WINDSOR, ON — 1,246 days. That’s how long it’s been since Impact Wrestling last came to Windsor, Ontario. It was on March 16, 2020 that Impact announced the cancellation of its Lockdown show which was to take place in Windsor, Ontario March 28 of that year due to the spread of COVID-19. Fast forward past a lockdown of our own and the full return of a touring schedule and Impact Wrestling made its triumphant return to Windsor. As I have been filling in and covering Impact for the last year, I thought it would only be fitting to attend this momentous event.
Even before doors opened to the public and as Slam! photographer Brad McFarlin and I made our way through the back and into the arena area, it was evident that there was an extra buzz to the Impact Plus Special that night. It felt like a bit of a homecoming for much of the staff. Make no mistake that Windsor is indeed a wrestling town. With its geographical closeness to Detroit and Toronto, the Border City of Windsor has a rich history in wrestling and is home to a unique fandom of wrestling.
As the sold-out crowd made its way into the arena you felt that it would be a fun homecoming of sorts for Impact. I made my way around the arena and I overheard so many similar conversations. Many talks surrounded the unfortunate injuries to both World champions, Josh Alexander and Mickie James, with the former requiring surgery and will be sidelined an indefinite amount of time. Other conversations consisted of whether they’d watch X promotion’s TV that week. The crowd consisted of many people wearing Impact Wrestling shirts but there was a sprinkling of shirts from other promotions which is not uncommon when attending a wrestling event. As I made small talk with various fans it became evident that some were long-time fans and some were attending their first wrestling event live. It was refreshing to see that wrestling is still able to attract new fans as that is a common discussion in certain wrestling groups throughout the internet.
If you haven’t attended a televised wrestling event live then you may not know the format. Typically there is a dark match before cameras roll to get the crowd warmed up then the show can get started. While this was an Impact Plus special, the format didn’t deviate too much. The first match was a dark match which I cannot apologize enough to the competitors but we were all being moved and squeezed together in every nook and cranny inside of the gym at St. Clair College so I missed the intros of this match. It was short and sweet and got the crowd hyped for Sacrifice. [Editor’s note: Sheldon Jean faced El Reverso.]
As the Pre-Show started, the live crowd had two matches to enjoy, which is a great plus compared to other promotions who have double the length Pre-Show and half the matches (cough … WWE … cough). For full results of the Pre-Show and Main show be sure to check out John Powell’s full rundown of the night’s action. The crowd was still filing in as the Pre-Show was happening but by 8 p.m. local time, the house was packed and ready for a night full of action.
Personally, I thought that losing one title match completely (Mickie James versus Jordynne Grace) and the main event changing (Steve Maclin replacing Josh Alexander) would have left the crowd a bit deflated but the return of a major show kept the crowd energized throughout the night.
As the main card started, St. Clair College was packed and ready to go. The crowd was treated to a barn burner of an opener that may have set the bar too high for the in-ring product for the rest of the night. Mike Bailey and Jonathan Gresham tore the house down. With “This is Awesome” chants reigning down to the competitors throughout the match, everyone in attendance knew that they were watching a special match. As both men traded submission holds and tried to one up their opponent, the crowd ate up every chop, every armbar, every kick, everything. As Mike Bailey emerged victorious it felt like this would be a fun show.
The overall pacing of the show felt right as the next match up was the Digital Media Championship match between champion Joe Hendry and challenger Brian Myers. While the crowd was super into Joe Hendry, they picked and chose when to react and it didn’t feel as boisterous as it did for the opener. This changed for the next match as Deonna Purrazzo and Gisele Shaw had a fast paced match that kept the crowd incredibly engaged. It was very clear that both women had their supporters and they were infectious as the rest of the crowd picked up on their energy to keep the house loud.
The biggest surprise of the night came with how popular PCO was. Kenny King was clearly no match for the French Canadian Frankenstein’s popularity and no matter what PCO did in the ring, he crowd reacted. It also helped that PCO put his body on the line so many times in this match that the crowd truly respected everything he did in the ring. The X-Division championship matches are usually high intensity that can keep the crowd entirely engaged but I think after the excitement of PCO, the crowd showed its first signs of being tired. Bullet Club’s tag team of Ace Austin and Chris Bey had the crowd back and energetic and while the crowd generally didn’t know who TMDK (Bad Dude Tito and Shane Haste) were, the match kept everyone on the edge of their feet as they were rewarded a fast paced
The match that had the entire crowd on the edge of their feet was none other than Bully Ray versus Tommy Dreamer in a Busted Open (First Blood) Match. For all intents and purposes, this should have closed the show with the change in the actual main event. The crowd reacted to each and every thing the two veterans did in the ring. When Bully Ray clearly bled first but ended up winning the match due to wrestling-isms, the crowd boo’d him out of the building. Then Bully Ray had some interactions and an eventual confrontation with NHL enforcer and four-time Stanley Cup champion Darren McCarty. This all lead to the moment of the night as the crowd went absolutely bonkers and blew the roof off when Impact President Scott D’Amore hit a Canadian Destroyer on Jason Hotch from the Good Hands. For many in attendance including myself, this was the moment of the night.
OH CANADA! @ScottDAmore CANADIAN DESTROYERS @TheJasonHotch and Windsor EXPLODES! #Sacrifice pic.twitter.com/iqqpiH0tMZ
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) March 25, 2023
The main event had some local heroes as Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin) teamed up with Kushida to form Time Machine and they faced off against the random team of Rich Swann, Frankie Kazarian, and Josh Alexander’s replacement, Steve Maclin. While the match was entertaining, I think the Busted Open Match was the climax for the crowd as the in-ring action couldn’t get the crowd back into the match. Once Time Machine was victorious and the cameras stopped rolling Shelley and Sabin took to the mic to thank the Windsor crowd for 20 years of support.
While the past few days have not been ideal for Impact Wrestling, the promotion ran with what it was given and gave the live crowd a fun show that symbolized Impact Wrestling is back in Windsor.
TOP PHOTO: A good shot of the crowd at Windsor’s St. Clair College gym. Photo by Boris Roberto Aguilar
Bully Ray gets bloody and ices NHL hockey legend at Sacrifice