This week saw the kick-off of a Tag Team Championship Contender Tournament, a Digital Media Championship match and Eric Young explaining his return to Impact.
Impact Wrestling 3/8/23 from Cicero Stadium, Chicago: IL
The opening video recapped last week’s show where Lio Rush picked his side and became allies with Bully Ray, which didn’t go to plan. There were brief highlights of Eric Young defeating Nick Aldis in the main event, before The Design destroyed Young after the match.
Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt welcomed us to the show and here comes Impact Knockouts’ Champion, Trinity, to kick off the show.
Let’s Hear from Trinity
Trinity said she was very happy to be back in Chicago, which holds a special place in her heart. This is where she made her Impact debut, which she said as if she had been there for 20 years. Trinity said she was at her lowest and contemplated giving up on her career, when Impact gave her a chance. Trinity said she would become Knockouts’ Champion and she did it. Here comes #1 contender, Deonna Purrazzo, with the interruption. It’s Trinity vs Purrazzo at Emergence on August 27th. The fans chanted “You tapped out” at Purrazzo. Purrazzo said she was here to congratulate Trinity and she said that they were similar because they both won the championship on their first attempt. Purrazzo said that unlike Trinity, she wasn’t a quitter. Trinity said that’s true, except for when Purrazzo tapped out at Slammiversary. Purrazzo said that nobody beats her twice in a row and then she got in Trinity’s face. The Coven were next up with the interruption. KiLynn King said she was sick of seeing them both on the ‘Trinity and Deonna’ show, which is sometimes called Impact Wrestling. King said no one wanted to see them anymore, and then her and Wilde got into the ring. She said that Trinity got lucky in her debut match against King and that with a bit of luck, she would be Impact Champion. Wilde ran down the Chicago fans. Trinity said that if they don’t like the situation then they should do something about it. Wilde tossed some cards in Trinity’s face for a distraction and then attacked Trinity. King joined in. Purrazzo watched for a minute but then came to Trinity’s aide. About a dozen security ran down the ring which looked ridiculous, when during most of the brawl segments there are no security. Director of Authority came out and made a tag team match for later on. Purrazzo said she didn’t need her wrestling gear and they should do the match right now.
Analysis: That was an okay segment. A lot of the Knockouts’ segments lately have involved interruptions so that’s getting a bit repetitive. Security swarming the ring after about 15 seconds of brawling was funny. King showed confidence on the mic and it was good to remind the crowd that her and Trinity have history. The fans are fully behind Trinity, even though Purrazzo never really turned heel and just acts arrogantly. A tag team match is fine with me.
Match #1: Trinity & Deonna Purrazzo vs The Coven (Taylor Wilde & KiLynn King)
Trinity and King kicked off the match. Trinity tried for a quick roll up then slapped King when she kicked out. King wasn’t impressed with that and charged at Trinity, who did her Matrix-style duck. King grabbed her and tossed her into the top turnbuckle, face-first. Wilde tagged in and Trinity avoided a double clothesline then tossed Wilde into her corner. Trinity was in the middle of ten punches in the corner and Purrazzo tagged herself in. Purrazzo hit a few hip tosses on Wilde and a hurricanrana. She ran at Wilde who hit a backbreaker and a Flatliner into the middle turnbuckle for a 2 count. Wilde tagged in King and they hit a double team clothesline in the corner. King hit a suplex on Purrazzo and tagged Wilde back in. Wilde hit a running punt but Purrazzo kicked out at 1. She choked Purrazzo in the corner and quickly tagged King back in. Purrazzo fought off the shoulders of King and made it to Trinity. Trinity knocked both The Coven down and hit a running splits on Wilde, who must’ve tagged in, for 2. She hit a running bulldog on the corner turnbuckle. Trinity went to the top rope but King reached up and raked her eyes. Wilde then tossed Trinity from the top rope and locked in a sleeper hold. Trinity tried to fight out but Wilde slowed her down with knee strikes and tagged King in. King hit a slow drop toehold on Trinity and a big kick. Wilde came in for the double team suplex and King covered for a 2 count. Wilde tagged herself back in and choked Trinity in the corner. Trinity fought them both off in the corner and hit a spiking DDT using her legs like a head scissors. That was unusual! Trinity made the tag to Purrazzo. Purrazzo with a couple of clothesline and a Russian Legsweep. She floated over to the Fujiwara armbar but King rolled over and broke the hold. King hit a gut buster and a nice DDT, but Purrazzo just kicked out before 3. Purrazzo fought out of the Pumphandle slam and hit a Pump kick on King. Wilde ran in and nailed her with a codebreaker, then was met with a Rear View from Trinity. Trinity tried one on King, who caught her in mid-air with a German suplex. Everyone was down in the ring. King and Purrazzo exchanged strikes in the centre of the ring. Purrazzo ran right into a big kick. King tried the King’s Curse but Purrazzo flipped it over to the armbar again. King was struggling so Wilde broke it up. Trinity came back into the ring but nailed Purrazzo with a kick by mistake, instead of Wilde. Wilde shoved Trinity out of the ring so King nailed her with the King’s Curse for the win after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Coven
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a very good opening contest and I didn’t expect the Coven to win. Last week, Dani Luna and Trinity took care of them, but this week it was a mistake from Trinity that cost them the match. It’s age-old wrestling storytelling when there’s a face vs face/tweener feud and I’m not a huge fan of it but you see it all the time nowadays. In this match, I liked the fact that the face-in-peril portions of the match were kept quite short and both Purrazzo and Trinity made tough comebacks. A good showing from all 4 women here.
Post-match Trinity tried to apologise to Purrazzo on the outside of the ring.
The Rascalz cut a quick backstage promo ahead of their tag team tournament match up later in the show against Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham. Wentz said the titles are coming home to the Rascalz. Scott D’Amore came in and said that their recent behaviour has been unacceptable and docked them two weeks’ pay. He said anymore shenanigans and they will be out of the tournament and fined further.
Analysis: No one else gets their pay docked for spray paint! The Rascalz should win the match and hopefully the tournament.
Alisha Edwards was cutting another promo backstage with her husband, Eddie, in tow. Alisha said Traci Brooks is nothing compared to her. Jody Threat got in Alisha’s face and said Alisha wasn’t worthy of facing Brooks. She said she didn’t like the way that the Edwards’ were speaking to her. Alisha threatened Threat and she challenged her to a match next week.
Analysis: A simple segment to show that Threat is a tough babyface. That should be an easy win for her. Hopefully she gets a meaningful feud soon.
Match #2: Heath vs Alan Angels
Heath continues to be very popular, despite having no storylines for the last few months. He’s a likeable, outlaw-type character whilst Angels is just breaking out on his own following months with The Design heel faction. Heath won the lock up and backed Angels into the corner. He took control with a wristlock but Angels used his athleticism to get free. Angels took a cheap shot at Heath and bailed to the outside. Eventually, he made it back into the ring and Heath took him down with a back elbow. Heath nailed a big hip toss and Angels bailed to the floor again. This time Heath cut him off and bounced his head off the ring apron. Heath celebrated with some fans so Angels dropkicked the steel steps into Heath’s knee. Angels hit a chop block on Heath’s knee and tossed him back into the ring. Angels took out the knee again with a big kick. Heath stumbled into the corner but Angels was relentless with his attack on the knee. The fans chanted their displeasure at Angels, who got sucked in, so Heath fought back into the match. Angels took him down quickly with a DDT for a 2 count. Angels continued to target the knee and then went for a moonsault but Heath rolled out of the way to buy himself some time. Heath levelled Angels with a few right hands and then a back body drop. Heath nailed a leg lariat and a clothesline. Angels nailed a kick to the face and went back to the top rope for a crossbody but Heath caught him in mid-air and used his momentum to nail a powerslam. That was cool. Heath measured Angels for the Wake Up Call but Angels ducked out of the way and scored a 2 count with a backslide. Angels missed a kick so Heath nailed the Wake Up Call for the win after 6 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Heath
Analysis: **3/4 That was fine for a short match between two good workers. Heath hasn’t had much to do as of late so a win for him is fine with me. Some of Heath’s offense didn’t look as smooth as usual, but that crossbody catch into the powerslam was nice. Angels getting singles action is always good TV.
After the match, Heath celebrated in the crowd with the fans.
They recapped last week’s Design beatdown of Eric Young which wasn’t a very exciting way to end the show. Eric Young was interviewed backstage by Gia Miller. Young said he knew that he would run into The Design eventually, but didn’t think it would happen so soon. Miller asked what happened to Young as she thought he was dead. That would usually be an odd question, but this is wrestling. Young said that tonight the world is really going to see what happened with Deaner in that cell.
Analysis: That could either be very good or a train wreck so we will see how it pans out.
Match #3: Jake Something vs Davey Vega
I don’t think this is going to be very long. Something extended his hand for a handshake but Vega kicked it away. Something slammed Vega’s face-first into the mat. He launched Vega ¾ of the way across the ring with a throw. Something shoulder blocked Vega into next week. He hit a huge splash in the corner and tossed Vega across the ring again. Vega rolled under the ropes to have a breather. He kicked Something in the head then came back into the ring but ran into a huge forearm. Something nailed an avalanche and destroyed Vega with a Black Hole Slam for the win after 2 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jake Something
Analysis: SQUASH I didn’t mind that as a squash match. Something is impressive with his size and strength. I would prefer him in longer matches but that was still entertaining.
There was another recap video of Lio Rush joining Bully’s heel team last week. The four heels were backstage and Rush said that they could trust him at Emergence, but he isn’t here to make friends. Bully said this group had the potential to go beyond Emergence.
Match #4: Impact Digital Media Championship: Kenny King (c) w. Sheldon Jean vs Joe Hendry vs Yuya Uemura
Chicago is giving Hendry far more support than other crowds of late, so that’s good to see. Dave Penzer, the ring announcer, can’t even be bothered to give Uemura a hometown. He just lists him as from ‘Japan’. I’m not a fan of that. Hendry tried a quick roll up on King who kicked out at 1. Uemura tried the same with the same result. Hendry rolled up King for another 1 count. Hendry and Uemura hit a double back elbow to take down King. They shook hands and Hendry hit a shoulder block then an atomic drop. The fans chanted his song so he chopped Uemura twice to the beat and then nailed King with a chop. King nailed Hendry with a right hand in the corner, then nailed a snap suplex. King hit a big kick in the corner on Uemura. King whipped Hendry into Uemura’s corner. Uemura dumped Hendry over the top and then was met with a dropkick by King. Hendry rolled back in the ring and hit a DDT/Neckbreaker combination on both opponents, then covered King for a 2 count.
Back from the break and Hendry nailed a suplex on King for 2. King fought back with a spinebuster for a 2 count, Uemura breaking up the pin. Uemura backed King into the corner with right hands. King reversed it and hit a discus clothesline and a bit overhead throw which sent Uemura tumbling out of the ring. King and Hendry exchanged blows in the middle of the ring. King sent Hendry off the ropes and hit a powerslam for another nearfall. King wanted the Royal Flush but Hendry fought him off with elbow strikes. Uemura sailed off the top rope and collided with both men with a crossbody. Uemura lined them both up and nailed clotheslines in the corner. He hit a back suplex on Hendry but King broke up the pinfall attempt. All 3 men were slow to their feet. They exchanged strikes in a triangular motion. Hendry took to King with uppercuts. He ran the ropes and King hit the Scorpion Kick. King ran into a Uemura dropkick. Uemura went for the crossbody on Hendry but Hendry caught him with a cutter. Jean pulled Hendry out of the ring so King covered Uemura but he kicked out at 2. Hendry nailed Jean with a big clothesline on the outside. Uemura blocked the Tiger Driver. King sent him into Hendry on the apron then hit Uemura with the Royal Flush for the win after 8 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact Digital Media Champion: Kenny King
Analysis: *** It was a good match but the outcome was predictable as we are only just into the reign of King. There weren’t too many exciting parts and there were a few awkward moments that you get in triple threats. I’m not sure what’s next for Hendry but hopefully King can have a new opponent now.
The Impact Throwback of the Week was from Emergence last year, where mike Bailey successfully defending his X-Division title against Jack Evans. I don’t really have any recollection of that match.
Gia Miller interviewed Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham backstage. Gresham was still angry about rules being broken in Impact Wrestling. He mentioned Bailey losing by cheating last week. Gresham said optimism didn’t win matches and said he would see Bailey in the ring.
Analysis: It’s good to see some follow up with this new character of Gresham. I still think they’ll lose in the upcoming main event.
There was a recap of Josh Alexander returning at Slammiversary. The highlight was Hannifan screaming ‘The Walking Weapon’ with the volume turned up to 100. He’s a great commentator and my favourite in the business right now,
The Impact Flashback of the Week was from 2014 where Eric Young defeated Magnus to become the new Impact World Champion. His maniacal, heel run was his best work in Impact. He spent a lot of years as a goofy, non-threatening face.
There was a brief promo from the Emergence face team of Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Kushida and Alexander, where Sabin said he was still focused on Lio Rush and getting revenge.
Next week on Impact:
* Tag Team #1 Contender Tournament Match: Rich Swann & Sami Callihan vs Bullet Club
* Samurai del Sol, Laredo Kid & Black Taurus vs Bully Ray, Brian Myers & Moose
Analysis: That’s the debut of the former Kalisto in Impact Wrestling. Tough opponents to debut against!
Jessicka & Courtney Rush were backstage discussing whether to go to Santino Marella and ask for a Tag Team Championship match or not. Crazzy Steve turned up and said he needed to talk. Rush brushed him off and said they would talk later. Steve looked hurt.
Analysis: That’s a minute of my life I won’t be getting back.
Match #5: Tag Team #1 Contender Tournament: The Rascalz (Zachary Wentz & Trey Miguel) vs Mike Bailey & Jonathan Gresham
This is the main event, with Eric Young’s explanation to come at the end of the show. Bailey and Wentz started the match off. Miguel tried a cheap shot on Bailey, then Wentz took him down from behind. Bailey avoided a double clothesline, then Gresham came in to assist and they both hit back elbows on the Rascalz. Miguel was sent out of the ring and it was Bailey vs Wentz again. Bailey nailed a big kick to the chest of Wentz and took him down with combination kicks. Gresham tagged in and he targeted the left arm of Wentz. He trapped Wentz’s arms between his left knee and stretched out the ankle of Wentz. That looked very painful, in typical Gresham-style. He turned it into a pinning predicament for a 2 count. Gresham stomped on the left hand of Wentz. Miguel hit a cheap knee on Gresham against the ropes, then Wentz hit a nice dropkick due to the distraction. Miguel tagged in and they went to work on Gresham with kicks. Wentz hit a double stomp to the back of Gresham. Miguel catapulted Wentz into Bailey, taking him off the apron.
Wentz tagged in Miguel, as we returned from the break. Gresham fought back with chops, but Miguel swept his legs out from under him and Wentz nailed a dropkick for 2. Gresham blocked a suplex attempt and powered Miguel over his head for his own suplex. Gresham tagged in Bailey who soared through the ring with a dropkick. Bailey kicked Miguel on the back and hit a running shooting star press for 2. Wentz tried to grab Bailey, which allowed Miguel to nail a back suplex. Wentz tagged in and hit a double stomp from the top, with Miguel holding Bailey to the mat. Wentz covered Bailey who kicked out at 2. Bailey fought out of the Headlock DDT but Wentz hit a knee strike. He went for a springboard cutter but Bailey caught him with a kick in mid-air. Both men struggled to their corner but they got the tags to their partner. Gresham took Miguel off his feet and then Bailey vaulted Gresham into the air for a cutter. Terrific team work. Gresham covered Miguel but Wentz broke the pin up with a Swanton Bomb to the back of Gresham. Wentz sent Bailey to the outside with a running knee. Gresham took Wentz down with a springboard moonsault. Bailey tossed Miguel back inside so Gresham nailed him with a powerbomb for 2. Gresham hit a big forearm strike but Miguel kicked out again. Gresham tried a Figure 4 but Miguel kicked him into the ropes. At the same time, Wentz tossed Miguel the spray paint. Bailey took out Wentz with a moonsault to the outside. Miguel sprayed the paint in the eyes of Gresham, then rolled him up with a handful of tights for the win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: The Rascalz
Analysis: ***1/2 Solid action here in the main event. The Rascalz pulled off another shoddy win, even after a warning from the President. There could be reprocussions for that- we will have to see. I thought there was a possibility of a Gresham heel turn but he and Bailey worked together well. I only caught the Rascalz work in Impact off and on when I wasn’t a regular Impact viewer, so I am enjoying their work together now. This was on par with the opening Knockouts’ contest.
Eric Young’s Exclusive Footage: What Really Happened?
They played a video from last year where it appeared that Deaner murdered Young inside the jail cell. What you saw was them brawling and then Deaner supposedly killed Young with a shiv. You never saw Young’s body, but in the first scene here you see him down on the floor in a pool of blood with Deaner looking very proud of himself. Young coughs up some blood and shows that he is still alive. He started to laugh maniacally as he crawled out of the jail and onto a motorbike. I can’t recall why they were at a jail (was there an explanation). Young rode his motorbike and he narrated over the top of the footage. He discussed life and death. He said death can be final, but he wasn’t dead yet. Young said he had lived 1,000 lives in this business and if he has his way, then he will live 1,000 more. Young said he was more than life and death, that he is an idea and he will live forever. Impact went off the air as he rode his motorbike in the city.
Analysis: I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular but that was pretty lame. After 9 months, the reason why he wasn’t dead was that he just didn’t die? I think they could’ve done better than that. Bring back wrestling to the main event next week, please.
Final Rating: 7/10
I enjoyed this week’s episode and the time actually went by rather quickly. I didn’t feel that anything really dragged on. The in-ring action was solid, if not stellar. The tag team matches that book-ended the show were both pretty good and had some significance. A lot of big-name players were only on the show in a quick promo capacity, so there was nothing major on tonight’s show if you did miss it. I think the Emergence show will be solid but nothing must-see, especially with the 8-man tag team match being a match that really shouldn’t be headlining a monthly show.
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
* Josh Alexander & Time Machine vs Moose, Brian Myers, Bully Ray & Lio Rush
* SANADA vs ?