Hard To Kill: They Can’t Get Out Of Anyone Else’s Way Either
Hard To Kill
Date: January 12, 2020
Location: The Bomb Factory, Dallas, Texas
Commentators: Don Callis, Josh Matthews
It’s back to pay per view with another big show and the card looked pretty good coming in. However, news has since broken about Rich Swann hurting his ankle and not likely being able to wrestle, plus the Tessa Blanchard controversy over her not being a very nice person. Hopefully they can overcome everything and have a great show. Let’s get to it.
The opening video focuses on Tessa Blanchard challenging Sami Callihan for the World Title, in what should be a pretty obvious ending. They’ve made no secret of the fact that this is a big coronation and while that might take away a little something, it can be nice to see where things are going and then get there.
Ken Shamrock vs. Mad Man Fulton
Shamrock is coming to the ring while Josh is still talking about the opening. The Crists are here with Fulton and this is fallout from Shamrock vs. Callihan. Shamrock starts with some strikes to the leg and face but Fulton wrestles him down and stomps away in the corner as an insane monster is known to do.
Shamrock’s kneebar doesn’t last long as Fulton shoves him away, only to miss a big boot. The crotching on the ropes lets Shamrock hammer away, only to get pulled down into a cross armbreaker over the ropes, because Fulton can do that. Fulton rolls outside so Shamrock dives onto him. That’s caught so Shamrock has to slip out and hit a German suplex on the floor, setting up a knockdown to Jake Crist.
The Crists get knocked down again and that’s an ejection to make it man vs. monster. Fulton gets in a shot of his own and starts stomping on the arm before switching to a chokeslam. He tries another one but Shamrock takes him down with a Kimura to escape. The shoulder gets popped and Fulton screams but Shamrock lets go for some reason. Fulton wants to fight anyway and something like a one armed powerbomb gives him two. Shamrock grabs something like the Rings of Saturn for the tap at 9:24.
Rating: C-. What an odd opener and what a not great choice for the win. Fulton is a monster and your way to treat him as one is to have him lose via submission? I know Shamrock is someone who can offer some star power but fans already know who he is. Why do you need to give him a win over someone whose status is hurt more than most by a loss?
The announcers run down the card. For the life of me I don’t get why they do this. Just in case someone casually bought the pay per view to see what they might get to see?
We recap the X-Division Title match. Trey Miguel is the #1 contender so Ace Austin is hitting on his mom in one of the most bizarre methods of building a title match that I can remember in recent memory. It’s a personal one and they’re both selling it to set up a good feud.
X-Division Title: Trey Miguel vs. Ace Austin
Austin is defending and Trey takes him down at the bell, meaning it’s an early chase around the ring. Back in and Trey hits a spear before kicking Austin outside again. A 619 on the apron hits Austin in the head and there’s a middle rope moonsault to get in another knockdown. Ace gets in a few shots of his own and busts out a Space Flying Tiger Drop to take over.
Trey isn’t about to stand for that and hits him in the ear, only to get shoved off the steps and onto the barricade. Back in again and Ace elbows the ribs but stops to check on his ear. A low superkick gives Ace two and some belly to back slams (think Cena’s ProtoBomb without the spin) set up…an escaped third attempt so Miguel kicks him down into the corner. The Bang-A-Rama gets two and we hit the half crab, with Ace throwing in a finger cut with a card between the fingers.
Trey finally comes back with some clotheslines and a kick to the head, setting up a reverse suplex into a dragon sleeper. That’s broken up and a bottom rope springboard Downward Spiral gets two on the champ. Ace gets up a knee in the corner though and Trey charges into a springboard spinning kick to the face. That doesn’t seem to bother Trey, who hits a 619 in the corner, only to get crotched on top. The Fold retains the title at 12:24.
Rating: C. Kind of an abrupt finish but Ace getting pushed like this is a very good thing. He’s one of my favorite guys in the entire promotion right now and I could go for more of his horrible mind games. This one might not even be done and that’s not the worst idea. Good enough match here, and some more fire from Trey could make it even better.
Post match Ace hits on Mama Miguel but gets jumped by Trey. Even the Rascalz have to come out and help pull him off.
ODB’s new food truck will be ready in the Spring and she thanks all of the fans for having her back.
We recap the Knockouts Title match. Taya Valkyrie is defending, having held the title longer than anyone in history. Jordynne Grace is ready to take it from her but ODB has been added to the mix and things might not be that simple.
Knockouts Title: Taya Valkyrie vs. Jordynne Grace vs. ODB
Taya is defending and has John E. Bravo with him. ODB starts with a double noggin knocker of all things and Taya is sent outside early on. The other two head to the apron for a slugout with Grace getting the better of things by knocking ODB to the floor. Taya takes ODB’s place inside but ODB pulls Grace to the floor for the fall away slam on the ramp. Back in and Taya chokes ODB and doesn’t seem happy with the FOOD TRUCK chants.
More choking in the corner gives Taya two and a curb stomp into the STF gives us a Cena/Rollins finisher kit. Grace is back in so Taya tries to work on her shoulder, only to get lifted up with straight power. ODB breaks that up to put everyone down though I’d give it ten seconds before it’s back to one on one.
A spinebuster gives Grace two on Taya and a German suplex is good for the same with ODB making both saves. Taya kicks Grace in the head for two with ODB making a third save. Grace pulls ODB off the top and hits a top rope backsplash for the same with Taya having to make a save. Everyone is down again until the Grace Driver plants ODB. It’s Bravo with the distraction though, allowing Taya to steal the pin and retain at 11:37.
Rating: D+. I wasn’t feeling this one as it was almost every triple threat match you can imagine. The wrestling wasn’t all that great and Taya escaping after someone else hit their finisher was what I guessed for the finish. Anytime you think the same way I do in a finishing sequence, it’s probably not a good sign, which was the case here too. Grace probably gets the title soon though, and it’s not like more Taya is a bad thing.
Katie Forbes is all over Rob Van Dam and is sure that he’ll win because he’s so handsome. Daga walks by and Van Dam thinks he’s a fan in a great touch. Sex is implied but we need a video package first.
Video on Rob Van Dam vs. Brian Cage, with Rob suggesting that Cage has copied all of his moves. Cage is a big Van Dam fan but is ready to show how great he is on his own.
Brian Cage vs. Rob Van Dam
Van Dam has Forbes with him, plus new music which features him saying his initials and name several times. Cage high fives fans around the ring but Katie’s girlfriend (just go with it) grabs his hand so Rob can jump him from behind. A few rams into the post has Cage’s shoulder busted up and Rob hits a springboard kick to the face, meaning it’s time for a few bows.
They head inside with Rob hitting a springboard kick to the face but Cage uses the one good arm to send him into the corner. The superkick rocks Van Dam again as I don’t think the bell ever rang. Forbes slides in a chair though and Rob hits a Van Daminator to bust Cage open. The Van Terminator connects, Katie jiggles a lot, and Rob covers for…nothing because Cage is hurt. Cue Daga and some referees as Cage is taken away, meaning there’s no match. Well not a match with Cage at least as we have a replacement. Cage is either hurt or leaving or both, which does explain a little bit of this mess.
Rob Van Dam vs. Daga
Van Dam gets in an early chair shot but the rolling monkey flip is broken up with a dropkick. Daga hits a few dropkicks to the floor so Katie climbs onto Rob to check on him. They head back inside with Daga missing a top rope dropkick, allowing Rob to roll him up for two. A fireman’s carry gutbuster into a suplex gives Daga two but Rob is right back up with a kick to the face. The Five Star finishes Daga in a hurry at 4:11.
Rating: D. What in the world was the point of this? Did they not know that Cage was hurt or something? They really couldn’t have just had Daga go out there and do a longer match? I have no idea how this was their best option but egads it really didn’t work. Daga vs. Van Dam would have been fine and I get that Cage was leaving, but dang this was a major disappointment.
Post match Rob celebrates with the two girlfriends before watching them dance together.
Sami Callihan isn’t granting interviews.
We recap Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards. Eddie has the Call Your Shot Trophy (Money in the Bank for any title) and Elgin is willing to do whatever it takes to get the World Title. He has treated Eddie rather badly backstage and beaten him in a regular (and awesome) match, so now it’s for the trophy.
Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards
Eddie starts fast but gets forearmed in the face early on. Elgin gets knocked outside for the suicide dive so Elgin forearms him down again. Stick with what works I guess. A superkick puts Eddie down again, only to have him come back with chops. Eddie tries another suicide dive but gets forearmed out of the air again, setting up a posting to make it even worse.
Back in and Elgin hits a reverse jawbreaker (as in to the back of the neck, meaning it’s not a jawbreaker), followed by a fisherman’s neckbreaker for two. The neck crank goes on but Eddie fights up and manages to suplex both Elgin and himself out to the floor. Eddie is back up with the suicide dive to send Elgin flying into the barricade.
Back in and Elgin counters the Boston Knee Party with a spinebuster before no selling Eddie’s snap German suplex. Elgin runs him over with a clothesline for two more and another forearm drops Eddie again. They slug it out for a good bit until Eddie knocks him down with a clothesline.
Elgin is right back with some superkicks and a release German superplex (egads, though it’s similar to a really high moonsault and a bit safer than it looks). Splash Mountain gets two on Eddie but he’s right back with some shots to the knee. Elgin Crossfaces him to cut that off but that’s broken up in a hurry as well. With the holds not working, Elgin goes with the power in the form of a buckle bomb, only to have the Elgin Bomb reversed into a sunset flip to give Eddie the pin at 19:53.
Rating: B+. This was your physical slugout match of the night with Elgin beating the heck out of him as Eddie had to try and hang in there. Elgin got frustrated by Eddie kicking out every single time, allowing Eddie to survive until he could catch Elgin going too far. They beat the fire out of each other and had an awesome match as a result. Good stuff, as you had to expect.
Rhino is ready for the spear vs. the Gore. Moose likes to call his spear the No Jackhammers Needed, so Rhino is going to show him the no f**** given.
We recap Moose vs. Rhino. Moose wants to prove that he’s the best all around athlete and has been going after the older guys, including Rhino. Therefore, it’s a battle of the spears which is a fine enough idea.
Moose vs. Rhino
No DQ. Moose, in Randy Savage gear, starts an exchange of elbows and knocks Rhino outside. An early spear misses Rhino though and he falls outside, only to grab a chair to hit Rhino in the back. They fight on the ramp but Moose charges into a backdrop to make him cringe. Back to ringside and Rhino gets posted, meaning it’s time for a table.
Moose can’t powerbomb him off the apron though, instead charging into a powerbomb from Rhino to put him through the table in the big crash. That’s good for two back inside and it’s time to throw in a bunch of chairs and trashcan lids. Moose gets the better of that though with some shots to the back putting Rhino down. A top rope elbow gets two on Rhino but Moose tries again, allowing Rhino to chair him on the top.
That means a superplex onto the pile of chairs for two so Rhino grabs another table. It takes a long time to set it up though and Moose hits a running dropkick in the corner. Rhino clotheslines him right back down and hits the Gore through the table, but also through the referee. Another referee comes out to count a delayed two but Moose hits him low. No Jackhammers Needed finishes Rhino at 12:27.
Rating: C+. They had a nice brawl here and that’s what they were hoping to do. The match was what it needed to be with the only logical ending, as there was no reason to do anything more than have Moose break a sweat and then win in the end. It was an entertaining fight and now Moose needs to move on towards the World Title scene. He’s been chasing the thing for so long that it has to happen sooner rather than later.
We recap the North vs. Rich Swann/Willie Mack. Swann and Mack have been chasing the titles for months and are the new #1 contenders so the North has tried to split them up. Now none of that matters though because Swann has hurt his ankle and can’t wrestle.
Swann isn’t even cleared to stand at ringside on crutches so Mack is on his own. He’s got this.
Tag Team Titles: Willie Mack vs. The North
The North is defending in a handicap match. Alexander starts for the team but walks over to Page for the tag, followed by another tag to set up the double teaming. Mack shrugs that off and hits the swinging slam on Alexander, plus an enziguri to put him on the floor. Page is there for a distraction though and the champs take over with a cheap shot from behind. The chinlock goes on as we see Swann watching from backstage.
Mack fights up and hits a DDT out of the corner, setting up some running corner clotheslines. The Samoa drop into the standing moonsault gets two on Alexander and a running big boot in the corner makes it worse. There’s an exploder suplex for the same but Page is back in with the double Neutralizer for two of his own.
They head to the floor and take Mack up, only to have him knock Alexander onto Page’s shoulders. That means a Doomsday Canadian Destroyer to Alexander, followed by the frog splash for two with Page pulling the referee. Page’s request for a DQ is denied so Mack hits him with a Stunner, only to have Alexander come back with the assisted spinebuster to retain at 10:34.
Rating: C. This was a weird one as there was only so much that they could do given the circumstances. Mack and Swann could have had a classic match here but with Mack having to be in there on his own, their options were a bit limited. They did what they could here though and it wound up being an entertaining match. Do the title switch later, though it could be months given their taping schedule.
Rebellion is back in April.
We recap Sami Callihan vs. Tessa Blanchard. Callihan won the World Title from Brian Cage in a cage match and Tessa won a gauntlet match to earn the title shot. Tessa has faced Sami twice before but come up short both times, meaning this is her big chance at destiny and revenge at the same time. It feels like a big deal, though not the most surprising conclusion.
Impact Wrestling World Title: Sami Callihan vs. Tessa Blanchard
Sami is defending and is on his own for a change. We get the Big Match Intros and Sami hits a Cactus Special for two in the first ten seconds. Tessa fights out of a superplex attempt and hits Magnum for two of her own as we’re a minute into the match. A headscissors puts Sami on the floor and the suicide dive connects. Tessa snaps off a hurricanrana on the floor as the fans are WAY behind her.
The big flip dive connects as Sami hasn’t been able to do anything after the Cactus Special. He manages to drive her knees first into the barricade so Tessa has to limp back inside to beat the count. The leg is wrapped around the post a few times and Sami punches at the knee for a bonus. An Indian Deathlock takes us back to 1972 until Sami hits her in the back and lets it go. There’s another kick to the knee and Tessa is in trouble despite the fans being completely behind her.
The cockiness is strong with the champ as he stands on Tessa’s ribs to show off. Tessa tries to slug back so Sami hits her in the face. They head outside again with Tessa getting powerbombed through a table in the big crash. That’s good for nine so Tessa gets on the apron for another chop off. A superkick sets up Magnum on the apron and they’re both down on the floor again. They beat the count again but Sami is starting to look a bit desperate.
Tessa says to hit her and keeps bouncing up from the chops. Somehow Tessa manages a Samoan drop and gets two more off a second Magnum. Another Magnum misses though and the knee is banged up again. Get Outta Here gets two on Tessa and she bounces up from a German suplex. A cutter gets two on Sami but he’s right back with a sitout powerbomb into a Stretch Muffler.
That’s switched into an STF but Tessa makes the rope to escape again. Sami grabs the belt, only to have it taken away. It’s a ruse though as he busts out some brass knuckles but Tessa kicks him low. Magnum gets two more so Tessa grabs the Crossface but that’s reversed into another Cactus Special for another two. Tessa slugs away so Sami spits on her and kicks her in the face. A running Canadian Destroyer plants Sami though and the hammerlock DDT gives Tessa the pin and the title at 23:49.
Rating: B+. Another very good match here but the history is what matters in this one. They beat each other up and told a story with Tessa having to survive the knee injury and hang on against the way too arrogant Callihan. It’s still a bit of a stretch to believe that Tessa can be a physical match for the men but they’ve hidden it as well as can be expected. It’s an important moment and something that does matter, though the controversy from the weekend is going to hurt the meaning a bit.
Tessa celebrates and we’re off the air almost immediately.
Overall Rating: C+. The two bigger matches had to bail this out as some of the things they did here didn’t work. A few of them weren’t Impact’s fault but this show could have been a lot better with another rewrite. They nailed the matches that mattered though and with a few fixes, this card could have been great. What we got was good enough, though the bad things are really pretty bad. Check out the main and Elgin vs. Eddie though, as Impact gets to show what they can do when they have the chance.
Ken Shamrock b. Mad Man Fulton – Rings of Saturn
Ace Austin b. Trey Miguel – The Fold
Taya Valkyrie b. ODB and Jordynne Grace – Grace Driver to ODB
Rob Van Dam b. Daga – Five Star Frog Splash
Eddie Edwards b. Michael Elgin – Sunset flip
Moose b. Rhino – No Jackhammers Needed
The North b. Willie Mack – Assisted spinebuster
Tessa Blanchard b. Sami Callihan – Hammerlock DDT
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Has there ever been a major PPV plagued with so many injuries/sickness as this one?
Madman Fulton – Dislocated shoulder (although it was reported it was done purposely or something?)
Moose – Banged up back, possible concussion
RVD – Possible concussion
Rich Swann – Ankle injury
Ethan Page – Salmonella poisoning
Brian Cage – Torn bicep
Ace Austin – Ear drum rupture
That’s a good chunk of the roster that got messed up just on one night.