IMPACT Wrestling Review – August 10, 2023

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This week the Tag Team Contender tournament continued and the villains of the Emergence main event teamed up in 6-man tag team action.

Impact Wrestling 10/8/23 from Cicero Stadium, Chicago: IL

The opening video recapped last week’s show where Trinity and Deonna Purrazzo continued to have issues, losing in tag team action. There was also footage of the beginning of the Tag Team Contender tournament, where The Rascalz defeated Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham.

Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt welcomed us to the show and we are kicking off the show with tag team action.

Match #1: 1st Round Match in the Tag Team #1 Contender Tournament: Bullet Club (Chris Bey & Ace Austin) vs Rich Swann & Sami Callihan

The winner of this match faces The Rascalz in the next round. It would make sense for Bey and Austin to win here as they are having problems with those two, but then again Impact might keep them apart for a bigger match down the line. Bey and Swann started the match off with a handshake. Both men avoided dropkicks early in the peace. Bey used his speed to nail Swann with a kick into the corner and tagged in Austin. They hit a double team splash in the corner on Swann and then Bey followed up with a double stomp for Austin to cover for a 2 count. Austin wanted a sidewalk slam but Swann caught him with a head scissors and tagged Callihan in. Callihan assisted Swann with a springboard crossbody on Austin and then he hit a nasty-looking shoulder breaker before making a quick tag back to Swann. Callihan sent Austin over the top but he landed on the ring apron. He fought both opponents from there and nailed a kick on Callihan. He avoided Swann on the apron and hit a superkick. Callihan raked his eyes and he nailed the Cactus Driver 97 on the ring apron! He tried to toss Bey back into the ring but Bey used the ropes to hit a 619. He hit a springboard moonsault on both Swann and Callihan.

(Commercial break)

Bey and Swann were the legal men as we came back from the break. Bey nailed a spinebuster for a 2 count then tagged Austin back in. They hit a double-team Russian Legsweep and a double-knees/moonsault combination. Austin trapped Swann on the mat and hit a knee drop right to the forehead. He teed off with kicks to the chest of Swann. Austin tried tying Swann up in a stretch but Swann fought out with right hands. Austin sent him out of the ring and Bey tried to interfere, so Swann sent him arm-first into the steel ring post. Swann tried to squeeze through the legs of Austin to tag in Callihan, but Ace stopped him. Swann hit an enziguiri and tagged in Callihan who was fired up. He took down Bey with a series of clotheslines and then a double-team Flatliner/DDT on Bullet Club. Bey bounced off the ropes so Callihan hit him with a Death Valley Driver but it looked more like a Samoan Drop. Callihan got a 2 count and tagged in Swann. Bey avoided the 450 splash and leapfrogged Swann to tag in Austin. They hit a great double-team springboard kick into a neckbreaker for a close 2 count. Austin went for a big kick but accidentally nailed his tag team partner in the face. Callihan tagged in and Swann hit a Tornado kick on Austin. Bey hit a superkick on Callihan and they set up for the Art of Finesse but Sami caught Bey in a chokehold. Swann took Austin over the top rope. Bey flipped out of the submission into a bridge pin for a 2 count. He hit a kick to the head of Callihan and tagged Austin back in. They hit a double-team thrust kick on Callihan and the Art of Finesse/Fold combination but Swann broke up the count at 2.9! Bey charged at Swann in the corner but went crashing into the ring post. A kick by Swann took Austin down on the outside. He went for a Cannonball but Austin moved out of the way and Swann took out Bey. Back in the ring, Austin hit a spinning kick on Callihan and a running pedigree-style move and covered for the win but Jason Hotch of the Good Hands pulled the referee out of the ring at the last moment. Swann nailed him with a superkick and they battled up the ramp. In the ring, John Skyler snuck in and hit the Stroke on Austin. Callihan had his back turned so he didn’t see it. He destroyed Austin with the Cactus Driver 97 for the win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Sami Callihan & Rich Swann

Analysis: ***1/2 That was a very entertaining opening match that crammed in a lot of action within the 11 minutes of TV time. The ending was cheap with The Good Hands costing Bullet Club the match. Maybe it will be revealed that The Rascalz paid them off or something to that effect, because they would’ve been kicked out of the tournament had they interfered. There was a little bit more tension teased between Bey and Austin, including another mis-kick by Austin and then moving out of the way so his tag team partner got the brunt of the cannonball from Swann and not him. Swann and Callihan need something to do so I’m happy for them to get the win here.

Backstage, Directory of Authority Santino Marella was enjoying a quiet moment with his energy drink when he was bothered by The Coven. KiLynn King was aggrieved at Gisele Shaw and Savannah Evans receiving a Tag Team Title shot. She made fun of Santino’s hair and then the Death Dollz interrupted and wanted to be added to the Emergence match. They weren’t very convincing so had a team huddle, which Marella joined and reminded them that they are former champions, so should use that argument to push their case. MK Ultra showed up. Slamovich said something in Russian along the lines of “We will take them all on”. Marella seemed happy with that so we have a Fatal-4-Way at Emergence.

Analysis: This is such an up-and-down division. A few weeks ago there were only two teams in the division, now we have 4 plus a few other teams that have singles wrestlers thrown in together. I wish it was booked more consistently.

Match #2: Bhupinder Gujjar vs Dirty Dango w/ Alpha Bravo

Gujjar hasn’t been seen much of late and Dango’s push continues as he is now flanked by Bravo as security detail. Dango took a microphone and said he hated pro wrestling. That was it. The bell rang and the opening exchanges were quite even until Gujjar hit an arm drag. Dango hit a shoulder block but ran into a hip toss and a dropkick. Gujjar hit a splash in the corner and then avoided a clothesline. Gujjar nailed a dropkick for a 2 count. Gujjar had Dango up on his shoulders but Dango raked the eyes of Gujjar to gain the advantage. Dango teed off with knees to the spine and then hit an uppercut as Gujjar was seated. Dango slapped on a sleeper hold but Gujjar fought out quickly to nail a couple of clotheslines. He hit a Pump Kick and a flapjack, then a knee strike into a spinebuster for 2. That knee strike missed by about a foot but at least the crowd is reaction to him tonight. Gujjar went to the top rope so Bravo jumped up to interfere and shone a torch in his face. Dango dumped Gujjar off the top rope and nailed a reverse DDT for the win after 4 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dirty Dango

Analysis: ** Just a quick match to put over Dango and his new alliance. He needs a new finisher as the reverse DDT is weak.

After the match, Dango started ripping on the fans, so Jake Something came down to the ring to confront him. Dango tried to hide behind Bravo so Something grabbed the microphone off him. Something asked Dango if he knew how hard he had worked to get back to Impact Wrestling. He told Dango to leave Impact if he had professional wrestling so much. Something said if leaving didn’t suit Dango, then Something could make him leave. Dango backed out of the ring because he didn’t want to face Something. Something backed Bravo into the corner, so Dango tried a cheap attack from behind. Something was ready and nailed him with a stiff forearm, which sent Dango out of the ring.

Analysis: That’s fine as a mid-card feud. The more meaningful stories that are on TV each week, the better. Not every story needs a title.

Deaner and Kon cut a pre-taped promo on Eric Young after last week’s ‘explanation’ which was one of the weakest storyline explanations that I can recall. Deaner said he wasn’t a failure because he didn’t finish Eric Young. He said he wasn’t a failure because Sami Callihan betrayed him. Deaner was shaking as he spoke and said Kon would never betray him. Deaner alluded to Kon facing Young in the future.

Analysis: Paranoia here from Deaner. He’s good on the mic but I was over this feud before Young came back.

Gia Miller was backstage with Johnny Swinger. Miller asked whether Swinger had any thoughts about his championship ambitions now that he defeated Zicky Dice last week. Digital Media Champion, Kenny King, interrupted and basically swatted Swinger away. King ranted about Impact World Champion not being up to scratch and King being the champion of the universe. That was it.

Analysis: That was pretty pointless and there’s not much else I can say about that.

Match #3: Alisha w/ Eddie Edwards vs Jody Threat

Eddie had a kendo stick in hand for some reason. I don’t know if he needs it to defend himself from Threat, but we will see. There was a bit of trash talk at the start. Threat caught a right hand from Alisha and nailed her with a thunderous clothesline. She hit a standing Coffin Drop and an overhead suplex. Threat ran towards the corner but Alisha tossed her into the middle turnbuckle. She had Threat hung up on the middle ropes and pulled her by the end so she crashed into the mat. Alisha stomped away at Threat in the corner then hit a big chop. Alisha tried a backbreaker but it didn’t look clean at all. She covered and got a 2 count. Alisha pinned Threat against the ropes and hit a forearm. Jody fired up and hit a shoulder block and a running clothesline in the corner. Threat did her corner clothesline routine and nailed a Pump Kick. She hit double knees on Alisha against the middle rope and hit a German suplex. Threat went for her finisher but Alisha raked her eyes, then Eddie tripped her up from the outside when the referee wasn’t looking. Frankie Kazarian ran down to the ring and took him down with a clothesline. Back in the ring Alisha turned around and Threat hit the F-416 for the win after 4 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Jody Threat

Analysis: ** It was just okay. The crowd like Jody but Alisha isn’t a regular competitor and it shows at times. That backbreaker spot was really awkward. The Kaz/Edwards dramas continue as after the match Kaz was winding up to hit Eddie with the kendo stick and he hit Alisha in the head with it by accident. Edwards carried Alisha out as Kaz stated that he didn’t mean it over and over.

Deonna Purrazzo cut a pre-taped promo on KiLynn King. She congratulated her on beating Purrazzo in the tag match last week and challenged King to a match next week. Purrazzo said she hopes Trinity will be watching.

Analysis: That will be a very good match for next week.

Match #4: Mike Bailey vs Kushida

This match was announced last week but it feels very random as it is a main event level match that could have a story behind it. Kushida tried to take out the legs of Bailey from the outset. Bailey used the ropes to hit a springboard arm drag but Kushida kept his feet. They exchanged hard kicks to the chest and Kushida sent Bailey over the top rope. Kushida hit a leaping senton over the top rope to take Bailey down. Back in the ring, Kushida locked Bailey in a stretch submission move but Bailey was able to reach over his head and grab the ropes. Kushida hit a cartwheel dropkick for a 2 count. Bailey hit a single-leg dropkick and stomped on the spine of Kushida. He hit the running shooting star press for 2. Kushida caught Bailey’s leg as he attempted another kick. They exchanged forearms and chops, then Kushida took Bailey down with a handspring. He tried to lock in the Hoverboard Lock on the outside but tossed Bailey into the ring post instead.

(Commercial break)

Kushida was dominating as we returned to the action. Bailey was trying to fight back with forearms from his knees but Kushida kicked him down to the mat. Bailey tried kicking his way out of trouble but again Kushida caught the leg and locked in a reverse leg-lock. Kushida slammed down hard on the move with his knees. He nailed a knee drop from the top rope. Kushida wanted a baseball slide but Bailey spectacularly jumped onto the top rope to avoid it and hit a moonsault to the outside. Back in the ring, Kushida tried another handspring elbow but Bailey cleverly cut him off and kicked Kushida in the wrist as he was trying to execute the move. They exchanged hard kicks over and over, with Bailey winning that exchange. He missed a knee drop so Kushida tried to attempt the Hoverboard Lock. Bailey flipped Kushida over and locked in an armbar. That didn’t last very long as Kushida fought out of it, so Bailey hit a Full Nelson Slam back into the armbar. Bailey hit a double knees to the chest and a huge kick to the head on Kushida for 2. Bailey went back to the armbar but Kushida’s foot just reached the ropes. Bailey held Kushida’s arm as he kicked him down to the mat again. He wrenched down on the right arm and backed Kushida into the corner. Kushida avoided the Tornado Kick and tried a Brainbuster but Bailey turned that into a cradle for 2. Kushida with a Tanaka punch and a punt to the left arm of Bailey. Kushida went to sweep the leg of Bailey but got nailed by a stiff knee to the face. Bailey covered and Kushida barely reached the rope before 3. Bailey hit the Tornado Kick but Kushida cut him off before he could nail Ultima Weapon. Kushida locked in the Hoverboard Lock on the top rope and tossed Bailey off, whilst still keeping the submission in place. Kushida nailed the Small Package Driver for the win after 14 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Kushida

Analysis: ***3/4 That was a fantastic match and such an even contest. The strikes were believable and I liked how they targeted body parts. Some will complain that Kushida didn’t win with the Hoverboard Lock but that’s because Bailey kept breaking free, so he used the Small Package Driver out of desperation to score the win. I would love another match between these two, with a story behind it. Great match!

Crazzy Steve had a sit-down interview with Tom Hannifan. Hannifan didn’t know what Steve wanted. Steve said Hannifan was the best in the business and he needed his help. He said he was on the outside with Havok as Jessica, Rosemary as Courtney Rush and Black Taurus doesn’t want him by his side in his match tonight. Steve said he was feeling abandoned. He named some stables that have broken down over his time in Impact. Steve said that he has been legally blind for most of his life. He said he had been doing this for 21 years and he can’t even drive from town-to-town. Hannifan wondered where Steve’s family had been all of this time. Steve said that was a very interesting story and they left it as ‘To Be Continued’.

Analysis: That was a unique way to do an interview. I was unaware that Steve was legally blind, but apparently it’s legitimate.

There was a clip of Subculture defending their titles successfully at a show by Attack Pro Wrestling. They had a pre-taped promo and put themselves over as fighting champions. Andrews said it didn’t matter who they faced at Emergence because Subculture conquers everything.

Analysis: A brief but confident promo from the champs. I really like them as a team and hope they are in Impact for the long haul.

Two people (fans I guess?) were backstage and the man asked ‘Who is it? Say his name?’ Joe Hendry appeared. The man told Hendry that he didn’t ask for him. Then Yuya Uemura turned up to Hendry’s theme with clapping. Hendry is annoyed that Uemura interjected himself in Hendry’s only rematch. Uemura said ‘champion’ a few times possibly because his English is not terrific. Hendry thought that maybe they could challenge for the Tag Team Championships and some music played and they stared into the distance.

Analysis: That was really odd. I’ve seen some praise online for the segment but I can’t say I enjoyed it.

There was a promo for Impact 1000 on September 9th. Team 3D are reuniting for the night, along with The Beautiful People. Bully and Velvet on the same show, look out!

Next week on Impact:
* Deonna Purrazzo vs KiLynn King
* Kon vs Eric Young

There was a promo video for SANADA ahead of his random appearance at Emergence, with a yet to be announced opponent. It’s time for the main event!

Match #5: 6-Man Tag Team Match: Moose, Brian Myers & Bully Ray vs Samuray Del Sol, Black Taurus & Laredo Kid

Samuray is the former Kalisto from WWE. They are spelling Samuray with a ‘y’ at the end instead of an ‘i’ so I’m running with that. I’m not sure why he’s chosen that name because he’s not Japanese. It looks like I won’t have to worry about that spelling for long because Lio Rush has taken him out backstage, as per the backstage footage!

(Commercial break)

Back from the break and it’s a 2 on 3 match now. Myers and Taurus started the match off. Myers tried a shoulder block but Taurus was too big to knock down. He tried again to no avail. Taurus hit a combination of strikes and a powerslam for a 2 count. Myers missed a splash in the corner so Taurus hit a backstabber. Kid flew through the air and nailed a dropkick to Myers after tagging himself in. Myers backed into the corner and tagged Moose in. Kid tried a backslide pin on Moose but he was far too big. Kid hit an enziguiri and a head scissors. He tossed Moose across the ring with a hip toss. Moose was frustrated so he rolled out of the ring for a reset. Myers helped him get back on track so Moose rolled back in the ring and tagged in Bully Ray. Bully gets in Kid’s face and shoves him down hard. He motioned for Kid to tag in Taurus, which he did. Bully told Taurus to give him his best shot so he nailed him with a hard right hand that stunned Bully. Bully returned with a hard chop. Taurus clobbered Bully with another right that took Bully to a knee. They exchanged blows and Taurus took down Bully off the ropes with a shoulder block. He nailed another one and then a third. Taurus measured Bully for a splash in the corner. Myers pulled Bully out of the way and Taurus crashed into the middle turnbuckle and tumbled out of the ring.

(Commercial break)

Moose was in control of Taurus in the corner as we returned to the action. He raked the back of Taurus as the referee dealt with Kid in his corner. Myers choked Taurus out in the corner until the referee finally realised what was going on. Bully tagged back in and wrenched at the neck of Taurus in a submission hold. Taurus got to his feet but Bully pulled him down by the mask. Moose tagged back in and stomped away on Taurus. Taurus got to his feet and they both went for the headbutt at the same time, crashing down to the mat. Kid and Myers made the tag for their teams. Kid hit a hurricanrana and a neckbreaker on Myers. Moose came in and Kid hit a nice Tornado DDT, spiking Moose. Bully tried to interfere but he got a hurricanrana for his troubles. Kid hit a splash in the corner of all 3 heels. Bully caught him and hit a hard Irish whip into the referee who had positioned himself awkwardly in the corner. The referee flopped to the outside as if he had been tasered. Bully nailed a back suplex on Kid and then Myers pummelled him with right hands. Bully pulled at the mask of Kid but the lights went out in the arena and the lightning Tron of PCO played and he was back in the ring in front of Bully. Bully and Steve Maclin destroyed PCO in the car park a few weeks before Slammiversary so that PCO couldn’t team with Scott D’Amore. Bully looked petrified. Moose came to Bully’s aid but PCO sent him over the top rope. Myers got the same treatment. Bully ducked a clothesline attempt from PCO and ran up the ramp. PCO took out Myers and Moose with a cannonball through the middle rope and went after Bully. Laredo Kid tossed Myers back into the ring and Taurus nailed him with a huge headbutt. Taurus took out Moose with a suicide dive to the outside. Kid went to the top rope and nailed a huge splash on Myers. The referee was magically revived and crawled back into the ring and had to count with his left arm because his right arm had been rendered useless. Myers managed to barely kick out before 3. Kid went to tag Taurus but Moose pulled him off the apron. Myers hit a running knee to the back of Kid, then a Roster Cut when he turned around. Myers got the pinfall win after 11 minutes of TV time.

Winners by pinfall: Bully Ray, Moose & Brian Myers

Analysis: *** It was a solid 6-man tag (with only 5 men) but there were a lot of shenanigans going on during the match. The heel team had the numbers advantage but kept insisting on cheating, even with the referee watching at some points. That’s heels but these 3 should be painted as tough and formidable going into Emergence. I would’ve had this as a shorter, dominant win in the middle of the show and given the main event to Bailey vs Kushida, with a short promo exchange earlier in the night so we at least had some back story. It was good to see that crazy PCO back in Impact, too.

The footage cut to backstage with Bully running outside and expecting his ride to be waiting for him. It wasn’t there so he hijacked someone else’s ride just as PCO had caught up to the car. Impact went off the air with PCO screaming for Bully.

Analysis: I do enjoy the antics of PCO. That will be a singles feud after Emergence, I would guess.

Final Rating: 7/10

That’s another 7/10 show for me. I found the show to be enjoyable but inconsistent. The opening tag team match of BC vs Sami/Swann was very good and the emphasis on this #1 contender tournament has been welcome. The Good Hands interfering adds another layer to the story of Bullet Club struggling to find redemption after losing their championships. The match of the night was Mike Bailey vs Kushida. That was an exciting contest that could’ve gone either way, but with Kushida appearing on the Impact-Plus special, he got the win as the bigger name who needs momentum. The main event 6-man tag team match was solid but it was disappointing that they hyped Samuray del Sol’s debut and all that happened to him was that he got beat-up backstage. Hopefully he has a focus going forward. Maybe he is added to the match at Emergence and someone else is added to the heel team. The other two matches were too short to get into. It seems that Frankie Kazarian and Eddie Edwards are continuing their feud plus the war between The Design and Eric Young rages on. There was some hype for the Impact 1000 show which is just under a month away. That should be a fun show as they’ll be bringing back some old favourite and it’s the Saturday night after Victory Road. That will be 3 big shows in the span of two weeks.

The next Impact-Plus special is Emergence on August 27th. Here’s the card so far:

* Impact Knockouts’ Championship: Trinity (c) vs Deonna Purrazzo
* Impact Knockouts’ Tag Team Championships: MK Ultra (c) vs Savannah Evans & Gisele Shaw vs The Coven vs Death Dollz
* Josh Alexander & Time Machine vs Moose, Brian Myers, Bully Ray & Lio Rush
* SANADA vs ?

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!