By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
Impact Wrestling Down Under (Night One)
Streamed live June 30, 2023 on FITE.TV
Wagga Wagga, Australia at Equex Center
Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt provided commentary (they may have been remote from the U.S., we never actually saw them). The lights are low so it’s hard to tell the total size of the crowd, but this seems to be in the 500-800 range.
1. Slex defeated Adam Brooks at 6:13. Slex had a nice ROH run just before the pandemic hit; he is now bald with a short beard (think Mike Bennett), and he’s the babyface. Brooks has competed a lot in the U.S. indies the past two years; he has short blond hair similar to a young Shane Douglas. Brooks dove through the ropes to the floor at 2:30, but Slex caught him and slammed him on the ring apron. In the ring, Slex hit a top-rope superplex. They did the spot where they both got suplexed over the top rope and fell to the floor at 5:00, earning our first “this is awesome!” chant. In the ring, Brooks went for a Swanton Bomb, but Slex got his knees up. Slex immediately hit a spin kick to the head for the pin. For the time given, that was really good.
2. Gisele Shaw defeated “The Dreamtime Voodoo Witch” Erika Reid at 7:31. Erika has blue and purple hair; my first time seeing her. Her whole outfit is reminiscent of what Ember Moon wore in her first NXT run, with a giant moon on the inside of her robe. Shaw worked the left arm early on; they brawled to the floor, where Shaw shoved Reid shoulder-first into the ring post at 2:00. In the ring, Shaw stomped on the left elbow and got a nearfall. She kept working over the left arm and remained in control. Reid hit a DDT and they were both down at 6:00. Shaw applied a Fujiwara Armbar, and Reid tapped out. An extended squash, really.
* Steve Maclin cut a backstage promo, vowing to regain his title.
3. Joe Hendry defeated Eddie Edwards to retain the Digital Media Title at 11:40. Hendry got on the mic and said he’s in a good mood. He encouraged the crowd to chant “Eddie sucks!” Hannifan talked about the “stripper Kenny” video that Hendry aired Thursday night. They locked up, but Eddie rolled to the floor and stalled, and the crowd obliged with the “Eddie sucks!” chant. Hendry hit a delayed vertical suplex for a nearfall at 4:00. Eddie took control of the offense and he grounded Hendry.
Hendry hit a fallaway slam at 8:00 and celebrated as the crowd chanted “We believe!” He hit a stunner for a nearfall, then a pop-up powerbomb for a nearfall. Edwards fired back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall at 10:00. He started jawing at the fans, and Rehwoldt said it was a mistake. Hendry put Edwards on his shoulders and tossed him stomach-first to the mat. Edwards hit a standing powerbomb. Hendry hit his modified uranage, palm to the chest, for the clean pin. I’m a little surprised by the clean win here.
* Footage aired of several of the Impact Wrestlers visiting an Australian petting zoo. Moose said it was his first time touching a snake. Deonna Purrazzo and Steve Maclin were together and talked about “missing their dogs,” which I believe is the first time Impact Wrestling has hinted that they are married. A fun, short kayfabe-breaking segment.
4. Killer Kelly defeated Aysha at 7:12. Aysha carried a bottle of champagne to the ring, and Rehwoldt explained she is trying to “build her brand.” So, is she a ‘social media influencer? The crowd chanted, “Kelly’s gonna kill you!” Aysha stalled in the ropes, afraid to lock up. Kelly hit some deep armdrags. On the ring apron, Kelly hit a running penalty kick to Aysha’s chest at 2:00. In the ring, Kelly hit a fisherman’s brainbuster for a nearfall.
Aysha hit a running bulldog. Kelly tied up Aysha’s arms and hit several headbutts, then a butterfly suplex into the corner. Kelly hit a basement dropkick for a nearfall at 5:00. Aysha hit a Lungblower for a nearfall. Kelly hit a rolling Death Valley Driver for a nearfall. Aysha got her bottle of champagne, but the ref confiscated it. Aysha got a second bottle and sprayed it in Kelly’s face! She got a rollup for a nearfall. Kelly nailed a German Suplex, then a Killer Klutch submission hold, and Aysha tapped out. Enjoyable but the winner was never in doubt.
* A nice video package of the history of Frankie Kazarian and Chris Sabin, with some footage of NJPW’s Robbie Eagles.
5. Chris Sabin defeated Frankie Kazarian and Robbie Eagles in a three-way to retain the X Division Title at 14:47. Eagles wore his TMDK robe. Hannifan talked about Lio Rush attacking Sabin on Thursday’s show, and Sabin challenging Rush to a title match. Quick spots early on with all three. Eagles hit a huracanrana on Sabin at 3:00, and Robbie has the crowd behind him. Sabin hit a clothesline on Eagles. Sabin hit a Jarrett-style Stroke faceplant on Eagles. Kazarian hit a lungblower at 6:00 on Eagles, then a springboard legdrop on Sabin for a nearfall.
Kazarian applied a Boston Crab on Eagles. Eagles hit a basement dropkick on Kazarian’s knee at 8:00 and a series of Yes Kicks. Eagles hit a Shining Wizard on both opponents for a nearfall. Sabin hit a rolling summersault off the apron on Frankie on the floor, then one on Robbie. Eagles hit a flip dive through the ropes onto Frankie at 10:00. In the ring, he hit a springboard dropkick on Sabin’s knee, and Robbie applied the Ron Miller Special (Trailer Hitch) leglock on Sabin, but Kazarian made the save, and everyone was down, and the crowd started a “this is awesome!” chant.
Kazarian did a double-cover spot for a nearfall at 12:00, and the crowd switched to “fight forever!” Robbie hit a Turbo Backpack stunner for a nearfall. Kazarian hit a stunner on Robbie for a nearfall, but Sabin made the save. Sabin hit a top-rope crossbody block on both of them at 14:30, then a tornado DDT on Kazarian, with Frankie rolling to the floor. Sabin immediately nailed the Cradle Shock slam on Robbie for the clean pin. I never doubted who was winning, nor ever doubted who was being pinned here, but this was easily best match of the show so far.
6. “The Bullet Club” Ace Austin and Chris Bey defeated Moose and Brian Myers to retain the Impact Tag Titles at 15:57. Moose and Myers had separate entrances. Myers and Bey started, but Myers rolled to the floor to regroup. Ace entered and the ABC beat up on Myers. Myers hit a jumping knee to Ace’s jaw at 3:00, and the heels took control. Ace hit a dive through the ropes. Bey dove over the top rope, but Moose caught him and powerbombed Chris onto the ring apron. Ouch! Myers hit a spear on Ace.
In the ring, Myers slowed Bey down with a chinlock, and they kept him in their corner. Bey finally hit a superkick at 10:30. Moose went for a springboard move, but Bey caught him coming down with a stunner. Ace finally made the hot tag, and he hit a Russian Legsweep on Myers, then a springboard spin kick on Moose. Myers nailed a Roster Cut clothesline on Bey for a nearfall, but Ace made the save at 13:00. Myers hit a Michinoku Driver on Ace. Bey went to the top rope, but Moose hit an impressive dropkick on him.
Moose hit a top rope superplex on Ace. Myers hit an enzuigiri on Bey, and everyone was down, and we got another “this is awesome!” chant. Moose and Myers hit simultaneous standing powerbombs at 15:30. Bey shoved Myers into Moose, and Bey got a schoolboy rollup on Myers for the pin out of nowhere! A really good match.
* A video package aired that was created by a Wagga Wagga tourism board. We went to a backstage video with Steph De Lander. She said she’s gotten more experience since the last time she competed in Impact Wrestling.
7. Knockouts Champion Deonna Purrazzo defeated Steph De Lander at 9:05. Hannifan said this is a non-title match. SDL is an Australia native, and she has the height and overall size advantage. SDL got on the mic and said, “guys, I’m home.” The crowd chanted, “welcome back!” She turned heel on the crowd, saying how she is “the indy goddess.” She called Wagga Wagga “the worst city in the country.” An intense lockup to start. Deonna slapped her in the face. She hit a baseball slide dropkick to the floor. Steph slammed Deonna face-first on the ring apron at 2:00. In the ring, SDL was in charge.
SDL hit a snap suplex at 4:00 for a nearfall. She got in the face of the female referee, then she applied a chinlock on the mat. Deonna tried to apply an armbar but SDL fought free. Deonna hit a Russian Legsweep and she applied the Fujiwara Armbar, and the crowd taunted SDL to tap, but Steph reached the ropes at 7:30. Steph hit a chokeslam for a nearfall. Steph hit a Mafia Kick for a believable nearfall. She rolled to the floor and got a mic and shouted at the crowd to shut up. She went to use it as a weapon, but the ref confiscated it. Purrazzo again applied the Fujiwara Armbar, and this time, De Lander tapped out. Good match.
8. Alex Shelley defeated Steve Maclin to retain the Impact World Championship at 21:04. Hannifan said these two first wrestled on non-televised NXT matches, when Shelley did a handful of matches but wasn’t under NXT contract. Standing switches to start, then they traded some mat reversals. Maclin hit some hard chops at 6:30 and he barked at the crowd. Shelley hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip and he immediately hit a dropkick on the damaged left knee. Shelley hit a Lungblower at 9:00.
They went to the floor, where Maclin hit a backbreaker over his knee, then he slammed Shelley’s back on the ring apron. In the ring, Maclin hit another backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall at 11:00. He bent Shelley backward around the ring post and remained in charge. Shelley snapped Maclin’s throat across the top rope at 14:30; Shelley went for a springboard splash but Maclin got hhis knees up to block it. Maclin hit an Olympic Slam for a nearfall.
Shelley hit a Flatliner faceplant, sending Maclin into the middle turnbuckle at 16:00. He hit another Dragonscrew Legwhip. He hit a chop block to the back of Maclin’s damaged left knee. Maclin went for a suplex but Shelley blocked it. They traded blows while holding each other’s left wrist. Shelley hit a swinging fisherman’s suplex at 18:30. Shelley hit a kick to the chest, and he applied a Figure Four Leglock, but Maclin reached the ropes at 20:00.
They fought on the ring apron, where Maclin hit a spear. In the ring, Maclin nailed a flying knee for a nearfall. They both were selling their injuries. Shelley caught him with a superkick, then the Shellshock spinning faceplant for the clean pin. Really good match; they started a bit slow (not boring!) and built nicely, while also not doing any unnecessarily dangerous spots, either.
Final Thoughts: A satisfying show; the only real complaint is that every match ended as expected. (I expected Hendry to win, but for Edwards to somehow have an ‘out’ for losing.) I will give best match to the main event, just ahead of Sabin’s three-way. I’ll go with Ace & Bey’s match for third place.
While I’ve never been there, I know where the major cities in Australia are, but I had to look up Wagga Wagga. It is about half-way between Sydney and Melbourne, but further inland than I anticipated. (I guess I was under the impression that most of the Australian population lives close to the ocean.)
The show clocked in at about 2 1/2 hours.