This week’s edition of Impact Wrestling was headlined by Impact World Champion, Josh Alexander, making his return to the ring against Mike Bailey, in a match that got one hour of television time. There was also Tag Team Championship match on the show.
Impact Wrestling 8/12/22 from Louisville, Kentucky
The opening video featured highlights from last week’s angle where Eric Young was written off Impact with Deaner seemingly taking out his former stablemate for good.
The show opens with Tom Hannifan hyping the show as one of the “biggest Impact has ever had” as we open with a Tag Team Championship match.
Match #1: Impact World Tag Team Champions: Rhino & Heath (c) vs the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin)
Sabin and Shelley, the challengers, are out first with their New Japan Strong Openweight Tag Team Championships, followed by the Impact Tag champions. Rhino and Sabin kick it off, with Rhino winning the strength battle early. Rhino targets the left arm of Sabin but Sabin is able to flip out and reverse it until he cops a right hand to the face. Rhino misses a corner attack and a clothesline, so Sabin takes advantage with a diving crossbody from the top rope and gets a 1 count. Rhino tags in Heath, who enthusiastically runs into an arm drag from Sabin. Sabin locks in the left arm and tags in Shelley. Shelley works on the left arm of Heath, but he’s able to roll through and lock in a submission on the left arm of his own. They continue to counter each other until Shelley makes it to the ropes. Heath bounces off the ropes and takes down Shelley with a shoulder block. He whips Shelley hard into the turnbuckle and stomps away. Heath misses a diving splash in the opposite corner, allowing Shelley to hit an Atomic Drop. Shelley sends Heath over to his corner and Sabin traps Heath’s right knee in the middle rope as the referee watches on with no admonishment. Sabin hits a drop kick to the knee of Heath, another illegal move, then Shelley finally tags him in. Shelley performs a Dragon Screw on Heath and Sabin covers for a 2 count. Sabin hits a series of elbows to the knee again of Heath and again tags in Shelley. Rhino is frustrated in the corner as he has been unable to tag in. Shelley locks in the Figure 4 Leg lock and Heath is stuck in the centre of the ring. Heath lays down and the referee begins to count but he recovers and makes it to the ropes to break the submission. Sabin uses the leisurely 5 count from the referee to hold on to the move for as long as possible. Shelley backs Heath into the corner but Heath fights back with clubbing blows to the back. Heath eventually nails a powerslam which gives him the opportunity to tag in Rhino. Sabin tags in too but Rhino takes him down with a spear in the corner and a big spinebuster for a 2 count. Rhino calls for the Gore but Shelley grabs his hair from the top turnbuckle to make the distraction. Sabin dropkicks Heath off the apron and Shelley hits a big kick on Rhino in the corner. Sabin runs at Rhino who blocks him with an elbow and a TKO but Shelley breaks up the 3 count. A hobbling Heath takes out Shelley and then tags back in. They try a tag team move but Sabin kicks the knee of Heath from under him and throws Rhino to the outside. Heath and Sabin trade right hands until the Major Players storm the ring and hit Heath’s Wake Up Call finisher on him and Sabin, causing the end of the match after 8 minutes.
Match Result: No contest
Analysis: *** It was starting to heat up towards the end of the match there and then Brian Myers and Matt Cardona put a stop to that. It was a lame finish to a title match, but it does make sense storyline-wise and the commentators did reference the Major Players a number of times during the match so it was probably predictable to some that they would run in. The Guns wrestled a slightly different style of match up here and I have noticed lately that they have both been using more submission moves and targeting body parts in their singles matches. The Triple Threat match for the championships is coming.
Myers and Cardona escape the ring after their attack and back up the ramp as the ring announcer officially calls it a No Contest.
There was a video highlights package of Bully Ray’s attack on Impact World Champion Josh Alexander, and his wife, at Over Drive. They also showed highlights of Bully’s promo from last week’s show and his attack on Rich Swann after their match up. Bully was confronted by Tommy Dreamer and an irate Scott D’Amore afterwards. It’s Bully vs Alexander for the World Title at Hard to Kill.
Josh Alexander and Scott D’Amore are discussing Bully Ray backstage. D’Amore understands how angry Alexander is but respects how he is going to handle his business in the ring later on tonight (we weren’t sure at this point what he was going to do). Ziggy Dice and Johnny Swinger then approach D’Amore. Swinger says he is owed a title shot. D’Amore says he can get a shot when he wins 50 matches.
Analysis: They were a bit cryptic about what Alexander has planned for the show. Less Swinger and Dice on my TV, please.
Knockouts’ World Champion, Jordynne Grace, and her next challenger Mickie James are backstage. Grace asks if James is ready. Then the camera cuts to a long shot and they’re having a photo shoot for Hard to Kill. James says she isn’t going to take it easy on Grace and she wants to earn the title once again. Grace says she respects James, but if she thinks she would ever go easy on her then Mickie doesn’t know who she is. Grace says she wants to retire Mickie and holds up the championship.
Analysis: That was an interesting way for both ladies to face each other and cut a quick promo without taking up heaps of time in the ring. As I continue to write, Impact does those short segments quite well and always tries to maximise their TV time each week.
Match #2: Savannah Evans w/ Tasha Steelz vs Taya Valkyrie w/ the Death Dollz
Evans is already in the ring, as Matthew Rehwoldt plays up the recent tension between Evans and Tasha Steelz. Valkyrie is out next with her stablemates. Evans shoves Valkyrie down to the mat early on. Evans backs Valkyrie into the corner, until the referee breaks it up. Valkyrie avoids a wild strike from Evans and they lock up again, with Evans winning the test of strength again. Evans confidently circles Valkyrie and slams her down with a belly-to-back suplex. Evans misses a clothesline in the corner and Valkyrie responds with a spear that sends Evans to the outside. Valkyrie runs the ropes but Evans moves out of the way. Valkyrie goes to the ring apron and Evans sweeps her legs out but Valkyrie lands in the splits position. Evans throws Valkyrie hard off the apron to the floor.
Evans is still in control as we come back from the commercial break. Evans spears Valkyrie in the corner and hits a Butterfly suplex. Evans locks in a chokehold but Taya is already on one knee. Valkyrie fights back with elbows and a hurricanrana. A Valkyrie corner-attack is blocked by a big clothesline from Evans who gets the first 2 count of the match. Evans misses a big boot and Valkyrie fights back with a knee lift and a clothesline. Valkyrie hits a Blue Thunder Bomb after sending Evans off the ropes, for a close 2 count. Valkyrie targets the legs of Evans with a modified ankle lock. Evans slowly crawls towards the ropes but Valkyrie locks in a modified STF until Evans grabs the hair. Evans hits a big right hand then Taya hits a surprise roll up for 2. They go back and forth with suplex attempts but Evans catches Valkyrie with a Full Nelson Suplex for the 3 count after 7 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Savannah Evans
Analysis: *** This was a slow-paced match, but slightly better than I expected with some good back and forth action. Evans needed the win so that was the right call. The division needs credible teams so they can’t keep having Evans and Steelz lose. The finish came out of nowhere so Valkyrie won’t be too hurt by the loss.
There was a hype video for Bullet Club and their recent work in the NJPW Super Jnr Tag League.
The action goes to backstage where referees are gathered around Moose who is giving Bhupinder Gujjar a beatdown and asks him to give Joe Hendry a message, that it’s time for Joe Hendry to believe in Moose.
Analysis: That was very short but follows up last week’s confrontation between the two, until Hendry turned up and made the save during the post-match beatdown.
There was a vignette for Delirious, who hasn’t had a match here in a while. He rambles on (with sub-titles) about going where the wind blows. Delirious calls out Eddie Edwards and challenges him to a future match.
Analysis: Edwards has accepted the match and Hannifan said that match was to main event tonight’s show, but it was pushed back to next week. I’m all for that getting a better amount of time next week.
Match #3: Kon w/ Angels and Deaner vs Sami Callihan
Violent by Design are now just ‘The Design’ and Kon has had the ‘Big’ removed from his name, so there’s a few little changes in this Eric Young-free era. They are doing this match fairly early in the rivalry so I’m interested to see how it’s booked. The heels are out first, followed by Callihan. Kon charges at Callihan, who moves and hits a chop but to no effect. Kon grabs Sami by the throat and he tries some more chops to break the hold but none of these have any impact. Callihan pokes Kon in the eye and tries for a scoop slam but Kon is too heavy. Kon hits a big headbutt and a clothesline. Kon stomps Callihan’s head against the mat. Kon hits a huge clothesline in the corner that sends Callihan down to the mat. Kon stomps away at Callihan in the corner. Kon stares down Callihan, who slaps him, but that just incenses Kon. Kon hits a sloppy spinebuster and claws at the shoulders and face of Callihan, until the referee breaks the hold. They exchange right hands and chops and Callihan hits a jawbreaker that has the big man staggering. Kon misses a clothesline in the corner and Sami nails the scoop slam in the centre of the ring. Sami hits a number of chops and forearms in the corner but Kon isn’t fazed and goes for a chokeslam. Sami blocks it and clotheslines Kon over the top rope. Kon chokeslams Callihan hard onto the ring apron. The referee counts to 7 and Callihan grabs a chair from under the ring to stave off Deaner and Angels. Kon reaches over the top rope and pulls Callihan into the ring by his hair, which allows Angels to remove the chair from Callihan. Callihan climbs to the rope by Deaner grabs his leg, allowing Kon to nail a Death Valley Driver type move from the top to get the win after 6 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kon
Analysis: **3/4 That was an important win for Kon and the Design, and not a bad match. It was certainly better than I expected. Kon has a great look and obvious strength. When Sami made the comeback and slammed him down, it looked impressive and the finish was tarnished so he doesn’t look too bad in defeat. This was a good way to restart the Design in a winning fashion.
Josh Alexander is shown walking to the ring. Tommy Dreamer tries to stop him but Alexander tells him “not now”. They showed X-Division Champion Trey Miguel defeating Jason Hotch on the YouTube show, Before the Impact. After the match, Miguel spray-painted his logo on Hotch. Gia Miller wanted an interview with Miguel. Miller asked why Miguel defaced the championship by spray-painting his logo. Miguel doesn’t find it disrespectful and brings out the spray can, as if he was about to spray Miller. He starts shaking the can but Crazzy Steve appears and holds the can so Miller can get away. Steve says Miguel’s actions have consequences. Steve laughs as Miguel backs down.
Analysis: I’m glad they followed up that quick clip with an interview. If they want to push this new heel persona with Miguel, it’s important to give him promo time and he’s doing well.
Josh Alexander made his way to the ring and grabbed a microphone. Rehwoldt questioned Alexander’s state of mind as the crowd chanted his name. Alexander said he has taken some time to think about how he wants to respond to what happened at Over Drive. He has been giving the blessing by Impact’s management to handle things his way. Alexander says they’re going to have an Impact World Championship Open Challenge, right now! He says there’s only one person that he wants to answer the challenge. Alexander addresses Bully Ray and says he has nothing to lose by answering this challenge. Even if Bully loses, he still gets his shot at Hard to Kill. Bully responds on the big screen from the backstage area. Bully says that’s a great offer but he’s busy right now looking at photos of Alexander and his wife. He says photos on his phone of Alexander’s wife who was terrified after Bully nearly gave her the Piledriver. Bully says he can’t make it tonight because he gave him his word that he would be at Hard to Kill. Alexander hands the microphone back to the announce team, looking dejected, and then Mike Bailey’s music hits and it looks like he’s answering the open challenge. Bailey takes a mic and says while Bully Ray isn’t here tonight, but he is. Alexander accepts and the match is on.
Match #4: Impact World Championship: Josh Alexander (c) vs Mike Bailey
There was over 40 minutes of time left in the show when the bell rung, so this could be a potential for Impact match of the year if they go that long. Alexander gets the upper hand early with a running elbow. Bailey tries a couple of shoulder blocks but he can’t take the champ down. Bailey nails a big kick after a hip toss, but Alexander recovers quickly with a big forearm and a scoop slam. They’re into the action early in this one, as opposed to some of Alexander’s previous defences that started off with lots of counter-wrestling and were slow-paced. Alexander pounded on Bailey with forearms to the back. He chopped Bailey hard against the ropes. Bailey fought back and they traded chops. Bailey hit a series of kicks, sending Alexander to the outside. Bailey flew through the ropes and took Alexander down as we went to our first commercial break of the match.
Back from the break and Bailey connected with knees from the top rope to get a close 2 count. Alexander bounced up and hit a Big Boot to get the ascendency back. Alexander dropped his knee pad and nailed Bailey in the spine with a couple of knee drops. Alexander stretched out the back of Bailey with a submission hold. Bailey got to his feet but Alexander chopped him back down to the mat. Alexander is focused on inflicting pain in this match. He chopped Bailey from corner to corner, as Bailey’s chest started to glow. Alexander hit a big backbreaker for 2. Alexander continued to target the back and stomped away at Bailey in the ropes. He whipped Bailey off the ropes but Bailey blocked with a kick and then hit a running dropkick. Bailey hit a running, twisting shooting star press for a 2 count. Bailey measured Alexander for a big kick but Alexander ducked and nailed two German suplexes. Bailey reached the ropes but Alexander trapped his arms and hit another German, this time with a bridge for a 2 count. He wanted the C4 Spike but Bailey flipped out and tried a kick. Alexander caught the ankle and tried the anklelock but Bailey escaped and landed on Alexander’s injured shoulder. Alexander lifted Bailey onto his shoulders but the pressure was too much and Bailey locked in a version of the Octopus submission hold. Alexander continued to fight and slammed Bailey against the top turnbuckle. He still couldn’t get Bailey off his shoulders as he had the submission locked in. Bailey hit some stiff knees to the face and Alexander tried to flip him off but Bailey countered into an awesome reverse rana. Wow, that’s such a devastating move when it is done like that. Bailey covered for a very close 2 count as we went to another commercial break.
Alexander was bleeding slightly from the nose as we returned to the action. He tried to the C4 Spike again but continued to be hampered by the shoulder for any lifting moves. Bailey crawled to the ropes to get a break. Bailey hit a number of strikes and then tried a springboard but was blindsided in mid-air by a huge forearm. Alexander set up the C4 Spike but Bailey rolled him through with a hurricanrana into a pin which Alexander reversed into one of his own for 2. Bailey hit a left-foot thrust kick and then his spinning kick in the corner. He wanted Ultima Weapon but Alexander backed into the corner. Bailey tried a hurricanrana but Alexander blocked it and turned it into a devastating backbreaker. Alexander went for the C4 Spike but dropped Bailey as the shoulder gave out. Alexander tried it again but this time Bailey did enough with his body weight to send both athletes crashing over the top rope. That was a nasty landing. The referee started the count and Bailey broke it at 8. Alexander could only make it up to the apron so Bailey hit a big running kick that sent the champion back to the floor. Bailey connected with a springboard moonsault from inside the ring. Bailey went back to the top rope and hit a missile dropkick. Bailey continued to target the left shoulder with kicks. Bailey took down Alexander with a huge kick to the chest. Alexander backed into the corner for a rest as Bailey measured him for the spinning kick in the corner again. This time Alexander caught the right ankle. Bailey stood on his left foot and tried to break the hold but Alexander took him down with a forearm. Alexander fired away with right hands and then they traded blows until Alexander hit a hard boot to the face. Bailey nailed one of his own and then they furiously traded right hands. Bailey hit another spin kick that took Alexander to the ring apron area. Bailey missed a running kick and Alexander caught him in the ropes and hit a powerslam on the ring apron! Both men were down on the outside of the ring as we went to a third commercial break.
Back from the break and Bailey cut Alexander off before he attempted a top rope manoeuvre. Bailey tried a hurricanrana but Alexander tried to turn it into a Styles Clash. Bailey blocked it with kicks and then hit a big kick to the side of the head. Alexander caught Bailey as he launched onto the top turnbuckle and nailed a huge aeroplane spin/slam for a 2 count. Immediately, Alexander locked in the anklelock but Bailey slipped out and got a 2 count. Alexander was on his knees in the corner so Bailey hit Ultima Weapon right on the back of the champ. Bailey was too injured to make a pin. Bailey was back to his feet first, though. He looked at Alexander and hesitated, before hitting a big running kick to the chest. Bailey hit another running kick as Alexander was in a seated position and another one. Bailey hit a double knee to the chest of Alexander. Bailey kept using moves with his injured body parts then couldn’t make the cover. It was not particularly clever wrestling at this point of the match. Alexander avoided 3 kicks but Bailey stalled on the fourth and nailed him in the temple. Bailey targeted the left shoulder with another big kick. Alexander slapped Bailey a few times and then nailed 5 German suplexes. He stopped to headbutt Bailey a few times and then the program randomly went to another break.
When we returned, they were both battling on the top rope. Bailey had the wristlock locked in then went for another kick and Alexander grabbed the ankle while Bailey was in the ropes. Somehow, Alexander turned this into an Olympic Slam for a 2 count. Tom Hannifan then informed us that the planned main event between Eddie Edwards and Delirious had been moved to next week, as this match is reaching the 60-minute time limit. Alexander missed a moonsault attempt. Bailey went back to the top but Alexander caught him with a Samoan Drop from the top rope, although Hannifan called it an Olympic Slam. Alexander was spent and frustrated. He hobbled over to Bailey who was in a heap in the middle of the ring. Alexander couldn’t even lift Bailey up, due to the shoulder injury. The match had lasted 48 minutes at this point. Bailey couldn’t get to his feet so Alexander tried to get him up. Bailey fell to the mat again as the referee checked on him. Bailey bounced up and hit 3 big kicks to the head of the champ who just kicked out before the 3 count. The ring announcer told us that there were 10 minutes left as Alexander locked in the anklelock. Bailey was screaming in pain but managed to flip to his back to turn and break the hold. Alexander flipped him back over and synched the move in further. Alexander changed the move into a spinning Tombstone for a 2 count. Alexander locked the anklelock back in. Bailey crawled and reached for the bottom rope but Alexander kicked his shoulder. Bailey was able to get onto his back and break the hold with kicks to Alexander’s damaged shoulder. Bailey blocked Alexander who ran at him in the corner. Alexander tied Bailey’s ankle in the middle rope and stomped down on it with his knee. He locked the anklelock back in, in the centre of the ring. Alexander sat down in the move and Bailey looked as if he was about to tap but he finally got to the bottom rope to finally break the hold. Alexander slowly reached his feet and pulled Bailey up but they both collapsed in a heap. Alexander lifted Bailey onto his shoulders and climbed to the middle rope. Bailey tried to jump off but just crashed to the mat. Bailey hobbled back to the middle rope but Alexander swatted him down. Five minutes remained in the match as they battled on the top turnbuckle. Bailey crashed down hard on his neck but somehow Bailey kept pulling himself back up using the ropes. Alexander kept stomping at Bailey, who continued to fight back and hit a huge hurricanrana off the top. Bailey hit Ultima Weapon as Alexander was in a hunched position but Alexander put his foot on the bottom rope to break the pin. The ring announcer was letting us know when every minute had passed now. Bailey kicked Alexander around the ring and hit a superkick. He lifted Alexander to the top rope and tried for the Flamingo Driver but Alexander reversed it into the Styles Clash! Alexander went back to the anklelock but Bailey tried to break the hold by targeting the left shoulder with kicks. Bailey made it to the bottom rope and Alexander kept trying to catch the ankle but lifted Bailey away from the ropes to hit a devastating Piledriver. Alexander finally nailed the C4 Spike and then hit another one to make sure of it. Alexander pinned Bailey with about 10 seconds remaining to retain the championship. It went 55:50.
Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact World Champion: Josh Alexander
Analysis: ****3/4 That was a tremendous match. The pace and intensity that they were still going at in the last 10 minutes of a near-60-minute fight was incredible. There were little things you could pick at during the match, like Bailey injuring his knee then continuing to use knee strikes, but I got over that especially in the last 15 minutes. Bailey was great but Alexander possibly gave his greatest ever Impact performance here. His facial expressions, selling and intensity, along with the pure crispness of his moves were first-class. I always marvel at how safely AEW manage their Piledrivers, but Bailey was dumped on his head 5 or 6 times in this match and they all looked completely devastating. The story-telling was pretty good here, even though Bailey had nothing to do with the Bully/Alexander rivalry. You could see how conflicted Alexander was during the match, as he so badly wanted Bully to answer the open challenge, so he took all his frustrations out on Bailey. They continue to build Bully vs Alexander really well and even this week by showing Bully quickly backstage, what he says and how he says it just irk the viewer. He is a heel that’s really easy to dislike and I’m loving his work. I would’ve like to see Bailey try to utilise the Flamingo Driver a bit more. Against heavyweight opponents, he needs a move to put them away. It’s fine in his X-Division matches for him to win with kicks and Ultima Weapon, but here you felt he just had to pull something else out if he was to get the victory. I was a little disappointed that the crowd was not more into the match, as I felt that they were a bit quiet. It’s pretty special to get a near 60-minute match on the show and, whilst they wouldn’t have known that they were going this long at the start, maybe they could’ve appreciated their efforts a bit more. It’s rare to have one match as half your show for the week, but obviously Impact trusts Alexander and Bailey so I hope this match gets talked about online and lots of views.
A 63-minute version of the match is below.
After the match, Alexander was handed his championship as they showed highlights of the match. Alexander slowly got to his feet as the referee raised his arm then Impact went off the air.
Impact Wrestling posted this video on Instagram after the show.
Final Rating: 8/10
Obviously, it was an episode that was carried by one match (which was amazing) so it’s going to get a high rating from me. Impact posted on their Twitter that they’re going to upload the entire match to their YouTube, commercial free, so if you want to give it a watch then I’d highly recommend it. I was given the heads up that it was a longer match, but I didn’t anticipate an hour of ring time. The pace of that match, given it was an hour, was outstanding. Two athletes that are obviously in peak condition, entertaining the fans non-stop for an hour was a joy to watch. They both left everything in the ring and I was impressed with the selling, as well as the psychology around targeting body parts. Some of these little things are lost in this era of wrestling at times. The rest of the show was fine, with a couple of matches that furthered storylines between two sets of tag teams, as well as allowing the Design to be rebooted. I’m interested to see where they go next.
The next PPV, Hard to Kill, looks like this so far:
Impact World Championship: Josh Alexander (c) vs Bully Ray
Knockouts’ World Championship: Jordynne Grace (c) vs Mickie James (if Mickie loses she must retire)