Since returning to Impact Wrestling late last year, Bully Ray has been making a case for himself to be named Heel of the Year with his attacks on Impact World Champion Josh Alexander and by terrorizing Alexander’s family. Along the way, he’s also injured fellow ECW original Tommy Dreamer. We’re less than a week into 2023, and it looks like he’s going to continue with his villainous ways. This week, his target was Impact Executive Vice-President Scott D’Amore, who felt the ire of Bully Ray – and the impact of being driven through a table. Heel of the Year: Bully Ray? He’s definitely off to a good start.

The show started off with a graphic in honour of Don West. RIP.

Through clips, they reminded everyone of the last confrontation between Impact World Champion Josh Alexander and his contender at Hard To Kill (January 13th) Bully Ray, which ended up with Bully Ray and his new stooges, Jason Hotch and John Skylar attacking Tommy Dreamer. As a result, Josh Alexander petitioned Impact Executive Vice-President Scott D’Amore to make the January 13th match a Full Metal Mayhem match. D’Amore agreed, and then said he was sending Alexander and Bully Ray home until Hard To Kill.

The other notable event from that episode was the rising tension between Mickie James and Knockouts World Champion Jordynne Grace in advance of their match which, per Mickie’s Last Rodeo stipulation, makes it a title vs. career match.


Match 1: Masha Slamovich vs. Taylor Wilde

Deonna Purrazzo joined the commentary team for this one. Wilde was showing off her new gothic look in this one, though she still had a fan favourite demeanour.

Unlike others who fell victim to Masha’s explosive power at the get-go, Wilde tried to mix things up and mat-wrestle Masha. She fared well for a while, but Masha showed she’s not just a one-trick pony, as she showed off some technical acumen. Wilde showed off some aggression, smashing Masha’s head against the apron in a Piledriver-esque move. But Masha fought back and hurt Taylor with some ground-and-pound and then a Spinning Kick to the chest. The battle went back and forth for a while, with both women hitting big moves.

After hurting Taylor with a nasty move that whipped her face-first into the top rope, Masha turned her attention to Purrazzo at the commentary desk, spitting in her general direction. This let Taylor recover, and when Masha got back into the ring, Taylor surprised her with a roll-up for the win.

After the match, an incensed Masha went to attack ring announcer David Penzer, and then beat up a hapless Security guard who saved Penzer.

This was a competitive, hard-hitting match. It’s unfortunate that they broke Masha’s winning streak before she won the title, because that’s somewhat humanized her. In retrospect, they probably should have waited until after Grace faces Mickie to have Masha face Grace, because then she could have won the title and that would have been a significant win.

Winner: Taylor Wilde

A Sami Callihan guerilla video aired. He was angry that he keeps getting beaten up by The Design, even after he asked to join them. He wants to join them and he said he wants their answer by the end of the night.

They showed clips from two weeks ago when Rich Swann and Steve Maclin got into a scrap. This was followed by a Rich Swann taped promo who challenged Maclin to a No-DQ, No Countout, Falls Count Anywhere match at Hard To Kill.

Crazzy Steve was in the ring, and he cut a quick promo against Anthony Greene, saying it was a mistake for Greene to want a match against Black Taurus, who Steve introduced for…


Match 2: Black Taurus (w/ Crazzy Steve) vs. Anthony Greene

Greene, if you didn’t know, was formerly known as NXT’s August Grey. Now, he wants to be known as “The Alternative.”

Early on, this was a battle of power vs. speed, and Taurus was in control until Greene dumped him over the top rope, and then beat him up on the floor. Greene got no response from the crowd, which isn’t a good sign. In the ring, Greene hit an impressive Top Rope Tightrope Walk into a High Cross Body, and a 360=Suplex on Taurus.


Taurus fought back with a Headbutt and a pair of Slingblades, and a huge Backbreaker, before planting Greene with brutal-looking Destination Hellhole for the pin – ouch!


This was an inauspicious debut for Greene, particularly as the loss was quite definitive. Starting him off in this fashion doesn’t really give a sense that he will be a serious threat to anyone. Yes, they are looking to make Taurus look like a credible contender to Trey Miguel as they battle for the X-Division title at Hard To Kill. But it’s strange booking to do that at the expense of Grey’s debut. Though, judging from the fans’ lack of any reaction to Greene, maybe nobody really cares anyway.

After the match, as Greene was being helped to the back, Trey Miguel ran out from the back and blind-sided him, leaving Greene laying. Miguel then tagged Grey’s unconscious body with the spraypaint can and left. Yeah, Greene may as well be named Jab Roni.

Winner: Black Taurus

A video aired of Kenny King barging into “Speedball” Mike Bailey’s wrestling school and beating up Bailey’s students. After destroying them all with ease, Kenny looked into the camera and called out Bailey.

Gia Miller interviewed an enraged Bailey in the back. Bailey challenged Kenny to a Pit Fight at Hard To Kill. He said they would take down the ropes, tape up their fists, and the match would end with either a knockout or submission. Good fire shown here by Bailey.


Match 3: Jonathan Gresham vs. Ernest R. Anthony

Ernest R. Anthony might as well have been named Cannon Fodder. Gresham outwrestled him in just about every way possible. At one point, Gresham was almost toying with Fodder, twisting his ankle in ways that ankles should not be twisted and having Fodder begging for mercy. He then locked on a brutal-looking submission and held it while rolling over Fodder into a pinning combination.

This was the complete opposite of how Greene was presented earlier. Gresham looked like a dominant beast. This was a great showcase for what he can do.

Winner: Jonathan Gresham. Flawless victory.

In the back, Tasha Steelz and Savannah Evans were angry about constantly losing their matches. Evans didn’t seem to be as angry as Steelz, though. Gisele Shaw and Jai Vidal walked – or should I say, strutted – into the room. They offered their help to Evans and Steelz in beating the Death Dollz, despite Shaw losing with everyone she’s teamed up with. Shaw blamed her partners, and said that if the four of them joined forces, they would outnumber the Death Dollz. They started to discuss a plan and the camera cut away.

The Design cut a promo in response to Sami Callihan. Deaner said that for Sami to join, he’d have to have his identity stripped away and rebuilt. The process of re-designing himself would be a long and hard one, but if Sami wanted it, he would have to start next week by having his head shaved in the middle of the ring.

A video package aired celebrating Josh Alexander becoming the longest-reigning Impact World Champion of all time. What a tremendous accomplishment.


Moose / Joe Hendry promo

Moose came to the ring, and he talked about Joe Hendry, who he faces for the Digital Media Championship at Hard To Kill. Moose said that Hendry hasn’t paid his dues, while Moose has done it all. Moose said that he embraced his inner villain to become the best version of himself, and it was that self that would beat Hendry for the title. And, in doing so, he would wipe the smile off of Hendry’s face. He then said that he didn’t want to wait so he was going to call out Hendry right then and there. Like Hendry’s song goes, Moose said his name and he appeared.

Hendry walked out onto the entrance ramp where he tried to give Moose an inspirational talk. Hendry said that he would try to help Moose show off his true inner self. To start, he said he wrote a new theme song for Moose. Up came a video on the big screen, with a modified version of Hendry’s theme song making fun of Moose. The video included embarrassing clips of Moose, mocked Moose’s football career, and featured numerous clips of Moose dancing, resulting in the crowd starting a “Dancing Moose” chant. Moose, naturally, wasn’t amused. He said at Hard To Kill, nobody would believe in Joe Hendry when Moose beats him for the title. Moose demanded they play his music, but the parody song was played instead, which was funny.



Mickie James career retrospective

A video package aired, going through Mickie James’ wrestling career, from her start to her first stint in TNA during the early years. She talked about going to WWE and Jeff Jarrett told her that the door would always be open for her return. She talked about going to Ohio Valley Wrestling and then moving up to the main roster, starting with her feud with Trish Stratus, and lasting five years before coming back to Impact. Mickie got emotional talking about what evolved her into the Hardcore Country persona. She talked about meeting Nick Aldis (Magnus), who she eventually married. She talked about getting the call from Triple H to wrestle Asuka, which led to a second run with WWE, but she didn’t feel it was a satisfactory way to end her career, so she came back to Impact to wrap things up the right way. She got emotional talking about her family and that hoped that she can inspire at least one person to persevere and achieve their dreams as she has. This was great, and was up there with the best profile videos you’d see in a WWE spotlight video or Hall of Fame profile.


A memorial video aired for Don West, featuring interviews with roster members, past and present, whose matches he called, or who were simply fans of his commentary. As someone who had met Don West several times, he was a big-hearted guy who was generous with his time and infectious with his energy and spirit. He and Mike Tenay were among the best commentary pairings in modern wrestling, and their dynamic has never been replicated in TNA/Impact. He will indeed be missed. RIP. Eff cancer.



Match 4: Matt Cardona (w/ Brian Myers) vs. Chris Sabin (w/ Alex Shelley)

Sabin threw Cardona around repeatedly with a series of Arm Drags to start things, but interference by Myers from the outside led to Cardona taking control. Sabin recovered when the match spilled to the floor, and he Back Body Dropped Cardona on the entrance ramp to head into a break.

Cardona had taken back the advantage when the show returned from break – a replay showed he’d whipped Sabin into the ring post. Cardona worked over Sabin’s neck, hitting a trio of Neckbreakers and then cranking Sabin’s neck to try to get the submission, but Sabin wouldn’t give up.

After some more back and forth action, including some interference from Brian Myers – who paid for it by getting chased by Alex Shelley, resulting in both Major Players getting hit with a Sabin dive –  Sabin hit a series of boots to Cardona’s head, and then hit the Cradle Shock to get the win.

This was a good match. Sabin continues to compete like he’s 15 to 20 years younger than he is. Cardona hasn’t been able to convert the tremendous personality he brought to GCW to Impact. There are rumours that he’s angling for a WWE return, and may get it. If so, hopefully he can be more interesting there than he has been here.

Winner: Chris Sabin


Bully Ray / Scott D’Amore confrontation

As the commentary team ran down the Hard To Kill card, Bully Ray stormed to the ring. He called out Josh Alexander, but Scott D’Amore came out instead.

D’Amore said that Bully shouldn’t even be there, because D’Amore had told him and Alexander to stay at home until Hard To Kill. But since he was, D’Amore would address him.

D’Amroe said that he’d brought Bully back to Impact because Bully had told him he was a changed man, and D’Amore hoped that was true.

But he realized that there was no redemption for Bully Ray. He said that nobody wants to associate with Bully, including his “brother” D-Von, unless D-Von was paid a lot of money. He said that Bully has alienated anyone who had faith in D-Von, including his last friend Tommy Dreamer. And that at Hard To Kill, Alexander was going to give Bully the beating he deserves. And then afterwards, Josh would go back into the locker room of a roster that respects him, and then home to his family, while Bully would simply go back to being alone in his hotel room, a sad, pathetic, and lonely man. And that was a bigger punishment than anyone could give him.



Bully said that he wouldn’t be leaving the ring sad or pathetic, but rather as Impact World Champion. Bully said he didn’t need D’Amore’s respect. He said he used D’Amore just as he’s done many times before. He called D’Amore a sucker and tried to goad D’Amore into hitting him. After Bully knocked the mic out of D’Amore’s hand and shoved him, D’Amore had enough, and he snapped, punching Bully in the face, and then spitting on him – wow!


Hotch and Skylar ran down and they grabbed D’Amore, holding him up while Bully Ray beat him up. Bully hit D’Amore with a Piledriver, and then he Powerbombed D’Amore through a table. Ray reiterated that he would be the next World Champion as D’Amore lay there in the wreckage of the table as the show came to an end.


This was excellent, a really strong segment. D’Amore was great with his angry passion on the mic, and Bully is just a slimy heel that you really want to hate. It will be interesting to see if and how Alexander responds on next week’s go-home show.

Impact Wrestling - January 5, 2023

Charles F. Dodge City Center - Pembroke Pines, Florida.

This was a really strong episode. The matches were effective in elevating the build for Hard To Kill. But the promo segments really killed it. The Mickie James vignette was one of the best things Impact has put together. The Hendry-Moose video clip was so much goofy fun. And the final segment with D’Amore and Bully Ray was fire. Hopefully Josh Alexander can match that intensity if he shows up next week, either verbally or physically, and ideally both. If he delivers on par with tonight’s promo, that will be one heck of a final sell for the Pay-Per-View.