Impact Wrestling Review – January 26, 2023
On this week’s episode of Impact Wrestling, we crowned a new number 1 contender for Josh Alexander’s Impact World Championship.
Check out the Impact Wrestling TV review archive here on TJRWrestling.
Impact Wrestling 26/1/23 from Center Stage Theatre, Atlanta: Georgia
The show opened with a recap of Directory of Authority Santino Marella’s decision to hold a 6-man elimination match for the World Championship number 1 Contendership. They also showed highlights from the No Ropes Pit Fight, where Mike Bailey vanquished Kenny King.
We are straight into the action this week and there’s an X-Division Championship match first up, as 73-year-old ‘Action’ Mike Jackson made his way to the ring.
Match #1: X- Division Championship: Trey Miguel (c) vs Mike Jackson
Miguel mocked Jackson as he walked out pretending to use a walker, insulting Jackson’s age. Miguel took control early with an arm drag. He sent Jackson into the ropes but Jackson took him down with a shoulder block. Jackson with another one and scores a 1 count. Miguel is frustrated and shoves Jackson, so Jackson shoves him back as the crowd chants for him. Miguel extend the hand for a handshake and then sucker-punched Jackson in the face. Miguel mounted Jackson and pummelled away with right hands. Miguel manipulated the fingers of Jackson as he had him trapped on the mat. Miguel hit a very gentle scoop slam and then missed a springboard moonsault. Jackson took down the straps ala Kurt Angle and nailed Miguel with a clothesline. Miguel sold a second clothesline like he had been hit by Brock Lesnar and went inside out. Miguel recovered to hit an Atomic Drop and then tossed Jackson to the outside. Miguel spring-boarded to the outside but Jackson moved out of the way. Miguel with a hard back elbow as the fight spilled to the floor. Miguel went for a clothesline but Jackson avoided it, so Miguel bounced off the ring post. Jackson tossed Miguel back into the ring and began to target the left arm. Jackson held onto the arm and climbed to the top rope. He walked the ropes and Rehwoldt comically called in ‘Olden School’ as opposed to the Undertaker’s ‘Old School’ manoeuvre. Miguel wrenched his arm free and Jackson crashed to the mat. Miguel hit a few kicks to the back of Jackson and nailed him with the Lightning Spiral to win easily after 5:45.
Winner AND STILL X-Division Champion: Trey Miguel
Analysis: **1/2 It was fine for a match where the match result was incredibly obvious and one of the competitors was in his 70s. The crowd had a few fun moments with Jackson as he is a likable character but stood no chance really.
After the match, Miguel went to get his spray-paint can in order to tag Jackson, but Crazzy Steve emerged from underneath the ring. Steve removed his short to reveal ‘Trey’ written all over his body in some sort of paint. Steve got the spray paint and tagged himself with Miguel’s logo. Miguel retreated from the ring and then Black Taurus appeared, so Miguel ran away through the crowd.
Analysis: Miguel beat Taurus on the Hard to Kill pre-show but I guess that feud is continuing which is fine.
Gia Miller was joined by Impact World Champion Josh Alexander backstage. Miller reminds Alexander that after tonight he will have an opponent for the No Surrender Impact Plus special. Alexander said that the field was stacked with talent and that as he’s the champion, he will defend the title against anyone. Alexander reminds us that he’s the longest World Champion in Impact’s history. Steve Maclin interrupts and complains that he’s beaten everyone in tonight’s match. He makes it clear that he wants a title shot. Maclin tells Alexander to keep a look out over his shoulder because Alexander’s buddy isn’t there to protect him anymore.
Analysis: A simple segment to show that Maclin is still a threat, lurking in the background.
Chris Sabin was shown warming up for the Golden Six Shooter elimination match which is the main event. They went to a commercial break and then showed Rich Swann warming up in preparation for the main event.
Match #2: The Good Hands (Jason Hotch and John Skyler) vs Kushida & Kevin Knight
Hotch and Skyler decided to pair up a few weeks ago because they were going nowhere as singles competitors. They’ve been helping Bully Ray as of late. Kushida and Knight have been tagging together in Japan. I don’t watch much of that, so I’m not familiar with Knight at this stage. Knight and Skyler start the match and they exchange arm holds, until Knight backs Skyler into the corner and makes the tag. Kushida is in quickly and back out again, as they continue to work the left arm of Skyler. Kushida and Knight both drop a knee to the arm of Skyler, who ducks out of the ring and re-emerges in his corner to tag in Hotch. Kushida doesn’t see this so Hotch blasts him from behind. Hotch dominates Kushida with right hands on the mat. Hotch spears Kushida into the corner and tags Skyler back in. Hotch hits an impressive rolling German suplex and holds the bridge so that Skyler can pin Kushida but they only get a 2 count. Hotch makes the tag and they try a double team but Kushida connects with a double springboard elbow. He rolls to the corner and tags Knight back in. Knight hits flying clothesline in the corner on both of his opponents. He takes down Skyler with a scoop slam and a huge dropkick on Hotch after making a blind tag to Kushida. Kushida takes down Skyler with another dropkick. Kushida puts Hotch on his shoulders and Knight dropkicks him to send him crashing to the mat. Knight hits a springboard crossbody over the top rope to take out Skyler. Kushida locks in the Kimura Lock and Hotch taps immediately. The match went just over 5 minutes.
Winner by submission: Kushida & Kevin Knight
Analysis: **1/2 A quick match to introduce us to the team of Kushida and Knight. They were impressive with some crisp double team moves and the athleticism of Knight stood out. Skyler and Hotch have got the look to succeed as a tag team, but it might be an uphill battle with several very good teams on the tag team scene in Impact at present.
Gisele Shaw is backstage with Santino and she is impatiently awaiting the reveal of her mystery tag team partner for tonight’s Knockouts’ Tag Team Championship match. He opens the door and Jay Vidal is quite impressed with the decision.
Analysis: The reveal is up next, so we wait in suspense. Thrilling!
Mickie James bumps into Jordynne Grace backstage and tries to thank Grace for helping her last week with Bully Ray, Savannah Evans and Tasha Steelz. Grace says she didn’t come out to protect James, but she wanted to protect her investment because she has a contractual rematch. James says after she beats Masha Slamovich, Grace can get her shot.
Analysis: The slight tension between these two continues.
Match #3: Impact Knockouts’ Tag Team Championship: Death Dollz (Jessicka & Taya Valkyrie) w/ Rosemary vs Gisele Shaw & ? w/ Jay Vidal
Death Dollz are out first, which is unusual for the champs to be out first but it’s just due to the mystery partner angle. Impact Knockout legend Tara (Victoria in WWE) is Shaw’s partner. Cool choice. Tara was last seen at Hard to Kill supporting Mickie James. Valkyrie shakes Tara’s hand as the match begins. Shaw tags herself in before Tara has started the match properly. Valkyrie takes her down with a double knees in the corner and tags in Jessicka for a 2 count. Jessicka hits a number of kicks to Shaw but misses a leg drop. Shaw comes back with a superkick to the face for a 2 count. Shaw pummels away on Jessicka with right hands. Shaw starts mouthing off to her tag team partner, and then hits a clothesline on Jessicka who is backed into the corner. Shaw hits a spinning elbow that takes Jessicka off her feet. Shaw tells Tara to stay in her corner and turns around into a big clothesline. Shaw chooses not to tag in Tara, but Valkyrie tags in for her team. Valkyrie runs the ropes but Vidal trips her up. Rosemary takes him down on the outside. Shaw hits Tara’s own move, the Spider Web, for a close 2 count. Shaw asks the crowd if they want Tara to tag in and still refuses to, so Tara gets in her face. They argue for a bit and Shaw starts pushing Tara to get into the corner. Tara snaps and hits the Widow’s Peak on Shaw in the middle of the ring. Tara then leaves so Jessicka tags in and destroys Shaw with the Sick Driver to retain the titles after 6 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact Knockouts’ Tag Team Champions: Death Dollz
Analysis: **3/4 That was more about the angle of Shaw continuing to be a terrible tag team partner and not realising it. I found that more entertaining than the Death Dollz. Good to see Tara back and having fun.
There was a vignette for Taylor Wilde with tarot cards. She went through some of the cards and there were highlights of Killer Kelly meshed in there so it looks like they’re going to continue their feud.
Dave LaGreca was backstage with Santino Marella and Marella put over LaGreca’s interview with Tommy Dreamer from last week’s show. LaGreca appreciates that but Bully Ray shows up and tells him to shut up. Bully is angry that he was left out of the 6-man match tonight. He asks Santino why. Santino tells him he had his chance and he lost. Bully complains that Alexander’s wife and Dreamer interfered in his match at Hard to Kill. Santino repeats that Bully lost. Bully reminds him what happened to the last guy (Scott D’Amore) who got in Bully’s way.
Analysis: Good to see Santino standing up to Bully and showing he can have a serious side at times. It makes sense for Bully to complain for not being in the match, though.
Sami Callihan was showing getting ready for the main event backstage.
Gia Miller is backstage with Tasha Steelz and Savannah Evans. Steelz reminds Miller that Mickie James still hasn’t beaten her one-on-one. Miller asks if there is tension between Evans and Steelz after their recent losses. Steelz tells her that this isn’t working for her. Miller asks if she means the interview or their tag team. Steelz tells her it’s all of it and walks off.
Analysis: I wouldn’t mind if Steelz went back to a solo performer. Evans has been featured heavily lately but I prefer Steelz in the ring.
Match #4: The Major Players (Matt Cardona & Brian Myers) vs Bullet Club (Ace Austin & Chris Bey)
Cardona and Bey lock up to begin the match. Cardona backs Bey into the corner and misses a clothesline. Bey tries a shoulder tackle but Cardona is too big so he runs the ropes and takes him down that way. Cardona tosses Bey to the outside, but Bey launches back in quickly with a springboard arm drag. Austin tags in and they double team Cardona in the corner with an uppercut and a double stomp and then Myers cops a Russian Legsweep after he joined the action. Austin hit a big legdrop and then flew to the outside to take out both his opponents. Austin was distracted by Cardona, so Myers wrenched Austin’s arm in the ropes. Cardona tagged in and took down Austin on the floor with a clothesline. Back in the ring, Cardona hit a running knee and tagged Myers back in. Myers tossed Austin hard into the corner turnbuckle and tags Cardona. Cardona covers but Austin kicks out at 2. Cardona chokes Austin against the middle rope then tries to toss Austin into Myers foot in the corner, but Austin reverses it and sends Cardona flying. Cardona makes the tag and cuts Austin off from Bey. Myers tries a front face lock and hits a hard knee to the face of Austin. He taunts Bey in the corner and turns around to a superkick from Austin. Both men make the tag to their partners. Bey takes down Myers with a springboard dropkick, that sends him flying off the apron. Bey hits a clothesline on Cardona, then ascends to the top rope. He connects with a flying clothesline for a 2 count. On the outside of the ring, Myers sends Austin face first into the steel steps. He runs into the ring to distract Bey, who eats a huge clothesline from Cardona. Cardona lines up the Reboot and connects, then tags in Myers who hits an elbow drop from the top but Bey kicks out! Cardona hoists Bey up on his shoulders for a double team move, but Bey sends him crashing into Myers who is on the top rope. Bey tags in Austin who takes down Myers from the top with a head scissors. Cardona avoids the Art of Finesse but Austin nails him with a springboard kick. Bey rolls up Cardona, then I think he forgot he wasn’t legal, so Austin rolled through and pinned Cardona for the 3 count after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Bullet Club
Analysis: *** Solid tag team match here with a really messy looking ending. The Major Players worked well to restrict the aerial offense from Bullet Club, but got caught out by a quick (yet confusing) pin at the end.
After the match, Joe Hendry’s music hit. Hendry heard that Cardona wants a shot at the Digital Media Championship. Hendry accepts. Hendry says that Cardona doesn’t have any gold at the moment, but he doesn’t want him to feel left out so Hendry has written him a song. Hendry plays a ridiculous video with two men who are wearing Myers and Cardona face masks and playing with wrestling figurines instead of Cardona hanging out with Chelsea Green. Some of the lyrics included “You’re king of the indies and super rich, but to me you’ll always be Edge’s bitch.” The fans started chanting that last part and Cardona was furious in the ring.
Analysis: More goofy comedy from Hendry but I find it funny. Hendry vs Cardona will be solid.
Backstage, Moose was stretching in preparation for the main event when the Major Players interrupted him and asked if he just saw what happened. Cardona said they were going to take Hendry out and Moose smiled.
Hannifan was singing the song from the video as Jonathan Gresham made his entrance for the next match.
Match #5: Jonathan Gresham vs Sheldon Jean
Gresham had the match of the night at Hard to Kill and I look forward to what he achieves in Impact Wrestling this year. Gresham had a side headlock applied as the match began. He took down Jean with 3 side headlock takeovers. Jean fought back with a knee to the face. Gresham quickly locked in a leg submission but Jean wriggled to the bottom rope. He raked at the nose of Gresham and hit some awkward looking kicks. Gresham fought back with a dropkick to the knee. Gresham reversed a back suplex into a side headlock takedown. Gresham locked in the left knee and wrenched it. He hit a stuff looking forearm to Jean’s neck for the win after 3 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jonathan Gresham
Analysis: *1/2 That was not good. The timing was all off and Jean’s kicks barely glanced Gresham. Gresham is a superb wrestler but even he couldn’t save this one. I won’t go less than 1 star because the finish looked like he literally brutalised Jean.
‘Golden Six Shooter’ Elimination match for the #1 Contendership for the Impact World Championship: Moose vs Rhino vs Sami Callihan vs Chris Sabin vs Rich Swann vs Eddie Edwards
It’s strange to see Sami Callihan wrestling with the bald look but we will push on. Moose and Rhino face off in the centre of the ring after the other 4 competitors took each other to the outside. Rhino with a big clothesline as Moose bounced off the ropes. Sabin is in now and takes down Rhino with a flying shoulder block. In comes Callihan and Sabin connects with a few forearms but Callihan catches him with an exploder suplex. Sabin blocks a corner attack and then takes Moose out from the ring apron. Sabin bounced Callihan’s head off the top turnbuckle, then flies off the ring apron to take out Moose. Swann is in now and takes down Callihan with a clothesline. Edwards sneaks in and blasts Swann with a clothesline. Swann runs the ropes and takes down Edwards with a head scissors. Swann flies from the ring apron with a senton which takes out Edwards and Moose. Back in the ring, Edwards hits a Blue Thunder Bomb on Swann. Callihan takes down Sabin with a backbreaker. Rhino and Callihan face off now. Rhino hits a spear in the corner on Callihan. He lives up the Gore but Moose sneaks in and hits a spear. Callihan pins Rhino to eliminate him.
Rhino has been eliminated.
Back from the break and Moose hits a dropkick on Swann and Sabin who are stuck in the corner. Moose hits a Uranage on Edwards. Sabin flies from the top and connects with a Tornado DDT on Moose. Callihan is back in and chops away at Sabin. Edwards runs at him but he dodges, so Edwards spears Callihan in the corner. He runs straight into a Tornado DDT from Sabin. Sabin runs at Callihan in the corner but goes face-first into the middle turnbuckle pad. Callihan sends Swann into Sabin then sets up for the Cactus Driver but Swann gets out of it and takes both Callihan and Edwards with a clothesline. Swann hits a Frog Splash on Callihan for a close 2 count. Swann climbs to the top rope but Edwards cuts him off. Edwards tries for the Backpack Stunner but Swann slips off his shoulders and attempts a hurricanrana. Edwards catches him and powerbombs him on top of Sabin who is down on the mat. Sabin barely kicks out at 2. Sabin tries to surprise Edwards with a backslide but he kicks out at 2. Edwards nails the Tiger Driver for another close nearfall. Edwards lines up the Boston Knee Part but PCO’s music hits and out he comes. Impact officials and security rush out to stop PCO which allows Sabin to eliminate Edwards with a small package.
Eddie Edwards has been eliminated.
Moose immediately takes down Sabin with a clothesline. There are a few “Let’s go Moose” chants so he tells the fans to shut up. Moose stomps away on the face of Sabin. Sabin tries to fight back with some shots to the mid-section but Moose slams him hard with a Uranage. Moose misses a running uppercut so Sabin hits a standing enziguiri. Sabin tries a Tornado DDT but Moose throws him off the middle rope and into a spear. Moose eliminates Sabin.
Chris Sabin has been eliminated.
We are down to Swann, Moose and Callihan. Swann is battling valiantly against two bigger athletes. Swann hits Moose with a superkick and nails the springboard cutter on Callihan. Callihan rolls to the outside. Moose hits a running punt to the knee of Swann. Moose slammed Swann’s left knee hard into the mat multiple times. Moose punched Swann’s knee repeatedly and then trapped his knee in a leg-lock. Swann made it to the bottom rope so Moose pulled him back into the centre of the ring. Moose lifted Swann’s leg up to slam his knee into the mat again, but Swann reversed it into a surprise pin to eliminate Moose. Great spot!
Moose has been eliminated.
It’s now Callihan vs Swann. Deaner, Angels and Kon join Callihan at ringside. Deaner says it’s time for the last step in his initiation; to take Swann out. Callihan is looking conflicted but targets the knee of Swann in a Stretch Muffler, but Swann reverses it into a pin and almost eliminates Callihan. Swann pummels Callihan against the rope with clubbing forearms. Callihan hits a low kick and a very gentle powerbomb for a 2 count. Swann hits a Scorpion Kick and a huge spinning back kick. Swann hits the 450 for the win! The match lasted 20 minutes.
Sami Callihan has been eliminated
Winner and NEW number 1 contender: Rich Swann
Analysis: *** It was a decent elimination but nothing spectacular. I would’ve preferred some bigger names in there than Rhino or even Sabin. The crowd didn’t even react that much to the bigger moments such as Eddie Edwards getting eliminated after PCO’s interference or even Swann eliminating Callihan at the end. I didn’t predict Swann as the winner of the match and even in the aftermath, he really wasn’t the centre of attention. I think it’s probably a case of him being able to put on a high-quality match with Alexander and Impact not wanting to feed Callihan to him yet for a loss. The Design were not able to interfere in the match, so the ending made sense.
This would be a rare 20-minute Impact match that I rate lowly.
After the match, Deaner instructed Callihan to finish Swann off but Callihan hesitated so the Design all joined in and beat down Swann. Deaner threw Swann to Callihan but Yuya Uemura ran down for the save. The Design took out Yuya’s partner, Delirious, recently. Josh Alexander and Frankie Kazarian then joined the fray and faced off with the Design. The faces cleared the ring and then Alexander was about to hit the C4 Spike but Kon pulled him out of the ring. Swann’s music played as the Design backed up the ramp and Impact went off air with Swann celebrating.
Analysis: It looks like the Design have some fresh opponents in Kazarian and friends. Perhaps this will lead to a 6 or 8-man tag at No Surrender.
Final Rating: 5/10
It was a disappointing show this week, in regard to wrestling quality. I can’t remember an episode over the last 6 months that I have enjoyed less. I rated no matches above the 3-star mark. When the main event is 20 minutes long, plus commercials, it’s not a good idea to have 5 other matches on a 2-hour show. Have less matches, but make them 8-10 minutes instead of 4-5 minutes. They didn’t even have that many backstage segments this week, so that wasn’t an excuse to have short matches. I did enjoy my first look at Kevin Knight and the Major Players vs Bullet Club tag match was solid, apart from the finish which felt off. I’m sure the next few weeks will pick up, as we head towards building a card for No Surrender. We know the main event will be Swann vs Alexander, so pencil in an excellent match there.
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