Impact Wrestling Review – February 16, 2023

impact wrestling rich swann josh alexander

On this week’s episode of Impact, we finalised the No Surrender Fatal-4-Way match with two qualifiers, as well as the big main event of Kenny King facing off against Rich Swann.

Impact Wrestling 16/2/23 from Oscela Heritage Park: Kissimmee, Florida

The show opened with a memorial to promoter Jerry Jarrett, who passed away on Tuesday aged 80. There were also clips of Matt Cardona building up to last week’s Digital Impact Championship main event against Joe Hendry, which Hendry ended up winning.

Tom Hannifan welcomed us to the show and reminded us that No Surrender is next Friday night. Matt Rehwoldt said it was ‘ThursBEY night’ to the cringe of all wrestling fans watching.

Match #1: Chris Bey w/ Ace Austin vs Kushida w/ Motor City Machine Guns

Time Machine will face off with Bullet Club in 6-man action at No Surrender. KENTA will be in the Impact Zone! I’m looking forward to him and Kushida squaring off in the ring. This is a first-time match up so it should be great if given the time. They lock up in the centre of the ring with Kushida hitting a snapmare and grounding Bey against the mat. Kushida outwrestles Bey and tells him to bring it. Bey takes a break in the corner and asks for a test of strength. He tries for a cheap kick and Kushida flips him over. Kushida misses a corner attack and Bey takes out his knee and hits a double stomp for a quick 1 count. Kushida comes back with a chop but Bey ties him up against the ropes and nails a forearm. He bounces Kushida off the ropes but Kushida lands a springboard elbow. Kushida tries for a baseball slide on the outside but Bey avoids it. Bey slams Kushida into the ring then they both get back into the ring to break the count. Kushida lands a big kick to the ribs, sending Bey to the outside. Kushida with a running knee to the injured, dominant arm of Bey from the apron. Kushida goes back to the left arm, attempting a Kimura Lock. Bey is able to roll through but Kushida halts him again with a kick. Kushida slams Bey’s arm hard against the mat. They trade kicks and Kushida tries on a sleeper. He changes it into a chin lock and then lands a dropkick in the corner, after Bey wriggled free. Kushida again goes to the left arm with the Hammer Lock. He misses an attack from the apron and they clothesline each other on the floor. The referee begins the 10 count, as Bey and Kushida’s allies look on with worry. They both make it back into the ring at the count of 9. Both men exchange strikes in the middle of the ring, Bey using his right arm as his left has been rendered useless. Bey comes back with a knee and a hard chop, then flies off the ropes with a clothesline. Bey lands a running forearm in the corner and a big neckbreaker off the shoulders for a 2 count. Kushida countered a suplex attempted but Bey fought back with an enziguiri. He went to bounce off the ropes but Kushida cut him off with another kick. Bey stumbled out of the ring so Kushida went to the top and nailed a huge senton to the outside, right in front of the guard rail. Kushida tossed Bey back into the ring and nailed another kick to the left arm and a dropkick. Bey escaped the Hammer Lock, so Kushida hit another kick to the arm and went for the Kimura. Bey managed to hang Kushida up on the ropes, then nailed a springboard legdrop that rocked Kushida. Kushida kicked out at 2. Bey started to slap the mat to pump the fans up but then remembered his left arm was supposed to be injured. That was funny. He went for the Art of Finesse off the ropes but Kushida caught him in mid-air and almost locked in the armbar. Bey turned it into a pinning reversal for the closest of 2 counts. Kushida with a big forearm, but Bey hit a bigger kick to the face. Kushida went for the Hoverboard Lock this time but cleverly turned it into a small package for the 3 count! Excellent match that went 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Kushida

Analysis: ***3/4 Pretty much the perfect way to open the show here. Kushida was ruthlessly targeting the left arm (which his tag team did 2 weeks ago) and Bey sold really well for the most part. The commentators also did well in explaining some of the psychology in the match too. Bey looks good whether he’s winning or losing, so he will be fine here. We need more Kushida on Impact weekly shows so hopefully that’s the plan moving forward.

Santino Marella was backstage with Tommy Dreamer and they were waiting on “Bobby Ray” for a face-to-face confrontation. Bully stormed in and sat down. Marella started to talk but Bully cut him off. Marella tried again and said enough was enough. He proposed a live Busted Open Podcast at No Surrender. Dreamer said that they don’t have to be friends anymore, but asked if they can just go their separate ways. Bully agreed and said the best way for that to happen was for Dreamer to leave Impact. Bully asked what good Dreamer served in Impact anymore. Dreamer said he had enough of Bully. They continued to argue and Marella said they would settle it at No Surrender. Bully told Santino that if he wanted him to fall in line, then he gets to speak first. Dreamer said he was sick of Bully getting his own way, so Santino said that next week whoever won (if they win) their Beat the Clock challenge the fastest would get the chance to speak first.

Analysis: That’s better than a match, for sure. Should be interesting. I think amongst the commotion at the end there, Santino called Bully ‘Busted Ray’ so at the very least, these are funny segments.

Match #2: No Surrender Qualifier: Steve Maclin vs Rhino

The winner will be the third man in the Fatal-4-Way number 1 contender match. I’m not betting on Rhino here. Maclin has beaten 9 former champions and still hasn’t got a title shot. Rhino had a headlock early. Maclin hit a big back elbow and then chopped away at Rhino in the corner. Rhino came back with a shoulder block which took Maclin down. Rhino chopped Maclin repeatedly in the corner. The crowd were firmly behind him. Rhino took down Maclin with a big headbutt. He nailed a suplex and Maclin bounced off the ropes so Rhino hit a hip toss. Rhino set up for the Gore, but Maclin slipped to the outside. Rhino cut him off with right hands and slammed him against the ring apron. Rhino missed a chop and hit the steel ring post. Maclin slammed Rhino against the ring post, shoulder-first.

(Commercial break)

Maclin was in control as he pummelled Rhino with right hands in the corner. Maclin hit a big clothesline and scored a 2 count. Maclin abused the fans and choked Rhino out against the ring ropes. Maclin hit a running knee as Rhino was hung up in the middle rope. Maclin stomped away at Rhino in the corner and Rhino kicked out at 2 again. Maclin missed a diving headbutt and Rhino hit a clothesline. He hit a spear in the corner and a belly-to-belly suplex for a 2 count. Maclin hit a flurry of forearms that put Rhino down to a knee. He spent too long taunting the crowd and ran into a spinebuster. The crowd called for the Gore again but Maclin sidestepped and hit his own Gore! Rhino kicked out just before 3. Maclin set up for the KIA but Rhino ducked out of it, so Maclin hit Heath’s Wake Up Call for the win after 7 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Steve Maclin

Analysis: ***1/2 I thought that was really good. It was a very physical match with a clever ending, as Maclin put Rhino down with his own tag team partner’s move. Rhino doesn’t usually get singles matches, let alone one that would’ve been 10 minutes with commercials, but I was impressed. The crowd was really loud for him too. Maclin moves on to No Surrender, though.

Gia Miller sat down with Knockouts’ #1 contender, Masha Slamovich. Miller asked if she thought Mickie James saw her as a threat. There were subtitles for Slamovich for once. She only answered with one word answers. Slamovich wants James to sit front row for her match with Alisha later on in the show.

Analysis: Short and to the point, but at least they had subtitles so we know what she’s saying.

Match #3: Johnny Swinger w/ Ziggy Dice vs a Mystery Opponent

It’s jobber time! If I could fast forward, I would! Swinger, who is terrible, will get a title shot if he gets 50 wins. So far, he has zero. Dice said that he has found someone with a worse record than Swinger: perennial loser, Barry Horowitz. Horowitz hobbled down to the ring. Swinger hit a chop block to begin the match and targeted the left leg. Dice attacked the left knee too as the referee was distracted. Swinger choked Horowitz out in the corner. Swinger missed a corner splash so Horowitz teed off in the corner with right hands. Horowitz hit a headbutt and talked trash to Dice. The referee was distracted with him, so Swinger poked Horowitz in the eyes. Swinger went for a neckbreaker, then The Demon’s music hit, so Horowitz applied an Abdominal Stretch and turned it in to a schoolboy for the win after 2 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Barry Horowitz

Analysis: -* That was awful but at least they billed it as ridiculous rather than trying to force us to take it seriously. Props to Hannifan for his over-the-top commentary throughout. No one should lose to Swinger, ever.

Gia Miller was backstage with Moose. They discussed Matt Cardona falling short against Joe Hendry last week. Moose said that’s what Hendry does- humiliate people. Moose said he’s done that to Myers and Cardona, but Moose doesn’t get humiliated; he gets even. Moose walked to the car park where Hendry’s car was. Moose smashed in the windows with a baseball bat. Santino Marella asked what Moose was doing. Marella said he was smashing his car! Marella said Hendry will teach Moose a lesson at No Surrender in a Dot Combat match.

Analysis: Another match between these two is a good idea.

Match #4: No Surrender Qualifier: Eddie Edwards vs Heath

The commentators discussed Heath’s mindset, after Steve Maclin won with his finisher earlier in the night. Heath got the early advantage with a shoulder block and a flying forearm. Heath sent Edwards out of the ring with a clothesline. Heath hit a senton off the apron, taking Edwards down. Edwards hit a hip attack as Heath was getting into the ring. Edwards flew through the middle rope with a suicide dive. Edwards’ was rocking a ridiculous dyed Mohawk. Edwards tossed Heath back into the ring. Edwards chopped Heath against the ropes and then hit a running elbow for a 2 count. They exchanged chops and then Edwards poked Heath in the eye. Edwards with a running knee and then choked Heath in the ring ropes. He taunted the fans, then went back to choking Heath under the ropes. Edwards took Heath down with a straight right jab for another 2 count. Edwards tried to lock in a Crossface but Heath got out pretty easily. Edwards hit a headbutt and ran into a kick from Heath. Heath hit a running knee and a spear in the corner. Edwards bounced out of the corner straight into a powerslam and Heath got a 2 count. Heath called for the Wake Up Call but Edwards hung onto the ropes. Edwards ran into a spinebuster but kicked out at 2 again. Heath went to the top rope but Edwards cut him off with an enziguiri. Edwards nailed a superplex and popped straight up into a Tiger Driver for a very close nearfall. Edwards missed the Boston Knee Party and Heath rolled him up for 2. Heath ran straight into a brutal clothesline and set up for the Die Hard Driver when lightning flashed in the arena, signalling PCO. Heath nailed a distracted Edwards with the Wake Up Call for the win after 8 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Heath

Analysis: ***1/2 Another solid match up, even with the dodgy finish but that plays into the PCO/Edwards storyline so I’ll allow it. I expected Edwards to win and they tease a bit of a square-off with PCO at No Surrender, but now I can see Edwards costing him the 4-way match on Friday night.

After the match, PCO appeared behind Edwards. Edwards begged for mercy but PCO hammered him with strikes. PCO levelled Edwards with a clothesline. PCO hit a reverse DDT. He went to the top rope but Edwards slithered out of the ring and crawled up the ramp as PCO’s music hit.

Analysis: Edwards lives to fight another day. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this storyline, especially as it has been so drawn out, but it’s actually been pretty decent.

The Design were backstage discussing Kon’s match with Frankie Kazarian at No Surrender. Kazarian has also challenged the Design to a tag match next week. Deaner said that Kazarian has questioned whether Callihan is really with the Design, or it’s just a ploy for revenge. Next week it’s Kaz and Yuya Uemura vs Callihan and Deaner.

Analysis: Another solid match for next week. The ongoing storyline is whether Callihan is loyal to the Design or not and, for the most part, it’s decent.

Father James Mitchell is backstage with his new stable, the Hex. Mitchell said that they were the next Knockouts’ Tag Team Champions. Kay and Belle said they have unfinished business in Impact and they will challenge the Death Dollz at No Surrender.

Analysis: Please win. I am more than sick of the Death Dollz.

Mickie James made her way to the commentary table for this next match.

Match #5: Masha Slamovich vs Alisha

This one won’t last long. Alisha tried some forearms to start the match, to no effect. Slamovich blocked her and took her down with 2 clotheslines. Slamovich hit a suplex. Edwards tried to fight back but Slamovich caught her leg and nailed a German suplex. Slamovich kicked Alisha on the back of the neck then destroyed her with the Snow Plow. The match went 90 seconds.

Winner by pinfall: Masha Slamovich

Analysis: * Just a quick win for Slamovich to put over how dominant she can be, despite her poor booking lately. Alisha got a few shots in which is more than I thought.

After the match, Slamovich locked in the Rear Naked Choke. James ran from commentary to break it up. James missed a clothesline so Slamovich locked the choke on her too. Referees ran down to break it up but Slamovich relinquished the hold before James passed out.

There was a quick highlights package to recap the storyline between Crazzy Steve/ Black Taurus and Trey Miguel. Steve challenged Miguel to an X-Division Championship match in Monster’s Ball.

Analysis: That match fits the feud. I’m not sure if it’s for No Surrender or not. Miguel hasn’t had much success with his matches being on the main card in 2022, so here’s hoping he’s featured more

There was a recap from Before the Impact from 2 weeks ago where Jonathan Gresham challenged Mike Bailey to a match at No Surrender. Last week, Bailey accepted. Santino Marella made it official backstage, with both men present. Gresham looks tiny even against Bailey, who is no giant. Next week they take on the Motor City Machine Guns in tag action. Barry Horowitz walked in and wanted the same deal as Johnny Swinger- 50 wins and he gets a title shot. Marella said that’s a good idea and next week he can face Rhino. Horowitz said he was actually happy to go out on top and leave 1-0.

Analysis: Last week this match was billed as being on the preshow. I hope that’s not the case anymore because on paper, it’s the best match of the show. Funny stuff between Marella and Horowitz, which was better than the earlier match.

Match #6: Kenny King vs Rich Swann

King entered first and there was still over 15 minutes left in the show. Swann looks to end Josh Alexander’s record championship reign at No Surrender. This is another first-time matchup between possibly 2022’s worst booked and 2023’s worst booked men’s wrestlers in Impact. King pummelled Swann in the corner early with right hands. King mocked Swann by doing some lame dancing. He hit a running elbow which took Swann off his feet. King hit a knee and then a big kick to Swann’s back. King pulled at Swann’s dreadlocks. King ran at Swann and Swann was able to sidestep. Swann went for a kick on the apron but King jumped to the floor. Swann connected with a diving senton which knocked King down on the outside. Back in the ring, Swann hit a crossbody for a 2 count. Swann was aggressive with kicks to the face. Swann stomped on King in the corner, then chopped him against the turnbuckle. Swann hit a running elbow in the corner and then a hard kick to the back of King. Swann continued to target’s King’s back with kicks. King caught Swann in mid-air and dropped him face-first against the top turnbuckle. King nailed Swann with a clothesline than turned him inside-out. King covered but Swann powered out at 2. King nailed Swann with hard elbows to the face and then went back to pulling at the dreadlocks. Swann tried to fight back with rights to the mid-section. Swann ran at King, who caught him in mid-air and nailed a backbreaker for a 2 count. Swann recovered with a dropkick. He reversed a suplex attempt into a DDT.

(Commercial break)

Back from the break and Swann scored a nearfall, with King kicking out at 2. Out of the corner, King nailed a big spinebuster for 2. King taunted the crowd and looked for the Royal Flush. Swann battled out but copped a kick to the gut. King ran into a pump kick but caught Swann by surprise with a powerslam for 2. Swann just kicked out there. Both men were struggling by this point. King backed Swann into the corner with a stiff shot to the jaw. King put Swann on the top turnbuckle and nailed an uppercut. King wanted an Exploder suplex off the top but Swann reversed it in a sunset flip pin for 2. Swann hit a Poisonrana out of nowhere but took too long to cover, so King kicked out again. Swann hit a few kicks to King’s ribs but missed a running kick so King grabbed his leg and turned it into a single-leg Boston Crab. King leant down hard on the neck of Swann to apply more pressure. Swann crawled slowly to the ropes to break the hold. The crowd was appreciative of their efforts. King missed a jumping kick so Swann nailed him with two of his own, then went for one too many so King had time to nail a Scorpion Kick. It’s no-sell Kick Night, here on Impact. Swann hit a springboard cutter for 2. Swann was frustrated so he went to the top rope. He missed the Phoenix Splash, so King nailed a half and half suplex. King connected with a Tiger Driver for another close kick out. Swann rolled through from the Royal Flush to pin King with a small package for the win after 15 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Rich Swann

Analysis: ***3/4 That was as good as you could hope for, when you knew the outcomes was so predictable. They weren’t having Swann lose a week before his title match, but King had plenty of believable near falls and only lost with a surprise pin, which doesn’t hurt him too much.

After the match, King was complaining to the referee. King nailed Swann with a punt. He stomped away at Swann in the corner. King went under the ring to get a steel chair. Impact World Champion ran to the ring to disarm King. King turned around so Swann went for a superkick, but King ducked and Swann nailed Alexander. How many times have we seen that in face vs face rivalries? Impact went off the air with Alexander looking annoyed in the corner.

Analysis: The show ended with a little bit of tension, which is fine because they’re both faces in this feud. I doubt anyone gives Swann a chance at No Surrender.

Final Rating: 7/10

This was a very good episode of Impact. We were given 4 matches with decent match time and very good quality. Two of the earlier matches in the show were only given 7 minutes, but it’s how they used that time which still lead to solid matches. The show’s overall quality was letdown by a couple of squash matches, but at least they were short. The backstage segments were limited this week, with a few more promotional videos and highlights recaps as we move to the next Impact special. I think it’s shaping up to be a very good show at No Surrender, just possibly slightly down on quality from Hard to Kill.

Here’s the lineup for No Surrender so far:
* Impact World Championship: Josh Alexander (c) vs Rich Swann
* Impact Knockouts’ Championship: Mickie James (c) vs Masha Slamovich
* Impact Digital Media Championship match: Dot Combat match: Joe Hendry (c) vs Moose
* Impact Knockouts’ Tag Team Championship: Death Dollz (c) vs Hex (Mitchell kept calling them The Hex, but the official poster cut the ‘The’)
* 6 Man Tag Team Match: The Motor City Machine Guns & Kushida vs Bullet Club & KENTA
* Fatal 4 Way #1 Contender Match: PCO vs Brian Myers vs Heath vs Steve Maclin
* Gisele Shaw vs Deonna Purrazzo
* Frankie Kazarian vs Kon
* Busted Open Radio Live

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