By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
Impact Wrestling TV (Episode 995)
Taped in Cicero, Illinois at Cicero Stadium
Aired August 10, 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…
Entrances for the show opening tag team tournament match aired…
1. “ABC” Ace Austin and Chris Bey vs. Rich Swann and Sami Callihan. Swann and Bey started the match with a respectful handshake. Both men started with a plethora of counters. Bey landed a three hit kick combo. Ace tagged in, leading to ABC swarming Swann with alternating strikes. Swann created separation and hit Ace with a huracanrana. Callihan tagged in and tossed Swann into Ace. Callihan hit Ace with a shoudler breaker.
Callihan bowed to the crowd. Ace fended off both opponents form the apron. Ace tagged in Bey after a dropkick. All four men traded strikes ringside. Callihan thumbed Ace in the eye and hit Ace with his Cactus Driver finisher on the hardest part of the ring, the apron. Bey caught Swann and Callihan with a Asai Moonsault headint into break.[c]
Bey caught Swann with a spinebuster for a two count. ABC hit Swann with a double team leg drop. Swann used knife edge chops to fight out of the corner. Swann tagged in Sami after hitting Ace with a enzuigiri. Callihan hit both opponents with a Flatliner and DDT at the same time. Callihan hit Bey with a Death Valley Driver for a two count.
Swann tagged in and hit Bey with a double team Blockbuster-Sidewalk Slam. Bey avoided a 450 and tagged in Ace. Ace hit Swann with a Disaster Kick while Bey landed a reverse TKO. Swann kicked out at two. Swann ducked, causing Ace to accidently kick Bey. Ace and Bey managed to regain their footing. They went for they double team finisher but Callihan caught Bey mid-air into a Rear Naked Choke.
Swann caught Ace with a huracanrana to dump himself and Bey to ringside. Bey recovered first. Ace and Bey hit Callihan with stereo Savate Kicks. Bey hit Callihan with the assisted springboard Cutter. Bey hit Callihan with The Fold. Swann broke up Ace’s pin for the nice false finish. Swann dumped Bey and Ace to ringside. Swann hit Bey with a cannonball with Ace sidestepping the move.
Ace caught Callihan with a Savate Kick. Ace hit Callihan with a double stomp to the head. Jason Hotch of the Good Hands ran out and broke up Ace’s pin by dragging the ref to ringside. Rich Swann gave Hotch punches to send him up the ramp. John Skyler hit Ace with The Stroke while the ref was distracted by the commotion at ringside. Callihan regained his focus and hit Ace with a Cactus Driver for the win.
Sami Callihan and Rich Swann defeated Ace Austin and Chris Bey via pinfall in 11:12 of on-air time.
Hannifan wondered why The Good Hands even interfered when they weren’t even in the tournament…
John’s Thoughts: Awesome tag match. Like NXT this past tuesday, the show opened up with an unexpectedly hot clinic of a match. Callihan and Swann showed great chemistry. Only wonky thing was the finish as I felt it was unnecessary. I get that they want to protect ABC, but they’re strong enough without the protection to bounce back. Plus, it’s odd to set them up against The Good Hands, when they already have beef with The Rascalz.
Santino was drinking a bottle of orange Gatorade backstage. KiLynn King and Taylor Wilde showed up. Wilde called Santino a Muggle from the Harry Potter series. King said the “energy” in Impact has been off and bad decisions seem to be happening a lot. King didn’t like that Gisele Shaw and Savannah Evans were getting a shot at the tag titles before the Coven.
Courtney Rush and Jessicka ran into the scene to demand a tag team title shot. Santino asked The Death Dollz “why?”. Jessicka said because they’re awesome. Rush and Jessicka huddled when Santino wasn’t convinced. Santino helped them come up with an excuse to get a tag title shot. Masha Slammovich and Killer Kelly showed up with their tag titles. Masha said something in Russian. Kelly said that they’ll defend their title against all three tag teams…[c]
Entrances for the next match took place. Tom Hannifan plugged Dirty Dango’s new “Let’s Get Weird” t-shirt (Let’s get weird was his old catchphrase when he was Dirty Curty). Alpha Bravo handed Dirty Dango a mic for a pre-match promo. As usual, he said “Man, do I hate pro wrestling”…
2. Dirty Dango (w/Alpha Bravo) vs. Bhupinder Gujjar. Gujjar put Dango in a hammerlock early on. Dango came back with a kick and shoulder tackle. Gujjar came back with a dropkick and corner splash. Gujjar caught Dango with a dropkick. Dango escaped a Fireman Carry with an eye rake. Dango used his offense to keep Gujjar on the mat. Gujjar got to his feet and gave Dango back elbows.
Gujjar hit Dango with a flapjack. Gujjar caught Dango with a leaping knee. Gujjar went for his 2nd rope spear, but was blinded by Alpha Bravo’s strobe flashlight. Dango hit Gujjar with a modified Eye of the Hurricane for the victory.
Dirty Dango defeated Bhupinder Gujjar in 3:52.
Dango soaked in the boos from the crowd. Dango said even when he wins he hates professional wrestling. Dango said he can literally feel the body heat coming from the fans. Jake Something made his entrance in his ring gear. Bravo got in between Dango and Something. Jake asked Dango if he knew how much work it took for Jake to get back to Impact.
Jake said if Dango hates wrestling so much, get out of here; or Jake will make him leave. Dango teased a fight several times, but did the heal thing of retreating. Bravo tried to distract Jake, but Jake saw Dango’s blindside attack coming. Jake dumped Dango to ringside. The segment ended with Jake Something’s theme playing as he stood tall…
John’s Thoughts: A short and sweet match to establish Alpha Bravo as a pest at ringside. Gujjar dominated 90 percent of the match and Dango did a great job bumping around for him. We see distraction finishes all the time, but not strobe light finishes. I’d take that over the overused spray can finishes we see in multiple companies. Dirty Dango continues to be must-see TV for me and I’m looking forward to his next docu-promo and feud with Jake Something.
Deaner and Big Kon of The Design tag team were backstage. Deaner talked about not being done with Eric Young. Deaner talked about Young being a sheep who left to “greener pastures” (WWE), but then fled once he saw the shepard (Vince McMahon). Deaner said that Young coming back is not a spotlight on The Design’s failures. Deaner yelled that he’s not a failure.
Deaner said that Sami Callihan tricking The Design wasn’t a failure, but a betrayal. Deaner said that Alan Angels leaving was also a betrayal. Deaner said that Eric Young reliving his Team Canada days at Slammiversary was also a betrayal. Deaner said Kon will never betray him. Deaner talked about how fitting it would be for the man he mentored, Kon, to defeat Deaner’s mentor Young.
Kon said he only sees a sheep that lost his family in Young. Kon said that he’s the big bad wolf. Kon ended his promo by saying “Eric Young, your ass is mine”…
Gia Miller congratulated Johnny Swinger for earning a world title title shot after defeating his tag team partner Zicky Dice. Swinger acted like he didn’t know who Zicky was and wondered if Gia was talking about his tag team partner Simon Diamond. He said he wants to give Simon a big hug. Swinger said he’s been training with “Verne” all week in preparation for his world title match.
Impact Digital Media Champion Kenny King and Sheldon Jean showed up. King made old man jokes at Johnny’s expense. King said he’s talking about the “DMC” Championship. He called Alex Shelley, “Alex Smelly”. King bragged about being the champion of the internet. King said the internet is bigger than the world because the internet goes out to outer space. King said he’s technically the “Champion of the Galaxy”. After King and Jean left, Swinger asked “What’s the internet, daddy?”…
Alisha Edwards and Eddie Edwards made their entrance. Alisha now has new heel music. Jody Threat was her opponent…
3. Alisha Edwards (w/Eddie Edwards) vs. Jody Threat. Threat no sold a chest slap and hit Alisha with a shortarm lariat and senton. Alisha ducked at the ropes. Alisha hit Jody with an STO into the buckle. Alisha triped Jody off the springboard. Alisha worked on Jody with methodical offense while Eddie cheered her on. Threat rallied back with lariats in the corner.
Threat caught Alisha with a pump kick, draping meteora, and German Suplex. Alisha escaped a Fireman Carry with an eye rake. Eddie tripped Jody with the kendo stick. Frankie Kazarian ran out and floored Eddie. This distracted Alisha which allowed Jody to hit Alisha with what she calls the “Pop, Shove it!” (Just another rename of her F5 finisher).
Jody Threat defeated Alisha Edwards via pinfall in 4:37.
Kazarian picked up Eddie’s Kendo kendo stick, wanting to hit Eddie. Unfortunately, Kazarian whacked Alisha in the face during the wind up. Kazarian dropped the weapon and showed concern. The crowd gave Alisha a “she deserved it” chant (Damn, Chicago!). Medics ran out to check on Alisha…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Ouch. Another good match from Jody, but as the camera showed, the crowd was mostly sitting on their hands to the point where it was tough for Alisha to generate heat. Not Jody’s fault. Impact just hasn’t defined her with a character yet. She gets huge reactions in Canada, but tepid reactions in the US. Alisha on the other hand, this is the most I’ve cared about Alisha as a wrestler in a long while (since she was the longtime enhancement fodder of the division). She really has rejuvinated herself as a heel.
A replay aired of Kazarian accidentally hitting Alisha off the wind up of the kendo stick. Eddie carried an unconscious Alisha to the back…
Deonna Purrazzo cut a promo promising to make an example out of KiLynn King next week in preparation for her Knockouts Title rematch…
Entrances for the next match took place. Kushida now wears the giant X around like a necklace. Tom Hannifan hyped up Trey Miguel and Lio Rush vs. Hiromu Takahashi and Mike Bailey for the Multiverse United show…
John’s Thoughts: The Lio Rush and Trey Miguel tag team is still confusing, as it would make more sense for Zach Wentz to be in Lio’s spot (maybe they just want to fabricate an “out” to put over Ticking Time Bomb). It also seems that Impact is confident that Lio Rush will be healed from his recent injury.
4. Kushida vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey. Both men played footsies with their respective martial arts, Jujitsu and Tae Kwon Do. Kushida fended off Bailey with a octopus stance. Both men traded dodges. Bailey managed to kick Kushida with his kickpad, but Kushida no sold it. Both men traded counters to their signature moves. Kushida dumped Bailey to ringside. Kushida hit Bailey with a flip dive at ringside.
Kushida put Bailey in a modified Surfboard cradle. Bailey got the rope break. Kushida hit Bailey with his signature cartwheel dropkick. Kushida did his usual focus on the arm to soften up his opponent for the Hoverboard Lock. Bailey came back with a Knee Plus and kick combo. Bailey got a two count after a standing Shooting Star. Kushida blocked a chamber kick.
Both men traded strong style strikes in the center of the ring. Kushida crumpled off a chop. Kushida manated to knock Bailey off the apron. Kushida teased a Hoverboard Lock, but converted it to a Hammerlock to toss Bailey into the ringpost. [c]
Kushida went back to softening up Bailey for the Hoverboard Lock. Kushida mocked Bailey with Judo Pushups (as a Judo Practicioner, that one got a smile out of me). Kushida also worked on Bailey’s legs which Rehwoldt noted was smart due to Bailey’s Tae Kwon Do (foot) based offense. Bailey leapfrogged a Suicide Dive and went right into an impressive Asai Moonsault on Kushida. Bailey’s knee buckled off a dive.
Kushida’s arm gave out when running the ropes. Bailey focused his kicks on Kushida’s arms, which the commentators noted would handicap the Hoverboard lock. Kushida dodged a standing Ultima Weapon and put Bailey in the Hoverboard Lock. Bailey used a Judo toss to put Kushida in a Juji Gatame. It took Kushida several times to escape. Bailey nailed Kushida in the chest with a standing Ultima Weapon.
Bailey managed to nail Kushida with a Chamber Kick. Kushida kicked out of Bailey’s pin, but Bailey went right back into the Juji Gatame. Kushida’s legs was near the ropes to allow him to rope break. Bailey hit Kushida with a hood kick. Kushida dodged a Tornado Kick. Kushida nailed Bailey with a Haymaker punch.
Bailey hit Kushida with a Kneepad to the face. Kushida got the rope break. Bailey hit Kushida with a chambered Thrust Kick and Tornado Kick. Kushida went to the top rope to prevent an Ultima Weapon. Kushida hit Bailey with a Kimura Spanish Fly. Bailey blocked a Hoverboard Lock. Kushida hit Bailey with Back to the Future (Small Package Driver) for the win.
Kushida defeated Mike Bailey via pinfall in 13:19 of on-air time.
John’s Thoughts: Wonderful bout. The match was good on paper, and it delivered. I appreciate the clean finish. If you’re a practitioner of martial arts, you’d appreciate this match even more, which I did appreciate having a Judo and TKD background myself. It was a nice clash of Tae Kwon Do vs. Judo with both men using the practical moves from both arts. Even though the finish was predictible, due to Kushida having the giant X and getting the push, the action was good enough to suspend my expectations.
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt checked in from the commentary table. Hannifan sent the show to what he said is going to be the first part of a 3 week interview series with Crazzy Steve. They cut to the interview. Hannifan wondered why Steve asked for him in particular to conduct the interview? Steve said it’s simple, Hannifan is the best at what he does, be the voice of Impact Wrestling.
Steve said he needs Tom’s help. He said he usually will go to Rosemary and Havok, but they’re off doing their own things under different identities. Steve said Black Taurus is even keeping a distance from him recently. He said he respects Taurus trying to win by himself. Steve said from his POV, he feels forgotten and abandoned. Steve said his friends are becoming strangers.
He said that he knows about abandonment. He talked about The Menagerie abandoning him (The Menagerie was his first stable with Mike Knox and Rebel). Steve talked about Abyss abandoning him. He said Rosemary, Havok, and Taurus have recently abandoned him. Steve said this has been happening all his life. Steve said what fans don’t know is he’s legally blind. Steve sand that comes with challenges.
Steve talked about how wrestlers travel, and he has it harder because he can’t safely drive or navigate around an airport. Steve talked about that handicapping him all his life and he’s fought through that. Steve said nothing comes easy to him and he has roadblock after roadblock coming after him. Tom empathized with Steve and asked Steve if he has family or friends to lean on during this tough time.
Tom addressed Steve by his real name “Steven Scott”. Steve nervously laughed and rubbed off some of his facepaint. Steve said he has an interesting story about “family. The “to be continued” graphic aired to end the segment…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Wowzers. That came out of nowhere, and it was great stuff. It looks like we’re finally seeing Crazzy Steve, or Steve Scott, move up the card. Looking forward to that and the next two weeks of interviews. The guy’s been an underrated talent for years, so I’m happy to see him finally develop a deep connection with the audience. The best part of this interview so far was how Steve took all of his known and unknown hardships and turned it into strong character development.
The show cut to footage of “The South Wales Subculture” vs. “The Greedy Souls” for the Impact Tag Team Championships at ATTACK Pro Wrestling in Cardiff, Wales. ATTACK is an independent promotion owned and operated by Mark Andrews and Pete Dunne. Mark Andrews pinned one of his opponents to defend the titles…
The show cut to a promo by the Subculture trio of Mark Andrews, Flash Morgan Webster, and Dani Luna. The promo was stylized black and white, which I believe is how they were doing promos in NXT UK. Dani Luna bragged about Subculture defending the titles worldwide. It was hard to hear what Flash was saying, but it sounded like he was talking about Subculture being Fighting Champions.
Andrews said they are paying attending to Rich Swann and Sami Callihan and The Rascalz. Andrews talked about how Subculture will beat either team and how Subculture always conquers everything…
Say his name and he appears! I believe in Joe Hendry. Clap, clap. Two random people were arguing backstage. Hendry talked about how he was summoned with the words “Say his name”. Say his name and he appears! He’s Yuya Uemura. Clap, clap. Yuya was summoned. The two random people left. Hendry didn’t like Yuya always interrupting him. He said “champion”.
Hendry continued to berate Yuya for costing him the championship. Hendry proposed he and Yuya going their separate ways. Yuya said “Champions”. Hendry bounced back and forth on the idea. And eventually bought in. Random 70s ish music played as both men stared into the distance…
John’s Thoughts: While it’s an easy argue to say that Impact has the best women’s division in pro wrestling (though NXT is close), you can also make the argument that Impact has one of the strongest tag team divisions in pro wrestling. While WWE is struggling to build up teams and AEW’s tag division is handicapped due to the trios division, Impact has been slowly and surely developing strong tag team wrestling under the radar.
Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt checked in from the Commentary table. Hannifan announced an X Division and Junior Division (NJPW) multi person match for the Multiverse United show. Hannifan then announced that it was announced on Busted Open that at Impact’s 1000 episode, Bully Ray will reunite with his longtime tag team partner D-Von Dudley for the first time in 7 years.
The following segments were advertised for next week: Eric Young vs. Big Kon, Callihan and Swann vs. The Rascalz in the finals of the tag team tournament, and Deonna Purrazzo vs. KiLynn King. A hype reel aired for the Current IWGP Champion and former X Division Champion, Seiya Sanada…
Entrances for the next match took place. Samuray Del Sol (f.k.a. Kalisto) was supposed to make his debut, but he was beat up at the stairwell by his old 205 Live rival Lio Rush…[c]
John’s Thoughts: Damn, and I was looking forward to Kalisto’s debut too.
5. Moose, Brian Myers, and Bully Ray vs. Black Taurus and Laredo Kid in a handicap match. Taurus shoved Myers early on and then fired up the crowd. Myers called for a Test of Strength and kicked Taurus in the gut. Taurus no sold shoulder tackles. The Emergence babyface tag team were shown watching the match from the back. Kushida looked a bit silly with the giant X around his neck.
Taurus hit Myers with a backfist combo and power slam. Kid tagged in and hit Myers with a missile dropkick while Taurus held him in place. Moose tagged in and blocked Laredo’s armdrags. Kid reversed a power bomb into a Huracanrana. Kid hit Moose with an armdrag. Myers berated Moose for retreating at ringside. Bully tagged in. Bully shoved Kid to the mat and talked trash.
Bully called out Taurus. Taurus and Bully traded trash talk. Bully and Taurus traded strong style strikes in the center of the ring. Bully rallied first. Taurus got Bully off his feet with few shoulder tackles. Myers pulled Bully aside to cause Taurus to fall to ringside.[c]
The heels cut the ring in half on Black Taurus. Taurus got a window of opportunity after he and Moose took each other out with clotheslines. Kid and Myers tagged in with Kid having the hot hand. Kid hit Myers with a neckbreaker. Kid all three opponents with corner splashes. Bully Irish Whipped Kid into the referee. REF BUMP!!! Bully backdropped Kid. As expected, Bully ripped at Kid’s mask out of disrespect.
The lights went out, and PCO apepared when the lights came back on. Bully stared at PCO in fear. PCO dumped Moose and Myers to ringside. Bully avoided a cannonball dive, which Myers and Moose ate. Bully ran away in fear to the back as PCO chased him. Taurus took care of Moose at ringside. Kid hit Myers with a Frog Splash. Myers kicked out because the hurt referee had to slow count. Moose knocked Taurus off the apron. Myers hit the distracted Kid with the Roster Cut for the win.
Brian Myers and Moose defeated Laredo Kid and Black Taurus via pinfall in 11:58 of on-air time.
The camera cut to Bully Ray continuing to run away to some residential alleyway. Bully kept repeating “I lit him on fire” in shock. Bully, pulling a GTA5 or Saints Row, pulled a random civilian from their car and stole it. Bully Ray drove off. The show closed with PCO yelling “BULLY!” many times…
John’s Thoughts: I’m disappointed a bit with the bait-and-switch, but it ended up being a well worked and entertaining tag match. Laredo Kid just can’t catch a break because this guy never wins, even with interference in his favor this time. I do like them making Brian Myers look strong in his recent matches with them establishing and protecting his Roster Cut lariat.
One unintentional highlight for me was Kushida looking like a dork during the picture-in-pictures showing him wearing his giant X while watching TV. I’d actually give this week’s Impact a strong recommend. Multiple great matches on this show. A very strong Crazzy Steve interview. Just good professional wrestling top to bottom. Impact is a solid alternative to WWE and AEW, and Impact diehards now have a solid case to push this show as better (in different ways) that both of those companies. WWE is still the big dog in the industry with HIGH quality writing and production values, but Impact serves as a cozy and satisifying pro wrestling show with little to hate.