Impact Wrestling
Emergence 2022
August 12, 2022
Cicero Stadium
Cicero, Illinois

Watch: FITE

Impact Wrestling’s latest monthly special, Emergence, aired live from Cicero Stadium in Chicago on Friday night (August 12). In the main event, Josh Alexander defended his Impact World Championship against Alex Shelley.

Countdown to Emergence

Impact Digital Media Championship
Brian Myers (C) def. Bhupinder Gujjar

Before the opening bell, Myers cut a promo dumping on Chicago. That was presumably to try and get the crowd behind Gujjar but it didn’t seem to work as the early faces through the door were pretty flat for this one.

As noted in my preview, Gujjar is still very much in the development phase of his career (this was just his 30th match), but he showed some good stuff here. Myers, meanwhile, was the veteran hand to guide him through a slightly longer match.

The finish was slightly awkward and does bring my rating down a notch. Gujjar went for an Honor Roll but got stuck halfway. Myers kicked out, forcing Gujjar into an exposed turnbuckle and allowing him to pick up a trunk-assisted roll-up victory. **1/2

Impact Knockouts World Tag Team Championship
VXT (Deonna Purrazzo & Chelsea Green) def. Ragnarok (C) (Rosemary & Taya Valkyrie) (w/Jessicka)

Boy, this was not good. Some of the action was fine, but a lot of it looked awkward and the timing was off – Rosemary and Chelsea Green are both visibly whiffing when going for a double kick knockdown spot, which is a prime example. In all honesty, it seemed as though they were wrestling underwater at various points.

I felt that the communication problems alluded to in the build-up would be a factor here. That proved right, Rosemary misted Taya by accident before getting put down by Purrazzo and Green with the double suplex. **

Impact Wrestling Emergence 2022

Impact X Division Championship
Mike Bailey (C) def. Jack Evans

Jack Evans is looking swole these days, huh?

You can notch this down as yet another very good X Division title match this year and another match to further Mike Bailey’s Wrestler of the Year case. There were a lot of kicks, a lot of slick counters and a tremendous showcase of athleticism from both guys.

I thought the finishing stretch here was sensational too. Bailey hulked up while getting stomped in the corner, only for Evans to slip out the backdoor to hit an Avalanche German Suplex. He couldn’t connect with the follow-up Moonsault though, Bailey rolling out the way before sealing victory with the Tornado Kick and Ultimo Weapon. ***3/4

Sami Callihan against Steve Maclin was supposed to be next but it never happened. Maclin jumped Callihan during the latter’s entrance, leading to some brawling on the outside. They both tried to use a chair in the ring and when the referee attempted to intervene, he got beaten down and Maclin and Callihan continued their brawling out of the ring, through the crowd and into the back. More on that later…

Eric Young & Deaner (w/Joe Doering) def. Chris Sabin & KUSHIDA

I think there’s a genuine case to be made for Deaner being the most improved worker on the Impact roster since the creation of Violent By Design. I never used to think he was up to much before but now, despite mostly being VBD’s pin-eater, he’s become a workhorse, consistently delivering good singles matches and thriving in tag settings.

The match itself was good fun. KUSHIDA seems to have a new lease of life since leaving the fed (where have we seen that before?), Chris Sabin is having an exceptional year, Deaner is good as mentioned above and Young seemed properly dialed in. All of that to some fun exchanges, particularly those where KUSHIDA slotted seamlessly into classic Motor City Machine Guns spots.

Involvement from Joe Doering on the outside in the finish seemed inevitable and that was what we got. Deaner tried to use the VBD flag, a move that distracted the referee and allowed Doering to push KUSHIDA off the top rope. That isolated Sabin, who Young put down for three with the Piledriver. ***1/2

Post-match, we got some promo time from Kenny King. He called out Heath for a fight ahead of the Honor No More vs. Bullet Club match later in the show. King then got distracted by the sight of Callihan and Maclin brawling in the crowd, allowing Heath to slide in the ring, hit the Wake Up Call and slide out again. Heath then got interviewed in the crowd by Gia Miller, reaffirming his commitment to going after Honor No More but noting that he wouldn’t get involved in the big 10-man. I must say, I’m all about this new gimmick for Heath. It’s great fun, he feels really interesting and it’s what the Frankie Kazarian Elite Hunter story should have been if it was booked properly. OH, BABY!

Bandido def. Rey Horus

Surprise, surprise, this was a banger.

Make no bones about it, this wasn’t some exhibition of great selling or storytelling, it was a spotfest. Billed as a special attraction match, it needed to be a showcase of the speed and athleticism of both guys, their smoothness in the ring and Bandido’s power offense. In just under 13 minutes, it filled that brief perfectly.

Bandido will now surely move towards the main event scene in Impact but I’d like them to keep Rey Horus around as well. I’m not sold on Impact’s ability to book lucha talent properly given where Laredo Kid and Black Taurus are but Horus would be a great addition to the X Division. Both he and Bandido should be on TV every week anyway, that’s for sure.  ****

No Disqualification Match
Sami Callihan def. Steve Maclin

After Bandido’s victory, cameras went backstage to reveal Callihan and Maclin still brawling, albeit now with Moose in tow. Their brawl spilled out into the ringside area before security, led by D’Lo Brown, broke it all up. Scott D’Amore then made his way out to announce that Callihan and Maclin would restart under No Disqualification rules.

What then transpired was a classic Sami brawl. There have been more bells and whistles in his matches since his return, which makes sense as he’s visibly still getting back to full fitness. There was nothing particularly memorable here, although Maclin finding new places to hit the Crosshair Spear in is always a highlight.

My rating is for the overall spectacle throughout the show rather than the bell-to-bell action, which ended when Callihan put Maclin down with the Cactus Driver 98 after tying his hands behind his back with cable ties. ***1/2

No Disqualification 10-Man Tag
Honor No More (Eddie Edwards, Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, PCO & Vincent) def. The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Ace Austin, Chris Bey & Hikuleo)

Although this was a fluid, 10-man tornado match featuring lots of weapons and a bunch of table spots I could do without seeing for a good few months, I liked that there was a story and thread to it.

Earlier in the show, Eddie Edwards cut a backstage promo saying that Doc Gallows was still not at 100% after his recent Street Fight with PCO and that he’d be the Bullet Club’s weak link. Gallows came to the ring with tape on his shoulder and would ultimately prove key to the match. He pushed PCO off a railing and through a table in the crowd but also went through a table himself due to a Swanton Bomb from Vincent. Gallows then buckled during a Magic Killer attempt, allowing Matt Taven and Mike Bennett to clear Karl Anderson from the ring and pin the big man after Taven hit The Climax on to a trash can.

So, Honor No More stay together and have title shots in their future. Meanwhile, this loss for the Bullet Club is likely to be the beginning of the Good Brothers move towards the Impact exit door. ***1/4

Impact Knockouts World Championship
Jordynne Grace (C) def. Mia Yim

I’ve got so much time for Mia Yim’s entrance. It’s got a cool vibe to it and the whole aesthetic of it makes her feel like a big-time act.

Coming in, I had relatively high hopes for this given the quality that both women can produce at their best. When the dust settled, those hopes were met and then some as these two combined to produce the best Knockouts title match in Impact this year.

It was physical, aggressive and smooth. The double inverted chinlock spot was innovative and fun, the running Powerbomb from Grace was fantastic and the Code Blue off the top rope from Mia Yim was nasty in all the right ways. In the end, Grace’s strength proved the difference-maker. She blocked an attempt at a second Tornado DDT from Yim, powering her into the corner before hitting a Muscle Buster. That Samoa Joe tribute wasn’t enough for the win but a Grace Driver moments later was. ***3/4

They went to shake hands post-match but before they could, Masha Slamovich hit the ring and marked out Grace as her next target. Sign me up for that one, please and thank you.

Impact World Championship
Josh Alexander (C) def. Alex Shelley

Stood across the ring from each other during David Penzer’s main event introductions, it was obvious that both of these guys wanted this match to matter. In the end, with almost 30 minutes to play with, it absolutely did matter and stands as my favorite match in Impact this year.

Alexander boasted a power advantage in the early going, perhaps best shown by a lovely Gory Special, but Shelley soon found an in and once he did, he exhibited the cerebral, gnarly veteran style that he’s come to perfect in the last couple of years. Throwing Josh’s headgear at him after it came off during an exchange was a nice touch.

Shelley’s offense focused on working over the champion’s left arm. Part of what made the limb work resonate with me so much were the small details; Shelley twisting the arm before attempting an Irish Whip and trapping the arm before hitting a Dragon Screw, for example. Alexander sold it brilliantly too, unable to get the purchase needed for a Styles Clash and then unable to lock the second arm for the C4 Spike.

From there, the match worked into a pattern. Alexander would have repeated success but whenever he attempted to lead with the left hand, Shelley would time it and counter him.

Given that they made a point of documenting that this was the first World title match of Shelley’s entire career, it was necessary for the importance of the occasion to be reflected in his actions and body language. As you’d expect for such a consummate pro, it was, particularly in his facial expressions. When Alexander reversed a pin into an Ankle Lock attempt and rolled Shelley up after he hit Shellshock, Shelley looked exasperated, as though he’d blown his golden opportunity.

Those moments, as well as Alexander countering Sliced Bread into a twisting Tombstone Piledriver, also played into the story that Shelley was the main inspiration for Alexander getting into wrestling – the champion knew his greatest hits, knew what was coming and always had an answer. After both men tried and failed repeatedly to cinch in their patented submission holds, Alexander turned to that well of inspiration to seal victory. A Shellshock of his own stunned Shelley and then a C4 Spike through the pain was Goodnight Vienna.

As X Division champion, all of Josh’s title defenses had a theme and he’s following that trajectory as World Champion. Moose was the personal rivalry, Tomohiro Ishii was the international challenge, Eric Young was a trip into Impact’s past and Joe Doering was the video game boss. Shelley was his technical equal, a man just as dogged and determined but one whose best wasn’t quite good enough.

I imagine that this won’t be to everyone’s liking as it was worked in a slower, more methodical style and perhaps my rating is a product of expectations and confirmation bias. That said, I thought this was very special and a match worth going out of your way to see. ****3/4

Final Thoughts

Impact’s monthly specials have become what the NXT Takeovers used to be – the safest bets in wrestling. From my point of view, the main event is a must-watch and a definite Match of the Year contender, while Bandido v Rey Horus, Jordynne Grace v Mia Yim and Mike Bailey v Jack Evans were all notebook worthy or not far off. At just under three hours the show was an absolute breeze and it feels like Impact are building very well for the final third of the year.