By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling TV
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Osceola Heritage Park
Aired February 2, 2023 on AXS TV
Highlights from last week’s Impact Wrestling show aired… Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt were on commentary… Entrances from the opening match took place. Hannifan noted that the upcoming match was a rematch from New Japan’s Super Junior Tag League 2022…
1. “Bullet Club” Chris Bey and Ace Austin vs. KUSHIDA and Kevin Knight. Knight and Bey started the match off with a collar and elbow lockup. Bey landed the first shoulder tackle. Knight went for a Michinoku Driver, but Bey reversed it into a rollup for a one count. Bey landed a sweep kick on Knight. Knight hit Bey with a springboard crossbody, body slam, and air-control standing frog splash for a two count.
Kushida and Knight traded quick tags to cut the ring in half on Bey. Knight went for a slingshot dive, but he was swatted out of the air by Bey’s dropkick. Ace tagged in. Bullet Club swarmed Knight with alternating kicks. Bey and Ace cut the ring in half on Knight. After a bit of selling, Knight backdropped so he could bring in Kushida for the hot tag.
Kushida hit Bey with his signature cartwheel dropikck. Kushida hit Ace at ringside with a baseball slide. Bey did a springboard, but fell right into Kushida’s Juji Gatame. Bey broke up the pin with a rollup. Knight tagged in and hit a beautiful dropkick on Bey. Kushida put Bey in the Electric Chair position. Knight tried to leap up, but was caught into Electric Chair position by Ace.
Bey and Knight then had a chicken fight while on the shoulders of their opponents. Both chicken fight formations crumpled. Kushida caught Bey in the calf with a basement dropkick. Kushida put Bey in the Electric Chair which allowed Knight to jump clear over Kushida’s body from the ground and nail Bey with a Standing Shotgun Dropkick. Ace tackled Kushida into Knight to break Knight’s pin.
Ace caught Knight and Kushida with savate kicks. Ace hit Knight with a Disaster Kick. Kushida staggered Bey on the top rope with double handstand boots. Ace caught Kushida at ringside with a PK. Knight cleared the top rope to knock Ace off the apron. Bey caught Knight with a sick looking Cutter while Knight was in the middle of a Plancha. Bey hit Knight with an assisted Cutter. Ace followed up with The Fold on Knight to give Bey the win.
Chris Bey and Ace Austin defeated Kevin Knight and Kushida via pinfall in 9:25.
John’s Thoughts: Wowzers, that was sweet! No pun intended. This match was so good, I wouldn’t mind seeing this given 5 more minutes and a layer of storytelling. This is the second match I’ve seen from Knight and I’ve been thoroughly impressed. This guy has some of the maddest hops I’ve seen in Pro Wrestling. Randy Orton and Okada eat your heart out. New Japan officials better hope Kushida isn’t calling up his homeboys William Regal and HBK because if I were with WWE I would sign this Knight guy up ASAP (as usual, I wouldn’t want to see him in AEW because he’d be lost in the AEW dark shuffle). It’s fun to see a match where they pull out some new innovative spots. Highlights for me were the Plancha into the cutter, along with the fun Chicken Fight spot in the middle for a cute moment.
Deaner, [Sami] Callihan, and Angels were at the Impact Interview set, which had an orange tint to match the tone that The Design are going for. Deaner talked about how Callihan failed Step 3 of the “7 Deadly Steps” to join The Design (Hol up? How many matches have Big Kon and Angels won to get initiated in the Design?). Big Kon told Callihan that he was warned that if he failed to bring the title that there would be consequences. Deaner alluded to being in the same position as Sami where Eric Young showed him no mercy.
Deaner said this time it’s different, because he needs manpower to go to war with four opponents. Deaner said because of that he’s offering Callihan mercy and an opportunity at redemption. Deaner said this is Step 4 (so we just giving up on step 3? I kid, I kid). Deaner said this time Callihan must win…[c]
John’s Thoughts: I really want to give Deaner and crew the benefit of the doubt, but so far “The Design” isn’t clicking as well as when Eric Young started the Violent by Design faction. He’s delivering the material well, but there’s just no substance other than him being a generic cult leader. His delivery and hand sign also scream NXT’s Joe Gacy.
A video package aired to hype next week’s debut of Steph De Lander (Former NXT Wrestler Persia Pirotta)…
John’s Thoughts: Oh. Interesting signing for Impact that I’m looking forward to. It caught me off guard when WWE released her because she was doing good Social Media numbers for them while she was in a feud with Indi Hartwell (Dexter Lumis/Sam Shaw was also released). She had a good look, she’s a decent talker, and fairly good in the ring. A nice addition to one of the best women’s divisions in all of wrestling.
Entrances for the next match took place. Tom Hannifan joked that last week Gisele Shaw continued her pattern of destroying tag teams she’s a part of. A picture-in-picture promo aired where Savannah Evans called Gisele Shaw a “black widow” who also screwed up her tag team with Tasha Steelz. Evans said Shaw now has to deal with “The Cannibal”…
3. Gisele Shaw (w/Jai Vidal) vs. “The Cannibal” Savannah Evans. Both women jawed with each other to start the match. Evans no sold Shaw’s forearms and pressured her with clubbing blows. Evans worked on Shaw with methodical strikes. Shaw turned the tables in the corner and rallied with right hands. Evans turned the tables back with a boulder toss, tackle, and Butterfly Suplex. Shaw went to ringside to recover with Vidal heading into break.[c]
Evans ended Shaw’s momentum with a sidewalk slam. Both women traded forearms in the center of the ring. Evans hit Shaw with a Samoan Drop. Evans planted Shaw with a Spinebuster and Fisherman’s Suplex for a nearfall. Vidal started to seduce the referee, yes, by rubbing the ref’s face for the distraction. This allowed Shaw to rake the eyes of Evans and nail Evans with a superkick. Shaw hit Evans with a running knee for the victory.
Gisele Shaw defeated Savannah Evans via pinfall in 4:53.
Shaw took the mic for a promo after the match. Shaw talked about how people call her “The Black Widow” of Impact due to all of her tag teams getting destroyed. She said she’s accepting that moniker. She said she doesn’t care that Tasha Steelz, Tenille Dashwood, Madison Rayne, and Chelsea Green are gone because of her. Shaw said she’s not meant to be in a tag team. She said she’ll destroy all opponents. Shaw said the spotlight did, does, and will always belong to The Quintessential Diva Gisele Shaw…
John’s Thoughts: An interesting promo after the match that is presumably a sign that Impact is going to creatively get behind Gisele Shaw as a singles act to elevate her up the card. So far, I haven’t been awe’d by Shaw due to all her stop and start pushes; but as they’re turning into a storyline now, she’s been paired with a bunch of factions that had all their members leave for other companies. I’m willing to see what she can do on her own. I do hope that the Savannah Evans and Tasha Steelz pairing isn’t ending. They were finally starting to hit their stride and Impact was finally putting effort in to protect Evans as a monster enforcer.
Kenny King was roaming the backstage area. He stole a bag of popcorn from two people who were fans of Rich Swann. King walked off, saying that Swann wasn’t the person that exposed Mike Bailey as a homicidal maniac. Johnny Swinger and Zicky Dice were laughing at King. Swinger grabbed at King’s popcorn and challenged King to a fight.
King accepted Dice’s challenge and said that Swinger is going to have to be carted off on a wheelchair instead of his cute WrestleMania cart. After King left, Swinger was nervous. Dice said “remember what you taught me?”. Swinger asked “what?”. Dice said he forgot. Dice said that Swinger needs to get some wins under his belt to get that title shot that Scott D’Amore promised him. Swinger told Dice to roll him away…[c]
An ad aired for Impact’s Chicago Season Pass tickets…
Santino Marella talked with Kenny King and granted him a match against Johnny Swinger. After King left, Steve Macliin showed up and demanded that he be added to the Josh Alexander vs. Rich Swann match at the next Impact Plus show. Santino said he can’t do that.
Santino said what he is going to do is have a set of qualifying matches to set up a 4 way number one contenders match at No Surrender. Santino said that Maclin is in one of those qualifying matches. Maclin rolled his eyes, saying he’s tired of being told to jump through hoops. Dirty Dango showed up and told Maclin to back up. Maclin walked away.
Dango said he thought that Santino wants him to be his “Deputy Dictator of Authority” assistant. Dango said he’ll do anything for Santino, including stooge on the boys, as long as he gets in one of the qualifying matches. Santino told Dango to walk away because he’s already in one of the qualifiers. Dango gave Santino an awkward hug and assumed they were partners…
Entrances for the next match took place…
3. Crazzy Steve (w/Black Taurus) vs. Sheldon Jean. Jean tried to taunt both Steve and Taurus, but Steve made Jean flinch. Jean dragged Steve to the mat and hit Steve with a dropkick. Jean was gloating around the ring. Steve came back with a snapmare, neck snap, and bite to the face. Steve hit Jean with a cannonball in the corner. Steve hit Jean with a diving spike DDT for the win.
Crazzy Steve defeated Sheldon Jean via pinfall in 2:26.
Trey Miguel ran in and clubbed Taurus and Steve in the back of the neck with his spray can. Trey tried to spray paint on Steve, but Steve bit the hand of Trey to release Trey’s hold. Steve took the can and sprayed Trey’s symbol on his own chest again. Steve also sprayed the paint on his face (that can’t be healthy). Trey backtracked up the ramp while Steve was playing with the spray can…
Gia Miller interviewed Jordynne Grace about people agreeing with her that Mickie James tapped out at Hard to Kill. Gia said Mickie is denying that she tapped out. Grace said people can come to their own conclusions by rewatching the match. Grace said she’s looking ahead towards a match with Mickie, Masha, or whoever. Grace then pointed out that she’s giving Steph De Lander an opportunity to wrestle her next week…[c]
Santino Marella walked up to a table to chat with Raven. Santino noted that he’s coming to Raven for advice because Raven is a MENSA certified genius (this is true). Raven said “make me the champ”, to make this company money. Santino walked away saying he’d consider it. All of a sudden, the person who played The Yeti from WCW showed up, wondering if Raven was putting the Flock back together. Raven said, “calm down Yeti”. Yeti said it hurts his feelings when Raven is mean to him and sometimes he cries at night…
John’s Thoughts: Ok, that segment seemed to be completely random and not contributing anything to any storylines on the show. That said, the wit of everyone involved got a chuckle out of me for harmless entertainment. It’s fun seeing Scott Levy play something half way between Raven and Johnny Polo.
Bully Ray made his entrance with his signature trance-like facial expression. Bully stared down a fan who had a “Bully Ray Sucks” sign. Ray slapped the sign away and ripped it up. Bully also teased high-fiving the fan and pulled away. Bully then randomly stared a hole into a little girl at ringside, causing her to hide behind her dad. Bully then pointed and yelled at the kid. Tom Hannifan noted that Bully alienates everyone in his life.
Bully took a mic and cut a promo inside of the ring. He allowed the crowd to chant “you tapped out” for a little bit. Bully tried to cut a promo, but stopped every time the boos crept up. He said he’s starting to understand that people don’t like him; like the wrestlers, management, the crowd, that little girl he just told to sit down (who was shown crying), and the entire wrestling business.
The crowd showered Bully with “Bully Sucks” chants. Bully said it’s clear that Santino doesn’t like him by excluding him from the number one contenders match even though he’s a former world champion. Bully asked the crowd to raise their hands if they understand what he’s talking about. Bully called the crowd morons for doing exactly what he told them. Bully said the crowd is so easy. Bully reiterated that he took out the last guy in charge of Impact, Scott D’Amore, who won’t be back for a while.
Bully said his Ex-Best Friend Tommy Dreamer also doesn’t like him. He said he never really liked Tommy Dreamer. He said they were enemies in ECW, WWE, and Busted Open Radio. He said they just tolerate each other on Busted Open. He said he’s the most honest guy in the room who tells it how it is. Bully said Dreamer has been lying all these years. Bully said Dreamer is making Bully out to be the bad guy, while Dreamer is the biggest phony in the business.
Bully said Dreamer wants to be loved by everybody, which is impossible. Bully said Tommy is a Snake in the Business. Bully was interrupted by Knockouts Champion Mickie James making her entrance (Mickie is also a co-host on Busted Open Radio). Mickie said she’s just returning the favor for interrupting her. She said it’s true that she’s had to witness Bully and Dreamer bicker across the companies. Mickie said Bully is trying to call Dreamer a snake, when that’s more Bully’s Modus Operandi for years.
Mickie said last time she told Bully to get out of her ring, but this time she’s telling him to get the hell out of the company. Bully asked Mickie to get that smile off her face because he’ll smack her this quick. Bully talked about body slamming Mickie a few weeks ago and said he can do worse. He brought up how he’s beat up many women in the business, and Mickie is not even as good as those women.
Bully said he could always take the high road, but he’s going to give Mickie what she deserves, the low road. Bully then wondered if he should call Mickie a “Tramp” instead of a “Champ”. Mickie then took off her belt and slapped Bully in the face. Bully then went into his usual trance. Bully lifted Mickie and hit Mickie with a delayed Body Slam.
Jason Hotch and John Skyler ran out and set up a table in the ring. Tommy Dreamer ran in and chased away Bully from the ring with a kendo stick. Dreamer took a mic and said he’s going to have to deal with Bully sooner or later after 30 years. Dreamer called Hotch and Skyler little bitches for listening to Bully. Dreamer said he’s Hardcore while Mickie is “Country”. Dreamer challenged Hotch and Skyler to a match with he and Mickie.
Hotch and Skyler backed down saying they didn’t want any of this. They were stopped by Santino Marella making his entrance. Santino called Dreamer “Tommy The Dreamer”, and said that because Dreamer is a wrestler, he can’t book matches. Santino reiterated that he’s the Director of Authority. Santino said this match isn’t going to take place this week because Dreamer is in gym clothes. Dreamer booked the match for next week. Dreamer said that “Bobby Ray” is banned from ringside…
Tom Hannifan hyped an 8 person tag for later in the show between The Design and a bunch of babyfaces…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A bit of a long segment, but Bully Ray is really good at making his promos meaty and meaningful. Good assist to the little girl at ringside who was crying when Bully got in her face. Yet another great promo by Bully Ray who is proving that he’s a viable main event player, even when over 50 years old. His exchange with Mickie was done well too. The only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb, is Tommy Dreamer, who I feel is waste of Bully’s talent. Don’t get me wrong, Dreamer’s a good promo and solid in-ring guy in his own right, but I would rather see Bully have a feud with one of Impact’s younger talent. Heck, I’d be more excited for a Bully and Mickie feud given how Mickie is at the top of her game these days.
Killer Kelly was talking to herself in a red tinted room. She talked about how Taylor Wilde seems obsessed with her, which she can get down with. Wilde showed up and said that “The Spirit” told her that they should be a tag team instead of enemies. Kelly wondered what their goal would be if they teamed. Rosemary, Jessicka, and Taya, the tag team champions, “teleported” in (ugh). Rosemary talked about how the “spirits” are from Rosemary’s dark realm. Everyone shared an awkward laugh as a presumed feud was started…
Johnny Swinger and Zicky Dice made their entrance. Swinger had a sign that noted that he was 0 wins on his road to 50…
4. Kenny King vs. Johnny Swinger (w/Zicky Dice). Swinger did his usual stalling to start the match. Swinger then did a joke Karate Kata in front of King. King faked a spin kick to cause Swinger to flinch to the ground. Dice got on the apron for the distraction, but King clearly saw through it. King hit Swinger with an Eddy Gordo handstand kick. King hit Swinger with the Royal Flush for the quick win.
Kenny King defeated Johnny Swinger via pinfall in 1:48.
Tom Hannifan noted that Swinger’s “road to 50” continues. King took the mic and said that he’s putting the champions on notice. He reiterated that he exposed Mike Bailey for being a homicidal manic. King said that everyone is a target for Kenny King now…
Bully Ray approached Masha Slammovich in the hallway. He introduced himself formally. He said that Mickie is being very disrespectful to Masha, not respecting Masha as a credible challenger. Bully said that Masha will be the next Knockouts Champion after the Good Hands beat down Mickie next week. Bully put his hand on the wall and said he’d never show Masha that disrespect that Mickie does. Masha said something, presumably in Russian. Bully didn’t know what it was, but he thought whatever it was sounded good…[c]
Matt Cardona and Brian Myers gathered everyone backstage around to watch their “diss rap” on Joe Hendry. Cardona was rapping out of tune, while Myers was in the background waving his hands. Cardona said Hendry’s hair and beard look weird, and that he’s going to take Hendry’s mom on a date. Cardona cheered at his own video and turned around to see that everyone except one guy left. Another guy showed up and said he really likes the “Edge’s Bitch” song. Myers had to hold back Cardona. Cardona said that Hendry is ruining their lives…
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt checked in from the commentary table. Hannifan joked that Cardona’s rap was worse than Rebecca Black’s “Friday” Song. The following segments were advertised for next week: Joe Hendry vs. Matt Cardona for the Digital Media Title, The Good Hands vs. Dreamer and Mickie, The Death Dollz vs. Wilde and Kelly, Brian Myers vs. Dirty Dango, and PCO vs. Mahabali Shera. An ad aired for AXS’s New Japan show aired…
Entrances for the next match took place. Dave Penzer announced that Callihan was not officially a part of The Design yet, by making sure to give Callihan a separate introduction. Deaner prevented Callihan from doing his Thumbs Up Thumbs Down thing…
5. “The Design” Deaner, Big Kon, Angels, and Callihan vs. Josh Alexander, Rich Swann, Yuya Uemura, and Frankie Kazarian. Deaner teased starting the match with Rich, but immediately he tagged in Sami Callihan. Callihan hit Swann with a jawbreaker. Angels tagged in and followed up. Swann hit Angels with a springboard lariat and huracanrana. Yuya tagged in and hit Angels with a dropkick for a two count. Alexander and Deaner tagged in.
Both men traded fighting spirit chest slaps. Deaner gave Alexander an eye rake. All eight men entered the ring. The faces cleared the heels from the ring. Alexander hit Kon in the back with a crossbody, which Kon no-sold. Swann hit all the heels with a cannonball.[c]
Angels hit Yuya with a discus elbow. Kaz tagged in and hit Angels with a Russian Legsweep. Kaz hit Callihan with a guillotine legdrop. Kaz hit Angels with a springboard leg drop. Swann hit Angels with a hip toss after tagging it. Angels managed to hit Swann with a Power Slam to tag in Deaner. The Design traded quick tags to cut the ring in half on Swann.
After a few minutes, Swann managed to fend of The Design with strikes. Swann ducked a right hand from Kon to cause Kon to punch the ringpost. Swann hit Callihan with an Enzuigiri. Swann brought in Alexander for the hot tag. Alexander hit everyone with German Suplexes. Kon blocked a German Suplex and ate a diving knee from Alexander. Alexander put Kon in an Ankle Lock. Kon escaped and Yuya tagged in. Yuya hit Kon with a missile dropkick.
Callihan raked Yuya in the eyes. Callihan tried to do his thumbs up thing again, but Deaner prevented him from doing it. this allowed Alexander to nail Deaner with lariats. Everyone took turns hitting each other with signature strikes. Yuya hit Big Kon with an impressive deadlift Gutwrench Suplex. Yuya hit Callihan with a dropkick. Deaner tripped Yuya off the top rope. Callihan quickly did his thumbs up-thumbs down thing and hit Yuya with a Cactus Driver for the win.
The Design and Callihan defeated Yuya Uemura, Josh Alexander, Frankie Kazarian, and Rich Swann via pinfall in 13:20 of on-air time.
The Design and Callihan celebrated their win while heading up the ramp to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: A logical finish to put some heat on The Design. The Design are still a work in progress though. It’s tough putting them in a program with the main event players in Impact because they are going to have to eat a few losses eventually. Yuya was the right choice to take the pin here because he’s presumably on his rookie excursion.
Another good episode of Impact as Impact continues to be one of the more consistant weekly pro wrestling offerings. There are a few things that don’t click with me, like The Design, or Tommy Dreamer in a top program, but I won’t blame Impact for not putting in the writing effort. It takes time sometimes and Impact has won over my trust with their consistent booking of the past year or two (I still think Dreamer is a waste in the Bully program and someone else could have benefited from working Bully). Highlights from this week include the opening Junior Heavyweight tag team match as well as the Bully Ray promo segment.