By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hard To Kill Hits
Sami Callihan vs. Tessa Blanchard for the Impact World Championship: The Hit is for the match quality and it was well earned by the match of the night. I enjoyed the fast start with Callihan performing a piledriver in the opening seconds for a near fall followed by Blanchard coming back with Magnum for a near fall of her own. I didn’t expect them to be able to keep up the early pace, but there were never any dull moments. Callihan did a great job of making Blanchard sympathetic by showing no remorse as he targeted her knee with a variety of holds and attacks. Callihan was excellent in his role and Blanchard did a very good job of selling the injury and rallying the crowd behind her. A very good match that closed the show on a high note. All of that said, there was a black cloud hanging over the match due to the accusations made by several of Blanchard’s former co-workers a day earlier. The live crowd either didn’t care or were unaware based on the way they cheered for Blanchard throughout the match. Still, it’s hard to imagine that the controversy will end with Blanchard’s quick denial on social media, and it is a questionable move for Impact to put their top title on her just a day later.
Ace Austin vs. Trey Miguel for the X Division Championship: Trey’s intensity throughout the match was spot on in terms of him coming off like a guy who was fighting an opponent who’d made repeated advances toward his mother. It seems like a simple thing, but plenty of wrestlers have made the mistake of working a normal style to start a match regardless of the intensity of their storyline (see The Miz in his match against Bray Wyatt). Austin going over was the right call and he strikes me as the company’s fastest rising star. I hope this feud continues to bring out a more serious side of Trey, which I find far more entertaining than the Rascalz going for cornball laughs in a smoke circle. They are such a talented trio and I hope this is the year they get serious. It’s easy to find mid-card acts, but each of the Rascalz possesses the ability to be stars in the company.
“The North” Ethan Page and Josh Alexander vs. Willie Mack in a handicap match for the Impact Tag Titles: It’s unfortunate that Rich Swann was injured and unable to wrestle, as I was looking forward to this match and seeing how his recent storyline with Mack would play out more than anything else on the show. On the bright side, The North characters can definitely use Swann’s absence to continue their mind games with Mack until they get the eventual rematch. The actual match was what it needed to be with Mack getting some really good hope spots (the Doomsday Canadian Destroyer was great) before numbers disadvantage caught up with him.
Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards: This was the “can’t miss” match of the night on paper and the wrestlers delivered in the ring. The decision to put Edwards over didn’t do much for me. Elgin’s push sadly peaked during his title feud with Brian Cage. Elgin has had some good in-ring outings since then, but he just hasn’t been positioned as a real player in the title picture. I was hopeful that Elgin would win the Call Your Shot trophy and move back into the upper card mix, but they kept the trophy with Edwards. By the way, Impact apparently spared every expense on that low budget trophy.
Taya Valkyrie vs. Jordynne Grace vs. ODB for the Knockouts Title: An entertaining match with good work from all three wrestlers. The match was laid out in a way that made Grace look strong so that they can continue to work toward a singles title match between her and Valkyrie. I’m not sure how much more ODB will doing with Impact, but it’s been nice to see her back and she did a good job of holding up her end of the match. Valkyrie’s title reign has been top notch and I give the creative team credit for showing discipline by keeping the title on her this long. It should pack a real punch once she finally drops the strap if it’s done right.
Ken Shamrock vs. Madman Fulton: A decent opening match. Don Callis gets an assist for the way he put over Shamrock’s submission hold by calling for the referee to stop the match. Shamrock has done nice work in Impact thus far, but the creative forces need to do a better job of making his matches count. If nothing else, at least he’s moved on from working with the comedic Johnny Swinger and the Joey Ryan penis match. It’s nothing against those guys, but Shamrock is much closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning and I’d like to see Impact get as much out of him as they can.
Moose vs. Rhino in a No DQ match: I found it odd for heel Moose to pay tribute to Randy Savage with his attire and a top rope elbow during this match. It just seemed to come out of nowhere and didn’t seem to serve a purpose beyond humoring him. But the match is more of an in the middle for a hardcore style brawl. It’s the best way to use Rhino these days and the live crowd enjoyed it more than I did watching at home.
Impact Wrestling Hard To Kill Misses
Rob Van Dam vs. Daga: This was a disappointing replacement match for the advertised RVD vs. Brian Cage match. I thought Impact might attempt to soften the blow by having Daga go over since he was the replacement, but I think they made the right call in going with Van Dam, as Daga just hasn’t clicked and winning this match wasn’t going to change anything. Overall, Hard To Kill was a good show that peaked with a strong main event.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...