Impact Wrestling Review – March 2, 2023
This week’s Impact focused on the fallout from the Impact Live special, No Surrender, and was headlined by a Tag Team Championship match.
Impact Wrestling 2/3/23 from Sam’s Town Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
The show opened with a recap of No Surrender as Mickie James and Josh Alexander both retained their respective championships in the main matches.
Let’s Hear from Bullet Club
Chris Bey and Ace Austin made their way down to the ring for a promo. They challenge the Motor City Machine Guns for the Impact World Tag Team Champions in our main event. With their partner, KENTA, they defeated Time Machine at No Surrender. Hometown boy Chris Bey took the mic and re-introduced themselves. Bey said that they have big plans for their future after their win at No Surrender. He said he had a lot of history in this building, including debuting for Impact here and challenging for titles in this arena. Bey said that after being the champions at No Surrender, they deserve a shot. Ace Austin also said he has history in this building, including debuting here and beating Chris Sabin. Austin had an ‘I Beat Chris Sabin’ shirt on. Austin said that’s something to brag about and put over Shelley and Sabin as an amazing team. Bey said the Guns were the best team in Impact but now that Bullet Club are here, they are. Bey did a poll with the audience but Shelley and Sabin’s music hit and they have had enough of listening to Bey’s diatribe. They walked down to the ring with purpose and Sabin grabbed a mic. Sabin questioned how long Bullet Club have been teaming for. Sabin said the Guns have been tagging since 2006, honing their craft all over the world. He said they have never been better and the gold on their shoulders proves this. Sabin said they’re the best team in the world. Austin asked if it was the belts that prove that. He said the only reason the Guns still have the titles because Bullet Club haven’t had a 1-on-1 match. Shelley said Bullet Club don’t understand history and how they’ve had to scrape and claw to get where they are. He said Bullet Club have had it easy their whole careers and asked if they wanted to have the match tonight and not at Sacrifice (I thought it was always going to be tonight so that’s new for me!). The four men shook hands and the match is on.
Analysis: A solid promo exchange to open the show. Austin doesn’t get a lot of talk-time so it’s nice for us to be reminded that he’s pretty good with the mic. The crowd was obviously in favour of Bey, but the Guns are popular wherever they go so it will be interesting to see who the crowd is behind more later in the show.
Gia Miller is backstage with Shane Haste, a fellow Aussie and NJPW wrestler. Haste had a few different roles in WWE as Shane Thorne. Haste said tonight’s his turn to ‘make an Impact’ (sigh) and he’s coming after Mike Bailey.
Analysis: I haven’t really followed Haste/Thorne since he left WWE, so I’m interested to see him tonight.
Miller is then immediately backstage with Rich Swann (how they love tapings!). Miller asks Swann how he feels, knowing he came up short at No Surrender. Swann said he doesn’t need Miller to put any Band-Aids over his loss. He said that even though he’s hurt, he’s still fully focused on becoming Impact World Champion. Swann is interrupted by Raj Singh and Shera who are filming a segment right next to them. Swann is annoyed that they’ve taken the focus off him. Singh tells Swann that no one wants to hear his sob story. He talks about winning big in Vegas and jokes around giving money to the cameraman and sound technician. Swann said Singh would need more than luck if he faced him in the ring. Singh says not right now because he’s off to the roulette table.
Analysis: Not a match we need to see, but that should be a win for Swann. Glad to see someone comes out of Vegas a winner.
Match #1: Shane Haste vs Mike Bailey
It’s rare to be almost 20 minutes into an Impact show and we are only starting our first match. It should be worth the wait though. Bailey lost to Jonathan Gresham in a quick match on the No Surrender pre-show on Friday. There’s a bit of chain wrestling at the beginning of the match and Haste takes down Bailey with a shoulder block but Bailey kips back up. Haste backs Bailey against the ropes and gets a cheap kick in. Haste with a snapmare and dropkick to the back. Bailey fights back and they have a chop-off, until Bailey takes down Haste with a big kick to the chest. Haste avoids Bailey’s handspring elbow but Bailey connects with a series of kicks and an enziguiri. Haste retreats to the ring apron where he gets taken down by a big boot. He tries to get back onto the apron but Bailey sweeps his feet out from under him. Bailey goes for a suicide dive but Haste connects with an uppercut, followed by a back suplex onto the hard ring apron. Haste throws Bailey back into the ring and gets a 1 count. He drags Bailey over to the corner and wrenches at Bailey’s neck by using the ring post. Ouch. Haste hits a combination of uppercuts and jabs to Bailey. He chops Bailey down hard to the mat. Bailey resists an Irish Whip but Haste nails him with a Saito Suplex and gets a 2 count.
Back to the action and Bailey is fighting on one knee but Haste lifts him up for a modified Falcon Arrow, which got plenty of height. Haste placed Bailey on top of the turnbuckle but Bailey fought him off with a dropkick. Bailey hits a kick to the back of Haste’s neck and another one to the chest. He hits a running, twisting senton for a 2 count. They exchange forearms and Haste sets up for a dropkick but Bailey holds the ring ropes. Bailey hits a double knee stomp to the ribs of Haste. Haste blocks a kick then nails 2 of his own. He connects with a smooth-looking reverse suplex and goes for the Dynamic Bomb but Bailey slips out and rolls Haste up for 2. Bailey goes for another roll up but he’s too close to the ropes and Haste falls out of the ring. Bailey hits a moonsault from the middle rope to the outside, to take down Haste. He really connected with the elbow there. Bailey measures Haste for the spinning, corner kick (I’m sure it has a name) but Haste catches the right leg. Bailey slips out and nails Haste with a kick to the head. Haste avoids Ultima Weapon but runs into a big boot. Bailey runs at Haste but eats a huge dropkick. Haste hits Bailey with the Dynamic Bomb but Bailey kicks out at the last second. Haste was looking for another finishing move as he hoisted Bailey onto his shoulders but Bailey countered into a Poisonrana. They exchange kicks and Bailey finally connects with the Tornado Kick (I knew it had a name!) and nails Ultima Weapon on Haste for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mike Bailey
Analysis: ***3/4 That was terrific. With another few minutes, it could’ve been one of Impact’s better matches of the year. I was really impressed with Haste; in both his offense and his mannerisms in playing a heel that probably most of the crowd wasn’t familiar with. Bailey needed to rebuild some momentum after losing to Gresham, but both men looked really strong here. I look forward to seeing Haste in action again at Multiverse United on March 30th.
The Design were arguing backstage about Callihan. Angels was angry that Deaner can’t see that Callihan is trying to take the Design down. Rhino came in to interrupt. They took him out last year and caused him to miss many months of action. Callihan came face-to-face with Rhino and they argued, leading Rhino to challenge Callihan to match later tonight.
Analysis: It was clever to remind us of Rhino and the Design’s history. I hope Callihan doesn’t wrestle in his vest tonight
Match #2: Kenny King vs Kevin Knight
Knight teamed with Kushida for a few matches last month. He was really impressive and has a bright future. Knight offers a handshake but King hits him with a cheap right hand. King takes down Knight with a hard elbow off the ropes. Knight reverses a hip toss and chops King in the chest. Knight hits King with an arm drag after bouncing off the ropes. He connects with a standing dropkick which sends King out of the ring. Knight has a huge vertical leap which was highlighted there. Knight tries a crossbody over the ropes, but King avoids the attack and sends Knight into the ring apron. He tosses Knight into the ring, then turns his back to taunt the crowd. This allows Knight to run the ropes and fly over to take King out. Knight covers and gets a 1 count. He hits a running splash in the corner and tries another but King sends him to the outside. Knight climbs to the top but King kicks his feet out from under him. King with a running clothesline which turns Knight inside-out. King stomps away on Knight and whips him into the corner. Knight runs out of the corner but King trips him and nails him with a kick to the back of the head. King covers and gets a 2 count. Knight fights out of a submission and tries a springboard crossbody but King catches him and turns it into a devastating backbreaker. King covers again and still can only get 2. King tries to lock in the Camel Clutch but Knight is able to get to the ropes quickly. Knight blocks a corner attack from King. He tries another crossbody and again King catches him. King tries the backbreaker again but Knight turns it into a crafty school boy pin for a 2 count. Knight avoids a clothesline and rolls up King for another 2 count. He hits a pump kick and a number of right hands then a backbreaker. Knight finally connects with the springboard crossbody but King kicks out at 2. Knight tries to apply a Boston Crab but King fights out and sends Knight against the ropes then nails a spinebuster. King lifts Knight to the top turnbuckle. Knight pushes King off, who lands on his feet then connects with an enziguiri. King nails Knight with the Royal Flush for the win after almost 7 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Kenny King
Analysis: ***1/2 Once again, I would’ve really liked another few minutes as the action was great here. I really enjoy King’s work and I don’t think he gets the booking that he deserves. Knight was impressive again but went for the crossbody too many times and kept getting caught. Baby faces are dumb. He did eventually hit the move but King used his experience to grind out the win.
There were highlights of an 8-man tag team match from NJPW’s Battle of the Valley PPV that pitted Kushida and Impact World Champion Josh Alexander on opposing sides. Kushida had Alexander in the Hoverboard Lock whilst Knight won the match for Kushida’s team. After the match Kushida signalled to Alexander that he would’ve broken his arm, had the move continued to have been applied. Gia Miller caught up with Alexander backstage and congratulated him on his victory over Rich Swann at No Surrender. She mentioned that Alexander will face Steve Maclin at the Rebellion PPV in April, if he survives his match against Kushida at Multiverse United. Alexander says he lives for the challenge that comes with being World Champion. He put over Kushida and his Hoverboard Lock. Alexander said Kushida held the move for far too long after the bell went, to send a message. Alexander challenged Time Machine to a 6-man tag at Sacrifice. Alexander said he would find 2 partners and then Steve Maclin interrupted as usual. Maclin told Alexander he better retain his title against Kushida because Maclin wants to beat the man who is the longest reigning Impact World Champion of all time.
Analysis: Alexander is a busy man over the next month or so. I’m interested in who his partners will be for Sacrifice. Alexander will beat Kushida but I’m not sure if he will beat Maclin. They’ve been building him up slowly for a number of months now and have finally pulled the trigger on a championship match.
There was a recap of the Busted Open Radio Live promo segment from No Surrender where Bully Ray feigned sincerity and apologised to Tommy Dreamer then beat him up after the talking was done. Santino Marella and Dirty Dango were discussing the situation backstage. A ‘doctor’, with stethoscope and all, told Marella that he had checked Dreamer out and said he had suffered some minor burns after having the coffee thrown in his face. Bully Ray entered and addressed Santino as “Santino Salmonella” which drew a chuckle from me. About time he got his medicine! Bully asked about Dreamer. He asked if he was going to live. Bully said if Dreamer does, he will make sure that it won’t be for long. Bully knocked the stethoscope off the doctor’s shoulders. He rang into Bhupinder Gujjar who he beat in 30 seconds last week. Bully called him “Boopy” and told him that he was a nobody. Gujjar shoved Bully up against a wall and told him that what he had done to Dreamer had gone too far. Security got involved to get Gujjar to back down and then Bully gave him a cheap slap to the face.
Analysis: Bully is in his element at the moment as a dastardly heel that gets under everyone’s skin. Good to see some follow up after poor Gujjar, who is decent enough in the ring, lost so quickly last week so Bully could win the Beat the Clock Challenge.
Promo Time with Mickie James
Mickie James walked down to the ring for a promo. James successfully defended her Knockouts’ Championship against Masha Slamovich at No Surrender, in one of the better matches of the evening. James said after a heck of a fight, it felt so good to still be Knockouts’ Champion. James said she silenced some of the doubters that said that Slamovich would beat her. She said that there’s some unfinished business between her and Jordynne Grace. James promised Grace that when she was done with Masha, she would give Grace another shot but here’s Gisele Shaw and friends with the interruption. Shaw beat Deonna Purrazzo on the No Surrender pre-show, thanks to some random help from Savannah Evans who seems to be aligned with Shaw now. That’s fine with me. Shaw and her entourage entered the ring with a microphone. Shaw said James is focusing on Grace because she is trying to avoid facing her. Shaw says James did tap out. James said she’s already beaten Shaw during the Last Rodeo. Shaw said this version of herself is far superior to the one that lost to James last time. She bragged about beating Purrazzo. Shaw said she wasted so much time trying to make it in the tag division and now has her sights on Mickie’s title. Shaw says she’s next in line, when James is finished with Grace. Mickie said she’s happy to beat Shaw again, also she has to do is ask. Shaw makes some excuses up about not having ring gear and James calls her scared. Gail Kim makes her way to the ring for a rare appearance. Kim makes the match official: James vs Shaw for the title. They didn’t say when, but it’s on.
Analysis: An effective segment to show that the challengers keep coming for Mickie James and she will continue to take them all on. Shaw was full of confidence until it came time to officially set up a match. She has grown in confidence on the mic. It should be a win for Mickie when the match comes around.
Jordynne Grace, accompanied by her giant arms, confronted Santino Marella to ask why Shaw is getting a title match when Grace is clearly next in line. Marella said Shaw vs James is on for next week. Grace says she is invoking her rematch clause to face the winner at Sacrifice. Johnny Swinger, being pushed on his stupid ring by Ziggy Dice, called out “Mr. Sammartino” for pulling a fast one by bringing in Barry Horowitz to beat Swinger last week. Swinger threatened taking legal action against Marella. Marella ragged on Swinger for losing to Horowitz but told Swinger that because he’s a nice guy, Swinger can pick his opponent and it can be anyone on the roster.
Analysis: James vs Shaw is set for next week. That should be a win for James and then on to face Jordynne Grace in three weeks at Sacrifice in another huge match.
Match #3: Non-Title match: Trey Miguel vs PCO
I didn’t think this match would occur so quickly after PCO beating up Trey Miguel at No Surrender, after PCO lost the #1 Contender match. Miguel begins the match by trying to talk PCO out of the match. He gets out of the ring to avoid PCO. PCO springboards Miguel back inside the ring using the ropes. PCO slams Miguel down the mat face-first. He hits a big clothesline that turns Miguel inside-out. PCO hits an Exploder suplex which meant to send Miguel into the bottom turnbuckle but it didn’t work. They fought to the outside where PCO hit a backbreaker and then rolled back in to beat the 10 count. PCO ran the ropes and missed a Cannonball through the ropes. PCO crashed hard down on the ringside area.
Miguel was on top as we came back from the commercial break. He hit a double stomp to the back of PCO, but PCO sat up. PCO hit a pop-up powerbomb which looked good. He rammed Miguel into the corner and then hit a Codebreaker-style move using his knees. PCO went to the top and hit a legdrop to the neck of Miguel. Eddie Edwards ran down to the ring with a shovel and nailed PCO in the back with it. The referee called for the bell. It only lasted 3 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: PCO
Analysis: **1/2 The action was good until the interruption, which I am actually happy for because later down the track they can build PCO vs Miguel up properly. The troubles between PCO and Edwards continue and they’re yet to have a singles match yet, despite being involved together for over a year.
After the match, PCO no-sold the shovel shot and went after Edwards with a Cannonball to the outside. PCO tossed Edwards and the shovel into the ring. PCO choke-slammed Edwards in the centre of the ring and pummelled away on him with left hands. Security came down to the ring and cornered PCO. PCO sent them all flying across the ring and continued to hunt down Edwards. Security then cornered Edwards so PCO went to the top rope and flew to the outside, taking all the security out. Edwards managed to escaped through the crowd and PCO was left alone in the ring with shovel in hand.
Analysis: Another good segment between these two. PCO toggles between looking seriously dangerous in the ring, to having really solid segments like this where everything looks smooth. I have not got tired of this feud at all and it’s been a really slow burner.
The commentary team ran down some of the matches for next week and it seems Callihan vs Rhino will take place then, not tonight as I mentioned before. Jonathan Gresham vs Kushida and Shaw vs James for the Knockouts Title is on too.
There was a promo for NJPW Battle of the Valley, which was up next on AXS TV, where Mercedes Mone (FKA Sasha Banks) beat Kairi for the Women’s Championship.
Match #4: Impact World Tag Team Championships: The Motor City Machine Guns vs Bullet Club
There were just under 20 minutes to go in the broadcast by the time both teams made their entrances. This is only the 4th match of the night, which is rare for Impact and we also just had a 3-minute match beforehand, too. Austin and Sabin lock up to start the match. After all the double team work at No Surrender, I’m surprised Shelley isn’t starting in the ring too! Sabin reached out for a handshake early, but Austin wanted the “Too Sweet” so Sabin shoved him in the face because he didn’t like that. This led to all 4 members of the match being in the ring for a showdown until the referee took control, as he should. Austin tripped up Sabin and hit a kick to the back of his head. Austin sent Sabin against the ropes and he made a blind tag to Shelley who snuck in and tried a Sleeper Hold on Austin. Austin tried to get out of it by getting to a seated position but Shelley hit a kick to the back and Sabin ran in to deliver one to the chest. Austin backed Shelley into the corner and tagged Bey. Bey had a side headlock applied early but Shelley shot him against the ropes then nailed Bey with a shoulder tackle. Bey used his quickness to take out the knee of Shelley. Bey posed for the fans, so Shelley chopped him hard in the chest and tagged Sabin. Sabin came in and hit a big clothesline on Bey then followed up with a scoop slam for 2. Sabin threw Bey into Shelley’s boot and tagged him in. Bey avoided a double team move which saw Shelley spearing Sabin by mistake in the corner. Bey tagged Austin in and all 4 men began brawling in the ring. Bey and Austin connected with dropkicks and diving moves to the outside. Austin tossed Shelley back inside the ring and scored a 2 count. Austin targeted the arm of Shelley with knee drops. Austin took the playing card and swiped it against the webbing of Shelley’s fingers. Bey tagged back in and tackled Shelley against the corner turnbuckle. Bey hit a hard clothesline in the corner on Shelley and hit an uppercut to the spine. Shelley blocked a corner splash and hit a knee strike off the middle rope to Bey’s arm. Sabin came in to hold the arm of Bey whilst Shelley kicked him. The Guns hit a double-team kick to the chest/back of Bey. The commentators highlighted the fact that Kushida also targeted the left arm of Bey in matches between the teams recently. Shelley hit a baseball slide which sent Bey into the guard rail. Sabin tossed Bey back in the ring and Shelley rolled him up for two. Shelley tried to lock in the Motor City Stretch but Bey was near the ropes. Sabin illegally ran off the apron and kicked Bey down hard to the floor.
The action spilled to the outside where Shelley kicked Bey hard on the chest. Shelley tried to chop Bey but he moved and Shelley connected with the ring post. Sabin tried a chop too but also struck the ring post. Bey tried to fight them both off and bounced Sabin’s head off the ring apron. He ran at Shelley, but Shelley tossed him into the steel ring post. Shelley did a jumping stomp on the left arm as Bey laid on the ring apron. Shelley held onto the left arm whilst continuously chopping Bey down to the mat. He tried a back suplex but Bey blocked it. Bey nailed a kick to the head and finally tagged in Austin. Sabin also tagged in and ran right into a roundhouse kick from Austin. Austin hit a Gut wrench suplex for a 2 count, but Shelley broke up the pin. Bey ran the ropes and took both of the Guns out on the outside area. Bey tossed Sabin back inside the ring and they hit a double-team Legsweep and then a legdrop/standing moonsault combination for a 2 count. Austin placed Sabin on the top rope and chopped him. Bey went over to help him but Sabin shoved them both off and delivered a crossbody which took both of the Bullet Club out. Sabin used Bey as leverage to nail Austin with a bulldog. Sabin and Shelley both nailed kicks in the corner on Austin. They went for Skull and Bones, but Bey jumped up on the apron and nailed Sabin in the head with a kick. Austin used this to roll Sabin up with a backslide for a 2 count. Austin made the tag to Bey. Shelley ran over to Austin on the ring apron and hit a Dragon Screw. Sabin had Bey tied up in the ropes by his left arm. Shelley hit another kick to the injured arm and then tagged in. Bey wriggled out of the Cradle Shock and hit a cutter on Sabin and then one on Shelley. Bey really needed a tag but Austin was still down. Austin made it into the ring to assist Bey with an Art of Finesse but Shelley caught him in mid-air. Shelley drove Bey into the turnbuckle and Sabin hit a huge dropkick on Bey who was sitting on Shelley’s shoulders. Shelley hit Bey with Shell Shocked for a very close 2 count and then applied the Motor City Stretch straight away. Bey reached the rope and then Sabin came in and kicked Bey’s arm off the rope, right in front of the referee who did nothing about it. Shelley reapplied the submission and Austin came in to save him but ran into Sabin, who was illegally in the ring for about the 12th time in the match. Sabin nailed Austin with the Cradle Shock. Bey rolled out of the Motor City Stretch into an inside cradle and almost got the surprise pin on Shelley. Bey avoided a superkick but he couldn’t hide from the double-team kick from the Guns. Austin ran in and hit a pump kick on Shelley. They double-teamed Sabin and took him out of the ring. Austin assisted Bey to hit the Art of Finesse and then Austin destroyed Shelley with the Fold. Bey covered Shelley and Bullet Club won the titles! The match went 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Impact World Tag Team Champions: Bullet Club
Analysis: **** Terrific tag team action here, with the younger team out-double teaming the veterans to win the match and the championships. It’s the right booking move going forward and is reward for all of Austin and Bey’s efforts as a team over the last few months. The consistent and illegal double team work of the babyface duo of Shelley and Sabin hasn’t been as noticeable to me as it has in the last 2 matches that I have watched and reviewed. It was sort-of like they were working as heels but they were really just trying everything they could to throw off the young team of Bey and Austin. This should lead to a lengthy reign for those two, which I’m happy with.
Bey and Austin celebrated together with the championships as they showed highlights of the finishing sequence. The ironic thing is that the Guns’ downfall was a double-team move by Bey and Austin. The show went off the air with them posing with the titles on the turnbuckles. The crowd in Vegas was loving it.
Final Rating: 8/10
The format for Impact this week was a little bit different to what we have come to expect. It was promo-heavy and included a fair few highlights from No Surrender which was last week. We are usually used to 5-6 matches, most of which don’t get to 10 minutes, so I was happier with just the four matches and all of those were 7 minutes or more except Miguel vs PCO which was more focused on the storyline between Edwards and PCO. I continue to enjoy seeing new wrestlers come into Impact and I’d be confident we will see a bit more of that going forward, with the crossover PPV between NJPW and Impact in a bit over three weeks time. It would be great if they had more of this high-caliber talent appearing regularly as I just start to enjoy seeing certain wrestlers hang around for one set of tapings and then you don’t see them again for a while. The main event which showcased the tag team division was a great contest and Bullet Club were rightly crowned as new champions. I look forward to seeing what they can do as the leaders of the division now and I expect them to have a significant reign as champions. There were lots of little segments to kick off the build to Sacrifice, Multiverse Unlimited and Rebellion. Josh Alexander has gone from having the Roman Reigns treatment and only being on TV every few weeks, to having 3 matches on PPV lined up in the next month. There was more progression in the Knockouts’ Championship picture, but I still expect it to be Jordynne Grace vs. Mickie James at Sacrifice.
The next Impact-Plus special is Sacrifice on March 24th. Here’s what we know so far:
* Knockouts Championship: Mickie James or Gisele Shaw vs Jordynne Grace
* 6- Man Tag match: Josh Alexander and 2 partners vs Time Machine
Any feedback or comments are welcome. My email address is email@example.com in case anybody wants to get in touch with me and my Twitter handle is @thomok6 as well. Thanks for reading!