With Hard to Kill just 24 hours away, Thursday's edition of Impact on AXS TV will be the final stop before the pay-per-view.
Impact World Champion Josh Alexander and Bully Ray will come face-to-face virtually ahead of their Full Metal Mayhem match for the title on Friday.
In a trios match featuring opponents who will clash Friday, Jonathan Gresham, Rich Swann & Digital Media Champion Joe Hendry will face Eddie Edwards, Moose & Steve Maclin.
Ahead of a four-way for the Impact Tag Team titles Friday, Heath will face Brian Myers in singles action.
"Speedball" Mike Bailey will take on Anthony Greene ahead of Bailey's six-way scramble match on Friday and his Pit Fight match against Kenny King next Thursday.
Sami Callihan's attempt to be initiated in The Design could literally come to a head as Callihan will have his head shaved by the group in a final act of acceptance.
Rosemary will face off with Savannah Evans ahead of their involvement in a trios match Friday.
The BTI pre-show will see Johnny Swinger & Zicky Dice against Shera & Raj Singh.
George Iceman updated us on the condition of Scott D’Amore, saying he suffered injuries and was taken to a local medical facility. Can we not use WWE speak? It sounds so much better to say hospital. Since D’Amore is injured, he will be unable to complete his duties as director of authority. Gia Miller will be speaking with Gail Kim later in the show about this.
Raj Singh & Shera defeated Swinger’s Dungeon (Johnny Swinger & Zicky Dice)
I wrote way too much about this match. It was horrible. But it wasn’t Swinger’s fault. Dice was easily the best wrestler in the match, and Swinger was funny, nonetheless.
Hilariously, the announcers talked about how New Years was just around the corner, so you can tell this was filmed quite some time ago. Of course, it being pretaped is no secret, so it really doesn’t hurt anything. Swinger came out with a sign that said Road to Fifty 0/50 so he can get his title shot.
Tom Hannifan did the math, and said Swinger, at his rate of victory over his career, should hit 50 wins within 6 years. I laughed. Swinger bodyslammed Singh across the knee of Dice, but soon had to deal with Shera choking him. Swinger’s selling was absolutely hilarious here. Shera nearly dropped Swinger on his head after a backbreaker and Swinger desperately kept his hands around Shera’s neck to avoid falling. Poor guy. I think I’d have Singh work most of this match to avoid a fatality.
Singh tried to pin Swinger after yanking the hair, which was not enough to pin him. Shera came in with a reverse bearhug, and Swinger’s selling was the best part of the move with his eyes nearly popping out of his head. Singh hit a backbreaker for a 2-count. Dice yelled “Come on, Swinger! I’m nice and loose, tag me in!” Singh did not like that so he chased him off the apron.
Swinger slipped through the legs of Singh and tagged out to Dice who hit a series of punches. Dice hit a cannonball in the corner for a 2-count on Singh. Shrea managed to tag in and hit the Lion’s War for the win.
--A recap of the events that led to Scott D’Amore being powerbombed through a table last week aired. There was a recap of the feud with Alexander as well, but this video seemed to make the match with Alexander secondary to Bully Ray attacking management. I do understand the need to recap what happened last week though, as it was a big angle, but I’m really not a fan of Bully Ray being in this position. Imagine if they got Jeff Cobb or Shane Taylor doing this kind of angle?
--Josh Matthews joined the show on Zoom with staggering video, which looked pretty low rent. However, he interviewed Ray and Alexander as both of them were sent home until tomorrow’s PPV.
Alexander talked about how Bully Ray has taken out several people that were close to Alexander. Bully Ray said that Alexander admitted that Ray was in his head. Ray claimed that D’Amore hit Ray first, which was true, and he used it to justify putting D’Amore through the table. Ray said that the reason he used chairs, tables, and ladders on Alexander and others was so he would play into his hands and challenge him to a match he invented. Bully Ray, chessmaster, folks.
Ray promised to bring pain to Alexander that he never felt before, and he would be the 3-time Impact Champion tomorrow. Alexander ended with saying that all the talk is over, and that we’ll see who is champion tomorrow at Hard to Kill.
This was a fine promo segment, but I’m getting really tired of Bully Ray, top heel, in Impact, and it’s only been a few months. Hopefully he can go away after losing tomorrow. If he wins, well, it isn’t as bad as Tyrus winning the NWA title, but it would be bad.
Heath (w/ Rhino) defeated Brian Myers (w/ Matt Cardona)
This was a decent match hurt by the nearly completely silent audience. I am not sure if it is because no one was there, or if it is because they just weren’t into it. Probably both. Either way, a perfectly fine match, but hurt by the lack of cheering.
Heath beat on Myers in the corner and Myers stumbled to the middle of the ring and Flair flopped. Rhino and Cardona tried to get involved, but the referee ejected both of them. Heath hit a running flip off the apron onto Myers. Myers hit a flying forearm on the floor. Myers did a chin lock on Heath. Myers choked Heath in the ropes.
Myers hit an implant DDT in the middle of the ring for a 2-count. Myers hit a spear, but Heath kicked out. About 4 people chanted “He’s got kids!” Myers went to the top rope, but Heath ran up the ropes and hit a powerslam off the ropes. That was cool. About 15 people chanted for heath. Better then 4. Heath tried to hit a superplex, but Myers shoved Heath off the ropes and hit an elbow for a 2-count. As Myers argued with the ref, Heath hit the Wake Up Call for the pin.
--Chris Bey and Ace Austin did a promo talking about how they did in the NJPW Super Junior Tag League, going right to the finals. Despite losing, they did so well in the tournament that Impact officials placed them in the 4-way elimination tag match for the Impact World Tag Titles at Hard to Kill.
This was a simple and effective way to insert Bey and Austin into the title match at the PPV.
--Jessicka ran up to Rosemary and claimed Taya Valkyrie was taken out. They ran to her, and she was crying on the ground. She gave the tag title to Rosemary and told her to go defend it. I feel like we should have had this angle last week when Rosemary defeated the tag titles, but here we are this week, and they’re acting like it was unusual for this to happen. That doesn’t make sense, and this segment was bad. Was this their way of writing out Taya Valkyrie?
--Jessicka ran up to Rosemary and claimed Taya Valkyrie was taken out. They ran to her, and she was crying on the ground. She gave the tag title to Rosemary and told her to go defend it, after claiming that it was Gisele Shaw, Jai Vidal, Savanah Evans, and Tasha Steelz that attacked her. I feel like we should have had this angle last week when Rosemary defeated the tag titles, but here we are this week, and they’re acting like it was unusual for this to happen. That doesn’t make sense, and this segment was bad. Was this their way of writing out Taya Valkyrie?
Savanah Evans (w/ Gisele Shaw, Jai Vidal, & Tasha Steelz) defeated Rosemary (w/ Jessicka)
This was not good at all. Very boring match. I liked all the participants, but I don’t think this ended good in any way.
Rosemary bit Evans face in the early part of the match, fulfilling the prediction as said she would when she took the title from Valkyrie. I guess that makes her a babyface since she kept her word. Rosemary hit a crossbody to the floor on Evans and took out Vidal at the same time. Rosemary got distracted by Vidal, which led to Evans hitting a big boot on Rosemary.
Evans hit a butterfly suplex on Rosemary and got the heat on Rosemary for a little bit. After a series of multiple distractions that overbooked this finish, Evans finally hit a full nelson slam on Rosemary for the pinfall.
--Shaw, Steelz, Evans, and Vidal beat down Jessicka and Rosemary further after the match.
--Taylor Wilde cut a scary promo putting a curse on her opponents for Hard to Kill. This was not good at all. The last thing this company needs is more supernatural gimmicks.
--A video of the events over the last year that led to Mickie James’ Last Ride and all the matches she went through to face Jordynne Grace, and this was absolutely fantastic. This match may be the most compelling one heading into Hard to Kill. Jordynne Grace said in the video that she didn’t want to retire Mickie James, but that she was not going to sacrifice her legacy for James’ career. James said that it was do or die, and she was going to walk out with the title.
--We go from that excellent promo to The Design, which is less then good. They had candles in the ring, and a black mat put over the canvas, along with several flags with The Design written on them.
Deaner claimed that the process of him joining The Design required the shaving of his hair, as it involved him losing his identity. The lights went out and Callihan instantaneously appeared in the ring, so he can teleport now. Callihan gave his bat over to Kon. Deaner reminded Callihan of the story of Sampson and how his power was linked to his hair, but certainly misapplied that Biblical text.
Deaner said that the process was long and violent, but he wondered if Callihan wanted to see it to the end. Callihan told him to stop talking and cut his hair. Callihan sat down on a chair and submitted to having his hair cut. Looks like Callihan has joined the weird murderous cult. Deaner grabbed the clippers. Hopefully this doesn’t end up like when James Mitchell accidentally scalped Raven. Callihan grabbed them and cut his own hair.
The handed Callihan a mirror and told him to look at himself. Callihan broke the mirror over his own head and then grabbed the scissors. Callihan turned them over to Deaner. Deaner claimed it was the death of the Death Machine, and he is now simply Callihan.
--Gia Miller was with Gail Kim, and they talked about finding someone to fill in for Scott D’Amore for the time being, and we would learn who it was at Hard to Kill.
Mike Bailey defeated Anthony Greene
This was a great match that this episode needed. Bailey and Greene are very good, and it’s okay for Green to have this role until he finds his place.
Greene and Bailey wasted no time, having a fast paced match that this show desperately needed at this point. Greene hit a tope suicida to the floor and a rope walk crossbody for a 2-count. The announcers claimed that Kenny King desecrated and destroyed the training facility of Mike Bailey. Well, he did beat up his students.
Greene went to powerbomb Bailey, but he slipped out onto the apron and as Greene slid to the floor, Bailey hit a springboard moonsault to the floor. Bailey hit a standing corkscrew shooting star press for a 2-count. Greene hit a superkick on Bailey and went for a tornado killswitch, but he blocked it and hit a PK on Greene. Bailey hit a huge spinning kick and hit Ultima weapon for a 3-count.
--Kevin Kelly did a promo for NJPW on AXS after, featuring Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay from Wrestle Kingdom 17, one of the best matches I have ever seen.
--A hype video aired for Josh Alexander & Bully Ray, recapping all the events with some new comments from Bully Ray and Alexander. I would have cut the Zoom call from the show and aired only this, while giving a few more minutes to Greene/Bailey and the main event, as this was way more effective at hyping the match. It rendered the Zoom call redundant. Alexander’s promo to end the video was very good.
--Before the main event, the announcers ran down the card for Hard to Kill and announced that Josh Alexander and Bully Ray would open the show, while Jordynne Grace and Mickie James would be the main event.
--Joe Hendry grabbed the mic and said that his team was against Dancing Moose and his backup dancers, which the fans then chanted. This Joe Hendry guy is great.
Moose, Steve Maclin, and Eddie Edwards defeated Rich Swann, Jonathan Gresham, and Joe Hendry
Edwards and Gresham were going to start the match, but like a good heel, Edwards immediately tagged out to Maclin. Gresham tied up Maclin with his technical wrestling holds, and tagged out to Joe Hendry. Hendry hit a big stalling vertical suplex on Maclin and tagged out to Swann. Maclin kneed Swann in the gut and tagged Edwards in. Swann hit a series of flying moves before tagging out to Gresham.
Edwards raked the eyes and tagged out to Maclin, but as soon as he entered Gresham tied him up again. This led to all 6 men brawling and hitting big moves, ending with Swann hitting a spinning kick on Edwards that sent everyone to the floor. After an ad break they came back to the heels getting the heat on Rich Swann.
After several minutes of heat on Swann he hit an enziguri on Edwards and tagged out to Gresham who ran wild on Edwards and Maclin before being tossed by Moose into a blue thunder bomb on Edwards. That was a really cool spot. Moose tagged in and started using his size to dominate the technique of Gresham. They briefly got the heat on Gresham before he escapled Maclin and tagged out to Hendry. Hendry hit a fallaway slam on Maclin for a 2-count.
Hendry got caught in the tree of woe, but Swann ran interverense and saved him. Everyone started hitting big moves again, but Moose blind tagged in and speared Hendry pinning him. Moose is the first man to pin Hendry since his return to Impact.
--The lights went out after the match and thunder rumbled, as Eddie Edwards looked confused. The lights came back up and Moose’s theme continued like nothing happened. PCO is coming back soon, methinks.
The last hour of this show was far better then the first one, with good video packages and two great matches leading into the PPV tomorrow night. Overall, not the best go home episode of Impact, but they did nail the hype for the top two matches on the show in the last hour.
Countdown to Hard to Kill
· Angels vs. Yuya Uemura vs. Mike Jackson vs. Bhupinder Gujjar vs. Mike Bailey vs. KUSHIDA
Impact Wrestling Hard to Kill
· Josh Alexander (c) vs. Bully Ray in a Full Metal Mayhem match for the Impact World Championship
· Eddie Edwards vs. Jonathan Gresham
· Deonna Purrazzo vs. Taylor Wilde vs. Killer Kelly vs. Masha Slamovich in a #1 Contenders match
· Rich Swann vs. Steve Maclin in a Falls Count Anywhere match
· Trey Miguel (c) vs. Black Taurus for the X-Division Championship
· The Motor City Machine Guns (c) vs. Major Players vs. Heath & Rhino vs. Ace Austin & Chris Bey for the Impact World Tag Team Championship
· Jordynne Grace (c) vs. Mickie James for the Impact Knockouts Championship