IMPACT WRESTLING HITS & MISSES – HARD TO KILL PPV 1/12: Sami Callihan vs. Tessa Blanchard, plus RVD vs. Brian Cage, Moose vs. Rhino, Ken Shamrock vs. Madman Fulton, more

IMPACT WRESTLING HITS & MISSES – HARD TO KILL PPV 1/12: Sami Callihan vs. Tessa Blanchard, plus RVD vs. Brian Cage, Moose vs. Rhino, Ken Shamrock vs

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The Hard to Kill PPV was built around one match, the main event, Tessa Blanchard’s challenge for Sami Callihan’s Impact World Championship. The pre-show itself is dedicated to giving the audience the backstory of the two wrestlers involved and how their separate journeys have culminated in this moment. As such, how does the main event stand up?

Impact World Championship match: Tessa vs. Sami Callihan – HIT: If you are someone that has a hard time suspending your disbelief that a woman can physically hang with a man in a wrestling match, this match will not change your mind. Otherwise, the match is a stellar piece of in-ring storytelling. From the hot start with both wrestlers trading finishers, through Sami torturing Tessa and Tessa refusing to go down, until the finish with Tessa hitting Sami with the Buzzsaw DDT, the story is what carried the match. Will Tessa be able to overcome? Will Sami’s hubris be his downfall? Can the crowd will Tessa to victory? In the end Tessa stood triumphant. While I think Impact Wrestling has oversold the moment by pushing it as it being a “paradigm shift” too heavily, in the end, Tessa’s moment in the ring was truly undeniable as it fits her character. Four out of five stars if I’d give it a rating (which is high praise coming from me.)

How did the rest of the card perform?

Ken Shamrock vs. Madman Fulton – MISS: Ken Shamrock is truly a sight to behold. Never have I seen a person look so broken down yet in phenomenal shape simultaneously. I had hoped this match would have been a showcase for Madman Fulton and serve as a launching point for the next step in his career. Instead, Shamrock applies a Kimura lock on Fulton, dislocating or breaking Fulton’s shoulder.  Fulton demands the match continue and soon after Shamrock applies another submission that works the shoulder leading to Fulton tapping out. I am assuming Fulton is either one of the people who can dislocate their joints easily or has an injury that never set correctly. I get that the intent is to make Fulton look like a badass by fighting through an injury, but why did Shamrock need a win here? Maybe in the future this will make sense but as of now, consider me baffled.

Impact X Division Championship match: Trey Miguel vs. Ace Austin – MISS: The match quickly gets going with an aggressive start by Trey Miguel who wants to murder Ace Austin for hitting on Trey’s mom. The work in the match is fine, pretty much what you’d expect from an X-Division match. Ace beats Trey up in front of his mother at one point in the match and later wins with The Fold. After the match, Ace starts to hit on Trey’s mom and Trey returns to ringside and brawls with Ace in what is an apparent continuation of the feud. I haven’t been able to get into this angle and it seems like it will be continuing. Its not bad, just, meh.

Impact Knockout Championship match: Grace Jordynne vs. ODB vs. Taya Valkyrie – MISS: All three women preformed fine, but there isn’t anything here that makes this feel like a PPV caliber match, especially with the tv-like screwy finish. Grace hits the Grace driver on ODB then pins her, while John E. Bravo distracts the referee from seeing it. Grace gives up on the pin to get the refs attention and recovered Taya Valkyrie take advantage and steals the pin, while Bravo holds Grace back from making the save. The finish was so convoluted that ODB could have been counted down for a 30 count. While Taya is still the Impact Knockouts Champion, ODB did confirm that her new food truck is on its way.

RVD vs. Brian Cage – MISS: Not only a MISS but a fumble, recovered by the defense for a touchdown and they get the two-point conversion for added insult to injury. Let’s throw in an unsportsmanlike penalty assessed in the ensuing kick-off for good measure. RVD comes to the ring with Katie Forbes with their PDA (public display of affection) turned up to eleven. That’s fine, they’re heels (and with their matching outfits, apparently Mountain Dew spokesmen). Brian Cage comes to the ring slapping hands with the fans until a woman in the matching garish garb (referred to as Rob’s girlfriend’s girlfriend) shows off her prodigious strength by holding Brian FREAKING Cage back at ringside. Rob takes advantage of the distraction, works Cage over, and despite a brief comeback by Cage, hits the Van Terminator (which could have easily concussed RVD, his head hit the mat really hard). RVD goes for the pin but the referee refuses to count because Cage is hurt. Seriously? WTF? Isn’t the whole point of wrestling to incapacitate you opponent to the point he can get his shoulders off the mat for three seconds? But when it looks like RVD might continue to attack Cage, Daga hits the ring and we get…

RVD vs. Daga – MISS: Prior to coming out for his match, RVD was being interviewed backstage when RVD saw Daga, confused him for a fan, and offered him an autograph. So Daga comes into the ring to defend Cage from RVD. Okay, I’m thinking, so maybe they are using this as an opportunity to help Daga get over with a victory over RVD. Nope. RVD wins (mostly) cleanly with his Five-Star Frog Splash and RVD, Katie Forbes, and Rob’s girlfriend’s girlfriend celebrate in the ring. This is a total dud.

Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards – HIT: Michael Elgin had stolen Eddie Edwards’s Call Your Shot Trophy which led to what is a really good match and nice change of pace from what was shaping to be, at best, a lack luster PPV. Elgin, who in my mind lacks a certain in-ring charisma, makes up for it in shear power and athleticism. Edwards, for his part, has found a nice balance between the “wrestler” version of Eddie Edwards and the crazy “brawler” version. After Elgin hits the buckle bomb, but before he can deliver the follow up Elgin bomb, Eddie counters with a sunset flip pin to win and recover his Call Your Shot trophy.

Moose vs. Rhino – PUSH: A plodding match that does not take advantage of its no disqualification stipulation outside a few table spots and chair shots. At least the right man went over. Rhino gored Moose and the unwitting referee through a table so he was unable to get the three count. Moose recovers, hits Rhino with a low blow, and hits his spear for the win.

Impact Tag Team Championship match: Wille Mack vs. The North – HIT: What was originally scheduled to be a tag team championship match between the team of Rich Swann and Willie Mack against the North, Ethan Page and Josh Alexander, instead becomes a handicap match due to Swann getting hurt at Bash at the Brewery 2 a few nights before. The wisdom of holding what is a glorified house show mere days before what you’ve touted as one of the more important PPVs of Impact Wrestling’s current iteration, is something to debate another day. Fortunately, Wille Mack is a likable babyface and draws a lot of sympathy from the crowd as he faces a numbers disadvantage. Wille fights valiantly but, alas, it is not enough as he succumbs to the North’s tag team finisher that I don’t believe the commentators have ever named even once. Good match and I hope to see Rich back soon.

Overall – MISS: Outside a main event I’d go out of my way to see, and another two good matches, this is an easily skippable PPV. It is a shame since I had high expectations going in. My judgement may be clouded by the (frankly unhealthy) amount of wrestling I’ve consumed over the last two weeks, but, sadly, there wasn’t much in most matches of the that stood out.

CATCH UP… IMPACT WRESTLING HITS & MISSES 1/17: Stellar Tessa Blanchard vs. Sami Callihan video, Moose & RVD vs. Rhino & Gage, Elgin vs. Edwards, Desi Hit Squad vs. TJP & Fallah Bahh & Dana, Rich Swann vs. Willie Mack

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