By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hard To Kill
Aired January 16, 2021 on pay-per-view and FITE.TV
Nashville, Tennessee at Skyway Studios
Impact Wrestling Hard To Kill Pre-Show on AXS TV
-The pre-show panel of Jon Burton, Madison Rayne, and Scott D’Amore introduced themselves and ran through the card. They spoke about Moose replacing Alex Shelley in the main event. Burton set up a video package on the Knockouts Title match.
-Kenny Omega, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, and Don Callis were shown talking backstage. Callis said Moose has a two-year contract with Impact. He said he’s a reasonable guy and no one wants to be made miserable for two years.
-The focus shifted to the Barbed Wire Massacre match. D’Amore openly hoped that Eddie Edwards would shut up Sami Callihan. A video package aired on the Edwards vs. Callihan feud. Callihan “hacked” into the broadcast and delivered a promo from behind a fence. Callihan had some barbed wire wrapped around him and said the barbed wire match is the thing the wrestling world would be talking about coming out of Hard To Kill.
-The new broadcast team of Matt Striker and D-Lo Brown checked in from ringside. David Penzer was the ring announcer.
1. Josh Alexander vs. Brian Myers. Impact added a light audio track of crowd noise. A couple minutes into the match, Myers knocked Alexander from the top rope to the floor at ringside heading into a commercial break. Myers, who was wearing a “Brodie” armband, ran into a big boot. Alexander took Myers down and applied an ankle lock, but Myers rolled through. Alexander performed a German suplex for a near fall.
Alexander went to the ropes and was caught with a kick. Moments later, Myers performed a sit-out driver for a near fall. Alexander came back with an ankle lock. Myers pulled the headgear of Alexander over his eyes and then followed up with a big clothesline that led to the pin.
Brian Myers defeated Josh Alexander in 10:55.
Powell’s POV: A good pre-show match. I was legitimately surprised to see Myers go over. I continue to enjoy the way he’s being allowed to repackage himself rather than simply play the same down on his luck loser character that he did in WWE. The broadcast team obviously deserves time to develop since this is their first outing together, but I could do without Striker going ridiculously overboard by calling this “the biggest night in our sport.” Save that for Bound For Glory, as that’s at least the company’s biggest show of the year.
-Ace Austin joined the pre-show panel and had Madman Fulton standing behind him. Austin brought the comically cheap looking Super X Cup with him and boasted about winning and that it was a sign for a big 2021 for him. Austin was asked if there was a match he was looking forward to most. Austin said no, then said the show shouldn’t even be happening without him having a match. They went to a commercial.
Powell’s POV: Fair point from the heel. Why doesn’t Austin have a match on the main card? Strange.
-A video package aired on the main event storyline that started with Kenny Omega’s arrival.
-To close the pre-show, Rayne announced her retirement from Impact Wrestling and spoke about how excited she is for the future of the Knockouts Division.
Powell’s POV: Here’s wishing Madison all the best going forward. I will miss her on color commentary on the weekly television series. My apologies for not having more details regarding her speech, but WWE just put out the dates and locations of the next three years of WrestleMania events, which are available on the main page. I guess WWE didn’t get the message from Striker about Hard to Kill being the biggest night in our sport? Kidding.
Impact Wrestling Hard To Kill Main Show
A video package opened the main card… Matt Striker and D-Lo Brown were on commentary for the main card…
1. Rosemary and Crazzy Steve vs. Tenille Dashwood and Kaleb. Late in the match, Steve sprayed green mist that took out Dashwood. Kaleb tried to grab Rosemary, who sprayed green mist at him. Steve performed a DDT from the middle rope and then pinned Kaleb…
Rosemary and Crazzy Steve beat Tenille Dashwood and Kaleb in 8:55.
Powell’s POV: Kaleb has been more of a personality than a wrestler in Impact until now, so it was logical for him to take the loss.
The broadcast team checked in from ringside and ran through the card. They set up a video package on the Old School Rules match…
2. Tommy Dreamer, Rhino, and Cousin Jake vs. Eric Young, Joe Doering, and Deaner in an Old School Rules match. The heels were introduced by the faction name of “Violent By Design.” Jake got his hands on Deaner early on and worked him over with punches. There was an awkward spot where Jake was suplexed from the ropes and it looked like Dreamer ran up to be kicked in the face by his own partner.
There were tacks poured into a corner of the ring. Young was backdropped onto the tacks. A short time later, Jake had Deaner pinned, but Young hit him with the helmet that he wears to the ring. Young followed up with a piledriver on Jake and then pinned him…
Eric Young, Joe Doering, and Deaner defeated Tommy Dreamer, Rhino, and Cousin Jake in 9:55 in an Old School Rules match.
Powell’s POV: The right team went over. Impact is doing a nice job of establishing the Violent By Design faction, and Dreamer and Rhino should be used to elevate younger talent. I continue to hope that Cousin Jake will be repackaged now that the Deaner tag team has broken up.
Backstage, Rich Swann and Chris Sabin were talking when Moose arrived. Swann barked at Moose after being asked to trust him. Moose said he did what he had to do in his match with Willie Mack. Moose said he would have died for his football teammates once the whistle blew. Moose recalled Swann saying they would kick their opponents’ asses all night long. Swann said if that’s what he wanted, then that’s what they would do, but he better not play any games…
A video package set up the Knockouts Tag Title match…
3. Havok and Nevaeh vs. Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz in the finals of the tournament to determine the Knockouts Tag Team Champions. Hogan and Steelz now go by “Fire and Flava” as a tag team name. Brian Hebner made his return to Impact as the referee for this match. There was an impressive spot with Havok holding up one opponent, then catching the other diving from the ropes, which led to a double fallaway slam. Havok also caught Hogan and Steelz on the ropes, walked them across the ring a few steps, and slammed them down. Damn.
A short time later, Havok was sent to ringside. In the ring, Hogan and Steelz doubled up on Nevaeh, which concluded with Hogan performing a fisherman’s buster suplex and scoring the pin…
Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz defeated Havok and Nevaeh in 8:40 to win the the tournament to become the Knockouts Tag Team Championships.
After the match, Gail Kim and Madison Rayne entered the ring and presented the tag title belts to the new champions. The four women hugged and then the Hogan and Steelz posed with their title belts…
Powell’s POV: Hogan and Steelz were classy while accepting the title belts from Kim and Rayne, so maybe they are the babyfaces in this confusing feud with Havok and Nevaeh? Either way, Havok was really impressive, the match was solid, and the post match use of Kim and Rayne was nicely done.
Rosemary and Taya Valkyrie spoke backstage. They walked off, then Acey Romero snuck into the Knockouts locker room…
Ace Austin’s entrance music interrupted the broadcast team chatting at ringside. Austin came to the ring with Madman Fulton. Austin called for Scott D’Amore to add him to the X Division Title match. D’Amore walked out with a mic in hand and said he appreciates Austin’s passion, but the way he’s going about trying to get in the match isn’t right. D’Amore said the pay-per-view needs an Austin match, but it won’t be the X Division Title match. D’Amore said he had an opponent who is always ready. Matt Cardona (f/k/a Zack Ryder) made his entrance. Striker said it was a mark-out moment and he was marking out.
4. Ace Austin (w/Madman Fulton) vs. Matt Cardona. Austin got in some offense early. Cardona came back and was setting up for his finisher, but Fulton entered the ring and attacked him for the DQ.
Matt Cardona beat Ace Austin by DQ in 2:30.
After the match, Striker claimed they were breaking the internet. Cardona worked over Fulton and cleared him from the ring…
Powell’s POV: Here’s hoping that Cardona can reinvent himself in Impact. I’m happy they didn’t feed Austin to him in his debut match. Austin continues to strike me as the brightest young star on the Impact roster. Cardona was clearly a babyface here, so it will be interesting to see what happens when he crosses paths with longtime tag partner Myers, who is working as a heel in Impact.
A video package set up the X Division Title match…
5. Manik vs. Chris Bey vs. Rohit Raju in a Triple Threat for the X Division Championship. The broadcast team spoke about the difficulty of wrestling while wearing a mask and how hot it gets. Several minutes into the match, Raju ripped the mask off of Manik. TJP was wearing face paint. Striker said they didn’t know it was TJP, but the resemblance was uncanny.
Manik went for a top rope move on Raju, but Bey caught him with a cutter on the way down. Bey hit a double springboard cutter and covered Manik, but Raju broke it up. Manik rallied and had Raju pinned, hit him to stop the referee’s count.
A short time later, Manik stuck Bey with a DDT from the ropes, then shoved him into Raju to knock him off the apron. Manik followed up with a crucifix bomb style move for a near fall. Manik performed a top rope splash on Bey. Raju delivered a running knee to the head of Manik, then covered Bey for a good near fall. In the end, Manik rolled Raju into a pin…
Manik defeated Rohit Raju and Chris Bey in a Triple Threat in 13:50 to retain the X Division Title.
Powell’s POV: Easily the best match of the night thus far. There was plenty of offensive innovation and some top notch near falls. Really good work from all three men. TJP doing his version of the Midnight Rider gimmick isn’t doing anything for me, and his new Darby Allin face paint bit is pretty bad, but the match was good enough to make up for that silliness.
Backstage, Alisha Edwards told husband Eddie Edwards that she was worried about his match and couldn’t let him go out there by himself. Eddie asked if she was going to fight Ken Shamrock. Eddie told her that she couldn’t be at ringside and needed to go home and be with their daughter. Eddie made Alisha promise that she would not go to ringside. Eddie promised her that he had the match…
A video package set up the Knockouts Championship match…
6. Deonna Purrazzo (w/Kimber Lee, Susan) vs. Taya Valkyrie (w/Rosemary, Crazzy Steve) for the Knockouts Championship. Lee got involved early on, then backed off when Steve and Rosemary approached. Valkyrie hit Lee. Rosemary worked over Lee. Susan filmed Steve with her phone. Steve elbowed the referee, who ended up ejecting everyone from ringside just before the 2:00 mark.
Purrazzo targeted the left arm and later the knee of Valkyrie. The challenger got some offense in, but she continued to limp while selling her left knee. Purrazzo took Valkyrie down with a Fujiwara armbar. Valkyrie rolled her into a pin for a two count, but Purrazzo maintained the hold, then hooked the other arm and got the submission win…
Deonna Purrazzo defeated Taya Valkyrie in 11:40 to retain the Knockouts Championship.
Powell’s POV: I like that it was a decisive win for Purrazzo, but the match just didn’t click the way that I hoped it would.
Backstage, Acey Romero approached John E Bravo, who didn’t want to hear from him. Romero pointed out his Sherlock Holmes style hat and said he was wearing it for a reason. Romero showed him a bottle of cologne. Bravo asked whose bag it came from. Romero said that was the interesting part…
Powell’s POV: No, it really isn’t interesting. I once thought this was the one silly sports entertainment story that Impact actually wrapped up before it overstayed its welcome, but it’s still dragging on.
A video package recapped the Ethan Page vs. Karate man story…
The Ethan Page and Karate Man cinematic aired. Karate Man ripped the heart out of Page’s chest…
Powell’s POV: Well, that happened. If you hate cinematic wrestling, then the good news is that it didn’t last long. If you ordered the show and the cinematic was high on the list of reasons why, the bad news is that it didn’t last long.
Backstage, Don Callis ran into Moose and tried to buddy up to him. Callis said he was looking over Moose’s contract and noted that he’s with Impact for a couple more years. Callis wanted Moose to play nice. Moose spoke about going after the Impact Championship, being the TNA Champion, and said he might show up on AEW television and take Kenny Omega’s AEW Championship….
A video package set up the Barbed Wire Massacre…
7. Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan in a Barbed Wire Massacre match. The ring had the side of a cage on one side and a lot of barbed wire in various spots along with weapons and barbed wire boards. Ken Shamrock didn’t accompany Callihan to ringside (so he’s backstage with Alisha?).
Edwards wrapped a roll of barbed wire around the head of Callihan and they both yelled a lot. Callihan bled. Edwards laid a barbed wire board in the middle of the ring, but Callihan was able to push it to ringside before Edwards could shove his head into it.
Callihan ended up performing a Cactus Jack elbow from the apron that pushed a barbed wire board onto the back of Edwards. Callihan mugged for the camera while Edwards laughed maniacally. Back inside the ring, Callihan hit Edwards with a video game joystick wrapped in barbed wire, then raked it over his forehead. Edwards was also bleeding from the forehead.
Edwards rallied with a backpack Stunner. Edwards performed a blue thunder bomb onto a chair and then covered Callihan for a two count. Brown said Edwards wasn’t covering Callihan to win, he was covering him to inflict damage with the barbed wire.
Callihan and Edwards fought near the cage side of the ring. Callihan kicked Edwards low, then pulled off a piece of barbed wire, which he wrapped around his fist. Edwards did the same and they both hit each other with their pieces of barbed wire.
Callihan grabbed “Kenny” the kendo stick wrapped in barbed wire while Edwards grabbed a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. They agreed to make a trade. Edwards hit Callihan in the gut with the kendo stick twice (he was wearing his usual vest). Callihan came right back by pushing Edwards off the top rope and onto a strand of barbed wire.
Callihan tossed weapons, chairs, and boards into the ring, then placed a barbed wire board on top of two chairs. Callihan placed Edwards on the top rope, then piledrove him from the ropes through the table. Callihan covered Edwards for a two count. Striker spoke about fighting spirit as Edwards fired up.
Callihan placed a chair wrapped in barbed wire over the face of Edwards, then grabbed the baseball bat. Edwards kicked Callihan in the balls. Edwards delivered a Boston Knee Party that drove a chair wrapped in barbed wire into the face of Callihan. Edwards covered Callihan for just a one count. Edwards followed right up by performing Emerald Flowsion onto barbed wire board and then scored the pin while Striker spoke about Edwards’ hero being Mitsuharu Misawa.
Eddie Edwards defeated Sami Callihan in 18:50 in a Barbed Wire Massacre match.
Alisha Edwards came out to check on her husband afterward…
Powell’s POV: A well worked brawl. The lack of fans reacting to the violent moments along with my own minimal interest in the renewal of this rivalry didn’t help the cause, but they definitely worked hard. There was no sign of Ken Shamrock, so I guess Alisha could have been at ringside after all.
The broadcast team thanked viewers for the show trending number five on Twitter, then set up a video package for the Rebellion pay-per-view on Saturday, April 24…
A video package set up the main event… Rich Swann, Moose, and Chris Sabin made their entrance followed by Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Striker said people will someday tell their children about seeing Kenny Omega in an Impact ring (good lord). Don Callis delivered a big introduction for Omega, who wore the AEW Championship and a Bullet Club t-shirt…
8. Kenny Omega, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows (w/Don Callis) vs. Rich Swann, Moose, and Chris Sabin. Striker said it can’t sit well with everyone who built Impact to see Omega walking the halls and having his own dressing room. Brian Hebner was the referee for the match, Omega noted that the match was a joint production with AEW, and gave a shout out to the AEW broadcast team of Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Excalibur.
Moose worked well with his partners to start, as he held Anderson while Swann and Sabin dropkicked him, then moonsaulted onto him for an early two count. Later, Swann performed a senton from the apron onto Omega at ringside. Striker boasted that it was the Impact Champion taking out the AEW Champion.
At 10:00, Gallows slammed Swann in the middle of the ring and then tagged in Omega. Swann slipped out of an attempted slam and tried to run the ropes, but Anderson caught him with a kick to the back. Omega let Gallows climb on his back, then Anderson dove onto both so that they all landed on Swann. Omega covered Swann for a two count.
Swann came back with a Pele Kick and then tagged in Moose, who knocked Omega down with a big shoulder block. Moose performed a uranage on Anderson and then headbutted Gallows. Moose also dropkicked Anderson off the top rope. Moose did a gun sign at Omega, then joined his partners with simultaneous kicks. Moose got a near fall on Omega, then tagged in Sabin.
A short time later, Omega performed a sit-out powerbomb on Sabin for a near fall. Omega ran the ropes, but Moose cut him off with a knee to the head. Sabin took out Gallows with a missile dropkick. Anderson took out Sabin. Swann took out Anderson, then Omega hit Swann with a V-Trigger knee to the head. Omega went up top, but Moose ran the ropes and performed a Spanish Fly from the top rope. Sabin performed a sit-out slam on Omega for a nice near fall.
Gallows tagged in and put Sabin down with a kick. Anderson tagged in and joined Gallows in performing a double team move on Sabin that resulted in a near fall. Omega and Swann ended up in the ring together. Omega seemed to have Swann pinned, but it was broken up by his partners, who then fought to ringside with Gallows and Anderson.
Omega placed Swann on the top rope and tried to superplex him, but Swann blocked it and hit Omega. Moose put Omega in Electric Chair position, but Omega slipped away and shoved him into the corner. Moose regained the Electric Chair positioning, then he and Swann hit a Doomsday Device on Omega for a near fall.
Omega ducked a kick from Swann and drilled him with a V-Trigger. Omega set up Swann for his finisher, but Swann escaped and put him down with a Poison Rnaa. Swann threw a couple of kicks at Omega, then followed up with a top rope move for a good near fall. Swann went back to the ropes and this time Omega avoided whatever move he was going for.
Gallows and Anderson put Swann down with a Magic Killer. Omega had Swann pinned, but Moose broke it up. Omega hit Moose with a V-Trigger, but Moose no-sold it. Omega came right back with V-Triggers to Moose and Swann, then performed the One Winged Angel on Swann and pinned him clean.
Kenny Omega, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson defeated Rich Swann, Moose, and Chris Sabin in 20:30.
Striker told viewers that the AEW Champion just pinned the Impact Champion. “Let that sink in,” Striker said. Omega, Gallows, Anderson, and Callis posed in the ring over Swann while the broadcast team spoke about what a great time it is to be a fan. Omega, Gallows, Anderson, and Callis went to ringside while Striker closed out the show on commentary…
Powell’s POV: A really fun main event that exceeded my expectations both in terms of in-ring action and a finish that actually had one champion pin the other. I assumed Omega’s team would go over, but I thought it would be Sabin taking the pin, or perhaps Moose costing his team the match. Instead, Moose played it straight and had a really good outing, and they actually had the AEW Champion pin the Impact Champion. I am already looking forward to the gloating Tony & Tony paid ad on Impact next week.
Overall, the main event put the show over the top and made it a thumbs up pay-per-view for this viewer. I hope the broadcast team improves. I go back and forth on Striker as a play by play voice, but this was not a good outing for him. Brown is new to the gig, so we’ll see how he develops. I will be back shortly with my audio review of Hard To Kill for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade and voting for the best match below.