of the ring to have a breather. He wandered around ringside for a minute before stepping back into the ring. Shelley got a side headlock and cinched it in. Alexander tried lifting him up but Shelley held onto it. Alexander backed Shelley against the ropes with a knee strike. Shelley wrenched down on the left arm of Alexander and ripped at his fingers, manipulating his joints. Shelley turned it into a roll up for a 2 count. He got into the referee’s face to tell him to count faster. Alexander used this distraction to hit a clothesline. He avoided a kick and took Shelley down with a chop. They exchanged forearm shots in the centre of the ring and Shelley targeted the triceps area again. Alexander was wincing in pain but managed a Big Boot and a backbreaker for only a 1 count. He ran at Shelley in the corner but Shelley flipped him onto the ring apron then hung him up on the top rope. Shelley stood on Alexander’s hand so Alexander got angry and went for the C4 Spike but Shelley back body dropped him on the floor. Alexander charged at Shelley who moved so Alexander went crashing into the steel ring post. Shelley tossed Alexander into the ring post arm-first. He wrapped Alexander’s arm around the post and wrenched it hard. Alexander sent him into the steel post and then started chopping him around the ring. Alexander went back in to reset the count and then went back to chopping Shelley around the ring. Shelley tried to fight back but missed a chop and hit the post. Alexander went back to chopping Shelley into submission then tossed him back into the ring. He smashed Shelley’s knee into the ring apron and then wrapped his legs around the ring rope with a leg lock. Back in the ring, Alexander hit a German Suplex but Shelley pulled the cover off the top turnbuckle as he was launched across the ring. Alexander hit another one but Shelley blocked a 3rd by pulling down on the arm of Alexander. Shelley slapped Alexander and hit an enziguiri. He locked in the Motor City Stretch but Alexander’s feet were right near the ropes and he broke the hold almost instantly. Shelley kept hold of Alexander’s left wrist. Alexander tried to fight him off with chops. He went for a Death Valley Driver but Shelley reversed it into a twisting neckbreaker. Shelley locked in a strait jacket submission move which took Alexander to his knees. Shelley turned it into a backstabber. He went for a running punt but Alexander caught his foot and hit a clothesline. Alexander hit a belly-to-belly suplex but Shelley blocked a corner attack with his feet. Shelley hit a Flatliner against the middle turnbuckle. He wanted Slice Bread but Alexander rolled through and hit a German Suplex with a bridge for a 2 count. Nice sequence there and the pace is quickening. Alexander wanted the C4 Spike but Shelley made it to the ropes, so Alexander hit him with a Dragon Screw. Shelley rolled out of the ring and met Alexander with a modified Shell Shock against the guard rail. He used the ring post to hit Sliced Bread on the floor. The referee made it to the count of 9 and Shelley made it back into the ring and hit a Frog Splash from the top rope. Alexander kicked out at 2 but Shelley locked in the Motor City Stretch straight away. Alexander fought out of it with a roll up and locked in the ankle lock. Shelley flipped onto his back and tried a single leg lock but Alexander trapped him in a knee bar. Shelley sat up in it and hit a flurry of right hands, even knocking Alexander’s headgear off. Shelley levelled Alexander with a kick to the spine, then Alexander fought back with a kick to the head. They exchanged strikes and Alexander almost hit the C4 Spike. Shelley fought out and hit a brutal Shell Shock, spiking Alexander on his head. Shelley nailed a kick to the head and Shell Shock again to retain the title after 22 minutes.
Winner AND STILL Impact World Champion: Alex Shelley
Analysis: **** It was a very good main event match and on second viewing I changed my rating from 4 1/4 stars to 4. I just felt it was too slow in the first half but the pace certainly picked up towards the end. Some of those countering sequences where they avoided each other’s finishers in the last couple of minutes were tremendous. I am surprised that Shelley won clean and without any shenanigans. It is rare to see Alexander cop a pinfall loss in Impact, too.
After the match, Shelley and Alexander shook hands and Alexander strapped the title on Shelley. There was no heel turn or any post-match surprises. Until…
TNA is Back!
There was a video package that showed some of the current Impact wrestlers who were all walking towards something. Frankie Kazarian retrieved a chest from the bottom of a lake and brought it onto the land. All of the wrestlers gathered around as Kaz threw the chest on the ground. Kaz said that people want to pretend that it went away but they will remind everyone about the history. He said there needs to be a change and Jordynne Grace stated that to go forward, they need to go back to where it all began. Alex Shelley said it was time for the next chapter and Josh Alexander said it was time for them to be a part of something bigger than anyone one person and now they can. Alexander opened the chest and there were highlights of past Impact (TNA) moments, commentated by Mike Tenay and Don West. There was a graphic for TNA Wrestling: We’re Back. They showed the poster for Hard to Kill with TNA Impact Wrestling at the top of it. The crowd back in the arena were chanting “TNA” and Scott D’Amore and some talent were in the ring. He said “We’re back!” as the fans chanted while the show went off-air.
Analysis: Apparently that has been in the works for a while and was going to be announced at Slammiversary but that plan was scrapped. What do I think about it? My initial thoughts are only centred towards whether it will get more people to watch Impact Wrestling. Will a simple name change turn around a viewership of 77,000 from this past Thursday? I won’t pretend I know a lot about AXS TV or TV deals in North America but being on a bigger network would probably help them. I think Anthem, who own Impact, own AXS TV too so there’s your issue. I love nostalgia but to have eyes on the current product you need big money and big names. Impact has great wrestling but ask the casual wrestler to name 5 of their talent…could they? I’m not sure. I hope this is a positive and leads to bigger audiences, bigger viewership on TV and bigger names on the roster. What I’ve read here on TJR is that the 6-sided ring won’t be back and that the talent are happy with the return to the TNA name.
Final Thoughts on Bound for Glory
I will have to look back through my scores for this year but I don’t think there would be a show where three matches have topped the 4-star mark. That’s what we got tonight along with a solid undercard. There were no flat spots or even average matches. It was a really solid night of wrestling, with some nostalgia and fun moments thrown in, then a big moment to send everyone home happy after their hero Josh Alexander failed in his title quest. Again, there were issues with the match length. You have a 3-hour show and firstly one of the matches gets cut and then some of the others are only just over 10-minutes long. A 30-minute battle royal is excessive, especially when the singles match at the end gets 2-minutes. That’s my only nitpick with this show.
I loved Ospreay/Bailey. I think that’s Impact’s best match this year and it’s no surprise. Trinity and Mickie James had a terrific contest that I was surprised only received 11 minutes. I felt they packed a lot into that match. And the main event, whilst not a classic, was a slow-burner that fed into the personal rivalry that had developed between Alexander and Shelley. I think it was really well executed from an entertainment standpoint. As a wrestling match, it was great, but I think they spent a bit too long in the beginning figuring each other out. I went 4/7 with my predictions, which isn’t too shabby.
Final Rating: 8.25/10