By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling TV
Taped in Atlanta, Georgia at Center Stage
Aired January 26, 2023 on AXS TV
Highlights from last week’s Impact Wrestling show aired… Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt were on commentary…
Entrances for the X Division Championship match aired. The commentators chuckled over the possibility of having the oldest X Division Champion crowned today (Mike Jackson is 73 years of age). Trey Miguel had new entrance music (I kinda like it better than his old generic theme). He acted like he was using a walker on the way to the ring to mock Mike Jackson…
1. Trey Miguel vs. “Action” Mike Jackson for the Impact X Division Championship. Miguel started the match with wristholds. Jackson came back with quick shoulder tackles and a hip toss for a two count. Miguel and Jackson traded quick pins and chest shoves. Miguel asked for a handshake and then gave Jackson a cheap shot to the chin. Miguel went into some joint manipulation. Miguel body slammed Jackson.
Jackson dodged a Lionsault and took down the straps. Jackson hit Miguel with stiff right lariats and a neckbreaker. Miguel reversed a punch combo with an atomic drop. Miguel dumped Jackson to ringside. Jackson sidestepped Miguel sending Miguel’s shoulder into the post. Jackson hit Miguel with a shoulder breaker in the ring. Jackson hit Miguel with Old School, which Rehwoldt called “Oldest School” where Jackson did extra tightrope walking.
Miguel tripped Jackson off the rope and hit Jackson with a shotgun dropkick. Miguel hit Jackson with a scorpion Kick and Lightning Spiral for the win.
Trey Miguel defeated Mike Jackson via pinfall in 5:57 to retain the X Division Championship.
Trey tried to retrieve his spray can from under the ring, but he backed down when Crazzy Steve slid out of the apron. Hannifan pointed out that Steve had painted Trey’s symbol on the back on his neck. Steve took off his shirt to reveal that he had spray-painted the word “Trey” all over his body with white paint. Steve took a red paint can and sprayed Trey’s symbol on his chest. Trey backtracked looking freaked out. Black Taurus appeared on the ramp to cut off Trey. Trey hopped the barricade to run away from Decay as Decay’s theme played…
John’s Thoughts: A good and fun opening match. I do get afraid a bit every time I see Mike Jackson wrestle due to his age, but he doesn’t wrestle like he’s 70. He looks like 70 in the face, but he’s jacked and wrestles a solid indie style. Thankfully he doesn’t wrestle like fellow older dude PCO. Thank God for that. I like Trey’s run as X Champ so far. He’s fitting into his character revamp very well. Despite his feud with Decay pretty much being a foregone conclusion (Decay shouldn’t go over), I like that they are taking their time to tell a story and feud between the two forces.
Gia Miller interviewed Josh Alexander about how he would end up having to face a former world champion in his next title defense. Josh said the title picture is packed. He praised Rich Swann, Chris Sabin, and Rhino as former champs (oh yeah, Rhino did have that title did he?). He said no matter who wins he’s going to remain the longest reigning Impact Champion.
Steve Maclin approached Alexander and said he agrees that he’s not a former world champion, but he’s beaten every former world champ in the number one contenders match. He said he’s been counting bodies to get to the title and it’s clear that the title is the goal. Maclin wished the 6 contenders luck, and told Alexander that Alexander better be looking over his shoulder because Scott D’Amore isn’t around to protect him this time.
Chris Sabin was shown warming up with Alex Shelley backstage…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Good point by Maclin and I think it’s smart booking to set up the contender match where only former world champs are eligible. It allows Alexander to get a strong opponent, logically keeps Maclin away from the title until a big encounter, and it continues to build Maclin’s frustration where he is tearing through a bunch of main eventers only to be screwed out of title shots by circumstance.
Rich Swann was warming up backstage… Entrances for the next match took place…
2. KUSHIDA and Kevin Knight vs. “The Good Hands” John Skyler and Jason Hotch. Rehwoldt noted that Knight is a local from Atlanta, but was trained at the New Japan Dojo in Southern California. Kushida and Knight traded quick tags to cut the ring in half on Skyler. Skyler ran away ringside and tagged in Hotch to catch Kushida off guard. Hotch and Skyler traded quick tags to swarm Kushida.
The Good Hands used a jackknife pin and German Suplex combo on Kushida to give Skyler a two count. Hannifan noted that Hotch is the winner of the 2022 Gut Check (Impact Plus?). Kushida hit both opponents with his signature handstand elbow. Knight got the hot tag. Knight hit both men wiht a corner splash. Knight hit Hitch with a nice dropkick. Kushida hit Skyler with his signature cartwheel dropkick.
Kushida put Hotch on his shoulders and Knight got all the way up to nail Hotch with a dropkick. Knight hit Skyler with a plancha. Kushida put Hotch in the Hoverboard Lock for the submission win.
Kushida and Kevin Knight defeated The Good Hands via submission in 4:02.
John’s Thoughts: A nice introduction to the Kushida and Knight tandem. This is the first time I got to see Kevin Knight I believe. He really impressed me. This guy got mad hops. Once this guy gets a character, I can see this guy going places. As the person who reviews NXT, this sure beats the hell out of F’n Jacket Time. On the other side, yes, Hotch and Skyler are playing the J.O.B. Squad archetype, but at least they’re featured on TV and they can always branch out down the road. Skyler in particular has been a hidden gem over the past 5 or so years.
Gisele Shaw and Jai Vidal were in Santino’s office (?), which looked like a gas station restroom with random graffiti on the walls. Gisele demanded that Santino reveal her mystery tag partner. Santino opened the door to reveal the person off camera. Jai started to fangirl over the mystery person, saying she’s a legend and he’s watched all of her matches. Gisele slapped Jai in the back of the head and dragged him away. Santino told the unseen person that her match was next…[c]
Knockouts Champ Mickie James approached Jordynne Grace and thanked her for carrying her to one of her best matches of her career. James then said she didn’t like how Grace ran to her aid last week. James said it looked like Grace was treating her like a charity case. Grace said she didn’t protect Mickie, she was protecting her “investment”, the Knockouts Title. Grace said she has a rematch clause.
Grace said the title will come back home very soon. Mickie said she’s looking forward to the rematch and when she beats Masha, Grace is on. Grace said, ” ‘If’ you beat Masha.” Grace walked away…
John’s Thoughts: One nitpick. Mickie’s a great talker, but she’s done this before where for some reason she snaps on babyface friends when they look out for her. It’s the same thing where dumb babyfaces always say “Oh, don’t come out to ringside to have my back, I have to do this on my own” despite the opponent usually having 3 or 4 people on their side. Grace did save the segment though by bringing up protecting her investment. I just thought it was odd that Mickie has done this before and it makes it look like Babyfaces aren’t allowed to have friends and backup.
Entrances for the women’s tag title match aired. Gisele Shaw’s mystery tag partner was former Impact Knockouts and WWE Women’s Champion Tara (a.k.a. Victoria)…
3. “The Death Dollz” Taya Valkyrie and Jessicka (w/Rosemary) vs. Gisele Shaw (w/Jai Vidal) and Tara for the Impact Knockouts Tag Team Championship. Taya showed respect to the legend by shaking Tara’s hand. As Tara circled the ring, Gisele forced a tag on her to disappoint the crowd. Taya shoved Shaw to the corner and gave her a hip attack. Taya hit Shaw with a hip attack to give Jessicka a two count.
Jessicka hit Shaw with the Sick Kick. Shaw avoided a leg drop and gave Jessicka a dropkick. Shaw hit Jessicka with a flying uppercut. The crowd and Tara begged for a tag. Because Shaw distracted herself, Jessicka hit Shaw with a Flying Jalepeno. Taya tagged in and hit Shaw with a lariat combo. Jai tripped up Taya. Rosemary hit Jai with a spear. Shaw refused to tag in Tara. Shaw hit Taya with Tara’s Spider Web finisher for a two count.
Shaw continued to mock the crowd by refusing to tag in Tara. Tara got in Shaw’s face in the center of the ring. Shaw slapped Tara and told her to get her retired ass out of the ring. While Tara and Gisele were bickering, Taya and Jessicka were eating popcorn. Tara hit Gisele with her Widow’s Peak finisher. A “you still got it” chant ensued. The Death Dollz gave Shaw a Kick and Sick-ishi Driver combo to give Jessicka the win.
“The Death Dollz” Taya Valkyrie and Jessicka defeated Gisele Shaw and Tara via pinfall in 6:16 to retain the Knockouts Tag Team Titles.
Heath was shown hyping up Rhino backstage while Rhino was doing bicep curls…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A fun exhibition match, especially for the live crowd. If Tara can’t go like she once could, having Gisele Shaw be the one to refuse to tag was a clever way to tell a fun story while allowing Shaw to draw good heat from the crowd. Having Jessicka and Taya eating popcorn while their opponents defeated themselves was a nice touch.
Tom Hannifan ran through a schedule of their upcoming live events in Chicago at the Cisero Stadium. Hannifan noted that you could buy a “season pass” to attend all four upcoming Chicago shows, which includes Bound for Glory in October…
“The People’s Witch” Taylor Wilde was shown tinkering with some occult-ish objects. Wilde thanked the spirits for guiding her on a “dark feminine journey” (The heck does that mean?). Wilde told her future with some Tarot Cards. Her dousing necklace told her that she’ll see Killer Kelly in her future. Wilde thanked the spirit again…
Santino Marella thanked Dave LeGreca for conducting a good interview with Tommy Dreamer. LaGreca said he’s happy to be working with Impact Wrestling. LaGreca was approached by his Busted Open Radio co-host Bully Ray. Bully told Dave to step against the wall and stop talking. Bully approached Santino and pointed out that he’s a former world champion, yet not in the number one contenders match.
Bully asked why? Santino said it was simple, and that Bully lost his last match against Josh. Bully asked if Santino has something against him? Bully pointed out that he was screwed over by Jen Alexander and Tommy Dreamer who interfered. Bully said he’s always put over Santino as a character and one of his favorite wrestling moments was the Milan Miracle when Santino pinned Bobby Lashley to become the IC Champion in his debut match.
Bully said he’ll remind Santino what happened to the last guy who tried to run things. Bully walked away saying, “don’t forget it”. Bully walked away. Santino said Bully is intense and wondered how Dave keeps him under control. Dave said he can’t, but their other co-host Tommy Dreamer can…
John’s Thoughts: I actually liked that segment because Santino toned down his comedy to have a tense moment with Bully Ray. Given Santino’s comedy nature, Santino being serious would be tough to sustain. Here’s hoping that Scott D’Amore makes a comeback around Slammiversary time at the latest. What I don’t like about this segment is Impact is pointing all signs to an extended Bully Ray vs. Tommy Dreamer feud… in 2023… Don’t get me wrong, Bully and Tommy had wonderful promo exchanges leading up to Bully’s Hard to Kill match. That said, Tommy Dreamer in 2023 is not in Bully Ray’s league. Bully proved he can be a main event player in 2023. I feel like putting him in yet another ECW nostalgia feud is depriving us of Bully having good feuds with up and coming talent (like Steve Maclin?).
The Design were shown backstage helping [Sami] Callihan warm up…[c]
Gia Miller interviewed Tasha Steelz and Savannah Evans backstage, saying that it looks like with their recent loses, that they might be having a little bit of tension as a tag team. Steelz said “this isn’t working”. Gia asked “this team?”. Tasha said “all of it” and walked away alone…
Entrances for the next match took place. Ace and Bey came out to the OG Bullet Club theme…
4. “Bullet Club” Chris Bey and Ace Austin vs. “The Major Players” Matt Cardona and Brian Myers. Cardona and Bey started out the match. Bey no sold Cardona’s shoulder tackle. Bey worked on Cardona with quick offense. Bey tagged in Austin. Bey and Austin worked on Cardona with tandem strikes and holds. Myers tagged in and ate tandem leg strikes from Bey and Ace. Cardona managed to get the upper hand after running through Austin at ringside.
Cardona and Myers traded quick tags to cut the ring in half on Ace with methodical offense. Myers punted Bey’s hand away for a cheap shot. This allowed Ace to surprise Myers with an enzuigiri. Bey and Cardona tagged in. Cardona ate Bey’s quick strikes. Bey took out Myers on the apron with a flip into a thrust kick. Bey hit Cardona in the corner with an uppercut.
Bey hit Cardona with a crossbody for a two count. Myers tripped up Ace off the apron. Cardona took out Bey with a running Axe Handle. Cardona did the woo woo woo, and hit Bey with a Broski Boot. Myers hit Bey with an elbow drop for a good nearfall. Bey threw Myers into Cardona’s crotch to stagger Myers on the top rope. Ace hit Myers with a Slingshot Frankensteiner.
Bey and Ace took down Cardona with alternating strikes. Bey held Cardona down first and rolled away to prevent Myers from interfering. Ace pinned Myers with a jackknife pin.
Ace Austin and Chris Bey defeated The Major Players via pinfall in 7:00.
John’s Thoughts: A good match between two talented teams, but also a nice clash between two different generations of tag team wrestlers. Good stuff, with Bey and Ace really developing chemistry during their extended run as a tag team. What’s cool is once they become singles wrestlers again, we know they can be great there too. The Major Players, meanwhile, seem to be in a holding pattern. I totally understand given Myers is locked up with a new contract, but Cardona is still in limbo in terms of staying independent, or rejoining WWE.
Cardona had a shocked face after he kicked out after 3. Bey and Ace celebrated to the back. Joe Hendry made his entrance. He said he heard Cardona’s challenge for the Digital Media Title and he accepts. Hendry praised Cardona for being the original Internet Champion (via the Z True Long Island Story YouTube series). Hendry said it looks like Cardona is green with envy because the fans are talking about Hendry’s Dancing Moose song instead of Cardona.
Hendry said he doesn’t want Cardona to feel left out. Hendry said he’s written Cardona a song too. One of Joe Hendry’s signature parody music videos aired. It sounded like a pop punk song (nice). The song was titled “Edge’s Bitch”. It featured Joe Hendry wearing cutouts pictures of Cardona, Myers, and Chelsea Green. The video featured “Chelsea” asking Cardona for sex, but Cardona and Myers decided to play with action figures instead. After the song ended, Hendry left while Cardona and Myers soaked in “Edge’s Bitch” chants…[c]
Alisha Edwards was shown helping Eddie Edwards warm up…
Myers and Cardona were furious and approached Moose, who was doing wall pushups. Cardona said after what Hendry just did to them, they’ll take care of Hendry for Moose. Moose liked what he heard…
Jonathan Gresham got a televised entrance for the next match…
5. Jonathan Gresham vs. Sheldon Jean. Jean pressured Gresham with his size early on. Gresham came back with a drop toehold and side headlock. Jean tried hard, but couldn’t get Gresham to let go. Gresham tripped up Jean and put Jean in a Deathlock. Jean got to the ropes for the break. Hannifan noted that Jean trained in Japan with Noah while also wrestling in Canada.
Gresham tripped up Jean with a basement dropkick to the knee. Gresham ate a pump kick. While Jean was standing, Gresham pulled Jean’s hamstring away from the joint for a hyperextension. Gresham hit Jean with a sliding right hand punch for the win.
Jonathan Gresham defeated Sheldon Jean via pinfall in 3:05.
John’s Thoughts: A good enhancement showcase for Jonathan Gresham. Yes, he took a lost to Eddie Edwards, but it was competitive, a killer match, and both men were presented as even. I like that they’re quickly back to business with the introduction of Jonathan Gresham and not really rushing into everything. This would allow him to acclimate to the Impact viewers while also showcasing moves a lot of people haven’t seen.
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt checked in from the commentary table. They advertised the following segments for next week: Ace and Bey vs. Kushida and Knight and Gisele Shaw vs. Savannah Evans. Hannifan sent the show to a New Japan on AXS ad narrated by Kevin Kelly…
Moose made his entrance…[c]
The rest of the entrances took place for the next match…
6. Moose vs. Rhino vs. Rich Swann vs. Chris Sabin vs. Callihan vs. Eddie Edwards in an elimination match for a future shot at the Impact World Championship. Moose and Rhino took down everyone else. Both men no sold tackles. Moose eye raked Rhino. Rhino came back with a stiff lariat to take down Moose. Rhino no sold Sabin’s lariats. Sabin took down Rhino with a running shoulder tackle.
Callihan no sold Sabin’s right hands. Callihan hit Sabin with an exploder suplex. Sabin hit Moose with a PK. Sabin tossed Callihan into the buckle and then hit Moose with a dive at ringside. Swann hit Callihan with a dropkick. Eddie ate a huracanrana in the center of the ring. Swann hit Moose, Eddie, and Sabin with a cannonball. Eddie hit Sabin with a Blue Thunder Bomb.
Everyone took turns trading signature moves. Rhino teased a Gore on Callihan, but Moose came in and hit Rhino with a Spear. Callihan pinned Rhino to eliminate him from the match.
Callihan eliminated Rhino via pinfall in 4:34.
The show cut to commercial…[c]
Moose stacked Swann and Sabin in the corner and hit both men with a high dorpkick. Moose hit Eddie with a uranage. Sabin hit Moose with a tornado DDT for a two count. Sabin took down Callihan and Eddie with a Tornado DDT. Callihan tossed Sabin and Swann into the corner and hit both opponents with kicks. Swann hit Callihan with a bulldog and frog splash for a two count.
Eddie crotched Swann on the top rope. Swann escaped a backpack stunner. Eddie power bombed Swann on Sabin for a two count. Sabin backslid Eddie for a two count. Eddie came back with a flapjack and Tiger Driver for a nearfall. While Eddie was in the corner. PCO made his entrance to try to get at Eddie. Sabin caught a distracted Eddie with a Tornado DDT rollup for the elimination.
Chris Sabin eliminated Eddie Edwards via pinfall in 9:55 of on-air time.
Moose gave Sabin a PK immediately. Moose worked on Sabin with methodical and powerful offense. Moose ended Sabin’s right hand rally with a uranage for a two count. Sabin caught Moose with an enzuigiri. Moose shoved Sabin off him and hit Sabin with a spear for the elimination.
Moose eliminated Chris Sabin via pinfall in 12:01 of on-air time.
Swann and Callihan took each other out heading into the break.[c]
All three men traded fatigued strikes. Hannifan noted that he used to be friends with both Moose and Callihan. Swann caught Callihan with a Lethal Injection. Moose gave Swann a chop block. Moose focused his attack on Swann’s injured knee for a few minutes while Callihan recovered at ringside. After about two minutes, Swann surprised Moose with a headscissors rollup for the elimination.
Rich Swann eliminated Moose via pinfall in 16:17 of on-air time.
Moose sold the shock of the elimination. Deaner, Kon, and Angels showed up at ringside to coach Callihan to “take him out”. Callihan put the boots to Swann and put him in the Stretch Muffler. Swann reversed the submission into a nearfall. Swann paint-brushed Callihan with clubbing forearms. Callihan gave Swann a powerbomb and then put Swann into an ankle hook.
Callihan was hobbling on his knee. Callihan decided to do his thumbs up, thumbs down thing that allowed Swann to nail him with a Scorpion Kick. Callihan no sold a high kick, but fell after eating Swann’s signature hook kick. Swann hit Callihan with a 450 Splash for the win.
Rich Swann eliminated Sami Callihan via pinfall in 19:28 of on-air time to become the new number one contender to the Impact World Championship.
Deaner got in Callihan’s face and told him to attack Swann. Swann also got in Callihan to try to snap Callihan out of Deaner’s control. Kon and Angels knocked down and put the boots to Swann. Callihan tossed Swann to Callihan and ordered him to give him a Pile Driver. Callihan tried to do his thumbs up thing, but Deaner stopped him.
Yuya Uemura ran out for the save, but was taken down due to the numbers. Kazarian and Josh Alexander ran out to even the odds. Deaner escaped a C4 Spike from Alexander and the heels retreated to the back. Rich Swann’s theme played to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: This was a creative elimination match to set up Alexander’s next challenger. Lots of wrestlers got good eliminations and the eliminations were well spaced. It helps that Impact has stopped overdoing the random 5 or 6 person multi-man X division matches every week, which made this match feel novel. Rich Swann is a master of running gauntlets, and that was no exception here. It’s cool to see Rich Swann back in the main event, because he truly belongs there and has been meandering on the undercard for far too long.
A great edition of Impact top to bottom. Even with Impact putting on great shows week to week, this was one of those on the higher end. Every match offered something fun and different. Impact also continues to put on no-nonsense logical booking. Seriously, quality assurance wise, this show is better than AEW. Consistency wise this show is better than WWE. People should really be giving Impact a chance these days. TNA is a thing of the past (except when they randomly decide to homage it out of nowhere).