COMMENTATORS: Josh Matthews & Madison Rayne
The first Impact of 2021 features the final semi-final match of the Knockouts Tag Team Title tournament, a brand new Cody Deaner, a Super X Cup preview ahead of this weekend’s Genesis special, and an Eddie Edwards/Sami Callihan brawl, plus KENNY OMEGA AND HIS BUS.
- IMPACT WORLD CHAMPION: Rich Swann
- IMPACT KNOCKOUTS CHAMPION: “The Virtuosa” Deonna Purrazzo
- IMPACT X-DIVISION CHAMPION: Manik
- IMPACT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Good Brothers (“The Big LG” Dog Gallows & “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson)
- IMPACT KNOCKOUTS TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Vacant
- Ace Austin vs. Blake Christian vs. KC Navarro vs. Crazzy Steve (*3/4)
- Cousin Jake & Rhino vs. Cody Deaner & Joe Doering (*3/4)
- KNOCKOUTS TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT – SEMI-FINALS: Jordynne Grace & Jazz vs. Havok & Nevaeh (**)
- 3 MINUTE CHALLENGE: Matthew Palmer vs. Moose (NR)
- The Eddie Kingston/Sami Callihan Brawl
-PREVIOUSLY ON IMPACT: Karl Anderson defeated Chris Sabin via underhanded tactics, Good Brothers and Kenny Omega beat up Rich Swann & The Motor City Machine Guns to set up Hard to Kill.
Crazzy Steve defeated Ace Austin [w/ Madman Fulton], Blake Christian, & KC Navarro via pinfall (7:09)
This was a preview of the upcoming Super X Cup tournament to be held this coming Sunday at Genesis. Austin started the match out on the floor, pulling random folks out and attacking them while Fulton stood guard, while Christian and Navarro made their presence felt with lightning quick moves and counters, the former hitting a standing Spanish Fly into a nip up and Frog Splash and the latter speeding all around the ring and connecting with an awesome flipping neckbreaker. However it was Crazzy Steve of all folks who ended up sneaking out the win after hitting a tornado DDT on Navarro. Huh.
- Crazzy Steve felt like the odd man out in this one, but ended up picking up the win and the psychological advantage heading into Genesis. Honestly didn’t see that coming. This match was entertaining enough, showcasing half the participants in the Super X Cup but more importantly bringing Navarro and Christian to my attention for the first time. They stole the entire match and felt like they were going at least twice the speed of Austin and Steve at every point in the contest. I hope they get more time to shine on Saturday. (*3/4)
–Sami Callihan had some words from his Hacker Den/Twitch stream setup, warning his opponent tonight Eddie Edwards to keep his wife away from ringside because you never know what could happen.
–Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone returned with another AEW Paid Announcement, hyping up tomorrow’s BIG New Year’s Smash card on TNT. Khan threw some more shade at Impact Wrestling, calling Don Callis a parasite while he’s a patron of pro wrestling, including spending the 100 dollars his grandma sent him for his birthday to buy this ad time.
- I’m no scientist but an AEW “paid advertisement” being the best part of your show is probably not a great sign. Also didn’t help that AEW’s show tomorrow looks WAY BETTER than what we’re being given tonight. Props to Impact for embracing its bush league status but I don’t know if having Kenny Omega wrestle on their PPV is worth it. Be another thing if they were at least dragged like this on Dynamite where wrestling fans are actually watching, you know?
-Speaking of THE BUS, next segment featured Kenny Omega, Don Callis, and The Good Brothers laughing and having a good time. Omega said their victory is a foregone conclusion as they’ve traveled the world together while Swann & MCMG have no chemistry, just hate.
-Show then cut back to the ring where Cousin Jake said he wanted to fix things with his cousin. He and Rhino then called out Eric Young & Joe Doering, who obliged…alongside a completely new (and somewhat menacing) Cody Deaner. Shaved head, new tights, serial killer look in his eye. Young told Jake that Deaner answers to him now and a tag team match was set.
Cody Deaner & Joe Doering [w/ Eric Young] defeated Cousin Jake & Rhino via pinfall (4:18 shown)
Jake tried to get Deaner to talk to him, but Deaner attacked him instead and Doering flattened him with a running crossbody, all the while Young stood outside yelling cult sh*t and egging Deaner on. Rhino eventually got the tag and did some damage but then tagged Jake back in to finish Deaner off but again Jake just wanted to talk. Doering laid Rhino out with a lariat on the floor, Deaner hit a low-blow on Jake and finished him off with a DDT.
- I am WAY into this version of Cody Deaner; that southern boy prank gimmick or whatever did absolutely nothing for me but I can get behind this. I think this was Doering’s first match since returning to the company at Turning Point and he didn’t do much, but everything he did was heavy and looked painful so I’m assuming he’s here to throw bombs. I have NOT seen his All-Japan work so I don’t know what he’s really capable of. (*3/4)
Young, Deaner, & Doering continued the beatdown until Tommy Dreamer made the save, challenging Young & his cult members to an “Old School Rules” (No DQ, falls count anywhere) match for Hard to Kill. So we’re getting TWO six-man tag team matches on the PPV, right on.
–Gia Miller interviewed Matthew Palmer, who said that he is a wrestler-first and a security guard second and has waited 14 years to get his foot in the door and if he lasted three minutes in the ring with Moose tonight people will know who he is. Yeah, Matthew Palmer. I was listening.
–Acey Romero in a Sherlock hat stepped into Johnny Swinger’s office, looking for leads on getting his buddy Larry D out of jail. Swinger told him to ask the Knockouts as they might have something to do with it all.
- And here I was hoping that Larry D getting “arrested” was going to be the end of it all. F*CK. At least I got some Swing-Man. This show could’ve used more Swing-Man.
–Deonna Purrazzo and Kimber Lee made their way to the ring, the former asking for this time to speak. Purrazzo talked about her Hard to Kill opponent Taya Valkyrie, saying that she will prove once again why she’s the Virtuosa and the first ever Iron Woman of Impact Wrestling. Valkyrie interrupted, her bff Rosemary by her side. Valkyrie called Purrazzo impressive but she’s never faced her before, and said she’s focused on winning the Knockouts Championship back. Purrazzo lauded Valkyrie for her record-setting reign as Knockouts Champion but this was now the Age of the Virtuosa. Valkyrie shoved Lee to the mat and told Purrazzo that she’s scared because she’s going to be humiliated and at Hard to Kill it’ll be the beginning of “La Era de la Wera”.
- I appreciate Valkyrie getting more serious here after spending most of 2020 doing comedy stuff. She’s Purrazzo’s last real challenger so I’m interested to see what happens with The Virtuosa if she retains. Not really anyone else for her to wrestle.
–Rohit Raju ran into Chris Bey backstage and forgave him for weaseling into the X-Division Title match at Hard to Kill. Bey obviously took offense to this but Raju brought things back on course and said they should unmask Manik, prove he’s TJP, then they can duke it out for the title without him at the PPV. Raju and Bey found TJP backstage and asked where Manik was; TJP said he hadn’t seen him anywhere. Raju and Bey then challenged Manik and TJP to a tag team match; TJP said he and Manik are completely different people and don’t get along but he’d pass the message along if he saw him.
–Tenille Dashwood and Kaleb with a K found Rosemary backstage and tried to get her to be their friend, bringing up that Taya Valkyrie was leaving her in the dust to go back to singles competition, but Rosemary rebuffed their advances. Her loss man, Tenille & Kaleb are the only cool people in Impact.
KNOCKOUTS TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT: SEMI-FINALS
Jordynne Grace & Jazz vs. Havok & Navaeh
Impact Wrestling finally remembered that wrestling matches happen on the show, and we got the final semi-final match of the tournament; winner of this one to meet Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz in the finals at Hard to KIll. Grace and Nevaeh started off with some great chain wrestling and both teams traded advantage until Grace & Jazz powered their way into offense, wearing Nevaeh down. Havok got the tag and connected with a sit-out powerbomb on Grace, but Jazz broke the pinfall. Jazz got her jabs in to both Havok & Nevaeh, knocking Havok over Grace, who stacked her up for a two-count. Grace and Nevaeh battled out, Havok hit Jazz with a Tombstone for the win.
- Pretty good overall I thought, Grace & Jazz gelled as a tag team far better than I was expecting. Also it’s always great to see Jazz; her cold staredown of Havok when they traded bombs early in the match was great. Was a little strange that Nevaeh was the one getting most of the punishment, as I thought Havok & Nevaeh were supposed to be an imposing heel powerhouse team but it is what it is. (**)
–Gia Miller interviewed Rich Swann & The Motor City Machine Guns, who were very much offended at Kenny Omega & The Good Brothers coming into their company and trying to run it. Alex Shelley suggested that they should go out to Omega’s “camper” and take the fight to them…and they did just that, only to be blindsided by Omega & The Good Brothers and left laying. Omega remarked that the babyfaces were “EASY to Kill” and The Good Brothers said they’d see them at “the pape”.
- Rich Swann & The Motor City Machine Guns have to either be winning at Hard to Kill or getting the upper hand on Omega & the Bros next week right? They’ve been punked out WITH EASE the past few times and it feels real one-sided.
–Jazz caught up with Jordynne Grace backstage, who apologized for making Jazz put off her retirement to compete in the tournament. Jazz says she was honored to mix it up with the new blood, Grace asked if she still had gas in the tank and challenged her for Genesis. Jazz accepted.
–Deonna Purrazzo and Kimber Lee waited outside a MYSTERIOUS BLACK DOOR. Father James Mitchell emerged from behind the door, Purrazzo & Lee asked if “it” worked. Mitchell said “she” was no longer Su Yung but someone else and out came Susan, the business-suit serious lady persona of Su Yung. OH BOY. OH BOOOOOY.
THREE MINUTE CHALLENGE
Matthew Palmer defeated Moose (3:00)
Moose didn’t even wear his wrestling trunks for this one, opting to instead come out in slacks and dress shoes. Palmer attacked at the start but quickly got overpowered and Moose beat him up for a good long while, refusing to pin because he wanted to “play with his food”. Willie Mack emerged and caused a distraction, allowing Palmer to last the time limit and technically win.
- Mostly furthered the Moose/Willie Mack feud but good on Matthew Palmer for getting the win technically. Obviously we didn’t really see what he could do since it was a mauling but I hope he sticks around anyway, if only to give Impact some more new blood. I am a little bummed Moose, ONCE AGAIN, got pushed aside for a World Title match against Rich Swann so Impact could get that AEW rub on PPV. I was looking forward to that unification match they seemed to be building to; I’m sure they’ll get back to it after Hard to Kill but they’ll have to re-earn that momentum. (NR)
–Ethan Page complained about his problems to his alter-ego The Karate Man. Karate Man had enough, calling Page a BITCH. Page wanted to kick Karate Man’s ass, Karate Man says he does his battle only in a Kumite and challenged him for Hard to Kill.
- So do people actually like this Karate Man stuff? Honest question. I’m…not sold. As a YouTube stick it’s fine but as part of Impact proper it comes off dorky and low-rent. Maybe the cinematic Kumite match will change my mind. I love a good Kumite. Also Kumite.
-Matthews and Rayne ran down some of the big Genesis matches and announced Rich Swann vs. Karl Anderson for next week’s episode of Impact Wrestling.
The Eddie Edwards/SamI Callihan Brawl
These two didn’t even wait for a bell, the brawl beginning backstage and spilling out to the ringside area. Both missed shots and hit the post, Callihan threw a chair at Edwards’ face, and the brawl continued on the floor even after the commercial with Callihan suplexing Edwards on an open chair. Finally both men entered the ring and the bell rung but after getting thrown around for a minute and change, the ref called for the bell and left them to their own devices. Naturally the brawling continued and Edwards got possession of Callihan’s bat, stalking him up the ramp. Callihan then HACKED the arena and Alisha Edwards appeared on the screen, locked up backstage. Edwards ran off to go find her as DRAMATIC MUSIC started to play. He finally saw her but got attacked from behind by Ken Shamrock. Callihan joined in and wrapped Edwards’ arm in barbed wire before laying him out with a bat shot to the face. Shamrock said Edwards asked for this then the dastardly duo left, Alisha checking on her man as the show concluded.
- The referee for this “match” was horrible at his job, letting Edwards and Callihan brawl it out for like ten minutes before they even started the match. He could’ve at least gotten some security guards out to settle things down or whatever, but that would’ve been too much work I guess. The brawl itself was fun and intense until Callihan did the hack thing and they moved it backstage complete with cheeseball music. Took me out of it a bit. An okay ending to the show though all things considered and I’m into watching Edwards & Callihan try to murder each other again, why not?
FINAL THOUGHTS: Impact Wrestling is best enjoyed when you accept them for all their low-rent trappings. They’ve got a great roster but there’s no real cohesion to the show, just a bunch of sh*t thrown at the wall to see what sticks; comedy stories galore, weird supernatural stuff, and also VERY SERIOUS WRESTLING. It’s a show that doesn’t have an identity outside of a slightly better-funded local indie and I’m not sure who they’re making it for. That’s not to say I hated the episode; I found some parts enjoyable (Johnny Swinger, the pre-music brawl) but this is just like…a weird mix of stuff. It’s a straight to video action movie from the 90s in pro wrestling form. I will probably echo these statements every week I review the show, so be ready for that.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Jordynne Grace & Jazz vs. Havok & Nevaeh
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Cody Deaner debuts his new look/vicious streak. GIMME DAT CODY DEANER SERIAL KILLER GOODNESS.