A new era for TNA began in Las Vegas with a night of action and surprises as Moose challenged Alex Shelley for the TNA World Title in the main event.
It has been one month since my last Impact review column, Final Resolution. Since then, TNA has had no weekly shows as they have rebranded themselves from Impact Wrestling back to TNA.
I have been quite critical during this period of time because I felt it was a real opportunity to capture a new audience as well as bring back past fans of the TNA product. They have built a card from social media interactions between wrestlers, as well as random naming of most of the challengers. I do like the look of the new championships, which they revealed this past week by drip-feeding their designs online. I am excited for a new era in TNA, but because of the lack of the build for this show, my expectations won’t be at their usual high point. I am hoping for a few surprises and I am excited to see some debuting talent. I am optimistic that this can be the shot in the arm that propels TNA back to the heights it once sat at, however, I feel they need a lot more than just a company rename to do this.
Pre-Show results (I did not watch these):
1. Steve Maclin defeated Rich Swann
2. Crazzy Steve defeated Tommy Dreamer to become the NEW TNA Digital Media Champion
3. Eddie Edwards and Brian Myers defeated Frankie Kazarian and Eric Young
The opening video that started the show is below.
TNA Hard to Kill: 13/1/24 at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada
The show opened with a really cool video package, narrated by Eric Young. My stream cut out a little bit and I missed the last little bit of it. When my feed came back, all the TNA roster were standing on the stage and the crowd was pumped. We are straight into Knockouts’ Ultimate X action! The new ring announcer, Jade Chung, did a nice job with the introductions
The commentary team of Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt welcomed us to the show.
Match #1: Knockouts’ Ultimate X: Tasha Steelz vs Gisele Shaw vs Alisha vs Jody Threat vs Dani Luna vs Xia Brookside
You win this match by collecting the X from the cables overhanging the ring and both your feet have to then be touching the mat. The winner gets a Knockouts’ Championship shot. I’m glad to see Xia Brookside from NXT UK getting a shot here, as well as Luna who has signed and definitely needs more TV time. Alisha was accompanied by the newly formed group The System (her husband Eddie, Brian Myers and Moose) which was set up on the pre-show. These matches are pretty hard to follow but I’ll do my best. The ring set up with cool with yellow ring ropes and the TNA logo in the centre. They also had a ramp which I think is a nice look. Brookside, Threat and Luna battled it out early on. I think Hannifan called Brookside ‘Xia Li’ which gave me a chuckle. Steelz snuck back in and tossed Luna from the ring. She turned around and ran into a clothesline from Brookside. Brookside nailed Alisha and Steelz with a slingblade/DDT combo. Shaw returned to the ring and nailed Brookside with a big kick to the head and some uppercuts in the corner. She nailed another running uppercut. Threat faced off with Shaw and nailed her with a clothesline. Threat avoided a Luna attack and hit a pump kick. She tripped Alisha up into the ropes and hit a knee strike on Luna and Edwards. Luna caught Threat with a Fallaway Slam and a diving clothesline. She nailed an Exploder Suplex on Threat and Shaw. Luna cleared the ring and hit a suicide dive on Shaw on the outside. Brookside went to the top and hit a diving crossbody to the outside on Shaw and Luna. Threat began to climb to the top and it looked like she was going for the X, but changed her mind and hit a crazy senton on 3 Knockouts on the floor. Threat went back to the scaffolding but Alisha tried to stop her. Alisha jumped on Threat’s back but she still carried her up the scaffold! Threat dumped Alisha off her back to a pile of Knockouts on the floor. Steelz and Threat battled on the top rope but Steelz took her down with a cutter, landing on top of Alisha, Brookside and Luna on the floor. All of the Knockouts made it back into the win and set their sights on the X. Luna hit a double powerbomb off the top rope. She nailed Shaw with a powerbomb out of the corner. Brookside snuck up onto the cable but Luna caught her with a powerbomb. Luna and Threat battled in the middle of the ring, trading forearms. Steelz came back in but Luna suplexed them both! Alisha scaled to the top and hung upside down on the cable to avoid Luna. She lost her balance and Luna pulled her down, but Alisha turned it into a mid-air DDT. Alisha went to the outside and collected a kendo stick from underneath the ring. She nailed a few of the Knockouts with it, then Brookside caught her with a lung blower. Shaw hit Brookside with a superkick and Luna almost took Shaw’s head off with a clothesline. Alisha nailed Luna with a DDT. Threat sat Brookside and Alisha on the top rope and nailed her F5 finisher on them both. She turned around into a Tornado DDT from Steelz. Luna sent her to the outside with a clothesline. Threat scaled the cable but Shaw used Luna as a launching pad to catch Threat with a spear in mid-air. It wasn’t Edge/Jeff Hardy at Mania X7-esque, but a nice spot nonetheless. Steelz, Luna and Shaw scaled the ropes from 3 different corners. Shaw swung the X to hit Luna in the face. Luna fell from the cables and crashed into the mat. Shaw nailed Steelz with a shot to the face with the X. Shaw grabbed the X and fell to the floor, winning the match after 13 minutes.
Winner: Gisele Shaw
Analysis: ***1/2 I think this was a clever choice to open the show as it was an exciting match and introduced Brookside to TNA, as well as showing what Luna can do. Shaw has suffered from pretty bad booking in her few years in TNA so this is a positive decision moving forward.
There was a recap of AJ Francis’ (WWE’s Top Dolla) musical appearance from the pre-show, where he attacked Joe Hendry with a chokeslam. There was no botching thankfully. He cut a promo but it was very hard to hear the start of it. Francis and Whoo Kid celebrated their actions.
Analysis: That might mean Francis is with TNA in the future. Anyone who signs is welcome with me!
Match #2: Dirty Dango w/ Oleg Prudius & Alpha Bravo vs PCO
There really wasn’t any build to this match. Dango recruited Prudius because Bravo is incompetent. PCO’s intro was cool with his ‘handlers’ unveiling him like Frankenstein off the science table. PCO was wrestling in a Jerry Lawler-styled half tights get up. He looked in good shape. PCO launched Dango over the top rope immediately after the bell. Hannifan said it was the highest attended TNA show in 8 years which sounds fantastic, but the crowd was only 1400. PCO hit a diving senton through the middle rope. PCO tossed Dango back into the ring and went for the PCO-Sault but Bravo knocked him off the top, causing the DQ.
Winner by disqualification: PCO
Analysis: No match rating Dango and Bravo stomped away at PCO. They called for Prudius but Rhino’s music hit and he came out to try to even the score. Dango and Bravo backed down. Prudius wanted to get into the ring but Dango pulled him away. Santino Marella’s music hit and he made it a 6-man tag match with Jake Something as Rhino and PCO’s partner. I’m glad he’s on the show.
Match #3: Rhino, Jake Something & PCO vs Oleg Prudius, Alpha Bravo & Dirty Dango
Something ran to the ring and launched himself over the top rope to take out all the heels. PCO hit the PCO-Sault onto Dango’s team to the outside area. PCO hit the Deanimator on Dango on the ring apron. He’s insane. He tagged in Something. Something nailed Dango with a number of clotheslines, then tagged Rhino in. This is easily the loudest TNA crowd that I can recall. Rhino chopped Dango into the corner then hit a spear against the middle turnbuckle. He called for a Gore but Prudius reached over the top rope and hit a cheap clothesline. Dango tagged Bravo in and he choked Rhino against the middle rope. Prudius was in next and continued to choke Rhino out. He made another quick tag to Bravo. Rhino tried to fight back with right hands but Bravo raked his eyes. He tagged in Dango who missed a knee drop, allowing Rhino to tag in Something. Something hit a body press on Dango and a spear in the corner. Dango escaped Into the Void and tagged Bravo back in. PCO made a tag to and destroyed Bravo with a clothesline. Bravo blocked an elbow in the corner but PCO caught him with a lung blower off the top and a legdrop. Prudius got involved but Rhino knocked him off his feet. He set up for the Gore but Dango reached over the top rope and held him by his hair. Rhino went to Gore him but Dango pulled Bravo in front of him and Rhino nailed Bravo with the Gore! Something hit a powerbomb on Dango on top of Bravo. PCO hit the PCO-Sault on Bravo for the win after 8 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Rhino, Jake Something & PCO
Analysis: **1/2 A simple but fun match to get a few wrestlers on the show. It was fine for the face team to get the win and the fans were into it.
There was a shot of a mystery blonde woman arriving. Rehwoldt acted like he knew who it was. I like surprises!
MK Ultra made a surprise appearance next. They were introduced for a match against the returning Rosemary & Havok. I was not happy with that.
Match #4: TNA Knockouts’ Tag Team Championships: MK Ultra (Masha Slamovich & Killer Kelly) vs Decay (Rosemary & Havok)
Havok took out Masha with a clothesline in the corner and a big body splash. She tagged in Rosemary who hit a clothesline for 2. Rosemary hit a running splash and an Exploder Suplex. She bounced Slamovich’s face off the top turnbuckle and nailed a German suplex for 2. Masha whipped Rosemary against the ropes and Kelly held her feet. Masha hit a springboard double stomp on Rosemary that looked painful. Slamovich covered for a 2 count. She tagged in Kelly and scoop slammed her on top of Rosemary, then Kelly did the same to her for another two count. There was another quick tag to Kelly and they nailed a double team move. Kelly hit a running knee that missed by about a metre. That looked very bad. Kelly hit clubbing blows across the chest of Rosemary and a T-Bone suplex, then a pump kick. Rosemary sat up and pummelled Kelly with right hands. Rosemary stretched out to tag Havok but Kelly held her back. They collided heads and were both down. Havok and Slamovich both tagged in. Havok took her down with a headbutt. Kelly tried to interfere but Havok hit a clothesline on them both. She hit a double suplex and then a leg drop across the neck of Kelly. Havok covered but Slamovich broke it up. Slamovich tagged in and hit the Snow Plow on Havok but she kicked out at 1! Kelly tagged back in but Havok caught her and Slamovich with a double chokeslam. Rosemary ran in and they hit a double team sit out powerbomb for the win after 7 minutes.
Winners by pinfall AND NEW TNA Knockouts’ Tag Team Champions: Decay
Analysis: **1/4 There were some sloppy moments and I hate the outcome of the match because Decay are just not very good in the ring. Popular sure, but not a team that should be carrying the division. MK Ultra’s 182-day reign ends in a whimper.
Steve Maclin was interviewed by Gia Miller. They showed highlights of his pre-show victory over Rich Swann. Maclin put himself over after winning the first match in the new TNA era. Personally, it’s disappointing to watch him go from champion to not even on the main card in the space of 9 months.
Scott D’Amore was with some NFL dudes and they talked about a heart health partnership. I wasn’t really paying attention. D’Amore also announced a partnership with AAA. Their CEO Dorian Roldán Peña was standing 10 metres off camera which was very awkward, until D’Amore called him over. They showed a highlights package of TNA vs AAA matches. Pena thanked D’Amore for encouraging Lucha Libre wrestlers to come to America. He said the landscape of Lucha Libre wrestling was going to change within the next year. Pena signed the partnership. Speaking of Lucha Libre wrestlers, here comes one of the craziest on the planet.
Match #5: TNA X-Division Championship: Chris Sabin (c) vs El Hijo del Vikingo vs Kushida
This should be a heck of a match. Kushida signing for TNA is a big deal because he has shown in 2023 that he can be a main event level talent in this company. I have seen all of Vikingo’s matches in AEW (it’s hard to watch everything!) and he does some insane high-flying manoeuvres which don’t always come off. They tried a few triple lock ups but no one gained an advantage. They traded arm drags for a while and the crowd enjoyed that. Kushida dumped Vikingo and Sabin to the ring apron area and hit a handspring kick to knock them to the floor. He hit a running senton to take out Sabin. Kushida tried to lock in his Hoverboard Lock on Vikingo but he wriggled free. Back in the ring, Kushida hit some kicks to the shoulder of Vikingo to soften him up for the submission. Vikingo fought back with a superkick. He hit a springboard hurricanrana on Sabin, then an enziguiri on Kushida. Vikingo hit a running kick on Kushida in the corner and then a ridiculous inverted hurricanrana out of the corner. That was flawless. Vikingo tried to lock a submission on Kushida but Sabin came in and hit a snap German suplex. Sabin nailed Kushida with one, too. He whipped Kushida against the ropes and hit a dropkick, as Kushida tried a handspring elbow. Sabin locked in an STF on Vikingo, but Kushida hit a dropkick to break it up. Sabin nailed Kushida with an atomic drop then used Kushida’s legs as a sharpshooter on Vikingo, whilst tying Kushida in an abdominal stretch. He hit a superkick on Kushida, who wrenched back on the legs on Vikingo. Sabin ran the ropes but Kushida caught him with a Hammer Lock suplex. He nailed a running forearm in the corner on Sabin. Sabin broke free of the Hoverboard Lock but Vikingo caught him with a hurricanrana. He hit another one on Kushida, that sent him to the outside. Vikingo connected with a moonsault to both his foes, on the floor area. He tossed Sabin back into the ring and hit a missile dropkick. Kushida caught Vikingo by surprise with a flying senton, then Sabin took them both out with a diving crossbody. They all collided in the centre of the ring, as everyone wanted a clothesline. Sabin blocked running attacks from both men in the corner. He used Vikingo as momentum in nailing a Tornado DDT on Kushida. Sabin nailed the Falcon Arrow on Vikingo for 2. He tossed Kushida out of the ring and went to do the same to Vikingo, who bounced off the ropes and nailed a version of the GTS. Vikingo nailed a step over springboard 450 on the ramp which I don’t actually know how he did with no space to move. He was looking for a double stomp back in the ring, but Kushida knocked him off the top with a dropkick. Kushida locked in the Hoverboard Lock but Sabin came back in with a superkick. Kushida reversed a Cradle Shock attempt into a roll up for a very close 2 count. Kushida applied the Hoverboard Lock on Sabin in the centre of the ring. Vikingo flew through the air and nailed a double stomp on Kushida to break up the submission. Vikingo and Sabin traded forearms and chops. Sabin flipped him onto the ramp but Vikingo landed on his feet. Sabin caught him with a superkick and a Canadian Destroyer from the middle rope on the ramp! That looked awesome. Back in the ring, Sabin launched Kushida with an overhead German suplex off the top rope. He went back to Cradle Shock but Kushida tried the Hoverboard Lock. Sabin overpowered him and nailed the Cradle Shock for the win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND STILL X-Division Champion: Chris Sabin
Analysis: ****1/4 That was a fantastic, exciting match that I wish got a few more minutes. However, it would be pretty insane to go at that pace for nearly 20 minutes. They really nailed everything and there were some crazy spots in the match. That Destroyer on the ramp and a couple of Vikingo’s moves just looked great. I suppose the outcome was pretty obvious as TNA wouldn’t have Vikingo take the fall after just putting AAA over in the previous segment, but it didn’t take any interest from the match. Best match of the night so far.
Match #6: Josh Alexander vs Alex Hammerstone
I will admit to never watching MLW or any Hammerstone matches before so this is a first for me. Alexander doesn’t do bad or even average matches so I’m sure it will be great. This match was set up online after Hammerstone sent out an open challenge. They shook hands to kick the match off. They both struggled to gain ascendency in the early going. Alexander targeted the left arm but Hammerstone moved it into a headlock. He has a little bit of a Brock Lesnar look about him. Alexander shoved him in the chest so Hammerstone flattened him with a forearm. Hammerstone swatted Alexander out of the ring and then hit a springboard crossbody to the outside. Impressive athleticism by the 265-pounder. He took a bit of time posing to the crowd so Alexander kicked his legs out from under him. Alexander targeted the left knee with kicks and backed Hammerstone in the corner with forearms. Hammerstone turned it around and hit some chops in the corner. Alexander hit a Dragon Screw to the left knee and dropped the knee on Hammerstone’s ankle a couple of times. He continued the assault with chops in the corner. Hammerstone faced up to him so Alexander chopped him even harder. Hammerstone tossed him overhead with an impressive belly-to-belly with a little bit of a rough landing for Alexander. Alexander fought out of a Fallaway slam attempt and made it to the ring apron. Hammerstone missed a pump kick so Alexander pulled him over the ropes and hit a painful-looking slam on the ring apron. Alexander hit his running crossbody through the ropes to knock Hammerstone against the guard rail. Back in the ring, Alexander hit a rolling senton and a diving knee across the neck for 2. The crowd was really into this match. Hammerstone broke free of the ankle lock so Alexander punted him in the face. Hammerstone sat up as if he was the Undertaker so Alexander hit another kick to the face, then a third. Hammerstone picked up Alexander with ease and nailed a tilt-a-whirl slam. The crowd responded very positively towards him throughout the match. He hit 10 clotheslines in the corner on Alexander. Hammerstone hit a powerslam but he was favouring his left knee and was slow to cover so Alexander kicked out at 2. Alexander slipped out of a suplex attempt and locked in the ankle lock. Hammerstone almost made it to the ropes so Alexander stomped on his ankle. Alexander sat down in the move but Hammerstone finally crawled to the bottom rope to break the hold. Hammerstone fought out of the C4 Spike and nailed his Nightmare Pendulum but Alexander rolled to the safety of the ring ropes. They battled on the ring apron and Hammerstone hit a Death Valley Driver. Ouch. Hammerstone went to the top and hit an impressive missile dropkick and then a TKO. Alexander kicked out just before 3. Consider me impressed with Hammerstone at this point. The crowd was chanting “This is awesome!”, too. Alexander could barely stand and was trying to pull himself up against Hammerstone. Hammerstone blocked a rolling forearm and hit a German suplex and a sitout powerbomb for 2. Hammerstone was dominating at this point. He set up for the Nightmare Pendulum again but Alexander turned it into a small package for 2. Alexander hit a German suplex and the C4 Spike for the win after 19 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Josh Alexander
Analysis: **** Back to back terrific matches. It was probably on par with the match before it, but the ending was a bit flat. You could say Alexander stunned Hammerstone and the C4 Spike is certainly deadly, but Hammerstone had completely dominated the previous few minutes with great strength. I thought he had a great showing and would welcome him back to TNA any day.
Match #7: TNA World Tag Team Championships: Bullet Club (c) vs The Rascalz vs Mike Bailey & Laredo Kid vs Grizzled Young Vets
Trent Seven had travel issues so was replaced by Kid. This is GYVs debut in TNA. They were a fun team to watch in NXT and then were turned into a goofy stable with Joe Gacy which I didn’t care much for. I hope they win because it’s great to see a full-time tag team in TNA. Actually I have just watch them make their entrance with Liverpool shirts on so now I hate them and I hope they lose (I’m a huge Everton FC fan). Only two men are allowed in the ring and you can tag anyone in at any point. Austin and Miguel started the match but GYV’s Zack Gibson tagged himself in and make a quick tag to James Drake who hit an arm drag. Drake hit a knee to the back but Austin tripped him up and tagged Bey in. Miguel tagged himself in for Drake and they double-teamed Bey with a few quick kicks. Bailey and Kid used the rope to springboard Miguel against the mat. Bailey was legal now and hit a springboard moonsault on Miguel. It was hard to cover the amount of tags that were being made. Gibson tagged himself in and then all 4 teams faced off in the ring. The referee took control which you don’t often see but it didn’t last long as GYV and Bailey/Kid squared off. Bailey nailed a series of kicks on Gibson, taking him down to the mat. Gibson took Kid off the apron and tagged Drake in. Drake used Bailey to springboard off and nail a dropkick on Kid. They were getting booed and mouthing off to the fans so it seems they might be presented as heels. Gibson scored a 2 count on Bailey. He hit a suplex for 2 again. Drake tagged in and hit a clothesline on Bailey for 2. He locked in a sleeper on Bailey who was struggling to get to his feet. Bailey made it to the rope and Wentz tagged himself in. Drake didn’t like that and Wentz nailed him with a German suplex. Bailey hit a running kick to the face of Wentz and tagged in Kid. Kid hit a hurricanrana on Drake and a spinning DDT. He missed a corner attack so Miguel hit a forearm. He took too long to capitalise so Kid was able to hit an awesome Michinoku Driver from the second rope. Austin tagged in and Austin and Bey double-teamed Wentz with a Torture Rack into a suplex, but Austin almost lost his footing. Gibson tagged himself in and tossed Austin out of the ring. He pinned Wentz for a close 2 count. GYV nailed the Doomsday Device on Wentz but Bailey broke up the pinfall attempt. Kid flew through the air with a double dropkick on the GYV. The pace of the match was too hard to keep up with. Bailey hit a springboard moonsault to the outside. Drake hung up Kid on the middle rope. Bailey came to his aid with a poisonrana from the top and a Tornado Kick. Bailey hit Ultima Weapon on Drake but Miguel broke it up with a superkick. Wentz hit a breathtaking UFO cutter on Bailey which looked incredible. Miguel hit a double stomp on Drake but Austin broke it up. The two rival teams faced off in a showdown. Right hands went flying in the ring but The Rascalz hit stereo superkicks. They went for springboard elbows but Austin and Bey cut them off against the ropes. They hit the Art of Finesse/Fold combination on Miguel (sold perfectly) to retain their championships after 16 minutes.
Winners by pinfall AND STILL TNA World Tag Team Champions: Bullet Club
Analysis: ***3/4 Wow, there was so much happening in that match that it was very hard to cover. There were so many tags happening so I probably missed a few but I’m sure that won’t matter too much to the reader. They really went all out here with all 4 teams having impressive showings. The result makes sense as The Rascalz have been causing a lot of grief to Bey and Austin so some closure there is fine. I was hoping for a title change but that’s okay.
There was a shot of ‘Ash by Elegance’ at ringside (the mystery woman from earlier in the show) and Tom Hannifan tried to announce her as Dana Brooke from WWE but Rehwoldt was talking over the top of him so you might have missed that. I honestly did not recognise her as her hair was different and she actually looked a lot younger. She was presented as a big deal here with a manager and classy outfit, but maybe they have stolen some ideas from Toni Storm in AEW.
Match #8: TNA Knockouts’ World Championship: Trinity (c) vs Jordynne Grace
There are rumours of Trinity making her way back to WWE so if she loses here then that will probably gain even more momentum. Her title reign has been pretty good- no real standout classic matches but she carries the division well and has improved her promo skills a lot. Jade gave the big-match introductions. She did a pretty good job on her first main show except she said title here and not championship. There was a big-fight feel to this match and for the first time tonight the crowd was quiet in anticipation. They avoided each other’s’ offense in the early going. Trinity used her Matrix slide to avoid a clothesline. She hit a few kicks to the thighs and took off Mike Bailey’s series of kicks. Trinity tried for a bulldog off the middle rope but Grace slammed her down hard to the mat for 2. Grace chopped away at Trinity in the corner. She moved to the next corner and bounced Trinity’s face off the turnbuckle and hit another chop. Trinity bounced off the ropes right into a powerslam for 2. She avoided a Grace Driver by making it to the ropes. Trinity used a kick to block a Grace attack in the corner. She hit a nice crossbody off the top rope and spiked Grace’s head against the mat with her legs for 2. Grace hit a powerbomb and then turned her inside-out by tossing her overhead for 2. Grace hit a stiff clothesline that sent Trinity out of the ring. Grace hit a crossbody through the middle rope and then the Jackhammer on the floor. She rolled inside to break the count. It seemed that the crowd was favouring Grace at this point. Trinity hit a back body drop on the floor to finally get some respite. Trinity tossed Grace into the ring and hit a hard kick across the chest. She rocked Grace with another but Grace screamed at her to kick her harder so she bounced up and they exchanged open hands. Trinity scored with an enziguiri then a bulldog against the middle turnbuckle. She hit a split-legged moonsault for 2. Grace fought back into the match with a Full Nelson. Trinity struggled but crawled over to the ropes to break the hold. Grace kicked Trinity against the ropes which wasn’t very sportswoman like. Grace lifted Trinity to the top rope but Trinity fought her off with a headbutt. Grace nailed a backfist and the Muscle Buster! Trinity kicked out just before 3. They exchanged roll through pins and Trinity was able to hit the Rear View for 2, after Grace fought out of Star Struck. Trinity positioned Grace against the middle ropes for her spiking knee lift but Grace had it scouted. Trinity hit a knee lift and turned Grace around so that she spiked her on the ring apron. Ouch. Trinity rolled back into the ring and scored a 2 count. They got a little bit lost in a spot with duelling back fists and Trinity hit a sitout powerbomb for 2. Trinity turned it into Star Struck and Grace was about to tap up but she stood up in the move somehow. Trinity held the ropes but Grace pulled her off with a German suplex. Grace hit the Grace Driver to win the championship after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW TNA Knockouts’ World Champion: Jordynne Grace.
Analysis: **** I thought that was very good after a slow start. It was one of Trinity’s best matches in TNA and if that’s it for her then she has certainly added value to her name with her run over the last year. There are times when Grace looks incredible and other times when she and her opponent (Purrazzo for example) just don’t click but since her return from a break last year, she has been just about the best performer in the company. I’m happy with a title change here.
It’s time for the main event: Moose challenging Alex Shelley for the TNA World Championship.
Match #9: TNA World Championship: Alex Shelley (c) vs Moose
Shelley has done well as champion and I’m happy that he finally captured the gold but his reign has been a few months too long and hopefully we are in for a change here. Moose is cashing in his Call Your Shot briefcase that he won at Bound for Glory. He has a huge size and weight advantage. Shelley slapped Moose’s attempted handshake away and spat water in his face as the match began. Moose missed a splash in the corner so Shelley shoved him against the middle turnbuckle, shoulder-first. Shelley targeted the left shoulder of Moose but Moose was right near the bottom rope to break the hold. Moose hit a dropkick that sent Shelley out of the ring. He tied Shelley up in the ropes and hit a dropkick. Moose slid back into the ring to break the 10 count. He hit a scoop slam on Shelley on the floor. Moose went back into the ring again to break the count so Shelley hit him with a headbutt on return. He tossed Moose back into the ring and targeted the left shoulder again with an arm wrench. Shelley tried to lock in the Hoverboard Lock but Moose was fighting it. He used his one good arm to propel Shelley into the top turnbuckle. Moose stood on the fingers of Shelley on the mat. Shelley ran into a Uranage for 2. Moose chopped Shelley but this just fired the champ up and he hit an enziguiri. It didn’t faze Moose and he went for a powerbomb. Shelley countered it into a DDT, spiking Moose. He hit a dropkick that sent Moose into the corner. They battled on the outside and Shelley sent Moose into the steel ring post. Shelley hit Shell Shock on the floor but was too fatigued to roll Moose back into the ring to cover him. Shelley rolled back into the ring to try for a count out win but Moose made it just before 10. Shelley rolled Moose up for 2. Moose ran at Shelley in the corner and Shelley hit a Flatliner against the middle turnbuckle. Shelley rolled Moose up for 2 and tried a backslide for 2 again. Moose powered out of the Motor City Stretch and nailed a powerbomb for 2. He measured Shelley for a spear but missed and crashed into the corner. Shelley tried to clothesline Moose but he was just too big. Shelley turned a Uranage into an arm drag. He hit Sliced Bread for another 2 count. Moose’s buddies D’Angelo Williams, Brian Myers and Eddie Edwards made their way down the ramp to distract Shelley. Myers and Edwards were ambushed by Shelley’s teammates Sabin and Kushida. Those 4 battled to the back. Moose missed a clothesline and crashed over the top rope and onto the steel ramp. Shelley fought out of a Uranage and tried for a suplex but Moose was too heavy. Moose wanted a powerbomb but Shelley slammed Moose shoulder-first into the entrance ramp. They both made it back into the ring before the 10 count. Shelley hit a running kick to the injured arm of Moose. He lit up Moose’s chest with chops. Moose could barely raise his left arm to defend himself. He fought back with clubbing chops to the back of Shelley. Shelley hit 3 forearms but Moose caught him with a headbutt. He ran the ropes but Shelley turned him inside-out with a lariat. Shelley hit a superkick but Moose fought out of the Shell Shock and hit the spear to win the championship after 22 minutes.
Winner AND NEW TNA World Champion: Moose
Analysis: ***3/4 I liked that main event a lot. It wasn’t a classic match but adequate for the first PPV of the year and they worked a smart match. Moose’s selling was very good and he won the championship clean, which was a little surprising. It put over his spear as a devastating finisher. I’m glad he didn’t do the flipping version because that just looks dumb.
Moose celebrated after the match and his faction, The System, started to make their way down to ringside. Before they could, unfamiliar music hit and Nic Nemeth appeared behind Moose. Nemeth is better known as Dolph Ziggler in WWE. The crowd was going berserk with some less-than-PG chants. They faced off and Nemeth hit a superkick and the Zig Zag, which might have a different name soon. Nemeth bailed through the crowd before The System could get to him. He ripped off his shirt to reveal a TNA Wrestling t-shirt underneath. That’s awesome. Hannifan was screaming about Nemeth being in TNA and he looked excited to be there. The show ended with Nemeth in the crowd with the fans chanting “TNA.”
Analysis: That was an awesome way to end the show. They probably didn’t want to end it with a heel celebrating and they have been billing this as a show where worlds collide, so Nemeth’s appearance makes sense on a number of levels. A few members of the IWC that I chat with had been speculating about who it could be and Nemeth’s name was mentioned. It wasn’t my first choice because I saw him seemingly starting a feud with David Finlay at Wrestle Kingdom. It seems as if he has chosen TNA Wrestling as his new destination and I am very happy about that. He is a supreme athlete with a lot of charisma and in my opinion very under-used by WWE over at least the last 5 years. I did enjoy his little run in NXT in 2022 with some great matches against Bron Breakker.
Final Rating for TNA Hard To Kill: 8/10
Hard to Kill was a great show to kick off the return of the TNA name. I have rated 6 out of the 8 full-length matches as ***1/2 or over. I think that suggests that the wrestling was fairly strong, with the X-Division Championship match being the best on the card for me, followed closely by Hammerstone/Alexander and Trinity/Grace. I think if they thought about how the finish of Hammerstone/Alexander looked then I might have rated it higher but I get making Alexander looking strong against the outsider. The main event was also a very good match but didn’t get to any classic heights or anything like that. I’m glad that Moose is champion again as I think it was time for a change at the top. The surprise of Nic Nemeth at the end was one of the best parts of the show and I hope he has signed a deal and has great success in TNA. Nemeth vs Moose looks like a likely feud in 2024. Other newcomers in Xia Brookside and the Grizzled Young Vets both had great performances in their TNA debuts and I look forward to seeing what the former Dana Brooke can do when she’s given a match of decent time length and not chasing a group of wrestlers around an arena for a stupid pretend hardcore championship. The crowd was fantastic for the entire show and Vegas seemed to be a good choice for the reboot of TNA. I had been highly critical of the way that this reboot had been handled but hopefully Nemeth and highlights of the great action throughout the night have reached a bigger audience and it’s onwards and upwards for TNA in 2024. I probably thought there may be a few more surprises but they’re taping some shows with Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada so I guess I can be satisfied with that!