By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling TV
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Osceola Heritage Park
Aired February 23, 2023 on AXS TV
Highlights from last week’s Impact Wrestling show aired… Security cam footage was shown of Crazzy Steve and Trey Miguel trapped in separate closets. Per the Monster’s Ball Match stipulations, both men had to be trapped in a dark room without food or water for 24 hours…
John’s Thoughts: Hey, Aaron Rodgers voluntarily put himself in a sense deprivation chamber. Not sure if that’s going to give him any super bowl rings though (I’m honestly rooting for the reinvigorated Jared Goff to bring UC Berkeley a Super Bowl ring over old-news Rodgers).
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt were on commentary. Dave Penzer was the ring announcer…
1. Impact Tag Team Champions “The Motor City Machine Guns” Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin vs. Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham in a non-title match. Shelley started the match with a rollup for a two count on Gresham. Gresham came back with a Dragon Screw on Shelley. Gresham and Bailey traded quick tags to cut the ring in half on Shelley while working on Shelley’s left leg. Sabin tagged in, leading to the Guns getting the advantage after a few tandem moves.
Bailey did a backflip and dumped Shelley to ringside. Bailey hit Sabin with rapid fire kicks. Gresham tagged in and traded forearms with Sabin. Gresham no sold Sabin’s forearms. Gresham caught Shelley’s kick and tossed it into Sabin. Shelley broke up Gresham’s pin on Sabin. The Guns hit Gresham with a double team neckbreaker and Magic Killer for a two count. Gresham kept a low base to block a suplex from Sabin. Gresham hit Sabin with a delayed vertical suplex.
Shelley and Bailey tagged in. Bailey fended off both guns wiht strikes. Bailey put Shelley in a Indian Deathlock and hit Sabin with a Final Cut at the same time to keep him from breaking the submission. Shelley got to the bottom rope for the break. The Guns hit Bailey with double boots. Bailey recovered and hit Sabin at ringside with a moonsault. Gresham put Shelley in a Figure Four, but he wasn’t the legal man. Gresham tagged in when Bailey got on the apron.
Gresham and Shelley traded standing waist holds. Bailey and Gresham took out the Guns with dives to ringside. After hitting their opponents with stereo moves, Gresham put Shelley in a Figure Four. Shelley took a standing Ultima Weapon. Shelley kicked out of the pin from Gresham’s Figure Four. Sabin power bombed Bailey on Gresham to break Gresham’s Figure Four. Bailey eluded The Guns’ signature Muta Lock Dropkick. Gresham rolled up Shelley for a two count.
Gresham accidentally gave Bailey a forearm which allowed Sabin to hit Bailey with a Tornado DDT while kicking off of Gresham. Sabin hit Gresham with a Spike Cutter. The Guns hit Gresham with a Dirt Bomb (Double Team Michinoku Driver) to give Sabin the win.
“The Motor City Machine Guns” Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin defeated Jonathan Gresham and Mike Bailey in a non-title match via pinfall in 12:55.
John’s Thoughts: Lots of talent in the ring all at once combined with the Machine Guns always having good matches equals a great opening match. Credit to the striking and submission styles of Bailey and Gresham meshing so well as a tag team. Good to see the double tag team champions go over the two singles wrestlers here to protect the Impact tag titles. Gresham has taken a few loses, which I can see worrying some people, but I personally don’t mind Gresham getting a fresh start in Impact rather than Impact treating him like some worldbeater that nobody knows about.
A Josh Alexander vs. Rich Swann hype package aired where both men hyped up their upcoming match at No Surrender…[c]
Footage from last week’s Before the Impact show aired where Gisele Shaw and Jai Vidal attacked Deonna Purrazzo. Their attack backfired when Gisele accidentally tossed a bowl of chili into Jai. Purrazzo shoved the chili-covered Jai into Gisele…
A Deonna Purrazzo promo aired. Purrazzo talked about how Shaw has ruined tag teams and how she doesn’t like that Shaw is taking credit for getting rid of her best friend, Chelsea Green, from Impact. Purrazzo said at No Surrender, Shaw will find out that revenge isn’t a bowl of chili to the face, but a broken arm, bitch…
John Skyler and Jason Hotch made their entrance. Skyler had a mic and cut a promo to hype up Jason Hotch facing Tommy Dreamer in a beat the clock challenge. Skyler said that Dreamer might not even win the match if Hotch can land a good right hand…
2. Tommy Dreamer vs. Jason Hotch (w/John Skyler) in a Beat the Clock Challenge. Hotch hit Dreamer with a neckbreaker for a two count. Dreamer punched Hotch in the corner an and hit him with a top rope Death Valley Driver for the quick win.
Tommy Dreamer defeated Jason Hotch via pinfall in 1:15.
The show cut to Joe Hendry at a Meet and Greet with Joe Hendry from earlier in the day. Hendry was shown interacting with and inspiring fans…[c]
An ad aired for Impact Plus’s No Surrender show…
Entrances for the next match took place. Tom Hannifan noted that Allysin Kay is a former two time Knockouts Champion. Hannifan also noted that Taya Valkyrie holds the record for the longest Knockouts Title reign…
3. Taya Valkyrie (w/Rosemary, Jessicka) vs. Allysin Kay (w/Marti Belle). Kay pummeled Taya with punches in the corner. Taya came back with chest slaps. Taya put Kay in a Triangle armbar. Kay got to the bottom rope for the break. Taya hit Kay with a spear for a two count. Taya pummeled Kay with right hands. Taya hit Kay with a hip attack and meteora in the corner for a two count.[c]
Kay had the advantage back from the break. Kay teased a stink face, but said she’s not going to do it for free. Taya recovered and hit Kay with a stink face in the corner. Kay hit Taya with a right hand for a two count. Taya hit Kay with a knee and lariat combo. Taya hit Kay with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Security cam footage was shown of Trey Miguel and Crazzy Steve in their sense deprivation rooms.
Kay reversed a pile driver into a Dead Eye for a two count. Taya went for Road to Valhalla, but Marti Belle got on the apron for the distraction. Rosemary tripped Marti. The distraction allowed Allysin Kay to hit Taya with AK-47 for the victory.
Allysin Kay defeated Taya Valkyrie via pinfall in 7:05 of on-air time.
Kay and Belle celebrated and headed to the back…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Really good women’s match between two former Knockouts Champions. I haven’t seen Kay work in a hot minute, and she’s just as good as she’s ever been. Seeing this singles match wishes both women were at the top of the singles women’s division instead of the tag team titles which seem secondary. I’m not a fan of the distraction finish. I feel like anyone who watches more than one wrestling promotion on a weekly basis can get tired of so many distraction finishes, to the point where you just get numb to it on the Thursday show.
The show cut to Santino Marella leaving a contract signing between Josh Alexander and Rich Swann. The signing happened off-screen. Marella joked about not knowing that there had to be contract signings for title matches. After Marella left, Swann apologized for accidentally hitting Alexander with a superkick. Alexander said it was no problem because he knows that Swann didn’t have it in him to nail him with a superkick on purpose.
Swann took offense to the “didn’t have it in you” comment. Swann talked about how both men suffered through career-threatening injuries to become world champ. Swann said that saying “didn’t have it in you” was like a slap to the face because Swann gave everything to become world champion the last time. Swann said that at No Surrender Josh Alexander will walk into a fight for his life for the top title in the industry. Swann said he’s going to bust his ass for the title.
Swann said when he regains his title it’s not because Josh took his eye off the ball, but because Swann “had it in him” to win back his championship. Steve Maclin walked into the room and said he’s going to win the number one contenders four way. Maclin said he doesn’t care who wins the Alexander vs. Swann match and called out Swann for being a choke artist. The “choke artist” line caused Swann to lay hands on Maclin. Maclin and Swann had to be separated by security guards…
John’s Thoughts: I got a little chuckle out of the viewer cutting in “after” a contract signing. Nice small dose of Santino humor and he’s okay as long as they keep his comedy short. Good intensity by Swann and I like Steve Maclin’s continual presence in the main event picture. It makes sense too, because Maclin’s last win at a PPV was against Rich Swann in a street fight.
4. Callihan and Deander (w/Kon, Angels) vs. Frankie Kazarian and Yuya Uemura. Deaner quickly tagged out and ordered Callihan to face Kazarina. Kazarian called Deaner a dumbass. Kazarian ate a lariat from Callihan. Deaner ordered Callihan to tag him in. They cut back again via picture-in-picture to show Trey in his sense deprivation room. Kazarian came back with a lariat and tagged in Yuya. Kaz hit Deaner with a blockbuster to give Yuya a two count.
Yuya hit Deaner with a elbow drop for a two count. Callihan tagged in and gave Yuya thumbs to the eye. Deaner slammed Yuya to the mat by pulling the hair which allowed Callihan to put thumbs in Yuya’s eyes. Deaner tagged in and worked on Yuya while The Design got in cheap shots when they could. Yuya hit Callihan with a Pele Kick. Kon pulled down Kazarian to prevent him from tagging in. Callihan and Deaner continued to cut the ring in half on Yuya with quick tags.
Yuya avoided a top rope headbutt from Deaner and tagged in Kazarian. Kaz hit Deaner with a draping leg drop and hit Callihan with a springboard leg drop for a two count. Callihan came back with an exploder suplex on Kazarian. Kaz tagged in Yuya who gave both opponents right hands. Yuya hit Deaner with a Belly to Belly and top rope Crossbody. Callihan broke up the pin. Callihan tagged himself in. Yuya escaped a Cactus Driver and tagged in Kaz. Kazarian hit Deaner with One Final Beat.
Yuya hit Deaner with a Saito Suplex. Callihan reversed Kaz’s chickenwing into a power bomb. Callihan visually had a Cactus Driver opportunity, but Deaner slowly asked Callihan to tag him in. Deaner dropped from the apron when Callihan went for the tag. Callihan and Kaz traded rollups. Kazarian put Callihan in the Crossface Chickenwing. Callihan tapped out.
Frankie Kazarian and Yuya Uemura defeated Callihan and Deaner via submission in 9:46.
At ringside, Deaner was coaching Callihan about “step 5″…
John’s Thoughts: A good match despite me not caring about this pointless storyline between Callihan and The Design. I’ve seen Callihan in worse stories (i.e. his weird hacker phase and lizard zombie phase), so I don’t think this would hurt Sami. I couldn’t help but think that I’d rather see Kazarian, Deaner, and Sami all in singles programs because I enjoy all their work as singles wrestlers. I can’t wait until they get past whatever they’re trying to do between Deaner and Callihan because this program feels like a waste of time for everyone involved.
A hype package aired for the upcoming Mickie James vs. Masha Slammovich match…[c]
Callihan confronted Deaner backstage to tell him what “Step 5” was. Deaner said that Step 5 was to show that The Design is a covenant, not a contract. Deaner said Step 5 is about loyalty. Deaner asked Callihan if he will be loyal to The Design. Callihan said “yes”. Deaner said he still suspects that this might be a ploy by Sami. Deaner said Sami still has two more steps left. Deaner said Sami doesn’t choose the Design, the Design chooses him…
Bully Ray made his entrance with a chain in hand and looking like he was in a trance. For some reason, the host of Restaurant Impossible, Chef Robert Irvine got in Bully’s face from behind the barricade and pointed at him (Robert Irvine is also the husband of Gail Kim). Bully teased giving a kid a high five at ringside, but pulled back as expected. His opponent was Bhupinder Gujjar, who now wears a leather jacket on his way to the ring…
5. Bully Ray vs. Bhupinder Gujjar in a Beat the Clock challenge. Hotch distracted the referee and Gujjar. This allowed Bully to wrap the chain around his fist and punch Gujjar with it for the win.
Bully Ray defeated Bhupinder Gujjar via pinfall in 0:30 to win the Beat the Clock Challenge.
John’s Thoughts: Ah, I feel a bit bad for Bhupinder. He was starting to click on Impact and has a good look. That said, there’s no shame in losing to Bully Ray. Bully’s great. I just don’t care one bit for this weird Busted Open Radio cross-promotion thing. I’d rather see Tommy Dreamer just lose to up-and-coming heels, while Bully Ray faces fresh faces in high-profile situations.
They cut back to the night vision footage of Trey Miguel and Crazzy Steve in their separate sense deprivation rooms…
Bhupinder Gujjar apologized to Tommy Dreamer in the hallway for losing the match. Dreamer gave Bhupinder an inspirational speech about how he’s gone through many losses in his career and used that to come back stronger. Dreamer said he and the fans see greatness in Bhupinder and all Bhupinder needs to do is see that greatness too…
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt checked in from the commentary table. Hannifan noted that via the Beat the Clock Challenge, Bully Ray gets to speak first on the Busted Open Radio show at No Surrender. They sent the show to the Kevin Kelly New Japan on AXS plug…
Hannifan and Rehwoldt ran though the Impact No Surrender card…
Backstage, a security guard tried to let Crazzy Steve out of his sense deprivation room, but he was slammed to the ground by Black Taurus. Taurus let Steve out of his room. Steve got out of the room looking refreshed. The show cut to the ring, which was surrounded by weapons and barbed wire. A security guard let Trey out of his room, where Trey sold the light hurting his eyes…
John’s Thoughts: I think this is a Scott D’Amore thing. Many TNA/Impact bookers over the years, including Jeff Jarrett, have treated Monster’s Ball as “Abyss’s Hardcore Match”. Ever since D’Amore took full control of the book, he’s really emphasized the whole “sense deprivation” aspect of the match.
6. Trey Miguel vs. Crazzy Steve in a Monster’s Ball Match for the Impact X Division Championship. Steve dumped Trey to ringside with a spear and lariat. Steve beat up Trey at ringside. The show cut to commercial.[c]
Trey turned the tables by using a drop toehold on Steve into some chairs. Steve avoided a chair shot and backdropped Trey into the chairs. Rehwoldt noted that despite Steve wearing facepaint, he thinks the additional red on his face is blood.
Trey caught Steve with a dropkick Trey tossed chains and trash cans in the ring. Trey tried to hit Steve with a trash can, but Steve had a staple gun, where he stapled Trey’s dick with the gun. Steve put Trey in a trash can and hit Trey with a cannonball. [c]
Trey had the advantage back from the break. Steve blocked a fork to the face. Trey hit Steve with a leg drop. Per usual in these matches, Trey poured thumb tacks in the ring. Trey hit Steve with a Scorpion Kick. Steve reversed a Lightning Spiral and hit Trey with a Black Hole Slam onto thumb tacks. Hannifan noted that this was an ode to Steve’s old tag partner Abyss. Steve pinned Trey, but broke up his own pin.
Steve hit Trey twice with a trash can to the back. Steve gave Trey a whip to the corner. Rehwoldt noted that those moves might be pushing the pins in. Trey recovered and took down Steve with a kick combination for a two count. Trey brought a table into the ring and and set it up in the corner. Steve hit Trey with a Side Effect, which sent both men into the tacks.
Both men crumpled to ringside with tacks in their back. Trey brought a steel spike to the ring. Steve brought out Abyss’s old “Janice” nail bat (named after Dixie Carter’s mother). As usual, Steve missed every shot with Janice. Trey jabbed Steve with the blunt part of the spike, to the gut. Steve lifted Trey and hit Trey with a Death Valley Driver into the table for a two count.
Steve set up a chair in the corner. Steve tossed Trey into the corner and bit him. Trey tangled Steve in the top rope. Trey hit Steve with Cheeky Nandos and a 619. Trey went for a dive, but missed and took some tacks to the hands. Steve hit Trey with a Panama Sunrise into the thumbtacks. Steve did snow angels with the thumb tacks. Trey kicked out at two. Steve grabbed Janice and raked it over Trey’s face (why didn’t Abyss ever use it that way?).
Steve pointed out some plywood at ringside with barbed wire on it. Trey gave Steve a low blow and hit Steve with Cross Rhodes into the barbed wire plywood. Trey sold pain from the barbed wire. Trey rolled Steve in the ring and picked up the pinfall win.
Trey Miguel defeated Crazzy Steve via pinfall in 15:30 of on-air time in a Monster’s Ball Match to retain the Impact X Division Championship.
Trey Miguel struggled to get to his feet to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: Given how Impact doesn’t overdo hardcore matches like this these days, this was a wonderful match. Hey, at one point I got numb to hardcore garbage matches (most notably a few years ago where you had Sami Callihan, Mance Warner, La Parka, and Jimmy Havoc in MLW, while Pentagon Jr and Sami were doing it on Impact). I actually like how they laid this match out. The thumbtacks were actually used creatively. Usually Mick Foley or Abyss would drop the tacks around the end of the match, but here they were allowed to be used throughout because they were unleashed in the middle of the match. I didn’t even mind Abyss’s nail bat named after Dixie Carter’s mom that never hits anybody because it would kill them.
Abyss has been off television for a while, so it was fun to see the many odes to Abyss in this Monster’s Ball match. Especially since it’s Abyss’s signature match. We don’t see Trey wrestle hardcore matches either, so this was a nice change of pace for him too. Top to bottom, I feel like this was the best episode of Impact in a while. You had solid no-nonsense matches. No comedy this week (some comedy is okay, but serious stories are more compelling). I don’t care much about the Busted Open Radio feud and Design stuff, but at least there’s effort put into those stories. This was a solid show. Not the best by any means, but an improvement over some of the recent shows we’ve gotten.
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