COMMENTATORS: Josh Mathews & Madison Rayne
Impact Wrestling makes one final stop on the road to Hard to Kill this week as Rich Swann takes on Karl Anderson in the main event, plus Matthew Palmer tries to get a second win over Moose and Rohit Raju teams with Chris Bey to take on Manik and his best bud Suicide.
- IMPACT WORLD CHAMPION: Rich Swann
- IMPACT KNOCKOUTS CHAMPION: “The Virtuosa” Deonna Purrazzo
- IMPACT X-DIVISION CHAMPION: Manik
- IMPACT WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Good Brothers (“Big LG” Dog Gallows & “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson)
- IMPACT KNOCKOUTS TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Vacant
- Taya Valkyrie vs. Kimber Lee (**1/2)
- Manik & Suicide vs. Chris Bey & Rohit Raju (**1/4)
- Tommy Dreamer vs. Deaner (*1/2)
- Rosemary vs. Tenille Dashwood (**3/4)
- Matthew Palmer vs. Moose (SQUASH)
- Rich Swann vs. Karl Anderson (**3/4)
Kimber Lee [w/ “The Virtuosa” Deonna Purrazzo] defeated Taya Valkyrie [w/ “The Demon Assassin” Rosemary] via pinfall (9:20)
Lee’s mission in this match was to wear Valkyrie down heading into her title match with Purrazzo and she went for it right away, attacking as soon as the bell rang. Valkyrie fought back with HARD chops but her attempt to take flight was thwarted and Lee almost got the pin with a float-over suplex. Lee continued the offense, with a bodyscissors and a pump kick among other moves, but her Swanton was countered with a pair of knees and Valkyrie embarked on a comeback string. Valkyrie connected with double knees in the corner, but Purrazzo grabbed Lee’s hand and helped her find the bottom rope to prevent the pin. Rosemary stalked Purrazzo to the stage, but out came Susan who attacked Rosemary alongside the Knockouts Champion. This distracted Valkyrie long enough for Lee to roll her up for the victory.
- Valkyrie and Lee did not hold back in this one and it turned into a surprisingly good match (surprising as I didn’t expect them to put much thought into it since it was essentially a Hard to Kill preview, not a knock to the women themselves). The Susan stuff at the end was a little dumb, but I do appreciate Susan decking Rosemary with a straight right hand, no theatrics or anything. Just knuckles to face. (**1/2)
–Kenny Omega, The Good Brothers, and Don Callis hung out on THE BUS. Callis mentioned that they would all be on tomorrow’s episode of Dynamite, Karl Anderson was confident in his ability to beat Rich Swann later in the night.
–Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone bought another ad this week for AEW, Khan throwing shade at Impact by saying their best moments of 2020 were all tied into AEW giving them attention. Schiavone ran down the card for tomorrow night’s episode of Dynamite, where they mentioned Brian Cage being a former Impact World Champion. Khan then invited anyone from Impact to show up tomorrow.
–Sami Callihan and Eddie Edwards hyped their upcoming Barbed Wire Massacre match by cutting themselves open with said wire and showing clips from last week’s show-ending attack.
“The Ultimate Finesser” Chris Bey & “The Desi Hit Man” Rohit Raju defeated Manik & Suicide via pinfall (8:00 shown)
Raju and Bey attacked Manik & Suicide before the bell, but the masked duo got the upper hand and connected with stereo splashes after confusing them by hiding under the ring. Suicide played the Ricky Morton here, Bey and Raju working him over, including an AWESOME cannonball by the Desi Hit Man. Suicide threw Raju into the corner with a release overhead belly-to-belly suplex then tagged in to Manik who connected with a series of knees and a kick to the also-legal Bey. Suicide slapped on an Octopus Hold on Bey while Manik applied a backpack sleeper on Raju, but Raju managed to still walk over and help Bey escape by grabbing his hand and pulling him out. *Doctor Brown voice* GREAT SPOT. Raju connected with a jumping knee but instead of going for the killing blow went after Manik’s mask; Bey then took matters into his own hands and hit the Art of Finesse on Suicide for the 1…2…3.
- Manik/Bey/Raju is the match for Hard to Kill so Suicide was pretty much there for cannon fodder. Good match overall, Bey and Raju work pretty well as a makeshift team and I liked that the finish highlighted the fact that Bey is focused on actually winning the championship while Raju seems to care more about proving Manik is TJP. Possible preview of things to come. (**1/4)
–Rosemary told Taya Valkyrie not to accompany her to ringside later tonight and to focus on getting ready for Hard to Kill, saying that “we” would handle Tenille Dashwood themselves.
Deaner [w/ Eric Young & Joe Doering] defeated Tommy Dreamer [w/ Rhino & Cousin Jake] via DQ (3:31)
No more first name for the pitbull-like Deaner, who opened the match by biting Dreamer and stomping him repeatedly in the corner. Dreamer fought back with a slam but got tripped up Doering; Rhino responded by tripping Deaner, and the ref ejected both from ringside, leaving Young and Jake. Deaner got the offensive advantage, ripping at Dreamer’s eyes while distracting the ref so Young could get a cheapshot in. Deaner got sent to the floor, Jake tried to talk some sense into his cousin but Deaner slapped him repeatedly instead of listening. Finally Jake had enough and tripped Deaner on the apron, forcing the ref to call for the bell.
- Deaner was great here, changing his whole offense and approach now that he’s a psychopath under the spell of another psychopath. Jake finally snapping at the end and putting his hands on his cousin was a cool tease for what to expect Saturday. I hope they finally duke it out for real. (*)
All four men remaining started to brawl, then out came Rhino and Doering to even the odds. Doering leveled Rhino with a lariat, Deaner drilled Jake with a Deaner DDT, and Young spiked Dreamer with a piledriver to stand tall.
-Cameras caught the end of a contract signing between Havok & Nevaeh and Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz, who will battle at Hard to Kill for the reinstated Knockouts Tag Team Championship. Hogan and Steelz ran their mouths as they do, and got goozled and threatened by their much bigger opponents. As that mess concluded Brian Myers walked in and asked why Scott D’Amore hasn’t given him more opportunities, listing the man he has beaten. One of those men, Josh Alexander, showed up and protested that victory as tainted (Myers won via DQ thanks to interference from THE KARATE MAN). D’Amore told them to be men and settle it in the ring. Either it’s happening next week or Hard to Kill just got another match added to the card.
- I’ll take an Alexander vs. Myers match. It’s about damn time Brian Myers got someone more serious to wrestle. Also I enjoyed Myers mentioning that he retired Tommy Dreamer but he’s still wrestling for some reason.
“The Demon Assassin” Rosemary defeated Tenille Dashwood [w/ Kaleb with a K] via pinfall (8:12)
This match was set up last week when Dashwood tried to weasel her way into being Rosemary’s new best friend, accusing Taya Valkyrie of leaving her behind for the Knockouts Championship. An admirable effort? Dashwood tried again, offering a handshake, but Rosemary responded by squeezing her hand and pulling her into a shoulderblock. Rosemary tossed Dashwood around, connecting with a sidewalk slam and almost getting the win. Kaleb, ever the loyal employee, helped turn the tide by spraying hairspray into Rosemary’s eyes behind the ref’s back, putting Dashwood on the offensive. Dashwood connected with a neckbreaker over the middle rope and a low crossbody in the corner but couldn’t get the pin. Rosemary mounted a comeback, hitting a sling blade and the Upside Down. Kaleb climbed the apron, but suddenly Crazzy Steve emerged to pull him off. Steve chased Kaleb around and through the ring, his bottle of hairspray “accidentally” ending up in the hands of Dashwood. Dashwood tried to use it but Rosemary turned it on her, blinding the social media starlet, and followed up with a spear to get the victory.
- Knockouts deliver once again tonight, this match was super fun action-wise and antics-wise. Kaleb with a K was on fire here with his pithy dismissive comments (chef’s kiss for his “BOO” “YAY” chants during a strike exchange), and I enjoyed the hairspray finish. Cool to see Crazzy Steve pop up, looks like we got us a sorta-Decay reunion! Get your new buddy Tony Khan to ironically buy the Marilyn Manson song! (**1/2)
–Rich Swann said that Karl Anderson would a get a taste of what’s coming to him and his bus friends at Hard to Kill later tonight.
-A video played hyping the upcoming Ethan Page/Karate Man “fight” for Hard to Kill. That is gonna be…something, huh?
Moose defeated Matthew Palmer via ref stoppage (4:28)
Palmer lasted three minutes against Moose last week thanks to the distraction of WIllie Mack, and hoped to make it 2-0 against Moose tonight in a regular contest. It did not go as planned, Palmer tried his best, striking fast and even at one point bringing Moose to one knee, but Moose was just too powerful and full of rage to overcome. Moose threw Palmer around for a bit before finishing him off with a series of elbow strikes to the side of the head, forcing the ref to stop the match.
- And just like that the Cinderella story is over for Mr. Palmer. Thanks for coming. Moose was in full dominant force here, riding his wave of rage from Genesis (where he damn near ended the career of Willie Mack before holding him hostage to get a future World Title shot). Fun to watch. I wonder if that’s it for Palmer or if we’ll see him on Impact again. (SQUASH)
Rich Swann defeated Karl Anderson via pinfall (9:49 shown)
Inset videos of Omega/Gallows/Callis and the Motor City Machine Guns were spliced in throughout this match as they cheered their respective friend/partner on. Match was weirdly joined in progress, Anderson controlling things with a side headlock. Swann fought back, connecting with a headscissors and an armbar, but Anderson muscled him into the post shoulder-first soon after. After a commercial break the show returned to the action, Anderson continuing to work Swann’s arm over by sending it into the post once more and applying pressure with a top wristlock. Swann kicked Anderson away and immediately launched into a rolling clothesline, followed up by a series of jabs with his good arm, neckbreaker, and a step-over heel kick for a two-count. Anderson rebounded with a Claymore Kick (don’t know the non-WWE name for it) but still couldn’t get the pin. Anderson went for the Gun Stun, Swann countered with a roll-up for the 1…2…3!
- Omega Bullet Good Brother Club finally showed a little ass tonight as Swann picked up the victory. Little bummed he had to sneak it through instead of do it emphatically, he’s the WORLD CHAMP and Anderson is good but he’s a tag team guy, but I’ll take what I can get. Very good main event regardless, Swann has been a helluva champ for Impact. (**3/4)
–Motor City Machine Guns were shown backstage talking strategy but got blindsided by Kenny Omega and Doc Gallows. Brawl ensued, with Rich Swann and Karl Anderson joining in fresh off their match and the show concluded with Swann giving all three Bullet Brother Club members a shot to the mush.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This episode of Impact Wrestling had a purpose and that focus made for a good show with no real low moments. Most of the show had Hard to Kill implications while the two matches that didn’t still held weight in regards to recent TV happenings. Everything mattered and since they were pushing a PPV there was none of that low-rent comedy stuff (well depending on your opinion of The Karate Man, I guess) to drag it down. THIS is the kind of show I think Impact should do weekly, one that has more cohesion to it. I went off on them last week but they won me back over this time around. I’m looking forward to Hard to Kill on Saturday in all its messy “here’s a little bit of EVERYTHING WE CAN THINK OF” glory.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Rich Swann vs. Karl Anderson
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Kaleb with a K chanting “BOO” “YAY” during Rosemary & Tenille’s strike exchange.