Impact Wrestling presented its first PPV of the year this past Sunday from the Bomb Factory in Dallas, Texas. Hard to Kill, a play on words about the companies history of near fatal controversies, sales, and bad decisions was an event designed to usher the company in to a new era with Tessa Blanchard making history by becoming the companies first female World Champion by defeating Sami Callihan.
Could Hard to Kill Overcome the Snake Bites?
This event seemed to be snake bitten in the days and even hours leading to bell time. During the IMPACT Plus Bash at the Brewery event in San Antonio (actually a good show and probably their best app exclusive) poor Rich Swann suffered a severe ankle injury, taking him out of the co-main event tag team title match with the North.
Then Ethan Page, one half of the tag teams champions The North, got food poisoning courtesy of some Tex-Mex cuisine and predicted a possible tights shitting during his match
Then last but certainly not least, all Wrestling Twitter hell broke loose as female wrestlers began accusing Tessa Blanchard of being a bully, racist, assault, spitting in faces and everything. Every typical wrestling twitter outraged, piled on and predicted the cancelling of Tessa Blanchard. As it turned out the controversy lasted about 12 hrs and no one in the building cared, as Tessa was far and away the biggest star on the show.
BOTTOM LINE: Thumbs Up
With all that, Hard to Kill was overall it a very good show. The main event of Callihan vs Tessa was absolutely fantastic, Michael Elgin and Eddie Edwards delivered a great strong style classic, The North vs Willie Mack was the damndest handicap match you will ever see, and Moose vs Rhino was better than it had any business being. Plus we got to see Ace Austin and Trey Miguel turn in a solid performance despite being hamstrung by a silly storyline. They are a couple young guys who are only going to get better and become X-Division cornerstones in the next couple years.
Wasn’t All Good
Ken Shamrock vs Mad Man Fulton was actually entertaining, and I wouldn’t call it bad, but it wasn’t good either. The three way women’s title match featuring Grace, Taya, and ODB kind of just existed. Then there’s RVD vs Cage, and honestly I have no fucking clue what to make of it.
Match Ratings From the GRAPPL app and myself
If you haven’t downloaded the Grappl App, do yourself a favor. We typically rely on Dave Meltzer and Wade Keller, but this app allows you to rate the matches yourself and calculates a consensus. I’ll rat the match first and then provide the GRAPPL rating.
Ken Shamrock vs Mad Man Fulton
This match is what it needed to be and kept short. Honestly they could have shaved a couple more minutes. Being an old school UFC and attitude era fan, I love seeing Shamrock jacked to the gills, he’s really fun to watch, but he should be kept under 5 minutes. Shamrock did his crazy tope at one point and won by “dislocating” Fultons shoulder. Truth be told I thought it was legit, but I got worked. Kudos for that. Fulton was kept strong in the end.
MG: 2.5 Stars / GRAPPL 2 Stars
X-Division Title Match Ace Austin vs Trey Miguel
Very solid match but not a blow away classic. Austin is a great sleazy heel but the whole trying to hook up with Treys mom and the bad acting that goes with it isn’t for me. Ace Austin retained.
MG: 3 Stars / GRAPPL: 3.29
Knockouts Title Match: Taya vs Jordynne Grace vs ODB
A nothing match that was your standard paint by numbers 3 way. Taya won.
MG: 1.5 / GRAPPL 2.21
RVD vs Brian Cage
Total squash by RVD. He hit him with the Van Terminator and the ref stopped the match cause Cage was bleeding from the mouth really bad. Data then came out and they started another match. Turns out Cage had a bicep injury heading in to the match and his contract with the company expired. So they just squashed the guy. Rumor has it that he signed with AEW already, which he strongly denied, basically confirming the story. So if Cage was hurt, why have him go out at all? How long did they know? What a waste and a total disappointment.
MG: 0.25 / GRAPPL: 0.86
RVD vs Daga
The crowd seemed to be confused and felt ripped off. Cage was the unstoppable monster and got squashed by one of the few ECW Wrestlers still alive. totally took the air out. RVD won that too.
MG: 1 / GRAPPL: 1.64
Eddie Edwards vs Michael Elgin
What a freaking match. They really brought the crowd back, and it took some time. This could have been on any major Japanese show and would have tore the house down. These guys do that style so well and I hope they do it again. Edwards won so now they are 1-1 in 2020 so a rubber match is in store.
MG: 4.25 / GRAPPL: 3.8
Rhino vs Moose: NO DQ
This match was the surprise of the night. These two over delivered and really worked their butts off. I had no hope going in to the match and their wasn’t really a storyline but these two oversized mammals that love to spear humans did a great job. Moose, who came out as a Macho Man Randy Savage cosplayer, won with his version of the spear.
MG: 3 / GRAPPL 2.5
Tag Team Title Match: The North vs Willie Mack
As stated above, Rich Swann jacked up his ankle so this match became a handicap match and it was awesome. Way better than it had any business being considering it was a handicap match and Ethan Page was sick as a dog. Josh Alexander and Willie Mack really showed here. At one point Willie hit Alexander with a destroyer while Alexander was on Pages shoulders. Unreal. The North retained.
MG: 3.5 / GRAPPL: 3.3
IMPACT World Title Match: Sami Callihan vs Tessa Blanchard
Pro wrestling is at its best when the audience actually cares about who wins and who loses. Its really at its best when one competitor is hated, one is loved, and the stakes are high. For this match, not only was the world title at stake, but the chance to make history and set Impact wrestling on a new path. Tessa Blanchard and Sami Callihan did it all and at a very high level. If you thought Tessa was cancelled, you could not have been more wrong. She came out like a total star. Sami Callihan did as well, and it quite possible the best, most despicable and disgusting heel in wrestling today. Tess sold her knee most of the match and really had the crowd with her. Callihan spit on her, put her through a table, hit pile drivers and could nto seem to stop her. Tessa won with two Canadian destroyers and a hammerlock DDT. My only gripe was she hit her finish, the Magnum, 4 times without getting the finish with it. Other than that it was near flawless.
MG: 4.5 / GRAPPL: 3.94