Impact Wrestling – December 23, 2021 (Best Of 2021 Part 1): They Have A Lot To Pick From
Date: December 23, 2021
Hosts: Josh Matthews, Scott D’Amore
We’ve reached a holiday weekend and that means it is time for a special show. In other words, Impact is putting the brakes on the build to Hard To Kill and showcasing the Best of 2021 instead, which should make for a good night. The company has been doing well this year and they have some solid stuff to pick from, so let’s get to it.
Of note: if a match is included, I’ll posting the full version rather than a clipped version.
From Hard To Kill.
Kenny Omega/Good Brothers vs. Rich Swann/Moose/Chris Sabin
Don Callis is here too and handles Omega’s entrance (which Striker says is a moment fans will be telling their children about). Omega has a Bullet Club shirt (the Halloween edition for some reason) on, because we need to know New Japan history to understand the AEW World Champion’s reference in Impact Wrestling. Anderson drives Sabin into the corner to start and a shot to the face has Sabin in some trouble. An armdrag gets him right back out though and we have a standoff.
Moose and Gallows get in for the big man showdown with Moose knocking him around. Omega comes in, with Striker making both a hockey reference and saying that the Bullet Club reunion on Dynamite reminded us why we all love wrestling. It’s off to Anderson vs. Swann in a hurry with the latter snapping off a headscissors. Gallows and Omega are knocked to the floor and it’s a double dropkick to Anderson.
Moose adds a standing moonsault, with Striker saying that Moose now is the sport, a few seconds after talking about how amazing it was that the two World Champions are in a match together. Sabin gets taken into the corner so the villains can take over, including Omega hitting a backbreaker for two. Striker asks Brown if Omega is the best in the world and Brown seems to think so. There is NO MENTION AT ALL of the Impact Wrestling WORLD CHAMPION, who is in this same match, in case you needed an illustration of why Impact’s benefit from this Omega deal is rather limited.
Anderson grabs a chinlock on Sabin but the comeback sets up a double clothesline, allowing the tag to Omega and Swann (thankfully with Striker bringing Swann’s name in for the best wrestler in the world discussion). Everything breaks down and some assisted DDTs send the Brothers outside. Swann dives onto Omega but the frog splash is blocked back inside. Anderson adds a slam (with Sabin flipping him off), allowing Striker to talk about wrestling being a universal language.
The Kitaro Crusher gets two and a triple splash gets two on Swann. Back up and Swann manages a Pele to Omega and the hot tag brings in Moose. House is cleaned and the Omega BANG is mocked, setting up a triple boot to Omega in the corner. The discus lariat gets two on Omega (Striker: “HISTORY MADE TONIGHT!”) and now it’s Sabin in trouble in the corner for a change. Omega hits a Doctor Bomb for two on Sabin, who is right back up with a missile dropkick to Anderson.
Omega is up with the V Trigger to Swann but Moose catches him on top with a super Spanish Fly. Everyone is down again until Omega gets over for the hot tag to Gallows. The Boot of Doom gets two on Sabin with Swann making the save. Swann and Omega get the double tag for the big slugout with Omega getting the better of it. The other four fight outside until Moose pulls Omega off the top and into an electric chair.
Something close to a Doomsday Device gets two on Omega, with Callis teasing the save. Striker: “Some people think Callis has betrayed Impact Wrestling.” I actually had to sigh at how stupid that was so we’ll move on to Omega hitting the V Trigger on Swann. Some kicks put Omega down and the 450 gets two. The Magic Killer plants Swann and Moose has to make the save. Another V Trigger hits Moose and another V Trigger hits Swann, setting up the One Winged Angel for the pin at 20:26.
Rating: B. The wrestling itself was good, as expected, but it’s rather difficult to care about Impact when their World Champion is being presented as someone lucky enough to have Kenny Omega knee him in the face. Commentary here was a big love letter to AEW, which is being treated as the greatest thing ever as it reaches down to the unwashed masses of Impact. That may be true from a business standpoint, but why in the world is IMPACT acting like that is the case? It’s a good match and I think you know where this is heading, but could we act like Swann is close to Omega’s level? For five minutes maybe?
Chris Sabin gives Jordynne Grace advice on the Ultimate X match: develop upper body strength. This results in 30+ minutes of pullups with Sabin losing track of the count. Grace doesn’t mind.
We look at some debuts/returns over the course of the year.
Tag Team Titles: FinJuice vs. Good Brothers
The Brothers are challenging with Doc Gallows looking rather Jesse Venturaish during their entrances. Finlay takes Anderson down to start and Robinson gets dropped onto him for two as the champs take over early. Anderson shrugs off the arm cranking and it’s off to Gallows for the rights and lefts in the corner. A double bulldog gets two on Gallows but he’s back up to power Finlay into the corner.
Gallows hits a kick to the head for two and we hit the chinlock. Some hammer elbows keep Finlay down until Gallows puts him on the middle rope. That’s fine with Finlay, who scores with the middle elbow elbow to the jaw. The hot tag brings in Robinson to clean house, including a backsplash to Gallows. A dive to the floor takes Gallows down again and the jabs put Anderson down as well.
Everything breaks down, with Striker talking about FinJuice being influenced by the Hart Foundation, Demolition and….the Smoking Gunns? Gallows is knocked to the floor so FinJuice can load up a Doomsday Device, only to have Gallows break it up. The belly to back suplex/neckbreaker combination gets two on Robinson but Finlay is back in to break up the Magic Killer. A small package Anderson to retain at 10:32.
Rating: C+. And with that, we have proof of which team is the most Japan of all time. I’m rather surprised at the lack of a title change but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Young Bucks being brought in to become the bestest tag team ever in the history of ever. Good enough match, but hearing all of the Japan references and having FinJuice leave for a month didn’t help my interest.
It’s time for our first award with Tag Team of the Year. The nominees are:
Violent By Design
Rich Swann/Willie Mack
The winners are….the Good Brothers, which they kind of hard to be given their dominance of the Tag Team Titles.
Impact Wrestling World Title/AEW World Title: Rich Swann vs. Kenny Omega
Title for title, Eddie Edwards, Willie Mack and Tony Khan are here, Mauro Ranallo is on commentary, there is a referee from each company and Don Callis does an amazing over the top introduction for Omega, listing off every legend he can think of, all of whom are beneath Omega. Swann gets knocked down to the floor in a hurry but is right back with a dropkick to the floor. There’s the big flip dive to take Omega down again but he is right back with a belly to back suplex onto the apron.
They head back outside with Swann loading up the handspring cutter onto the apron but loses momentum and lance on his head instead. Back in and a buckle bomb rocks Swann again, meaning it’s time to work on Swann’s back injury. Various shots to the back, including some rather big knees, keep Swann in trouble. The Kitaro Crusher is avoided though and Swann kicks him in the head. Ax handles to the back are shrugged off and it’s a hurricanrana to drop Omega again.
A super hurricanrana gets one on Omega and he goes up again. This time Swann follows but has to backdrop his way out of a superbomb (with Omega almost landing on his head). The Phoenix splash gives Swann two but Omega is back with the Dr. Willy Bomb. The V Trigger looks to set up the One Winged Angel, with Swann escaping in a hurry. Another V Trigger connects in the corner, followed by another into the snapdragon. Another snapdragon connects but Swann is back up with the handspring cutter.
Swann tries it again but Omega pulls the Impact referee into it instead. Omega grabs a chair, which the AEW referee takes away. Swann hits the handspring cutter into la majistral for one, with Omega reversing into a cradle of his own for two. Another V Trigger misses and a spinning Michinoku Driver gets two on Omega. The Phoenix splash misses and it’s a V Trigger into an electric chair dropped into a German suplex for two more (ok that was cool).
Omega hits a Jay Driller for another near fall so, after some trash talk to Eddie Edwards, it’s another V Trigger. Swann gets fired up and manages a suplex for a breather but the Phoenix splash misses. Another V Trigger sets up the One Winged Angel to give Omega the pin and the title at 22:57.
Rating: B+. It’s a very good match, even with the ending that you knew was coming. Omega was always winning the title so he can do the belt collector deal, though I could have gone with at least trying for a little more drama. This match was built up as “Swann can’t beat Omega so watch Omega win the title” and that’s exactly what happened. They had some good action and tried, but this was all about getting to the ending that you knew was coming. That being said, points for not going too insane with everyone out there, even including the completely unnecessary ref bump.
We rapid fire the rest of the World Title history for the rest of the year.
Deonna Purrazzo and Matthew Rehwoldt aren’t happy with the Texas Death Match against Mickie James at Hard To Kill. Purrazzo is ready anyway.
Time for another award with Knockouts Match of the Year:
Deonna Purrazzo vs. Mickie James – Bound For Glory
Deonna Purrazzo vs. Thunder Rosa
Deonna Purrazzo vs. Masha Slamovich – Knockouts Knockdown
Mercedes Martinez vs. Tasha Steelz – Knockouts Knockdown
Tasha Steelz vs. Jordynne Grace – Before The Impact – May 13
Fire N Flava vs. Havok and Nevaeh – Hard To Kill
And here’s the winner, from Bound For Glory:
Knockouts Title: Mickie James vs. Deonna Purrazzo
Mickie is challenging and is in full on cowgirl gear here, while Purrazzo appears to be some kind of royalty. Purrazzo gets knocked outside before the bell and Mickie hits the Thesz press off the apron to hammer away. They fight up the ramp as Striker lists off various legends in women’s wrestling history. Purrazzo takes it back to the floor and kicks Mickie in the face to put her down at ringside.
Back inside and we get the opening bell with Mickie getting stomped down in the corner to keep her in trouble. A lot of stomping puts Mickie on the floor but she scores with an elbow to the face back inside. Something like a powerbomb gets Purrazzo out of trouble though and Mickie is right back down. They trade crossbodies and it’s a double knockdown as a few fans think this is awesome.
Mickie gets the better of a slugout and hits something like a Regal Cutter. The top rope Thesz press gives Mickie two, followed by the MickieDT for the same, with Purrazzo getting in the ropes for the save. Purrazzo sends her into the corner and grabs the Fujiwara armbar, sending Mickie into the ropes this time.
The Queen’s Gambit gives Purrazzo two and she isn’t happy with the kickout. Purrazzo goes outside for a chair, allowing Mickie to go back up. The top rope Thesz press hits the referee by mistake, so Mickie gets in a chair shot of her own for two. Purrazzo catches Mickie on top with the Fujiwara armbar but Mickie slips out again. This time it’s the tornado DDT to plant Purrazzo for the pin and the title at 13:18.
Rating: B. This was about the big moment in the end but it helps that they also had a heck of a match. Mickie can still go in the ring and works well with anyone, which works even better if she is in the ring with someone as good as Purrazzo. I’m not sure how long James will hold the title, but it was cool to see her win here, as she certainly still has it.
Trey Miguel goes to find out what he is doing at Hard To Kill so Gail Kim gives him an X-Division Title defense against Steve Maclin. That’s just what he wanted.
A Russian woman is coming.
We go back to the end of last week’s Impact:
It’s time for a contract signing between W. Morrissey, Matt Cardona (with Chelsea Green) and Moose. Cardona is about to sign but Morrissey takes the contract away and says he’s ready for Hard To Kill right now. Morrissey signs and leaves so Cardona promises that he has never been more ready. Cardona signs as well, leaving Moose to ask if Cardona really wants to do this. That makes Cardona think Moose is scared but Moose asks again. Cardona says sign it, which Moose does, though he still can’t believe that Green stays with someone so average.
Moose asks if she’ll stay with Midcardona after he leaves, or if she leaves like the w**** that she is. That’s enough for Cardona to jump the table, which he is promptly put through. Moose goes to leave but comes back and shoves Green down to get to Cardona again. The chair is wrapped around Cardona’s head but Green grabs another chair away. That’s enough for Cardona to get up….and accidentally chair her straight in the head. Panic ensues to end the show. The angle was fine on paper, but there’s no need for a chair shot to the head like that. It didn’t feel like a big moment as much as “we’re really doing that?” and that’s not good.
Matt Cardona talks about everything being in his way and how this is his one chance after a long career. You’re not getting the Woo Woo Woo guy, but just him.
X-Division Title: TJP vs. Ace Austin vs. Josh Alexander
Austin, with Madman Fulton, is defending. Alexander and TJP go after the champ to start with Austin kicking Alexander in the head. TJP gets taken down so Alexander goes for the ankle lock on Austin. That’s broken up so Alexander gets caught in TJP’s Octopus hold. With that not lasting long either, TJP sends them both outside where Austin bails out of a Lionsault. Striker goes into a speech about how Ace Austin isn’t in the new Micro Brawler series while TJP is, which will have Austin wondering why a kid is playing with TJP and not him. Brown: “Actually Austin is in the series too.” And we move on.
With Alexander on the floor, Ace loads up the (special edition) playing card on TJP’s hand but the referee takes it away. Alexander comes back in and captures Austin’s arm for something close to a German suplex as Striker talks about how we don’t need two referees. Everyone is back in and Austin monkey flips TJP into Alexander’s powerbomb but kicks Alexander in the ribs, allowing TJP to snap off a hurricanrana instead.
TJP is back up with a running boot to Austin in the corner, setting up a superplex/Russian legsweep combination to put everyone down at the same time. Back up and Alexander goes for the ankle lock on Austin but gets pulled into TJP’s kneebar. That’s fine with Alexander, who grabs an ankle lock on Austin at the same time.
Everyone escapes as I try to get my head around the odds of holds like that only happening in TJP matches. With that broken up again, we get another triple submission with the same result. The Fold is broken up so Alexander hits Divine Intervention on TJP with Austin making the save. Alexander locks Austin’s ankle but TJP comes in with the Mamba splash. Fulton breaks up the cover, leaving Alexander to hit Divine Intervention to pin Austin at 11:11.
Rating: B. That’s all this should have been and it worked out well. Above all else, they didn’t stop with the action and that is how they set the match up over the last few weeks. I like Alexander winning the title as he has needed to show that he can do something without Ethan Page. Now he can go and have one good match after another with just about anyone so I’m certainly pleased with the result. Now hopefully they can come close to living up to this level.
The Good Brothers and Violent By Design are ready for their hardcore war at Hard To Kill.
From Countdown To Glory.
Pre-Show: Digital Media Title: Jordynne Grace vs. Madison Rayne vs. John Skyler vs. Chelsea Green vs. Crazzy Steve vs. Fallah Bahh
One fall to a finish for the inaugural title, which will be defended on online shows, kind of like a modern TV Title (that’s a good thing). Rayne is replacing Tenille Dashwood for reasons that are not clear. Before the bell, we get a countdown clock, showing about 7:40 to go before Bound For Glory, just in case you thought this match might get some substantial time.
Skyler poses in the middle of the ring to start and is promptly beaten down by everyone else. Bahh clears the ring save for Grace, who actually drops him with a running shoulder. A running Vader Bomb gives Grace two but Skyler runs her over. Green knocks Skyler off the top (to a strong reaction), followed by Rayne tornado DDTing Steve. A double stomp crushes Rayne to give Green two but Grace loads her up in a MuscleBuster.
While still holding Green on her shoulder, Grace clotheslines Rayne and then plants Green for two. Grace piles up a bunch of people in the corner, but Bahh throws her in as well for the big running splash. Skyler catches Steve with a super Regal Roll with Green making the save this time. That’s enough for Grace, who picks Skyler up for the Grace Driver for the pin and the title at 5:02.
Rating: D+. This was kind of a mess and they didn’t get much time, which is always a problem in a match like this one. You can only get so far with so many people in the match at the same time, but at least they went with an interesting winner. That being said, the whole point of this was to have people in the ring to warm up the crowd and that went well enough, though it wasn’t exactly quality.
The final award of the week is Knockout of the year, with the nominees being:
The winner is Purrazzo, who isn’t surprised, as she shouldn’t be since she ran circles around everyone else.
From Bound For Glory to wrap it up.
Impact Wrestling World Title: Christian Cage vs. Josh Alexander
Alexander is challenging. Feeling out process to start and they lock up to shove each other around. Christian takes him to the mat and grabs a headlock as Striker talks about drums. Alexander catches him up top and gets in a big shove to the floor as things get a bit more physical. Back in and Christian has to backdrop his way out of a double underhook and they’re right back on the floor.
Alexander gets sent into the barricade and it’s right back inside where Christian grinds him down again. This time Alexander comes up with a wristlock, only to get sent into the corner for two. Christian strikes away in the corner but Alexander flips it around and hits him in the face. A release German suplex into the corner rocks Christian hard (that looked painful) and a running big boot puts him down again.
Christian punches his way out of a powerbomb attempt but Alexander drops him down for two more. It’s too early for the ankle lock though as Christian kicks the leg out and puts on a choke. Alexander backflips his way to freedom and the middle rope knee to the back of the head gets two. Christian is back up with a tornado DDT (Striker: “Geez.”) but Alexander pulls him down into a Crossface.
We keep up the Canadian violence with a Sharpshooter but Christian makes the rope in a hurry. Alexander misses a moonsault and gets speared down for two, meaning it’s a double breather. The Killswitch is broken up so Christian snaps the back of Alexander’s neck over the top rope. The frog splash gives Christian two but he misses a charge into the post and gets caught in the ankle lock. Alexander cranks away to keep Christian in the middle and the gets really clever by stepping onto Christian’s hand to hold him in place. That’s too much for Christian, who taps out to make Alexander champion at 18:57.
Rating: B+. They had an awesome match here with a great story throughout, as Christian was doing his best but got reeled in by Alexander. The ending was about Christian getting trapped by a submission machine as Alexander was just the better man. Alexander also knew what Christian would be trying because he has watched Christian for so many years. This was a heck of a main event and felt like a true passing of the torch, which is exactly what it should have been.
Alexander’s family gets in the ring to celebrate with him…and here’s Moose to cash in.
Impact Wrestling World Title: Moose vs. Josh Alexander
Moose is challenging and hits the spear for the pin and the title at 7 seconds, because Money in the Bank is the greatest idea in the world and must be copied as often as possible.
Overall Rating: A-. This was a good example of what a “Best Of” show should have been. They went though their options for the year and picked out some rather awesome stuff for two hours. Impact had a pretty awesome selection at times and it’s nice to see them celebrate it. They have come such a long way and now it seems they might be able to go a little further next year. Keep that stuff up and improve the other stuff that might not be so strong. Very good show here, though it helps when you can pick the gems.
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