Impact Wrestling
Hard to Kill
January 12, 2019
The Bomb Factory
Dallas, Texas

Watch: FITE

Impact Wrestling hosts its first pay-per-view (PPV) of the new decade on Sunday, January 12, demonstrating a wonderful sense of irony and tongue-in-cheek humor in the process, when Hard to Kill emanates from The Bomb Factory in Dallas, Texas. In the show’s main event, Sami Callihan defends his freshly redesigned Impact World Championship against Tessa Blanchard.

Madman Fulton vs Ken Shamrock

It is difficult to understand the rationale behind featuring on the PPV ahead of the likes of TJP, Jake Something, Dezmond Xavier, Zachary Wentz, Daga and Fallah Bahh. While Fulton and Shamrock have had a couple of confrontations on TV, there is no real feud between them and neither is a well pushed commodity right now. This might be the start of Impact actually doing something with Fulton in 2020 though, and it could be that this match actually transitions into an interesting angle. Or it might all lead to nothing and just be another opportunity to trot Shamrock out for a match. Either way, my hope is that it’s relatively short and that Fulton is the one who goes over. Prediction: Madman Fulton.

Moose vs Rhino

While I would not normally be one to complain about six singles matches being on a PPV card, it is very hard for me to summon any form of excitement about this. Although I feel that Rhino has some use for Impact as a tag team wrestler (which is good, considering he’s just signed a two-year deal), his singles matches since returning have been almost glacially slow and thoroughly uninspiring. Moose, meanwhile, has shown on the two most recent PPVs that he isn’t the sort of guy who can carry the veterans to a decent contest, so my expectations are low. The whole feud between these two has been about who has the better spear, so my prediction is for a lot of teases, a Gore kickout and then Moose winning with the No Jackhammer Needed Spear for the win. Prediction: Moose.

Brian Cage vs Rob Van Dam

Of the three matches involving the ‘old guys’ on this show, this is the one that has the most appeal for me. While his in-ring work has declined in recent years, Van Dam’s new gimmick definitely has legs (as I wrote recently) and I think this mini-feud has been interesting in helping rebuild Cage and give him some new direction following his title loss. While I suspect that this will probably be longer than is entirely necessary, I have confidence that Cage will be able to get something decent out of it and, fingers crossed, a win that sets him up for something bigger in the months to come. Prediction: Brian Cage

Singles Match for the Call Your Shot Trophy
Eddie Edwards vs Michael Elgin

My pick for singles match of the night. As these two have shown a couple of times on the TV, even if it was a little odd to literally air the self-same match five days before the PPV, they have tremendous chemistry as Elgin’s power style allows Edwards to bump like hell and it also allows the former World Champion to work at a faster pace. Making this for Eddie’s Call Your Shot Trophy, which entitles the winner to a title shot of their choosing, does add another wrinkle. I feel that if the company are serious about pushing Edwards out of his current midcard obscurity, then he might go over, but I’m currently more inclined to think that the play is Elgin being the next challenger for the World title. Prediction: Michael Elgin.

Impact World Tag Team Championships
The North (Ethan Page & Josh Alexander) vs Rich Swann & Willie Mack

We were robbed of getting this at Bound for Glory following the addition of Van Dam & Rhino but this is, without doubt, the match I am most looking forward to on the entire card. The North has been an absolute delight since winning the tag titles and this is the big two-vs-two PPV match that their reign has been calling for. Swann and Mack have demonstrated tremendous chemistry as a tandem and it’s great to see Mack finally getting the spotlight that his talent deserves. The whole story coming into this has been Mack’s subtly growing jealousy of Swann’s push, status and performances. Take for the instance the tag team open where they won the title shot;  Mack went down with an ‘injury’ and Swann went on to win it single-handedly. The Mack heel turn has been telegraphed a little bit but it’ll be interesting to see whether it comes during or after the match, or whether it’s something that continues to brew in the next few months. They could also go the other way and tell the story of Mack stepping up in the big moment and their bond growing as they stand tall as champions. Whatever happens, it should be interesting and given the lack of face contenders on the roster, I’ll tip Swann and Mack to win, although that could well end up being wrong. Prediction: Rich Swann & Willie Mack.

Impact Knockouts Championship
Taya Valkyrie (C) vs ODB vs Jordynne Grace

Taya won this Knockouts title more than a year ago and since then the Knockouts division has often felt quite stagnant. Jordynne Grace has challenged and lost, Madison Rayne has challenged and lost, Havok, Su Yung and Rosemary have challenged and lost, Tenille Dashwood has challenged and lost. While the promotion has attempted to cultivate the cowardly yet successful champion gimmick with Taya, it is indisputably time for a change. The addition of ODB, while nice in the sense that the promotion is doing her a solid, does not make this match any better and increases the potential for some weird booking. Still, I’ve got faith that the promotion will do the right thing and belt up Grace. Prediction: Jordynne Grace.

X-Division Championship
Ace Austin (C) vs Trey Miguel

I have always found it interesting that Impact has pushed Trey the most out of the Rascalz as a singles performer. That’s not a knock on him per se but I’ve personally just always seen more in Xavier. The backstory to this has been about Austin working the mind games to unnerve his opponent, particularly when it comes to implied sexual relations with their nearest and dearest. First, it was Alisha Edwards and now it’s ‘Trey’s Mum’. The story is what it is but it has at least got Trey to show some real fire heading into the biggest match for both guys in the promotion thus far. Austin is the one that has more potential, especially as champion, at this point in time and the sensible pick is for him to retain but this could be really good and quite different from anything else on the show. Prediction: Ace Austin.

Impact World Championship
Sami Callihan (C) vs Tessa Blanchard

While I may have got a few predictions about how it would all play out wrong along the way, this was the direction this was always heading in, wasn’t it? The intergender matches will probably always be hit or miss for a lot of people but Impact has decided to run with it and these two were the best two to work the top program with – Sami is a perfect foil for Tessa’s fiery character. While the footage on social media of their brawl to cap off the final Impact in 2019 has done very well in terms of views, the real proof of whether this match, this feud, the company’s pivot to intergender and Tessa’s viability as the top babyface really will be evident here. Is this storyline and is she, in all honesty, a big draw for the promotion?

I suspect that the Dallas crowd will be red-hot for this match, especially after the brilliant video package on the go-home show. However, the only possible outcome here has to be a Tessa victory. The whole story has centered on her having enough in the tank to beat Sami but always being thwarted by something or someone else. This is the third big singles match and it’s the one for the title. If the company want to truly be a promotion known for intergender wrestling, the only logical booking move is to belt her up. How that lands and where they go from here are big questions, but the show ending with her standing tall has to be the visual everyone remembers. Prediction: Tessa Blanchard.