Tessa Blanchard lived up to the name of Sunday night’s Impact Wrestling Pay-Per-View event, proving she was indeed “Hard to Kill,” taking everything Sami Callihan could throw at her, surviving it all, and ultimately pinning him to capture the Impact World Championship in a stellar main event.
Callihan started off the match aggressively, hitting Tessa with a Pump Kick before the opening bell even rang. He immediately hit the Cactus Special, hoping to put her away in the opening seconds, but Blanchard kicked out. Tessa escaped a top rope move attempt by biting him on the forehead, and then hit him with Magnum, but he kicked out. Blanchard then went on a roll, getting the better of a forearm exchange that sent Sami to the floor, and then hitting him with a series of flying dives, and a somersault senton from the top rope to the floor. A desperate Callihan then grabbed a fan’s beer and smashed her in the head with it, dazing and blinding her. Sami then drove her knees hard into the ringside barrier, which looked really ugly, and had Tessa shrieking and crying in pain.
From there, the match took on a brutal tone, with Sami working over her legs with submissions and stomps, which rendered them useless at times, unable to support Tessa when she tried to stand back up. She gritted through the pain, though, and kept trying to fight back. At one point, she was able to come back and send Sami to the floor. But when she went for a somersault dive to the floor, Sami caught her and drove her through a table with a powerbomb. Tessa barely made it back in the ring before the 10-count, but that only ticked Sami off. He removed one of the ringside mats, exposing the floor underneath. With both standing on the apron, Sami clearly had evil intentions, but Tessa was able to fight back again, and she climbed the post, hitting Sami with Magnum on the apron.
Back in the ring, a defiant Tessa challenged Sami to a chop exchange, but he cruelly kicked her in the injured knee instead. Through sheer heart, Blanchard gutted through the pain, lifted Sami up on her shoulders, and hit a Samoan Drop. She followed that up with Magnum but only for two. Sami hit her leg again, and then dropped her with a shoulder-buster, but Tessa amazingly kicked out, angering Sami. But she was angrier, and fired up, getting a 2-and-7/8 count after a Diamond Cutter. Sami was dazed, but still had enough to hit a sit-out powerbomb, which he rolled over into another leglock and then a crossface, which Tessa only escaped by fighting her way to the ropes.
Sami crawled over to the corner and retrieved his title to use as a weapon, but the ref pulled it away from him before he could use it on the challenger. As the ref went to put it back in the corner, Sami put on a pair of brass knuckles. But Tessa was too quick, and she hit a low blow, earning her a 2-count. They exchanged a few more power moves and close 2-counts. Tessa then hit a Canadian Destroyer, and followed that up with a jumping Canadian Destroyer. She followed that up with a DDT, and got the 1, 2, 3 for a historic title win.
This was an amazing match, and a stellar capper to the months-long feud between the two. Both competitors played their roles perfectly, and delivered what has to be considered a career-best performance.
Hard to Kill — Detailed Results:
The opening video saw Tessa’s stepfather, wrestling legend Magnum TA, praising Tessa and encouraging her for her match. The signal was taken over by Sami Callihan, who threatened Tessa and vowed to beat her down and keep his title.
Match 1: Ken Shamrock vs. Madman Fulton (w/ Dave and Jake Crist)
Wow, Shamrock still looks like he’s carved out of stone. This one went differently than expected, as instead of using his size and strength advantage, Fulton tried to out-wrestle Shamrock — apparently, Fulton has an accomplished amateur pedigree which the announcers stressed throughout. Shamrock kept thwarting Fulton’s offense by landing strikes all over. The Crists tried to help their oVe partner, but ate kicks for their troubles, and the referee sent them back to the locker room. Fulton tried for a submission, but Shamrock locked on a kimura. Fulton refused to tap out, and Shamrock dug it in deep, popping Fulton’s shoulder, The ref — and even Shamrock — pleaded with Fulton to give up, but Fulton insisted on continuing. Shamrock immediately clamped on another shoulder lock, and Fulton, screaming in pain, had no choice but to submit. Again, this was kind of weird, since Fulton was booked almost like a babyface, not quitting even after his shoulder popped — but the announcers didn’t really push that aspect after the match.
Winner: Ken Shamrock
Match Rating: 7/10
They showed a clip from Friday night’s Bash at the Brewery show where Rich Swann’s leg was injured. It’s not known who — if anyone — will replace him as Willie Mack’s tag team partner for their title match against the North later.
Match 2: Ace Austin (c) vs. Trey Miguel — for the X-Division Championship
Infuriated by Ace’s salacious comments towards his mother, Trey attacked him at the opening bell and then aggressively punished Ace all around the ring and ringside area. Aces slowed things down, catching Trey in a flying dive attempt. Then he started to punish Trey around the ring, making sure to get a couple of shots in right in front of Trey’s mom, who was sitting in the front row. Trey tried to follow some flashy defence with some flashy offence, but ate a boot to the head. Later, Ace started working over Trey’s knee in order to ground the high-flier. Ace hit a Bangarama for a very near fall. A good moment saw Ace lock up Trey in a leglock, and with the ref checking on Trey, Ace sliced the webbing of Trey’s hands with a sharpened laminated playing card. Trey’s quickness finally let him avoid another blow, and he ended up dazing Ace with a dropkick to the back of the head. He followed that up with a few more, and then locked in a nifty Lying Dragon Sleeper type of move. Trey looked to finish things off with a top rope move, but ace caught him, sending Trey crashing to the mat, where he fell prey to The Fold, giving Ace the 1-2-3. Good match, Austin’s new character direction is going over really well, and both are interesting to watch.
Winner, and still X-Division Champion: Ace Austin
Match Rating: 7/10
After the match, Ace approached Trey’s mom, sending Trey into a frenzy. He attacked Ace and beat him up around ringside, until Reno Scum and the Rascalz all came down to break things up.
Backstage, ODB thanked the fans for supporting her after her food truck was destroyed, and promised a new one would be coming in 2020. She said that her year was looking up and it would begin with a Knockouts Championship win tonight.
Match 3: Taya Valkyrie (c) vs. ODB vs. Jordynne Grace — Triple Threat match for the Knockouts Championship
Before the mach, they showed a clip from Bash at the Brewery, where John E Bravo’s attempt to help Taya backfired, leading to Grace pinning Taya in a match. This match went the typical direction for three-way matches, with two opponents fighting while the third sold a beating on the outside. They finally broke this pattern when Grace and ODB temporarily joined forces to deliver a Steiner-like top rope assisted bulldog on Taya. In the end, Grace hit the Grace Driver on ODB. She went for the pin, but Bravo distracted the ref, and pulled Grace out of the ring. This let Taya steal the pin and successfully retain her title. This was pretty good, with the one big spot, but could also have been a TV match.
Winner, and still Knockouts Champion: Taya Valkyrie
Match Rating: 6/10
Match 4: Rob Van Dam (w/ Katie Forbes) vs. Brian Cage
Katie Forbes’ wore an outfit with the same design as RVD’s, but with 90% less material. Her entrance alone is enough to earn this a TV-M rating… not that I’m complaining. Brian was slapping hands with the fans at ringside during his entrance, when Forbes’ girlfriend (yes, his girlfriend’s girlfriend) who was sitting ringside (also in a matching outfit) grabbed his arm, distracting him and leaving him prone to an attack by RVD. RVD threw Cage into the ring, where he blasted him with a chair, busting open Cage’s mouth. Then, Forbes came into the ring to hold a chair up to Cage’s face so Rob could hit the Van Terminator. RVD tried to go for the cover, but the ref refused to make the count — it wasn’t clear if the match had even started, or if the ref simply decided that Cage was too injured to continue.
Winner: No winner
Match Rating: N/A
A bunch of referees, and Cage’s buddy Daga came to the ring, and this led to:
Match 5: Rob Van Dam (w/ Katie Forbes) vs. Daga
Daga used some flurrious offence to take RVD down and send him scrambling to the floor. But that wasn’t refuge enough, as Daga flew off the top to hit RVD with a dive. Daga was firmly in control, when Forbes interfered from the outside, leaving him vulnerable to a hard kick by RVD to the head, knocking him silly. A Five-Star Frog Splash followed, and the 3-count was just a formality after that. After the match, Forbes and her girlfriend (whose name was revealed to be Jennifer) danced provocatively. This one seemed to be more about pushing the potential HLA storyline, but otherwise was a throw-away.
Winner: Rob Van Dam
Match Rating: 6/10
Backstage, Sami was heard angrily yelling in his locker room. But when the backstage interviewer tried to get some words, Jake Crist came out and refused to let her in, saying that Sami was just fine.
Match 6: Eddie Edwards vs. Michael Elgin
The winner of this match gets the Call Your Shot Trophy, which Elgin stole when he looted Edwards’ locker room. Wow, they started off with some huge hits, with Elgin in particular impressing with a huge forearm shot that dropped Eddie. Elgin lifted the ringside mat to expose the hard concrete underneath. As he did, Edwards went for a flying dive, but Elgin caught him with another big punch, and then hit a twisting dropslam, bouncing Eddie’s back on the exposed floor — ouch. A neat move saw Eddie suplex Elgin over the top and to the floor, but Elgin held on and upon landing on the floor, suplexed Eddie over. They exchanged some huge power moves and lots of hard-hitting blows, including an awesome running forearm by Elgin to the back of Eddie’s head that nearly ended things. Elgin hit a sweet German Suplex off the top, but Edwards kicked out! Elgin then hit Splash Mountain, but again, only got 2. Elgin changed the game, locking in a submission, but Edwards grabbed the rope. A frustrated Elgin then hit the Buckle Bomb, but when he went to end things with the Elgin Bomb, Edwards went over the top and pinned Elgin with a Sunset Flip. This was a slobber-knocker, and the best match of the show so far.
Winner: Eddie Edwards
Match Rating: 8/10
Backstage, Rhino cut an intense promo on Moose, complete with expletives.
Match 7: Moose vs. Rhino — No DQ Match
Interesting placement of this match, following a very similar battle of hard-hitters. Moose hit a Spear in the first minute, but Rhino had the wherewithal to roll out of the ring. Moose took advantage of the no-DQ stipulation, smashing Rhino’s wall-sized back with a chair all the way up the entrance ramp. When they fought back to the ringside area, Rhino turned the tables on Moose, literally, when Rhino put him through one that Moose had set up. Rhino got some more plunder from under the ring, but Moose beat him to it, using a garbage pail lid to flatten Rhino. Moose then hit a top rope elbow (his outfit was a tribute to Randy “Macho Man” Savage, so this move was also in that vein). But when he went to end thing with another, Rhino recovered, caught him, and delivered a huge Superplex, dropping Moose onto a pile of steel chairs. Rhino then got another table, and set it up in the corner of the ring. Rhino went to GORE Moose through the table, but Moose got a foot up and kicked a charging Rhino right in the mush. Rhino tried for it again, but Moose pulled the referee in front of him, cushioning the blow. It took some time for a new ref to get to the ring, so Rhino was only able to get a 2-count. A desperate Moose hit Rhino with a low blow, and followed that up with a Spear to get the pin. This was fun, but may have been more impactful if it had not directly followed Elgin and Edwards.
Match Rating: 8/10
Match 8: The North (c) vs. Willie Mack — Handicap Match for the Tag Team Championship
It was announced that nobody was going to replace Rich Swann, but instead, Willie was going to have to take the North on by himself. The story here was Mack scrappily fighting, but the North using the 2-on-1 advantage to double-team the big man. They pummelled him, but he was able fight back, and thwart a top rope move attempt with a top rope Canadian Destroyer on Alexander. He followed that up with the Six Star Frog Splash, but Ethan Page pulled the ref’s leg to break the count. The numbers game caught up to Mack, and the North dropped him with their finisher for the win. This was a good showcase for Mack, but the dominant win by the champs in the end was the only way to go. It’s too bad that they couldn’t have found a replacement for Swann, as the North are too good to not be showcased in a more competitive match.
Winners, and still Tag Team Champions: The North
Match Rating: 8/10
Match 9: Tessa Blanchard vs. Sami Callihan (c) — Impact World Championship match
Winner, and new Impact World Champion: Tessa Blanchard
Match rating: 10/10
Overall Show Rating: 8/10
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