Any wrestling fan who isn’t watching Josh Alexander’s matches on Impact is completely missing the point. It’s too early in his career to be creating a Hall of Fame legacy for himself, but Alexander keeps making the case. His World Championship defense against “Speedball” Mike Bailey on Thursday night’s episode of Impact Wrestling is just an example. The two of them waged war for just under an hour in a tremendous match that should be on everyone’s list of best matches of the year.

The show started off with a video recapping Deaner’s elimination of the sickness via the murder of Eric Young. Deaner said that VBD was a movement and that there was a “Designer” at the helm. He said that the pure and righteous ones will never die. And that the movement, now that it has been cleansed, has been reborn. Kon and Angels joined him in the video as the new unit, collectively known as The Design. Deaner laid out a challenge for Sami Callihan to face Kon tonight.


Match 1: Heath & Rhino (c) vs. the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) – for the Impact World Tag Team Championship

The Guns were looking to add to their gold collection, as they came out with the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Championship belts. Visually, it was a bit funny to see the female referee was taller than everyone in the match, and a big cameraman on the floor looked to be larger than anyone except for maybe Rhino.

There was some good back-and-forth technical action early on, which wasn’t surprising as these are two fan favourite teams. The Guns showed off some aggression, working over Heath’s knees and legs with some double-teaming, and this seemed to anger Rhino based on the death glare he shot at them from the apron. Heath broke a Figure-Four Leglock by Shelley by crawling to the ropes and then hit a desperate Powerslam to make the hot tag to Rhino. The big man exploded with some high-impact offense, nearly pinning Sabin after a TKO. Heath got tagged back in and he and Sabin were slugging it out in the middle of the ring when the Major Players – Brian Myers and Matt Cardona – rushed into the ring and took out both men.


Rhino and Shelley chased them away, but the damage had been done, and the referee had no choice but to throw out the match.

This was pretty good up until the cheap finish. This was the first time these two teams had faced one another, so it’s kind of a shame it didn’t get a chance to fully unfold.

Winners: No contest

Impact World Champion Josh Alexander was in Executive Vice-President Scott D’Amore’s office yelling about Bully Ray. D’Amore asked Josh if he really wanted to confront Bully Ray tonight, and Josh said that he had to, in light of what Bully had done to Josh’s wife. D’Amore said he didn’t think it was a good idea, but if Josh wanted to do it, so be it.

After Josh left, Johnny Swinger and Zicky Dice strolled on in. Swinger asked to have a title shot, and D’Amore pretty much dismissed the idea, saying Swinger could earn one once he wins 50 matches. Deaner was elated about his chances. Swinger remains comedy gold.

Jordynne Grace and Mickie James were in the back doing a photo shoot to promote their match at January’s Hard to Kill PPV. They were very civil towards each other, despite the high stakes of the match – Grace’s title vs. Mickie’s career, as per the Last Rodeo stipulation. They both said that while they respect each other, neither one would take it easy on the other one.


Match 2: Savannah Evans (w/ Tasha Steelz) vs. Taya Valkyrie (w/ Rosemary and Jessicka)

Taya pretty much outwrestled Evans until Evans stopped her momentum and then drove her down onto the apron and to the floor. Evans hit some power moves, including a big clumsy Clothesline that dropped Taya for a 2-count. But Taya is no slouch in the strength department and she came back, hitting a Blue Thunder Bomb and then locking on a submission on Evans’ legs.


Evans powered her way up and then started bragging and trying to show off for Tasha’s benefit, since Evans feels Tasha doesn’t give her enough credit. Taya tried to capitalize on Evans’ cockiness and roll her up, but Evans kicked out. The two exchanged finisher attempts, and in the end, Evans hit a Full Nelson Slam to get the clean pin on Taya. After the match, Steelz was seen applauding Evans’ victory.

This was one of Evans’ better matches, but the bar is very low. It’s surprising that she would get a clean and convincing win over Taya who deserves so much better. With Tasha clapping for Evans at the end, it would seem that tension is now over. So unless they’re going to set up a title program, it’s not sure who benefitted from this or what storyline was served.

Winner: Savanna Evans

A hype video for Bullet Club members Ace Austin and Chris Bey aired, showing clips of them in Impact and in Japan. Apparently they are having some success in the NJPW Super Jr. Tag League.

In the back, a bunch of security guards were trying to pull Moose off of Bhupinder Gujjar who he had attacked to send a message to Joe Hendry.

Delirious cut an incomprehensible pre-tape video. Subtitles said that he came to Impact to get a match against Eddie Edwards, which comes up later tonight.


Match 3: Kon (w/ Angels and Deaner) vs. Sami Callihan

Kon seemed impervious to any of the quick and vicious offense Sami threw at him early on, and it wasn’t long before Kon was pummeling Sami with power throws and strikes. Sami fought back, eventually reversing a Grab Attack with a Stunner that dazed the big man. Sami then hit a flurry of moves, including a big Running Forearm. Sami tried to take things to the floor where he normally gets the advantage, but Kon caught Sami and Chokeslammed him hard onto the apron.


Sami went under the ring and pulled out a steel chair, but lost it before he could use it. As the ref tried to get the chair out of the picture and deal with Angels who was starting to insert himself into the match, Deaner struck behind the ref’s back, throwing Sami off the top rope. Kon picked up Sami and hit a Death Valley Driver for the pin.

This was a good showcase for Kon, who was booked very much like an unstoppable, impenetrable brick wall. Deaner changed up his presentation a bit and portrayed his new leadership role well. He kind of seemed Joe Gacy-ish, which isn’t good, so hopefully he can try to add some new elements that distinguish him a bit. But it was  pretty good first impression.

Winner: Kon

In the back, Josh Alexander was walking with purpose. Tommy Dreamer tried to talk with him, but Josh was focused on making his way to the ring.

They showed the ending of the match from tonight’s BTI Pre-show match: X-Division Champion Trey Miguel beat Jason Hotch, and then spray-painted his log on Hotch’s chest. Cut to Trey in his dressing room where he and his spray-painted title were on the couch. Gia Miller came in and asked Trey about his new penchant for spray-painting. He casually threatened to spray-paint her, and she ran away. Then, Crazzy Steve popped out of nowhere and made some cryptic comments to Trey, who skedaddled.


Josh Alexander promo

Josh Alexander made his way to the ring. He said he was issuing a World Championship Open Challenge, in hopes that Bully Ray would accept. He said it was a no-lose proposition for Bully Ray: if he beats Josh, he wins the title; if he loses, he still has the chance to use the Call Your Shot opportunity at Hard to Kill. He said Bully would only decline if he was scared to face Josh in the ring face-to-face.

Bully Ray appeared on the video screen and declined the offer, instead mocking Josh and boasting about his attack on Josh and Josh’s wife Jen at Overdrive. Bully said he’d see Josh at Hard to Kill and turned off the video feed.

After that, “Speedball” Mike Bailey came to the ring and accepted the Open Challenge. Josh accepted.


Match 4: “Speedball” Mike Bailey vs. Josh Alexander (c) – for the Impact World Championship

Bailey used some fancy quick offense early on, but then ate a huge fist to the face that dropped him. Alexander then hurt him with a series of big Knee Smashes. But Bailey came back with his M.S. Ito Quick Kicks and a Flying Somersault Dive to the floor.


Back from the break, and Bailey nearly got the pin after hitting a Vader Bomb Kneedrop to Josh’s gut, which looked great. But Alexander fired back with a huge Running Boot to the Head to shut down Bailey’s momentum. Alexander then went about working over every part of Bailey, hitting him with various strikes and power moves, including a textbook Backbreaker for a close fall.

Bailey kept fighting back, but every time he did, Alexander’s power advantage would put a halt to it. Bailey then changed up his strategy, damaging Josh’s arm and shoulder with a submission lock and then squeezing Josh with a Body Lock that Josh couldn’t break out of, and then converting that into a Poison Rana for 2-and-a-half.

The action got too quick to call after that, with both men looking to finish each other with huge moves, like a Whirling Dervish Tornado Kick by Bailey, and a Powerbomb Backbreaker by Josh. Josh’s arm was too hurt to hit the C-4 Spike, but when he dropped Bailey because of the pain, it actually looked like he dropped Bailey on his head, which looked pretty scary on first viewing. After that, another escape from the C-4 Spike led to both men tumbling over the top rope and hitting hard on the outside. Bailey recovered first and hit a huge Moonsault from the middle rope to Alexander on the floor. He followed that up with a Missile Dropkick and a series of Kicks to the ribs.

They continued to dish out the offense at each other, the intensity increasing as each minute went by, the exhaustion on both men becoming palpable.

Alexander found a burst of strength to block a move, pick up Bailey and then hit him with a huge Falling Slam on the apron – wow, that looked great.


Bailey had no quit, though, and he continued to bring the fight to the champion, even at one point hitting a huge Ultimo Weapon, which might have ended it if Bailey wasn’t in too much pain himself to crawl over to make the cover. A series of huge Kicks and Knees and more Quick Kicks were effective, but not enough to stop Josh, who recovered and hit a series of German Suplexes, which bizarrely was interrupted by a commercial.

When we got back, the battle waged on, as the match hit the 45-minute mark. In fact, the action was going on so long that the announcers said the scheduled main event between Delirious and Eddie Edwards had to be postponed until next week – that was a great touch.

The toll the match had taken on both was apparent as they both struggled to get to their feet after every move, regardless if they were the perpetrator or the victim. Each one would get a random burst of energy to hit a big move, but the other would refuse to stay down or submit.

At the 50-minute call by announcer David Penzer, Josh upped the ante, putting on an Ankle Lock and transitioning that into a Tombstone for a 2-count and then going right back to the Ankle Lock, nearly forcing Bailey to tap out. But Bailey gutted himself all the way to the ropes to break the hold in dramatic fashion.

Alexander looked to end things with a big move off the top, but Bailey fought his way out of Josh’s clutches – unfortunately, only to fall off the top and land hard on his softened-up ankle. With the announcement of 5 minutes remaining, Bailey’s inner fire burned stronger and he powered through a series of Foot Stomps to climb up and hit Josh with a huge Hurancarana off the top. He followed that up with Ultimo Weapon for the 1, 2, No! Josh got his foot on the rope to break the count.

Looking to end things with 2 minutes left, Bailey scrambled to hit a series of Thrust Kicks to soften up the champ. He went for the Flamingo Driver, but Alexander escaped it and hit a Styles Clash, and then floated over to put on the Ankle Lock one more time.


Bailey kicked his way loose and grabbed the ropes. But Alexander yanked Bailey off the rope and hit a huge Piledriver, and followed that up with the C-4 Spike, and another one for good measure, and with about 10 seconds left to go, that was enough to put Bailey down for the three-count.

This was tremendous. Alexander continues to make a case for being the best in-ring talent in the world right now. Bailey was able to hang with him and this match was not only his best since joining Impact, but one that has to be considered a career best for him. Definitely go out of your way to see this one.

Winner, and still Impact World Champion: Josh Alexander




Impact Wrestling - December 8, 2022

Old Forester's Paristown Hall - Louisville KY

No disrespect to everything else on the show, this one was all about the stellar main event. Not much to say other than this was a match that you definitely have to go out of your way to see. Josh Alexander has to be in the conversation for Wrestler of the Year, with performances like this. And credit to Mike Bailey who more than held up his end. Do yourself a favour and find a way to see this one.