This week’s Impact was back on North American soil and was headlined by a World Championship match between Alex Shelley and Jonathan Gresham.
Last week Impact began their UK Invasion tour, kicking off in Glasgow, Scotland. Last week’s show was a combination of different matches from this tour. During the main event, Impact World Champion Alex Shelley injured his calf. I was speculating in my column about how he did the injury and received an email from a reader of mine who was at the show explaining how he did the injury and how they covered him for the rest of the match. Thanks to Jamie Fisher for contacting me and explaining that. It’s cool to get reports from fans live in attendance. He also informed me that Shelley vs Jonathan Gresham for the World Title was taped after Bound for Glory so that match has already happened, for those wondering if it would still go ahead.
On Friday night, Impact had their monthly special, Turning Point, from Newcastle in England. It was a week ago so I won’t do a full review but here are some quick thoughts:
* Subculture vs Josh Alexander & Eric Young opened up the show. It was better than the main event of last week’s show between Alexander & Young vs The Motor City Machine Guns. They set the crowd up for the rest of the night.
* Dani Luna was featured in another big match, this time against Jordynne Grace, and again she didn’t disappoint. Grace got the job done with a move they’re now calling The Juggernaut Driver instead of the Grace Driver
* Joe Hendry and Simon Miller have had an interesting feud that has played out on social media. Hendry defeated Miller with the Standing Ovation
* Trinity successfully defended her Knockouts’ Championship against Deonna Purrazzo in a very good match. That meant Purrazzo can never receive another shot whilst Trinity is champ.
* Will Ospreay defeated Eddie Edwards in the main event. Edwards threw everything at Ospreay (even kicking out of the Hidden Blade) but eventually Ospreay put him away with the Stormbreaker in the match of the night. It wasn’t at the level of Ospreay/Bailey from BFG but still very good. If I was rating it, it would be in the 3/5-3.75 star range. Ospreay cut a very respectful promo on Impact/TNA to close the show.
Impact Wrestling 9/11/23 from Cicero Stadium: Chicago, IL
There were some highlights from Turning Point, which I addressed above so I won’t go into any detail.
Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt welcomed us to the show and we are straight into Knockouts’ action.
Match #1: Tasha Steelz vs Deonna Purrazzo
These two were tag partners at Bound for Glory but they lost and now Steelz wants to prove that she is on Purrazzo’s level. Neither woman was able to get a real advantage after locking up. Steelz targeted the left arm of Purrazzo but Purrazzo grounded her with a leg lock and turned it into a pinfall for 2. Purrazzo tried to lock in a body scissors but that didn’t last long. It was a very even start to the match. Steelz hit a running hurricanrana as the first real offensive move in the match. Purrazzo clapped her sarcastically and then took her down with a snapmare and a dropkick to the ribs. Steelz blocked the Queen’s Gambit and almost snuck a win with a jackknife cover. Purrazzo blocked a cutter attempt and got a 2 count with a sunset flip. They traded pin attempts and Steelz hit a superkick, then they both ran into each other’s clotheslines. Both women traded right hands in the centre of the ring. Purrazzo hit a running knee and a side Russian Legsweep. She tried for the armbar but Steelz rolled her up into a pin. Steelz bounced off the ropes and locked in the Venus D’Milo which is Purrazzo’s own move. Purrazzo was struggling to break free and eventually turned it into an armbar. Steelz broke up the submission by gouging the eyes of Purrazzo, which is more of a heel move. Steelz tossed Purrazzo into the steel ring post and nailed a jumping cutter. She hit another cutter to beat Purrazzo after 9 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tasha Steelz
Analysis: ***1/4 That felt like a throwaway match before Purrazzo’s rumoured exit from Impact in the near future. It is definitely a PPV-worthy bout, but they just put it on free-TV and gave it less than 10 minutes; 3-4 of those minutes were counters and grappling. I expected better.
Impact World Champion, Alex Shelley, cut a quick promo backstage. Shelley put Gresham as a former World Champion (ROH) and said the best man would win.
Analysis: This should be a good match and it was taped before Shelley injured himself in Glasgow.
They showed highlights of Bullet Club beating The Rascalz at Bound for Glory, which was the wrong booking decision in my opinion. Bey and Austin were chatting backstage and said they haven’t stopped celebrating since BFG. Austin said he was looking forward to Hard to Kill and getting new TNA Championship belts. Director of Authority Santino Marella walked in to congratulate them. Kenny King stormed in angry as he has been trying to call Marella about his Digital Media Championship rematch. Austin didn’t like being interrupted and told King to get in line. King and Sheldon Jean started joking around so Marella made a championship match between the two teams. King wasn’t happy because he wanted a singles championship match.
Analysis: That will be a fine match next week but King and Jean won’t win. King’s poor booking never ends.
Match #2: Impact Digital Media Championship: Tommy Dreamer (c) vs Crazzy Steve
The awesome Steve made his way to the ring with his briefcase that he was cashing in tonight. He is probably Impact’s best character with PCO at present. If he loses tonight I might give up on wrestling. They locked up and brawled around the ring in the opening exchanges. Dreamer hit a clothesline at ringside then tossed Steve back in the ring. Steve struck with a kick as Dreamer was making his way back into the ring. Steve took advantage in the corner with a series of strikes. Dreamer blocked another shot and hit a neckbreaker then a knee strike. He mounted Steve in the corner with right hands but Steve started biting Dreamer on the thigh. Hannifan was screaming about it and calling Steve a “sick freak” which was funny. Steve started singing as he stomped on Dreamer around the ring. He tied Dreamer up in the middle rope and pulled at his face. Steve hit a Russian Legsweep and wrenched at the neck of Dreamer. He tied Dreamer up in the ropes again and raked at his eyes, then climbed to the top rope but Dreamer cut him off with a right hand. Dreamer nailed a superplex which kept both men down on the mat for a while. They got to their feet and exchanged strikes but Dreamer nailed a Bionic elbow to gain the ascendency. Steve blocked a running clothesline but Dreamer still hit a reverse DDT. Dreamer wanted the Dreamer Driver but Steve wrenched at his eyes and the referee had to pull him off as he reached the ropes. Steve hit a cannonball in the corner and then sat next to Dreamer talking trash. He went to the outside and grabbed a fork out of his briefcase. Steve told Dreamer he was going to “open his eyes” and went to stab Dreamer, who blocked the fork shot. Dreamer started biting Steve’s fingers and hit a cutter. Dreamer got the fork and had a crazy look in his eyes. He nailed Steve in the head causing a disqualification. The match went 7 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Crazzy Steve
Analysis: *** That was better than I expected but the reign of Dreamer is still going on. They played up the personal side of the feud well. Does that mean Steve’s briefcase shot has been used up now because he’s had the match? Probably not. A return match at Destination X should go ahead.
Steve was busted open very quickly. Dreamer dug deeper into the forehead wound of Steve with the fork, who rolled out of the ring. Steve was laughing manically as he walked up the ramp.
Gia Miller was backstage with Jonathan Gresham who said he had the biggest opportunity of his Impact career tonight. Gresham said tonight that he gets what he deserves and that he’s going to bring true honor to the ring…by any means necessary.
Analysis: Gresham’s new heelish character is good, he just needs more TV time.
Match #3: Brian Myers vs Joe Hendry
Hendry took a mic and said they had all seen the news of the rebrand. The fans chanted “TNA”. Hendry said the change starts tonight, with Myers not being called ‘Edge’s b_tch’ but actually ‘Adam’s b_tch’, referring to his stable in WWE a long time ago. Hendry did his usual believe schtick before the bell rang. Myers was annoyed and quickly hit a back suplex. He nailed some upper cuts and a running back elbow. Myers talked some trash and stomped on Hendry then scored a 1 count. Hendry quickly slipped out of a headlock but ran into a scoop slam. Myers measured Hendry for a spear but Hendry nailed an upper cut and tossed Myers over the top rope. They brawled on the entrance ramp and Hendry bounced Myers off the ring apron. Hendry nailed another upper cut and scored a 2 count. He applied a wrist lock on Myers who was trapped on the mat. Hendry picked him up and dumped him with a spinning scoop slam and an elbow drop for 2. Myers tripped Hendry up and into the middle rope. He choked Hendry out for a bit against the ropes and hit a Russian leg sweep for 2. Myers hit a number of knee drops and whipped Hendry hard against the turnbuckle. He ran the ropes but Hendry caught him with a Trust Fall. Hendry chopped Myers to the tune of his theme music. He hit a kick to the gut and some more chops, then his always-awesome stalling suplex for 2. Myers bailed to the outside but Hendry quickly tossed him back into the ring. Myers quickly recovered and sent Hendry into the steel post. He mocked the fans again and then hit a snapmare on Hendry. Myers locked in the sleeper hold but Hendry used his strength to lift Myers over his head into a suplex. Hendry hit a couple of suplexes and a Fallaway Slam. He nailed a clothesline in the corner and another Fallaway. Hendry kipped up and nailed a third Fallaway which was a little bit like a Jackhammer. Myers kicked out at 2. He was playing possum and hit an enziguiri and the Implant DDT but Hendry kicked out just before 3. Myers ran at Hendry but got caught with a pop-up powerbomb for another 2 count. Hendry tried to fire up the fans and wanted the Standing Ovation but Myers made it to the ropes. The referee got between the wrestlers so Myers gouged Hendry in the eyes. Myers hit the Roster Cut for the win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Brian Myers
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match but didn’t really hit any heights. It was like most Myers matches where he takes a beating, cheats and wins in a lucky way. Hendry has been all over the shop, in terms of booking since he lost the Digital Media Championship. I hope he gets something to sink his teeth into soon.
There were highlights of Will Ospreay’s match with Mike Bailey at Bound for Glory. Next week Ospreay takes on Josh Alexander one-on-one. That match could even be better. Ospreay is working at such an incredible level at present. He was interviewed by Gia Miller backstage. She asked him his thoughts on the match with Alexander. Ospreay pointed out that he was a champion currently and Alexander was not. He said that he hadn’t heard of Alexander before turning up in Impact. Ospreay said he was impressed but wants to see if Alexander is on his level. He said that we would all find out next week.
Analysis: I love Ospreay’s swagger. I have honestly not watched many of his matches before 2023. Now I am trying to catch him every time he performs. Watching a lot of English football over the years, I understand his banter but I wonder what other people around the world thinks when he says stuff like “Cheerio mate” and blows Alexander a kiss. I’m looking forward to that match.
Match #4: Eddie Edwards w/ Alisha vs Eric Young
Edwards lost to Ospreay in the UK last week. Young also eliminated him from the Bound for Glory gauntlet. The crowd was firmly behind EY as the match began. Edwards hit a shoulder block early on. Young fired back with a dropkick off the ropes and a stiff forearm. He bounced Edwards’ head off the turnbuckle and the two exchanged chops. Alisha held Young’s leg as he tried to bounce off the ropes. This allowed Edwards to hit an overhead belly-to-belly-suplex and gain the upper hand. He mounted Young and dominated him with right hands. Edwards choked Young against the middle rope then distracted the referee so Alisha could continue the assault. Edwards locked in a sleeper but Young fought to his feet, until Edwards hit a back elbow for 2. He nailed a scoop slam and admired his work. Edwards climbed to the top rope and wanted the moonsault but Young moved out of harm’s way. Young fought back with a couple of back elbows and a scoop slam. He climbed to the top but Alisha distracted him so Eddie cut him off. Young started biting Edwards in the head and sent him crashing to the mat. He nailed his big elbow drop for a close 2 count. Young called for the piledriver but Alisha got up on the apron for another distraction. He ran right into the Blue Thunder Bomb and Edwards got a nearfall. Alisha threw a steel chair into the ring but the referee confiscated it. She went to nail Young in the head with the kendo stick but he ducked and she nailed Eddie. Young hit an awesome-looking piledriver for the win after 7 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Eric Young
Analysis: ***1/4 Another solid match from two veterans. This should be getting 15-20 minutes and not 7 minutes, tossed together on a weekly show. Edwards sold the piledriver to perfection so he can have an extra ¼ star for that. His losing streak continues but I’m glad to see Young pick up a win.
Brian Myers was sulking backstage because Moose didn’t help him in his match with Joe Hendry. Heath walked in and wanted a piece of Myers. Moose got in Heath’s face and Heath said he didn’t care who he fought, but he’s going to Santino for a match.
Analysis: Either match is fine with me. I think Heath finishes up with Impact after these tapings.
Alex Shelley and Jonathan Gresham were shown warming up before the main event.
Trinity welcome Sonny Kiss to Impact backstage.
Match #4: Dirty Dango & Oleg Prudius w/ Alpha Bravo vs Two Jobbers
Hannifan said this was Prudius’ first match in 12 years. Dango left the ring apron to go do commentary. Prudius destroyed one of the jobbers (I think he was named Diamond) with a big boot, overhead suplex and shoulder block. He continued to dominate with a Fallaway Slam. Dango saw that the match was almost over so he got the tag in and hit his Reverse DDT finisher for the win after 2 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dirty Dango & Oleg Prudius
Analysis: * It was just a squash. I don’t even think they named the jobber team.
Jordynne Grace cut a promo about facing Trinity at Hard to Kill. Bully Ray walked in and wanted a handshake. Ki Lynn King also walked in and said Grace’s win at Bound for Glory was a fluke. Bully told her to back down. Steve Maclin walked in next and called Bully soft again. Bully reminded Maclin that he cost him the match at Bound for Glory. He asked him who was soft then. Grace barely said a word the entire segment.
Analysis: Maybe it’s a slight turn for Bully in the near future. Bully vs Maclin would be fine.
The Rascalz cut a backstage promo and listed some of their accomplishments in Impact since they debuted. They introduced a new member in Myron Reed.
Analysis: I’m not familiar with Reed but I’m interested in seeing what he can do.
* Impact World Tag Team Championships: Bullet Club (c) vs Kenny King & Sheldon Jean
* The Rascalz vs Laredo Kid, Black Taurus & Juventud Guerrera
* Moose vs Heath
* Trinity vs Sonny Kiss
* Steve Maclin & Ki Lynn King vs Bully Ray & Jordynne Grace
* Will Ospreay vs Josh Alexander
Analysis: That looks like a great card but you just know they’re going to be between 8-10 minute matches except for the main event. Spread the matches out over a few shows!
Match #5: Impact World Championship: Alex Shelley vs Jonathan Gresham
Dave Penzer did the big-match introductions. Gresham was aggressive early and backed Shelley into the corner. Shelley ducked a clothesline and they went to a commercial 30 seconds in!
Shelley ran right through Gresham as we returned to the action. They exchanged chops and Gresham took some of his wrist tape off so the referee tossed it out of the ring. Gresham hit a low blow while the referee wasn’t looking. I love this new character development of Gresham. Gresham used the wrist tape to choke Shelley out, but he did it with his back to the referee so he went undetected. Gresham took out Shelley’s knee with a dropkick. He locked in the Figure 4 Leg Lock and Shelley laid down for a bit so the referee counted a 1 count. There were duelling chants from the fans but Shelley finally reached the ropes to break the hold. Gresham feigned that his legs were stuck so that he didn’t have to break the hold, then laughed about it. He stomped away at Shelley on the mat. Gresham wrenched at the ears and nose of Shelley until the referee counted to 5. He choked Shelley out against the middle ring rope, then choked him with the wrist tape again. Gresham stomped on the left hand of Shelley and scored a 1 count. Shelley blocked a suplex so Gresham nailed a few forearms. Shelley fired up and hit a clothesline but Gresham bounced back with a back suplex that landed on Shelley’s ankle. Gresham repeated the dose and then drove Shelley’s knee into the canvas. He went back to the Figure 4 but decided against it and went back to choking Shelley out with the wrist tape. The referee finally went for a front view but Gresham removed the tape and tried for a Crossface. Shelley rolled free and manipulated the fingers on the right hand of Gresham. He nailed a hard knee drop to the back of the neck of Gresham. Shelley nailed a modified backstabber on Gresham but was struggling on his knee so couldn’t follow up. Gresham went back to the knee with a Dragon Screw and drove the knee of Shelley into the canvas about a dozen times. Gresham hit a dropkick to the knee again as Shelley retreated to the corner. Shelley blocked a corner attack and hung Gresham up on the top rope. He sling shotted over the top rope and landed on the knee again. Gresham tried to give him a Dragon Screw on the ring apron but Shelley wrenched on his left arm, then hit a slingshot crossbody over the top rope to the outside. They brawled around the ring and Gresham tried to escape back in the ring but Shelley didn’t allow it. Gresham whipped Shelley around the ringside area but Shelley’s knee gave way. Shelley still hit a DDT on the floor. The referee should’ve counted to 30 by now but somehow he only got to 9. Shelley tried to enter the ring but Gresham hit a dropkick to the knee and a diving forearm for 2. Gresham rolled Shelley up with a handful of tights for 2 again. Rehwoldt was making excuses for Gresham’s cheating behaviour. Shelley hit a headbutt and avoided another dropkick to the knee. He nailed a nasty Flatliner into the bottom turnbuckle. Shelley nailed a spiking Tornado DDT for another 2 count and floated straight over into the Motor City Stretch. Gresham grabbed the referee and climbed over him to break the submission. He started chopping Shelley’s injured knee but Shelley fought back with an enziguiri. Shelley hit a rolling elbow and tried the Motor City Stretch but Gresham countered into a pinfall where the referee was very slow to count to 2. Gresham tried another roll up for another close nearfall. They exchanged a flurry of forearms and Gresham started gouging the eyes of Shelley. Shelley kicked at the left arm of Gresham to break free. Gresham hit a smooth springboard moonsault and a slingshot arm drag for 2. Shelley tried a roll up for another 2 count. They traded pinning attempts and Shelley almost won with a sunset flip pin that was as close to 3 as you could get. Shelley missed a clothesline so Gresham tried for a backslide with a bridge for 2 again. He fought out of the Motor City Stretch and got another nearfall. Gresham locked in the Figure 4 once again. This time it was in the centre of the ring. Shelley struggled but eventually made the bottom rope to break the hold. Gresham chopped Shelley against the ring ropes. He whipped Shelley across the ring but Shelley’s knee gave out. Gresham went back to the Figure 4 but Shelley used an inside cradle for another 2 count. Shelley nailed a superkick that Gresham sold to perfection. As he was falling to the mat, Shelley grabbed him and hit the Shell Shock for the win after 22 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact World Champion: Alex Shelley
Analysis: ****1/4 Fantastic main event that showed that Gresham belongs around the main event scene in his new heel role. I enjoyed that they both targeted one body part throughout and a lot of the offense was based around that. On Gresham, there is no doubt he is an incredible, pure wrestler, but as a face he just didn’t have much of a character or personality. Some of his matches, especially when it wasn’t against a pure heel wrestler just felt dragged out and over-booked. As a heel, he can get a reaction from the audience through his cheating but also how smart he is as a wrestler and the amount of times he one-ups his opponent like he did here. I think he has embraced the heel role and is shining. I think I might have liked this more than Alexander/Shelley at Bound for Glory. Impact do too many face vs face matches, so this appealed to me more plus I want Gresham to get some spotlight after I would say not a huge deal of recognition over the years. The last few minutes of countering and trading near falls, without overdoing it, was just brilliant to watch. Shelley, whilst not the strongest talker or biggest guy, continues to have very good matches in his run as champion. Moose is next on the scene and I think he might be the one to end the reign at Hard to Kill.
Final Rating: 8/10
I was happy for a return to regular Impact this week. The main event was really great and if you only have time for one match on the show this week, then spend 22 minutes watching that. It was an impressive showing from both guys and they meshed so well. I enjoyed the other matches but it’s the same old problem we see most weeks. You just start to get into the match and it ends after 8-10 minutes because they try to cram as much in as possible, having only on weekly TV show. I think I talk about this most weeks so people are probably sick of it but it’s a common theme. Purrazzo vs Steelz should not be a throwaway TV match under 10 minutes in mid-November. Neither should Edwards vs Young. I liked both matches, but 10 more minutes on a monthly-show and they probably get 4 stars and you would actually remember them a few months down the track. Next week, it looks like more of the same. 6 matches and 5 of those will get less than 10 minutes because Alexander vs Ospreay will go for 20+ minutes. I know there are a lot of wrestlers to fit on the one show, but only about half feature each week anyway so cut down some of the videos and extend your matches for a few more minutes. Please!
The next Impact monthly special is Final Destination on December 9th. Here’s the card so far:
* The Motor City Machine Guns vs Josh Alexander & Zack Sabre Jr.
The next PPV is Hard to Kill on January 13th, 2024. Here’s that card so far:
* Impact World Championship: Alex Shelley (c) vs Moose
* Impact Knockouts’ World Championship: Trinity (c) vs Jordynne Grace