Review: Impact Hard To Kill 2020


Grade: B+. Considering the damaged pieces they had to work with, all three men showed heart, professionalism, and passion to put on a damn good match.

#9[World Championship] Sami Callihan (c) vs. Tessa Blanchard – Winner: Tessa Blanchard NEW Impact World Champion!

Predicted Winner: Tessa Blanchard (5-1-1)

Six months of building. Careful storytelling. Characters that are not just believable, but draw you in. And at Hard To Kill, we get the climax.

A heel champ who’s not just eye-rolling disgusting, but at times talks in a passionate, convincing way that has you agreeing with him at times. He sounds emotional and almost tears up at times. Seriously, watch and listen to Sami Callihan’s interviews leading up to this match. That masterclass level microphone work.

A babyface challenger who is just as passionate, who’s been knocked down time after time after time. Who exudes intensity, and maybe just a bit of obsessive madness of her own. Regardless of drama outside the ring, within the ropes Tessa Blanchard is still the very best women’s wrestler in North America, and perhaps even one of the top 20 wrestlers working in the United States today, regardless of gender.

Throughout this match the story was the same. These two swung for the fences with every move, every blow. And the fans ate it up. From minute one the fans were cheering, chanting, and pretty much going nuts. They made more noise than WWE crowds twice their size (The Bomb Factory has a maximum capacity of 4,300 when not rigged for pro wrestling).

Quite simply, I loved the work in this match. Callihan was disgusting and passionate. As Don Callis called him, he’s the ‘anti-hero’ that at times you want to cheer because he’s just so convincing in his point of view… but can’t as he spits at people and screams ‘F you too, b*tch!’ to the crowd. He’s The Joker, he’s Hannibal Lecter, he’s Killmonger… he’s the Death Machine.

And Blanchard knows how to work that line involving her femininity. The hardest problem with most intergender matches is the female wrestler often coming off as trying to not be a woman. Blanchard though puts just the right touches in her work to keep it convincing. For example when she cries out in pain, she’s not using some fake-deep ‘masculine’ voice. She sounds like a woman wailing in pain, dammit!

At the same time, the two just went out and had a damn near perfect match. Tessa had to use her speed, to stick and move… but Sami also put her through a friggin’ table.

Sami was hard to kill as well. Tessa hit him with EVERYTHING. 4 Magnums, a Canadian Destroyer, a Panama Sunrise, a kick to the groin, and finally a Buzzsaw DDT to be put away. About the only thing she didn’t do was shoot him with an M16.

#AndNew… but forever changed?

And when Tessa wins, you can feel both the overwhelming accomplishment of what she just did, while at the same time thinking she just might never be the same. She looked delirious, she looked haunted, she looked like a woman on the edge of eternity. The beating she took, the hell she put herself through for that win… but at the same time you honestly feel that she would have rather died than lose to Sami Callihan this night.

She was just too hard to kill.

Grade: A+. January 13th, and I’m already naming it a Match Of The Year candidate. The only thing keeping it from an A++ perfect score is 1-2 slight timing issues that only the strictest of wrestling nerds would even pick up.

Random Thoughts

A few observations I had throughout the night:

  1. What is it with side cuts? Are they the current mullet or mohawk? On tonight’s card we had Madman Fulton, Ace Austin, Taya Valkyrie, Eddie Edwards, RVD (ish, maybe he’s just going bald too)… someone please make it stop.
  2. A good job by Impact management not only in match decisions, but also match placement. It’s like they knew the RVD segment would suck, so they put Eddie v. Elgin afterwards so as not to lose the crowd.
  3. The Knockouts roster is very thin charisma wise once you get past Taya & Rosemary. The only real charismatic threats right now to Taya are heels, IMO. Could Impact decide to give Taya a final face turn before she gives up the title? We’ll have to see.

Final Takeaway

Overall, Hard To Kill delivers, especially for the Main Event. Sure, the RVD segments stunk. And I think the wrong man won in the opener. But Hard To Kill did what PPVs are supposed to do, build towards a crescendo that delivered. Impact grasped that wrestling is about storytelling, and the story told at The Bomb Factory on January 13th, 2020 was exquisite.

Sure, Impact’s not perfect. But on this night at Hard To Kill… they delivered the goods in a way that the big promotions more often than not don’t. In any case, I seriously, seriously doubt that WWE will be able to replicate this level of storytelling in two weeks at The Royal Rumble.

Overall Final Grade: B. Hard To Kill’s damn good night of wrestling. Just fast forward through anything involving RVD.

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