By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling TV (Episode 994)
Taped in Cicero, Illinois at Cicero Stadium
Aired August 3, 2023 on AXS TV
Highlights from last week’s Impact Wrestling show aired… Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt were on commentary. Dave Penzer was the ring announcer…
Knockouts Champion Trinity made her entrance for a show opening promo. She started by talking about how Chicago holds a special place in her heart. She took time to soak in “Trin” chants. She said she made her Impact debut in Chicago. Trinity talked about being at her lowest point and possibly quitting pro wrestling. She said she went form the lowest to highest when she made her Impact debut. She talked about how at that debut, she promised to become Impact Knockouts Champion.
A “yes you did” chant ensued. Trinity smiled and said “I did it”. Deonna Purrazzo made her entrance. Deonna talked about how she also interrupted Trinity during her debut. Deonna said the only difference is that the roles have flipped and Trinity is the Knockouts World Champion. Deonna talked about also winning the Knockouts title her first opportunity in Impact. Deonna said the only difference between her and Trinity is Deonna didn’t quit (alluding to Trinity quitting WWE).
Trinity pointed out that the crowd was chanting “You tapped out” and that counts as quitting at Slammiversary. Deonna talked about getting her rematch at Emergence and said that nobody beats Deonna Purrazzo twice. Trinity said she bet she can. KiLynn King and Taylor Wilde made their entrance. King mocked Trinity and Deonna for stealing the spotlight. King said nobody wants to hear Trinity talk or see Deonna’s face.
King talked about being Trinity’s first singles opponent. A “you loss” chant ensued. King called the crowd idiots for that. King said Trinity got lucky that night and if things were different she’d probably be Knockouts Champion. Wilde mocked the Chicago crowd and said she hates that the Coven lost to Trinity. Trinity told Wilde to do something about it. King said it was time for a card reading.
Wilde threw a pack of tarot cards at Trinity. A pull apart brawl ensued between the two pairs of women. Santino noted that Trinity and Deonna weren’t dressed to wrestle, so he’s booking Trinity and Deonna Purrazzo vs. The Coven for later in the show. Deonna said she’s ok with wrestling now. Santino booked the match for right now…[c]
1. Trinity and Deonna Purrazzo vs. “The Coven” Taylor Wilde and Kilynn King. King hit Trinity with a body slam off the standing switch. King and Trinity were even off a few shoulder tackles. Trinity hit King wiht a leapign uppercut and rollup for a two count. King used a wheelbarrow drag to drag her to Wilde’s corner. Trinity hit Wilde and King with a donkey kick and slapped Wilde in the booty.
Trinity hit Wilde with the ten punches in the corner. Deonna tagged herself in and hit Wilde with a huracanrana. Wilde hit Deonna with an STO into the buckle. Wilde and King used tags to cut the ring in half on Deonna. Deonna shoved King away with a boot to bring in Trinity for a hot tag. Trinity got a two count off a split leg drop on Wilde. King raked Trinity in the eyes to allow Wilde to hit her with a snapmare.
Wilde and King used tags to cut the ring in half on Trinity. Trinity spiked Wilde’s head into the mat with a head-scissors to bring Purrazzo in. Purrazzo put King in a Fujiwara armbar that King escaped. King hit Purrazzo with a gutbuster and DDT for a two count. Purrazzo hit King with a Yakuza Kick. Wilde hit Purrazzo with a Codebreaker. Trinity hit Wilde with a Rear View. King hit Trinity with a German Suplex to leave all four women lying.
Purrazzo and King traded Boo Yay chops. King hit Purrazzo with a superkick. Purrazzo reversed King into an armbar. Wilde broke up the move. Trinity accidentally hit Purrazzo with a high kick. King hit Purrazzo with the King’s Curse (Reverse Pumphandle Slam) for the win.
The Coven defeated Deonna Purrazzo and Trinity via pinfall in 12:43.
Trinity apologized to Deonna at ringside…
John’s Thoughts: A good match with the right team going over and a logical way to put heat between babyfaces Deonna Purrazzo and Trinity. I get afraid sometimes in this situation where the two singles wrestlers beat the tag team (which they actually did with Trinity to The Coven not to long ago), but here they went with the whole accidental contact thing between two babyfaces (which I’ve seen several times recently with the NXT Championship and Ilja Dragunov).
Trey Miguel and Zachary Wentz were cutting a promo backstage. Trey was hyped that The Rascalz were reunited for the first time in three years. Trey said he’s disappointed that their next match is not a tag title match. Wentz talked about how they were going to win the Tag Team Tournament that they’re in. Scott D’Amore showed up to confront them. D’Amore said The Rascalz were being punished for not leaving the arena and interfering in ABC’s rematch for the tag team titles.
D’Amore said he’s fining The Rascalz two weeks pay. He said he’s not punishing the fans which is why he’s leaving them in the tournament. D’Amore said if they interfere in any other tournament matches, he’s suspending both Rascalz indefinitely. D’Amore gave Zach and Trey condescending slaps to the chest and walked off…[c]
Alicia Edwards and Eddie Edwards were backstage. Alisha was bragging about running Traci Brooks out of Impact. Jody Threat showed up and didn’t like Alisha being disrespectful. Eddie didn’t like Jody talking trash to his wife. Jody said she doesn’t like bullies, Alisha disrespecting legends, and Eddie talking to her in that tone. Alicia said Jody has a big mouth and said that Jody doesn’t belong in the locker room.
Alicia said she’d run Jody out of the locker room. Jody said maybe she will, next week. Jody agreed to the challenge…
Entrances for the next match took place…
2. “The Celestial” Alan Angels vs. Heath. Heath shoved Angels to the corner to start the match. Angels came back with a slap. Angels rolled to ringside to stall. Angels caught Heath in the gut with a spin kick. Heath came back with a flapjack. Heath took down Angels with a clothesline, elbow, and hip toss. Angels turned the tables by dropkicking the steep steps into the knees of Heath.
Angels tossed Heath back in the ring and gave Heath a kick to the injured knee. Angels focused his attack on Heath’s knees. Angels got a two count off a sweep kick and DDT. Heath avoided a moonsault. Heath rallied with punches while selling the knee injury. Angels came back with a Gamengiri.
Heath reversed a crossbody with a seamless Power Slam for a nearfall. Angels hit Heath with a mule kick to the injured leg. Heath ducked a spin kick and hit Angels with a Zig Zag for the win.
Heath defeated Alan Angels via pinfall in 6:16.
Heath went into the stands and high-fived fans…[c]
John’s Thoughts: I get that Heath is technically higher on the totem pole than Angels, but I would have given Angels the singles win coming off the character repackage. I don’t get why Angels is a “rock star” all of a sudden, but it would have been smart to at least give him a dirty win to put heat on Angels. I’m also not sure what this really does for Heath who isn’t in any real program and just randomly decided to attack the heel Angels for apparently no reason (Hannifan noted that Heath attacks those who cheat in matches, but that’s about every heel). Again, my hope is that Alan brings over Brooke Havok, who I see as a strong part of his act outside of Impact and a potential top women’s wrestling star (trained by Cody Rhodes).
A replay aired from last week where Deaner and Kon attacked Eric Young after Young’s win…
Gia Miller interviewed Eric Young and talked about how Deaner and Kon ruined his moment last week. Eric Young said he saw that coming and they will be dealt with shortly. Gia said that Young is no longer “dead” and she wondered where he’s been the past few months? Young said it’s a good question and people who saw the video where he “died” didn’t see the actual truth.
Eric Young said tonight the world will see what “really” happened. Gia asked if there’s footage? Young repeated that the world will see tonight…
Jake Something made his entrance. His poor unfortunate enhancement fodder was already in the ring…
3. Jake Something vs. Davey Vega. Something asked for a handshake, but Vega kicked the hand away. Something no sold Vega and tossed around Vega. Something hit Vega with a corner splash and toss. Vega stalled on the apron and hit Jake with a gamengiri. Something blocked a Sunset Flip and hit Vega with a forearm strike. Something hit Vega with a hip attack. Something kept asking “what’s my name?” and the crowd answered “Something”. Jake hit Vega with Into The Void (Black Hole Slam) for the win.
Jake Something defeated Davey Vega via pinfall in 2:35.
Kenny King and Sheldon Jean were walking backstage with King looking angry…[c]
John’s Thoughts: A simple and proven formula to build up big men. Nothing wrong with that. I’m happy they’re starting from scratch with Jake and seemingly building him up to be a big deal in Impact. I’m not the biggest fan of the “What’s my name?” thing, but it did give him something to engage the crowd with. Sorta gave me Ryback’s “Feed Me More” vibes, and that worked when Ryback was a thing. We’ll see where Jake goes, but I can see skies the limit for a guy with this look. We also know that he has range and talking ability from when he was doing the country boy comedy gimmick with Cody Deaner.
An ad aired for the Impact Plus Emergence show…
A replay aired where Bully Ray, Brian Myers, and Moose gave Lio Rush an ultimatum of being with them or against them. They then showed a replay of the end of last week’s show where Lio attacked Alex Shelley. This segment also had Chris Sabin returning to help clear the heels from the ring…
Bully Ray, Brian Myers, and Moose approached Lio Rush backstage. Bully said he was just happy that Lio made the right decision by being on their side. Lio said he doesn’t like what “this” is because he doesn’t want to make friends. Moose said he doesn’t want a friend, he just wants Lio on their team. Lio said you can trust him at Emergence, but not long term. Bully tried to rally the team.
Bully said even though everybody hates him, he got a six person tag approved by management for next week. Bully asked Lio to be in their corner to experience what it’s like to hang and bang with them. Bully said there will be trouble if they can’t trust Lio. Moose said it’s simple. Myers told Lio to “lose the boo boo face, kid”…
Joe Hendry made his entrance for his usual pre-match promo. Hendry said life is about lessons and life is short. Hendry said Joe Hendry title reigns are long. Hendry implied that he didn’t like a friend, Yuya Uemura, interjecting himself in his rematch. Yuya Uemura made his entrance with a mic. He said “I… Yuya Uemura… Champion…”. Kenny King and Sheldon Jean made their entrance. A facts graphic aired for the next match…
4. Kenny King (w/Sheldon Jean) vs. Yuya Uemura vs. Joe Hendry for the Impact Digital Media Championship. King shoved Yuya into Hendry when they were shaking hands. All three men took turns trading offense. Hendry and Yuya took down King with a clothesline. Hendry accepted Yuya’s handshake and dragged him in for a shoulder tackle.
Hendry gave Yuya and King chest chops to the claps of his entrance theme. King tossed Yuya and Joe into the corners. King hit Yuya with a dropkick. Hendry hit King with a neckbreaker which caused King to DDT Yuya.[c]
King hit Joe with chops and a spinebuster. Yuya broke up Kenny’s pin. Yuya rallied with right hands on King. King hit Yuya with a discus elbow and Exploder Suplex. Hendry and King traded Yay Boo punches. King hit Hendry with a power slam for a nearfall. Yuya caught both opponents with a crossbody and running elbows. Yuya hit King with a bulldog and hit Hendry with a Saito Suplex. King broke up Yuya’s pin on Joe.
All three men traded fatigued strikes. Hendry rallied on King with right hands. King hit Hendry with the Eddy Gordo kick. Yuya took down King with a dropkick. Hannifan noted that Yuya has picked up many wins with his diving crossbody (I wouldn’t say “many”).
Hendry caught Yuya mid-air with a cutter. Jean dragged Hendry to ringside. The commentators noted that triple threats are no-DQ. King got a two count on Yuya. King shoved Yuya into Hendry to knock Hendry off the apron. King hit Yuya with the Royal Flush for the victory.
Kenny King defeated Yuya Uemura and Joe Hendry via pinfall in 7:47 of on-air time to retain the Impact Digital Media Championship.
John’s Thoughts: The Digital Media Championship is still in a need of a serious re-brand. That aside, this was a well worked triple threat. I like Yuya finally getting a bit of character development aside from being that guy who has good matches and loses all of the time. The finish is logical in terms of building frustration in Joe Hendry. I’m curious to see if this either leads to him turning heel or resisting the urge to turn heel. Either way, I hope it leads to more character depth past just being the “motivational speech” guy.
This week’s Impact Plus Flashback Match of the week was Mike Bailey vs. Jack Evans for the Impact X Division Championship at Emergence 2022. Bailey won after hitting Evans with Ultima Weapon…
Gia Miller interviewed Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham about being in the Tag Team Title number one contenders tournament. Gia asked Gresham how he feels, especially after Gresham’s sit-down interview with Tom Hannifan from two weeks ago. Gresham said he’s confident with a tag partner like Bailey. Bailey cut in and said he had to convince Gresham to compete because Gresham was frustrated by the way rules are enforced.
Gresham said rules aren’t being enforced in Impact. Gresham brought up Wentz cheating in Bailey’s match last week. Bailey said they should be able to overcome any cheating with the right mindset and optimism. Gresham said that optimism does not win matches. Gresham agreed that they should just watch each others’ backs…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Finally, Impact is taking their time to give Jonathan Gresham a character.
Josh Alexander and Time Machine cut a promo to hype up their match against Bully Ray’s team at Emergence. Kushida teased that he might have to face Chris Sabin if he cashes in his giant letter X…
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt checked in on commentary. They ran through the advertised Emergence card. Hannifan noted that IWGP World Champion Sanada will make an appearance and that Sanada used to be an Impact wrestler (former X Division Champion). Hannifan then plugged Impact’s 1000th show on September 9th. Hannifan announced that Velvet Sky and Angelina Love, the Beautiful People, as well as Awesome Kong will appear at the anniversary show…
ABC vs. Rich Swann and Sami Callihan and Moose, Myers, and Bully vs. Taurus, Laredo Kid, and Samuray Del Sol was announced for next week. They sent the show to the weekly Kevin Kelly New Japan plug…
Courtney Rush and Jessicka were acting silly backstage, talking about how they want to approach Scott D’Amore for a tag title shot. They were spooked when they ran into Crazzy Steve. Steve said he’s confused as to why Rosemary is letting Rush take control. Rush diverted and said they need to find D’Amore for more important matters. Steve said “I understand”…
The Rascalz made their entrance…[c]
Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham made their entrance. Hannifan plugged Eric Young’s “exclusive footage” to show what really happened at the prison last year between Young and Deaner…
4. “The Rascalz” Trey Miguel and Zachary Wentz vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham. Wentz got the early advantage, but were taken down by Gresham and Bailey. Zach asked for a bow and tried to catch Bailey off guard, but Bailey saw it coming. Bailey took down Wentz with a thrust kick and rapid kicks. Gresham tagged in and worked on Wentz with joint manipulation. Wentz kicked out at two after being tied into a pretzel.
Hannifan said Gresham is like Steph Curry with how he enjoys the sport. Rehwoldt said he doesn’t know who “Stephanie” Curry is (that was a good one!). Gresham was going after Trey who knee’d him in the back, which allowed Wentz to catch Gresham below the belt by punting the 2nd rope. Wentz caught Gresham with a dropkick. Trey tagged in. The Rascalz swarmed Gresham with kicks and knocked Bailey off the apron.[c]
The Rascalz cut the ring in half on Gresham. Gresham hit Trey with a brainbuster to tag in Bailey. Bailey caught Trey with a missile dropkick, kicks, and standing Shooting Star for a two count. Trey caught Bailey with a German Suplex off the distraction from Wentz. The Rascalz hit Bailey with a Surfboard Double stomp to give Wentz a two count.
Bailey escaped Zach’s finisher. Wentz and Bailey traded chambered kicks. Wentz landed a kick and Bailey hit Wentz with a jump kick to leave both men lying. Gresham and Trey tagged in. Gresham gave Trey a cutter after the assist from Bailey. Wentz broke up the pin with a Swanton. Trey rolled to ringside. Wentz dumped Bailey to ringside. Bailey caught Trey with a Mafia Kick.
Gresham got a few nearfalls in the ring after a power bomb and forearm. Wentz tossed a can of spray paint in the ring. Bailey hit Wentz with a Triangle Moonsault. While the referee’s attention was outside, Trey picked up the win by spraying Gresham in the face with the pain and rolling him up with a hand full of tights.
The Rascalz defeated Jonathan Gresham and Mike Bailey via pinfall in 9:13 of on-air time.
The Rascalz celebrated their win while Bailey and Gresham bickered at ringside…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Well worked between both teams. It was very cool seeing the Rascalz back together after Wentz’s hiatus due to his WWE release. Zach, Dez, and Trey, those three are interchangeable in all the best way, putting on wonderful tag matches no matter what configuration. Split all three up into singles, and you have stud singles wrestlers with main eventer potential (Wentz hasn’t proven that much yet, but he’s looked great recently when Impact reintroduced him). I really like what we’re seeing from Jonathan Gresham as they slow burn his heel turn with opponents cheating left and right. He’s not gonna cheat, he’s just gonna be a rules snob, which fits his whole “Pure Rules” gimmick. Hey, maybe he can rebrand the Digital Media Championship! (Either that or they bring back the old Impact Grand Championship).
The show cut to that random prison that Violent By Design used to hang out at. The scene replayed where Deaner stabbed Eric Young with a shiv. Eric’s body was covered in blood as Deaner went back to sit in the interrogation chair. After Deaner left the room, Young woke up and spat out blood. Young crawled to the outside and got up on a motorcycle, presumably heading over to hang out with his best buddy Jean Paul Levesque.
Young put on nerdy looking glasses and a helmet. He drove off on the freeway. Young narrated that life and death are total opposites, but one can’t exist without the other. What is it to die? What is it to live? Can you die if you never truly lived? He asked if Death was final and wondered why we’re scared of it? Is death the unknown? Death is inevitable, the endgame, the final, the curtain call, the last thing we will ever know.
He said that Death can be a gateway, reward, final, the curtain call. Death can be beautiful, but “I ain’t f’n dead yet”. Young said he’s lived a 1000 lives in the business and if he has it his way he’ll live a 1000 more. Young said said a man can be killed, a body can be disposed of, flesh can be removed, but an idea, an idea is eternal. An idea can live forever. Young said he’s more than a man, he’s an idea, and will live forever. A drone shot was shown of Young driving on the freeway to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: The cinematic approach is not for everyone, but it’s good when executed well. One thing the current iteration of The Design suffered from once Eric Young left is for some reason their production values dropped once EY left (which means he has a hand in the production of his segments). I was weary when they were still dragging out Young “dying”, but I like that they tied up a loose end by saying that he survived a puncture wound. I guess Young was good at performing response on himself? (This is also why movie villains are dumb when they don’t “confirm the kill”)
The rhetorical monologue by Young was well done too. We’ve heard many people (like Bray Wyatt) give monologues that have words but say nothing. These words had meaning and have me looking forward to Eric Young’s latest evolution. The guy has shown immense range over the last 20 years, so I have no doubt that he can reinvent himself yet again.
I wonder if some of his speech was some of the stuff he was cooking up with that Marvel writer that WWE hired to write Bray Wyatt segments (as the only thing Young really got to do in his last WWE run was work on Bray Wyatt segments as a narrator). Impact was back to form this week with their weekly formula of enjoyable wrestling. I thought they started off really well this set of tapings with logical booking that led to promising character directions.