This week’s edition of Impact Wrestling featured Impact World Champion Josh Alexander teaming up with his opponent at OverDrive, Frankie Kazarian, as well as the continuation of the tournament to crown a new X-Division Champion.
Impact Wrestling 3/11/22 from Sam’s Town Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
The opening video featured highlights from last week’s show where Frankie Kazarian and Josh Alexander agreed to team up, as well as Mickie James’ team picking up a win in 6-Knockout action to keep her career alive. There was also a recap of Eddie Edwards’ interview where he discussed the ending of his stable, as well as his intentions to destroy PCO.
The show started off with Eddie Edwards cutting a pre-taped promo where he vowed to end his feud with PCO tonight.
Analysis: That was a simple way to let the viewer know that Edwards has something planned for PCO later in the show.
The regular Impact opening video played and Tom Hannifan welcomed us to the show and previewed the next match in the X-Division Championship Tournament: Kenny King vs Mike Bailey.
Match #1: X-Division Championship Tournament Quarter-Final Match: Kenny King vs Mike Bailey
King entered first, in his hometown, but as usual was not received favourably by the Impact Zone. They showed highlights of the YouTube show, Before the Impact, where PJ Black defeated Yuya Uemura to advance in the tournament. Black hasn’t been on a television edition of Impact this year, yet goes over Uemura which shows you his standings in the division at present. Bailey entered last, looking focused as he looks to regain his championship. They lock up early as King evades the kicks of Bailey. Bailey tries for a quick pin but only gets a 1 count, as does King as he reversed the pin. There were more counters until King hit Bailey with a cheap right hand, only for Bailey to fire back with a dropkick for a 2 count. Bailey sent King to the outside and Kenny took off up the ramp. King tried for a Uranage on the ramp but Bailey blocked it, and they fought back to the ringside area. Bailey tried for a single leg-lock but King was able to make it to the ropes quickly. King sent Bailey face-first into the top turnbuckle with a flapjack and then hit a big spinebuster for a 2 count. King tossed Bailey to the outside and hit an overhead suplex on the ramp, then rolled back inside the ring to break the count. The referee began to count Bailey out, but he just made it back to the ring at the count of 9. King then dumped Bailey to the outside again and locked in a Boston Crab, targeting the lower body of Bailey. King hung Bailey’s leg on the bottom rope and sat down on it. He tried a second time but Bailey kicked him over the top rope, then hit a series of stiff kicks as King tried to fight back into the ring. Bailey hit a running shooting star press for a 2 count. Bailey attempted a running kick in the corner but King caught him and connected with a T-Bone Suplex, then followed up with a Tiger Driver for a 2 count. King went to repeat the move on the entrance ramp, but Bailey countered it with a hurricanrana. Bailey went back inside and connected with a moonsault to King on the outside. King wanted the Royal Flush but Bailey countered it into a pinfall for a 2 count, then King reversed it for a 2 count of his own. King locked in the Boston Crab again but Bailey managed to make the ropes. King held onto the move and pulled Bailey back into the centre of the ring. King lifted Bailey up by his legs, but Bailey rolled through and turned it into a pin for the win after 8:45.
Winner by pinfall: Mike Bailey
Analysis: *** It was a good opener but it never got to the heights that I hoped it would. They have had better matches this year for sure. I did like how evenly the match was booked and that the wrestlers both had to resort to outmaneuvering each other with crafty counters and pinfall attempts. The win came out of nowhere for Bailey so that also played how close the contest was. The semi-final brackets showed the remaining matches as Black Taurus vs PJ Black and Trey Miguel vs Mike Bailey.
The Motor City Machine Guns were backstage chatting with Josh Alexander about Aussie Open. The Guns also offered Alexander some advice about Bully Ray, with Chris Sabin guaranteeing to Alexander that Bully can’t be trusted.
There was a hype video for the Hard to Kill PPV which is their next PPV on January 13th.
Gisele Shaw was backstage handing out photographs of herself posing with the Knockouts Championship. She offered one to Deonna Purrazzo and Chelsea Green, who she partnered with last week. Green was not impressed and blames Shaw for Mickie James still having a career. Before Purrazzo can dissolve this new alliance, Shaw tells her that she’s breaking up with them and walks off as Green is seething.
Analysis: That was certainly short-lived. Shaw looks like going solo now. It’s Chelsea Green vs Mickie James next week.
Match #2: Savannah Evans w/ Tasha Steelz vs Jessicka w/ Rosemary & Taya Valkyrie
The commentators spent a lot of time putting over the formidable Evans. Steelz grabbed a mic and said last week Evans had an appetiser, when she destroyed a jobber, and Steelz wonders who wants to be the main course. The Death Dollz music hit and Jessicka is the opponent. The crowd was behind Jessicka as the two ladies stared each other down. They exchanged strikes early in the match and Jessicka hit a running splash in the corner. Jessicka bounced Evans’ head off the top turnbuckle and hit a number of forearms to the face. Jessicka stomped away on Evans in the corner and then bounced Evans’ head off the turnbuckle pad again. Jessicka hit a big running clothesline in the corner as she continued to dominate. She played up to the crowd and took too long setting up another running clothesline, allowing Evans to move out of the way and connect with a DDT.
Back from the break and Evans was in control, choking Jessicka out in the corner with her foot. Evans hit a snap suplex for a 2 count. Evans hit a running legdrop for another 2 count. Evans backed Jessicka in the corner with a shoulder tackle, then ran at her but Jessicka missed and Evans went shoulder-first into the ring post. Jessicka hit a German suplex and both women took their time to get to their feet. Evans began biting the forehead of Evans, then hit a German suplex of her own for a close 2 count. Evans went for a chokeslam but Jessicka fought her off. Evans hit a number of head butts, which didn’t faze Jessicka who fought back with a torpedo headbutt that sent Evans to the mat. Jessicka hit a running crossbody as Evans was in a seated position on the mat. Tasha Steelz got up on the ring apron for the distraction, so Taya Valkyrie pulled her down and Rosemary nailed Steelz with a spear on the floor. Back in the ring, Evans connected with a big boot and hit a full nelson slam for the win after 8 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Savannah Evans
Analysis: **3/4 It was pretty slow but the crowd were interested enough in Jessicka to drag them to a decent match. The first half of the match had the face in full control, which was odd seeing as they’re trying to re-establish Evans as a monster heel, and then the ending was cheap with Evans relying on the distraction for the win. A more dominant display would’ve been better and made Evans look more impressive.
The Impact Plus moment of the week was from Lockdown 2013 when Bully Ray joined Aces & Eights and became World Heavyweight Champion by turning heel and screwing Jeff Hardy.
There was a quick vignette for Killer Kelly, reminding us that she’s still dangerous.
There were shots of Eddie Edwards who is apparently out in the Las Vegas desert and vowed to bury PCO alive tonight if he shows up.
Steve Maclin was shown on a pre-taped promo, listing the quality of opponents he has beaten this year. Maclin complains that he has been overlooked lately for the likes of Bobby Fish, Bully Ray and now Frankie Kazarian. Maclin says he is sick of waiting in line and is going to take his opportunity.
Analysis: Maclin made some good points. I would’ve preferred him to face Alexander and have Kaz run with the X-Division title for a while.
Digital Media Champion Brian Myers and his tag team partner Matt Cardona are backstage gloating that they will become the next Impact World Tag Team Champions. Myers says Heath has done quite well lately without Rhino and Cardona calls Rhino ‘deadweight’. Myers says when they’re done with them, Heath can forget about him and won’t even have to “say his name”. That’s the cue for Joe Hendry to randomly pop out of a fridge to his theme music as a backstage employee works by and claps on cue. Hendry says Myers should still be focused on the Digital Media Championship. Hendry apologises to the Digital Media Championship and says if Myers can’t look after it, then Hendry can. Cardona wonders who that was and why he came out of the fridge, as Hendry walks off.
Analysis: Another entertaining Hendry segment. These are just so silly, yet so fun. I am enjoying what he’s doing and the other wrestlers who interact with him clearly play off him well.
The coverage goes back to Eddie Edwards in the desert. It’s being shot in a cinematic style like Undertaker vs AJ Styles from WrestleMania 36. From a distance, you can see PCO walking towards him. Edwards goads PCO into coming towards him. PCO removes his helmet and screams at Edwards. PCO grabs Edwards by the throat and they brawl. They continue to fight and throw each other around on the rough terrain. PCO puts on his glove and gives Edwards the Mandible Claw but Edwards grabs a large rock and smashes PCO over the head with it. Edwards suplexes PCO onto a boulder. Edwards starts screaming that PCO ruined everything but PCO recovers and chokeslams Edwards on the boulder. PCO picks up the large boulder but Edwards has a shovel and hits him in the ribs, then over the head with it. Edwards throws PCO in a shallow grave and starts to bury PCO. The ground is so rough that he barely throws any dirt on with each shovel full. Edwards walks off and the camera pans to the hole where PCO can no longer be seen.
Analysis: It was an odd segment and seemed really rushed because this rivalry has been brewing for a long time so to do something this drastic now was surprising. I’m sure PCO will be back soon to play up his ‘monster’ character but I think they could’ve just had a brawl in the ring to kick off the one-on-one feud officially.
Taylor Wilde is backstage with Mickie James, discussing James’ match with Chelsea Green next week. Wilde says hopefully after Mickie wins, then Wilde can have her match with Mickie. Wilde says that Green will have Deonna Purrazzo in her corner, so offers her services to Mickie to keep the match even. James appreciates that but needs to do it on her own. Wilde says she respects that and hopes she sees Mickie on the other side.
Match #3: Eric Young w/ Deaner vs Sami Callihan
This is a first-time match up which should be a main event, so I’m hoping there’s some shenanigans as an explanation for why it’s not higher up on the card. Callihan doesn’t wrestle often on the weekly show so it should be a big deal. Callihan immediately hits a pop-up powerbomb on Young as soon as the bell rings. They brawl on the outside and Young rakes the eyes of Callihan. Callihan chops Young hard against the ring post, but misses the second chop and connects with the post itself. Callihan rakes the back of Young and goads Deaner into hitting him for a DQ win. Callihan drags his fingernails across the chest of Young and connects with a suplex on the outside. Callihan starts biting Young’s ears and then looks for the Cactus Driver but the referee tells him to get into the ring. Sami gets in the referee’s face which allows Deaner to deck him with a clothesline. Young slides back into the ring and Callihan makes it after 8. Young connects with a hard kick to the face of Callihan. Young wants the Piledriver but Sami battles out so Young beats him down to the mat. Again Young goes for the Piledriver but Callihan flips him over. Young connects with a headbutt and they exchange strikes whilst on their knees, then Young hits a hard clothesline which knocks Callihan off his feet. Young misses a moonsault and Sami takes control back with a number of hard chops and a clothesline of his own. He sets up for the Cactus Driver but one of Young’s new henchmen jumps up onto the ring apron. Then all of a sudden about a dozen others surround Callihan in the ring. Callihan knocks one off the apron but then the rest of the ‘Army of Violence’ swarm on Callihan and beat him down. The referee calls for the bell. Deaner gets two of the men to step forward and they reveal themselves as Alan Angels and Big Kon (Konnor in WWE, who had a match in Impact in February), the newest members of Violent by Design. Eric Young then grabs a weapon and nails Callihan in the forehead as VBD pose to end the segment. The match itself lasted about 6 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Sami Callihan
Analysis: *** I was really enjoying the match and I thought it would have a controversial finish so I’m glad they booked it that way. It was certainly very intense for the short amount of time they were given. It’s good that they have now named two new members of VBD. Angels can go in the ring and they’ll give him a new, intense character whilst Big Kon can be the heavy of the group, playing the Joe Doering role. I wonder if they will reveal more members moving forward.
Jordynne Grace was shown backstage and someone had broken into her locker room. On the wall, there were dozens of photographs and someone who claimed to be Gisele Shaw’s stylist was standing there and said that Shaw told her to capture the moment. Grace threw the stylist across the room and told him to let Shaw know that she can have a shot at the title next week and then she kicked the stylist out.
Analysis: That’s a decent match for next week but Grace will retain.
Match #4: Moose vs Ace Austin w/ Chris Bey
I have to admit that Moose has one of my favourite entrance themes in Impact, which is probably strange because it has the word ‘moose’ repeated over and over again. This is another first-time match up and they’re certainly not ‘slow-burning’ some things tonight. This match stems from the friction between Bullet Club, Bully Ray and Moose. The bell rings and Moose runs straight at Austin, who avoids the attack. Austin uses his athleticism to avoid Moose on the ring apron, but Moose grabs Austin by the legs and smashes his head into the steel steps as they go to an ad break.
Moose is still in control as we come back to the action. Moose lands a hard chop to the chest of Austin, who is trapped in the corner. He repeats the punishment in the opposite corner of the ring. Moose is mocking Austin in the corner and takes far too long to wind up for a third chop, so Austin ducks and starts throwing chops of his own. Austin stomps away at Moose in the corner and tries to whip Moose across the ring. Moose is too strong and grabs Austin and tosses him face-first into the top turnbuckle. Moose starts choking out Austin with his foot and then clubs him down to the mat. Moose starts yelling in Austin’s face about the fact that he is a wrestling God and slaps Austin across the face. This infuriates Austin who mounts Moose and fires away with right hands. Austin connects with a double stomp but Moose powers out before the 2 count. Austin nails a kick to the jaw and wants the Fold but Moose catches him with a huge Uranage. Moose is looking for the spear but Austin blocks it with a kick. Austin climbs to the top but Moose launches him half-way across the ring. Bully Ray walks down to ringside and starts talking trash to Moose. Moose goes for the spear but Austin rolls out of the way and rolls Moose up for the win after 8 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ace Austin
Analysis: *** That was a surprise result after a competitive match. There were plenty of times that Moose should’ve put Austin away but he got cocky and then the Bully distraction ultimately led to his downfall. It’s a big win for Austin but it just looks like a platform to build Moose vs Bully Ray at this stage.
– X-Division Championship Tournament: Semi-Final: Trey Miguel vs Mike Bailey
– Digital Media Championship: Brian Myers (c) vs Joe Hendry
– Knockouts Championship: Jordynne Grace (c) vs Gisele Shaw
– Mickie James vs Chelsea Green
Analysis: That looks like a great lineup and 4 matches that could all be of very good quality.
Match #5: Josh Alexander & Frankie Kazarian vs Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)
It’s main event time and my fellow Australians are out first, followed by the Impact World Champion and challenger, who entered separately. Josh Alexander has now held the title for 194 days which is the 4th longest reign in company history.
Back from the break and the match begins with Fletcher facing off against Kazarian. Kaz gets the first advantage with a shoulder block. Fletcher targets the left arm of Kaz early on, who wriggles free and tries a bridging pin for a 1 count. Davis and Alexander tag in and lock up. Davis gets the upper hand and backs the champ back into the corner. Davis takes him down with a shoulder block but Alexander fights back with a dropkick and tags Kaz back in. Kaz hits a legdrop off the middle rope for a 2 count. Davis overpowers Kaz and backs him into his corner so he can make the tag to Fletcher. Aussie Open utilise the 5 count to double-team Kaz and Fletcher gets a 1 count. Kaz hits a modified side Russian Legsweep for a 2 count and then he tags in Alexander. They perform a double suplex on Fletcher for a 2 count. Alexander hits a running elbow and then chops him so hard that he falls out of the ring. Alexander chops Fletcher again and rolls him back inside the ring. Alexander hits a number of forearms and runs the ropes but Davis knees him in the back then Fletcher clotheslines him over the top rope. Kaz runs in and knocks Fletcher down off the ring apron. Kaz runs at Davis but the big man lifts him up and slams him into Alexander as we go to another break.
Davis gets a 2 count as we come back to the action. Davis throws Alexander into the top turnbuckle and tags Fletcher back in. Fletcher nails a scoop slam and retains the hold of the left arm as he hits another slam. Fletcher tries a hat trick but Alexander tries an inside cradle and gets 2. Fletcher slaps Kaz who is in his corner, which allows Davis to hit a back suplex on Alexander on the ring apron. Fletcher nails Alexander with a Brainbuster for a close 2 count. Alexander digs deep and connects with an overhead belly-to-belly on Fletcher. Davis comes in and misses a senton and then swipes at Kaz who moves out of the way. Alexander makes the diving tag to Kaz who comes in and nails Davis in the corner with a flying forearm then one for Fletcher. Davis again goes for a cheap shot on the apron but Kaz fights him off with a superkick. Kaz springboards into the ring with a slingshot DDT on Fletcher for a 2 count. Fletcher avoids the Crossface Chickenwing and rolls across the ring to tag in Davis. Davis hits a huge boot on Alexander, which sends him flying off the ring apron. Aussie Open hit a spinning double-team cutter on Kaz for a 2 count. Kaz avoids another double team move and dives to tag in Alexander. Alexander fights off both Davis and Fletcher with strikes, then hits 2 German suplexes on Fletcher. Alexander nails Davis with an impressive powerbomb for a 2 count. Alexander sets up for the C4 Spike but Davis backs him into the corner. Fletcher hits a running clothesline on Alexander then Davis nails him with a sliding forearm. Aussie Open set up for Coriolis but Kaz makes the save. Alexander locks the anklelock on Davis but Fletcher nails him with a superkick. Davis with a big boot on Alexander and then Aussie Open both nail kicks on the champ, before hitting a modified double-team powerbomb. Kaz saves the match up just before the 3 count. Fletcher tags back in and immediately nails Kaz in the corner with a forearm. Alexander levels Fletcher with a right hand shot and tags in Kaz. Kaz knocks Davis out of the ring and lands a legdrop on Fletcher who is caught up in the middle rope. Fletcher kicks out at 2. Fletcher fights out of the Chickenwing attempt and the referee misses Davis nail a big right hand on Kaz. Fletcher schoolboys Kaz who barely kicks out. Aussie Open set up Kaz for another double-team move but Alexander interrupts. Alexander locks Fletcher in the anklelock and Kaz has a leg lock on Davis. Fletcher is close to tapping but flips Alexander over and he goes crashing into Kaz, breaking up both submission holds. All 4 men are brawling in the middle of the ring now. Davis lands a big kick on Kaz who slumps down into the corner. Alexander suplexes Fletcher to the outside, but his momentum sends them both over the tope rope. Kaz slingshots Davis back into the ring and connects with a cutter in mid-air for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Analysis: ***3/4 That was a fantastic main event that was given plenty of time and wasn’t hurt too much by the two commercial breaks. It was always going to be difficult to book as they have to keep both Alexander and Kazarian strong, but I didn’t really want Aussie Open to be the ones to take the pinfall loss. They did look great in defeat but I think they should be built up with more tag team wins (they’ve now lost 2/4 matches). It was a hectic match up and Aussie Open did spend a lot of time doing or attempting double-team moves. In the end, the experience of Kaz and Alexander allowed them to get the win.
After the match, Kazarian has the Impact World Championship but places it on Alexander’s shoulders as the show goes off air.
Final Rating: 7/10
It was a pretty good episode of Impact this week. It seems like fairly regularly I get towards the main event of Impact and it’s been an average or just solid show, but then the main event pulls it over the line to a show of decent quality. All of the matches were solid and had storyline significance. It’s a fairly regular occurrence to have several 7-10 minute matches on the weekly show, but I’d prefer cutting one of them and allowing other matches to get a few minutes added on. Moose vs Ace Austin or Callihan vs Young at 12-15 minutes instead of 8-10 would make a bit of a difference in match quality. Because it’s another set of taped shows there were a lot of regular wrestlers missing tonight but there was a bit of storyline development as we head towards the next Impact Plus special. Eric Young’s group had two new members revealed and the feud with Sami Callihan will surely continue. It looks like Bully Ray vs. Moose will be a short-term plan moving forward in a battle of the so-called scumbags. There was no friction between Josh Alexander and Frankie Kazarian so we might be getting a face-vs-face match up but the mic work has been strong in their promos so far so they are telling a good story overall. We also had some Undertaker-level buried alive shenanigans between PCO and Eddie Edwards, which seemed at the wrong end of the spectrum in terms of feud development.
The lineup for Over Drive looks like this so far:
* Impact World Championship: Josh Alexander (c) vs Frankie Kazarian
* Knockouts Tag Team Championships: Death Dollz (c) v Tasha Steelz & Savannah Evans
* Bully Ray vs. Moose