This week’s edition of Impact Wrestling, just 24 hours out from Over Drive, was headlined by a unique gimmick match between Sami Callihan and Eric Young.
(Note: This is being posted a day after the November 18th Over Drive special took place, but there are no spoilers of that show.)
Impact Wrestling 17/11/22 from Sam’s Town Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
The opening video featured highlights from last week’s show where Mickie James kept her career alive by overcoming Chelsea Green, Moose put Bully Ray through a table and Jordynne Grace retained her Knockouts’ Championship against Gisele Shaw before being attacked by a returning Masha Slamovich.
Impact opened with Crazzy Steve already in the ring with a microphone. Steve tells the Impact Zone to brace themselves for the brutality that is Black Taurus, as we get ready for our first match up of the evening.
Match #1: Semi-Final match of the X-Division Championship Tournament: Black Taurus w/ Crazzy Steve vs PJ Black
The commentators noted that it’s been 7 years since Black has been in Impact Wrestling. The winner faces Trey Miguel for the X-Division Championship at Over Drive on Friday night. They lock up and Taurus gets the early advantage with a shoulder block. They exchange leg sweeps and Taurus hits a few hip tosses. Black nails an impressive monkey flip and goes to strike Taurus in the corner but is met with a big uppercut which sends Black to the ring apron. Black goes for a springboard move but Taurus cuts him off with a headbutt. Black recovers and hits a twisting plancha to the outside area. Black runs down the ramp at Taurus who catches him in the powerbomb position but Black is able to land on his chest. That looked sloppy. Black rolls back into the ring, looking for a count out. Steve is willing Taurus back into the ring and he makes it after the count of 7. Black stomps away at Taurus then misses a springboard moonsault. Taurus connects with a powerslam for the first 2 count of the match. Taurus blocks an attack in the corner from Black and hits 2 sling-blades for another 2 count. Taurus whips Black against the ropes and nails a pop-up Samoan Drop for 2. Taurus stalls and Black hits a jumping Meteora then one from the top rope. Taurus kicks out at 2. They battle on the top rope until Black hits an impressive Spanish Fly for a close 2 count. It turns into a fist fight and then both men connect with a clothesline. They’re both slow to get to their feet and exchange a number of strikes. Black hits a jumping kick and runs at Taurus who stops him with a headbutt. Taurus hits Destination Hellhole for the win after 6 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Black Taurus
Analysis: **1/2 This was okay for a short match but their styles didn’t really mesh all that well. Black’s offense was pretty slow for an X-Division competitor and the result was pretty obvious. Taurus moving on is the right call as he’s a consistent Impact wrestler and popular with the fans.
There was a pre-taped segment between Scott D’Amore, Impact World Champion Josh Alexander, Frankie Kazarian and their wives. Alexander signed the contract for the championship match first. He said he respected Kazarian as a competitor and a man. Alexander says that Kazarian is in the best shape he’s ever been in and he looks forward to the match at Over Drive. Kazarian signs next. He appreciates Alexander’s words and has nothing but respect for him. Kazarian says Alexander inspired him to exercise Option C and has worked his entire life for this match. Alexander says as nice as the Kazarian story is, he isn’t winning the title tomorrow night. Kazarian says there are highlights and disappointments in the pro wrestling life, and he hopes that Alexander and his family are ready for a disappointment tomorrow night. Alexander’s wife then tells Kazarian that over the past year they’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions and tomorrow night it’s him that should prepare for disappointment. Things start to get heated between the men and D’Amore gets in between them. Kazarian and his wife leave. After the break, Kazarian apologises for things getting personal in there. Bully Ray walks in and says it’s good to see Kazarian, as he’s one of the only familiar faces in the locker room. Bully tells him that if he wins, he’s going to call his shot straight away. Kazarian starts to laugh and this annoys Bully. Kazarian says he’s know Bully long enough to know that he shouldn’t trust a word that comes out of his mouth. Bully is disappointed that Kazarian doesn’t trust him either and sarcastically wishes him good luck for his title match. Kazarian tells Alexander that he can’t trust Bully. Alexander says it doesn’t matter if he trusts Bully or not, because he’s going to have to fight him at some point. Kazarian says if you don’t believe him, going and ask Tommy Dreamer. But after tomorrow night, Kazarian says maybe Alexander won’t have to worry about Bully.
Analysis: That was longer than it needed to be but continued to push the ‘don’t trust Bully’ storyline. It felt weird watching a contract signing that didn’t evolve into violence.
Match #2: 4-Way Tag Team match: The Motor City Machine Guns vs Aussie Open vs Shera & Raj Singh vs Bullet Club
This random match up is between the next bunch of potential contenders for the Tag Team Championships. Two men are legal at any time and you can tag anyone in from any team. It is not an elimination match. Kyle Fletcher of Aussie Open and Ace Austin of Bullet Club start off. Fletcher focuses on the left arm early on, but Austin takes him down with a side headlock and an arm drag. Austin bounces Fletcher’s head off the turnbuckle and tags in his partner Chris Bey. Bullet Club double team Fletcher briefly and Bey hits a double stomp to the back of Fletcher to score the first nearfall of the contest. Austin tags back in and he and Bey stretch out the arms of Fletcher on the mat. Fletcher reverses a suplex attempt and nails a scoop slam. Raj Singh blind tags in and stomps away at Austin. Singh tags in Shera and Shera hits a big elbow to Austin after Singh tripped him on the mat. The big man Shera tosses Austin into the corner and tags Singh back in who hits a Flatliner but Alex Shelley breaks it up. Singh connects with a suplex and gets a 1 count.
Back from the break and Shera hits a spear on Austin in the corner. Austin flips out of a back suplex attempt and dives to the corner to tag in Chris Sabin. Sabin flies from the top rope and takes out Shera with a dropkick. Singh runs in and is met with a number of strikes from Sabin and a big clothesline. Sabin takes out Aussie Open in their corner. Austin runs back in and the Guns double team him, leading to a big cutter from Shelley. The Guns focus on Singh now and connect with their Crossface/dropkick combo. Shera is in now and he breaks through a clothesline attempt to hit a double-team clothesline of his own. Aussie Open then get involved and take Shera to the outside with a double superkick. I think Shera and Sabin are still legal. Aussie Open hit their running double team collider move on the Guns and then turn their attention to Sabin. Austin tags in for Sabin and he tosses Fletcher to the outside and tags in Bey. Davis goes for a double chokeslam on Bullet Club but they fight out of it, yet somehow Davis suplexes Bey with one hand and hits an inverted back suplex on Austin. Great spot. Davis tosses Bey off his shoulders into a kick from Fletcher. Aussie Open hit a double team cutter on Bey who kicks out at 2. Davis tags Fletcher back in and they go for Coriolis but Bey takes out Davis with a hurricanrana and Austin nails Fletcher with a kick. Bey takes out Sabin, who is on the ring apron, with a springboard kick. Bey runs the ropes and takes out most of the competitors on the outside with a running suicida over the top rope. Bey hits the Art of Finesse on Fletcher back in the ring, then he gets the Fold from Austin for the 3 count after 9 minutes. The replay shows Austin tagging in as Bey flew over the top rope and took everyone out. That was cool
Winners: Bullet Club
Analysis: *** It was fast and furious with lots of action, but that commercial break was poorly timed and interrupted the momentum of the match. I was hoping Aussie Open would get the win as they’re the fresh face and need some wins on the board, but not only did they lose, they took the fall as well. Shera and Singh were barely in the match, which was a good thing, and the Guns did their usual high-octane spots.
Rosemary and Taya Valkyrie are backstage. Rosemary wonders where Jessicka is. Taya says the last time she saw her was last week (it was probably an hour ago when last week’s show was taped but the audience are supposed to be stupid). Taya said she promised Jessicka would be at the event tomorrow.
Analysis: I would rather Jessicka not turn up, but Rosemary isn’t a huge upgrade anyway.
There was a quick hype video for Over Drive and then a video of Jordynne Grace after she got attacked by Slamovich last week. Grace challenged Slamovich to a Last Knockouts Standing match at Over Drive.
Analysis: I didn’t expect the next match between them to come so soon, or that it would be announced as a backstage segment taped last week but there we have it. That should be an outstanding match and Slamovich might win the gold but with only a week hyping the match, probably not.
Match #3: Tasha Steelz w/ Savannah Evans vs Taya Valkyrie w/ Rosemary
These two teams face off for the Knockouts’ Tag Team Championships at Over Drive. It’s the match I am least looking forward to as I find Rosemary and Jessicka’s gimmick really annoying. Valkyrie takes the advantage early with a kick and a clothesline for a 2 count. Valkyrie hits a splash in the corner and hits double knees for a 2 count. Valkyrie stares down Evans on the outside and misses a running attack in the corner, allowing Steelz to hit a Codebreaker for 2. Steelz goes for a cutter but Valkyrie blocks it turns it into a seated pin for the surprise win after 2:30.
Winner: Taya Valkyrie
Analysis: *1/2 This match was too short to build to anything decent, which is a shame as they’re both very talented competitors. It was just a way to get the feud on TV before the Impact Plus special airs.
Straight after the bell, Steelz attacks Valkyrie from behind. Valkyrie tries to fight off Evans but Steelz jumps on her back and chokes her out. Evans begins choking out Rosemary but Jessicka’s music hits and she runs to the ring and delivers a double clothesline. Jessicka takes out both Evans and Steelz with right hands. She tosses them both into the corner but they roll out of the ring before she can hit a splash. Jessicka celebrates with her teammates as the heels retreat up the ramp.
Tommy Dreamer is backstage preparing for (yet another!) match when Josh Alexander asks if he can speak to him. Alexander says that everyone is telling him not to trust Bully Ray so he wanted to come and talk to his best friend. Dreamer says he left Impact on a really bad note and is back to set things right again. Dreamer says Bully is a changed man.
They show a pre-taped promo from last week from Trey Miguel after his victory in the X-Division tournament. This is the second video from ‘last week’ that they could’ve just shown at that time instead of now. Miguel says when he wins the X-Division title he is coming for Kenny King.
Tom Hannifan announces that Impact are coming back to Canada for the first time in 3 years for Sacrifice in March.
Match #4: Old School Rules (No DQ) match: Steve Maclin vs Tommy Dreamer
This match came about because Dreamer told Maclin that he isn’t first in line for a World Title match after Over Drive. This will not be a fast-paced match. Maclin kicks the match off with a scoop slam but misses a running elbow drop. Dreamer clotheslines Maclin over the top rope. He pulls out some baking trays from under the ring and hits Maclin over the head. Dreamer exposes the floor boards at the ringside area. He attempts a Piledriver but Maclin drives Dreamer into the steel post then hits an elbow drop from the apron. Maclin tosses Dreamer back inside the ring and gets a 1 count. Maclin hits a running elbow to take Dreamer down to the floor. He throws a few chairs back into the ring. Maclin grabs a Singapore cane and tries to get back into the ring but Dreamer cuts him off with a running knee. Dreamer sets up a steel chair and hits the Dusty Rhodes elbow combo, then hits a crossbody on the steel chair for a 2 count. Dreamer tries for an elbow drop from the top rope but he barely gets off the ground and falls onto the steel chair that is on the mat. Maclin takes the cane and nails Maclin with a few shots to little effect so Dreamer hits a Russian Legsweep with the cane. Maclin hits a back suplex which Hannifan called an Olympic Slam for a 2 count. Dreamer started choking Maclin with the cane and then tossed a garbage can back into the ring and it hit Maclin in the head. Dreamer took a sip of water then sprayed it in Maclin’s face. Then he took a meal from the garbage can that was in a takeaway container and hit Maclin with that. I wonder if that’s the first time that fried rice has been used as a weapon in a wrestling match. Dreamer backed Maclin into the corner and started biting his forehead. He ran at Maclin who stopped him with an elbow and then Dreamer hit a cutter for 2. Dreamer set up the trash can in the middle rope in the corner and then fetched a table from under the ring. Dreamer signalled for someone to help him and a fan named Mr. Impact, who is apparently at every show, helped him put the table into the ring. Dreamer wanted a Death Valley Driver through the table, but Maclin fought out and tossed Dreamer face-first into the trash can. Maclin hit KIA on the steel chairs for the win after 8 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Steve Maclin
Analysis: ** That was only rated so highly because Maclin won and he carried it. This was not good. How an awful match like this can get 8 minutes, yet they give two of the most talented Knockouts (who have a feud going at the monthly special) less than 3 minutes annoys me. Dreamer doesn’t need to be in any matches, let alone lengthy ones. Maclin should’ve pulverised him in 2 minutes, but instead he barely beat a 50-year old semi-retired man.
After the match, Maclin wanted to cave Dreamer’s skull in with a steel chair but Bully Ray made the save and took down Maclin. Bully was stopped by Moose who stomped away at Bully. Maclin set up the table and Moose and Maclin were about to double-team Bully when Josh Alexander made the save. Alexander hit a German suplex on both Moose and Maclin. Bully had the Impact World Championship in his hands and looked like he wanted to hit Alexander with it but put it down and they double-choke slammed Maclin through the table. Bully took a long time to give Alexander’s title back, but eventually he did.
Analysis: Even when Maclin wins, he doesn’t really win. I expect Bully Ray to beat Moose in the Tables match at Over Drive.
Gia Miller was backstage with Masha Slamovich, who was giving her first-ever interview on Impact. Miller asks Masha if Jordynne Grace ending her losing streak at Bound for Glory was unexpected. Masha answered in Russian. She told Miller that she knew nothing about fighting or loss. Masha said she’s been in Impact for a year and beat almost everyone, yet Miller asks her about one loss. Miller asks where Masha has been since her loss to Grace. Masha says that’s another question only an idiot would ask. She says she only does what she needs to do. Miller asks Masha what she expect to come out of the Last Knockouts Standing match with Grace. Masha simply answers “death”.
Analysis: A simple promo to put over the nastiness of Masha as she disrespected Miller throughout. It’s weird when someone responds in their own language when they’re asked questions in English. Obviously they understand the question if they can answer it!
Sami Callihan was shown getting ready for his main event match with Eric Young.
Match #5: Laredo Kid vs Rich Swann
Kid hits a hurricanrana early and then a neckbreaker. Swann slides out of the ring and Kid hits a springboard crossbody. He hits a running forearm in the corner and a Michinoku Driver. Kid hits two twisting moonsaults and gets a 2 count. He goes to the well once too often and Swann gets his knees up. Swann hits a series of kicks and a neckbreaker, then a Kickback for 2. Swann climbs to the top and rolls through the 450 attempt, but Kid catches him with a German suplex. Kid hits a great Frog Splash from the top for a close 2 count. Kid lifts Swann to the top, looking for the Spanish Fly but Swann pushes him off and connects with a big kick and the Lethal Injection for a 2 count. Swann hits the 450 for the win after 4 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Rich Swann
Analysis: **1/2 This was a fun match but again, far too short. I would’ve rather they canned the Dreamer match and given this more time, as it was non-stop action (!) for the duration. Swann stays in the conversation for the X-Division title even though he wasn’t named in the tournament.
Taylor Wilde and Mickie James are backstage discussing their match at Over Drive. James mentions that last week she asked Wilde not to interfere in her match against Chelsea Green. Wilde says she didn’t want Mickie’s career to end due to interference from Deonna Purrazzo. She says if anyone should end Mickie’s career, it should be Wilde.
Analysis: That was heelish but you can count on another win for Mickie.
There was a quick highlights package that hyped the Alexander/Kazarian feud. The commentators ran through the Over Drive card.
Match #6: Death Machine Double Jeopardy match: Sami Callihan vs Eric Young w/ Deaner
This is Sami Callihan’s created match. It is a No-Disqualification match. Once you make your opponent bleed, you can then pin or make them submit to win the match. Young is out first, by himself, followed by Callihan. As Callihan is about to walk down the ramp, he is attacked by Alan Angels, Big Kon and Deaner of Violent by Design. I think Angels has been given the Vince treatment and has lost his first name. Callihan is busted open already. Deaner hits a stomp on Callihan on the ramp. Callihan is now ‘in jeopardy’ which means he only needs to be pinned or submit to lose the match.
Back from the break and the match officially begins. Young knocks Callihan to the outside with a big knee. Young bounces Callihan’s head off the ring apron and rips at the open wound on Sami’s forehead. Callihan grabs a water bottle and cracks Young in the skull. He chops away at Young but Young fights back with a big right hand. Callihan reverses Young’s suplex into one of his own, on the outside. Callihan gets a poster from the crowd and tries to give Young a paper cut. Young suplexes Callihan onto the ring apron, back first. Young hits a series of elbows to the throat of Callihan. Young stomps at Callihan who starts laughing. Callihan and Young exchange strikes and also eye rakes. Young goes for a Piledriver on the apron, but Callihan blocks it and then Callihan starts biting Young’s forehead. Callihan nails a Death Valley Driver on the ring apron. The cameras show that Young has now been busted open.
Back from the break and Callihan has Young tied up in the ropes as he bites his forehead. Young is a bloody mess as Callihan chokes him against the ring post. Young fights back with stiff right hands and then pulls Sami into the post. Callihan does the same to Young and then Young repeats the dose. Both men are bloodied and tiring. Young sets up for the Piledriver again but Callihan flips him over, sending him crashing hard on the mat. Callihan grabs some weapons and throws them into the ring. Young gets a trash can lid and nails Callihan twice on the head. Young locks in a single-leg lock as he looks for the submission win. Callihan almost passes out to the blood loss and the referee counts his shoulders down for a 2 count. Callihan reverses the hold into a Figure 4 then the referee almost counts the 3 on Young, who pops up just before the 3. Both men are on all fours and Young connects with a headbutt. They get to their feet and exchange strikes and then start head butting each other furiously. Both men crash to the mat simultaneously. The crowd chants “This is awesome” as they stagger to their feet. Callihan sets up for the pop-up powerbomb but Young nails the Piledriver at last. Young covers but Callihan kicks out at the last second. Young’s blood is all over the ring mat at this point. Young goes for the Piledriver again but Callihan executes a unique hold (below the belt) and hits a devastating Cactus Driver 97 but Young kicks out! Callihan smashes Young over the head with the trash can lid 3 times then hits another Cactus Driver for the win after 14 minutes.
Winner: Sami Callihan
Analysis: ***3/4 That was pretty good, even with the two commercial breaks. I think Impact backed themselves into a bit of a booking corner with this match, as they already had Young beat Callihan two weeks back so it made sense that Sami won tonight. However, they’re trying to re-establish VBD as a major heel group so Young also needed the win. Also, it’s disappointing that neither of these matches made it to Over Drive yet we still may see a third match down the line.
After the match, Angels, Kon and Deaner made their way into the ring to face Young. Instead of helping him to his feet, they simply stood over him and stared him down as Impact went off the air.
Analysis: An interesting post-match spot, showing the ongoing tension in the group. I’m glad it didn’t lead to a beatdown, because no one in that group can stand out as a leader like Young, but him losing will have let down his stablemates.
Final Rating: 6/10
That’s two average weeks in a row from Impact, which is a sentence I wouldn’t have written since I began covering them in mid-June. The main event was violent and bloody, whilst continuing the VBD trust storyline. I would really like to see Sami Callihan show off some more of his craft in the ring. At present, it feels like once you’ve seen one of his matches then you can predict how they’re all going to turn out (quality-wise). I wouldn’t mind if he stepped away from the No-DQ matches for a while as I’m finding him a little tedious lately.
This week, the timing of the show felt off. 8 minutes was given to the Dreamer/Maclin match which had one week of build, whilst the only Knockouts match on the show didn’t even last 3 minutes. Then there was a meaningless (although enjoyable) Swann/Kid match and even that only went 4 minutes. I don’t love being critical, but if you want more viewership, the sensible thing to me would be to dedicate time to your feuds that are featuring on the special shows and go from there. Jordynne Grace and Masha Slamovich had one of the best women’s matches of the year at Bound for Glory and yet the return match has been hyped up in 2 two-minute segments and an attack last week. I guess that’s the pitfalls of having to tape slabs of shows at the one time. Josh Alexander and Frankie Kazarian had several segments dedicated to them tonight, so at least that feud is getting considerable air time as it should. That should be a great match at Over Drive, but the time to take the title off Alexander has not arrived as yet.