IMPACT Wrestling Review – March 23, 2023
On this week’s edition of Impact Wrestling, Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer faced-off in a mixed-tag team match just 24 hours before their singles grudge match at Sacrifice.
Impact Wrestling 23/3/23 from Sam’s Town Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
The show opened with a recap of last week’s show, which included a 6-man tag team main event that saw Impact World Champion, Josh Alexander, on the losing side after the distraction from #1 Contender Steve Maclin.
We are straight into the action tonight with 6-man tag team action.
Match #1: The Design (Deaner, Kon & Angels) w/Callihan vs Time Machine (Kushida, Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley)
Kon and Kushida start the match and there’s an obvious size differential there. Shelley gets tagged straight in the ring to assist against the big man, but Kon easily takes them both down with a double clothesline. Deaner tags in and takes Shelley down with a back elbow. Sabin tags in and they hit a double-team on Deaner for a 1 count. Deaner gets a cheap shot in and wrenches at the face of Sabin, then tags in Angels. Angels takes Sabin to the corner and hits a few chops. Sabin returns the favour, then bounces off the ropes but Angels takes him down with a single-leg lariat. Angels takes Shelley off the apron with a cheap shot. Kushida comes into the ring and then the referee blocks Kon and Deaner from doing the same, so Time Machine hit a triple-kick on Angels in the ring. Kushida and Shelley hold Angels against the ring post and Sabin hits the hesitation dropkick in the corner. Sabin is slow to cover so Angels kicks out at 2. Shelley tags back in and goes to work on the left arm of Angels. Angels tries to break the hold by kicking the thigh of Shelley, but Shelley takes him down with a clothesline and then hyperextends the elbow of Angels. Kushida and Sabin take turns wrenching down on Angels arm against the ropes, as the referee is distracted by Deaner again. I’ve never seen a face team cheat so much in recent times in such a blatant fashion and have no other heel tendencies whatsoever. Kushida hits a baseball slide on Angels to the outside. Shelley tosses him back into the ring and Sabin makes the tag. Sabin sends Angels face-first against the turnbuckle pad. Shelley gets another cheap kick in and then Sabin kicks Kon off the apron. Angels takes advantage with a neckbreaker, then tags in Deaner. Deaner hammers away at Sabin in the corner and in comes Kon. Kon stomps away viciously at Sabin. Deaner tags back in and chokes Sabin out in the corner. Sabin avoids a corner attack and rolls over to a sunset flip for a 2 count. He makes the tag to Kushida who flies from the top to take down Deaner. Kushida hits a crossbody and a Pele Kick. He hits a big knee on Deaner, then Angels comes in but Shelley intercepts him with a dropkick and another kick to the injured left arm. Kushida hits a handspring kick on Kon to take him off the apron. Shelley holds Kon against the guard rail and Kushida flies from inside the ring to the outside to take him down.
Back from the break (and also a plug for their summer events) and The Design have triple-teamed Kushida in the ring. Kon hits a big spinebuster, then Angels nails the frog splash on Kushida for a close 2 count. Angels takes Sabin off the apron with a forearm and kicks Shelley down. Angels takes Kushida back to his corner and tags Kon in. They took turns at hitting clotheslines in the corner. Kon hoists Kushida onto his shoulders and both Angels and Deaner nail the Doomsday Device from the top rope. Shelley breaks up the pinfall and then takes Kon down with a flying dropkick. Deaner hits a clothesline on Sabin but turns into a Flatliner from Shelley. Angels nails Shelley with a step-up enziguiri and then a superkick on Kushida. Angels runs the ropes but is all alone in the ring now with the 3 members of Time Machine. They cut him off with a triple kick in the corner and set up for the Skull & Bones finisher, however Deaner is back in and pushes Kushida off the top turnbuckle. Deaner eats a cutter from Sabin and then Callihan gets into the ring and stands in front of Deaner as he was about to get double-teamed. Sabin and Shelley kick Callihan out of the ring. Sabin hits a suicide dive to the outside to take out Kon, Deaner and Callihan. Angels runs into Kushida in the middle of the ring and is trapped in the Hoverboard Lock. Angels stretches and gets to the bottom rope momentarily but Sabin kicks his arm away. Kushida drags Angels back to the centre of the ring and Angels taps out. The match went 14 minutes.
Winners by submission: Time Machine
Analysis: ***1/4 It was okay. More things annoyed me in the match than they should have, and a near 15-minute match with this much talent should be getting much higher than a barely 3-star match. The ending was just stupid. Angels clearly made the ropes, so the referee should break the hold. Instead, he allows the FACE team to reapply the submission and win the match. It’s not on the level of referee that AEW have, but it was pretty bad. I did like the storyline progression though, as Callihan tried to make up for his constant screw-ups by protecting Deaner, but they still lost. Time Machine won tonight, whereas Alexander’s team lost last week so Time Machine have the momentum heading into Sacrifice Friday night.
There was a vignette from the new Knockouts’ Tag Team Champions, The Coven, who captured the gold last week. They continued their babble about dark magic and tarot cards and finished with ‘Long Live the Coven’.
Analysis: Honestly, I’m a little over all the weirdo magic/dark gimmicks in Impact currently but at least The Death Dollz lost the titles last week.
There was a vignette by Raj Singh and Shera, who have been winning big in Vegas as of late. Singh said Shera and he were always one step ahead and now lived a life of luxury. It finished with ‘Champagne Singh has arrived’ so that might be his new name.
Analysis: These two are better on the mic than in the ring (and that’s saying something) but at least they’re trying something different out.
Eddie Edwards and Kenny King cut a pre-taped promo from last week. King said that out of every tragedy there’s a silver lining. He realised after Jay Briscoe passing, that he and Eddie are like family and he will always have his back. King said that at Sacrifice, the family will put PCO to rest.
Analysis: Real family wouldn’t let each other have a haircut like that, Kenny.
Match #2: Savannah Evans w/ Jay Vidal & Gisele Shaw vs. Deonna Purrazzo
Purrazzo faces Shaw at Sacrifice, in what has been a good secondary women’s feud over the last month. Evans uses his power advantage to toss Purrazzo across the ring early. She connects with a sloppy-looking kick and gets a 2 count. They exchange forearms in the corner. Purrazzo hits a number of chops and avoids a clothesline. Purrazzo hits a running hurricanrana and Evans bails to the outside for a break. Purrazzo with a baseball slide which takes Evans down. Shaw distracts Purrazzo so Evans takes advantage and rams Purrazzo into the ring apron. Evans tosses Purrazzo against the steel steps as we go to a commercial break.
Back to the action and Evans is still in control, hammering Purrazzo with clubbing blows to the back. Evans kicks Purrazzo down to the mat as Purrazzo crawls towards the ropes. Evans chokes her against the middle rope, then stomps away at Purrazzo in the corner. Evans tosses Purrazzo down to the mat disrespectfully, so Purrazzo slaps her. This infuriates Evans who chokes Purrazzo in the corner until the referee breaks it up before 5. Nice to see some rules being enforced. Evans hits Butterfly Suplex as she continues to dominate. Purrazzo kicks out at 2. Purrazzo tries to fight back but Evans holds onto the ropes which trips up Purrazzo. Evans nails a snap suplex and gets another 2 count. Evans slaps on a chin-lock in the centre of the ring. Purrazzo gets back to a vertical base and creates some space with a back elbow. Evans misses a corner attack and Purrazzo sends her face-first into the mat. She tries a clothesline but Evans won’t go down. She is unsuccessful with 2 more attempts, but finally Evans goes down on the 4th try. Purrazzo hits a Side Russian Legsweep and then smoothly flips over to the Fujiwara Armbar. Evans fought it and just made it to the ropes to break the hold. She hits an impressive Northern Lights Suplex with a bridge for a close 2 count. Evans wants the Full Nelson Slam but Purrazzo rolled through and almost stole a 3 count. Purrazzo with a big kick to the head which sends Evans tumbling through the ropes and onto the ring apron. Purrazzo was going to Piledriver her using the middle rope but Shaw stopped it. Purrazzo ran the ropes, but Vidal held her by the arms on the opposite side to Shaw. Evans ran at Purrazzo and of course missed, knocking Vidal off the apron. Vidal sold it comically. Purrazzo nailed a running kick which sent Shaw flying off the apron and nailed a Crucifix Bomb, which was very gentle and really just a Crucifix pin, for the 3 count after 9 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Deonna Purrazzo
Analysis: ***1/2 I thought that was really solid. Because Evans is a bigger athlete, everything is not going to always look super-smooth but the match was intense and they worked some good spots with Purrazzo trying to lock in the armbar. The finish was a little flat but I could see what they were trying to do. This has been a well-told story over the last few weeks.
Evans attacked Purrazzo from behind immediately after the bell sounded. Evans held Purrazzo for Shaw to pummel. Evans and Shaw beat down Purrazzo on the mat, whilst Vidal watched. Shaw mounted Purrazzo and beat her with right hands. Shaw directed Evans to hit the Full Nelson Slam on Purrazzo. Evans held Purrazzo and Shaw nailed her with a knee to the face, which they gave a French name that I didn’t quite catch.
Analysis: Good post-match beatdown to soften up Purrazzo for Sacrifice. I still think Purrazzo will win.
The Impact Flashback Moment of the Week was The Motor City Machine Guns beating Beer Money and Team 3D at Sacrifice 2010 in a #1 Contenders Match for the Tag Team Titles.
The Death Dollz were backstage, commiserating their Tag Team Championship loss. AEWs Taya Valkyrie was still there (the magic of taping!). Jessicka can’t believe they lost with the magic of Rosemary. Valkyrie promised that they would get the titles back, they just need a plan. Jessicka didn’t have time for a plan and she was going after The Coven now. She went hunting for them but found a coffin. Jessicka opened it and there was a strange light but Valkyrie stopped her from opening it further. All of a sudden a hand came out from the coffin and pulled Valkyrie in. Jessicka ran off looking for help.
Analysis: There’s Valkyrie being written out of Impact. Good luck in AEW. I hope she gets the push that she deserves but I’m not hopeful.
Match #3: Bully Ray & Masha Slamovich vs. Tommy Dreamer & Mickie James
Dreamer and Bully face-off in a Busted Open (First Blood) match at Sacrifice. James was scheduled to defend the title against Jordynne Grace too, but that’s been postponed which we will cover later. Everyone entered separately. Bully and Dreamer started the match off. Bully took a swing at James, who ducked. The fans were chanting “Bobby Ray” after Santino Marella’s continuous gaffes. I still chuckle at how lame that is. James wants the tag and Dreamer obliges. Bully starts mouthing off at her but Mickie is determined to face him. Bully leaves it be and tags in Slamovich. Bully tries to distract James in the corner, so Slamovich tries to strike. James ducks and takes her down with a Thesz Press. James hits a flapjack and throws one of her wrist pads at Bully. Slamovich takes her down with a kick and tags in Bully. Bully misses an elbow drop so James tags in Dreamer. Bully hits a bionic elbow and tags Masha in. Bully slams Masha on top of Dreamer. She kicks him a couple of times but Dreamer holds her by the arm and walks her over to his corner. Dreamer tags James back in, who hits an axe handle off the top rope. She runs the ropes and Bully pulls her down by the hair and tags in. Bully circles James and then knocks Dreamer off the apron. Bully brings kendo stick into the ring and backs James into the corner. He slams her gently in the centre of the ring and tags in Slamovich. Slamovich hits a kick to the chest of James, then a series of snap mares. Slamovich with a kick to the face and a 2 count. She stands on James’ hair and hits a hard knee to the ribs as James is getting back up. James backs into the corner and avoids a running attack by Masha. James hits a neckbreaker and both women are down in the centre of the ring. They both tag in the men and Dreamer tees off on Bully with right hands. Dreamer with a big clothesline in the corner then starts biting Bully’s forehead. Dreamer hits a cutter and Slamovich breaks the pin up. James cuts her off with a seated senton from the top rope. James and Dreamer hit synchronised bionic elbows on their opponents. Dreamer nails Bully with a scoop slam and James hits the Wassup from the top rope. Bully screams about his balls which was humorous. Dreamer and James call for the tables as this one is getting out of control. Slamovich hits a twisting suicide dive to the outside to take out James. Back in the ring, the referee tries to get the table out so Bully nails Dreamer with a low blow. Bully with a piledriver for the win after 9 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Bully Ray & Masha Slamovich
Analysis: ***1/2 That was entertaining. Dreamer, Bully and Mickie all work well together and Slamovich held her own. I’m not sure that I would’ve had Dreamer take the loss, 1 night before he faces off with Bully. I would’ve gone for a DQ finish to keep everyone strong before Sacrifice.
After the match, Slamovich threw James back into the ring. Bully set up the table and Slamovich ordered him to slam her through it. Jordynne Grace came into the ring and nailed Bully with a kendo stick. Grace stood up to Bully and ran at him but he side-stepped, so Grace nailed James with a spear.
Analysis: Good post-match angle, which adds to the tension between Grace and James. Unfortunately, Mickie suffered an injury and has been pulled from the Championship match at Sacrifice. She will address the situation live in Windsor. That’s a shame as it’s the match I was most looking forward to and probably the main event.
Rich Swann and Frankie Kazarian were chatting backstage, before their 6-man tag team match up at Sacrifice. Swann is still annoyed at Maclin’s comments from last week, where Maclin insinuated that Josh Alexander picked Swann for a fight because he knows he can beat him. Kazarian wondered if this would affect Swann’s performance in their big match up. He thinks Swann should go and get this off his chest face-to-face with Alexander.
Analysis: I wonder if this will lead to a Swann heel turn down the line. I would be a fan of that.
Swann goes into Josh Alexander’s locker room, but Steve Maclin is there going through Alexander’s bag. Swann confronts him but Maclin walks away.
Analysis: I’m not sure what the point of that was. Seemed odd. Maclin faces the winner of Kushida/Alexander at Rebellion.
Next week, Impact will be live from Los Angeles ahead of Multiverse United. Miya Yamashita will debut, Will Ospreay vs Homicide and Josh Alexander defending the World Championship against KENTA were also announced
Analysis: Ospreay has been pulled from Multiverse United, so he might not appear here either. I don’t think the matches are live, because Alexander defends the title against Kushida on the same night. Hannifan said there would be live expert analysis. I’ll probably review it and then watch Multiverse United the same night.
Match #4: Joe Hendry & Dirty Dango vs Brian Myers & Moose
Hendry cut a quick promo before the match saying that tonight was special because it was the first time that Dango and Hendry were teaming up. Hendry said it should inspire the fans to chant the two magic words we are all used to, but Dango cut him off with “Suck it”. Dango was trying so hard to impress Hendry that he kept cutting him off and chanted “We Believe” to get the fans pumped up.
Myers and Moose entered separately. Hendry defends his Digital Media Championship against Myers at Sacrifice. It’s been an entertaining program involving Moose, Myers and Hendry. Myers and Hendry kick off the match and Hendry nails a few shoulder blocks that take Myers down. Hendry tags in Dango whilst holding up Myers with the stalling suplex. Hendry slams Myers down hard and Dango covers for a 1 count. Myers rolls to the corner and tags in Moose who enters. Dango taunts Moose by doing some dance moves. Moose’s leg starts to gyrate and he gets angry and charges Dango, but misses. Moose backs Dango into his corner and tags in Myers. Dango catches him with a modified suplex and he and Hendry double clothesline Moose as he tried to interfere. Dango still struggled with the two magic words of Hendry, so he did the DX crotch chop as we headed to another commercial break.
Dango hit a Falcon Arrow as we returned to the action. Moose distracted Dango, who had climbed to the top rope, so Myers tossed him to the outside. Moose threw Dango back into the ring and he and Myers stomped on him. Moose tagged in and hit Hendry with a cheap shot. Moose pummelled Dango in the corner and tagged Myers back in. Myers locked in a sleeper hold as the fans chanted for Dirty Dango. Dango got back up and tried a sunset flip pin but Myers reached out and tagged Moose, so the pin didn’t count. Moose choked Dango out with his foot and then nailed a suplex. Moose knocked Hendry off the ring apron again with a cheap shot. Moose dragged Dango back to the corner and tagged in Myers again. Myers continued to stomp on Dango in the corner. Myers took Dango down with a back elbow and tagged Moose back in. Moose started choking Dango out on the mat. Moose wrenched at the nose of Dango and continued to choke him. Dango tried to fight back but Moose hit a knee to the ribs. Dango blocked a corner attack and hit a corkscrew uppercut from the middle rope. They both made the tag to their partners. Hendry took down Myers with a clothesline then caught him with a Fallaway slam. Hendry kipped up and nailed a cutter for a 2 count. Myers blocked the Trust Fall and hit an enziguiri. Myers ran the ropes but Hendry caught him with a popup powerbomb. Moose broke up the pin and then tossed Dango outside. Moose nailed Hendry with a spear and Myers hit the Roster Cut to pin Hendry after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Brian Myers & Moose
Analysis: ***1/2 An entertaining match here with a surprising result, as that’s only the second time that Hendry has been pinned on his return to Impact. I understand making Myers look strong and a threat to Hendry, which he certainly does by pinning him here, however it wouldn’t have hurt Dango to take the fall. I enjoy the partnership of Moose and Myers (and Cardona when he was with them) but I’m also ready for Moose to go back to being a serious singles competitor, gunning for the World Title and some other big matches.
Josh Alexander found Rich Swann backstage. Swann told Alexander that Maclin was looking through his stuff earlier so Alexander told him that he was going to call Maclin out now.
Alexander marched to the ring and announced Maclin as the #1 contender. Alexander said he had a lot of respect for Maclin as a wrestler and a veteran. He said the respect ends when Maclin continues to whine about management and all of the things he deserves. Alexander says he always answers a challenge and is in the ring now, where he always is, and never ducks anyone. Alexander says that at Rebellion everyone will find out if Maclin has ‘it’ or not. When Alexander beats him, Maclin will have nothing to whine about and he will be pushed to the back of the line. Alexander said Maclin would once again be a ‘Forgotten Son’, in a shout-out to his NXT days as Steve Cutler. Maclin’s music hit and he appeared on the stage with a microphone. Maclin tells Alexander that he could’ve challenged him earlier for his championship. He admits he is afraid of failing and being sent to the back of the line. Maclin says he picked his spot and has had a lot of matches to prepare for this moment. He shows some footage of Maclin watching Alexander’s matches backstage from different times during 2022. Maclin says he’s been doing his homework and is obsessed with becoming Impact World Champion. Alexander says he has underestimated what he is capable of but this still doesn’t change anything. He is still champion and still in the ring ready for a fight. Alexander wants Maclin to come and fight him now. Maclin says he will do this his way in Alexander’s hometown. Impact went off the air as Maclin’s music played.
Analysis: It was a solid promo exchange between Alexander and Maclin. It doesn’t do Kushida’s chances any good when they are basically promoting this match as locked in, with Kushida still to challenge Alexander on Thursday at Multiverse United. I expect Maclin to attack Alexander either after the Sacrifice 6-man tag or after the Kushida singles match at Multiverse.
Final Rating: 7.5/10
Another very good episode this week. That’s two weeks in a row that I’ve scored the show 7.5/10. All 4 matches on the show got a decent amount of TV time and were in the ***1/4 – ½ range, so it was a good night of wrestling on Impact. The matches were better than they looked on paper. The opening 6-man tag annoyed me with the lack of rules being enforced, but there was enough quality in the ring to still put on a decent contest. I enjoyed the continued storyline between Deonna Purrazzo and Gisele Shaw. Purrazzo and Savannah Evans had a better match than I expected. It was a shame to read that Mickie James is injured and won’t be wrestling at Sacrifice. I enjoyed the tag match between her and Dreamer in their loss to Bully and Masha Slamovich. Bully and Dreamer will face-off in a First Blood match that they are calling Busted Open. I’m not sure we need to see two 50+ year old men fighting in 2023, but they’re keeping me invested by making it personal. Bully is such an effective heel.
The next Impact-Plus special is Sacrifice on Friday night. I might review it over the weekend, but it’s my birthday on Sunday so I’ll see how busy I am. Here’s the final card, with my predictions in bold:
* 6- Man Tag match: Josh Alexander, Rich Swann & Josh Alexander vs Time Machine
* Impact Digital Media Championship: Joe Hendry (c) vs Brian Myers
* Impact World Tag Team Championship: Bullet Club (c) vs TMDK
* Impact X-Division Championship: Trey Miguel (c) vs Mystery Opponent
* Busted Open match: Bully Ray vs Tommy Dreamer
* Jonathan Gresham vs Mike Bailey
* PCO vs Kenny King
* Deonna Purrazzo vs Gisele Shaw
* Mickie James will address the Knockouts’ Championship situation
Impact vs NJPW Multiverse United is on Thursday night. I will watch it, but I’m not sure if I will review it as it’s a mid-week show. Here’s the card nonetheless:
* Impact World Title Match: Josh Alexander (c) vs. KUSHIDA
* 8- Man Tag Team Match: Alex Coughlin, Callihan, Fred Rosser & PCO vs. Team Filthy (JR Kratos & Tom Lawlor), Eddie Edwards & Joe Hendry
* Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Mike Bailey
* Jeff Cobb vs. Moose
* Impact X-Division Title Match: Trey Miguel (c) vs. Rocky Romero vs. Frankie Kazarian vs. Rich Swann vs. Clark Connors vs. Kevin Knight
* Impact World Tag Team Title Match: BULLET CLUB (Ace Austin & Chris Bey) (c) vs. Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. TMDK (Bad Dude Tito & Shane Haste)
* NJPW STRONG Openweight Title Match: KENTA (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki
* Impact Knockouts World Title Four Way Match: Mickie James (c) vs. Miyu Yamashita vs. Deonna Purrazzo vs. Gisele Shaw (this might change after James’ withdrawal from Sacrifice)
EDITOR’S NOTE:After Kristian wrote this review, Impact Wrestling announced that Josh Alexander suffered a torn triceps, which means he needs surgery and he has relinquished the Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Title. Here’s the announcement and Josh’s tweet about it.
BREAKING: @Walking_Weapon will relinquish the IMPACT World Championship due to a triceps tear that will require surgery. KUSHIDA will face @SteveMaclin to crown a new champion on April 16 at #Rebellion.
FULL DETAILS: https://t.co/4uf4NQmNOmpic.twitter.com/HoRtgDGyLe
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) March 24, 2023
Safe to say this news is devastating. I’ve torn my tricep. I will have to relinquish my @IMPACTWRESTLING World title immediately.
I’m heading into surgery momentarily. I’m so thankful for my Impact family for the support.
I’ll be back & I’ll be better than ever.
🙏 ✌️ pic.twitter.com/p4oudMz3qE
— Josh Alexander (@Walking_Weapon) March 24, 2023
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