What’s up everybody? It’s the day after Impact’s Hard To Kill PPV, and as always I’m here with analysis, feedback, and grades! Hey, I used to be a teacher, so I’m gonna hand out grades, not ratings.
What a week it’s been for Impact. When I wrote my Hard To Kill preview, I was using what was up to date information at the time.
And then… the rest of the week happened.
Brian Cage supposedly got signed by AEW. And injured. And then perhaps not signed? All of this was just after the PPV, but still… confusing.
And while there were travel issues, it apparently didn’t affect the talents.
And you thought the NFL playoffs were wild?
Anyway, let’s move on.
#1. Ken Shamrock vs. Madman Fulton (w/ The Crist Brothers*) – Winner: Ken Shamrock
Predicted Winner: Madman Fulton (0-1)
First off, I’m surprised that they’d have Shammy go over on Fulton. No offense to Shamrock, but the man’s ready for the AARP, not the IWGP. Having him go over on a young talent who’s been showing a ton of improvement recently is the wrong pick in my eyes.
Onto the match itself. There was another very surprising start in that instead of these two just brawling, Fulton showed a lot of his amateur wrestling background before the two swapped submission holds.
Things picked up when Shamrock went for a top rope tope suicida, and Fulton caught him out of the air. That’s right, 56 year old Ken Shamrock flung himself over the top rope like he was Ricochet’s grandfather. Soon afterwards the Crists get ejected for attempted interference, and Fulton shows off both his strength and technical game some more before Shamrock catches him in a desperation Kimura lock. A dislocated shoulder, Fulton refuses to quit, and moments later Shamrock wins via what sort of looks like the Rings of Saturn.
This match was a lot slower than I expected. While Madman Fulton got to display parts of his game that he’s not shown before in Impact, I’m not sure if Shamrock was the guy to show it against. Still, a decent start to Hard To Kill, and the fans enjoyed Shamrock’s win.
Grade: C+. A decent start, but a pretty average match. Still, a few bonus points for Shamrock’s dive.
Note: What the hell’s with the commentary team having them doing what sounds like PA duties as well as TV commentary? Strange. On the other hand, nice rundown of what happened to Rich Swann.
#2. [X-Division Championship] Ace Austin (c) vs. Trey Miguel – Winner: Ace Austin
Predicted Winner: Ace Austin (1-1)
Ace’s new ring jacket looks like it was made from Luster The Legend’s haircut.
This match started just the way it should have, with Trey wanting to basically beat the hell out of Ace. Not that he gave up on his acrobatic style, but each flip, each maneuver was done intensely and done simply to give him another chance to beat on Ace some more.
Of course it’s typical for the enraged babyface to have that emotion work against them, and Austin breaks Trey down, working over his limbs and slowing things down. From there things turn into a very good X-Division style match.
I’m going to give a lot of props to this match for style. The X-Division can often turn into a flippy-floppy no-sell schlockfest. This wasn’t one of those matches. While both men did plenty of acrobatic maneuvers, the moves always had intent behind them, and both men did a good job of selling moves throughout the match.
I’m still not a fan of the MILF Hunter storyline, to be honest. But it’s been done well, and has allowed both Trey and Ace Austin to develop as characters. And the match was just what it should have been at Hard To Kill, an escalation of their feud without ending it just yet.
Grade: B. The match was exactly what it should be, and I’m looking forward to these two beating on each other some more.
#3. [Knockouts Championship] Taya Valkyrie (c) vs. ODB vs. Jordynne Grace – Winner: Taya Valkyrie retains by pinning ODB
Predicted Winner: Taya Valkyrie (2-1)
I said in my preview of Hard To Kill that having ODB in this match was to protect Jordynne Grace, and Impact did that to perfection. Pinning Taya in a non-title match the night before, having a ‘cheated pin’ due to Johnny Bravo’s interference, and having ODB take the pin here? Perfect.
Big props to Taya Valkyrie for her 101 Dalmatians inspired gear. She’s a flat out beautiful woman, and this gear works perfectly with her current character. I also wonder if the design elements also were a nod to the recently deceased CMLL La Parka. Taya’s got deep lucha roots, after all.
The match worked very well. Taya’s heel mannerisms, from her evil smile to calling ODB ‘lunch lady’ was done with just that right level of melodramatics that shows just how damn good Taya Valkyrie is. Even the way she stole the win works perfectly for La Wera Loca.
ODB got her moments, and showed not just the fire and pride of a former Knockouts (or Knocked-Up) champ, but the smarts of a veteran. She picked her spots, and fought hard before taking the pin.
Of the trio, Jordynne Grace was, as I suspected going in, the weak link. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see anything special about her. Her charisma is lacking, and there were quite a few moves that looked sloppy. And what is it with people doing super high-impact sentons recently? That top rope drop onto ODB damn near looked like it could have broken ODB’s ribs, and she certainly had the wind knocked out of her legit.
Still, Taya and ODB more than elevated the match, and while it’s not the best match I’ve seen the Knockouts have in the past year, it was good enough.
Grade: B-. While I’m still not sure if Impact should be protecting Jordynne as the big threat to Taya’s reign, the match itself was good.
#4. Brian Cage vs. Rob Van Dam (w/ Katie Forbes) – Winner: No Contest
Predicted Winner: RVD with shenanigans (2-1-1 NC)
Well, combine this with the stories of Cage not only getting injured but also signing with AEW, then Melissa Santos denying those rumors, and this was a weird mess.
On one hand, seems Brian Cage made his silent statement in support of Tessa Blanchard in the recent controversy, wearing a ‘Diamond Machines’ hoodie to the ring. But Jesus Brian, can you please, please, please lay off the ‘sauce’ and stop getting injured? You spend just as much time on the bench recovering from muscle tears as you do in the ring.