By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
Impact Wrestling Emergence
Streamed August 27, 2023 on Impact Plus and FITE.TV
Live from Toronto, Ontario at Rebel Entertainment Complex
Impact Wrestling Emergence Pre-Show
1. Mike Bailey defeated Alan Angels at 10:03. Bailey hit his Speedball kicks to the ribs in the first minute, then a dropkick. Angels hit a Rude Awakening off the ring apron to the floor at 2:00. In the ring, Angels kept Bailey grounded. In the ring, Angels hit another Rude Awakening at 4:30 and the crowd rallied for Bailey. Bailey hit his Triangle Moonsault to the floor; the lighting isn’t great outside the ring.
In the ring, Bailey hit his series of kicks and a running Shooting Star Press for a nearfall. Angels hit a standing powerbomb for a nearfall at 6:30, then a roaring clothesline, and they were both down. Angels hit a frogsplash on the legs for a nearfall, then a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall, and Bailey sold the pain in his neck. Bailey nailed his moonsault kneedrop at 9:00, but he missed the Tornado Kick. Bailey hit the Green Tea Plunge/modified Spanish Fly for a nearfall. Angels snapped Bailey’s neck and he hit an enzuigiri. Bailey hit a superkick to the jaw, a Tornado Kick, then the Ultima Weapon for the clean pin. That was tremendous.
* The Good Hands” John Skyler and Jason Hotch cut a promo. They told the Canadian crowd they should be thanking the United States for bringing them culture and protecting them.
2. “Joya” Joe Hendry and Yuya Uemura defeated The Good Hands” John Skyler and Jason Hotch at 6:46. Hendry and Yuya are wearing nearly identical silver trunks and they did a little dance routine to a song about their combined “Joya” name, and this all very silly. The crowd seems into this. “It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen!” Hannifan said. Rehwoldt said it’s the greatest thing since West Side Story. Yuya and Hotch started, and the Good Hands beat down Yuya. Hendry got the hot tag at 5:00 and hit a fallaway slam, then a running neckbreaker for a nearfall. Hendry flipped Hotch up in the air, and Yuya caught his head and hit a stunner for the pin. They did their dance again after the win. Harmless fun and this could really catch on.
Impact Wrestling Emergence Main Card
* We opened with the 10-bell salute for Terry Funk and Windham Rotunda, then head to a highlight video previewing the matches.
1. Eric Young defeated Cody Deaner (w/Kon) in a No DQ match at 13:07. They immediately traded punches and Young nailed a dive through the ropes on Kon. Eric pulled a ladder out from under the ring and rammed it into Kon. In the ring, Deaner hit a drop-toe-hold, sending Young onto the ladder. On the floor, Deaner choked Eric with a chain at 3:00. In the ring, Deaner hit him with trash can lids. Deaner got a staple gun, which he used on Young’s fingers, then in the armpit. He put a trash can over Young’s head and hit it with a chair at 7:00. Young hit a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall; he was aiming for a garbage can but it moved and Deaner avoided coming down on it.
Young handcuffed Kon in the corner; this took way too long to do. Young now hit Deaner repeatedly with the trash can lid, and he used the staple gun on the fingers and in the armpit. Young climbed the ladder, set up in the ring, and hit an elbow drop for a believable nearfall at 10:00. Kon broke free of the handcuffs! Deaner hit a low blow uppercut on Young. Kon entered the ring and chokeslammed Young across two open chairs, allowing Deaner to get a believable nearfall. Deaner went under the ring and got a barbed-wire board and slid that into the ring. Young got both men on his shoulders and hit the double Death Valley Driver onto the board! He then hit a piledriver on Young onto the barbed-wire board for the pin. Good brawl; neither man bled.
* A clip of “Joya’s” pre-show win, then Gia Miller interviewed Hendry and Yuya backstage. We headed to a different backstage segment where Taylor Wilde is down and injured. Jody Threat was standing nearby and KiLynn blamed Jody; Wilde didn’t see who hit her. Santino Marella ordered Jody Threat to be a substitute partner for the next match!
2. “MK Ultra” Masha Slamovich & Killer Kelly defeated KiLynn King & Jody Threat and Jessicka & Courtney Rush ad Gisele Shaw & Savannah Evans in a four-way tag to retain the Knockouts Tag Titles at 9:05. KiLynn and Jody came out to separate ring entrances. Shaw and Masha started. KiLynn tagged herself in and traded forearm shots with Masha. KiLynn hit a delayed vertical suplex on Kelly for a nearfall at 2:30. Jessicka entered and hit some jab punches on Kelly. Seemingly everyone took a turn working over Killer Kelly; this is basic tag action, not bad but basic. Jody hit a German Suplex at 6:00 and she was fired up. Jessicka hit a running Stinger Splash in the corner on Kelly, with Rush getting a nearfall. Masha finally got the hot tag and she hit a superkick on KiLynn.
Masha hit a double dropkick. Courtney hit a spear on Masha. Savannah hit a Samoan Drop. KiLynn hit a running stunner. Gisele hit a spin kick. Jody hit a Michinoku Driver on Gisele. Masha and Kelly hit a double kneestrike to Courtney’s head, then a double piledriver move to pin Courtney Rush. Nonstop action from the second Masha made the hot tag.
* Gia Miller interviewed Johnny Swinger backstage; she noted he won his only ever title 20 years ago, to the day, teaming with Simon Diamond. Swinger was confident that he was going to win tonight. I personally get a kick out of Swinger’s 1980s throwback gimmick and insider lingo. He got serious for a moment, talking about his career in wrestling, and his uncle’s career in wrestling.
3. Kenny King (w/Sheldon Jean) defeated Johnny Swinger to retain the Digital Media Title at 7:11. Swinger kicked the middle rope, causing King to get hit in the groin, allowing Swinger to take the early advantage. Swinger hit a back suplex for a nearfall at 4:30, then a slingshot legdrop across the throat, and King rolled to the floor to regroup. The ref was ejecting Sheldon for interfering and was escorting him up the ramp. Out of nowhere, Heath jumped in the ring and hit a slam on King, allowing Swinger to get a believable nearfall at 6:30. King put Swinger on his shoulders and hit a swinging sideslam for the pin. Good tease that Swinger was going to win.
* Jean and King stomped on Swinger after the match. Tommy Dreamer and security came out to separate them. King attacked Dreamer! (Cameras of course completely missed the initial blow.) We went to a highlight package for the next match.
4. “The Rascalz” Trey Miguel and Zachary Wentz defeated “Subculture” Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster (w/Dani Luna) to win the Impact Tag Team Titles at 18:03. Trey and Andrews started with mat reversals. Wentz and Webster tagged in at 2:30. Webster hit an inverted senton. Andrews hit a standing moonsault on Wentz. Flash was flipped to the floor, where Trey beat him up before tossing Webster back into the ring. The Rascalz took turns working over Webster in their corner, and Morgan was selling a left arm injury. Miguel slammed Webster on the ring apron at 8:30, then he hit a slingshot senton for a nearfall. Andrews finally made the hot tag, and he hit his double Pele Kick at 10:00.
Andrews hit a Northern Lights Suplex and a doublestomp to the chest and he was fired up. Subculture hit stereo flip dives to the floor. In the ring, Andrews hit a powerbomb on Miguel for a nearfall at 11:30. Miguel hit a German Suplex. Wentz hit a Meteora flying double kneedrop for a nearfall om Andrews. All four brawled in the ring. They all fell and all kipped up. The Rascalzz hit stereo handspring-back-spin kicks, and they were all down again. Nice sequence. Morgan hit a Naito-style Destino for a believable nearfall at 14:30. The Rascalz hit their team moonsault move off the ramp to the floor.
In the ring, Trey hit a swinging neckbreaker for a believable nearfall. Trey sprayed a canister in Mark’s eyes! However, Chris Bey and Ace Austin appeared at ringside and distracted the ref, so Miguel couldn’t get the cheap pin. The Good Hands appeared and brawled with Ace and Bey. Dani Luna hit a top-rope splash to the floor on those teams. In the ring, Andrews hit the Stundog Millionaire on Trey. Webster hit a Swanton Bomb on Miguel for a believable nearfall at 17:30. Miguel hit a top-rope doublestomp on Flash (who was across Wentz’s shoulders) and Wentz immediately hit a Death Valley Driver for the pin! New champions! A really good match.
* Backstage segment with Bully Ray’s team. It appears Bully Ray doesn’t like or trust Lio Rush. Moose said they are all scumbags so they should get along just fine. Another video package shows the history between Eddie Edwards and Frankie Kazarian; the video showed images of Boston, and Killer Kowalski’s wrestling school. This is really well done.
5. Eddie Edwards defeated Frankie Kazarian at 4:33. They argued, but got in the ring. There is only the two of them, the referee, and the unseen cameramen. I guess I would have preferred a dozen or so students around to help. Kazarian is in ring gear but Edwards is in a T-shirt and sweat pants. They brawled to the floor at 2:30, where Frankie hit a hip-toss on the thin mat. In the ring, Edwards hit a backpack stunner for a nearfall. We have no commentary; I actually just noticed that, so you really hear them yelling at each other and grunting. Kazarian hit a Trash Compactor piledriver for a nearfall. Alisha suddenly appeared at ringside and yelled at Frankie. It allowed Edwards to hit a slam for the pin. Okay. I’m such a big fan of these two, and I just feel like this was on the low end of my expectations. I’ll repeat that I really like the way this was edited.
* Edwards was staring at a picture of Killer Kowalski when Alisha suddenly cracked him over the back with a kendo stick. Eddie hit Kazarian over the head with a framed picture, with glass shattering everywhere. We have dramatic music playing in the background, and we hear the voice of Kowalski. Very cinematic, which of course means that some people will really hate it and some will love it.
6. IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Sanada defeated Jake Something at 13:11 in a non-title match. Hannifan said that EVIL has stolen the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt. Sanada wore a Great Muta outfit to the ring; that’s new. Jake shoved Sanada to the mat, showing his power advantage. Sanada tied Jake in the Paradise Lock in the bottom rope at 2:30, then hit the dropkick to unlock him. Jake hit a running splash that sent Sanada flying, then a short-arm clothesline for a nearfall at 4:30. Sanada hit a back suplex and they were both down. Sanada hit a plancha to the floor at 7:00. In the ring, Jake hit a spear into the corner for a nearfall. Sanada applied the Skull End dragon sleeper. Sanada placed Jake’s feet on the top rope and hit a swinging neckbreaker at 9:00.
Sanada hit a TKO stunner for a nearfall. Sanada hit a top-rope moonsault for another nearfall. Jake hit a sit-out piledriver for a nearfall, and they were both down. Sanada went for Deadfall, but Jake avoided it. Jake nailed a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall at 11:30, and we got a “this is awesome!” chant. Sanada hit an enzuigiri and a Shining Wizard. He again couldn’t hit Deadfall. Jake hit a hard forearm that dropped Sanada. Jake set up for a move, but Sanada countered it and nailed Deadfall (Jay White’s Blade Runner) swinging faceplant for the pin. A very good match although the winner was never in doubt.
* Another video package to set up the next match. Hannifan reiterated how this is the first time Josh Alexander has competed for Impact Wrestling in Canada in four years.
7. Bully Ray, Moose, Brian Myers, and Lio Rush defeated Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Kushida, and Josh Alexander at 22:48. Moose and Myers came out together with identical white outfits. Bully Ray leaned into the camera and said “God bless the Funker and God bless the Fiend.” Sabin, Shelley and Kushida came out together, with Alexander getting a solo entrance last. Kushida has the giant red X around his neck, and Hannifan reminded us he has a title shot in the bank. Sabin and Myers started, but Lio jumped in the ring and attacked Sabin. No wrap on Lio’s shoulder so he must be feeling better. Kushida and Shelley tied up Lio on the mat so Sabin could hit a dropkick to the face at 1:30. Kushida kicked at Myer’s left arm and worked it over.
Moose tagged in, looked past Shelley, and demanded Josh Alexander, so Josh entered at 3:30. Moose hit a dropkick into the corner. Josh tied Moose in the Tree of Woe and did the ‘Oh Canada groinstomp.’ Hannifan said it was a nice tribute to Petey Williams. Bully Ray shook the ropes, causing Sabin to fall and be crotched at 6:00. This allowed Bully Ray to hit a suplex and took charge. Lio entered at 7:30 and continued the beatdown on Sabin. The heels set up a table at ringside, so the babyfaces did, too. The heels all took turns working over Sabin. Moose and Myers hit some team moves and the commentators talked about how well they are working together.
Alexander made the hot tag at 11:30 and he hit a series of German Suplexes. He flipped Bully Ray off the top rope to the mat. Myers hit a spin kick on Shelley. Shelley hit a Flatliner that dropped Myers on the second turnbuckle. Kushida hit a straight punch to Lio’s jaw. Bully Ray hit a back suplex on Kushida. Sabin hit a top-rope missile dropkick on Bully Ray. Sabin accidentally kicked Shelley. Moose slammed Sabin on the ring apron. In the ring, Moose dove at Josh, but Alexander sidestepped it, caught the leg, and applied an anklelock at 14:00. Alexander applied a Sharpshooter on Moose. Myers nailed a top-rope elbow drop on the ref to save Moose! Myers hit the Roster Cut clothesline on Alexander. Moose hit a uranage on Sabin through the table on the floor at 16:00!
Kushida applied the Hoverboard Lock on Moose on the floor, but Moose set Kushida on the other table, and Lio immediately hit a top-rope frogsplash onto Kushida, lying on the table on the floor! Meanwhile, Bully Ray and Shelley fought on the entrance ramp. Moose set up another table on the floor below. The lights went out at 18:00 and the crowd popped! The lights came back on and PCO walked down the ramp and brawled with Bully Ray. Myers hit a low blow uppercut on PCO for the save. Bully Ray powerbombed PCO off the ramp through the table set up down on the floor! However, PCO immediately sat up and the crowd went nuts. PCO walked toward Bully Ray, but Steve Maclin came out of nowhere and attacked PCO! PCO and Bully Ray wound up vanishing to the back.
Maclin and Alexander brawled on the stage, and Hannifan said this has been months in the making. Security finally came out and separated Josh and Maclin. Maclin was escorted to the back, as Hannifan reminded us this match is still going on. Josh got back in the ring, but Moose hit a uranage on him at 21:30. Moose missed a spear and crashed into the corner. Myers pushed Alexander into Shelley! Alexander and Shelley began arguing! Shelley left the ring. This argument allowed Moose to set up in the corner; Alexander turned around and Moose cut him in half with a spear for the pin. Good match and a nice way to bring back Maclin.
* A video aired, showing a closeup of a body… the camera pulled back and it was Jordynne Grace! She’s coming back soon!
* Gail Kim got a ring intro and a nice pop and she joined the commentary team. I like the on-screen graphic with the height, weight, fighting styles, etc., of our main event competitors. The little things done right that give this a ‘big fight feel.’
8. Trinity defeated Deonna Purrazzo to retain the Knockouts Championship at 15:08. We have a female ring announcer and a female referee, too. Nice touch. Trinity’s hair is red and white with the maple leaf in her white hair, so she looks like the Canadian flag. Nice touch. They immediately traded armbar reversals. I am loving having Gail Kim on commentary, talking about how she met both of these women when they were quite young and breaking into the business. (Easy to forget that Kim and Purrazzo were in the WWE system.) They went to the floor, where Deonna hit a piledriver onto the thin mat at 3:00! In the ring, Deonna tied up Trinity on the mat and kept her grounded.
Deonna hit a Lungblower, hopped to her feet and posed and was loudly booed; she hasn’t cheated but she’s playing up heelish mannerisms. They hit simultaneous clotheslines and were both down. Trinity hit a Samoan Drop at 7:00 and she kipped to her feet. She hit a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall. Deonna hit a Mafia Kick for a nearfall. Rehwoldt said Jordynne Grace will certainly be gunning for the person who wins this match. Deonna snapped an arm backward, then a side-Russian Legsweep, into a Fujiwara Armbar at 9:00, with Trinity reaching the ropes. Trinity trapped Deonna’s head between her legs and nailed a faceplant. Trinity immediately hit a split-legged moonsault for a nearfall.
They traded forearm shots on the top rope, and Deonna hit a second-rope superplex. They got up and traded more forearm shots. Trinity hit a modified mid-ring Spanish Fly at 12:00; I don’t know how else to describe it. Trinity applied Starstruck (Master Wato’s Vendeval head submission hold.) Trinity hit a sit-out Bubba Bomb for a nearfall at 14:00. They again fought on the ropes in the corner, but Deonna yanked her to the mat and tried to apply a Fujiwara Armbar, but Trinity escaped. Trinity hit a Code Red and again applied the Starstruck, and this time, Deonna tapped out. They hugged afterward.
* We ended with a clip announcing that WIll Ospreay is headed to Impact for Bound For Glory in Chicago on October 21!
Final Thoughts: A show that topped my (admittedly low) expectations going in. I loved the eight-man tag, as it really went further in establishing that Myers and Moose have gelled as a team, created more friction between Shelley and Alexander, kept Lio in the pest heel role battling Sabin, and a good return for Maclin, getting right back in the top-tier mix with Alexander. I loved everything about the presentation of the main event, from Gail Kim, to the on-screen graphics, to the ring announcer and ref. That earns second best. The tag team title match earns third best, just ahead of a strong Jake-Sanada matchup.
Again, the Edwards-Kazarian stuff wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. I think having a nice little crowd in the training center, whether a dozen students or 100 fans, in that building and called like a regular indy match that went 15-20 minutes, could have been special. I wasn’t prepared for a cinematic match that went less than five with an underwhelming finish. (Imagine if they had announced that match for a show in that building and packed a hot crowd to see that match headline an indy show?)
It isn’t said enough, but Hannifan is great on commentary; he and Rehwoldt have just clicked since day one. They are easily my favorite combination in Impact in the past decade. (I admittedly really got a kick out of Josh Matthews-Madison Rayne working together and the way she would sometimes needle him for being a nerd who couldn’t get a girl.)