Impact Wrestling held its latest monthly special on Friday night with Josh Alexander defending the Impact World Title against Franki Kazarian while Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace had a Last Woman Standing Match with Masha Slamovich.
On paper, it was a solid card and I was looking forward to a number of matches including the Impact World Championship match and the Knockouts’ Championship match. Check out my November 17th Impact Wrestling review here covering this past Thursday’s show.
I will be giving quick thoughts and ratings on the show, and go play-by-play for the main event. If you want to watch this show, you can stream the Over Drive replay.
Impact Wrestling presents ‘Over Drive’ from Old Forester’s Paristown Hall in Louisville, Kentucky.
Rich Swann vs. Bhupinder Gujjar vs. Jason Hotch vs. Kenny King vs. Mike Bailey vs. Yuya Uemura
I did catch the pre-show and they started off with a bonus 6-way X-Division match that pitted Kenny King against Yuya Uemura, Rich Swann, Mike Bailey, Bhupinder Gujjar and Jason Hotch. Uemura has been mostly seen on the Impact pre-show as of late, Hotch is a newcomer and Gujjar is new to the X-Division. The other 3 are staples to the division. It was the first match I can recall that Hotch was given some decent ring time to show what he can do and he fit right in. There was a nice spot where he rolled into the ring from the apron and hit a double jumping neckbreaker on Swann and Uemura. Swann and Bailey had some good chemistry and a singles feud between them would be great. The finish was odd as King and Swann faced off, only for King to bail out of the ring which allowed Swann to hit the Lethal Injection (although they aren’t call it that) for the win after 7 minutes. This was a fun way to start the show and deserved more time than that but their pre-show is only half an hour. The good thing about this multi-man match, was there wasn’t any of those awkward spots where all of the wrestlers stand there and wait for ages for the one other wrestler to hit their diving move from the top rope. They all had good chemistry.
Winner by pinfall: Rich Swann
Match rating: ***
The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin) vs. Bullet Club (Ace Austin and Chris Bey)
The second match of the pre-show was a number 1 contender’s match for the Tag Team Championships between the Motor City Machine Guns and Bullet Club. Bullet Club won a 4-way tag team match on Impact last night, so they threw these two teams on the card because they’re both great and we know they’ll deliver. These four deserve better than a thrown-together tag match on the pre-show but at least they’re featured and at least it has a stipulation. This was a really good back-and-forth match up, with lots of leniency shown by the referee in respect to double-team moves. The ending came when Shelley assisted Sabin to lock Swann in a pinning situation. After winning on Impact, I expected Bullet Club to win here but they went back to the tried and true combination of Shelley and Sabin. The match went about 14 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Motor City Machine Guns
Match rating: ***3/4
Onto the main show! The commentary team was Tom Hanifan and Matthew Rehwoldt.
Match #1: Tables Match: Bully Ray vs Moose
This match has been given plenty of TV time lately, with Moose trying to convince everyone that Bully Ray cannot be trusted. Moose put Bully through a table last week, so Bully challenged him to a tables match. Moose kicked off the match with a low blow, as Bully was hanging his chain up on the ring post. Clever move. They brought chairs into the match, which is perfectly legal and makes it more interesting as I find that tables matches can be difficult to set up climatic attempts at finishing the match. Moose is an incredible athlete for 6’5. There was one spot where he leapt to the top rope, ala Jeff Hardy, and leapt off only for Bully to connect with a mid-air cutter. Moose thought he had the match won when Bully charged at him in the corner and crashed through a table. Bully won the match when Moose reversed an Irish Whip, but Bully held on and speared Moose through the table. It had some exciting moments which aren’t easy to set up but the outcome was pretty obvious as Bully is basically the number 1 contender in the wings.
Winner: Bully Ray
Star Rating ***1/2
Match #2: Knockouts World Tag Team Championships: Death Dollz (Taya Valkyrie & Jessicka) (c) vs Tasha Steelz & Savannah Evans
This was the only match on the card that I had little interest in but it was a solid tag team match that kept the action moving. Jessicka spent most of the match as the legal woman and there were a few moments where her and Evans showed off their strength. The finish saw Steelz showboating and attempted a springboard cutter but Jessicka caught her and hit the Sick Driver (sit out Piledriver) for the win after 9 minutes. I thought the heel team of Steelz and Evans might win the titles here but the popular tag champs retained.
Winners AND STILL Knockouts World Tag Team Champions: Death Dollz
Star Rating: **3/4
Match #3: Mickie James vs Taylor Wilde
This continues the storyline of Mickie James putting her career on the line every time she steps into the ring. Once again, the outcome seems predictable but I’m sure it will still be a decent match. This is a first-time match up and it followed the usual formula of these ‘Last Rodeo’ matches where Mickie comes close to losing to garner the emotional response from the crowd, and then overcomes the odds to pick up the win. Mickie blocked the Wilde Ride on multiple occasions and nailed the MickDT for the pinfall win after 13 minutes. It was a good match and they were given plenty of time.
Winners by pinfall: Mickie James
Star Rating: ***
After the match, Deonna Purrazzo came to the ring and started abusing Mickie for causing Chelsea Green to leave Impact. Purrazzo says she’s the only woman that she’s yet to beat in Impact and said she will end her career. I was wondering when that match would become part of this series and it looks like it will be soon. They had a great feud in 2021/22, including main-eventing Hard to Kill in a Texas Death Match.
Match #4: Impact World Tag Team Championships: Heath & Rhino (c) vs The Major Players (Matt Cardona & Brian Myers)
During the entrances for this match, there was a graphic for the New Year’s Revolution tapings, which I would’ve thought was trademarked to WWE who had a PPV of that name in the 2000s. The Motor City Machine Guns came down to ringside during the match to scout their potential opponents, having just won the #1 Contendership. Towards the end, Cardona tried sending a chair in the ring for Myers to use, but Chris Sabin prevented it which allowed Rhino to nail the Gore to retain the titles. It was an entertaining match, but not one you’d remember down the line. I thought Cardona and Myers might win because Myers just lost his Digital Media Championship last week. I’m ready for Cardona to go on a singles run and regain his momentum that he had before injuring himself earlier this year. Heath and Rhino are a popular face duo and I always pop for the Gore, 21 years after seeing it for the first time.
Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact World Tag Team Champions: Heath and Rhino
Star Rating: ***1/2
Match #5: Finals of the X-Division Championship Tournament: Black Taurus vs Trey Miguel
These two threw everything at this one to become the new X-Division Champion. It was a story of Miguel trying to overcome the power of Taurus and battle through the back pain he suffered from the attack from Kenny King last week. There were many close near falls throughout, but one that particularly stood out was after Taurus hit a Super Gorilla Press Slam from the top rope. That looked awesome. Miguel is a tremendous talent who has only really fought X-Division competitors and I look forward to him facing some other talent in 2023. The finish came when Miguel turned heel (possibly) and sprayed a can of spray paint in the eyes of Taurus, then followed up with the Lightning Spiral. Miguel has been obsessed with winning the title and had to resort to cheating to do so. Fantastic match that got 16 minutes and it’s the match of the night so far.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW X-Division Champion: Trey Miguel
Star Rating: ****
Match #6: Knockouts World Championship: Last Knockouts Standing match: Jordynne Grace (c) vs Masha Slamovich
I expected the second match between these two to be down the line and probably sometime in 2023, but Masha unexpectedly returned last week and then they hot-shotted the return match to tonight through backstage segments. The only way to win is to keep your opponent down for the referee’s count of 10. This is the first match of this type in Impact since 2017. There was an ‘Over Drive > Full Gear’ sign in the crowd! If these two main matches live up to the hype, then I might agree after this weekend. I’m assuming that fan was not referring to ticket sales though. These two picked up where they left off at Bound for Glory from the opening bell by beating each other all around the ringside area and even a mailbox was brought into play. Grace focused on the left knee for most of the match and Masha sold it pretty well. This has felt like such a personal rivalry and that the two really hate each other, which is pretty amazing considering Masha barely utters a word of English on TV. Grace hit a nasty-looking Vertebreaker on a trash can for a close count of 9 at one point. When Grace couldn’t put Masha away with power moves, she resorted to a Figure 4 using the ring apron area. Masha recovered just in time and nailed a very careful Piledriver on the ramp, that Grace just got up from. The finish came when Masha set up a door on top of a trash can on the outside of the ring. She tried for a Piledriver off the apron but Grace countered it into a Muscle Buster through the door, although Grace took most of the punishment and Masha ended up taking the move on the floor. Masha’s knee gave out as she was trying to get up at the 9 count. Another terrific match from these two, which got 22 minutes, but probably slightly down on the match from Bound for Glory. I think that’s down to the gimmick which isn’t always easy to pull off. I’m not sure where Grace goes from here, but after two victories over Masha she probably needs a new opponent.
Winner AND STILL Knockouts World Champion: Jordynne Grace
Match #7: Impact World Championship: Josh Alexander (c) vs Frankie Kazarian
This has been booked similarly to Alexander vs Shelley where, like Shelley, Kazarian has never won the big one despite five previous World Title matches. I’m going to refer to him as Kaz, because typing Kazarian so many times takes up a lot of time! If I could shorten Alexander in a meaningful way, I would. They did the introductions in the ring in ‘big-match style’ and here we go. They ran at each other in an intense lock up as the bell rang. The action spilled to the outside instantly. Once back inside, both men countered each other’s’ holds but couldn’t gain the upper-hand in the early goings. Alexander went for the ankle lock but Kaz got to his feet quickly and tried the Crossface Chicken Wing. Alexander reached the ropes whilst still standing. Alexander wrenched at the left arm of Kaz as both men continued to try and target a body part. Kaz broke free and grounded Alexander with a key lock submission. Again, that hold didn’t last long and Alexander hit the first real move of the match with a big boot. Alexander clubbed Kaz over the back and hit a big backbreaker for the first nearfall of the match. Alexander is targeting the back now. Kaz worked into the match and chopped Alexander into the corner. Alexander hit his first two German suplexes of the match but Kaz blocked the third, sending Alexander out of the ring. As Alexander tried to get back in, Kaz dropped the leg over his neck, in the ropes. Kaz hit a clothesline on the outside area and through Alexander back into the ring as the referee made it to a 7 count. Kaz hit a slingshot leg drop for a 2 count. Alexander blocked a suplex attempt but Kaz clubbed him over the back repeatedly and nailed a Fishermen’s suplex for 2. Alexander backed into the corner for a breather but Kaz didn’t let up and followed him in with right hands. They exchanged strikes and Kaz took control with a swinging neckbreaker. Alexander ran the ropes but Kaz caught him and hit a scoop slam. Kaz spring-boarded off the ropes and hit a leg drop but to the ribs of the champion. Alexander showed his resilience with a German suplex. Alexander ran at Kaz but was caught with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, sending Alexander tumbling into the bottom turnbuckle. The crowd was probably 50/50 at this point, judging by the chants. Alexander wanted the C4 Spike but Kaz blocked it, so Alexander hit a Butterfly suplex. They were both slow to get to their feet as we hit the 15-minute mark. Alexander hit a big back body drop then nailed a forearm in the corner. Kaz charged in and Alexander allowed him to bounce off the ropes into a German suplex. Alexander locked on and hit 9 more Germans. Great selling by Kaz to flail his arms as Alexander tossed him across the ring. Once they both finally got to their feet, Kaz locked in the Chicken Wing but Alexander was right near the ropes. Kaz went flying off the ropes and took out the referee with a forearm. The ref took that well. Alexander charged at Kaz who sidestepped and tossed him to the ring apron. Kaz jumped over the top rope and nailed a DDT to the mat on the outside. Kaz went to the timekeeper’s table and grabbed the championship. Kaz lined up Alexander but Alexander’s wife started yelling at him not to do it this way. Kaz put the title back on the table and focused back on the match. He tried for the Chicken Wing again but Alexander slipped through and synched in the ankle lock. Kaz flipped him into the turnbuckle, then hit him with a right hand so hard that Alexander’s mouthguard came out. Kaz hit the Kill Switch for 2. That was close. The fight spilled to the ring apron and Kaz was trying for the C4 Spike on the apron. Alexander fought out so Kaz rocked him with a knee to the head. Kaz tried for a suplex but Alexander jumped back into the ring. Kaz missed a leg drop so Alexander nailed a diving crossbody that sent the challenger out of the ring. Back in the ring and Alexander hit a UFO powerbomb for 2. Alexander ran the ropes but Kaz ducked and locked in the Chicken Wing in a seated position. Alexander powered out into the ankle lock in the centre of the ring. Kaz crawled over and made the ropes. Alexander hit an overhead suplex. Alexander pummelled away on Kaz in the corner. He lifted Kaz to the top and started chopping away. Alexander wanted a Superplex but Kaz blocked it. Kaz was supposed to float over and land on his feet, but Alexander had a bit too much momentum and they both crashed to the mat. Alexander tried a running attack but Kaz caught him in mid-air and nailed Back to the Future for a close 2 count. Alexander went for the Styles Clash but Kaz rolled through for a 2 count. Alexander hit a spinning Piledriver that looked devastating for another 2 count. That looked very believable live. They battled around the outside area as Alexander tried to drag Kaz back into the ring. They only made it to the ring apron and the champ hit a scoop slam over the top rope to get Alexander back in. Alexander was slow to recover, so Kaz sling-shotted him back into the ring and hit a cutter for a nearfall. Kaz pummelled Alexander in the corner and knocked his headgear off. Alexander sent Kaz across the ring with a huge right hand. Kaz avoided a clothesline and locked in the ankle lock. Alexander crawled to the ropes but Kaz brought him back to the centre. Alexander rolled through and applied an ankle lock of his own. Kaz almost made the ropes but Alexander dragged him back. Alexander wrenched at the left ankle but Kaz made one last effort and dived to reach the bottom rope. Kaz hit a huge clothesline that sent Alexander inside-out. Kaz hit the Styles Clash! Alexander kicked out at the very last second. Kaz was pulling out all the stops from former Impact World Champions to no avail so far. Kaz lifted Alexander to the top rope but Alexander blocked it. Alexander was about to hit the C4 Spike off the top, but Kaz flipped him off and Alexander went crashing to the mat. Kaz hit a huge leg drop half way across the ring but Alexander kicked out at 2. Kaz locked in the Chicken Wing in the centre of the ring but Alexander made it to his feet and used the turnbuckle to flip over into a pin for 2. Alexander used an inside cradle for another 2 and then Kaz tried a backslide for yet another 2. Kaz drop kicked Alexander into the corner and then tried a Tornado DDT to no avail. Alexander went for the C4 Spike but Kaz rolled over and almost won with a reverse pin. Alexander finally hit a massive C4 Spike and won the match after 33 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact World Champion: Josh Alexander
Analysis: ****1/2 Awesome match! The start was slow with lots of counter wrestling, but that can be forgiven when you then pummel each other for the next 25 minutes. This match just epitomises Alexander’s title reign- consistently excellent 20+ minute matches that make the other wrestler look like a main event level star and better than when they started the match. I didn’t think Kazarian had a real chance at winning but he had many believable near falls and the commentators really did well to build the excitement levels of the match. This was probably my favourite title defence of Alexander’s this year and I think I have rated them all over 4 stars but I’d need to check.
There were still about ten minutes left in the show which worried me. Kaz was frustrated and punched the mat. He sat in the ring looking inconsolable, knowing that was probably his last chance to become World Champion. Kaz finally got to his feet and the Impact Zone gave them both a standing ovation. He got in Alexander’s face but we couldn’t make out what he said. Kaz shook his hand and they hugged it out. Kaz raised Alexander’s arm and the champ returned the favour. Bully Ray’s music then hit and here he comes. Bully got a mic and said he just witnessed an incredible professional wrestling match. Bully said that’s what professional wrestling is all about. He called Alexander the most credible World Champion on the planet. In every company out there, Bully would choose him every day. Bully said that deserved a standing ovation. Bully said now it’s time for business. He said that from day one, he said he would tell Alexander to his face when he would cash in his gauntlet shot. Bully challenges Alexander at Hard to Kill, Friday January 13th. Alexander shook his hand and the match is on. Alexander’s music played and Bully left the ring. Alexander was about to walk up the ramp when Bully blindsided him with a clothesline. Bully cracked Alexander across the back with a steel chair, right in front of Alexander’s wife. Bully kept hitting Alexander with the chair. He took out a zip tie and tied Alexander to the bottom rope. Alexander obviously has no friends in the locker room. Bully kept yelling at Alexander that he kept his word. Bully asked why Alexander would ever trust him. Bully was about to hit Alexander again with the chair when he grabbed Alexander’s wife out of the crowd. Alexander broke free so Bully kicked him. Bully grabbed Alexander’s wife and was about to piledrive her. Bully screamed at Alexander to give him his title or he would piledrive his wife on the concrete floor. Alexander handed Bully the title and he held it up in the air. Finally, Bully let go of Alexander’s wife. A little kid at ringside was chanting “She deserved it”. Bully was about to leave when he came back with a chair and was about to hit Alexander’s wife. Bully started choking Alexander with the steel chair. Bully finally left up the ramp with Alexander’s World Championship as Impact went off air.
Analysis: Wow, that was a lot. I figured it would happen at some point but not in such a dramatic way. That was amazing heel work by Bully Ray. That is the kind of level he was hitting in the Aces & 8s angle. Bully looked Alexander in the eye, told him when he would challenge him and shook his hand as promised. Then he snapped and turned his full attention to becoming World Champion. Wives at ringside is never usually a safe move and especially not when Bully is around. Hard to Kill is almost two months away so if that was the first real interaction of the feud, I can only imagine how personal it will get by January. Even though it was a little difficult to watch (I thought Bully might actually piledrive her), it was a brilliant post-match angle and the perfect heel turn. Kudos to all involved, even Mrs. Alexander’s acting has improved since the Moose angle.
It was another very good monthly special from Impact Wrestling. Not often do you see two really solid pre-show matches to kick off the show, so it started off on the right foot. I’m glad I watched them both, even though it meant that the runtime of the show was almost 3.5 hours. The undercard was all perfectly acceptable. The three ‘main’ matches were all 4 stars or above in my opinion. Trey Miguel got a possible heel turn which was one of two things his character needed (that or a move away from the X-Division). That was one of Black Taurus’ best matches and pretty clean for him, as sometimes the smaller wrestlers struggle with his size.
The Knockouts did a great job in the Last Knockouts Standing match. It’s hard to keep making those types of matches creative, but the personal rivalry that was already established and meant that it didn’t need too many silly weapons moments. The fact that Grace targeted Masha’s knee and that it affected the finish of the match was good booking.
The main event between Alexander and Kazarian was excellent. A 33-minute match where they looked as strong at the end as they did at the start. The post-match heel turn from Bully Ray targeting Alexander’s wife and challenging him for the Impact World Championship was brilliantly done. With Ray in full psychotic heel mode, the next few months will be great viewing. I would recommend the final three matches if you’re pressed for time.
Final Rating: 8/10
Any feedback or comments are welcome. My email address is email@example.com in case anybody wants to get in touch with me and Twitter is @thomok6 as well. I’ll be back for my regular weekly Impact review next week. Thanks for reading!