The first TNA Impact episode of the new era featured a huge Josh Alexander-Will Ospreay main event along with Nic Nemeth’s first promo since joining the company.
The TNA name was back with a bang with the Hard to Kill PPV this past Saturday. It was an excellent show, with Nic Nemeth making a surprise appearance to end the show after Moose recaptured the TNA World Championship against Alex Shelley.
TNA Impact: 18/1/24 Las Vegas, Nevada
The show opened with a highlights package from Hard to Kill. Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt welcomed us to the show as Kushida made his entrance for the first match.
Match #1: 6-Way match: Kushida vs Trey Miguel vs Laredo Kid vs Mike Bailey vs El Hijo del Vikingo vs Jake Something
This is a random assortment of X-Division characters and Jake Something to kick off the show with a lot of action. Kushida did a big flip to the outside to take out Miguel and Something. Bailey, Vikingo and Kid all did dives to the outside to take the other 3 out. This is not going to be an easy match to cover. Miguel knocked Bailey and Vikingo off the top rope. He avoided a crossbody from Kid. Miguel tried to lock in a Sharpshooter on Kid but Kushida cut him off with a kick to the face. Miguel still had Kid’s legs locked and hit a Lightning Spiral on Kushida. Jake Something gave him a chokeslam on top of Kid. Vikingo almost got chokeslammed off the top rope but chopped his way to safety. He tried a forearm with no effect so Something stood on his foot to stop him moving and squashed him with a forearm of his own. He swatted a few wrestlers off the apron but Vikingo hit a hurricanrana and a running kick in the corner. He tried a ridiculous spinning hurricanrana in the corner but Something caught him and powerbombed him on top of a pile of wrestlers on the outside. Miguel snuck up behind Something and nailed a Poisonrana. Kushida tried for the Hoverboard Lock but Vikingo floated in from the top and nailed a huge double stomp and then he went back to the top and hit a Crucifix Bomb on Miguel. Madness! Bailey avoided a spin kick and connected with a moonsault to Kushida. Kid spiked Vikingo with an inverted DDT. He hit a perfect Spanish Fly on Bailey but ran Into the Void and Something picked up the win after 6 minutes.
Winner: Jake Something
Analysis: *** That was frenetic but disappointing to get only six minutes. Basically a spot fest with Something using his power for the win. I think 15 minutes should be a minimum that a match like this should get but it being the first big weekly show back they will want to get a lot of wrestlers on the show and give Ospreay/Alexander plenty of time in the main event.
Will Ospreay was backstage with Gia Miller. He asked Alexander if he remembered him from the last time he beat him on (Impact) TNA Wrestling. Ospreay said it was time for Alexander to step up and be a world beater. Ospreay questioned if Alexander could handle the pressure.
Analysis: Short and sharp from Ospreay with plenty of intensity. It should be a special main event later in the show.
There was a quick vignette for Ash by Elegance (FKA Dana Brooke) who debuted at Hard to Kill. The voiceover was very creepy and didn’t fit the vignette at all. There was tons of backlash for her appearance at HtK because of the similarities in look to Toni Storm’s AEW character. Time will tell.
There was a highlights video from the Knockouts’ Ultimate X which was won by Gisele Shaw. That match kicked off Hard to Kill and was very good. It was cool to see NXT UK’s Xia Brookside debut too. Shaw cut a quick promo with the X. She will probably be World Champion this year after a 2023 of poor booking. Gail Kim congratulated her and said she didn’t need the Shawentourage from now on.
Match #2: Tasha Steelz vs Xia Brookside
Brookside had the crowd behind her from the start. She hit a headscissors and a drop kick, then a Monkey Flip from the corner for 2. Steelz powered out of a side headlock and poked Brookside in the eyes. She hit the Three Amigos and posed a bit so Brookside tried a surprise roll up for 2. She hit a clothesline and a running head scissors then double knees in the corner and a running neckbreaker for 2. Steelz hit a jawbreaker and a Codebreaker for 2. She sent Steelz to the top rope and hit her finisher Brookside Bomb for her first win in TNA. The match lasted 5 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Xia Brookside
Analysis: **1/2 There were some spots that weren’t very smooth and it was a lot of moves back and forth. I’m glad that Brookside got her first win.
They recapped the AJ Francis (FKA Top Dolla) and Joe Hendry segment from Hard to Kill. Hendry beat down Whoo Kid backstage and threw his laptop at him. That was very simple. Hendry responded to the beatdown with a pre-taped promo.
Match #3: Grizzled Young Vets vs Eric Young & Frankie Kazarian
GYV put in an impressive TNA debut at Hard to Kill but came up short in their quest for the tag titles. They are the 3rd best team already on the roster by default. Young and Kaz also lost on the pre-show to Myers and Edwards. Gibson and Young started the match off. Gibson targeted the shoulder with a stomp after grounding Young. Young started biting Gibson and backed into his corner for the tag. Drake also tagged in but Kaz caught him with chops in the corner and a running Russian Legsweep. Gibson made a blind tag and grabbed Kaz’s legs, which allowed Drake to hit a flying forearm through the middle ropes to the outside on Kaz.
Kaz was fighting both the heels off in the corner as the action returned. Drake tagged Gibson in and Kaz sent Drake to the outside. Kaz hit a suplex on Gibson and was about to tag Young but Drake knocked him off the apron. GYV hit an assisted Slice Bread on Kaz for 2. Drake had tagged in now and kicked Kaz to the outside. He hit a vaulting elbow from inside the ring, as Gibson held Kaz down. Gibson tagged in and pummelled Kaz with forearms. Kaz came back with a right hand to each of the GYVs but Gibson backed him into the corner so he could tag Drake back in. Drake missed a dive in the corner so Kaz rolled to his side and tagged in Young. Young took down GYV with clotheslines. He hit a huge powerslam on Drake for 2 and started biting Gibson. Young tried for a DDT but Drake hit an enziguiri kick. Kaz came in for the save but accidentally hit Young. They tossed Kaz to the outside and finished Young off with their Grit Your Teeth finisher which wasn’t 100% smooth but enough for the win after 6 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Grizzled Young Vets
Analysis: **1/2 They fit enough action into the 6 minutes but the commercial break didn’t help. It was a pretty obvious outcome and they teased dissent between the veteran team of Young and Kaz.
Post-match that turned into a full-blown heel turn from Kaz who clobbered Young with a lariat. He destroyed Young with Fade to Black in the middle of the ring as he screamed at Young that this was going to be his year. The fans were chanting unsavoury things towards Kaz.
Analysis: I guess that team’s over. I’d prefer both as singles wrestlers so that’s fine. It will be good to see Kaz in heel mode as he has been a pure face since he’s been back. The fans turned on him here very quickly so the turn was very effective already.
The System were celebrating Moose’s World Championship win at a restaurant. They recapped Myers and Edwards’ win, Alisha’s performance in Ultimate X as well as Moose’s huge win over Shelley. They talked about their match with Kazuchika Okada and The Motor City Machine Guns next week.
Analysis: That should be the main event next week. Okada leaves NJPW on 31/1. I assume he goes to AEW to be another shiny toy for Tony Khan.
Nic Nemeth Talks
Nemeth made his way to the ring dressed in a suit and tie. He got a great reception from the fans who were very loud all night at Hard to Kill and have continued at these tapings. Nemeth looked very excited to be there. He said the fan reception was going to take some getting used to but he appreciates it. He put over Hard to Kill and TNA in general. Nemeth said he had done a lot of things in his 19 years in wrestling and has been very fortunate. He said he did it all in one world and he’s nervous and excited to be starting all over again. Nemeth said he picked his time and place and lined up the TNA Champion for a reason. He spoke about becoming TNA World Champion in the future and celebrating with every single one of the fans. Nemeth said he had too much respect for the locker room to simply stroll in and demand a title match. This is his day one and he is going to do it all over again, but this time Nemeth goes all the way to the top.
Here comes Steve Maclin with the interruption. Maclin beat Rich Swann on the pre-show of Hard to Kill. Maclin said he agreed with everything Nemeth said and they have something in common in that they were both released in the wild and made it to TNA. Maclin put over his title reign (too short in my opinion) and then called Nemeth a phony. He doesn’t believe what Nemeth has to say. Maclin stopped Nemeth from talking and told him he was only there to take opportunities away from the wrestlers that have waited in line. He said that no one would remember the name Nic Nemeth but only ask the question “Whatever happened to Dolph Ziggler?” That drew a big response from the crowd. Maclin knocked the mic out of Nemeth’s hand. Nemeth slapped him, then ducked a clothesline and nailed Maclin with the Danger Zone. The crowd was going crazy.
Analysis: What a great segment. It instantly put Nemeth (I keep writing Ziggler!) over as a big star and sets up a feud with Maclin which is already intense. I loved the Dolph Ziggler line. Nemeth is getting as loud a reaction from the TNA audience as I can recall in a long time. I enjoyed these Las Vegas crowds over the last two shows.
Jordynne Grace had a quick backstage segment with Gia Miller. She put over Trinity as a great champion but was quickly interrupted by the former champ who congratulated her. There’s a rematch coming next week but Trinity is on the way out so she isn’t winning.
Match #4: PCO vs Jai Vidal
PCO nailed Vidal with a huge clothesline. He hit a huge chokeslam, a reverse DDT and the PCO-Sault. It lasted 90 seconds.
Winner by pinfall: PCO
Analysis: Squash. Just a quick match to keep the momentum going for PCO as well as give the fans a happy moment as the babyface shut up the annoying heel in Vidal.
Former World Champion Alex Shelley and his tag partner Chris Sabin cut a promo about next week’s 6-man tag match with Kazuchika Okada. Okada turned up and said, “Next week I return to TNA”. It was that quick.
Analysis: That should be a great match against The System.
* TNA Knockouts’ Championship: Jordynne Grace (c) vs Trinity
* Nic Nemeth vs Zachary Wentz
* The Motor City Machine Guns & Kazuchika Okada vs The System
Analysis: It looks like the good times will keep on rolling for TNA. I’m excited.
Match #5: Will Ospreay vs Josh Alexander
There were 21 minutes of TV time left when the bell rang. That’s slightly disappointing but it’s not a PLE so having a 25-30-minute match is pretty tough on their only show of the week. The crowd was very loud as the match began. There were some early counters and Ospreay hit a head scissors then a standing Shooting Star Press for 2. Ospreay leaves nothing in the locker room, that much can be said. They exchanged chops and Ospreay sent Alexander into the corner and smashed him across the chest with a chop. He nailed a big backbreaker for 2. Alexander recovered and hit his crossbody, sending Ospreay out of the ring. For some reason when they came back from picture-in-picture, there was a table set up at ringside. Alexander overpowered Ospreay with a Fisherman Suplex. Hannifan noted the urgency of this match for Alexander after the last loss to Ospreay. Ospreay wanted a handspring elbow but Alexander caught him in mid-air with a German suplex. He nailed a powerbomb into a backbreaker that looked really painful. Alexander covered Ospreay and got a 2 count. Ospreay hit a few chops but Alexander shook it off and hit another backbreaker. There were dueling chants from the crowd who were fully invested in this main event. Ospreay rolled to the ring apron but Alexander caught him from behind and almost lifted him back inside the ring for a German. They battled on the ring apron and Alexander wanted to give Ospreay the C4 Spike through the table. Ospreay fought out with a superkick and nailed the Storm Driver through the table! That table was absolutely devastated. It looked like Ospreay hurt himself as the doctor was checking on him but he might have just been selling really well. The referee used his discretion to not DQ Ospreay for using the table. That’s cool that Hannifan explained that. He really is the best commentator in the business. Alexander rolled into the ring to beat the 10 count and ran straight into a huge dropkick from the top rope. Ospreay nailed the Os Cutter and maneuvered himself in mid-air to hit the move. Awesome. Alexander kicked out at 2. Ospreay lined Alexander up for the Hidden Blade but Alexander collapsed just before the connection.
The match continued with Alexander nailing Ospreay with a Tombstone Piledriver on the entrance ramp! Back in the ring, Alexander landed a clothesline in the corner. He put Ospreay on his shoulders and hit a rolling senton off the top. That’s even more impressive with Alexander’s past neck issues. Ospreay kicked out at 2 again but Alexander immediately applied the anklelock. Ospreay almost made the ropes but Alexander dragged him back and stomped on his ankle. Alexander continued to twist at the left ankle but Ospreay flipped him into the middle turnbuckle and Alexander’s mouthguard flew out. Ospreay hit an enziguiri kick and then a superkick in the corner. He measured Alexander and nailed a perfect Poisonrana from the top. Ospreay decimated Alexander with a vicious Hidden Blade but somehow Alexander kicked out just before 3. Ospreay wanted the Storm Breaker but Alexander flipped him over. Ospreay ran the ropes and nailed another Hidden Blade! He hit the Storm Driver 93 but Alexander just wouldn’t quit and kicked out again. Ospreay pulled down the elbow pad to finish the job. Alexander was very slow to his feet but blocked Ospreay with a clothesline and another one which turned Ospreay inside-out. He pulled down his straps Angle-style and lined up the C4 Spike but incredibly Ospreay tried to turn it into the Styles Clash. Alexander rolled through to avoid that and nailed one of his own. Alexander covered Ospreay but he kicked out at 2. Alexander nailed a Big Boot and a sickening C4 Spike to win the match after 19 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Josh Alexander
Analysis: **** That was an excellent match with two guys hitting each other with everything they had and Alexander proving that he belongs somewhere near that level of Ospreay. Ospreay’s credentials in terms of big matches with big stars throughout 2023 are far greater, but Alexander consistently churns out 4-star plus matches in terms of my ratings. I have rated this slightly lower than their first match in November. I went back and viewed that and they did a few of the same spots, not that they were bad but it was a little more exciting the first time around. This match had more of a story with Alexander really striving to show he could hang with Ospreay but was also a bit more brutal with the table spot a highlight.
Post-match, TNA President Scott D’Amore came down to unnecessarily steal the show. He started yelling about how long he has loved wrestling. D’Amore said TNA is back and it’s never going away. He was on Michael Cole at WrestleMania levels of yelling at this point. They played the old theme song to end the show which I don’t like as much as the current one.
Final Rating: 7/10
It was just a one-match show and that was fine because it got plenty of time. The rest of the matches were pretty short with the X-Division opener a lot of fun for 6-minutes, GYV’s win only 6 minutes and the KO’s match at 5 minutes. When you have a main event at the level that we saw tonight, the rest of the card can be average and it’s okay. Other highlights were Frankie Kazarian’s heel turn and of course the interaction between Nic Nemeth and Steve Maclin. Nemeth is going to do great things in TNA and starting off with a feud with Maclin should be well worth the watch.