By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Impact Wrestling Hard To Kill
Aired live January 13, 2023 on pay-per-view and FITE.TV
Atlanta, Georgia at Center Stage
Impact Wrestling Hard To Kill Pre-Show
The broadcast team was Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt, and Dave Penzer was the ring announcer… Some of the entrances for the opening match were televised…
1. Angels vs. Yuya Uemura vs. Mike Jackson vs. Delirious vs. Mike Bailey vs. Kushida in a six-way match. Bhupinder Gujjar was replaced by Delirious. Hannifan said the first person to get a pin or a submission inside the ring would be the winner. Kushida shook hands with some wrestlers and then he and Bailey exchanged bows. Angels hit Bailey from behind as he was bowing.
The 73 year-old Jackson did a rope walk while holding onto Angels’s hand. Kenny King showed up and attacked Bailey to take him out of the match. Shortly thereafter, Kushida caught Angels in an armbar and got a submission win…
Kushida defeated Angels, Yuya Uemura, Mike Jackson, Delirious, and Mike Bailey in 7:25 in a six-way match.
Powell’s POV: The match was fine, but the purpose seemed to be getting more people on the show more than anything. It was an underwhelming spot for Bailey in particular, so hopefully the angle with King leads to a match between the two during the main show.
A video package spotlighted the Josh Alexander vs. Bully Ray feud…
2. Trey Miguel vs. Black Taurus (w/Crazzy Steve) for the X Division Championship. Crazzy Steve cut a pre-match promo to fire up the crowd about the idea of Taurus becoming the new champion. The wrestlers ended up at ringside early on. Miguel performed a huracanrana that sent Taurus into the ring post. Back inside the ring, Taurus stuffed a top rope move and then put Miguel down with a pair of sling blade clotheslines.
Later, Miguel ran down the ramp to the bottom, which was level with the ring, and performed a dive. Taurus caught him and slammed him to the mat. Taurus followed up with a backbreaker a short time later and got a near fall. Miguel dumped Taurus to the floor and went for a flip dive. Taurus caught Miguel and went for a powerbomb, but Miguel countered into a sunset bomb on the floor.
Miguel rolled Taurus back inside the ring and then went up top. Miguel performed a top rope meteora and got a two count. Taurus rallied and got near fall off a bull press. Miguel came back with the Lightning Spiral for a near fall. Miguel rolled to the floor where he stuffed a spray paint cant in his pants and then brought another back to the ring.
The referee spotted one can of spray paint and took it away from Miguel. Taurus picked up Miguel, who pulled out the second can of spray paint from his pants and then sprayed Taurus. Miguel hit the Lightning Spiral and scored the pin…
Trey Miguel defeated Black Taurus in 10:10 to retain the X Division Championship.
Powell’s POV: A well worked match. I still have a tough time viewing Taurus as a threat to win the X Division Title because I view him as a tag team wrestler with Crazzy Steve, but perhaps that’s just me. I like Miguel as a heel and I’m looking forward to seeing him work with Mike Bailey and other X Division babyfaces.
The broadcast team ran through the pay-per-view lineup and then pumped up the crowd to close out the pre-show…
Impact Wrestling Hard To Kill Main Card
Many of the wrestlers and agents walked onto the stage. A memorial graphic for Don West was shown on the screen behind them. Ton Hannifan announced that the show was dedicated to West. There was a ten bell salute in West’s honor and then the fans chanted his name…
Powell’s POV: A classy moment. My condolences to West’s family, friends, and fans.
A Hard To Kill video package aired… The broadcast team remained Hannifan and Rehwoldt… Entrances for the Full Metal Mayhem match took place. Bully Ray entered first and then went to the back. when Josh Alexander made his entrance, Bully ran out with a chain wrapped around his fist and hit Alexander from behind. Bully took the title belt and hit Alexander with it.
Hannifan noted that the match had not officially started. Alexander bled from the forehead while selling on the stage. Bully held up the belt and yelled “three times.” Bully grabbed Alexander and tossed him over the top rope and into the ring. Bully ordered the referee to ring the bell. The referee checked on Alexander, who emphatically told him to start the match, and then the bell rang…
1. Josh Alexander vs. Bully Ray in a Full Metal Mayhem match for the Impact World Championship. There were tables, ladders, and chairs set up at ringside. Ray put Alexander through a table in the ring and got an early near fall. Alexander cut off Bully and hit him with a cheese grater that Bully had introduced to the match.
Bully rolled to the floor and came up bleeding from the forehead. Alexander tossed a bunch of weapons inside the ring and then slammed a trashcan lid over Bully’s head. Alexander used the grater on Bully’s head again. Alexander pulled out a bag from underneath the ring and then poured thumbtacks inside the ring. Alexander grabbed Bully, who broke free and scrambled to the stage.
Alexander followed Bully to the stage to stop him from leaving and then worked him over with a chair. Alexander grabbed a ladder and placed it at the bottom of the entrance ramp. Alexander placed Bully on a table on the stage. Alexander climbed the ladder. Bully shot up and tipped the ladder over, causing Alexander to fall into the ring onto the thumbtacks, which drew a “holy shit” chant.
Bully went for the Bully Bomb, but Alexander stuffed it and ended up performing a German suplex. Alexander fired up and lowered the straps on his singlet. Alexander performed a rolling senton (over most of the backs). Alexander wrapped a chain around his knee and then leapt from the ropes and hit Billy with a knee strike, which led to a near fall. Alexander put Bully in an ankle lock. Alexander hooked a chain around the throat of Bully.
John Skyler and Jason Hotch ran out and attacked Alexander to break the hold. The duo helped Bully perform a 3D that drove Alexander onto the tacks. Skyler and Hotch slid tables inside the ring. They eventually zip-tied Alexander’s wrists to the top rope.
Tommy Dreamer walked out. Skyler and Hotch ran to the stage where Dreamer disposed of them with punches. Dreamer entered the ring. Bully teased hitting Dreamer with a trashcan, then stopped. Dreamer held out his hands and then Bully passed him the trashcan. Dreamer turned and smiled at Alexander.
Dreamer suddenly hit Bully with the trashcan instead. Bully came right back and speared Dreamer through a table that was set up in the corner. Bully slammed a trashcan over Alexander’s head. Bully told Alexander to give up and then slammed the trashcan over his head again.
Bully stopped and noticed some commotion in the crowd. Alexander’s wife Jade was shown walking down the steps in the crowd and ignoring a security guard. Jade entered the ring and yelled at Bully, who held up the trashcan. Jade suddenly dropped to her knees in fear. Bully told her to beg and said he wanted to see tears.
Bully told Jade to give him her wedding ring. Bully went to hit Alexander with the trashcan, but Jade low-blowed him. Jade talked smack and then ran up the ropes and performed a cutter on Bully and they both landed on the tacks. Jade cut her husband free and then slid a chair to him.
Jade picked up another chair and tossed it to Bully, who caught it. Alexander slammed his chair into Bully’s chair to drive it into his face. Bully ended up on a table in the ring. Alexander set up a ladder on the ramp just outside the ring and then climbed it and splashed Bully through the table. Alexander covered Bully, who kicked out. Alexander put Bully in the ankle lock and forced him to submit…
Josh Alexander defeated Bully Ray in 17:00 in a Full Metal Mayhem match to retain the Impact World Championship.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining hardcore style match. I can’t complain about all of the outside interference because the storyline build included Skyler, Hotch, Dreamer, and Jade at various points, so it was logical to include them. That being said, the Impact creative forces would be wise to avoid including Jade in her husband’s matches for awhile. She’s a likable person and all, but I could see this backfiring if they do it too often. Kudos to Bully Ray, who got great heat throughout this feud and showed that he can still go in a hardcore style match at age 51. I don’t think Bully has received nearly enough credit for his promos and overall heel work over the years.
Mickie James spoke with Tara (Lisa Marie Varon; a/k/a Victoria) in the backstage area. Tara wore cowgirl hat and a James t-shirt. They hugged and said they loved one another. Raven entered the room and said that he was there for the beginning of James’s career. He said he didn’t think this was the end, but if it was then he wanted to be a part of it. James hugged Raven…
Powell’s POV: Whether James is winning or losing, it’s a really nice touch to have Tara and Raven in attendance to help make it feel like this could really be the end.
A video package set up the four-way tag title match… Entrances for the match took place…
2. “The Motor City Machine Guns” Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin vs. Matt Cardona and Brian Myers vs. Heath and Rhino vs. Ace Austin and Chris Bey in a four-way elimination match for the Impact Tag Team Titles. The Guns also brought their NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Title belts to the ring. Hannifan explained that only two teams would be legal in the match at once. All four teams started fighting to start the match. Myers gouged the eyes of Rhino and then Cardona rolled him up and pinned him.
Heath and Rhino were eliminated by Matt Cardona and Brian Myers.
Bey checked in and took three neckbreakers from Cardona, who covered him for a two count. Cardona stood up and ripped off his “Major Players” t-shirt. Austin and Myers tagged in. Austin took out Cardona with a kick from the apron and then performed a missile dropkick on Myers.
Shelley tagged into the match and targeted the left knee of Austin. There were dueling chants of “Motor City” and “Bullet Club” briefly. Sabin and Shelley took turns working over Austin. Shelley put Austin in a figure four, which Austin broke by reaching the ropes. Austin eventually kicked Shelley into a corner and then Myers tagged himself in while Austin tagged in Bey.
Bey worked over Myers and Cardona. Austin tossed Bey into the air and he performed a cutter on Myers. Austin followed up with another move and then Myers was pinned.
Matt Cardona and Brian Myers were eliminated by Ace Austin and Chris Bey.
The match came down to Shelley and Sabin vs. Austin and Bey. The Guns hit a Magic Killer on Bey and went for a pin, but Austin broke it up. The Guns hit Austin with various clotheslines and then tossed him to the floor. Sabin and Shelley set up for a double team move on Bey, who slipped away and shoved the Guns into one another.
Austin tagged in and then helped Bey perform another elevated cutter. Cardona and Myers pulled Austin from the ring. Sabin performed a suicide dive on Cardona and Myers. The Guns lit up Bey with kicks and then hit him with a double team move that led to Sabin pinned Bey.
“The Motor City Machine Guns” Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin defeated Ace Austin & Chris Bey, Matt Cardona & Brian Myers, and Heath & Rhino in a four-way elimination match to retain the Impact Tag Team Titles.
Frankie Kazarian made his entrance and hugged the Guns as they were heading to the back. Kazarian entered the ring in non-wrestling attire and got a microphone. Kazarian played to the Atlanta crowd and then spoke about coming back to Impact and winning the X Division Title and then coming up short when he went for the Impact World Championship.
Kazarian said he did all of that as a visitor. He said he went back to where he came from and felt like he was surrounded by strangers. Kazarian said that if you don’t stand up for yourself then no one will. Kazarian said he had a decision to make in terms of whether to sit back and keep his mouth shut and be complacent or bet on himself and walk away.
Kazarian announced that he signed a long-term contract with Impact Wrestling. The crowd applauded and a “welcome home” chant broke out. Kazarian recited some AC/DC lyrics and then announced that he’s back home…
Powell’s POV: Kazarian’s AEW run started promising enough when he and Scorpio Sky became the first AEW Tag Team Champions. Once SCU split, the Bullet Club Hunter gimmick bombed, and Kazarian kind of disappeared. I don’t know what the difference in pay is, but I’m sure Kazarian will be used more and far more creatively fulfilled in Impact than in AEW, so good for him for making the jump.
Jordynne Grace was shown warming up in the backstage area… A video package set up the Digital Media Championship match…
3. Joe Hendry vs. Moose for the Digital Media Championship. Before the match, Hendry got a mic paused to listen to some “Moose” chants. When Hendry tried to speak, Moose slapped the mic out of his hand. The bell rang and then Hendry slapped Moose across the face.
Later, Hendry powered up Moose onto his shoulders and then tossed him over the top rope to the floor. Moose turned to the ring and took a cutter that led to a two count for Hendry. Four of Moose’s former teammates from the Atlanta Falcons including Alge Crumpler and Brian Finneran were shown cheering him on in the front row.
Moose rallied with a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. Moments later, Moose caught Hendry on the top rope and superplexed him. Moose kipped up and then Hendry did the same. They traded forearm shots in the middle of the ring. Hendry got the better of it, but Moose caught him ina. backslide for a two count. Both men traded quick two counts.
Hendry executed a Popup Powerbomb for a near fall. Moose came back with a uranage slam for a two count. Moose hit a second uranage slam and got frustrated when he didn’t get the pin. Moose rolled to ringside and grabbed the Digital Media Championship and returned to the ring with it.
The referee stopped Moose from using the title belt and took it away from him. While the referee was clearing the belt from the ring, Moose kicked Hendry in the balls. Moose speared Hendry and pinned him at 11:10.
Santino Marella made his entrance and introduced himself by the same name. He said he is the new Director of Authority in Impact. Santino restarted the match.
Hendry picked up a quick near fall. Moose caught Hendry with an elbow and then ran the ropes, but Hendry picked him up and slammed him to the mat and scored the pin…
Joe Hendry defeated Moose in 14:05 to retain the Digital Media Championship.
After the match, Santino entered the ring and shook hands with Hendry…
Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see Santino allowed to use that name again. I’m not crazy about a comedic authority figure, but we’ll see how it goes. If nothing else, it’s a temporary gig in that Scott D’Amore’s absence from the role is temporary while he sells the Bully Ray attack. The actual match was solid with some impressive displays of strength from Hendry. And, yes, I did have Alge Crumpler on a fantasy football team at one time.
The broadcast team recapped Kushida winning the six-way pre-show opener, which included Kenny King shoving Mike Bailey of the top rope…
Kenny King delivered a backstage promo. He said his therapist told him that she didn’t think Bailey was taking him seriously. King said there would be no wrestling when they meet. King said he would tape his hands and fists and they would fight. King said he’s never fought in a pit, but he has fought in the streets. King spoke about facing Bailey in a Pit Fight…
4. Masha Slamovich vs. Deonna Purrazzo vs. Taylor Wilde vs. Killer Kelly in a four-way to become No. 1 contender to the Knockouts Championship. Each entrance was televised. There were some early dives from the top rope to the floor. When Purrazzo dove, she came up holding her knee, but she seemed fine moments later.
Purrazzo and Wilde had a double submission on Kelly, but they started fighting one another. A short time later, Purrazzo powerbombed Wilde for a two count. Purrazzo set up for the Queen’s Gambit on Wilde, but Slamovich broke it up. Kelly performed a Death Valley Driver on Wilde and then set up for a submission hold that she released once Purrazzo entered the ring. Kelly went for the same move on Purrazzo, who countered into a Fujiwara armbar.
There was a dual submission spot. Slamovich escaped Wilde’s submission hold and then hit the Snowplow and drove Wilde onto Purrazzo and Kelly to break up the other submission. Slamovich covered Wilde and got the pin…
Masha Slamovich defeated Taylor Wilde, Deonna Purrazzo, and Killer Kelly in 9:20 to become No. 1 contender to the Knockouts Championship.
Powell’s POV: I’m mildly surprised to see Slamovich go over if only because she’s lost two title matches to Jordynne Grace. I wonder if the idea is that James will win the Knockouts Title and then lose it to Slamovich, who will then be chased by Grace? Either way, it was the right move to have Wilde take the pin. It’s too soon to say that her new “People’s Witch’ gimmick is a bust, but it’s not off to a very good start.
A video package set up the falls count anywhere match… Raven joined the broadcast team and called them “Tom and Jerry” as a joke…
Gia Miller tried to interview Rich Swann backstage. The audio was off. Steve Maclin attacked Swann. Security pulled the wrestlers apart. The referee called for the bell to start the match and then security released the wrestlers…
5. Steve Maclin vs. Rich Swann in a Falls Count Anywhere in Atlanta match. Raven said he was picking Maclin because they are both Marines. Maclin charged at Swann, but ended up torpedoing himself into a dumpster. “That was kind of dumb,” Raven said. Funny. The wrestlers fought their way outside the venue and Swann went for a pin on the sidewalk while traffic drove by.
The wrestlers fought into the parking garage area. A car pulled up and honked at them. Maclin ducked Swann swinging at shovel at him. They eventually fought their way into the building. Maclin slammed a chair over Swann’s head (Swann wisely put his hands up). Swann picked up a two count on the floor.
A short time later, Swann leapt off the steps and performed a cutter on the floor that led to a two count. Swann choked Maclin with a camera cord. Maclin fought his way free and then they entered the ring for the first time. Maclin sent Swann over the top rope onto the ramp and then covered him for a two count.
Swann came back with a series of strikes that knocked Maclin off the ramp to the floor. Swann performed a frog splash off the ramp and onto Maclin on the floor for a two count. A short time later, Maclin caught Swann diving at him at ringside and then performed a running powerbomb for a good near fall. In the end, Maclin put Swann down with a DDT onto another ramp and scored the pin. Raven said he loved the match due to the violence…
Steve Maclin defeated Rich Swann in 11:40 in a Falls Count Anywhere in Atlanta match.
Powell’s POV: Both wrestlers worked really hard and this was a fun brawl. Raven’s dry sense of humor was comical at times but didn’t really mesh with the serious tone of the match. I was hoping that Maclin and Swann would fight their way onto the Mercedes-Benz Stadium grounds just so that Impact could claim that they ran the stadium, but that’s just me. The footage in the back and outside the building was really rough from a production standpoint, so I’m actually happy they didn’t spend too much time out there.
A video package recapped Eddie Edwards going through Delirious and PCO, and saying he has unfinished business with Jonathan Gresham…
6. Jonathan Gresham vs. Eddie Edwards. The broadcast team helped tell the story that Gresham was being honorable. Several minutes in, Edwards punched Gresham in the eye. Rehwoldt said Edwards hadn’t broken a single rule “as far as I can tell.” Edwards became more aggressive Gresham being in the ropes.
Gresham got to his feet and fired forearm shots. Edwards chopped him down. Gresham got right up and threw more until Edwards chopped him down again. Gresham got right up. Edwards chopped Gresham, who didn’t go down and encouraged Edwards to fire away. Edwards eventually knocked Gresham down with another chop.
Edwards and Gresham traded chops. Gresham eventually flipped off Edwards and caught him with a kick. Gresham stomped the elbow of Edwards and then rolled him into a pin for a two count. Gresham performed a tilt-a-whirl bulldog for a near fall and then followed up with a standing moonsault for another near fall.
Edwards came back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall of his own. Edwards placed Gresham in a seated position on the top rope. Gresham kicked the left arm of Edwards that he’d worked over throughout the match. Gresham stuffed a backpack stunner attempt. Edwards ended up on the floor and Gresham hit him with a suicide dive.
Gresham went up top and was cut off by a kick from Edwards, who joined Gresham on the ropes. Edwards set up for a superplex. Gresham slipped out and applied a sleeper, but Edwards fell down and it drove the face of Gresham into the top turnbuckle. Rehwoldt said it was incredible effective regardless of whether Edwards intended to do it.
Edwards went for the Boston Knee Party, but Gresham avoided it. Gresham had a brief flurry of offense, but Edwards came back with a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. Gresham avoided another Boston Knee Party. Both men traded pin attempts. Gresham ran the ropes and ate a clothesline. Edwards hit a Tiger Driver for a near fall. Edwards followed up with the Boston Knee Party and scored the pin…
Eddie Edwards defeated Jonathan Gresham in 19:05.
After the match, the lights went out and the thunder noise that closed Impact played. Some fans chanted for PCO, who was in the ring with a shovel once the lights turned on. PCO spat dirt out of his mouth. PCO hit Edwards with the shovel twice and then powerbombed him…
Powell’s POV: A terrific back and forth match. Gresham really is a good addition to the Impact roster. I think he would have been lost in the shuffle on the crowded AEW roster, but he should be in the main mix in Impact. For that reason, I’m surprised he lost this match, but I guess they wanted to keep Edwards strong for his ongoing feud with PCO. Plus, there’s no shame in losing to Edwards in Impact, so hopefully they have a plan to heat up Gresham coming off of this loss.
The broadcast team spoke from their desk and hyped No Surrender in Las Vegas for the February Impact Plus special. They set up a video package on Impact Wrestling Rebellion for the return to pay-per-view on Sunday, April 16 from Orlando. Rehwoldt said they will be announcing Impact’s return to his hometown of Chicago later this year…
A video package set up the main event…
Powell’s POV: Hey, a Sunday night pay-per-view. Anyway, I guess they are skipping the advertised Death Dollz vs. Tasha Steelz, Savannah Evans, and Gisele Shaw match that was originally advertised for the pre-show. It’s possible the broadcast team addressed it and I just missed it.
There were Native American dancers and drummers that performed on the stage. Mickie James laid face down on the stage while they performed and then rose to her knees and looked to the crowd. James’ “Hardcore Country” played and she made her entrance. She greeted her parents and other family members in the crowd before entering the ring. Jordynne Grace’s entrance followed…
7. Jordynne Grace vs. Mickie James in a Knockouts Championship vs. career match. Dave Penzer delivered in-ring introductions for the championship match. Dave LeGreca from Busted Open was shown cheering for James before the bell rang to start the match. Grace and James had a tense handshake. Tara was shown wiping tears from her eyes while applauding in the crowd.
James performed an early Thesz Press, but Grace dominated the bulk of the early offense. Both wrestlers ended up on the top rope and James performed a bulldog. Rehwoldt said it was the first high impact opening for James, who was the favorite of the majority of the live crowd.
James threw clotheslines at Grace, who remained on her feet until James knocked her down with a kick. James did a rope walk while holding the wrist of Grace. James did a crotch chop with her other hand and then dove onto Grace, who was on the entrance ramp.
Back inside the ring, James teased her DDT, but applied a guillotine instead. Grace broke it and placed James on the ropes. Grace powered up James and held her before superplexing her. Grace shot right up and hit a Jackhammer on James for a good near fall.
James avoided the Grace Driver and performed a head-scissors takedown. James put Grace down, kipped up, and then went to the ropes and performed a meteora for a two count. Grace came back with a spinebuster and got a two count. Grace blocked a kick and then drilled James with a knee. Grace put James down with a sit-out move for a near fall.
Grace clubbed the chest and back of James with clotheslines and then caught her with a shot to the back of the head. Grace set up for a move, but James took her down and got a near fall. James kicked a seated Grace a few times. When Grace got up, James hit the Mick Kick. Grace came right back and put James on the ropes and then sent for a Muscle Buster, but James countered into a pin for just a one count. Both women traded rapid fire pin attempts that resulted in two counts.
James set up for her finisher, but Grace avoided it and hit her with a back fist. James caught Grace in a pin for a two count. James eventually performed her MickDT for a great near fall. James acted shocked and then smiled in disbelief. Some fans chanted “that was three.”
James got to her feet and went for her finisher again, but Grace stuffed it. James rolled Grace up for a two count, but then Grace caught her in a rear naked choke. It looked like James tapped, but she rolled onto Grace and got a two count. James threw a kick and then Grace reapplied the choke. James reached for the bottom rope, but Grace rolled her back into the middle of the ring. James faded, but came to life when the referee checked her arm.
James threw knees to Grace’s abdomen. Grace picked up James on her shoulders and ran her head into the turnbuckle twice. Grace charged James, who stepped aside, causing Grace to crash into the corner. James followed up with a tornado DDT and scored the pin…
Mickie James defeated Jordynne Grace in 19:05 to win the Knockouts Championship and to save her career.
After the match, Tara entered the ring and cried while hugging James, whose parents and son were shown in the crowd. Mickie’s son Donovan entered the ring and hugged his mom. The rest of James’ family joined her in the ring for the celebration.
Powell’s POV: This was excellent and the rightful show closing match. Both wrestlers did a great job and they were aided by Tearful Tara and the wonderful move of bringing in her James’ family for the event. I went into the show assuming that James would either win the title or even lose and then perhaps move on for a WWE run. But they made me question that by going the extra mile to make it seem like this might be the end of James’ career. I love it.
Overall, this was a strong pay-per-view event that is worth checking out on replay. Everyone worked hard and most of the matches delivered. I will have more to say about Hard To Kill in my audio review, which will be available later tonight as this week’s Pro Wrestling Boom podcast. Let me know what you thought of the show by voting for the best match and grading the overall event below.
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