With definitive wins by World Champion Josh Alexander and new Knockouts Champion Mickie James at last week’s Hard To Kill, this week’s episode of Impact Wrestling started off with a bit of a clean slate. Time, then, to come up with some new feuds and new storylines to take us through to the next big show. But first we had one major piece of unfinished business to deal with: the hostility between Kenny King and “Speedball” Mike Bailey. And this one had gotten so intense that it couldn’t be resolved through a traditional match. Rather, they had to do this in a new environment: the Fight Pit. The match was a great capper to an overall strong episode.

The show started off with a tribute graphic for Jay Briscoe, and then clips from last weekend’s Hard To Kill PPV event.


Mickie James promo

The new Knockouts World Champion came to the ring with her newly-won title. She said that the Last Rodeo may have ended, but Hardcore Country will go on forever. She just had time to thank the fans when she was interrupted by Bully Ray, who made his way to the ring.

Mickie refused to comply with Bully’s demands that she leave the ring, prompting the crowd to chant at him to leave instead. Bully said that he, and not Mickie, was the main event at Hard To Kill, so he didn’t understand why people are cheering for Mickie.

Bully then said that he was the one who made people interested in Josh Alexander, and that without Bully, nobody would care about Alexander. Mickie said the only thing Bully did was tap out. That angered Bully enough that he said he was giving Mickie her last warning to leave. She didn’t and bad-mouthed Bully, said she wouldn’t leave willingly and challenged him to force her out.


Before he could respond, Tasha Steelz and Savannah Evans made their way out to the entrance ramp. Tasha said they were just there to watch Bully beat up Mickie. But then they got into the ring and Tasha got in Mickie’s face. She said that Mickie can’t beat her, which led to tempers flaring. Bully fanned the flames, and this led to Steelz challenging Mickie for a title shot. Before Mickie could answer, Savannah clubbed Mickie from behind, and they started a 2-on-1 beatdown. Jordynne Grace and Frankie Kazarian ran down to equalize the situation.

The new Director of Authority, Santino Marella, then came out. He tried to figure out what kind of match to make in order to settle things, but got caught up in the math of it. As he struggled with that, Ernest Miller’s music hit and “The Cat” danced his way to the ring. He said his experience as Commissioner of WCW Nitro would be helpful in this situation. And he suggested they have one big match, and Santino made it official, leading to:


Match 1: Jordynne Grace, Mickie James, and Frankie Kazarian vs. Tasha Steelz, Savannah Evans, and Bully Ray

The match was pretty even early on, until some dirty tactics from Bully let his teammates take an advantage on Mickie. Even Bully got his licks in, slamming Mickie hard to the mat and then getting in her face and trash-talking her. He, Steelz, and Evans took turns beating up Mickie until she was finally able to escape and make reach her corner for the tag.


Grace battered down both Evans and Steelz, and even had Bully up in a Fireman’s Carry, but before she could slam him down, he broke loose and clubbed her one. Frankie made him pay for that with a pair of huge strikes, and Bully fled, leaving his team behind. Steelz and Evans were outgunned and it wasn’t too long afterwards that Mickie hit Steelz with a Thesz Press off the top and pinned her.

After the match, Masha Slamovich’s music hit and she stalked her way to the ring. Masha, of course, won a four-way match to become the number one contender for Mickie’s title. She handed Mickie a death warrant, but Mickie was unfazed. The two went face-to-face for a bit before Masha left.

Winners: Frankie Kazarian, Jordynne Grace, and Mickie James

In many ways, this felt like the beginning of a WWE show, with a 20-minute opening promo segment and then the match for another twenty minutes. The interaction between Mickie and Steelz was fun, and Bully is very easy to hate. Not sure that Kazarian’s presence made a lot of sense or was fully-explained, though, and there wasn’t enough physicality between he and Bully to make anyone want to see that spin off into a separate feud. The most intriguing part of this, frankly, was the setup for Masha and Mickie.

In the back, Santino and Ernest Miller were talking. Santino explained his idea to determine who would be Josh Alexander’s next challenger. He said he would put six former World Champions in a match called the Golden Six-Shooter Match. He said they would be Chris Sabin, Eddie Edwards, Rhino, Rich Swann, Moose, and Sami Callihan. Ernest praised the idea and told Santino he was doing a great job as DOA.

Santino then started talking with Dirty Dango who was standing around in the back. Steve Maclin stormed in and questioned why he wasn’t the next contender for Josh after he beat Rich Swann at Hard To Kill. Dango sided with Santino and said if Maclin wanted to fight, he would oblige. Santino made the match.


Match 2: Deonna Purrazzo vs. Ashley D’Amboise

D’Amboise is an independent wrestler who has appeared on AEW’s Dark and Elevation shows in the past. She didn’t get an entrance, so that probably tells you who’s going to win this one. But at least D’Amboise made a good showing for herself, and got some offense on Purrazzo for a bit. Purrazzo punished her with a few submission holds, and at one point, had D’Amboise in a definite pinning predicament, but opted to pick her up and dish out some more punishment. Gorilla Monsoon would have chastised her for doing so if he was on commentary, but in the end, his admonishments would have been moot. Because shortly after that, Purrazzo hit a hard Powerbomb and the Queen’s Gambit to get the pin.


This was a good, convincing win for Purrazzo who has been kind of directionless lately. Hopefully this is the start of her making her way back the main event scene.

Winner: Deonna Purrazzo

Gia Miller went down into the bowels of the building to look for PCO. She found him and started asking him about Eddie Edwards, but got scared when he went into an angry fit, screaming Eddie’s name in an angry bellow.

Trey Miguel found Ashley D’Amboise backstage and patronizingly complimented her efforts in her match earlier. She sarcastically thanked him, and he scolded her for being disrespectful when he was trying to teach her. Mike Jackson, the septuagenarian wrestler, walked in and said that he wanted to teach Trey a lesson, and challenged Miguel to an X-Division Championship match next week. Miguel laughingly accepted the challenge.


Match 3: Taylor Wilde vs. Killer Kelly

Taylor was in her new “Wilde Witch” persona, but Kelly is presented as even more dark and gothic. They hit some hard shots here, including the opening move, a hard-looking Sheik Suplex by Kelly. They exchanged the advantage a few times, including Wilde locking on a tight submission lock, but then Keyy escaping and ground-and-pounding Wilde with hard forearm shots. Later, Wilde planted Kelly’s face into the mat and then hit a Wilde Driver, double-stomping Kelly’s head into the apron. A series of Headbutts by Kelly stunned Wilde, and then Kelly nearly got a pin after a Low Dropkick in the corner. Wilde hit the Wilde Ride for a two-count, and then after a series of counters and reversals, Kelly locked on the Killer Klutch and Wilde had no choice but to tap out.

This was a good, pretty even matchup. Wilde’s new character direction is a bit odd, and doesn’t feel entirely genuine – particularly when pitted against Kelly who plays psycho really well. But there’s no denying Wilde can have a good match with just about anyone. Still, Kelly is a star on the rise, so this win was the right way to go.

Winner: Killer Kelly

They showed clips from the BTI pre-show. After The Design competed in a match, Deaner tested Callihan’s loyalty by asking him to attack a defenseless Yuyu Uemura. Callihan did it, hitting Yuyu with the Cactus Driver.

Cut to The Design and Callihan in a scary hallway in the basement of the building. Deaner told Callihan that in order to join The Design, he’d have to go through a 7-step process, each of which will require Callihan to make the right choice. Callihan completed the first step when he agreed to shave his head. He made the second right choice by following orders when he attacked Yuyu. Deaner asked Callihan if he would compete in the Golden Six Shooter match next week. Callihan said he would if Deaner allowed it, which was the right choice. Deaner instructed Callihan to win the match, go on to win the title, and present the title to him. If Callihan failed, then he would have to face the consequences.

DOA Santino Marella was in Josh Alexander’s locker room. He asked Alexander if he was okay with taking on the winner of the Golden Six Shooter match, and Alexander said that he was. Gisele Shaw and Jai Vidal came up to Santino, and Shaw said she wanted a Knockouts Tag Team Championship match. Santino agreed if Gisele could find a partner. He asked Alisha Edwards and a random passer-by if they wanted to team with Gisele, but they both refused. Santino then said he would find Gisele a partner.


Match 4: Steve Maclin vs. Dirty Dango

Maclin started off aggressively, but Dango used some wrestling finesse to mount a short comeback. Maclin then went back to his power game, blasting Dango with hard strikes and moves, including a crisp Vertical Suplex and a vicious Backbreaker. Maclin then targeted Dango’s back with kicks and stomps. Dango fired back with some chops and a Side Russian Leg Sweep, which he followed up with a Legdrop. Dango went up top, but Maclin moved, and when Dango chased him to the ramp, he got caught and heaved into the ring the hard way. Maclin then put Dango in the Crosshairs and hit the KIA for the 1-2-3.


This was a good showcase for Maclin. I’ve been saying for a while that they really should be moving him up the card and into the World Title picture – and I could see him being the one to eventually dethrone Alexander. Some more convincing matches like this are just the ticket there.

Winner: Steve Maclin

Backstage, Gia Miller interviewed the Major Players, Matt Cardona and Brian Myers. They have a match with the Bullet Club – Chris Bey and Ace Austin – next week. They didn’t say anything interesting, as is customary. Moose walked in and said that their losing ways started when Joe Hendry joined Impact and beat them for the Digital Media Championship. The three of them all agreed that they don’t like Hendry and don’t like that Hendry is holding the title. Cardona said that after he and Myers beat the Bullet Club, they’d turn their attention on beating Hendry for the title, and this pleased Moose. Unfortunately this didn’t lead to them playing Joe Hendry’s theme song.

Tommy Dreamer did a sit-down interview with his Busted Open podcast host Dave LaGreca, who asked Tommy about the tension between him and Bully Ray, one of their co-hosts. Dreamer said that he and Bully Ray were friends but aren’t any longer after Bully’s recent actions. Dreamer blasted Bully for unprofessional behaviour on the show, like walking out and no-showing repeatedly. Dave asked Tommy if he could put his differences with Bully aside, and Tommy said no. He said that Bully uses people and is proud of it. Dreamer said he won’t deal with Bully’s negativity anymore. Dreamer said that he and Bully are going to war, and Tommy Dreamer never loses a war.


Match 5: “Speedball” Mike Bailey vs. Kenny King

There are no ropes in a Pit Fight, and the only way to win is by pinfall or submission. Both men were barefoot. They did MMA-type of presentation, with a cutman putting petroleum jelly on their faces before they entered the ring, did in-ring introductions, and had the referee run down the rules for them in the middle of the ring. Bailey went to touch gloves, but King just spat in his general direction.

This was an interesting match, as it was done like an MMA fight as opposed to a wrestling match.

They did some grappling early on, and then exchanged some kick attempts. Bailey took King down, and King rolled to the floor to regroup. King then took Bailey down and used his foot to shove Bailey down to the floor. When Bailey tried to get back in, King kicked him in the face and sent Bailey to the floor again. King then followed him and threw Bailey into the ring steps.

King tried to submit Bailey with a Triangle, and then used a Sweep to send Bailey’s head smashing onto one of the lights lining the elevated entrance ramp, busting him open, and then followed that up with punches to Bailey’s head. King then took Bailey back into the ring where he unloaded on him with some more moves.

In a nice sequence, King went for a Cartwheel Kick, but Bailey blocked it, and then hit King with a Pump Kick that sent King tumbling to the floor where it looked like he landed on the back of his head.

Bailey, his strength renewed, then walloped King with a series of kicks that dazed King. Bailey went for an Armbar submission, but King stood up and blasted Bailey with a Powerbomb. Bailey was persistent, though, and went back to the Armbar, and then targeted King’s weakened arm with kicks.

King then sent Bailey back to the floor, and hit a Running Blockbuster off the apron to the floor, which looked really good. King then went under the ring and got a chair, looking to exploit the No-Disqualification stipulation. But Bailey recovered before King could use it.

Bailey missed on a Roundhouse Kick and ended up kicking the ring post (the ropes were taken down but the posts were still up), so King locked on a Figure-Four Leglock to capitalize on Bailey’s pain. A defiant Bailey rolled it over to escape, and they both rolled to the floor.

Bailey then went to the top of the entrance ramp and used it as a long runway to hit a Running Dropkick that blasted King. Bailey then used the turnbuckle rings to climb to the top of the ring post (ouch!) and it a Twisting Somersault Dive onto King on the floor.


After that, Commentator Tom Hannifan said that the match was “total non-stop action” which was a nice nod for the long-time fans.

Bailey went for Ultima Weapon off the apron, but King blocked it, hit Bailey with a Spinebuster on the apron, threw Bailey back in the ring, and hit him with a Whirling Dervish Headkick. Bailey was down, but not out, so King tried for a leg submission. Bailey grabbed the chair that King had brought in, and escaped the submission by cracking King with the chair. Bailey locked on another Armbar, but King wouldn’t quit.

Bailey then hit a Standing Double-Knee Moonsault but Kenny was still moving after that. Finally, with King lying prone on his stomach, Bailey leaned the chair against the back of King’s head and stomped on it. That was enough to knock King unconscious, giving Bailey the big win.


This was good, and it worked really well as a main event. The match felt special not only because it was something entirely new in Impact, but also because of the way they committed to the gimmick. One of my recurring criticisms of Bailey is his lack of selling an injured body part and that was the case here again. But he did show some fire, particularly at the end, and the showing of his angry side was a good development. King got to show off some new styles as well, and that was a good showcase for him. If done sparingly, this could be a good match type to bring back for special occasions.

Winner: “Speedball” Mike Bailey



Impact Wrestling - January 20th, 2023

Center Stage - Atlanta, GA

While every match on Thursday night’s episode was good, the main event was really something. The opening promo was a different way to start the show, and while that’s good on occasion, hopefully they don’t use it constantly. Similarly, while Santino can be a fun character, he’s much better in small doses, and they found that right mix this week. Overall, the show opened the door for some interesting feud possibilities, so it could be fun ride until the next big event.