This week on Impact we saw Tag Team Contender tournament continue as well as a non-disqualification match involving Bully Ray.
Impact Wrestling 17/8/23 from Cicero Stadium in Chicago, IL.
The opening video recapped last week’s show where PCO returned to seek revenge on Bully Ray, and Sami Callihan and Rich Swann advanced in the #1 Contender Tag Team Tournament.
Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt welcomed us to the show and we are kicking off the show with Knockouts’ singles action.
Match #1: Deonna Purrazzo vs KiLynn King w/ Taylor Wilde
King is looking to step up to the level of Purrazzo and challenged her to this match last week. Purrazzo challenges Trinity for the Knockouts’ Title next weekend at Emergence. Purrazzo took the advantage early by targeting the arm and tried a roll up for a 1 count. She locked in the armbar but King was right beside the rope and the referee broke the submission quickly. Purrazzo taunted King a bit so King smacked her with a right hand. King tried an overhead suplex but Purrazzo countered into a small package for 2. Purrazzo ran the ropes and connected with a running head scissors and sent King to the outside. She measured King with a baseball slide and then tossed her back into the ring. Purrazzo tried another head scissors takedown but King caught her in mid-air and flattened her with a modified Widow’s Peak for a 2 count. King sent Purrazzo hard into the corner and then nailed a clothesline. She hammered away with elbows but missed another corner attack. Purrazzo teed off with right hands and then King levelled her with a forearm. They fought on the ring apron and King kicked Purrazzo to the floor. She posed in the ring for a bit and missed a dropkick through the ropes. Purrazzo took advantage with a Russian Legsweep into the ring apron. That was unique. Wilde helped King back into the ring and Purrazzo and King traded right hands in the centre of the ring. Purrazzo took King down with a series of clotheslines and a hard running knee into another Russian Legsweep. Purrazzo tried to lock in the armbar but King rolled through for a 2 count. Purrazzo with a pump kick for 2. King prevented the Queen’s Gambit and nailed a gut buster then a DDT for another 2 count. It was good back and forth action to open the show. King wanted her own piledriver but Purrazzo fought out of it with elbows and then another pump kick. Purrazzo hit a Flatliner and then tried to lock in the Koji clutch. Again, King was able to use her strength to turn it into a pinfall which Purrazzo had to kick out of. Purrazzo ran at King in the corner but King stopped her with a kick. King nailed the Neutraliser for a close 2 count. Purrazzo flipped out of a Pumphandle slam attempt by King and locked in the Fujiwara armbar. She turned it into the Venus de Milo and King had no choice but to verbally submit. The match went for 9 minutes.
Winners by submission: Deonna Purrazzo
Analysis: ***3/4 That was a great way to open the show, even knowing that the match outcome was pretty obvious. King has really impressed in her singles matches and will be a real force when she breaks away from tagging with Wilde at some point. Even without a story this was of better quality than Purrazzo’s recent matches with Trinity and Jordynne Grace. They gelled well whereas I have felt that Purrazzo hasn’t meshed all that well with other wrestlers in Impact over the last few months.
After the match, Purrazzo celebrated in the ring whilst Wilde consoled King on the outside.
Gia Miller was backstage with Sheldon Jean and Impact Digital Media Champion Kenny King. Miller announced that Johnny Swinger is using his championship opportunity to challenge King at Emergence. King told a bad joke and said it reminded him of Swinger. King asked how Swinger gets a shot at 748 years of age. He said he will break Swinger’s hips at Emergence.
Analysis: That will not be good. I am not looking forward to it. Emergence is not shaping up to be a very compelling card so far.
Bully Ray confronted Director of Authority, Santino Marella, backstage. He got in Marella’s face and looked like he was going to threaten him but began pleading for help against PCO. Bully reminded us that he lit PCO on fire and did other dastardly acts and he still came back. Bully was worried that PCO will interfere in his No-Disqualification match against Black Taurus later on. Moose and Brian Myers walked in and Bully acted all tough again then walked off. Myers wanted a match with Alex Shelley tonight. Marella said maybe next week in a non-title match. Myers argued that he was championship material and then said he was a coward like all of the Emergence face team. Moose listed Kushida as a coward and his tag partner Kevin Knight was walking past. Knight didn’t appreciate that and wanted Moose in a match later on. Marella said it’s on. Alex Shelley cruised in and granted Myers a match for the World Championship next week!
Analysis: Myers won’t win but that’s a great main event for next week. He’s a main event level heel character but his wrestling skills aren’t at that top-tier level in my view. Moose vs Knight later could be very good and I enjoyed the way Bully switched from coward to bravado. That was fun.
Match #2: Killer Kelly w/ Masha Slamovich vs Jessicka vs Savannah Evans
This match has me worried but let’s hope for the best. These 3 are in a Fatal-4-Way Tag Team Championship match at Emergence. Jessicka and Evans got in each other’s faces so Kelly decided to join in but Evans shoved her into the ropes. Jessicka told Kelly she must be ‘this tall’ to join in this fight. Kelly climbed to the top and hit a crossbody on both women. She took down Evans with a dropkick and then hit a running elbow on Jessicka in the corner. She nailed Jessicka with a punt kick for 2. Kelly nailed Evans with a headbutt and then ran into a nasty spinebuster. That looked bad. Evans hit a brutal German suplex on Kelly for 2. That also looked really stiff. Jessicka came into the action and nailed Evans with a sidewalk toss and a running splash for 2. Kelly broke up the pin and climbed on the back of Jessicka. She had the sleeper hold synched in but backed Kelly into the corner to break the hold. Kelly held on so Jessicka tossed her off with a snapmare. Evans wanted a Full Nelson Bomb on Jessicka but had to settle for a DDT. Kelly used Evans’ momentum to nail her with a Death Valley Driver on top of Jessicka and that was enough for the pinfall win after 4 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Killer Kelly
Analysis: ** That didn’t do a lot for the division but it was short and action-packed so it did the job. The finish was quite abrupt and looked weak. Kelly is capable of finishing a match with much more impressive offense so maybe they improvised.
Dirty Dango did one of his pre-taped Q&A promos. He was confronted by Jake Something last week so addressed him. He made fun of his last name. Dango said Something has nothing going for him so had to come crawling back to Scott D’Amore for a job. Dango wondered if there was a Something 1 and Something 2 (like in Dr. Seuss). He said Something would get a rub from working with Dango and then go back to working bingo halls later in the year.
Analysis: It was just petty heel behaviour but that fits Dango well. I enjoy his new shtick and character. Something different after all the dancing years.
Match #3: Moose vs Kevin Knight
Knight could be a big deal here but he never gets a video package or any explanation of his NJPW work. He’s very talented but he just comes in for random matches and then goes again for another 3 months. Moose, however, is in the main event for Emergence so that gives you a hint at who is winning, similar to the opening match. Moose slammed Knight down sloppily after the opening bell. He tossed him around again and talked some smack. Moose offered a test of strength but connected with a knee to the ribs instead. He chopped away at Knight in the corner. Knight ducked another chop and hit Moose with a few of his own. Moose ran into a boot in the corner. He recovered quickly to destroy Knight with a Sky High off the middle rope. The whiplash on that was nasty. Moose was shocked that Knight kicked out at 2. Moose set up for a powerbomb but Knight bounced off Moose’s shoulders and hit a superkick. Knight went for a top rope clothesline, but Moose caught him with a Uranage. He whipped Knight viciously into the corner and then stomped on him a few times. Moose slapped Knight across the face and then taunted the crowd. He hit another slap but Knight fought back with a flying forearm. He tried a Tornado DDT but Moose held on and tossed him over the top rope.
Moose was in control as we returned to the action. He whipped Knight hard into the corner turnbuckle again. Moose stood on the back of Knight as he was trapped under the ropes. He hit another slap to Knight’s face. Moose went to the top but Knight bounced up and nailed a dropkick. Moose was teetering so Knight hit a hurricanrana that sent Moose sailing across the ring. Knight ran into another Uranage but held the arm of Moose and dragged him across the ring. Moose hit a pump kick and lined up Knight for the spear. Knight dropkicked Moose to the outside. He ran the ropes and went for a running senton to the outside. Moose caught him and went for a powerbomb on the ramp but Knight turned it into another hurricanrana. Knight flew through the air from inside the ring to take out Moose with a twisting senton. Knight tossed Moose back into the ring and hit a huge missile dropkick. He rolled up Moose for 2. Moose went for a Uraanage again but Knight rolled him up for another 2 count. Knight nailed a Code Red for a very close 2 count. That’s such an impressive move on a big athlete. Knight couldn’t believe that he didn’t get the 3 count there. Knight charged at Moose who tossed him throat first into the top rope. Moose nailed a powerbomb and a brurtal spear for the win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Moose
Analysis: ***1/2 I really liked this match, especially the last 3-4 minutes where Knight was throwing everything at Moose but just couldn’t get the job done. The first half of the match was basically Knight get clobbered and Moose taunting the crowd on repeat but it built up to an exciting match by the end. 40 minutes into the show and we have already had two very good matches.
The Rascalz were backstage with Gia Miller ahead of the main event tonight. Trey Miguel said everyone has been waiting for The Rascalz to reclaim the Tag Team Championships. He said it’s funny that Rich Swann and Sami Callihan even think they have a chance later on tonight. Chris Bey and Ace Austin confronted them backstage. The Rascalz have been in their business as of late. Bey accused Wentz and Miguel of paying off The Good Hands to cost Bullet Club their match last week. Santino Marella showed up and asked if there was any evidence of this. Marella told Bey they could get revenge next week in a tag match.
Analysis: This has been building nicely to a grudge match but at the same time pushing The Rascalz in the direction of the Tag Team Championships.
Match #4: Kon w/ Deaner vs Eric Young
I like Young’s new entrance. At least it’s better than the awful exclusive footage of how they wrote him off TV for the past year. That was certainly disappointing. Just like Eric Young, this is the feud that never dies. Kon tossed Young into the corner as the bell rang. He took Young down with an avalanche. Kon choked Young between the ropes and then Deaner got a cheap shot in. I think that might be a regular occurrence in this match tonight. Kon tossed Young to the outside and worked on distracting the referee. Deaner took down Young with another cheap right hand. Kon pulled Young back into the ring and teed off with right hands. He covered for a 2 count. Young started the comeback with left and right hands. He avoided a corner splash by Kon and sent him flying with a back body drop. Young nailed a Death Valley Driver for a close 2 count. He ran into a spinebuster from Kon who got a 2 count. Kon wanted a chokeslam but Young fought out. He set up for the piledriver but Deaner ran in and smashed Young across the back with a steel chair for the disqualification after 5 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Eric Young
Analysis: ** The feud continues! It was more to do with the storyline than having a classic match. We are setting up for a big blow-off match between Young and Deaner probably at Bound for Glory so this will drag on until then I assume.
After the match, Kon hit a chokeslam then Deaner nailed Young with the Antidote DDT on the steel chair. Deaner sat on top of Young and enjoyed the fact that Young was taken down again.
Analysis: More dominance from The Design.
Yuya Uemura and Joe Hendry were backstage discussing having a run at the Tag Team Championships. They did a lame music video showing that they could work as a team.
Analysis: That was very quick but if it’s another tag team in the mix, then that’s a positive.
There were some clips from Crazzy Steve’s sitdown interview with Tom Hannifan.
Chris Sabin address Lio Rush’s actions lately. He criticised him for taking shortcuts and said he was coming for the X-Division Championship. Samuray del Sol came in excitedly to introduce himself. He wanted some revenge against Lio Rush who took him out of his debut match last week. Sabin said Rush was nowhere to be found, but the two of them could have a match next week. Del Sol agreed.
Analysis: That will be a good match next week. I look forward to the Sabin vs Rush return match that we never got at Slammiversary.
Match #5: No-Disqualification Match: Bully Ray vs Black Taurus
Bully walked to the ring with trash cans in hand. Taurus ran to the ring and took Bully down with a tackle and right hands. He nailed a couple of shoulder blocks to stun Bully. Taurus mounted Bully in the corner with a stack of right hands. He bit Bully on the forehead and tossed him to the outside. Taurus hit a crossbody over the top rope. They brawled around the ring and Taurus sent Bully into the steel ring post, head-first. Taurus nailed a headbutt and then found a steel chair underneath the ring. He tossed some steel chairs into the ring.
Back from the break and Taurus was in control. He nailed Bully with a trash can to the back and another headbutt. Taurus smashed Bully over the back with a steel chair twice. He went for another shot but Bully reached through his mask and raked at his eyes. Taurus sent Bully face-first into a ladder that they set up during the commercial break. Taurus nailed a kick in the corner and Bully did the Flair flop. Taurus scored a 2 count. Bully retrieved another chair and nailed Taurus in the ribs, then over the back. He hit Taurus with some jabs and went for a Bionic elbow but Taurus caught him with a Samoan Drop. Taurus nailed his twisting senton from the top rope for a 2 count. He placed Bully on top of the fallen ladder and went back to the top rope. Taurus went for the twisting senton again but Bully moved, so he crashed hard down on the ladder. That was a painful fall. Bully covered and got the win after 7 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bully Ray
Analysis: **1/2 That was just okay. There was no real science to it or any really exciting spots. Bully capitalised on a mistake to pick up the win.
After the match, Bully started tossing the weapons out of the ring when PCO’s music and lightning struck. He was inside the ring behind Bully. Bully looked petrified but he hit a chokeslam through the table on PCO. PCO bounced straight up so Bully bailed out of the ring. PCO chased him backstage and that was it.
Analysis: I like PCO’s shenanigans. He’s no Undertaker but it’s better than some of the other non-serious stuff they do on the show like the awful Death Dollz and Johnny Swinger.
There was a clip of last week when Frankie Kazarian accidentally hit Alisha Edwards with the kendo stick. Eddie was interviewed backstage by Gia Miller. Miller wanted an update on Alisha. Eddie said she was hurt but okay. It was a kendo stick not a flaming table, come on. Frankie came up to apologise and Edwards fired up so they had security on standby. Kaz said he didn’t want any of this to happen. Edwards said they’re going to end this in the ring in 2 weeks.
Analysis: Another match between these two is fine with me. Their match at Slammiversary was amongst the better matches on the show.
The commentators ran down the Multiverse United 2 PPV card for this weekend. I might watch it but I won’t be reviewing it. The main event will be Alex Shelley defending the Impact World Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Match #6: #1 Contenders’ Match for the Impact World Tag Team Championships: The Rascalz (Zachary Wentz & Trey Miguel) vs Sami Callihan & Rich Swann
This is the final of the tournament and it has been an enjoyable one. I’m glad Impact has a thriving tag team scene again, with 5 specialist teams in action and the sometimes tagging Swann/Callihan duo. Swann and Miguel kicked things off. Miguel had a side headlock but Swann took him down with a headlock, then tagged Callihan in. Sami targeted the left arm of Miguel as he wrenched down on it. There was another quick tag to Swann who hit an elbow on Miguel in the corner. Wentz tried to interfere but ended up also splashing Miguel in the corner. Callihan and Swann launched Wentz across the ring with a double hip toss. They took down Miguel with a double superkick, then a Legsweep/clothesline combo. Swann was looking for a suicide dive but Wentz caught him in the ropes, allowing Miguel to hit a kick to his head. Callihan intervened with a Death Valley Driver on Miguel, on the ring apron! Swann flew over the top rope, taking out the Rascalz with a big senton to the outside. Both teams brawled around the ringside area. Wentz and Miguel blocked Cactus Driver attempts and raked the eyes of their opponents, before hitting moonsaults in sync. Miguel tossed Swann back into the ring and hit a rolling senton from outside to the inside. He nailed a dropkick that sent Swann to the outside again.
Both Swann and Miguel were down as the action returned. Wentz eliminated Swann’s tag option by taking Callihan off the apron. Miguel and Wentz hit a double-team stomp on Swann for a 2 count. Miguel continued to target Swann’s back with kicks. He hit a snapmare and then stomped on Swann’s face. Miguel covered for a 2 count. He chopped Swann in the corner a number of times. He went for a running clothesline but Swann blocked him with a kick. Swann hit a rolling clothesline and finally made the tag to Callihan. Miguel reached Wentz, too. Callihan hit a few clotheslines on Wentz and then nailed his DDT/Flatliner combination on the Rascalz. Miguel saved Wentz from the Cactus Driver and hit a neckbreaker on Callihan. Wentz hit an awesome running Shooting Star Press for a close nearfall. Miguel tried to slingshot Callihan into Wentz but Sami blocked it. He hit the Cactus Driver on Wentz into Miguel’s sternum! Callihan crawled over to Swann and made the tag. Swann hit superkicks on both heels. He hit a huge spinning kick on Wentz. Swann hit a hurricanrana on Miguel from the top, which caused him to land on Wentz. I think Wentz saved Miguel from a very serious injury there because Miguel didn’t full rotate on the landing and was headed for a nasty fall. Swann covered Miguel who just kicked out before the 3. Miguel fought out of a double-team attempt to nail a double Pele kick. He ran into a sidewalk slam/ axe kick combination but kicked out at 2 again. That was a nice-looking move. Miguel avoided a 450 attempt and sent Swann face-first with a head scissors although I don’t think it quite came off. Wentz hit a running kick in the corner on Swann. Miguel held Swann down and Wentz hit a double stomp off the top rope. Miguel rolled on top of Swann but he kicked out at 2. Wentz tagged back in and they put Swann on the top rope. Wentz hit a superkick, Miguel hit at 619 and then they were about to hit a double-team Dominator from the top but Callihan fought back up to the apron, sending Miguel off the top rope. They did a silly no-selling kicks spot (this is not a Young Bucks’ match!) and all 4 men were down in the ring. They squared off in the ring and Swann and Callihan got the upper-hand with strikes. They nailed a double-team stunner move on Wentz for 2. Swann tagged Callihan back in. They nailed a BTE Trigger on Wentz (lol after my last Young Bucks comment) and Miguel saved him from a double-team Razor’s Edge. Wentz took out Swann with a crossbody over the top, which led to Swann holding his knee straight away. Back in the ring, Callihan went for the Cactus Driver but Miguel sprayed him with the paint in the eyes as the referee was checking on Swann. Miguel hit a knee strike and an assisted standing moonsault which was enough for the win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Rascalz
Analysis: ***3/4 A very good tag team main event that the crowd was really into. The ending hurt it a little for me, only because I didn’t think they took down Callihan with enough force to gain the pinfall. I know they sprayed him with the paint, but a more decisive finishing move would’ve been more believable. What I liked about this tag match was actually the lack of tags. Too many tag matches I’ve watched lately have had so many frequent tags. That might sound silly but not only does it make it really hard to follow as you’re typing along (!) but takes away from the momentum swings within the tag team match. I thought this was done really well throughout and these teams worked together seamlessly. Wentz and Miguel have been excellent since reforming a short time ago, and they move on to fight Subculture. That would be my main event for Emergence, but that’s not going to happen.
Final Rating: 8/10
I’m going with an 8/10 this week because there were 3 matches that I thought were great and enough build for Emergence to get me out of my funk of thinking it was shaping up to be a pretty average show. I’m even going to ignore those ** matches in my 8/10 rating! There wouldn’t have been many weekly shows that I’ve covered over the last 14 months that had 3 lengthy matches of very good quality, but that’s what we had tonight. It was the second week were I thought the show went by very quickly and that’s always a great sign. The opening Knockouts’ match was really enjoyable. It was back to the Deonna Purrazzo I like to watch. She is excellent but she just hasn’t meshed well with her opponents since she became Knockouts’ Champion when Mickie James got injured. KiLynn King is quickly becoming one of the more reliable performers on this show each week. I thought Kevin Knight vs Moose did a really good job at continuing to rebuild Moose as a force (his stock has fallen so far in the last 12 months) as well as making Knight look credible. With these wrestlers that come and go, Impact should be doing simple things like having 20-second video promos showing during their entrance, or highlights of other matches/little hype videos to introduce them to the audience who may have never seen them before. If not, wrestelrs like Knight will just be forgotten about until the next time he shows up. And then the main event was a great tag team match with the correct winner. The Rascalz have been building momentum and are the best heel team in Impact. Subculture are just new champions but I’m not sure you can book The Rascalz to lose next weekend. Perhaps Bullet Club will finally cost them a match in retaliation. The rest of the show was solid, with a random Taurus vs Bully No-DQ match which was pretty tame; The never-ending Design vs Eric Young battle got another month of story added on, and we learnt that SANADA would face Jake Something at Emergence. I wonder if he thinks that’s better than facing Jack Perry?
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
* Impact World Tag Team Championships: Subculture (c) vs. The Rascalz
* Josh Alexander & Time Machine vs Moose, Brian Myers, Bully Ray & Lio Rush
* IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: SANADA vs Jake Something