By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling TV
Taped in Las Vegas, Nevada at Sam’s Town Casino
Aired March 9, 2023 on AXS TV
Highlights from last week’s Impact Wrestling show aired… Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt were on commentary, and Dave Penzer was the ring announcer…
Bully Ray made his entrance for a promo. A replay from No Surrender’s Busted Open segment aired where Bully Ray injured Tommy Dreamer’s eyes by throwing hot coffee at it. Bully started his promo by soaking in the heat and doing his usual entranced stare at the crowd. Bully said the words that got to him from Tommy were “someone like [me]”. Bully soaked in “Tommy” chants. Bully called out Dave Penzer and asked him if he knows what Tommy meant? Bully then called out other audience members with the same question.
Bully contemplated if Tommy meant Bully being a two time hall of famer, part of one of the best tag teams in history, or a two time Impact world champion? Bully said he doesn’t know what Tommy meant, and he just dumped hot coffee on Tommy’s face. Bully talked about Tommy challenging Bully to a “Busted Open Match” (Oh gawd) at Sacrifice via social media. Bully said he doesn’t even know what a Busted Open Match is, and it doesn’t matter because Tommy won’t make it to Sacrifice.
Bully said that Tommy’s fat little retina is burned. Bully said Tommy is trying to look tough by laying out a fake challenge. Bully then called out a random blonde woman in the crowd and said “Hey blondie, stop laughing, or I’ll take yo sista home with me”. Bully reiterated that there’s no way Tommy would be cleared and it just trying to come off like a hero.
Suddenly, Impact’s Director of Authority, Santino Marella made his entrance. Santino addressed Bully as “Bobby Ray”. Bully admonished Santino for calling him “Bobby”. Santino no-sold it, leading to a “Bobby Ray” chant ensuing. Santino pointed out that Bully burned Tommy’s balls, er, eyeballs. Santino reiterated Dr. Ross Foreman’s diagnosis from last week that it was a minor retina injury. Meaning, Tommy will be ready for Sacrifice. Santino booked the Busted Open Match for Sacrifice.
Bhupinder Gujjar made his entrance to join the promo segment. Bhupinder said he was going to cut a promo in his native language. Bhupinder cut a promo in Hindi (at least that’s what Santino said later). Bully gave Bhupinder a confused look while the crowd gave him the “What?” treatment. Santino said his Hindi is rusty, but he thinks Bhupinder is saying Bully is a “son na mah gun”. Santino said Bhupinder wants a match now so he’s booking Bully vs. Bhupinder for right now…
1. Bully Ray vs. Bhupinder Gujjar. Bully stalled early on, taking off his sweater. Bully used his body to shield that he was wrapping his metal chain around his fist. Bhupinder ducked the punch and the referee tossed the chain away. Bhupinder had a bit of a rally, but was taken down by a lariat from Bully. Bully trash talked Bhupinder, with Bhupinder getting in Bully’s face begging for chops via fighting spirit. Bhupinder had a rally with dropkicks.
Bhupinder went high risk, but was crotched by Bully. Bhupinder gave Bully a dropkick when Bully went for the chain again. Bhupinder was about to hit Bully with a chain wrapped fist, but Bully recovered and quickly hit Bhupinder with a punch to the balls. The ref called for the DQ.
Bhupinder Gujjar defeated Bully Ray via DQ in 3:32.
Bully whipped Bhupinder with the metal chain. Tommy Dreamer ran out for the save. Tommy was about to give Bully a Death Valley Driver, but Masha Slamovich ran out to give Tommy a low blow. Bully was about to Power Bomb Tommy, but Mickie ran out and hit Bully in the back with a kendo stick. Bully no-sold the shot and slowly turned around to Mickie.
Bully tried to give Mickie a Big Boot, but Mickie ducked and went right at Masha with some ground and pound. Bully dragged Mickie off Masha by choking her with the chain. Dreamer picked up a chair to send Bully and Masha into retreat. The babyfaces stood their ground in the ring while Mickie’s theme played to end the segment…
John’s Thoughts: The best part about the opening was Bully’s promo in a microcosm. He’s so good at producing heat and interacting with the crowd. The rest of the segments after Bully’s initial promo are still a bit odd. I don’t think anyone wants to see a Tommy Dreamer vs. Bully Ray feud in 2023. I don’t think people really want to see a feud involving 3 Busted Open Radio hosts feuding (what’s odd is if you listen to Busted Open, Bully, Mickie, and Tommy are all chummy there). Ultimately, this feud is holding Bully back because there are so many other wrestlers on the roster that could benefit for working a one-on-one program with one of the top heels of all time.
The show cut to a cinematic. PCO was presumably in the Nevada desert with a shovel. He called for Eddie. He said Eddie tried to bury PCO, the Monster, in this desert. PCO kept yelling “He’s alive Eddie!” and “Come fight me, Eddie!”…[c]
Rich Swann was backstage unpacking his luggage. Josh Alexander approached Swann and said since he knows how good Swann can be because they shared a ring together, Josh wanted Rich to be a part of his three person team at Sacrifice to help him face Time Machine (Kushida and the Motor City Machine Guns). Swann gave Alexander a dap and agreed to join his team. Steve Maclin showed up and asked to be a part of Josh’s team.
Rich Swann said that don’t even make no sense, because Maclin should just be content having his match against Josh at the Rebellion PPV. Maclin said that’s exactly the point, and he wants Josh healthy at the Rebellion PPV. Josh said he already found a 2nd partner. Frankie Kazarian walked into the room to show that he’s the third person on Josh’s team. Maclin walked off…
[Sami] Callihan and The Design made their entrance. Tom Hannifan noted that Callihan is in step 6 of his 7 step initiation process to join The Design. Deaner continued to prevent Callihan from doing his Thumbs Up-Thumbs Down thing. Rhino and Heath [Slater] were out next…
2. Callihan (w/Deaner, Kon, Angels) vs. Rhino (w/Heath). Rhino soaked in Gore chants to start. Callihan and Rhino had a shoulder tackle battle, which Rhino dominated. Sami came back with thumbs to the eyes. Both men had a walk and brawl, at ringside. Callihan got the upper hand with a thumb to the eyes. Rhino got some chops on Sami, but he hurt his hand by chopping the ring post. Rhino recovered and gave Sami a backbreaker on the apron.
Sami came back with a Russian leg sweep. Heath got in the faces of the Design members heading into commercial. [c]
Rhino hit Sami with a TKO for a two count. Callihan dragged Rhino to the mat by the hair for a two count. Callihan rallied a bit with chops, but lost momentum when he took a shoulder tackle from Rhino. Callihan blocked a Gore with a big boot for a two count. Callihan did his Thumb thing and went for a Cactus Driver, but Rhino blocked it.
Callihan got Rhino to a knee with a bite to the face. Angels distracted Callihan by tripping him up. Kon hit Callihan in the shoulder with a chair. This caused Callihan to walk right into Rhino’s Gore for a loss.
Rhino defeated Callihan via pinfall in 6:17 of on-air time.
Rhino and Heath left. Callihan was on the ground still as Deaner set up a chair in the ring. Deaner sat in it as Kon and Angels flanked him…
John’s Thoughts: Eh. The Design still come off as underwhelming with almost zero ancillary Character Development since the change in management from Eric Young to Deaner. It’s a shame too, because I truly think Deaner can make this work, but they’re giving him scraps to work with. Sami’s still looks dumb here because he’s either wanting to join a lame ass cult, or pull out an unnecessarily convoluted plot to undermine a lame ass cult (Wasn’t Eric Young’s version more effective?).
The show abruptly cut to Santino Marella and Dirty Dango chatting in the Gorilla Position area. Dango was talking about some dude named Gregory needing to clean a basement. Trey Miguel showed up and said he hopes Gregory slips on a puddle while cleaning and breaks every bone in his body. Trey said they should be talking less about Gregory and more about Trey as Champion.
Santino said since he’s a nice guy, he had a hand picked opponent for Trey at Sacrifice. Santino also booked Trey Miguel vs. Rich Swann vs. Kazarian vs. Rocky Romero vs. Kevin Knight vs. Clark Connors for the X Division Title at the Impact x New Japan Multiverse show. Johnny Swinger and Zicky Dice rolled into the scene. Swinger had a tape measure that Trey slapped away.
Swinger said he’s just there to find a tomato can to beat. Trey left. Swinger then called Dango Patrick Swayze and wondered if Dango would do the job to him. Dango said his only job is being the Assistant [Dictator] of Authority. Dango asked Swinger to not make him unleash the full extent of the law.
Dice rolled Swinger away on Swinger’s WrestleMania 3 cart. Santino reiterated that Dango is not the Assistant Director of Authority. Dango said he agrees that it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle…[c]
“During the Break” it was shown that all The Design and Callihan did was have Deaner tell Sami that he passed step 6 (whatever that means?)…
Jordynne Grace got a televised entrance. Her opponent was already in the ring. Hannifan noted that Grace is more ripped than ever because she’s preparing for an international bodybuilding competition…
4. Jordynne Grace vs. Alex Gracia. Grace no sold forearms and gave Gracia a shoulder tackle. Gracia gave Grace a dropkick for a one count. Grace gave Gracia an Irish Whip into the corner. Grace caught Gracia and gave her a delayed German Suplex for a two count. Gracia blocked a Grace Driver attempt.
Grace gave Gracia a right hand in the corner. Grace gave Gracia a chop in the corner. Grace gave Gracia a spinout slam and a Grace Driver for the win.
Jordynne Grace defeated Alex Gracia via pinfall in 2:27.
Joe Hendry was telling stories to random people backstage. Moose showed up and Joe Hendry introduced Moose as “Dancing Moose”. While the random people chanted “Dancing Moose”, Brian Myers showed up and punched Hendry from behind. Moose and Myers put the boots to Hendry. Moose and Myers tossed Hendry into a locker several times. Myers said the Digital Media Title belongs to him. Moose called Hendry a bitch. Moose and Myers walked away…
Chris Bey, Ace Austin, and Kenta were walking around backstage showing off their title belts. Bey and Ace are the Impact Tag Team Champions. I had to look this up, Kenta is the New Japan Strong Openweight Champion.
Shane Haste confronted them and said that The Mighty Don’t Kneel might want to challenge for the tag titles someday. Haste left after giving them a “[very] Sweet”.
Bey, Kenta, and Ace confronted Alexander, Kazarian, and Swann backstage. Ace bragged about how his three-person team already beat Time Machine at the last Impact Plus show. Ace said they were happy to soften them up for Josh. Kaz cut in and said his team could use some reps before their match against Time Machine.
Kaz wanted a six person tag match against Bey, Ace, and Kenta. Kaz goaded them into a match by calling them the best. Bey hyped up Kenta as a man who puts people to sleep. Bey said he and Ace are the best tag team. Bey said the Bullet Club are the best faction in Wrestling history. Bey said he’s disrespected being treated as a warm up. Josh said Bullet Club can either wear their belts to mask their insecurities, or wear them together in solidarity. Josh’s team walked off…
Entrances for the next match took place. Kushida actually decided not to cosplay as Marty McFly this time…
5. Jonathan Gresham vs. KUSHIDA. Gresham and Kushida respectfully shook hands before locking up. Gresham hit Kushida with a huracanrana. Both men then had a stalemate during the subsequent chain wrestling sequence. Kushida and Gresham then had a handshake Test of Strength. This turned into a traditional Test of Strength with both men trading advantages and wrist holds.
Hannifan noted that Gresham has a 9-1 record in Impact Wrestling with his last win being against Mike Bailey. Gresham and Kushida broke the hold and shook hands out of respect. Gresham did a good job blocking Kushida’s usual joint manipulation attempts. Kushida managed to get Gresham in a Hammerlock. Gresham blocked Kushida’s Hoverboard Lock attempts.
Kushida wanted another handshake, but Gresham was fired up and gave Kushida a shove. Gresham reversed Kushida’s shove into a grounded Hammerlock. Kushida made sure to keep his shoulders off the ground. Kushida managed to get out with two drop toeholds. Gresham followed through Kushida’s Bridged German Suplex by putting Kushida in an armbar.
Gresham couldn’t lock in the arm bar because he was selling an injured hand. Kushida reversed the advantage. Gresham kept his hands clasped to block a Juji Gatame. Gresham got to the bottom rope for the break. Kushida gave Gresham a dropkick to the left arm. Both men crumpled, selling hand pain. Gresham rolled up Kushida with a La Magistral cradle for the two count.
Gresham gave Kushida a knee drop and another La Magistral for a two count. Kushida reversed a La Magistral for a two count. Kushida and Gresham crumpled again after they ran into each others’ injured left arms. Both men went to the handshake position again and traded short-arm shoulder blocks. Gresham held on to the ropes to prevent from running, but he winced because he held with his injured arm. Both men rolled on the ground a bit, but Kushida managed to sneak in a Hoverboard Lock for the tap out.
Kushida defeated Jonathan Gresham via submission in 10:07.
Both men continued to sell their injured arms as Kushida’s arm was raised in victory. Gresham asked for and received a respectful handshake from Kushida…
John’s Thoughts: Not only was that a sweet match, but it was a nice change of pace from what we usually get in pro wrestling. It’s rare we get a pure submission vs. submission match between two submission specialists. It’s like watching an Aikido sensei face a Hapkido sonseng. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wrestling match that was built around fighting with the power of the handshake. Code of Honor eat your heart out. Another highlight of the match was both Kushida and Gresham crumpling at the right times to sell their injured handshake arms.
A camera from Eddie Edwards’s backseat showed that he was driving over to the Nevada desert to confront PCO…[c]
Killer Kelly was in the ring sitting on a chair with a mic in hand. Kelly said she’s going to be honest with everyone, she’s not happy with Taylor Wilde’s little games. She said she’s not a fan of the whole Tarot Card and magic trick thing she does. Kelly said she has another game she wants Taylor Wilde to play. “The People’s Witch” Taylor Wilde made her entrance (Is she still “The “People’s Witch” if she’s heel? I don’t even care because this witch thing has fallen flat).
Wilde said she’s not here to play games. Wilde said the spirits send her messages through the cards and the spirits are saying that this is not about Kelly. Wilde said it’s about the future. Wilde told Kelly to take a card. Kelly said destiny doesn’t come from cards because she makes her own destiny.
She said she takes destiny by the throat and chokes the life out of it. Wilde said she would draw a card for Kelly. She drew the “Tower” arcana. Wilde chuckled like an idiot. Wilde said the Tower arcana represents change, upheaval, destruction, and chaos. AEW Dark regular KiLynn King showed up and hit Kelly from behind with a chair. King gave Kelly a Death Valley Driver. Wilde and King stood tall over Kelly. King put the Tower card on Kelly’s chest. Hannifan assumed a new alliance has been formed…
John’s Thoughts: Eh. Taylor Wilde’s character comes off as one of those people who went on a drug trip once, and decided to go all new age and get into random witch shit. I’ve played almost every Persona game and have a sense of all the arcana. It kinda feels like Wilde is spewing nonsense and doesn’t even know what the cards mean. It doesn’t help that during Rosemary’s initial run with the Decay faction back in 2016, she was WAYYYYY better with the witchcraft and tarot thing. Poor Kelly, being stuck in this crap.
The show cut to PCO hitting a random rock in the desert with a shovel. He was hitting so hard that sparks were produced…[c]
Kelly was sitting backstage, recovering from the attack. Rosemary, Jessicka, and Taya Valkyria “teleported” to her (BOOOOOOOOOOO! Screw you, Impact!). Rosemary told Kelly she should have consulted her because she knew exactly what would happen. Rosemary said she likes Kelly’s killer instinct. She said there’s an important rule in the world, and that’s “witches can’t be trusted”.
Rosemary said Taylor Wilde is a charlatan. Rosemary said Kelly would know where to find The Death Dollz if she needs help. Kelly said she doesn’t know where? Rosemary said to knock on Death’s Door. Kelly walked away saying she is not afraid of two-on-one situations.
Wilde and King approached The Death Dollz and challenged them. Rosemary agreed to a title match with the added stipulation that if Wilde and King lose, that they give up witchcraft. King shook hands with Rosemary to agree to the match. King said “The Covenant doesn’t knock on Death’s Door, they kick it down”. Taya and Jessicka chuckled and said that witches get stitches…
John’s Thoughts: Well, as long as this gets Wilde out of her witch phase, I’d be all for it. As long as she loses. I’d also be down for Rosemary losing a match that bans her from teleportation. I miss the old, more practical, Rosemary from 2016’s Decay faction.
The show cut back to the Nevada desert cinematic where Eddie Edwards was walking in the desert with what looked like a crowbar. Eddie was wandering around looking for PCO. PCO appeared from behind silently. Eddie saw the shovel shot coming, and a battle ensued. The battle came complete with generic tension music in the background.
PCO ended up getting the upper hand by planting Eddie in the dirt with a Scorpion Death Drop. PCO then dragged Eddie to a shallow hole. PCO was about to smash Eddie’s head in with a shovel, but he was run over by an SUV. Yes, a car crashed into PCO. Eddie jumped into the passenger seat of car and drove away. PCO stayed on the ground…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Jeez. That’s two “Only in TNA” segments in a row. This one including Impact’s low budget sound mixing with the unnecessary and loud background music. For some reason, I feel like Eddie Edwards gets shoved into a bunch of these lame Impact cinematics. They’re lame because they’re unimaginative. Most of these cinematics are just two guys having a Star Trek Kirk vs. Spock fight while bad music plays in the background. Maybe they should consult Lucha Underground’s Robert Rodriguez as to how to produce a wrestling cinematic.
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt checked in from the commentary table. Hannifan nonchalantly said he’s still trying to process what he just saw between PCO and Eddie (I mean? Shouldn’t you be calling the Police for a hit and run? A man just got hit by a car on TV!!!). The following segments were advertised for next week’s show: Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham vs. Decay, Steve Maclin vs. Heath, The Death Dollz vs. The Coven for the Knockouts Tag Team Championship, and Bullet Club (Kenta, Bey, and Ace) vs. Alexander, Swann, and Kazarian.
Hannifan hyped Kenta vs. Minoru Suzuki for the NJPW Strong title at the Multiverse show. Rehwoldt handled the New Japan on AXS plug this week which will feature more matches from New Japan’s show in San Jose, CA. Rehwoldt noted that he and Ian Riccaboni would be on commentary for that show…
Deonna Purrazzo joined the commentary team for the main event. Because of their history as a team, “The Drama King” Matt Rehwoldt was sucking up to Deonna as usual…
6. Mickie James vs. Gisele Shaw (w/Jai Vidal, Savannah Evans) for the Impact Knockouts Championship. James took down Shaw with a side headlock. Shaw came back with a head-scissors. James showboated after escaping with a kip up. Shaw slammed Mickie to the mat with a wrist hold. Mickie avoided a baseball slide and gave Shaw a neckbreaker at ringside. The show cut to commercial.[c]
Both women traded strikes in the corner. Shaw managed to get the upper hand after a draping double stomp. Both women traded uppercuts. James hit Shaw with a Thesz Press. Shaw hit James with a chop after Vidal’s distraction. Both women traded fatigued strikes. Mickie hit Shaw with a back elbow and huracanrana. James hit Shaw with clotheslines and a lariat. Shaw rolled to ringside to avoid to avoided a seated senton.
James gave Evans and Vidal a seated senton. Shaw attacked James from behind and got a two count. Shaw hit James with a few European Uppercuts for a two count. Shaw deadlift slammed James by the hair. Shaw went into her methodical offense. James rallied back with right hands. Shaw got in chops of her own. Both women took each other out by crashing into each other in the center of the ring. Both women beat the ten count.
Shaw and James traded fatigued elbows. James got the upper hand with a rally of strikes. James hit Shaw with a Flapjack. James hit Shaw with a Seated Senton for a nearfall. Shaw ducked a Mick Kick and hit Mickie with a superkick. James dodged a running knee. Vidal tried to distract the referee, but Deonna pulled Vidal off the apron. Shaw tried to roll up Mickie while the ref was distracted by Evans. Deonna rolled Mickie over Shaw to give Mickie the rollup win.
Mickie James defeated Gisele Shaw via pinfall in 14:00 of on-air time to retain the Impact Knockouts Championship.
Mickie celebrated her title defense to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: Huh. I didn’t even notice that match was nearly 20 minutes when accounting for commercials. It didn’t breeze by in a good way. It was more like Shaw worked a standard heel match and I could never take her seriously as a contender for the title. This felt like a stepping-stone showcase win for Mickie. Shaw’s character development is flawed. One week it looks like they wanna take her seriously, the next week they have her in a feud based around bowls of chili (which was two weeks ago). She might want to go off TV and reinvent herself because it’s tough to take her as a serious contender.
Jai Vidal doesn’t add anything to the act because he’s a lazy version of Caleb Konley’s “Kaleb with a K” character (which Caleb played SO well). For the most part, this was a decent show. They did sprinkle some of their lame stuff here and there this week though, so I’d give it a 50-50 mixed bag. The good stuff is the solid character development and logical storytelling that they established in 2022. The lame was stuff like lame ass cults, teleporting, witches, a Busted Open Radio feud, background music, and dudes getting run over by a car and Tom Hannifan acting like it’s just a normal occurrence. Hmmmm? Maybe this was a bad week of Impact?
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