By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling TV
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Osceola Heritage Park
Aired February 16, 2023 on AXS TV
An memorial graphic was shown for the late Jerry Jarrett. Tom Hannifan spoke of how Jarrett was the co-founder of Impact Wrestling. Hannifan gave his condolences to the Jarrett family on behalf of everyone at Impact…
Highlights from last week’s Impact Wrestling show aired… Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt were on commentary. Dave Penzer was the ring announcer…
1. Chris Bey (w/Ace Austin) vs. “The Time Splitter” Kushida (w/Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin). Kushida dominated the opening chain wrestling sequence with technical holds. Bey called for a test of strength with a chant. Kushida saw the fake out coming and blocked the kick. Bey tripped up Kushida and gave him a double stomp for a two count. Kushida hit Bey with a handstand into a back elbow. Both men traded blows at ringside.
Kushida caught Bey with a Buzzsaw kick and diving knee from the apron. Rehwoldt noted that Kushida’s offense focuses on a single arm to set up for his submissions. Kushida gave Bey’s left arm a bulldog for a two count. The commentary team hyped up Time Machine vs. Bullet Club with Kenta joining the Bullet Club team at No Surrender. Kushida gave Bey’s arm a hesitation dropkick.
Bey avoided a knee to the arm. Bey and Kushida took each other out with lariats at ringside. Both men beat the ten count at nine. Both men traded strikes in the center of the ring. Bey crumpled after Kushida hit him with a kick to the injured arm. Bey recovered and hit Kushida with a shoulder block. Bey hit Kushida with an Argentine TKO for a two count. Bey hit Kushida with a flip kick.
Kushida came back with handstand boots to dump Bey to ringside. Kushida went to the top rope and hit Bey with a top rope cannonball to ringside. Kushida gave Bey’s shoulder a roundhouse. Kushida hit Bey with a basement dropkick after a cartwheel. After Bey escaped a suplex, Kushida hit Bey’s injured arm with a dropkick. Bey escaped a Kimura and hit Kushida with a springboard shortarm leg drop for a two count.
Bey went for a springboard cutter, but Kushida seamlessly caught him into a Juji Gatame. Bey rolled up Kushida into a wheelbarrow pin for a great nearfall. Kushida and Bey traded clean strikes. Kushida got Bey’s shoulders to the mat with a snug small package for the win.
Kushida defeated Chris Bey via pinfall in 11:44.
John’s Thoughts: That was a sweet match. This was the best singles match I’ve seen both men wrestle in a while as Bey has mostly been featured in tag matches while I’m still trying to wipe out the stank of Kushida being an enhancement wrestler to WWE developmental rookies on NXT Level Up. Certainly, this was a standout showing from Bey because we know if given the right push Kushida can be very credible as the wrestler who focuses his match on a single body part, and that body part story really elevated Bey here in how he fought through it. As I’ve said before, once Bey and Ace break up again, Impact has two potential top singles stars on their hands, especially with Ace proving that before he was put in this New Japan tag team.
Santino Marella moderated a sit-down meeting between Tommy Dreamer and Bully Ray. Santino told Tommy that Bully scares him. Bully started the meeting by telling Dreamer that if he wants to be a good friend to Mickie James, then he should tell her to keep her mouth shut. Santino noted that this feud has been boiling for 30 years and is violent due to both men having an ECW background. Santino said this can’t happen anymore. Santino proposed a Live Busted Open Radio show involving Dave LaGreca, Bully Ray, and Tommy Dreamer.
Tommy told “Bubba” that he doesn’t want to feud anymore, especially after 30 years of knowing each other. Tommy said he’s willing to walk away from this. Bully said he agrees with Tommy, and Tommy should just leave Impact. Bully told Tommy to cry a river somewhere else. Bully asked Tommy what he does good for Impact anyway. Bully asked Tommy not to let the door hit his ass on the way out. Tommy asked Bully why he has to be a dick. Bully said being a dick has worked for 30 years. Tommy asked Bully to leave.
Santino told both men to shut up because they can argue on Busted Open Live. Both men argued over who would talk first. Bully berated Santino about his authority and said he should talk first. Santino proposed a Beat the Clock challenge where the winner gets to talk first (what?). Bully accepted the stipulation and abruptly walked off. Tommy’s curse word was bleeped out…[c]
John’s Thoughts: What in the meaningless face-offs is that? This feud was all to set up an awkward Busted Open Radio cross promotion spot? Well, at least that brings clarity to this meaningless feud, but it’s still very TNA in term of how randomly useless it is. On top of that, qualifying matches for “who will talk first”? Wouldn’t you want the last word? Anyways, I’m guessing this might be some compensation for having Bully back in Impact, but I would think Bully would find more pleasure getting to work with more interesting wrestlers than Dreamer. What’s also awkward is if you ever listen to Busted Open Radio recently, Bully, Mickie, and Tommy are all chummy talking to each other, cracking jokes while they review WWE shows.
An ad aired for the New Japan Battle for the Valley show…
2. Steve Maclin vs. Rhino for a spot in the Four Way Number One Contenders Match at No Surrender. Rhino and Maclin started the match trading methodical strikes. Rhino got Maclin to the mat with a shoulder block. Rhino hit Maclin in the corner with chops and a headbutt. Rhino reversed a suplex by lowering his weight. Rhino hit Maclin with a hip toss.
Maclin rolled to ringside to avoid a gore. After chopping Maclin a few times, Rhino hurt himself by chopping the post. Maclin tossed Rhino into the ringpost heading into break.[c]
Maclin was dominating the match back from the break. After a minute or two, Rhino made a comeback with clotheslines, a tackle, and a Belly to Belly for a two count. Rhino gave Maclin a spinebuster after Maclin tried to rally with forearms. Maclin avoided a Gore and hit Rhino with a Gore for a two count. Maclin hit Rhino with a Wake Up Call (Zig Zag) which Hannifan noted is Heath’s move. Maclin picked up the win.
Steve Maclin defeated Rhino via pinfall in 7:37 of on-air time to earn a spot in the Four Way Number One Contenders Match at No Surrender.
John’s Thoughts: The match was wrestled well, but I think they went a bit too far here to make Rhino look credible when they should be focusing their creative efforts on making Maclin look like a world title contender. For some reason, I feel like Steve Maclin would have been Rhino under four minutes a few months ago. I did like the finish, having Maclin nail Rhino with Heath’s finisher. That said, they unnecessarily went out of their way to protect Rhino here.
Gia Miller had a sit-down interview with number one contender Masha Slamovich. Gia asked Masha if she agrees with Bully that Mickie isn’t taking Masha seriously as a challenger to the Knockouts Title? Masha said “da” which the subtitles told us means yes. Gia wondered if that’s the reason Masha attacked Mickie last week? Masha said da. Gia asked Masha if her message was received by Mickie. Masha said Nyet, which means no.
Masha, in Russian with subtitles, said that Mickie doesn’t understand yet, but everything will become clear today. Masha asked Mickie to sit in the front row to watch her break Alisha [Edwards]…
Rich Swann was shown warming up backstage…[c]
John’s Thoughts: See, subtitles work. To WWE’s credit, they do use subtitles on occasion, but it really helps if the wrestlers can sell their promos in their native languages. We can tell good or bad promos through body language. Pentagon Jr. in particular is someone who people don’t know is an amazing promo, and he doesn’t get to cut Spanish promos (but AEW isn’t exactly a promo territory anyway). Masha speaks perfect English (because I believe she spent most her life here), but the Russian delivery actually enhances her persona.
Zicky Dice rolled out Johnny Swinger to the ring on Swinger’s WrestleMania 3 cart. Swinger had a sign that notes that he’s 0 wins on his quest to 50 wins in a row. Zicky Dice claimed he found the perfect opponent for Johnny to start his winning streak. He said he found someone with a worse historic record than Johnny, legendary jobber Barry Horowitz. Barry Horowitz made his entrance to the instrumental version of Hava Nagila…
3. Johnny Swinger (w/Zicky Dice) vs. Barry Horowitz. Johnny targeted Barry’s left knee which Hannifan noted was a target due to Barry’s knee issues. Zicky gave Barry cheap shots to the knee. Barry avoided a tackle in the corner and had a rally with right hand strikes. A “you still got it” chant ensued.
After a distraction from Dice, Johnny gave Barry a poke to the eye. Before Johnny could give Barry a neckbreaker, he froze due to The KISS Demon making his entrance. I’m assuming The KISS Demon is still Dale Torborg. Barry reversed Johnny into an abdominal stretch. Barry rolled up Johnny for the win.
Barry Horowitz defeated Johnny Swinger via pinfall in 2:08.
Swinger tried to argue that Barry got a hand full of tights. Barry gave himself a pat on the back to end the segment…
John’s Thoughts: Again, a random segment, but Swinger is so good at these that his dose of random throwback humor is always welcome. I’m happy I didn’t read the spoilers to this show because this was a nice surprise to long time wrestling fans. Impact is doing a good job recently having wrestlers that can’t wrestle anymore get their time to shine in the ring. This was what it had to be and it was harmless, but fun, filler. Do people still care about the KISS Demon? Maybe due to how absurd it was when WCW went on their kick of ripping off pop culture gimmicks.
Gia Miller interviewed Moose about Joe Hendry getting the better of Matt Cardona last week in Hendry’s title defense. Moose noted that Hendry’s signature is that he humiliates people like Matt Cardona and Brian Myers. Moose asked Gia what they call Moose. Gia said “a wrestling god”. Moose said exactly, and he doesn’t get humiliated…[c]
Moose headed to the parking lot with a pipe and broke the window of a random black car. Santino showed up and said it’s his car not Joe Hendry. Hendry showed up to laugh at Moose. Santino booked Joe Hendry vs. Moose at No Surrender in a “Dot Combat Match”…
John’s Thoughts: I think I’m over Santino’s random gimmick booking. Santino has shown in recent weeks that he can flip the switch, but him going back to comedy is too jarring. I wouldn’t mind if they brought back Scott D’Amore and have Santino be his deputy. There Santino can actually enhance the Scott act by selling for big heels, which is Scott’s only weakness (otherwise, Scott is an amazing on-air authority figure, and even more wonderful a booker with his 2022 work).
Entrances for the next match took place…
4. Eddie Edwards vs. Heath for a spot in the Four Way Number One Contenders Match at No Surrender. Heath took down Eddie with running clotheslines. Heath dumped Eddie to ringside and hit Eddie with a cannonball. Eddie knocked Heath off the apron with a hip attack and hit Heath with a suicide dive. Eddie worked on Heath with methodical offense in the ring. After a few minutes, Heath came back with a leg lariat.
Heath hit Eddie with a delayed power slam for a nearfall. Eddie blocked a wake up call, but Heath followed up with a spinebuster for a two count. Eddie caught Heath on the top rope with a Gamengiri. Eddie hit Heath with a Superplex and Tiger Driver for a nearfall. Heath rolled up Eddie for a two count.
Eddie came right back with a stiff standing lariat. Eddie went for a Die Hard Driver, but he let go of the move when random lightning noises distracted him. This allowed Heath to hit a distracted Eddie with the Wake Up Call (Zig Zag) for the win.
Heath defeated Eddie Edwards via pinfall in 7:32 to earn a spot in the Four Way Number One Contenders Match at No Surrender.
PCO appeared behind Eddie, doing his random PCO shaking. PCO took down Eddie with a clothesline. PCO hit Eddie with a Scorpion Death Drop. Eddie rolled to ringside to avoid a PCO Sault. PCO’s theme played to end the segment…
John’s Thoughts: A bit of a surprising finish because Impact tends to go out of their way to give Eddie wins. I totally expected PCO to cost Eddie a match, but I thought it would have been at No Surrender to set up a PPV encounter.
Deaner, Kon, and Angels, the Design were advising Sami Callihan backstage. Deaner set up a match between Him and Sami vs. Yuya Umeura and Frankie Kazarian which will set up Step 5 of the seven deadly steps. Sami wondered what Step 5 was. Angels said Sami will find out next week if he shows up…
John’s Thoughts: Yeah, this is Joe Gacy levels of lazy writing. If they were going to play off the Seven Deadly Sins, wouldn’t they have built these steps around Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride? The actual sins? It writes itself, but it seems like they’re going more of the generic “cult” route. Well, at least this Sami is better than that time he was a Hacker wizard, or a lizard zombie.
Father James Mitchell was cutting a promo backstage standing next to The Hex team of Allysin Kay and Marti Belle. Mitchell said Rosemary’s father, Satan, who’s also Mitchell’s boss, was angry due to Rosemary not giving Satan any gifts or phone calls after winning the tag team titles (Why would Satan care about wrestling tag team titles? Let alone, does Satan own a smartphone?). Mitchell said since Rosemary’s father is angry, he sent The Hex to become the next Knockouts Tag Team Champions.
Former Knockouts Champion Allysin Kay (f.k.a. Sienna) said it’s been a while since she’s been in Impact. She said they have come to Hextinguish the competition (Oh no!). Marti said The Hex have won championships all over the world and The Death Dollz own something that Belongs to The Hex. Kay said at No Surrender, Hex marks the spot. Mitchell said the boss, Satan, is over the moon. Mitchell said he hasn’t had any sleep and has some “Havoc” to deal with. Mitchell left. Kay and Belle told each other that they didn’t sell their souls to the devil…
John’s Thoughts: That was an interesting promo. Not great by any means. Mitchell lays it on thick with the Satan talk. My favorite in a Wrestle Crap way, was Allysin Kay’s bad “Hex” puns. Substance wise, it looks like they’re teasing something with Jessicka-Havok’s dual personality.
Mickie James made her entrance to join the commentary team during the next match. Hannifan noted that PCO has been making things tough in Eddie and Alisha’s relationship…
5. Masha Slamovich vs. Alisha Edwards. Masha no-sold Alisha’s right hands. Masha came back with a few short-arm lariats. Masha hit Alisha with a vertical suplex. Alisha hit a boot, but Masha blocked a Kick and hit Alisha with a suplex. Masha hit Alisha with an Axe Kick and Snow Plow for the win.
Masha Slamovich defeated Alisha Edwards via pinfall in 1:35.
Masha put Alisha in a Rear Naked Choke after the match. Mickie pulled Masha away. Masha put Mickie in a Rear Naked Choke. Referees ran out to separate Masha from Mickie. Masha was sent to the back while Mickie was selling the choke…
John’s Thoughts: There’s the Masha that Impact did such a good job building during her winning streak. It was weird for a bit that she was having more competitive matches out of nowhere and even losing clean to Taylor Wilde. It would have been totally weird if Impact’s designated enhancement babyface survived over 2 minutes without Masha letting it happen.
A Decay promo aired with Crazzy Steve and Black Taurus. Steve talked about Trey Miguel’s TM symbol. He said that symbol doesn’t mean Trey’s name anymore, but rather it represents the curse of attacking Steve from behind. Steve said he’ll leave Trey alone if he loses their X Division title match, but the match needs to be a Monster’s Ball match…
Kenny King was shown shadowboxing backstage…[c]
Footage from Before The Impact was shown. It was Jonathan Gresham challenging Mike Bailey to a match at No Surrender. A jump cut showed that Mike Bailey accepted the match…
Santino and Dirty Dango were backstage. Santino booked Bailey and Gresham into a match while Dango was being annoying. Dango booked Bailey and Gresham in a match next week against the Motor City Machine Guns, which Santino agreed to book. Barry Horowitz showed up and asked for the same 50 match win streak stipulation that Johnny Swinger has. Santino said sure. Santino booked Horowitz vs. Rhino for next week. Barry backed down, saying he’s fine being 1 and 0…
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt checked in from the commentary table. Rehwoldt said he’s happy that Barry Horowitz is leaving Impact on top with a 1-0 record. They ran through the advertised No Surrender Card. They also announced the following segments for next week: A Bully Ray and a Tommy Dreamer beat the clock challenge, Jonathan Gresham and Mike Bailey vs. The Motor City Machine Guns, Allysin Kay vs. Taya Valkyrie, Deaner and Callihan vs. Yuya and Kazarian, and Trey Miguel vs. Crazzy Steve in a Monsters Ball Match for the X Division Championship. Hannifan sent the show to Kevin Kelly’s New Japan AXS plug…
Entrances for the next match took place. Yes, Swann is back to the goggles and dancing…[c]
6. Rich Swann vs. Kenny King. King worked on Swann with karate strikes. King ended Swann’s punch rally with a lariat. Swann knocked King off the apron and hit King with a cannonball. Swann hit King with a High Fly Flow for a two count. Hannifan noted that Swann’s title quest was delayed by Kenny Omega adding the stipulation that Swann wouldn’t get a title rematch against him. Swann worked on King with methodical strikes.
King blocked a tackle and gave Swann Snake Eyes on the buckle. King hit Swann with a lariat for a two count. King dominated for a minute. Swann avoided a leg drop and hit King with a few dropkicks. Swann escaped a suplex with knees and a DDT.[c]
Swann caught King with a crossbody and running mule kick for a two count. King hit Swann with a victory roll into a spinebuster for a two count. King taunted the crowd for a bit. Swann caught King with a pump kick. Both men traded strikes. King hit Swann with a power slam for a two count. King dragged Swann to the top rope. Swann got a sunset flip for a two count. Swann hit King with a Poison Rana for another nearfall.
Swann worked on King with a few back kicks to the gut. Swann reversed a Buzzsaw Kick into a Half Crab. King modified the move into a Tequila Sunrise. Swann got to the bottom rope for the break. Both men dodged spin kicks. Swann hit King with a Savate Kick. King followed up with an Eddy Gordo Handstand Kick, leaving both men knocked out. Swann caught King with a Lethal Injection for a nearfall.
Swann crashed and burned off a Phoenix Splash attempt. King hit Swann with a Half and Half Suplex and Tiger Driver. Swann reversed a Royal Flush into a Small Package for the win.
Rich Swann defeated Kenny King via pinfall in about 13:00 of on-air time.
Kenny King put the boots to Rich Swann after the match. Josh Alexander ran in took a steel chair away from Kenny King. Swann tried to superkick King, but King got out of the way to cause Swann to accidentally nail Alexander with the superkick. The show closed with Alexander and Swann in shock while King taunted from the ramp…
John’s Thoughts: With Rich Swann being presented as the next World Title Contender combined with Kenny King’s status at heel gatekeeper, the outcome of this match was not in question. That said they gave both men a lot of time and I thought the time was well spent in re-establishing Rich Swann as that marathon man who can have great main event singles matches. The post match angle was productive in that it utilized King as a productive cog to put Swann and Alexander at odds.
I thought this week’s Impact was a bit better in terms of content. Less comedy and more wrestling storytelling. There are still a few things that seem off, like Santino’s random match booking, a feud to set up a Busted Open Radio crossover, and random creepy stuff that isn’t fully clicking. Here’s hoping Scott D’Amore gets back on TV soon, if only to signify redirection towards a more serious product. It says something when Rich Swann and Josh Alexander are fighting for TV time, and Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham gets set up on their YouTube show that no one watches (those straightforward builds would enhance the main show).
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