There wasn’t much doubt that KUSHIDA’s Impact Wrestling debut match would be entertaining, particularly against an opponent like Rich Swann. But when most of the other matches on Thursday night’s episode of Impact were quite short, that really helped set it apart. The other matches were good, but in some cases didn’t get a chance to breathe, or were merely a backdrop for something else – to further a storyline for the upcoming Emergence special event, or in one case, to showcase a new signee.

On the BTI pre-show, Bhupinder Gujjar beat Vincent. After the match, Heath sneaked in and flattened Vincent.


Match 1: Eddie Edwards (w/ Kenny King) vs. Ace Austin (w/ Chris Bey)

Austin razzle-dazzled Eddie with his speed early on, but got caught up in some trash-talking with King on the floor, and that allowed Eddie to clock him in the back of the head and take over. Edwards beat up Austin for a while until Austin was able to reverse a Backpack Stunner attempt and mount a comeback, including hitting his trademark Fosbury Flop dive over the top. A Springboard Famouser nearly got Austin the pin, but Eddie kicked out. They exchanged some big moves, but neither one could put the other away. Eventually, King and Bey got into a skirmish, leading to Bey hitting a huge Somersault Dive onto King on the floor. After the ref sent them to the back, Austin and Eddie went back to beating each other up in the ring. After some more back-and-forth action, Eddie eventually got the clean win, hitting a Tiger Driver and a Die Hard Driver to put Austin down for the count.

This was good, though the ending seemed to come from out of nowhere. The dynamic between the Bullet Club and Honor No More is still a bit strange, since neither team are really pure babyfaces, though it would seem the Bullet Club are increasingly being positioned as such.

Winner: Eddie Edwards

In the back, Gia Miller questioned Heath about his constant attacks on Honor No More. Heath said that HNM started this guerilla war, and he was going to take them all out.

They showed unaired footage from last week. Josh Alexander had been watching the Motor City Machine Guns’ match, and when they got attacked by Violent By Design after the match, Josh tried to run to the ring to make the save. But as he turned the corner, he collided with Raj Singh and Shera, and they started fighting until they were separated by building security.

Gia interviewed Josh who was slated to face Shera tonight as a result of that incident. As Josh listed off larger opponents who he’s beaten recently, Alex Shelley – who challenges Josh for the World Championship at Emergence on August 12th – came up to him. Shelley told Josh to go out there and beat Shera and come out of that match at 100% because he wanted no excuses when he beats Josh for the title. Josh wasn’t too amused by the interruption or the message.


Match 2: Laredo Kid & Trey Miguel vs. Johnny Swinger & Zicky Dice

Miguel and Laredo started off on fire, but some creative comedic cheating gave Dice and Swinger the advantage.


For about ten seconds. After that, things got back to normal, and Kid and Trey won in convincing fashion, ending Zicky Dice with a Frog Splash.

This was effectively a short comedy match that served to showcase the skills of Kid and Trey. It was fun, but ultimately just filled some time.

Winners: Trey Miguel & Laredo Kid

They showed the tail-end of the aforementioned Gujjar-Vincent match that saw Gujjar win with a roll-up after Vincent was distracted by a teased Heath run-in.
Backstage, Gujjar ran into Brian Myers who was still trying to avoid granting him a shot at the Digital Media Championship. Myers tried to bluff his way out of it, and in doing so, he ended up being forced into defending the title against Black Taurus next week, much to his consternation and Crazzy Steve’s delight. Gujjar was noticeably frustrated with Myers’ weasel tactics.


Match 3: Tiffany Nieves vs. Jada Stone

Tasha Steelz joined the commentary team for this one, and Savannah Evans stood guard over her. They were out there to scout the competition from Ohio Valley Wrestling who were being showcased. On commentary, Tom Hannifan noted that the two participants had won a tournament for the chance to compete on this show. He also noted Impact’s long-time policy to work with other companies, though he pointedly didn’t use the term “Forbidden Door.”

Stone – who was very enthusiastic and happy while in control over the bad-attituded Nieves – didn’t feel that way after first missing a Split-Legged Moonsault and then missing a Running Cannonball in the corner. She was pretty dazed after that, and even moreso after a big DDT by Nieves. Nieves then stacked up Stone and pinned her, using the ropes as leverage for good measure, even though she probably didn’t need to.

After the match, Killer Kelly made her way to the ring. Nieves got in her face and started chirping. But shoving Kelly was a bad idea. Kelly booted her in the face and then locked on a vicious Sleeper Choke, putting Nieves out. But Kelly wasn’t done, and she also beat up Stone, dropping her with a Piledriving Face-Buster.


The match was fine, but merely used as a set-up for Kelly’s debut, which was really effective. Coming in and demolishing both women in brutal fashion made a strong statement. And made you want to see what’s next for her.

Winner: Tiffany Nieves

Somewhere in the bowels of the building, Eric Young was educating Cody Deaner and Doering. He said that their mission was to take out the Motor City Machine Guns first. And after that was done, then they would go after KUSHIDA.

A hype video aired for Alex Shelley, who will be getting his first shot at the World Championship at Emergence. Various Impact stars and management gave Shelley props. In a neat surprise, Johnny Gargano was in the video – that was neat.


Match 4: Shera (w/ Raj Singh) vs. Josh Alexander

Josh’s World Championship was not on the line in this one.

Shera tried to use his power advantage, but in terms of strength, Josh is no slouch himself, and he was able to send Shera over the top rope after a trio of huge Running Clotheslines. As Shera got back up on the apron, Josh blitzed him with a Low Cross Body Block, and the impact of the collision appeared to hurt Shera, who immediately started clutching his arm, and he rolled back into the ring slowly. As the official checked him, Raj Singh went to attack Josh but got intimidated and backed down. Josh got back into the ring and in short order clamped on an Ankle Lock, causing Shera to tap out.

It looked like Shera was legitimately hurt pretty bad, so it’s no wonder this was very short. It’s unfortunate, because this had the potential to be a slobber-knocker of a fight. Hopefully Shera isn’t seriously injured and won’t be out for long.

Winner: Josh Alexander

Gia Miller interviewed Moose and asked him to confirm that he had formed an alliance with Steve Maclin to take out Sami Callihan. Moose denied any association with Maclin, despite all indications otherwise.

In their locker room, Honor No More were complaining about their treatment by management, including no actions being taken against Heath after his repeated attacks on them, and the lack of title opportunities they’d been given. They decided to take their gripes to Impact Executive Vice-President Scott D’Amore, who intercepted them outside of his office. They didn’t notice that Mike Bennett wasn’t with them until D’Amore pointed it out, and then they went off to find Bennett.

In their dressing room, Chelsea Green and Deonna Purrazzo were planning Deonna’s bachelorette party. Jessicka burst in and wanted to come to the party. Taya Valkyrie and Rosemary then came in to try to pull Jessicka away, telling her that she wasn’t allowed to go to the party or hang out with Green and Deonna.

Back in the arena, Raj Singh was in the ring while Shera was lying on the floor outside, still clutching his injured arm and being checked on by the ref. Singh said that Shera should be awarded the decision since Josh used dirty tactics to hurt him. As he made his case, the lights turned off. When they came back on, Sami Callihan was in the ring behind Singh. Sami attacked Singh with his baseball bat and then planted him with the Cactus Driver. Sami took the mic and said that he would be coming after both Moose and Steve Maclin, whether they’re in cahoots or not.

The Ric Flair Moment of the Week was from Impact on June 17, 2010 when he formed Fourtune, and got into his famous Whoo-off with Jay Lethal.

Gia interviewed Mia Yim who said that while she respected Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace, she was predicting she would beat Grace for the title at Emergence. Gia asked about Yim being pinned last week, but Yim said that wouldn’t affect her momentum. Some technical difficulties caused the audio to drop during the interview, and they cut to the commentary desk.

Tom Hannifan and Matthew Rehwoldt apologized for the snafu, but then their audio cut and the video cut to a test pattern error message. The image cut to a handheld camera shot of Scott D’Amore running to the production truck, which had fallen under siege to Honor No More. He and HNM screamed at each other and D’Amore told the director to cut to a commercial.

After the break, D’Amore and HNM were still arguing outside the production truck. Honor No More repeated their demands for a shot at the Tag Team Championship, reminding D’Amore that Taven and Bennett pinned the Good Brothers in a match the other week. Fed up, D’Amore booked them in a 5-on-5 match against the Bullet Club at Emergence. If HNM wins, then they will get the title shot. But if Honor No More loses that match, they have to disband. HNM weren’t happy with the stipulation, but D’Amore was done talking.


Match 5: Rich Swann vs. KUSHIDA

The commentators noted this was the first time these two had ever faced each other 1-on-1.

They started off with some technical exchanges, using combinations of chain, technical, and acrobatics, leading to a series of stalemates that the crowd really appreciated.

KUSHIDA was able to break the tie with some more aggressive moves like a boot facewash and a submission move that looked like it was going to break Swann’s arm, or maybe yank it right out of its socket.

Swann fired up after that, and started fighting back with a series of kicks all over KUSHIDA’s body. Swann had the momentum and he continued to punish KUSHIDA in the ring with various strikes. A mid-air collision got KUSHIDA back in the game, and he regained the advantage, going back to work on Swann’s arm and shoulder with an Armbar, forcing Swann to get to the ropes to force a break.

They fought it out in the middle of the ring, with KUSHIDA targeting the arm, and Swann using his feet to hit from a distance. Swann got KUSHIDA down, but KUSHIDA wasn’t out and he moved out of the way of a Phoenix Splash. Swann went up again, but KUSHIDA caught him with a Handspring Kick, and then they fought their way up the turnbuckles. Up high, KUSHIDA locked on a Kimura. He used Swann’s trapped arm as a lever to whip Swann down to the mat where KUSHIDA floated over and turned it into a Hoverboard Lock. Trapped, Swann had no choice but to tap out.

This was a good debut for KUSHIDA, and Swann was the ideal opponent for him to showcase what he could do. It will be interesting to see what their plans are for KUSHIDA. He seems like a perfect fit for the X-Division and the potential for him to have some great matches would seem more likely there. Time will tell.



Impact Wrestling - July 28th, 2022

Old Forester’s Paristown Hall - Louisville, KY

The build-up for Emergence continued this week, but mostly through vignettes and promos. Whereas the in-ring action was more about getting new talents over, namely Killer Kelly and KUSHIDA. As they still have two weeks to build towards Emergence, this was a good week to focus on some different things. And in that regard, the show worked.