This week’s edition of Impact Wrestling featured the debut of former NXT star Kushida, as he took on former Impact World Champion Rich Swann in singles competition.
The faction war between Honor No More and Bullet Club continue, but this time in singles action, as Eddie Edwards takes on Ace Austin. It’s refreshing to move away from the multi-man matches (for a week at least) but there’s bound to be plenty of ringside shenanigans. Will Heath make his presence felt yet again, as he continues to hunt down Honor No More? Or will Honor No More be granted that tag team title match that they are desperately craving? Impact World Champion Josh Alexander also takes on Shera, 2 weeks before defending his championship against newly-crowned number 1 contender Alex Shelley.
Last week we saw Alex Shelley defeat his long-time friend and tag team partner Chris Sabin in the main event to name a new contender for Josh Alexander’s World Championship. In a hard fought, back and forth battle, Shelley ended up making Sabin submit to the Motor City Stretch. With a little over 2 weeks until Emergence, hopefully tonight we see some interaction between champion and challenger. We also saw Kushida make an appearance at the end of the show, as he ran in to save the Guns from a beatdown at the hands on Violent by Design. Kushida will be looking to make an ‘impact’ tonight as he faces Rich Swann in his debut match. Let’s see what else happens tonight on the road to Emergence.
Impact Wrestling 28/7/22 from Old Forester’s Paristown Hall in Louisville, Kentucky
The show opened with a recap of last week’s main event match between Sabin and Shelley. Shelley was interestingly competing in his first-ever number 1 contenders match, having never competed for the World Title in Impact Wrestling. Violent by Design struck after the match, until Kushida intervened. The faces stood tall as last week’s show ended.
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt welcomed us to the show as they promoted the Impact Plus special Emergence, on August 12th in Chicago. We are straight into the first match of the evening.
Match #1 Eddie Edwards w/ Kenny King vs Ace Austin w/ Chris Bey
This should be a great start to the show, as both men are capable of delivering high-quality matches. Edwards starts off by attacking Austin from behind as he stretched in the corner. Austin went for a quick pin attempt followed by an armbar which sent Edwards out to the floor. Austin did his ‘cartwheeling on the apron’ routine and kicked Edwards hard in the chest. Kenny King goaded Austin long enough for Edwards to take him down. Edwards took control of the match on the outside of the ring with hard right hands. He rolled Austin back into the ring and wrenched his face on the ropes. Austin fought back with forearms but was taken down by an Edwards’ Atomic Drop, followed by an overhead throw for 2. Edwards chopped away on Austin in the corner, talking trash to Bey between shots. Edwards lifted Austin to the top rope and continued to chop away hard at his chest. He was looking for the Backpack Stunner but Austin rolled through for a Victory roll for 2. They exchanged counters before Austin took advantage with a lifting knee and a dropkick, taking Edwards down to the mat. Edwards nailed the Atomic Drop again and went for a clothesline in the ropes but missed, rolling out to the floor. Austin took advantage by running the ropes and hitting a flipping Senton to the outside. Austin hit a big legdrop on Edwards back inside the ring for a 2 count. Austin missed a forearm in the corner and Edwards took advantage with the Backpack Stunner for a close 2 count. Edwards was getting frustrated that that move didn’t put Austin away. Austin was slow to his feet as the “Edwards sucks” chants rang throughout the arena. Edwards missed the Boston Knee Party and Austin capitalised by nailing him with a double knee stomp (similar to a Pedigree without using the hands). King got up onto the apron for the distraction but Bey dragged him down. The referee ejected them from ringside but King still got up on the apron so Austin nailed him with a kick to the head. Bey went into the ring, ran the ropes and took out King with a dive over the top rope. Back inside the ring, Austin went for the Fold but Edwards launched him into the corner turnbuckle with an overhead Belly-to-Belly throw.
Back from the break and Edwards was in full control as he took down Austin with a clothesline. Edwards taunted the fans as they continued to boo him. He’s getting some good heat tonight and the crowd is as vocal as I’ve noticed an Impact crowd at a weekly show for a number of weeks. Austin sent Edwards into the corner and then jumped onto the apron. He missed a springboard kick and again Edwards took advantage with a clothesline. He missed the Boston Knee Party again and then an attack in the corner. Austin this time hit the springboard kick for a close 2 count. Austin had the crowd behind him and yelled at Edwards to get up. Edwards held onto the referee so Austin couldn’t strike him. Edwards hit a popup Powerbomb and a Tiger Driver for a really close 2 count. Good nearfall there. Edwards nailed the Die Hard Driver to pick up the win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Eddie Edwards
Analysis ***1/2 A really good opener to the show. I was surprised they didn’t end the match before the commercial (this doesn’t happen often on Impact) but I’m glad they didn’t because it assisted them in building a match with decent time length. Edwards tried all of his sneaky heel moves and eventually it was too much for Austin, who mounted plenty of comebacks throughout the match. These two worked really well together.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) July 29, 2022
Post-match Edwards celebrated on his own in the ring as Austin sold the loss. The commentators plugged the Emergence matches including Jordynne Grace vs Mia Yim for the Knockouts Championship, Tay Valkyrie and Rosemary vs VXT for the Knockouts Tag Team Championships, Bandido vs Rey Horus in a AAA special attraction match and the main event World Championship match between Josh Alexander and Alex Shelley. They also plugged the main event of tonight’s show between Swann and Kushida.
Gia Miller was backstage with Heath. She questioned his actions but Heath listed all of Honor No More’s dastardly deeds, including taking out his friend and tag partner, Rhyno. Heath said he would hit every member of HNM with the Wake Up Call.
They plugged Ric Flair’s Last Match at Starrcast. Please make it his last match.
They showed footage of Shera attacking Alexander last week. Alexander was on his way the ring to make the save as Violent by Design were attacking the Motor City Machine Guns after the match had ended. Gia Miller interviewed Alexander but Alex Shelley interrupted. Shelley put Alexander over as being the most skilful wrestler in Impact. He said that after tonight’s match with Shera, Alexander needs to focus on Shelley.
Analysis: Mind games from the veteran Shelley.
Match #2: Laredo Kid & Trey Miguel vs Johnny Swinger and Zicky Dice
It’s the skilled X-Division tag team up against the comedy team in this match. Both teams made their entrances and the match began with Miguel and Dice squaring off. Dice missed an early attack and Miguel sent him straight into Swinger on the apron. Miguel with a dropkick to the knee and an arm drag against the ropes. Tag in to Laredo Kid and both the high-flyers hit dropkicks on Dice. Dice retreated to the floor as Swinger gave him a pep talk. Dice and Swinger put on masks to try and confuse the referee as to who the legal man was. Laredo kid tagged Miguel back in and he took control of Swinger until Dice nailed him with a clothesline on the outside. Dice tagged Swinger in and they hit a double-clothesline on Miguel for a 1 count. Another quick tag on Dice as he worked away on Miguel with forearms against the ropes. Miguel made the comeback with a handspring kick and tagged in Kid. Kid hit a diving headbutt on Dice from the top rope. He ran the ropes but Swinger interrupted him with a kick and dragged him down by the mask. Swinger tried a top rope elbow but Kid moved and Swinger connected with Dice by mistake. Miguel took out Dice with the Meteora and Kid finished him off with a Frog Splash for the 3 count after 5 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Laredo Kid & Try Miguel
Analysis ** It was fine to put over the talented team of Kid and Miguel, but more filler than anything else. I hope they move on to something more substantial, rather than going up against comedy teams. At least it was kept short.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) July 29, 2022
There were highlights of the YouTube show ‘Before the Impact’ which saw Bhupinder Gujjar defeat Vincent because Heath’s music went off, causing the distraction. Gujjar once again confronted Brian Myers for a Digital Media Championship match. Myers still wouldn’t face him, so Crazzy Steve and Black Taurus stepped in to inform Myers that he has to defend the title against Taurus next week.
Match #3: Tiffany Nieves vs Jada Stone
This match was billed as a special attraction OVW match. Recently OVW held a tournament, where the winners would get a chance to show their skills on an episode of Impact. Former Knockouts Champion Tasha Steelz and Savannah Evans joined commentary for this match. It seems like Stone was the face and Nieves was the heel judging by their pre-match mannerisms. Nieves started out the aggressor, standing on the hair of Stone and taking her down with a Scoop Slam for a 2 count. Nieves was choking Stone out with her own hair as the referee gave her a warning. Nieves charged at Stone in the corner but missed and Stone connected with a big kick for a 2 count. Stone tried a split-legged Moonsault but missed. She then went for a Cannonball but again Nieves moved out of the way. Nieves connected with a DDT and held the ropes for the win after 2 minutes.
Winner by pinfall Tiffany Nieves
Analysis: *1/2 A very quick match to put over Nieves, but Stone looked the more impressive by showing off some athletic moves (even though they missed). You could tell that they were both lacking experience as there were some sloppy moments but the crowd were behind them. I’m surprised it only went two minutes.
After the match, the lights went out and Killer Kelly’s music hit. Her vignettes have been airing for about the last month. Kelly made her way to the ring, as Steelz pretended to not know who she was. Kelly creepily entered the ring and Nieves started talking trash to her. Nieves pushed Kelly in the chest. Kelly hit a big pump kick and choked out Nieves. Kelly wasn’t done yet and she took down Stone with a big dropkick in the corner. Kelly dropped Stone with a variation of a Tiger Driver. Kelly smiled as she surveyed the damage.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) July 29, 2022
Analysis: There’s the reason that the match went such a short time length! The attack by Kelly actually went longer. Kelly had some impressive offence and perhaps her first feud on her return will be against Steelz, as she was on commentary. Another addition to the Knockouts division is always a positive.
The commentators plugged the main event between Rich Swann and Kushida again.
Eric Young cut a pre-taped promo with Deaner and Joe Doering. Young said they would take out the Motor City Machine Guns first and then Kushida.
Chris Sabin cut a pre-taped promo putting over Alex Shelley. Scott D’Amore also gave his thoughts on Shelley’s career. There were also cameos from X-Division Champion Mike Bailey, Sami Callihan, Kushida, Trey Miguel and Johnny Gargano.
Analysis: They’re (rightly) building this up to have that ‘big-match’ feel so having wrestlers put over Shelley is a smart idea.
Match #4: Non-Title Match Shera w/ Raj Singh vs Impact World Champion Josh Alexander
The commentators built up Shera as a big threat, but I think we all know who the winner will be here. Shera was out first, followed by the champ. The Impact Zone were firmly behind Alexander as the match begun. Shera overpowered Alexander early but Alexander tried clotheslining the Indian Lion over the top rope- succeeding on the third attempt. The action spilled to the outside, as Alexander took control with elbows and chops to Shera. Shera fought back and threw Alexander back in the ring. They fought on the ring apron and Alexander knocked Shera to the outside again with a crossbody to the back. Raj tried interfering but Alexandre wasn’t tempted to lose focus and went back in the ring to lock in the anklelock on Shera. Shera tapped quickly after 3 minutes.
Winner by submission: Josh Alexander
Analysis: *1/2 A quick match to put over the champion. It wasn’t as smooth as a usual Alexander match, as Shera is limited in the ring. This was a predictable outcome with Alexander the winner. I’m glad it was kept short.
Moose was backstage with Gia Miller. They discussed the association between Moose and Steve Maclin. Moose denied that they were on the same page. Moose was unsure why Maclin was in his locker room last week. Moose said if anyone should be annoyed at Maclin it should be him, because he had the match with Callihan under control at Against All Odds until Maclin interfered.
Eddie Edwards was giving Honor No More a pep talk backstage. He was complaining about the fact that after Heath had jumped some of their members, Scott D’Amore has done nothing. Edwards said that they are a group that takes what they want, so they’re going to go and confront D’Amore now to do so. They ran into him in the stairwell. Vincent asked what D’Amore was going to do about Heath. D’Amore said that Heath was Honor No More’s problem and not his. Taven complained about not receiving a tag title shot after pin Doc Gallows 2 weeks ago. There was some commotion down the hallway and all of the members of HNM ran off except for Eddie Edwards who screamed at D’Amore that this wasn’t over.
Analysis: This didn’t really achieve anything except continuing what we already knew, that HNM is annoyed at Heath and Scott D’Amore and like complaining about it.
There was another plug for Ric Flair’s Last Pay check, I mean Match. $34.99 on FITE TV! I wonder if he will hit a top rope move at last.
VXT were backstage when Jessika (Havok) interrupted them. She was talking about being the life of the part when Taya and Rosemary stormed in wondering where she had been. Havok didn’t understand why hanging out with VXT wasn’t OK.
Analysis: The new Havok is strange. I would prefer this feud to be just in the ring.
Raj Singh was in the ring, complaining about what happened to Shera. Shera was on the floor selling the ankle injury after his loss to Josh Alexander earlier. The lights went out and Sami Callihan was in the ring. Callihan hit Raj with the baseball bat and then the Cactus Driver 97. Callihan took the mic and said he couldn’t care less if Moose and Maclin are working together, they both have a date with the Death Machine.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) July 29, 2022
Analysis: An easy way to put Sami on the show. This feud with Maclin could be good but they are really taking it slow.
There was ANOTHER plug for Ric Flair, this time through the ‘Ric Flair Impact Moment of the Week’. It was a clip of Flair setting up his stable ‘Fortune’, then being interrupted by Jay Lethal who was doing his Flair rip-off gimmick. They had a woo-off and Flair was sweating profusely.
Analysis: Lethal was really entertaining here and his voice was spot on. I wish he was used better in AEW. It’s Lethal and Jeff Jarrett vs Andrade and Naitch this Sunday at Starrcast.
Mia Yim was interviewed backstage ahead of her match with Jordynne Grace for the Knockouts Championship at Emergence. Yim said she came back to Impact to prove that she could still match it with the best. She put Grace over as a great champion but Yim would be the winner on August 12th. There were some technical difficulties and the interview ended abruptly. The coverage cut back to the commentators but they were also cut off by the dreaded ‘LOSS OF VIDEO’ screen. The cameras then went backstage to Scott D’Amore who went outside to the production truck where he found Honor No More messing with the cables, obviously causing the technical difficulties.
Analysis: Honor No More are going to great lengths to get what they want and now they have D’Amore’s attention.
D’Amore said that HNM can have a title match. At Emergence they will face Bullet Club in a 10-man tag match. If they win they can have their title match against the Good Brothers. But if they lose, they have to disband.
Analysis: The break from the multi-man matches didn’t last long. That should be a win for the heels to set up a feud between the Good Brothers and Bennett/Taven.
The commentators plugged the lineup for Starrcast which including Josh Alexander defending the Impact World Championship against Jacob Fatu from MLW, a triple threat match between Jordynne Grace, Rachel Ellering and Deonna Purrazzo, and a Fatal 4 Way between Rey Fenix, Laredo Kid, Bandido and Rey Horus.
It’s time for the main event (sorry Mark Henry fans)!
Match #5: Rich Swann vs Kushida
Both men entered to nice ovations, but Kushida’s was the loudest of the evening. There were loud “Kushida” chants as the match begun. There was a handshake to begin the match and Kushida took Swann down then tried a quick pin attempt for a 1 count. Hannifan went through Kushida’s career accolades including listing both men as former WWE Cruiserweight champions. There were a number of counters with both men coming out of the exchange on level pegging, as the commentators discussed how evenly the competitors matched up. Kushida nailed a big palm strike in the corner. Swann rolled to the outside for a reprieve as we went to a break.
Back from the commercial and Kushida was in control. Kushida was focusing on the left arm of Swann, then pinning both arms behind his back by using his legs. Ouch! Swann started to rally and they exchanged strikes, before Swann connected with a hard kick to the ribs. Swann took down Kushida with a Snapmare and another hard kick to the back. Swann measured Kushida and nailed another shot to the back. Kushida rolled to the ring apron but Swann hit a running dropkick to send him to the guard rail. They exchanged chops and Swann missed, ending up connecting with the ring post. Both men rolled back inside the ring and Swann hit a number of punches in the corner. Kushida tried to mount a comeback with kicks to Swann’s calves but Swann grounded Kushida in a Chinlock. Kushida battled out with elbow strikes and both men crashed into each other, looking for a crossbody. Kushida fired up, lighting up Swann with a series of kicks. Another palm strike in the corner by Kushida followed by an arm bar. Swann was in the centre of the ring and turned it into a pinning attempt for a 2 count. Kushida held on but Swann rolled to the ropes to break the hold at last. Kushida tried for a Hammer Lock, Swann wriggled free and nailed Kushida with a hard right hand to the jaw and a spinning heel kick. Kushida fought back with a dropkick to the injured left arm of Swann. The referee began to count as both men struggled to get to their feet. Swann was really favouring the left arm but he managed to nail a neckbreaker. Swann hit a really impressive-looking Kickback for a close 2 count. Swann went to the top and missed an attempt at the Phoenix Splash. Kushida punted Swann again in the left arm, followed by a handspring dropkick. Kushida measured Swann for the Hoverboard Lock but again Swann fought out and countered with a German Suplex. Kushida backed into the corner but connected with a kick, he went up to the rope but Swann nailed an Enziguiri followed by a Hurricanrana. Kushida recovered again and hit Swann with a handspring kick in the corner. Kushida went to lock in the Hoverboard Lock on the top rope, but flipped Swann off whilst keeping hold of the move and Swann tapped out after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kushida
Analysis: ***3/4 That was great! I actually enjoyed that match more than Shelley vs Sabin last week, even though I have rated them the same (maybe I’d go 3.8* for this one!). The difference here, even though they were so evenly matched like last week, is that the action kept moving despite Swann favouring the arm. In the case of Sabin and Shelley, Sabin was grounded a lot of the time which meant the pace was slower. It was interesting seeing Kushida target a body part in a face vs face match, but he is a technical submission wrestler, so it makes sense if you look at it from that perspective. Swann showed what he can do when given plenty of time on a TV match and a quality opponent. Great stuff here from both men.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) July 29, 2022
There were replays of the impressive finishing sequence as Kushida celebrated the victory in the ring. That was the end of the show.
Final Rating: 6/10
It was a below average Impact this week until a terrific main event. The best moments of the show were definitely the opener between Eddie Edwards and Ace Austin, and the main event between Kushida and Rich Swann. In the middle of the show we saw two squash matches and a comedy match. There was a little bit of progression with the Honor No More vs Bullet Club feud, setting up a big 10-man tag match with a stipulation for Emergence. The Knockouts Division didn’t feature much tonight. We only saw a few backstage segments and a quick match featuring OVW talent. Hopefully there’s a face-off between Mia Yim and Jordynne Grace next week. Alex Shelley and Josh Alexander had a short encounter to build their rivalry, and hopefully there’s more to come next week. We also need some progression on the Maclin/Moose/Callihan feud before Emergence.
The Emergence card looks like this:
– Impact World Championship: Josh Alexander (c) vs Alex Shelley
– Impact Knockouts Championship: Jordynne Grace (c) vs Mia Yim
– 10 man tag team match: Honor No More vs Bullet Club. If HNM win, then they will receive a Tag Team Championship match. If they lose, they will have to disband.
– Knockouts Tag Team Championships: Rosemary and Taya Valkyrie vs VXT
– AAA attraction: Rey Horus vs Bandido