Hard To Kill 2021
Date: January 16, 2021
Location: Skyway Studios, Nashville, Tennessee
Commentators: Matt Striker, D’Lo Brown
We’re back on pay per view with this one and that means it is time to step things up. This time around, the big story is AEW’s Kenny Omega coming in to team with the Good Brothers against Rich Swann/Moose/Chris Sabin (as Alex Shelley is out due to some personal circumstances). The card isn’t looking great but Impact can do some good pay per views. Let’s get to it.
Pre-Show: Josh Alexander vs. Brian Myers
Alexander takes him down by the leg to start and then spins out of a wristlock to put Myers down again. They head outside with Myers being driven back first into the apron but Myers shoves him hard off the top. We take a break and come back with Myers grabbing a quickly broken chinlock. Myers trips him down to cut off the comeback and the chinlock goes on again. That’s broken up as well so Myers hits a Downward Spiral for two, sending us to another break.
Back again with a discus forearm putting Myers on the floor. Alexander can’t get a German suplex but he can get the ankle lock, followed by the German suplex for two. Myers catches him with an enziguri on top, setting up the superplex with Alexander tying the legs up into a small package for two more.
A quick Michinoku Driver gives Myers two so Alexander backslides him for the same (with Striker throwing in a Kerry Von Erich vs. Ric Flair reference because he tries way too hard). The ankle lock goes on and Myers can’t roll out, so instead he pulls the headgear around to blind Alexander. That’s enough for the running clothesline to finish Alexander at 10:54.
Rating: C-. Are they kidding? Who in the world looks at Myers and Alexander (especially including their histories and thinks that Myers, as “The Most Professional Wrestler”, is the more interesting choice? I don’t get this one, but I’m hoping they have a better idea than just pushing him because he used to be in WWE. Baffling decision here, and it came after a just ok match.
The opening video looks at how people had to survive a lot over the year but they are hard to kill. This includes a good bit of AEW footage, plus Alex Shelley announcing that he will not be able to be here tonight. Moose is taking his place, which could be a bit better.
Decay vs. Tenille Dashwood/Kaleb With A K
That would be Rosemary/Crazy Steve. The men start things off with Steve headlocking him down and then tripping the leg. Rosemary comes in to crank on the arm and then hands it back to Steve. Kaleb sends him outside but thinks twice about the dive, instead bringing Dashwood in to elbow Rosemary in the face. Some shots to the back have Rosemary in more trouble and we hit the chinlock, complete with Dashwood rubbing Rosemary’s head.
Kaleb takes too much time going up though and Dashwood gets kicked into him for the crotching. Rosemary kicks Dashwood away again and the hot tag brings in Steve to start cleaning house. A rollup out of the corner brings Dashwood in for the save so Steve glares her out to the floor. Kaleb takes over on Steve’s arm, setting up a Russian legsweep for no cover.
Instead Kaleb stops for a photo, meaning Steve can avoid the moonsault. That’s enough for Rosemary to come in and clean house as everything breaks down. Rosemary hits a spear but walks into Kaleb’s superkick. The green mist hits Dashwood and Kaleb backfists Steve down. More mist blinds Kaleb and Steve hits a tornado DDT for the pin at 8:55.
Rating: C. Kind of a weird choice for an opener as the match wasn’t really a big part of the build (I’m not even sure I remember it being mentioned on TV) and it was just ok anyway. Rosemary and Steve work well together and while it’s nice to see Kaleb take the fall, it’s another miss for Dashwood. Not terrible by any means, but not a great match with a weird placement.
We run down the card. Still makes little sense on a pay per view.
We recap (with the video starting before Striker was done talking) Eric Young and company attacking various people around here. That means it’s time for Tommy Dreamer to defend his latest wrestling home, meaning we have a six man Old School tag.
Violent By Design vs. Tommy Dreamer/Rhino/Cousin Jake
Old School (extreme) rules. That would be the name for Eric Young/Deaner/Joe Doering, because every team needs a name now. Striker: “I don’t think there is anyone who has done what Tommy Dreamer has done over the last thirty years at such a high level.” I think we can write that off as the first stupid Striker line of the night and move on. The ring is mostly cleared to start and it’s Jake vs. Deaner n the big showdown.
They’re out on the floor in a hurry as we go to a triple screen (THANK YOU!) until everyone winds up on the same side at ringside. The wild brawling continues until Dreamer brings in the cookie sheet to knock Young down. Back inside and a cutter drops Young again so it’s time for Rhino, Dreamer and Deaner to chair Doering down. That isn’t enough to keep him down as Doering gets up and bites Dreamer’s head.
Deaner throws Jake off the top onto two open chairs….and exactly thirty seconds later, Jake is back up with a suicide dive onto Doering and Young. That leaves Dreamer to crotch Deaner on top and it’s something like a Tower of Doom, with Dreamer getting kicked in the face in the process. Rhino posts Doering on the floor and it’s time for the thumbtacks. Young is backdropped onto said tacks and there’s the Gore to drop Doering. Jake’s Black Hole Slam gets two on Deaner with Young making the save with the hockey mask. The piledriver finishes Deaner at 9:51.
Rating: D+. They brawled, they did the same violent spots they always do, they tried to make Dreamer some kind of legend and Young was treated as the big evil. This was almost everything I don’t like about Impact rolled into one match and I have a bad feeling that it is going to be continuing for a good while to come. Throw in Doering being the latest monster without much of a reason to care about him other than who he associates with, we could be in for a long run with these guys.
Rich Swann fires up Chris Sabin when Moose comes in. Swann doesn’t trust Moose because Willie Mack would be here if Moose hadn’t taken him out. Moose talks about playing football with people he didn’t like but he would die for them once a game began. Tonight, Omega and the Brothers are getting beaten down all night long.
Video on the Knockouts Tag Team Title Tournament.
Knockouts Tag Team Title Tournament: Fire And Flava vs. Havok/Nevaeh
For the vacant titles and that would be Tasha Steelz/Kiera Hogan, because, again, every team needs a name these days. Steelz and Hogan jump them to start with little avail, meaning it’s Steelz and Nevaeh to officially get things going. Havok comes in so Steelz bails out to Hogan, who is promptly backbreakered. A sliding clothesline gives Nevaeh two and it’s back to Havok to wreck both of them.
Havok misses a legdrop so some kicks to the face put her down for two. More running kicks in the corner give Hogan two but Havok drives Steelz into the corner. Havok tosses both of them down at the same time, allowing the tag off to Nevaeh. Steelz DDTs Hogan by mistake (yep still stupid) but Nevaeh gets caught on top.
That’s fine with Havok, who powerbombs both of them out of the corner (after walking a bit to show off). Hogan is back up with a neckbreaker on Havok and a Stunner rocks her again. Havok gets taken to the floor, leaving Hogan to hit a fisherman’s neckbreaker to Nevaeh for the pin and the titles at 8:48.
Rating: C. They aren’t exactly in the mood to give the wrestlers time tonight. This was a fairly rushed match but it’s nice to have one of the established teams win rather than a makeshift pair becoming the champions. I’m not sure what kind of a future the titles have, but it was an acceptable enough start.
Madison Rayne and Gail Kim come out prevent the new titles.
Decay comes up to Taya Valkyrie but she, politely says she has this tonight. The women leave and Acey Romero sneaks into the Knockouts locker room.
Here are the unscheduled Ace Austin and Madman Fulton for a chat. Austin does not like being relegated to the pre-show panel because he won the Super X Cup. That means he should be #1 contender to the X-Division Title. So come on Scott D’Amore. Get out here and make the match. Cue D’Amore who agrees Austin needs a match so here is his opponent.
Ace Austin vs. Matt Cardona
Striker: “This is a mark out moment and I’m marking out bro!” Cardona starts fast with a running faceplant to send Austin to the apron. That means Austin can do his gymnastics on the apron until Cardona trips him face first. As Striker talks about “popping the internet”, a swinging neckbreaker drops Austin onto the floor. Fulton’s distraction lets Austin get in a cheap shot but it’s a flapjack to put him down back inside. The running corner clothesline sets up the Reboot (Broski Boot) but Fulton comes in for the DQ at 2:33.
Post match Cardona clears the ring in a hurry.
We recap the X-Division Title match. TJP couldn’t get another title shot so he put on a mask as Manik and won the title. Rohit Raju and Chris Bey want to unmask him and prove everything so we’re having a triple threat title match.
X-Division Title: Chris Bey vs. Rohit Raju vs. Manik
Manik is defending and it’s one fall to a finish. Manik dropkicks Bey to the floor to start and runs the ropes with Raju. Bey is back in and that means a three way standoff. Raju gets knocked down again and Bey uses him as a launchpad to dropkick Manik to the floor this time. That doesn’t last long as Manik and Bey switch places, allowing Raju to counter a headscissors into a reverse sitout powerbomb for two on Manik.
Bey comes back in and Raju misses a charge to the floor, allowing Manik to tie up Bey’s legs. Raju rejoins them for a standing armbar on Manik at the same time as Brown and Striker over if that is TJP or not. The double holds are broken up and Manik sends Raju outside, leaving Bey to hit a springboard kick to the head to catch Manik in the ropes. Bey misses a dive and gets apron bombed down for the mistake. Back in and Raju gets Manik’s mask off to reveal…a painted face.
Manik goes up top for a frog splash but dives into a cutter from Bey. A double Art of Finesse lets Bey cover Manik for two and everyone is down for a second. Raju is up first and ties Bey in the Tree of Woe, meaning Manik can come in with a springboard hurricanrana. The Detonation Kick connects with Bey making the save so he and Manik fight over a Tombstone.
Manik finally plants him but walks into a jumping knee from Raju. A kick to the face gives Raju two on Manik and everyone is down again. Raju is sent to the floor, leaving Manik to hit a springboard DDT on Bey. The frog splash hits Bey and Raju slides back in for two in a callback to what set this up. Raju throws Manik off the top but gets kicked in the head by Bey.
They go up top with Bey getting tied in the Tree of Woe again. Raju pulls Manik into a Crossface (which Striker says is a variation on the Regal Stretch, because, again, Striker tries too hard) until Bey makes the save. Manik rolls to the floor so Raju unloads with shots to Bey’s head, only to have Manik roll Raju up to retain at 13:52.
Rating: B. Now this was good as they were doing all of their spots in a hurry while making the match feel like a frenzy. That’s the kind of match you would want for a pay per view X-Division Title match and the show needed it pretty badly. Manik continues to be one of the best in-ring stars on the roster, but the painted face under the mask is a pretty weak way to keep things going.
Post match, Manik taunts Raju with the win.
Eddie Edwards tells Alisha that she can’t be involved in the Barbed Wire Massacre. She can’t be at risk because Eddie doesn’t know what is happening to him. Alisha promises not to go out there.
We recap Deonna Purrazzo vs. Taya Valkyrie. Purrazzo is the amazing champion, Valkyrie used to be the amazing champion, the title match is on.
Knockouts Title: Deonna Purrazzo vs. Taya Valkyrie
Purrazzo is defending and has Kimber Lee and Susan with her, while Taya has Decay. Taya knocks her into the corner to start and hammers away against the ropes. Purrazzo is knocked outside where Lee gets in a cheap shot and Susan starts recording Steve. The referee gets knocked down so it’s a big group ejection to leave us one on one. Striker is confused about whether the bell rang or not, because he was probably too busy making some reference to Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1983.
Back in and Purrazzo starts on the arm, including a Russian legsweep and a roll through into a Tequila Sunrise. Now it’s off to a kneebar so Taya has to go to the rope again. A DDT on the knee gets two but Taya is back up with chops and a spear for two. Purrazzo dropkicks the knee out but Taya runs her over again without much effort.
There’s a Curb Stomp into something like an STF, which Striker….actually doesn’t screw up (even a bad announcer finds the right move once a match). Back up and Taya can’t hit a tilt-a-whirl slam as Purrazzo takes her down into the Fujiwara Armbar. That’s switches into Cosa Nostra to retain the title at 11:35.
Rating: B-. I can go for watching these two doing their thing for a good while and that is what we got here. Purrazzo being able to pull someone into whatever painful hold she has at the moment and Taya can make almost anything work. This was exactly what it was supposed to be and I had a good time with it throughout. Above all else, it felt like a match that belonged on pay per view, which hasn’t been the case with everything else on the card so far.
Acey Romero comes up to John E. Bravo, who insists that Larry D. shot him. He calls Acey crazy but Acey found some of Larry’s Ring Rust cologne in a Knockouts bag. Bravo is intrigued. Sweet goodness WHY IS THIS STILL GOING???
We recap the fall of Ethan Page, who has gone rather insane and is feuding with his own alter ego, the Karate Man. Now it’s time for Page to fight himself.
Ethan Page vs. Karate Man
We go cinematic (duh) and they fight in front of a green screen, Mortal Kombat style. Page punches and Karate Man kicks as the background keeps changing. Then Karate Man pulls out Page’s heart to end it at we’ll say 2:30. So Page was REALLY unhappy about this online and if this is what they cobbled together after what seems like a lot of work went into it, I can completely get that. This was a waste of time from what could have been an entertaining idea and Page deserved a better way to go out than a segment which is getting as much time as the Wrestle House fallout.
Don Callis comes up to Moose in the back and reminds him that he has a two year contract. Callis suggests that if Moose hurts Kenny Omega, the contract may be ruined. Moose doesn’t want to hear it and says he’s coming for the Impact World Title. And maybe Omega’s too. Callis: “S***.”
We recap Sami Callihan vs. Eddie Edwards in Barbed Wire Massacre. They have feuded on and off for years now and this is the FINAL match, with Callihan having Ken Shamrock in his back pocket. Eddie has no one, as he has ordered his wife to stay away for her own safety.
Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan
There are various barbed wire instruments around the ring, including one side of a cage with barbed wire on top/wrapped around it and various barbed wire weapons hanging from a wire above the top rope. Eddie avoids being driven into a barbed wire board in the corner, which falls over as they lock up. Sami is sent into the barbed wire in the ropes so Eddie whips out a barbed wire ring to press down onto Sami’s head. The board is on the mat but Sami is smart enough to push it out to the floor before he goes face first.
Eddie’s suicide dive (with a bit of a spin) sends him back first through the barbed wire board and Sami drops the Cactus Jack elbow for a bonus. Sami messes with some more barbed wire on the floor and takes it back inside for the slugout. Eddie gets dropped ribs first onto the wire and Sami whips him with a…..Nintendo 64 controller wrapped in barbed wire? I think I can go with this. Sami goes up but Eddie comes out with a backpack Stunner for the breather.
The Blue Thunder Bomb onto a barbed wire chair gets two on Sami but Eddie’s missed charge hits the cage wall. They hit each other in the head with barbed wire for a double knockdown so it’s time for a barbed wire kendo stick vs. the barbed wire bat. It’s better because they have the other’s signature weapon and it’s Sami dropping him onto the barbed wire board. Another barbed wire board is thrown in and Sami (mostly) bridges it between two chairs.
A super piledriver through the barbed wire board only gets two and there wasn’t even any drama on the kickout. I know it’s just a spot these days but can you at least try to have some drama in there? Sami loads up the bat to the chair on the face but Eddie kicks him away and hits the Boston Knee Party into a chair. The Emerald Flosion onto the barbed wire finishes Sami at 18:53.
Rating: B-. This is one where your individual tastes are certainly going to vary and that isn’t a big surprise. There were some completely ridiculous moments here but it felt like two people who hated each other wanting to hurt each other. The piledriver kickout was pretty ridiculous and I’m not a big fan of this kind of match in the first place, but it could have been a lot worse than what we got.
Rebellion is on April 24.
We recap the main event. Impact executive Don Callis brought in AEW World Champion Kenny Omega as part of some big elaborate plan which isn’t quite as epic as they think it is. Impact World Champion Rich Swann didn’t like it so Kenny hooked up with the Good Brothers against Swann and the Motor City Machine Guns. Alex Shelley is out for the six man though and Moose, Swann’s #1 contender and the man who hut his best friend, is taking his place.
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?
Omega and pals celebrate to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. This show started off rather badly but then it picked up a lot of steam just before the halfway point. The big matches worked rather well and completely saved the show, which is often how a show like this tends to go. They had a nice show, but there were some things that hurt it a bit, aside from the completely lackluster first hour or so.
First and foremost, the Omega worship was out of hand to start and is just getting worse. The main event didn’t make me want to see Swann vs. Omega. It made me think that Omega is treating Swann like a practice dummy, which is completely fitting for Omega. What it ISN’T fitting for is the commentary team, who seem to be in awe of Omega and treat their World Champion like a guy who won a contest. I know Omega is a bigger deal, but can we at least act like he might have trouble against the company’s World Champion?
Then you have Striker himself and…..I can’t believe it but he has gotten more annoying. Between acting like everything you see is the greatest thing that has ever happened, trying to turn every move into some brilliant strategy that ties back into some other move and name dropping EVERY SINGLE WRESTLER HE CAN THINK OF, Striker is one of the most irritating things I have ever seen on a wrestling show. It’s great to have someone who knows history, but there is a world of difference between sounding smart and being a distraction, which he was all night long.
Overall, the show did work well, but I’m worried about where this company is going in the future. They didn’t make some of their biggest stars look good in the main event and Striker is going to be as annoying as I could have ever imagined. There are some good things happening here, but if AEW is going to be a bigger presence, I’m going to be having flashbacks to New Japan coming in to Ring of Honor and leaving it as a near wasteland. They had a good show for the most part, but the future isn’t looking so bright.
Decay b. Tenille Dashwood/Kaleb With A K – Tornado DDT to Kaleb With A K
Violent By Design b. Tommy Dreamer/Cousin Jake/Rhino – Piledriver to Deaner
Fire And Flava b. Havok/Nevaeh – Fisherman’s neckbreaker to Nevaeh
Matt Cardona b. Ace Austin via DQ when Madman Fulton interfered
Manik b. Rohit Raju and Chris Bey – Rollup to Raju
Deonna Purrazzo b. Taya Valkyrie – Cosa Nostra
Karate Man b. Ethan Page – Fatality
Eddie Edwards b. Sami Callihan – Emerald Flosion onto a barbed wire board
Kenny Omega/Good Brothers b. Rich Swann/Chris Sabin/Moose – One Winged Angel to Swann
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