This week on TNA Impact had the in-ring debut of Nic Nemeth, a Knockouts’ Championship match, the return of Okada to a TNA ring and the surprise appearance of a former WWE star.
TNA Impact: 25/1/24 at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada
There was a graphic to show that the show was dedicated to Frank Caiazzo. Rest in Peace, Frank.
The show opened with a recap of last week which saw Nic Nemeth face-off in the ring with Steve Maclin, which could be a great feud soon. There were also highlights of Josh Alexander’s victory over Will Ospreay. That was an excellent match that I rated 4 stars out of 5. We are straight into the first match of the evening.
Match #1: Kevin Knight vs Chris Bey w/ Ace Austin
Knight is back for another random, one-off match. He is so talented, yet we only ever see him in TNA in short bursts. Knight is exactly the talent that they should be targeting for permanent deals. Knight grounded Bey with a side headlock on the mat early on. Bey rolled through for a 1 count and Knight recovered into a springboard arm drag, which got lots of hang time. Knight hit a scoop slam and a vaulting splash for 2. He sent Bey to the outside with a forearm but missed a springboard crossbody. Knight jumped back up onto the apron and Bey hung him up on the ropes with a neckbreaker, then hit a suicide dive through the ropes. Back in the ring, Knight ducked a clothesline and tried a backslide on Bey for a 2 count. He nailed a dropkick to the throat of Bey. Knight scored with a splash in the corner then a springboard clothesline in the opposite corner. Knight covered Bey for another two count. Bey stunned Knight with a jawbreaker and kipped up, showing his athleticism. He ran right into a superkick and Knight nailed a Brainbuster for 2 again. Bey avoided a Frog Splash and hit an elbow drop with Knight against the middle rope. He nailed the Art of Finesse for the win after about 7 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Chris Bey
Analysis: **3/4 That was a solid opener but as usual it was pretty short with Bey getting the win out of nowhere, which fits his finishing move well. Knight was probably never in with a shot but looked good as always. They tossed Bey out of the ring and went to work on Austin in the middle of the ring.
As soon as the bell sounded for the end of the match, Bey was attacked in the ring by the Grizzled Young Vets. GYV nailed their double-team DDT finisher on Austin to the boos of the crowd. Bey came back in but ran right into a throat thrust from Gibson. GYV nailed a double-team Codebreaker on Bey and then Drake grabbed the Tag Team Championships to signal their intent moving forward.
Analysis: That was exactly what the GYVs needed to do to set them up as a legitimate threat to the tag champs. I look forward to that program soon.
There was another vignette for Ash by Elegance. The creepy promo guy was back, which really does not fit the images that we are seeing on the screen.
They recapped Frankie Kazarian accidentally hitting his tag partner Eric Young last week, costing them the match against GYV. Kaz turned heel after the match with a beatdown on Young. He cut a pre-taped promo and said he would explain himself next week. Kaz was cut off by Rich Swann. Kaz said he is finally taking things into his own hands. He suggested Swann do the same. AJ Francis came in and offered his services in Swann’s match against Joe Hendry (I think on Explosion). Swann seemed wary of Francis due to his attack on Hendry at Hard to Kill. Francis reminded Swann that he flies at the back of the plane while Francis travels first class. Swann said he was fine by himself.
Analysis: They’re setting up Francis as a slimy heel which is fine. Just no suicide dives, please.
Match #2: Dirty Dango & Oleg Prudius w/Alpha Bravo vs Dante King & Damian Drake
This is not going to last long, folks. Prudius started against King. Dango went up the ramp to answer a phone call. He sat on a chair talking on the phone. Prudius slammed King into the corner and he tagged in Drake. He tossed Drake from the top rope and then choked him out in the corner. Prudius hit an awkward overhead belly-to-belly on Drake and tagged in Dango, who was still on the phone. He tossed Drake into Prudius who nailed a headbutt. Dango hit a reverse DDT for the win after 2 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dirty Dango & Oleg Prudius
Analysis: * Just a squash match but could be a legitimate team to add to the tag division. Dango’s shenanigans outside the ring were funny.
The Grizzled Young Vets cut a promo backstage. Gibson said they were never pinned at Hard to Kill and they aren’t going to the back of the line. Director of Authority Santino Marella cut them off. Bey and Austin tried to brawl with the GYV but security stood between them. Marella made the Tag Team Championship match a 2 out of 3 match series starting next week.
Analysis: That’s an interesting way to make a championship match. They used to do that in WWE about 15 years ago with the US title. I remember a best-of-5 series between Chris Benoit and Booker T, and another with John Cena vs Booker T.
Gia Miller previewed the main event backstage with The Motor City Machine Guns and Kazuchika Okada. Shelley said The System were not the standard-bearers that they claimed to be. Sabin said if you believe them, then watch tonight as they prove The System wrong. Okada told us that The System would feel the Rainmaker tonight.
Analysis: A simple promo to hype the main event. It should be terrific.
Match #3: TNA Knockouts’ Championship: Jordynne Grace (c) vs Trinity
This is Trinity’s rematch after losing the title at Hard to Kill. If you have to think about who is winning this match, then you probably shouldn’t be watching wrestling. They had a very good match at the PPV, however this is in the middle of the show and they won’t be afforded the same amount of time here. Trinity hit a knee strike early and locked in Star Struck but Grace got her foot on the bottom rope. She nailed a diving clothesline and her splits pin for 2. Grace stopped the momentum with a big forearm and a spinebuster for two.
Trinity tried for a neckbreaker from the middle rope but Grace held on. Grace nailed a Vader Bomb for 2. Trinity countered a Vertebreaker into an enziguiri. She used the ropes to spike Grace for another 2 count. Grace backed Trinity into the corner to avoid a German suplex. She put Trinity onto the top rope and attempted a superplex. Trinity blocked it but Grace nailed her with headbutts over and over. Grace hit a delayed superplex and bounced straight back up into the Jackhammer for 2. That was an impressive sequence. Grace was mad so stomped on Trinity a bit and screamed at her to get up. She knocked Trinity back down to the mat with a right hand. Grace asked what Trinity was going to do and nailed another forearm. Trinity fired up and hit a Full Nelson Bomb for 2. Grace blocked a suplex and hit a stiff backfist. Trinity avoided the Grace Driver so Grace pummelled her with a right hand into the corner. Grace put Trinity back onto the top rope and wanted the Muscle Buster. Trinity flipped through with a sunset flip pin for 2. They exchanged multiple pin attempts and Trinity locked in Star Struck. Grace countered the move with a roll up and retained the title after 8 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jordynne Grace
Analysis: *** It was obvious that Grace was going to retain as Trinity is back off to WWE after these tapings. It was a very good match for the limited time that they were given. I would’ve preferred double the match time. Trinity did a great job in the Knockouts division over the 9 months she was with TNA.
After the match, the ladies shook hands but were jumped by Savannah Evans and Jai Vidal. Trinity and Grace tried to fend them off but Gisele Shaw clocked them both with her Ultimate X. Shaw has a guaranteed Knockouts’ Championship match in the future. She hit her running knee on Trinity and they tossed Grace up the entrance ramp.
Analysis: A good attack from the heels to remind the audience that Shaw is waiting in the wings with a title shot.
The System cut a pre-taped promo responding to the MCMGs and Okada’s promo from earlier. Myers said The System would put an end to a NJPW legend tonight. Moose said to trust The System.
Analysis: Very simple. These are short segments but effective in adding to the matches.
Josh Alexander cut a promo backstage. He said the good times keep on rolling in TNA. Alexander recapped his wins over Alex Hammerstone and Will Ospreay (both 4-star matches from me). Alexander wondered what was next and was approached by Alan Angels. Angels invited Alexander to be the first guest on his new talk show ‘The Sound Check’. Alexander tried to get out of it but Angels pretty much begged him and Alexander reluctantly agreed.
Analysis: I like Angels. They need to use him more. There aren’t many talk-show segments on TNA (that’s ok with me; WWE has WAY too many) so we will see how this goes.
Match #4: Zachary Wentz w/ Trey Miguel vs. Nic Nemeth
I wanted to comment on Nemeth’s music but the sound on TNA is still not very good. When the crowd is making noise it’s hard to hear the theme music. It just sounded pretty generic. Nemeth was wrestling in gold pants with black skulls on them. The crowd was very excited to see him wrestle. I am more jealous of his hair than anything. Nemeth outwrestled Wentz in the early goings. He tried an inside cradle for a 1 count. Wentz got frustrated and socked Nemeth with a right hand and an elbow to the back. Wentz mocked Nemeth’s superkick stomp but Nemeth caught his foot and nailed a dropkick. Nemeth avoided a springboard elbow. He ran the ropes but Miguel held his leg. Wentz hit a running knee which sent Nemeth to the outside. That was sold beautifully. Wentz hit a suicide dive through the ropes which sent Nemeth into the guard rail. He rolled Nemeth back into the ring for a 2 count. Wentz argued with the referee so Miguel choked Nemeth out against the bottom rope. Wentz covered Nemeth for 2. He continued to stomp on Nemeth around the ring and scored another 2 count. They exchanged right hands and Nemeth nailed a series of clotheslines and then a diving splash in the corner. Nemeth hit a neckbreaker and a jumping elbow for 2. He lined up the superkick but Wentz rolled him up with a handful of tights for 2. Nemeth ran at Wentz, who moved, and Nemeth collided with the ring post. Wentz rolled up Nemeth with the tights again for another 2 count. Nemeth reversed Wentz’s DDT finisher with a roll up and nailed a Tornado DDT. Wentz caught a superkick attempt and hit a handspring knee strike. He hit a modified Full Nelson Bomb for 2. That was a unique move. Wentz screamed at the referee to count faster. Nemeth rolled Wentz up with a backslide for 2. Wentz went for a right hand but Nemeth ducked and nailed the Danger Zone for the win after 7 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Nic Nemeth
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a very entertaining match. Wentz has some unique offensive moves and couldn’t have cheated much more if he tried. I thought Nemeth might be a little more creative with his moveset being in TNA now but it was pretty much the same things we have seen from him in his whole WWE run, not even using the Fame Asser here. I quite enjoy Tom Hannifan screaming about his finisher, too.
After the match, Trey Miguel tried to get a cheap shot in so Nemeth nailed him with the Danger Zone, too. They will face off next week. Steve Maclin then came out of the crowd and started the beatdown on Nemeth. He stomped away on Nemeth in the corner. Maclin told Nemeth that no one was going to remember his name. Maclin went for the KIA but Nemeth reversed it and nailed the Danger Zone again! Maclin stared down Nemeth from the entrance ramp.
Analysis: That was a very busy post-match segment. I don’t like how quickly Maclin was back on his feet after the Danger Zone finisher. Sell the move!
The TNA Digital Media Champion Crazzy Steve cut a pre-taped promo on Tommy Dreamer. He said Dreamer held him back for years and that Dreamer wasn’t his friend. Steve said he has taken everything from Dreamer but Rhino interrupted him and shoved him up against some backstage equipment. Rhino told Steve that if he didn’t like Dreamer’s advice then he won’t like Rhino’s.
Analysis: There’s the next opponent for Steve. That’s fine.
Decay cut a pre-taped promo about their Knockouts’ Championship win at Hard to Kill. I was not a fan of that or them. Still. Rosemary said that from now on, they were doing things their way. Thrilling.
Analysis: I guess they’re over with the fans. That’s a plus!
Match #5: Dani Luna & Jody Threat vs MK Ultra
It would be nice if there were more than 2 teams in the division. Maybe Luna and Threat will be a team moving forward. I like them better as singles wrestlers. Threat is still yet to get any form of singles push so far. Slamovich and Luna started the match. Luna had the strength advantage early on. Threat ran in with a dropkick after a quick tag in. She nailed a running clothesline in the corner and then a number of lariats. Luna made the blind tag and nailed an Exploder Suplex for 2. Kelly held down the legs of Luna, which allowed Slamovich to hit a springboard stomp. She tagged Kelly in, who hit a big boot. Slamovich quickly tagged back in and hit a suplex. There was another tag to Kelly, but some miscommunication saw Masha kick Kelly, which allowed Threat to tag in. She took down MK Ultra with some clotheslines. Threat hit her running knees and a German suplex on Kelly for 2. Threat went to the top but Slamovich distracted her. Kelly tossed Threat off the top and MK Ultra hit a double-knee strike (hello AEW VPs) and a double-powerbomb for the win after 4 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: MK Ultra
Analysis: ** That was very rushed. They’re teasing some tension between Masha and Kelly. I don’t love the way that Slamovich has been portrayed lately. She’s definitely lost some of the intimidation factor she had last year.
Post-match MK Ultra made a statement with a double big boot on Luna and a double-team piledriver. That looked nasty.
Analysis: A short beatdown to cement MK Ultra as a dangerous threat to Decay’s titles.
* Nic Nemeth vs Trey Miguel
* Kevin Knight vs Brian Myers
* Match #1 in the best of 3 series for the TNA Tag Team Championships: Bullet Club (c) vs Grizzled Young Vets
* Frankie Kazarian explains his turn on Eric Young
Analysis: That should be a decent show but on paper, it looks like a step down from the last two Vegas shows.
Match #6: The System w/ Alisha Edwards vs The Motor City Machine Guns & Kazuchika Okada
This is the first Okada match that I’ve reviewed so that’s something interesting. I think TNA made the right call in making Moose the TNA Champion at Hard to Kill. It’s time for him to be back at the main event level. I would actually like to see an X-Division feud between Shelley and Sabin this year. It would probably be the dreaded face vs face dynamic though. Okada got the biggest reaction of the night by far and deservedly so. Shelley and Edwards did a bit of shoving early on, which led to every jumping into the ring for a face-off.
Moose and Sabin were in the ring but the fans were chanting for Okada so Sabin tagged him in. Okada faced off with Moose to the delight of the crowd. Moose hit a shoulder tackle and rolled up Okada for 2. He dodged a spear in the corner and went for the Rainmaker but Moose bailed to the floor. He tagged in Edwards and Okada tagged in Shelley. Shelley whipped Edwards into the corner and Sabin hit a Dragon Screw. Shelley hit his own one on Edwards and made the tag to Sabin. Shelley hit another Dragon Screw and Sabin covered Edwards for a 2 count. Sabin grounded Edwards with a leg lock and pulled him to the corner to tag Shelley back in. Shelley stretched out the leg of Edwards some more and tagged in Okada. Okada hit a jumping elbow to the knee of Edwards. Shelley tagged in again and went back to the knee of Edwards. Moose distracted the referee so Myers hit a cheap kick to Shelley in the ropes. Myers rammed Shelley into the ring on the outside. The action started to break down on the outside as Edwards took out Sabin. Myers rolled Shelley back into the ring. Edwards stomped on Shelley and pulled him back to the heel corner to tag in Myers. Myers stomped on Shelley and pinned him for a 2 count. He grounded Shelley against the mat with a sleeper.
When the action returned, Shelley was battling Edwards in the ring. Myers held Shelley against the ropes but Shelley moved so Edwards connected with a boot on Myers. Sabin tagged in and took down an onrushing Myers with a clothesline. Sabin dropkicked Moose off the apron. Sabin flew through the air with a double clothesline on Myers and Edwards. He punted Moose on the outside then hit a superkick on Edwards back in the ring. Sabin hit a fantastic springboard Tornado DDT on Edwards for 2. That cannot be an easy move to do well, let alone look that smooth. Shelley came in for a double-team clothesline on Edwards. Sabin nailed a cutter on Myers. He went for the Cradle Shock on Edwards but Edwards gouged the eyes of Sabin. Shelley grabbed hold of Edwards and tackled him into the corner. Sabin hit a running big boot but Edwards moved and he connected with Shelley! Sabin turned around into the Blue Thunder Bomb but Edwards only got a 2 count. Myers knocked Okada off the ring apron and helped Edwards put Sabin on the top rope. They wanted a superplex but Sabin shoved them both off and nailed a double crossbody. He nailed a Tornado DDT on Edwards whilst kicking Myers out of the way. Sabin stretched out and tagged in Okada. Edwards made it to Moose. Okada was on fire with a running elbow and a DDT on Moose. He fought off Edwards and Myers. Okada hit a Flapjack on Myers. He missed a splash on the corner on Moose but nailed an innovative neckbreaker on Moose for 2. Okada hit a scoop slam and went aerial. He connected with a diving elbow drop and called for the Rainmaker. Moose ducked underneath it but ran into a dropkick. Okada hit an elbow but Moose showed his ridiculous athleticism with a dropkick with incredible air. Okada tagged in Shelley, whilst Moose made it to Edwards. Shelley disposed of the interfering Myers. He blocked an Edwards’ attack in the corner but Edwards recovered quickly with a backpack stunner for 2. The fans were chanting but it had to be bleeped out! Sabin used Shelley to hit a step-up enziguiri on Edwards. Moose hit a big boot on Sabin. He ran into a double superkick from the Guns. Myers made a blind tag. He hit a running knee on Sabin and an enziguiri on Shelley. Myers lined up Shelley for the Roster Cut but Okada levelled him with a dropkick. Okada blasted Myers with the Rainmaker and the fans loved it. Shelley with the Shell Shock for the win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Motor City Machine Guns and Kazuchika Okada
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a solid main event but nothing spectacular. Okada being in the match was cool but he’s not going to have a Dave Meltzer 6-star classic when he’s in a 6-man tag that goes barely over 10 minutes. It was probably pretty predictable that Myers was eating the pin but that’s okay because he’s a dirtbag heel and sometimes they’ve got to take the big move.
Okada and friends celebrated the win as Impact went off the air. As the TNA logo was being shown, it cut to what looked like a recorded video from a phone.
A mystery voice said that TNA has been undergoing some changes lately and it’s time for a different kind of change- one that’s immediate and ignited by an X-Factor. Mustafa Ali appeared on the screen in a suit and said he approves this message. Mustafa Ali is coming to TNA!
Analysis: That was well done. Rushed, but nicely done. Ali has been doing some great work on the indies and I’m glad he’s coming to TNA. Surely he will be given a better chance at succeeding than he had in WWE. I’m all for it and I’m enjoying all the new blood that’s arriving in the company.
Final Rating: 6.5/10
It felt like a slight step down from last week’s show but there was enough there to keep the new-TNA feel buzzing throughout the night. I enjoyed seeing Nic Nemeth in his singles debut. He is still a very entertaining performer, however, I thought we may see a slightly unhinged moveset now that WWE isn’t holding him back. That wasn’t the case but it was still a fine match against Zachary Wentz. They pushed the Maclin story further too, so that was well followed-up. There was some action in the tag division with the GYVs setting up a title shot in a best of 3 series match with Bullet Club. That’s an interesting way to decide the champions and I liked that decision. The main event with the Machine Guns and Okada beating The System was solid enough. It was fairly predictable seeing Myers take the loss but sometimes that’s okay as it popped the crowd when Okada hit the Rainmaker. Hopefully, TNA can continue their momentum going forward and vignettes like the Ali one at the end certainly help that. I am interested in his arrival in TNA.