Hard to Kill 2022
January 8, 2022
The Factory in Deep Ellum
Impact Wrestling return to pay-per-view this coming weekend with Hard to Kill emanating live from the sold-out Bomb Factory in Dallas, Texas. In the main event, Moose defends the Impact World Championship against Matt Cardona and W. Morrissey in a three-way dance.
Impact will have a new-look commentary team moving forward with Matt Striker recently posting that he was done with the promotion. There is a chance that they go for the disappointing option and bring Josh Mathews back to partner D’Lo Brown but with Lenny Leonard and Ian Riccaboni literally right there I sincerely hope they opt for a new voice.
Countdown to Hard to Kill
Trey Miguel (C) vs Steve Maclin
I was rather disappointed to learn on the go-home show that this match had been demoted to the PPV pre-show, aired live on Youtube. Given how much the X-Division title was elevated in 2021 this is a frustrating backward step but my hope is that it’s more to do with the time they’re allotting to the other big matches on the pay-per-view than anything else.
The booking to get to this point was, from my perspective, made far more complicated than it needed to be and has, ultimately, rather irritated me. While this isn’t necessarily the space for me to get into fantasy booking, please indulge me momentarily.
Since arriving in Impact Wrestling, Steve Maclin has been unbeaten in singles competition. The only person he’s not defeated is Trey, who he went to a double countout against back in July.
Trey won the X-Division title at Bound for Glory, defeating Maclin and El Phantasmo in a three-way. Maclin wasn’t pinned in that match, he wasn’t pinned in the four-way that earned Laredo Kid a title shot and he wasn’t pinned when Trey defended against him and Laredo Kid at Turning Point in November.
With that in mind, surely the logical direction was Maclin demanding a one-on-one shot against Trey to settle it once and for all, perhaps having to win a match on Impact to solidify that spot, and then the pair brawling a couple of times before Hard to Kill?
Well, what we got instead was Scott D’Amore telling Maclin he was at the back of the line, Maclin proceeding to kidnap Trey and Trey then petitioning Gail Kim for this match because Scott had already said no. Right…
Regardless of how we got here, this should be good. Maclin feels like a well-built contender, he’s impressed me with his in-ring work since joining the promotion and he’s been getting over with the crowds. You can’t ask for much more from a guy they pretty much took a flier on when he left the fed.
I was fairly confident that Trey was retaining up until the go-home show, when Gail Kim told Maclin that should he lose at Hard to Kill, he won’t get another shot while Trey is champion. That stipulation typically means the guy beholden to that is winning but I’m not sure. I still think Trey’s title run has legs to it though, with the direction I foresee being that he eventually drops it to Speedball Mike Bailey, so I suspect he retains here but it could go either way. Prediction: Trey Miguel
Ultimate X match to determine the No #1 contender for the Knockouts Championship
Alisha Edwards vs Lady Frost vs Chelsea Green vs Jordynne Grace vs Rosemary vs Tasha Steelz
Hard to Kill proper is likely to open by ticking off one of the last significant milestones for the Knockouts division – the first-ever Knockouts Ultimate X match.
The winner of this match gets the first shot at the winner of the Knockouts title match later in the show between Mickie James and Deonna Purrazzo. Normally the face/heel dynamic in the title match would help to dictate the winner here but most of these women are pushed as faces or somewhere in between in the case of the newcomer, Lady Frost, so that’s a moot point.
I wrote my first draft of this preview before the Hard to Kill go-home show, using this section to extoll all the reasons why I felt that Rachael Ellering was the right person to win. After the show she got yanked (no reason has been given yet) and replaced by Alisha Edwards.
With Jordynne Grace holding the Digital Media Championship, having someone cost her the win here would logically setup a title match further down the road. Given their previous issues, Tasha Steelz seems a perfect fit for that role.
Rosemary is always popular with the Impact audience, so a victory for her can’t be ruled out, while Frost is being given quite the push on arrival so her winning wouldn’t be a total surprise. However, they’ve both lost to Purrazzo before and I think she’s the one winning later in the show.
Although they could go with the underdog story with Alisha, I don’t see her winning. While I anticipate that Chelsea Green will be champion at some point this year, her involvement in the World title scene means it doesn’t need to be now. Conventional booking logic would also suggest with her getting the win on the go-home show she’s not winning here.
That would have left Ellering, who’d have been a fresh and interesting challenger. Without her, I think they’ll plump for Lady Frost. Prediction: Lady Frost
The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson) and Violent By Design (Eric Young, Deaner and Joe Doering) vs Rich Swann, Willie Mack, Eddie Edwards, Heath and Rhino
The rules employed for the Hardcore War at Hardcore Justice 2021 apply here, so I’ll provide a quick refresher below for anyone who’s not aware:
- Two men start alone for five minutes
- Every two minutes, a new man appears from alternating teams
- The match cannot end until the final man has entered
- After all ten men have entered, the match is won by pinfall or submission
- There are no disqualifications
This match consists of one team I think should be Tag Team champs (Swann & Mack), one team I think will be the next Tag champs (Heath & Rhino), one team who I think are the most interesting (VBD) and one team who I couldn’t care less about (The Good Brothers).
Heath and Rhino’s win over Violent By Design at Bound for Glory was seemingly an end to their rivalry but Eric Young’s return from an ACL injury has kept it going. Rich Swann and Willie Mack, meanwhile, had been chasing another shot at the Tag Team titles currently held by The Good Brothers. With a mutual interest in thwarting the babyfaces, the two heel groups joined forces in beating them down, only for Eddie Edwards to come out and even the scores, bringing us here.
As should always be the case in matches like this, the heels have the man advantage after Anderson pinned Heath in the go-home show main event. The stipulation here means this should be quite fun albeit probably quite long as well. Babyfaces should almost always win matches like this and I think they do here, probably with Heath or Rhino pinning a Good Brother to set up a title match at the next special event in February. Prediction: Swann, Mack, Edwards, Heath and Rhino
Josh Alexander vs Jonah
As an unabashed Josh Alexander fanboy, this is my most anticipated match of the night.
After losing the World title at Bound for Glory, they’ve been telling the story that Josh’s anger is out of control and that Scott D’Amore wants him to get back on the straight and narrow before getting his hands on Moose once again. The first roadblock for Canada’s Ironman was Minoru Suzuki, the second is Jonah.
Freed from the shackles of NXT, Jonah arrived at Turning Point and laid Josh out, drawing blood with a big senton off the top rope in a visceral and highly effective segment. While I’m not sure that all of his promos have completely connected, it’s great to see Jonah getting the chance to have a heel run and have a match here that won’t be structured around the “big guy doing athletic stuff” trope his NXT work always seemed to be.
The winner here, in my opinion, isn’t in much doubt. Jonah has publicly said that this is only a short-term deal with Impact, so him losing isn’t a major issue, and Josh is the one with the defined arc of getting back to the World title, either at Rebellion or Slammiversary. The go-home show angle brings him in as the underdog, which should give this match a good story, and sets him up for victory. Prediction: Josh Alexander
ROH World Championship
Jonathan Gresham (C) vs Chris Sabin
Closely behind Alexander/Jonah in the ‘most anticipated’ stakes, this match will mark the first time that the Ring of Honor World Championship has been defended on an Impact show.
As the wonderful Ian Riccaboni pointed out on Twitter when this match was announced, this has come about because Chris Sabin actually earned an ROH World title match back in 2018 that he never got to cash because of a knee injury. With the former Impact World champ now back to full fitness, he’s getting that match against the new champion, Jonathan Gresham.
If you remember, these two were actually part of the same unit, Search and Destroy, in Ring of Honor back in 2017. That adds another layer to what should be a great match. Sabin can match Gresham’s style and both know how to build a match and escalate the pace. While the outcome isn’t in much doubt, with Gresham surely set to hold the title until at least ROH’s purported return in April, this should be very good. Prediction: Jonathan Gresham
I’m not sure that he will but I’d personally love to see Gresham stick around in Impact as he’d be a great addition to the roster. On the note of ROH talent, I do wonder if we’ll see any get formally picked up on this show – Shane Taylor would be a very welcome arrival.
Texas Death Match
Mickie James (C) vs Deonna Purrazzo
I think there’s a strong chance that this goes on last. It’s the best-built match on the entire show and it’s the blow-off to the best feud that came together in Impact in 2021.
I think the match itself should be good. The feud merits it, so the necessary level of intensity will be there, and both women will work hard to deliver. Deonna was quite good in the No DQ match she had with Su Yung a little over a year ago, so with a better opponent, rivalry and more experience as a wrestler, you’d expect even more.
In terms of picking a winner, Purrazzo becoming a three-time champion feels like the right move. When she dropped the title to James it made sense because she’d almost run out of challengers. Now, however, there’s seemingly a plethora. Whether it’s Frost or Green that wins Ultimate X, they’d be a fresh challenger, while the addition of Masha Slamovich to the Impact roster offers an intriguing rematch program. There’s also the looming specter of a title vs title match against Rok-C, whom Purrazzo confronted at Final Battle back in December. Add that to the fact they’re clearly still giving her the rocket push and Purrazzo feels like a strong pick. Prediction: Deonna Purrazzo
Impact World Championship
Moose (C) vs Matt Cardona vs W. Morrissey
Watching the hype videos for this match has only confirmed my initial feelings – regardless of what you make of Matt Cardona or W. Morrissey as workers, both would have been better served in singles matches against Moose. They’ve got the time to let both of those stories play out and let Moose rack up the defenses before facing Josh Alexander again.
Cardona earned his shot here by pinning Moose in a tag match back in November, a tag match that led to the implosion of Moose’s alliance with Morrissey. Morrissey had split a pair of singles matches with Cardona, winning one through a Moose-assisted finish and losing the other because he got himself disqualified. That 50/50 booking got him in here to make this a three-way.
Moose has since tried to goad Cardona by involving his now wife Chelsea Green, calling her a whore during a contract signing that in truly surprising fashion ended in a brawl, and repeatedly calling him Mid Cardona. Not the best material in the world but it’s been effective. Morrissey, meanwhile, has been able to pivot back to a lot of the good character work he was doing when he first joined Impact, noting that he came back from the lowest point alone and that he’ll stand at his highest career point alone.
As a general rule, I really don’t like three-way dances. I feel they’re often the product of lazy or contrived booking and they put constraints on how fluid the match can be. Obviously, there are exceptions, like AJ vs Joe vs Daniels at Unbreakable 2005, but that’s been my general feeling for a long time.
I think the ceiling for this match is relatively low but all three guys will, I’m sure, work very hard. Moose, for his part, looks in remarkable shape and should absolutely retain here. Prediction: Moose