A 10-person mixed tag match with big implications for Bound for Glory was featured on this week’s episode of Impact Wrestling. Plus, an interesting development between the World Champion Alex Shelley and his BFG opponent Josh Alexander as well.
Impact Wrestling 28/9/23 from Graceland Soundstage in Memphis, Tennessee.
There was a video that showed some highlights from last week’s show which featured Chris Sabin successfully defending the X-Division Championship against Alan Angels which was a bit of a throwaway match. We then found out that Sabin will defend against KENTA at Bound for Glory.
Tom Hannifan welcomed us to the show and was going bananas about their biggest PPV of the year being only 2 weeks away. I really think he does a fantastic job of making a lot of things feel important on the show. He’s the best in the business for me at present. We are straight into Knockouts’ action, with the returning Tasha Steelz.
Match #1: Tasha Steelz vs Killer Kelly w/ Masha Slamovich
Steelz and Deonna Purrazzo formed an alliance last week so this looks like a Tag Team Championship match at Bound for Glory. That makes sense as that’s 4 big names and making the titles look important. Purrazzo is not in the corner of Steelz here. Steelz went for a quick roll up to surprise Kelly, but Kelly popped out at 1. Steelz backed her into the corner with a chop. She shifted Kelly to a different corner and stomped her down. Kelly reversed an Irish Whip and met Steelz with a knee. Kelly hit a nice stalling Fisherman’s Suplex for a 2 count. This is Steelz first singles match for 6 months. Kelly hit a big boot, which forced Steelz to the outside. Steelz blocked a kick from the apron and nailed a right hand, then did a draping DDT from the apron to the floor. That was awesome and very Randy Orton-esque. The referee counted to 6 and Steelz rolled back into the ring to break the count. She went back outside to toss Kelly inside and scored a 2 count. Steelz hit a running uppercut in the corner and a snapmare, then nailed a running dropkick for another nearfall. She tried to lock in a chin lock but Kelly was fighting it. Kelly got to a knee and fought back with elbows to the ribs. Steelz blocked an attack in the corner and hit a big forearm that sent Kelly to the floor. Steelz hit a baseball slide but Kelly missed so she hit Slamovich. They got right in each other’s faces but Steelz didn’t want to get counted out so she went back into the ring and Kelly almost got the win with a roll up. Steelz hit a pump kick but took far too long covering and Kelly kicked out again. She unloaded with elbow strikes to the face and then locked in a version of the Camel Clutch. Kelly didn’t allow her to lock it in for too long as she got to her feet but Steelz then went to a crossface. Kelly fought out of that again and stood up with forearm strikes. She bounced off the ropes but Steelz caught her with a kick. Kelly blocked a springboard bulldog and hit a punt to the chest. Kelly hit a series of clotheslines and a headbutt, which looked really bad because of the camera angle. She hit a Butterfly Suplex into the corner then a hesitation dropkick for 2. Steelz fought off Kelly’s shoulders and went for a springboard cutter but Kelly caught her in mid-air and locked in a sleeper hold. Kelly grounded Steelz to the mat but then Deonna Purrazzo appeared and dragged the referee out of the ring as Steelz was about to tap. Back in the ring Kelly fought out of a cradle but Steelz hit the Blackout for the win after 9 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Tasha Steelz
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a pretty good opening match up and even throughout. The last few minutes weren’t too great however with the screwy finish and the referee believing it was Masha who dragged her out for some reason. Steelz looked great in her return and is clearly a top talent. I’d like to see her getting back to the level where she was at as champion. Although that finisher needs a little work or maybe just better selling.
John Skyler was backstage trying to recruit a tag team partner for his Fan’s Revenge match against Buller Club later on tonight. Gisele Shaw offered up Jai Vidal because after costing her last week’s main event, he deserves a good whipping. The fans will have straps to use as they see fit. Skyler said he wished he had Shaw instead.
Analysis: There is supposed to be some suspense in this matter but because The Good Hands are just jobbers now, it’s not that exciting.
Gia Miller interviewed Jonathan Gresham and questioned why he cheated in his victory over Mike Bailey last week. It was finally some good story-telling involving Gresham in Impact! Miller said Gresham’s actions go against everything he has been preaching. Gresham told Miller that his actions fit right in amongst the incompetence of the referees and rules not being followed. Mike Bailey came in and I guess you could say he was slightly annoyed as he only really has one disposition and that is as the smiling guy. Bailey called out Gresham as unprofessional and Gresham just walked off.
Analysis: I like the new character Gresham is showing. His rivalry with Bailey isn’t over it seems.
The Digital Media Champion, Tommy Dreamer, made his way to the ring. They showed highlights of #1 Contender, Crazzy Steve, attacking him last week. There was a ‘Tommy Dreamer’ chant and yes, it’s 2023. Dreamer called Steve out and Steve came out straight away. It was good to see that he had the face paint back. Dreamer said he and Steve have been friends a long time. He said he was worried that Steve was going down this path and put over him being legitimately blind. Dreamer told stories of letting Steve crash on the floor of his hotel room to let him save money and also that he taught him to drive. He said that all Steve had to do is ask for a championship match and Dreamer would’ve given it to him. Dreamer said the people loved Steve. Steve was pretending to get choked up but Dreamer is a stupid face and couldn’t see that. Dreamer said Steve could have any match he wanted, any time. The fans chanted for Steve, even though he has been trying to murder people with forks for the last month. Steve and Dreamer hugged it out and then Dreamer started to grimace. The camera zoomed in and you could see that Steve had stabbed Dreamer in the back with a fork! That was awesome. Steve screamed at Dreamer that he’s not his friend. Dreamer slumped to the mat as security tried to get Steve out of the ring. The fork was still stuck in Dreamer’s back. Steve took his briefcase and said he would see Dreamer soon, as the security and referees finally got into the ring to check on Dreamer.
Analysis: That was very obvious but very effective. I love this new psychotic character that Steve is portraying. I wonder if it was his idea. All I have seen from him in Impact is the stuff with Rosemary and teaming with Black Taurus. Weird, dark promos but not full-blown crazy like we are seeing now. He’s a unique character, that’s for sure. I hope he takes the title from Dreamer because it’s 2023 and Dreamer shouldn’t be wrestling. Tom Hannifan was excellent here on commentary too. He was harassed by Steve a few weeks ago in an interview and still puts over the fear on the mic.
Match #2: 10 Person Tag Team Match: Dirty Dango, Jake Something, Eric Young, Jordynne Grace and Champagne Singh vs Bully Ray, Brian Myers, Shera, KiLynn King and Jody Threat
The winning team face-off in a 5-way match next week for the #1 and #20 spot in the Bound for Glory Gauntlet Match. The winner of that receives an Impact World Championship match any time in the next 12 months. Dango cut a quick promo before the match saying he hated pro wrestling. Another good character turn in 2023. Threat and Dango kicked off the match with Threat beating him to the punch. She tagged in King who gave Dango a free shot but he couldn’t hit her so he tagged in Singh. King tagged in Singh’s regular tag team partner Shera. They hugged it out and then Young hit Singh from behind and he bumped in to Shera. Shera tagged in Threat and she bit Singh’s finger. Threat fought out of a scoop slam and hit a running hurricanrana on Singh. Dango tagged back in and he pulled her to the mat by the hair. Threat went to the outside and Johnny Bravo stomped away on Threat. Dango grabbed a crown from ringside, because they were in Memphis, and danced around then hit a knee drop on Threat. He nailed her with a right hand and then stomped some more. Dango missed a fist drop and made it to tag in Grace. Threat kicked her off and tagged in Myers. Myers nailed Grace with a knee strike then whipped her hard into the turnbuckle. He tagged in King who went to work with shoulder thrusts in the corner. She chopped Grace hard down to the mat. Grace fought out of a suplex attempt and hit one of her own. King recovered quickly and tagged in Myers, who also copped a suplex. She lifted Myers easily. Grace wanted Bully Ray to tag in and Myers obliged. She couldn’t quite lift him up for a suplex so Bully gave her a scoop slam with ease. Bully allowed Grace to tag in Young. He hit a scoop slam and went up top for the elbow drop but Shera shoved him off the top. Bully tagged in King and they hit a double-team suplex. King is taller than Young so doesn’t look out of place. She whipped Young hard against the turnbuckle and tagged Bully back in but Young nailed a dropkick. Grace and Threat tagged in. Threat went crazy with forearms and bounced off the ropes into 2 scoop slams from Grace. She whipped Threat off the ropes but King got a blind tag in. Grace hit a spinebuster on Threat and went for the cover but King was legal. Grace powered out of the Neutraliser with a back body drop. She tagged in Something and he nailed an interfering Myers with a sitout powerbomb. Bully went to the top rope but Something tossed him down hard to the mat. Something started attacking the heels on his team and tossed Singh out of the ring and then launched Dango into the pile of humanity surrounding the ring. I think Shera was legal for the other team because Something destroyed him with The Void for the win after 16 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dirty Dango, Jake Something, Eric Young, Jordynne Grace and Champagne Singh
Analysis: ***3/4 That was really fun and not the crazy interfering match up that I thought it would be. The women facing the men doesn’t happen very often on mainstream North American wrestling television but many of these wrestlers would’ve done so on the indies and in Japan. There were some very safe spots. I’m glad it wasn’t full chaos because when 10 people are brawling around the ring, it’s hard to cover as a writer! It didn’t really matter which team won because they are only facing off for number in the Gauntlet. I would have Something get pinned next week and still win it from the number 1 spot. He’s going to be a big player for Impact going forward, I feel.
Gia Miller interviewed Josh Alexander ahead of his main event match with Kon tonight. She asked if it was wise to face Kon with Alex Shelley just around the corner. Alexander said he had a champion’s mentality and that means never backing down. Shelley interrupted and said he respected Alexander a lot and that’s why he has to beat him at Bound for Glory. Shelley said he would be at ringside to keep Deaner in check and make sure Alexander made it to the PPV in the best shape possible.
Analysis: The interactions between these two have been really good. Shelley feels like he’s going to turn heel but just hasn’t quite gone through with it yet. It’s fun to watch it unfold and it should be a fantastic main event in Chicago.
There was footage of the fans warming up ahead of the Fan’s Revenge match which is coming up next.
Gia Miller was with Knockouts’ Champion, Trinity, backstage. Trinity said she’s seen Mickie James side-eyeing her title over the last two weeks. She said she will be honoured to stand across the ring against James at Bound for Glory. Trinity said she’s planning to remain champion.
Analysis: Short, sharp and confident from the champ. She’s having a great run and I don’t see any reason to end the reign, even against James who never lost the title.
Match #3: Fan’s Revenge Strap Match: Bullet Club vs John Skyler & ?
Jason Hotch wasn’t at these tapings as his wife was giving birth to their child, hence the mystery partner for Skyler here. Vidal came out as Skyler’s partner, which I thought was just a joke backstage. Surely, they could’ve come up with something more interesting. Skyler came down with a microphone and talked down to the fans in attendance. He said they were all pigs except the great fans surrounding the ring. Bey and Skyler started the match off. It’s basically a lumberjack match except the fans at ringside have leather straps. Bey tossed Skyler out straight away and one of the fans whipped him hard across the back. The crowd loved it. He ran straight back into the ring into an arm bar from Bey. He hit a shoulder block and then Skyler sent him sailing through the middle ropes. Bey cowered as if the fans were going to strike him but one guy gave him the ‘Too Sweet’ and another asked for a selfie. That was funny. Vidal went to confront Bey and about 3 fans started whipping him! He jumped up on the ring apron so that he couldn’t get whipped anymore. Bey went back in the ring and chopped away on Skyler. He tossed him back outside and Skyler blocked one fan from whipping him, but another got him from behind. 3 fans starting going to town on Skyler with the straps. He ran back inside and tagged Vidal in. Austin hit a blind tag off the Irish Whip. Bey hit a double stomp and then went to celebrate with fans around the ring. No one was hitting Bullet Club with straps. Austin tossed Vidal to the outside and the fans mobbed him with strap shots. He covered up and dived back into the ring. Austin tried to throw Vidal over the top rope but he held on. Vidal pointed out to the fans that his feet hadn’t touched the floor so they couldn’t strike him, so Austin kicked him onto the floor and he was mobbed by the fans again. Vidal took some punishment and went back into the ring. Austin covered him but Vidal kicked out at 2. Vidal had the referee distracted so Skyler sent Austin into the top turnbuckle. Skyler made the tag and hit a scoop slam then took Bey off the ring apron. Austin rolled Skyler up for about 5 but the referee was busy with Bey. He tossed Austin to the outside but the fans helped him to his feet, rather than hitting him with straps. Rehwoldt was carrying on about collusion. Austin reached through the ropes and pulled Skyler out, who was immediately punished by the fans. Vidal pulled him back in and tagged himself in. Austin hit a big kick in the corner and tagged Bey in. Skyler also made the tag but ran into a clothesline. Bey hit a diving splash in the corner. Skyler ran at Bey but went flying over the top. The fans laid into him with the straps. Skyler tried to get back into the ring but Bey dropkicked him back out. Skyler went all around the ring and was getting belted from all angles. He took a strap off one fan and then Bey flew over the top to take him out. Back in the ring, Bullet Club hit the Art of Finesse/ Fold combination for the win after 8 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Bullet Club
Analysis: *** It wasn’t a wrestling classic and it probably went too long but it was entertaining and Skyler especially sold the beating quite well. There wasn’t really a point to the match, other than a heel team getting some punishment and the fans enjoying that.
Afterwards, all the fans went into the ring to celebrate with Bey and Austin. It would’ve been funny if they turned on them with all the straps, but of course that didn’t happen.
There was a video package of the Frankie Kazarian/ Eddie Edwards feud.
Match #4: Moose w/ Brian Myers vs Bhupinder Gujjar
These two have battled earlier in the year and Moose won, but Gujjar put up a pretty good fight. Gujjar seems to be in a bit of a rut. Every time he seems set for a push, he just loses steam and then isn’t on for a few weeks. He’s talented and semi-popular but doesn’t go far. Moose whipped him hard into the turnbuckle twice to start the match. He pummelled Gujjar with right hands, on the mat. Moose choked him against the middle rope and nailed a Uranage. He missed a spear in the corner so Gujjar tried to take advantage with some strikes. Gujjar hit a pump kick but missed a jumping knee so Moose nailed a clothesline and a huge powerbomb. Moose lined up Gujjar for the spear and nailed it for the win after 3 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Moose
Analysis: *1/2 Gujjar has fallen even further than I thought. Sure, build up the briefcase carrier in Moose, but don’t kill Gujjar in the process.
Steve Maclin’s music hit and he confronted Moose and Myers in the ring. He said that the briefcase belonged to him. Myers laughed and Maclin said it was no joke. Maclin said he did all the work and Moose got lucky by catching the case, after Rhino Gored Maclin. Maclin said Moose should just give him the briefcase. Moose asked if Maclin thought he was stupid. Maclin said he wasn’t stupid and he wasn’t scared of them or PCO. PCO’s music hit and the lights went out. He was in the ring and sent Myers over the top rope. PCO hit a double clothesline on Maclin and Myers to send them out of the ring. Maclin backed up the ramp and yelled at PCO and then Rhino came out of nowhere and nailed the Gore on Maclin!
Analysis: I thought PCO was finishing up but it could be at this taping. It wasn’t a very cohesive segment apart from Maclin complaining that Moose should give him the briefcase. Rhino vs Maclin might be saved for Bound for Glory which I would say is a letdown for Maclin, who should be featured in a big match after being World Champion already this year.
The Rascalz were backstage spray painting their Tag Team Championships. Santino Marella walked in and said they were defacing Impact property. Bullet Club walked in with their briefcase and said they were bound for glory. They wanted their shot at the PPV. Sami Callihan and a clean-shaven Rich Swann wanted their shot after getting screwed by The Rascalz in the recent tournament. Marella made Swann/Callihan vs The Rascalz for next week with the winners facing Bullet Club at Bound for Glory.
Analysis: Sami Callihan is finished with Impact so they aren’t winning next week. It’s not really spoiling when you already knew that.
There was a quick promo from Chris Sabin addressing KENTA. I really hope they get KENTA at least by a video promo before the PPV. Enough of these random matches where the participants don’t interact until the match. Same with Ospreay vs Bailey.
* 5-way match: Winner gets #20 spot in the Call Your Shot Gauntlet at Bound for Glory: Jake Something vs Dirty Dango vs Eric Young vs Champagne Singh vs Jordynne Grace
* Eddie Edwards vs Frankie Kazarian: 2/3 Falls Killer Impact Match
Analysis: I’m not sure what a Killer Impact match is but I think it might mean feud-ender. They didn’t explain it. That’s a great lineup for next week. I hope Edwards vs Frankie gets over half an hour.
Match #5: Josh Alexander vs Kon w/ Deaner
Josh Alexander is a big-name and Shelley is hanging around the ring to add some tension, but I would’ve had the 10-person tag match as the main event because that had implications and star power. Kon overpowers Alexander with a shoulder block. Alexander tripped him up and went for anklelock but Kon powered him into the corner. Alexander avoided a corner attack and knocked Kon down with a shoulder tackle from the top rope. He targeted the left elbow of Kon with a Hammer Lock. Kon backed him into the corner to break the hold. He hit a side headlock takeover and then rolled around the ring repeating the move several times which was surprisingly cool. Alexander avoided an elbow drop and hit a snapmare then a knee drop for a 1 count. He backed Kon into the corner with right hands and chops. Kon turned it around with a huge chop of his own. He chopped Alexander against the ropes and then targeted the knee with stomps. Alexander blocked a suplex and hit one of his own. He hit some clubbing blows to the back of Kon which didn’t do much damage as Kon came back with a big forearm. Alexander blocked a corner splash with a boot and then hit a dropkick from the middle rope. He couldn’t whip Kon so ran the ropes but Kon hit him with a big body splash. Alexander ran the ropes but Deaner held his foot. Kon hit a spinebuster for 2. He nailed a running elbow for 2. Kon stomped on the ankle of Alexander and then bit his forehead. He nailed an uppercut and then Alexander cut him off against the ropes with a knee. He tried to lock in an Abdominal Stretch but Kon fought off and launched him against the middle rope, then scored a 2 count. They exchanged strikes in the centre of the ring and Alexander took over with forearm shots. He wanted a German Suplex but Kon fought him off with elbows. Alexander sent Kon against the ropes and nailed the German Suplex and a discus forearm for 2. That was sold well. Kon avoided the Moonsault and nailed a big splash in the corner and a choke bomb for a close 2 count. Alexander escaped from the powerslam attempt and hit an enziguiri. He wanted a Death Valley Driver but Kon reached the ropes. Kon’s feet knocked the referee down. Alexander chopped him hard a few times and they brawled on the ring apron. Alexander hit a crossbody that knocked Kon out of the ring. Deaner missed a wild chair swing and Shelley went to stop him, but Alexander accidentally nailed him with a forearm shot. Kon slammed Alexander into the ring apron and then sent him back into the ring. The referee made a miraculous recovery in time to see Alexander lock the anklelock in the centre of the ring. Kon rolled through and then powered out of the C4 Spike. Alexander kneed him in the face several times and eventually nailed the C4 Spike for the win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Josh Alexander
Analysis: ***1/2 I thought the whole presentation of that match was very well done. Obviously, Kon has some limitations but Alexander is that good that everyone around him just rises to a different level when they are in the ring with him. Having Shelley on commentary and discussing his feud and title reign throughout the match added a lot to the match, too. This was better than I expected a Kon match to ever be. Once again, there’s the inevitable face vs face accidental strike which you see pretty much throughout every feud where there are two good guys. I’m so used to it by now!
After the match, Shelley immediately confronted Alexander in the ring. Shelley was furious and didn’t think it was an accident. Alexander had had enough so he pushed past Shelley to leave the ring. Shelley turned him around and nailed the Shell Shock, and Alexander grabbed his neck that had been surgically repaired in the past. The crowd was booing Shelley, although I don’t think it was a heel turn. Shelley grabbed his championship and sat down in the corner, pondering his actions.
Analysis: A very good post-match angle. You could argue that Shelley turned heel but I think he was more just annoyed that Alexander hit him and he was sick of feeling disrespected. His facial expressions and mannerisms towards the end could suggest otherwise though. He’s really doing great work as a champion. It took me a little while to get over him beating Maclin, but I am enjoying his work very much.
Final Rating: 7/10
Another very good wrestling show this week from Impact. Apart from the Gujjar mercy-jobbing which annoyed me and probably made me drop my overall rating a touch, I rated every match at least 3 stars which is solid for weekly television. A criticism from me during most weeks has been the amount of 8-10 minute matches, whereas tonight we had both the main event and 10-person tag match exceed 15 minutes. It just means you can add more to the match and tell a better story. Sure, there will be those longer matches that are long just for the sake of it (Orton vs Edge at WrestleMania- yikes!) but for the most part, a longer match can showcase more from the talent. They delivered on that tonight. A fair bit of the undercard for Bound for Glory was added to, on top of the already stellar 4-matches named over the last few weeks. Crazzy Steve continued to shine in his new role but there wasn’t much promo time tonight. Instead, they utilised the backstage interviews with Gia Miller more than usual which is fine because she does a great job and the talent can usually get to the point in only about a minute of talking time. Impact does that pretty well, especially seeing as they only have 2-hours of TV time per regular week.
The next PPV is Bound for Glory on October 21st. Here is the lineup so far:
* Impact World Championship: Alex Shelley (c) vs Josh Alexander
* Impact Knockouts’ Championship: Trinity (c) vs Mickie James
* X- Division Championship: Chris Sabin (c) vs KENTA
* Impact World Tag Team Championships: The Rascalz (c) OR Rich Swann & Sami Callihan vs Bullet Club
* Knockouts’ Tag Team Championships: MK Ultra (c) vs Deonna Purrazzo & Tasha Steelz
* Will Ospreay vs Mike Bailey
* Call Your Shot 20-Person Gauntlet Match