Philadelphia saw a physical fight full of fisticuffs and furious action on Thursday night’s episode of TNA Impact Wrestling, when Chris Sabin and Steve Maclin went one-on-one in the main event. In what is believed to be one of his last matches with the company, Sabin did what he could to make sure he went out with a highlight match against an opponent who seems to be back on the rise to the main event scene. The match was the highlight of the night, with only one other match coming close.


 Match 1: Xia Brookfield, Rosemary, Dani Luna, and Steph De Lander vs. Havok, Jodi Threat, Alisha Edwards, and Masha Slamovich – Round 1 of an 8-4-1 Match

The winning team will go on to Round 2 of the 8-4-1 Match, where they will face off in a 4-way match, with the winner earning a Knockouts Championship match at Rebellion.

Before the match, Ash By Elegance’s stooge George Iceman introduced her, and she came to the ring with a dental bandage wrapped around her head. Iceman said that Ash had just had some work done and her face couldn’t be touched for 72 hours; consequently, she wasn’t able to compete, so De Lander (who most recently competed in NXT as Persia Pirotta) was replacing her in the match. The audio on this was terrible as they picked up the sound from the arena instead of hard-wiring it into the soundboard. Also, because Iceman was talking.

The commentators explained that teams were picked at random, explaining why the team members of Decay and of Spitfire were in opposing corners.

The match started off with most of the women getting an opportunity to shine, and then degenerated into a massive brawl that saw almost everyone spill to the floor. Luna and Slamovich were the only two left, and they had a pretty decent exchange, with both women going for rollup pins. In the end, Dani was able to cradle up Slamovich in a tight Small Package and get the pin.

Winners: Xia Brookfield, Rosemary, Dani Luna, and Steph De Lander


Match 2: Xia Brookfield vs. Rosemary vs. Dani Luna vs. Steph De Lander – Round 2 of an 8-4-1 Match

Slamovich, still angry from her loss, came in and attacked Dani, effectively taking her out of the match. Seconds later, Xia was knocked to the floor from the apron, and she collided into Ash, who was sitting at ringside. Angry, Ash threw Xia into the ringpost, taking Xia out of the match. The referee ordered Ash and Iceman to the back, but the damage was done.

As De Lander and Rosemary were about to go at it, Matt Cardona ran into the ring and hit Rosemary with Radio Silence. De Lander picked up Rosemary, hit a TKO, and covered her for the pin. Cardona and De Lander celebrated the tainted win.

Both parts of the 8-4-1 match were a bit chaotic and didn’t get a chance to really gel, other than the exchange between Masha and Luna, which could spin off into a good feud. Matt Cardona’s return was a surprise and his alignment with De Lander could give the Knockouts Division a much-needed shot in the arm.

Winner: Steph De Lander

They aired a clip from last week after the show had ended. In the parking lot, the Rascalz and Steve Maclin were arguing and it looks like their temporary alliance has come to an end. After the Rascalz stormed off, Maclin turned around and bumped into Chris Sabin and they started exchanging words. Sabin challenged Maclin to a match next week.

Cut to the dressing room where Sabin was talking with Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA. Shelley was upset that Sabin had booked himself into a singles match instead of thinking of the three of them as a unit. Shelley said that he would do the same thing and went off to get himself a singles match. The dissension between the Motor City Machine Guns continues.

In the back, Chris Bey and Ace Austin were having a similar discussion as the Guns, with Austin telling Bey that their focus should be on getting back the Tag Team Championship instead of Bey chasing opportunities to get a shot at the X-Division Championship like he did last week in a match that Jake Something won. Bey pointed out that Austin recently competed in singles match against Frankie Kazarian, and Austin said that was on both of their behalf since Kazarian had disrespected them as a team. Bey said he would prove to Austin that he is focused on their team, and to prove it would get a match with Kazarian to defend their team’s honour. To have this immediately follow the Guns’ segment was a curious choice given how similar they were.

The Grizzled Young Vets were in the ring, blaming their loss last week on Cody Deaner’s interference. They called him out, and he came to the ring. Deaner said that Director of Authority Santino Marella had given him the right to face either of them tonight, and as to which one it was, Santino would give Deaner the choice. But, in honour of his new gimmick, Deaner said it was the People’s Choice. The crowd chose for Deaner to fight them both, so that’s what Deaner did.


Match 3: Deaner vs. Grizzled Young Vets

The Vets double-teamed Deaner and beat him up for a bit early on. Deaner Hulked up, though, and came back with some fighting spirit.

Gibson distracted the referee, allowing Drake to use his scarf and whiplash Cody’s neck with it and drive him hard into the canvas. The Vets then hit Grit Your Teeth (a Double Codebreaker) to get the pin.

It’s too early in Deaner’s new People’s Choice thing to tell if it’s going to catch fire, but time will tell. The Vets winning here made sense – they shouldn’t be losing to a singles star in virtually any situation, and certainly not to someone at Deaner’s spot on the card..

Winners: Grizzled Young Vets

In the back, Gia Miller interviewed Nic Nemeth who will be getting a World Championship match against Moose at Rebellion. Nemeth didn’t get to say much before he was interrupted by Shelley who told him that he believes in Nemeth and wished him luck when he faces Moose. Nemeth said that after he beats Moose, he would like Shelley to get the first title shot. Shelley said they shouldn’t wait and challenged him to a match tonight. Nemeth was a bit confused by this turn of events, but agreed to the match in good spirits.


Josh Alexander addresses the crowd

Alexander came to the ring to speak, but the commentators noted he was dressed to compete. Alexander put over the history of the building and the legacy of the matches that had been contested there. He said that Santino had given him an open challenge tonight, and Alexander said he wanted to use it on Hammerstone and called him to the ring.

Instead, former ROH wrestler “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams came out and made his way to the ring. He had some bass in his voice when he told Alexander to not worry about Hammerstone but rather to worry about him. Alexander agreed to the match.


Match 4: Josh Alexander vs. Tracy Williams

Williams looks like the generic Create-A-Wrestler default character, both in terms of physical appearance and in-ring skills. One nifty spot saw Josh hit him with a Vertical Suplex over the rope that sent them both tumbling to the floor.

After a commercial break, Williams was able to hit a Superplex, but his advantage didn’t last that long, with Alexander hitting a few power moves, including a Flying Kneedrop to the back of Williams’ head and then a Kneedrop Backbreaker that looked gross.

Williams caught Josh up top and hit a Falling DDT that saw Josh’s head hit the top turnbuckle. Williams then locked on a Crossface, but Alexander rolled out of it. Alexander won a battle of Running Boots to the Head, and then planted Williams with the C-4 Spike for the pin.

After the match, Josh showed Williams some respect with a handshake and raised his hand to all four sides of the crowd. But when he turned his back to the entrance ramp to do so, Hammerstone ran in and sneak=attacked Josh from behind, clubbing him with a huge Lariat. He then hit Josh with a huge Overhead Suplex, sending him out of the ring. Hammerstone then put the Torture Rack on the hapless Williams after putting Alexander’s headgear – that Hammerstone had stolen some weeks ago – on Williams head. The crowd really didn’t like Hammerstone and let him know it with jeers and boos.

This was all about the post-match, which was fine. In terms of the match, Alexander could wrestle a broomstick and have a good one; Williams portrayed the broomstick adequately.

Winner: Josh Alexander

As an aside, during the last match, there was a celebrity sighting in the first row in the form of Mysterion the Mindreader, a master mentalist-magician who has been featured on America’s Got Talent, Canada’s Got Talent, and even fooled Penn & Teller on Fool Us.

It was announced that Mustafa Ali is the cover story on the next edition of the magazine Pro Wrestling Illustrated, the first time a TNA star has been on the cover since Samoa Joe. In his dressing room, Ali was celebrating the feat with Director of Authority Santino Marella. Ali petitioned Marella to rescind Jake Something’s number one contender status for the X-Division Championship, citing various flimsy reasons, all of which Marella discounted. When Ali said Jake Something’s name was not worthy of a champion, Marella said that anyone could compete for the title regardless of their name, even someone named “The Man Beast” Rhino. Ali insulted that name, not realizing that Rhino was standing behind him. Rhino demanded an Old School Rules match for next week, and Marella booked it.


Match 4: “Speedball” Mike Bailey (w/ Trent Seven) vs. Eddie Edwards (w/ Alisha Edwards and Brian Myers)

Edwards won the power vs. speed battle early on with some huge chops that left handprints on Bailey’s chest. But Bailey bounced back, hitting a beautiful Somersault Dive to the floor a few seconds later. They fought on the floor where Bailey hit a couple of Thrust Kicks to Eddie’s throat. But a distraction by Alisha and Myers allowed Eddie the time to recover and fire back with some more hard chops and shots.

Eddie bullied Bailey with some ground-and-pound, but when he tried for a move off the top, Bailey escaped and hit Eddie with a Missile Dropkick and followed that up with rapid-fire kicks and a Twisting Dive to the floor.

Bailey got caught in a Tornado Kick attempt and dropped with a Backpack Stunner, but Bailey kicked out.

They had a kick and chop exchange that Bailey won with Kickapalooza, and then Bailey followed that up with a Standing Double-Knee Shooting Star Press.

Myers got involved to try to save his partner, jumping up on the apron and grabbing Bailey, but Seven took out Myers with a huge shot to the face. Alisha then grabbed Bailey’s leg so he couldn’t take out Eddie. That allowed Eddie to recover and he played possum when Bailey broke free of Alisha and went for Ultimo Weapon. Eddie moved and Bailey crashed hard on his knees. After his crash, he was easy pickings for the Boston Knee Party by Eddie, and that was all she wrote.

This was really good and the crowd was into it throughout and especially at the end. The System faction is making every member more interesting, and that’s about as good a result as you can want in a faction.

Winner: Eddie Edwards

A short vignette aired of PCO screaming out a challenge for a Monster’s Ball match against Kon.

A quick teaser aired for FBI who will be appearing next week. ECW! ECW!

In a backstage promo, Frankie Kazarian quoted bible verses and accepted Eric Young’s challenge for a Full Metal Mayhem match at Rebellion. Kaz said he would beat Young and prove he is the King of TNA. Chris Bey barged in and confronted Frankie, challenging him to a match next week. Kaz accepted.


AJ Francis and Rich Swann are First Class

They replayed the moment from a couple of weeks ago when Rich Swann aligned himself with AJ Francis, turning on Joe Hendry in the process.

Cut to the ring where Francis and Swann were standing. Francis said that the two of them will now collectively be known as First Class, since that’s the lifestyle they’re living these days. Swann explained that he had been doubting himself recently when he was going through a slump. Francis had tried to help him and tried to support him, but Swann wanted to turn things around by himself. He thought that teaming up with Joe Hendry might do it, but then Hendry tagged himself into a match and took Swann’s glory, stole his spotlight. Swann said that after the match, he was feeling low yet again, and the only person who came to support him was Francis yet again. So he knew that Francis was the only one who was looking out for him, which is why he did what he did. They ended by saying “If you’re not First Class, you’re last.”

Swann’s explanation was fine, though the turn itself seemed a bit too fast. If he had gradually gone from depressed to frustrated and then finally snapped, the turn might have played out more natural than him just flicking the good-evil switch. Still, Swann was in need of a refresh and the pairing of these two could be a fun ride.

Tom Hannifan did a sit-down interview with Laredo Kid. Kid ran down his history in wrestling, including his start in Mexico where he eventually wrestled for the AAA promotion. They showed clips of him winning the Cruiserweight Championship against El Hijo del Vikingo but having to go to the hospital that night with a perforated intestine that nearly killed him. He came back from that setback, but not before it cost him the chance to win the Digital Media Championship. He said that he has set his sights on that title and told current champ Crazzy Steve that he was coming for it.


Match 6: Chris Sabin vs. Steve Maclin

It’s hard to believe looking at them that Sabin is six years older than Maclin. A lot of that has to do with how fast Sabin is, and he used his speed early on to discombobulate Maclin, allowing Sabin to attack from all angles, grounding Maclin to try to nullify his power advantage.

But Maclin used some dirty tactics to whiplash Sabin’s face into the ropes and then dropped Sabin mid-section first onto the top rope, hurting him on the landing and again on the hard bounce down to the mat.

Maclin then went after Sabin’s mid-section area, hitting him with various strikes. Sabin escaped a Superplex attempt and hit Maclin with a big Top Rope Dropkick and then went back to his rapid offense, surprising Maclin with various shots, including a nice DDT that put Maclin down for a two-count.

But after Sabin mis-timed a leap to the floor, Maclin took over again. He set up Sabin in the Tree of Woe, but Sabin avoided Crosshairs and then whiplashed Maclin’s neck over the top rope. Maclin recovered with a big Lariat and Mayhem For All, but Sabin was able to get his shoulder up just in time to avoid the three-count.

After an exchange of moves and pin attempts, the two got into a slugfest in the middle of the ring with Maclin victorious, sending Sabin rolling to the floor. But Maclin missed his follow up Scud Missile dive to the floor and narrowly beat the referee’s 10-count before pulling himself back into the ring.

Sabin was ready for him and hit a Springboard Tornado DDT, but Maclin kicked out. Maclin avoided a running attack, put Sabin back in the Tree of Woe and did hit Crosshairs. His first attempt for a KIA follow-up got reversed, but the second one didn’t. Maclin planted him hard into the mat and all that was left was the 1-2-3.

This was a really good match, and if the reports are true, this might have been Sabin’s swan song from TNA. If so, it was a high note to leave on. And going out by giving Maclin a strong win was the right way to do it. Maclin continues to make an argument as to why he should be back in the top tier mix, and hopefully that happens soon enough.

Winner: Steve Maclin


Impact Wrestling - March 28, 2024

2300 Arena - Philadelphia, PA

The two hours of  this episode almost felt like two different shows. The Bailey-Edwards match and the Sabin-Maclin main event were great and the First Class promo was also encouraging. But the first hour suffered from the Knockouts match – which should have felt like a big deal given the title match implications, but instead felt rushed and inconsequential – and the 2-on-1 match which wasn’t quite played for comedy, but didn’t do either side any favours. With a few weeks to go until Rebellion, they have lots of matches set up. Now it’s time to start doing things to make people care about those matches.