Ever since it was announced that All Elite Wrestling World Champion Kenny Omega would be wrestling at Impact’s Hard to Kill pay-per-view, the wrestling world was buzzing about the show.
With Omega’s match potentially bringing in record numbers for an Impact show, it would behoove everyone if the rest of the show could impress any new eyes turning in for the first time – and maybe have them stick around for more, if they liked what they saw.
And they should have, because this was a strong show overall, with a few matches that were simply excellent, in addition to Omega’s match which headlined the event.
That match saw Omega reunite with his fellow Bullet Club members, Impact Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows, collectively known as the Good Brothers taking on Chris Sabin, Moose, and Impact World Champion Rich Swann.
Don Callis – Omega’s buddy, and the turncoat Impact Wrestling executive – handled the ring announcing duties for Omega, who came to the ring last. There were no dancing girls, unlike when Omega appears on AEW, but then again, there was no Justin Roberts, so that’s a fair trade.
The match started off with Sabin and Anderson squaring off and coming up in a stalemate, leading to both of them to tag in their team’s respective muscle, Moose and Gallows. Again, this ended up being even, leading to them to tag in the champs for their first ever face-to-face encounter. But that was only a tease, and before they could test one another, the Good Brothers jumped in and attacked Swann from behind, hurting him.
The build-up to this feud saw Team Impact constantly getting beaten up and looking weak, so there may have been some concern that this trend would continue here. But fortunately that wasn’t the case. Instead, this match saw the teams very even, with the hodge-podge trio of Team Impact putting aside their differences to effectively join forces against the invaders.
There were a few stories in this match, mostly involving Omega and his perceived dominance. Every time Swann and Omega would be in the ring together, it looked like Swann was getting the better of him, but then the Good Brothers would do something shady to assist their leader. Also, at one point or another, each member of Team Impact had Omega down for what would have been a pinfall, but the Good Brothers would break it up. That was really well-done, since it really made Impact look strong, unlike during the build-up.
Moose, in particular, got several shining moments, including hitting a standing moonsault on Omega, and later a Spanish Fly, both of which looked great, given his size. At one point, he even blasted Omega with a big lariat after mocking Omega’s fingerpoint taunt, for a near fall.
TOP ROPE SPANISH FLY BY @TheMooseNation! #HardToKill pic.twitter.com/Vh9Mty4Pbx
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 17, 2021
But it wasn’t all Team Impact, and the Bullet Club delivered as good as they got. They used their size advantage to punish both Sabin and Swann for extended sequences.
Things picked up as the match went on. At one point, there was an assembly line of big moves, with Omega ending the line with a V-Trigger on Swann, Moose’s aforementioned Spanish Fly, and a modified F-5 by Sabin on Omega. Later, Omega hit a picture-perfect snap suplex on Swann followed by an Angel-Wing piledriver.
Later, Omega proved his resilience when his superplex attempt on Swann got thwarted by Moose who sneaked up behind him and lifted Omega onto his shoulders, and Swann hit him with a big Doomsday Device. Omega should have been done, but he kicked out at the last second.
Later, it was Swann and Omega ducking it out. Omega hit the V-Trigger and went to end things, but Swann floated over, following that up with a reverse hurancarana and a pair of roundhouse kicks, and a 450-splash, but Omega kicked out yet again.
The ending sequence saw the Good Brothers hit the Magic Killer on Swann, and Omega dispatched Moose with a V-Trigger, knocking him out of the ring. As Swann got up, still groggy, Omega charged at him and blasted him with a V-Trigger. After that, Omega picked Swann up and put him away with the One-Winged Angel, bringing the historical match to a close.
This was a lot of fun, and really delivered. The match format allowed everyone to shine. Moose, in particular, looked great, and should be a revelation to AEW fans who may not be familiar with him and just tuned in for Omega. In terms of elevating Swann, in elevating Impact, in terms of generating interest in a continued or expanded crossover feud, and in terms of being an entertaining standalone match, this worked on all counts.
Hard to Kill: Full Results
Madison Rayne, Scott D’Amore, and Jon Burton were on the countdown show panel. They ran down the big matches, and threw to interviews and clips.
In their dressing room, the Good Brothers and Kenny Omega complained to Don Callis about the insertion of Moose into the main event. Callis said that he controls Moose contractually and would get him to play ball, so took off with the contract to find Moose.
As they ran down the Sami Callihan vs. Eddie Edwards match, Sami hacked the feed. He said he was going to bring violence, chaos, blood, and anarchy. Great promo by Sami.
Countdown Match: Brian Myers vs. Josh Alexander
Notable is that they added in crowd noise for the match – finally! The lack of any noise was hurting the presentation, so it’s good to see them putting this in place.
This was a pretty good wrestling match. Alexander started off in control, but when he went up to the top rope, Myers ran over and shoved him off, sending Alexander crashing hard to the floor. When the match returned from break, Myers had Alexander down, and every time Alexander escaped, Myers had an answer. Finally, Alexander fired up and turned the tide, knocking Myers out of the ring to get some distance. They exchanged moves and countermoves, including a nice German suplex by Alexander. Alexander went back up top, but Myers used the ref as a human shield and then did a leaping kick to kick Alexander in the head. Alexander kicked out of a couple of pinfall attempts, and then deftly avoided a running attack to clamped on an ankle lock in the middle of the ring. Myers turned over to his back, reached up, and pulled Alexander’s headgear down over Alexander’s eyes, blinding him. Alexander had to release the hold to remove the gear, so didn’t see Myers run in with a huge lariat that dropped Alexander topsy-turvy and down for the count.
This was a curious result. Myers has been useless for the most part since coming to Impact, and Alexander should be getting a singles push. To have him lose to Myers, even if the match was fine, isn’t a good way to build him up.
Winner: Brian Myers
Ace Austin, flanked by Mad Man Fulton, joined the panel and said it was Inevitable that he would wear title gold soon. He was insulted that he wasn’t scheduled to appear on Hard to Kill.
To close the countdown show, Madison Rayne made an emotional statement announcing her retirement. She said it was time for her to go home and concentrate on being a wife and mother. She thanked the fans and the company, and said she was confident that the Knockouts Division is in good hands with the current roster. Classy.
Main Show Results
The opening video package focused on the main event, and ended with a shot of Moose, Chris Sabin, and Rich Swann bumping fists in apparent solidarity.
Match 1: Rosemary and Crazzy Steve vs. Tenille Dashwood and Kaleb
Both teams wore matching outfits, which was a nice touch. Early on, Kaleb proved to be cowardly, scaling the ropes, but then gingerly climbing down instead of going for an aerial attack, and then being scared by Rosemary. Tenille wasn’t scared of Rosemary, though, and she took over on the Demon. But she tagged in Kaleb, and that was flawed strategy, as he bumbled the advantage. Steve easily dominated him, but when Tenille broke up a pin attempt, Steve chased her, and Kaleb pounced, hitting Steve with a surprise dropkick. Tenille and Kaleb took turns beating up Steve and taking photos. Their cockiness cost them, though, and Steve and Rosemary took over with a double chokeslam on Kaleb and a big Spear by Rosemary on Tenille. But then the dishonourable Kaleb dropped Rosemary with a Superkick taking her out of the equation. Tenille tried to blind Steve with hairspray, but he blew green mist into her face. And then Rosemary did the same to Kaleb. This made him easy pickings for a Flying DDT by Steve, and that was all she wrote.
This was all right, but seemed more like a glorified TV match. Tenille and Kaleb are pretty bland as characters and aren’t mind-blowing wrestlers, so it’s hard to invest in anything they do. The setup for the misting by Rosemary seemed mistimed, so it didn’t look as cool as it should have. But the team of Rosemary and Steve are pretty fun, so hopefully they can continue with better opponents.
Winners: Rosemary and Crazzy Steve
Earlier today, Don Callis, Kenny Omega, and the Good Brothers bullied the security schlub on their way into the building.
Match 2: Eric Young, Joe Doering, and Deaner vs. Cousin Jake, Rhino, and Tommy Dreamer – Old School Rules match
Young’s faction is now going under the name Violent By Design, and have matching gear. The early setup here was for Jake to get his hands on Deaner, and after a brief skirmish, he did, hitting a hard Running Thesz Press. The opponents paired off, and the action spilled to the floor and ringside area where the apron, posts, ring steps, and ringside barriers were used to good effect. Dreamer brought out the first bit of plunder in the form of cookie sheets, which he swatted Young’s head with. His team brought out chairs and all of them whacked Doering with them like he was a pinata, but he was able to fight back and level them all, allowing VBD to take over. Deaner set up two chairs and then used Jake’s hair as a handle to whip him off the top and through them. But he was able to gut through it and when Young and Doering went to the floor to destroy Rhino, Jake hit them with a flying Somersault Bomb from the ring to the floor, though notably, Doering was able to not be knocked down. A neat move saw Jake trying to superplex Deaner, Joe get underneath to Powerbomb Jake who went over and superplexed Deaner whose legs landed hard on Tommy Dreamer’s head as he was walking towards them. Poor Tommy.
Rhino walloped Doering with a Singapore cane, but Doering caught it, popped Rhino, and busted the cane.
Joe Doering doesn't need a weapon, Joe Doering IS the weapon. #HardToKill
ORDER HERE: https://t.co/2QIZHWLgq0 pic.twitter.com/oW1CFpiQt1
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 17, 2021
But he ate ringpost when he tried to flatten Rhino moments later. Dreamer spilled a bag of thumbtacks onto the mat, and after some jockeying, was able to throw Young into them with a back body drop. Seconds later, Rhino hit Doering with the GORE GORE GORE! But he got hit with a DeanerDT. Jake hit Deaner with a Boss Man Slam, but then Young hit Jake with a piledriver to get the pin.
This was good, with some good positioning for Doering as a monster in particular. But at times, it felt a bit too crowded, and didn’t always have a chance to breathe – the biggest example being Jake hitting that dive seconds after crashing hard on the chairs. That said, it was fun, and the right team won the match.
Winners: Violent By Design
In the dressing room, Rich Swann and Chris Sabin fired each other up for the main event. Moose entered, and wasn’t well-received. Swann told Moose that he didn’t trust him, and that he would have preferred Willie Mack be their partner – but for the fact that Moose attacked Mack and put him out on Tuesday. Moose told them that he simply was focused on winning the match, and that his desire to defend Impact’s honour meant more than his feud with Swann. Swann and Sabin seemed to accept him at his word, or at least not fully disbelieve him.
Match 3: Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz vs. Havok and Nevaeh – Final match in the Knockouts Tag Team Championship tournament
Steelz and Hogan are now officially going under the name Fire and Flava. The company seamstress must have been working overtime this week, because both teams in this one were wearing co-ordinated gear as well. Also, it was noted that Brian Hebner has returned to the company, as he was refereeing this one.
This was a classic David vs. Goliath story, with Havok in particular dominating against the smaller opponents. Steelz and Hogan were finally able to slip out of her clutches and ground her, quickly tagging in and out and getting their kicks in. But Havok’s strength was on full display, and she ended up catching both of them and slamming them both simultaneously, to get the tag to Nevaeh.
.@FearHavok's STRENGTH IS INSANE! #HardToKill
ORDER HERE: https://t.co/2QIZHWLgq0 pic.twitter.com/jizE1wc1CN
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 17, 2021
Nevaeh did well, but F&F were still able to elude her and take over. They had her up for a double superplex, and Havok had no choice but to save her partner, scooping both of them up for a double powerbomb. That looked great.
Havok looked to end things, but Fire and Flava again used kicks to finally knock her down and out of the ring. With her dispatched, they were able to double-team Nevaeh, ending things when Kiera dropped her with a twisting fisherman’s suplex.
This was a good match, and a good ending to the tournament, which featured a number of good teams. Fire and Flava are really an entertaining team, both in terms of what they can do in the ring and on the mic. It will be interesting to see what they do with Havok and Nevaeh now. Havok was positioned like a major force here, so perhaps a singles championship run may be next for her.
Madison Rayne and Gail Kim came to the ring and presented the titles to the new champs.
Winners, and new Knockouts Tag Team Champions: Fire and Flava
Outside the Knockouts dressing room door, Rosemary and Crazzy Steve offered their assistance to Taya Valkyrie in her title match later tonight. Taya didn’t want them to interfere, but Rosemary said they would only make sure no shenanigans took place from Purrazzo’s crew. After they left, Acey Romero, wearing his detective outfit, opened the door and entered the room.
Ace Austin and Mad Man Fulton made an unscheduled entrance before the X-Division Championship competitors were announced. They went into the ring, and Austin said that by virtue of winning the Super-X Cup tournament, he was the rightful number one contender, and demanded Scott D’Amore insert him into the match. D’Amore said that Austin does deserve a match – but not the one he wants. He brought out Matt Cardona (formerly WWE’s Zack Ryder, and most recently seen on AEW).
Match 4: Ace Austin (w/ Mad Man Fulton) vs. Matt Cardona
This started off with a fancy-dancy sequence on the apron, with Fulton actually taking the brunt of the damage when he shoved Austin out of the way of a running dropkick. But he was able to get revenge when he distracted Cardona and Austin capitalized, whipping Cardona off the turnbuckle and sending him crashing onto the back of his head. Austin followed that up with a flying attack, but missed on a second attempt, and Cardona took over, hitting his signature Reboot (formerly the Broski Boot). Cardona was going to end things, but Fulton ran in and attacked him, leading to Austin getting disqualified. After the match, Cardona fought off both men and stood triumphant.
This was serviceable. Cardona is pretty much Brian Myers with a bit more personality (a low bar, to be sure), so it’s not like he’s going to move the needle. The DQ win suggests he may start feuding with Austin and/or Fulton, which could be okay, based on the short time we saw them work together tonight.
Winner, by disqualification: Matt Cardona
Match 5: Chris Bey vs. Rohit Raju vs. Manik (c) – for the X-Division Championship
Hot start to this one, harking back to classic X-Division action, including a sweet move that saw Bey use Raju as a springboard to dropkick Manik out of the ring, with Bey landing hard on Raju’s back.
I’m #HardToKill @IMPACTWRESTLING
— Chris Bey (@DashingChrisBey) January 17, 2021
The action was too quick to call, but give credit to new commentary team Matt Striker and D-Lo Brown for keeping up with the action. At one point, Manik trapped Bey into a modified Texas Cloverleaf, and used his arms to heave Raju over with a big overhead suplex that sent Raju rolling to the floor – so Manik leaped to the top and then sailed onto Raju on the floor. Later, Raju caught Bey in a Skin the Cat attempt, and powerbombed him onto the apron – ouch. Raju tried to tear off Manik’s mask, and finally did it. But Manik’s face was covered in make-up so, from a storyline standpoint, it wasn’t 100% clearly TJP, even though really it was.
A beautiful sequence saw Manik for the Mamba Splash on Raju, but Bey ran in and caught him in mid-air and hit him with a cutter. When Manik and Raju both got to their feet after that, Bey hit them both with simultaneous Art of Finesses… or is it Arts of Finesse? Later, Bey was in the Tree of Woe and Raju was going for a top rope stomp, but Manik jumped up and hit a big Frankensteiner on Raju – that was sweet. The pace picked up a lot then, with a series of sequences featuring quick moves and near-falls – just super. After that action, the end came when Raju knocked out Bey with a Slide By Knee, but Manik slid into the ring behind Raju and rolled him up from behind for the pin.
This was great. Lots of quick action and creative sequences. The whole Manik-TJP thing is a bit silly, but if it continues to result in matches like this, then it’s worth it.
Winner, and still X-Division Champion: Manik
Backstage, Eddie made Alisha promise that she wouldn’t go out to the ring during his Barbed Wire Massacre match against Sami Callihan
Match 6: Deonna Purrazzo (c) (w/ Kimber Lee and Susan) vs. Taya Valkyrie (w/ Rosemary and Crazzy Steve) – for the Knockouts Championship
The outside interference started within seconds, when Kimber Lee attacked Taya on the floor. This led to Rosemary and Lee fighting it out. As the ref tried to gain control, he was inadvertently knocked down by Steve. So he finally had enough and ejected all of them to the back, leading to a clean 1-on-1 match.
This was for the best, because these two put on a stellar match. Purrazzo worked over Taya’s arm and then switched over to Taya’s leg, methodically punishing both body parts. Taya was able to fight through the pain, and landed a few blows of her own, but didn’t have the strength to land the killing blow. Instead, with her strength limited, she went for a different mode of attack, including using her full body weight to press down on Deonna’s body, folding her over onto her own legs in an Indian Deathlock. You may have to see it to know what I mean, but it looked great. But she was too weakened to do any lasting damage, and Purrazzo took over again. She locked up Taya, wrestled her down to the mat, and locked on Venus De Milo. Her arm already in great pain, Taya had no leverage to get out of it, and verbally submitted.
This was excellent – just a master class in technical wrestling psychology. Excellent selling by Taya, perfect move execution by Deonna. Just great. After the match, Taya was really emotional – not sure if that was just more good selling, or if this is indicative of the rumours of her imminent departure from Impact to be true.
Winner, and still Knockouts Champion: Deonna Purrazzo
Backstage, Acey Romero ran up to John E. Bravo. Bravo said that he wasn’t interested in anything Acey had to say, because he knew it was Larry D that shot him, despite Acey trying to find evidence to the contrary, and he knew this because he recognized Larry’s scent in the dark. Romero said that if Larry did shoot him, it was because he was set up. Acey said that he found proof in the Knockouts locker room: a bottle of Larry D’s cologne. Bravo asked in whose bag Acey found it, but the scene cut before Acey could answer.
Match 7: Ethan Page vs. The Karate Man
This was a cinematic match that took place in front of a video of a green screen background with ever-changing locations. They had a Street Fighter type of 2-D scrolling fight with special effects enhancing the blows. Every time Page knocked Karate Man out, Karate Man would resurrect and come back to fight some more. In the end, Karate Man won by tearing out Page’s heart. Fatality.
This was terrible. And even though it lasted only a couple of minutes, it was a couple of minutes too long.
Winner: The Karate Man
Backstage, Don Callis approached Moose, effusing false sincerity in complimenting Moose in a way over-the-top manner. He suggested that Moose look at the big picture, implying that Moose shouldn’t do anything against Omega and the Good Brothers during their match, lest Callis apply any punitive measures against him during the next two years while he’s under contract. Moose told Callis that his only objective anytime he goes into the ring is to win. And that might include one day Moose going into AEW and beating Omega for that company’s championship as well. He walked away, and Callis was worried. Both of them were great in this segment.
Match 8: Sami Callihan vs. Eddie Edwards – Barbed Wire Massacre match
In this one, there was a barbed wire covered fence set up on one side of the ring, barbed wire board and bundles were placed in the corners and on the floor, barbed wire was strung around the ropes on another side of the ring, and weapons wrapped in barbed wire were strung up over one of the other sides. Both of them had their forearms fully taped up, so you know they meant business.
Sami was the first one to feel the steel, when Eddie kicked him into the ropes. As he tried to extract himself, Eddie grabbed a coil of barbed wire, and shoved it on Sami’s head like a crown of thorns, carving Sami’s forehead open. Wicked. He tried to wheelbarrow Sami’s face into a barbed board, but Sami scrambled and pushed the board out of the ring – and it appears to have wiped out D-Lo’s microphone wire, since D-Lo was muted for a while. Eddie went for a flying dive that would crash Sami through a barbed wire board, but Sami moved, and it was Eddie that went through the board instead.
Nothing but BARBED WIRE BOARD on @TheEddieEdwards' dive attempt. #HardToKill pic.twitter.com/TynS33CLA2
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 17, 2021
He ended up sandwiched between the barbed wire board, and Sami hit a Cactus Jack elbow off the apron to add to the pressure of the barbs cutting into Eddie.
Sami used the barbed wire to full effect, getting more and more creative with how he carved up Eddie. But Eddie wouldn’t quite, and he came back, flattening Sami with a Backpack Stunner. And then it was his turn to use weapons, whacking Sami with a chair wrapped in barbed wire, and then dropping him onto with a Blue Thunder Bomb. He pushed Sami’s face into the barbed wire fence, and Sami’s only escape was to kick Eddie low.
They each wrapped a fist in barbed wire and slugged each other, slicing each other’s heads even more. Then they each grabbed their opponent’s signature weapons – Eddie got a bat, and Sami got a Singapore cane. In a cool moment, they respectfully traded weapons, and then went to town, with Eddie getting the best of it. In an ugly spot, Sami pushed Eddie off the top rope, and Eddie’s neck snapped off the chain clothesline that was hanging above the ring ropes where the weapons were anchored.
As he recovered, Sami set up a barbed wire board bridge with chairs. And then hit Eddie with a piledriver through the board.
OH MY GOD!
PILEDRIVER THROUGH A BARBED WIRE BOARD! #HardToKill @TheSamiCallihan @TheEddieEdwards pic.twitter.com/xkM1GtxHqq
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 17, 2021
But Eddie kicked out! Sami put a barbed wire chair on Eddie’s face, and then went to end things with a baseball bat swing, but Eddie blocked it. Eddie kicked the chair into Sami’s face, but Sami kicked out! Eddie then hit an Emerald Frosion, planting Sami on the barbed wire chair, and that was enough.
After the match, Alisha came to the ring and celebrated with Eddie.
This was great. A lot of people dismiss deathmatch stuff, but when done right, it can be as entertaining as anything else. This one was violent, bloody, and made sense as the finale to this lengthy intense feud. Really good.
Winner: Eddie Edwards
They announced Impact’s next PPV event will be Rebellion, on April 24th.
Match 9: Rich Swann, Chris Sabin, and Moose vs. Kenny Omega and the Good Brothers (Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows) (w/ Don Callis)
Winners: Kenny Omega and the Good Brothers
Hard to Kill - January 16th, 2021
Skyway Center - Nashville, TN
The buzzworthy main event delivered in spades, but it was by no means the only excellent match on the show. The Knockouts title match, the X-Division title match, and the Barbed Wire Massacre matches are all definitely going to be on the year-end best lists. And I know that’s a bold claim, being it’s only January, but I stand by it.