This is the first pay per view of the year for Impact Wrestling, and the fourth one that I’ve ever ordered. Away from all the hoopla of WWE and AEW Impact has quietly put on some good shows over the past year and a half. And now that their ill fated partnership with AEW is finished they’ve been able to go back to focusing on their own product, which is to their benefit.
This was the debut on commentary from Tom Hannifan, formerly Tom Phillips from WWE. In fact the number of WWE alumni on this show was pretty big; that’s not a bad thing at all as it’s good that those who were released were able to find work and in many cases are better options than who may have been in their place had they not come.
The buzz for this show went through the roof when it was announced on the January 8 episode of Smackdown that Impact’s Knockouts Champion Mickie James would be competing in the Royal Rumble this year. James was defending that title on this show so there was a curiosity in seeing whether she’d keep the title to walk into the Rumble as champion or whether Impact would make one of it’s infamous bonehead decisions and have her drop the title here. So how was it? Let’s see!
Ultimate X Match: Chelsea Green, Lady Frost, Tasha Steelz, Jordynn Grace, Alisha Edwards, and Rosemary
This match is similar to Money in the Bank with the only difference being that the title shot you win isn’t an on the fly one. Also, the X that you grab to win is suspend on ropes and not hanging above the ring so no ladders. It started out with the six woman brawl before a couple of the women’s tag partners came out to interfere on their behalf. There were a lot of dives as is the case with these kind of matches. The suspension cables made for a great visual as the ladies tried to scale them to grab the X. The finish was pretty wild with Grace, Steelz, and Green all out in the middle of the suspension cables and Steelz getting it for the win.
Good opener, although it felt kind of rushed in the final couple of minutes. These type of matches usually get 15 to 20 minutes on a WWE show but they only got nine here, which wasn’t really enough to max out on what they could do.
X Division Title Match: Trey Miguel (c) vs Steve Maclin
Maclin was known as Steve Cutler of the Forgotten Sons in NXT and WWE. Going into this match Maclin had not been pinned or submitted in Impact Wrestling. Maclin wasted no time and dove out onto Miguel before he even got in the ring! The two men fought outside for a couple of minutes before they got in the ring to properly start it. Miguel can fly and did it early. Maclin got control and kept things on the ground and got some pretty wicked power moves in. Both guys landed some crazy stuff on each other before Miguel got the win. Very good match here; Miguel is spectacular and Maclin is way better than he ever got a chance to be in NXT or the main roster in WWE. No one’s fault per se, it just is what it is.
Ring of Honor World Title Match: Jonathan Gresham vs Chris Sabin
This was a first – the ROH World Title being defended on an Impact pay per view. Although it is not operating at the time ROH is still sending it’s champions around to work dates and defend the titles. This is a great gesture from Impact, and they even brought in ROH commentator Ian Riccaboni to call the match. Sabin has history in both companies so this is a fitting challenge. The match was contested under Pure rules, as Gresham pledged to do after winning the title at ROH Final Battle 2021. If you’ve seen Gresham work at all over the last few years you know how good he is and Sabin did not disappoint either. Great match here.
Josh Alexander vs Jonah
Jonah was known as Bronson Reed in NXT before getting released last year along with half the roster it seems. Crazy match, they did a lot of wild stuff and it was like a clash of the titans. Jonah go to really show what he could do here even in defeat. I was not expecting Alexander to win here, and definitely not by submission, but since he’s sticking around and Jonah apparently is not then it makes sense. This was an obstacle for Josh on his way to winning the World Title again and not an entry point for Jonah. Wild match, in a good way.
Hardcore War Match: Eddie Edwards, Rich Swann, Willie Mack, Heath and Rhino vs The Good Brothers and Violent by Design
A Hardcore War Match is essentially a Wargames with one ring and no cage. Everything else was the same! This was a pretty violent deal with weapons and all, and was about what you would expect. Good, fun brawl from start to finish, even if getting all 10 guys involved sure crowded the space. The big story of this match was what happened afterwards when an assortment of Ring of Honor guys – Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, Vinny, and PCO – stormed the ring and laid Edwards, Swann and Co out after they got the win. Backstage, Impact President Scott D’Amore was asked if he knew what was going on and said he was calling Baltimore to find out. We have an invasion, folks!
Impact World Title Match: Moose (c) vs Matt Cardona vs W Morrisey
Cordona was Zack Ryder in WWE, and Morrisey was Big Cas. Morrisey has rebounded nicely in Impact after going through some personal struggles for a while. All three looked good here in spots. Good match, standard triple threat stuff until we got a ref bump, Morrisey hitting a power bomb on Moose for what would have been a 10 count, Cardona getting back in the ring with Moose and killing him with chairs only to have a second ref come out and get bumped, some more in ring chaos, and then Moose finally getting the pin to retain with a super slow three count. The last five minutes were way overdone with shenanigans for my tastes. Morrisey getting the pin on Moose while the ref was out is an obvious set up for an eventual one on one match between those two. If you remember when Big Cas was put in a Fatal 4 Way with Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens in 2016 for the Universal Title then it’s pretty cool to see the Old Man’s vision coming close to fulfillment for Morrisey, albeit in a different company.
Main Event – Knockouts World Title Match: Mickie James (c) vs Deonna Purazzo
This match was made much more interesting by James being announced for the 2022 Royal Rumble. This was a Texas Death Match, which meant to win you to knock your opponent out for a 10 count. For some reason both women covered each other for pins and went for tapouts even though they didn’t count here, then it was explained the pin and submissions were the prelude to the 10 count. Both women went for the chairs early on, and continuing with what went down earlier in the night ROH women’s champion Rok C was shown in the crowd. A golf club was used as a weapon, as was a wheelbarrow (why was that even there?). The fight went up the aisle to the entrance by the jumbotron. James got busted open (don’t know if it was hardway or not). Some thumbtacks were introduced (why are we still doing thumbtack spots in 2022?). Purazzo got busted open later. This was a brutal brawl, in all the good and bad ways. Purazzo’s manager Matt Rehwoldt was banned from putting his hands on James but did interfere but helping Purazzo beat the count and taking a guitar shot for her. James eventually got the win to retain the title in what was a no brainer of a booking decision, but Impact is known for stepping on rakes when it comes to easy decisions so it was not a forgone conclusion at all. Good match for what it was; I’m not big on thumbtack spots but if you’recool with them there’s nothing to really hate on with this match.
Good show here! Good matches throughout, and no real head scratching decisions. I would have liked the Women’s Ultimate X to get more time, maybe shaving a few minutes off of Jonah/Alexander which didn’t need to go that long, but beyond that no real complaints here. And they were done by 11:00! Impact is off to a good start for 2022 with this show, a budding conflict with Ring of Honor, and whatever lies ahead with James and the Rumble.
And in regards to Mickie, she has been on a mission to prove that she can still go ever since she was released by WWE last year and has done just that. Good on her for backing up her words with action over the back half of 2021 and into 2022. And she appears to have the best of both worlds now; being a phone call away from more WWE appearances while being able to work more frequently than if she was still there. Here’s to continued success.
After a disastrous experience with the whole Forbidden Door – this show in 2021 saw an outsider in Kenny Omega pin their world champion in a six man tag match on the way to winning their title and not doing a thing with it to help the company – it looks like they may have figured out a way to do this intercompany thing that actually benefits them. Impact is definitely worth your time if you have it to spare and this show was a good example of that.