No Surrender 2023
February 24, 2023
Sam’s Town Live
Las Vegas, Nevada
Impact Wrestling returned to Sam’s Town Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada this past Friday night (February 24) for their latest live special, No Surrender. In the main event, Josh Alexander defended his Impact World Championship against Rich Swann.
Countdown to No Surrender
Gisele Shaw (w/Jai Vidal) def. Deonna Purrazzo
After I spent a recent column getting excited about the Impact hard cam moving to focus on the crowd, we were back to facing the video board here. Some wide angle shots later in the night showed that they’d pulled a good crowd, so switching it back to the old view was a weird move.
This was trending towards being a three-star, two professional wrestlers having a professional wrestling match affair until we got a very TV finish. Jai Vidal distracted Deonna Purrazzo and the referee, allowing Savannah Evans to hit the ring and take Purrazzo down with a sort of chokeslam. Shaw then hit the Denouement knee strike and it was goodnight Vienna. **1/2
If Tasha Steelz is done for the next little while, it makes sense to pair Shaw and Evans up. It gives them a fresh tag team to work with and will help with establishing Shaw as a top heel.
Countdown to No Surrender
Jonathan Gresham def. Mike Bailey
Since Mike Bailey returned to the US and began working everywhere, one of the main criticisms of him has been his selling. With a kick-heavy style, his legs get worked over a lot and the feeling is that he doesn’t really show off the damage that might have been inflicted.
Gresham worked heavily on his left leg here and while I’m not a selling fetishist by any stretch of the imagination, I did find myself noticing what Bailey was and wasn’t doing a lot more here. By and large I thought Bailey did a good job but then he’d get into a strike sequence where he’d exclusively use the leg that’d been worked over – surely it’d have more sense for him to use that as the plant leg and then kick with the other?
That, and a couple of slightly clunky moments down the stretch aside, this was a lot of fun. Gresham eventually snuck out the win with a pinning combination and there’s a lot more meat on the bone for these two to go at it again. ***1/4
Frankie Kazarian def. Kon (w/ Deaner, Angels & Callihan)
This was Kon’s first singles match on a live show like this. That’s not hugely surprising given that his most notable work has been as a tag guy but after seeing this, I can’t imagine he’ll have too many more.
Kazarian worked hard here and tried to bring some intensity but Kon was fairly plodding and that ultimately meant that the match felt dull and not that interesting. The finish didn’t help matters either as it was all story-driven. Callihan tried to get involved with a steel chair but ended up hitting Kon, allowing Kazarian to yank him in for the cutter. **1/4
It was worth noting that Santino Marella was on commentary for this one, talking about Kazarian being his first acquisition. It might transpire to mean nothing but it seemed significant in real time.
Impact Wrestling Knockouts World Tag Team Championship
The Death Dollz (Taya Valkyrie & Jessicka) (w/Rosemary) (C) def. The Hex (Allysin Kay & Marti Belle)
I had some audio issues during this one, so the people of Sam’s Town might have loved this for all I know, but I thought this sucked.
It wasn’t that the work was bad per se but it was just boring. The interactions between Taya Valkyrie and Allysin Kay weren’t too bad but Jessicka and Marti Belle are pretty limited as workers and when the match is built around a Jessicka hot tag, it’s not going to be for me.
The formation of a new team on the pre-show pre-empted that the faces would retain here and that’s what happened, Jessicka planting Belle with a driver. **
Dot Combat Match for the Impact Wrestling Digital Media Championship
Joe Hendry (C) def. Moose
I’m probably on Sinclair Island with this but I thought this was a lot of fun and it was exactly the pick me up this show needed after two dull opening matches.
It was hugely corny for the most part and I know that means that some people will hate it but it was a rare instance of a comedic match landing with me. The use of a gaming chair and the toy cars were silly but popped me, while the introduction of the VR headset that led to the return of Dancing Moose was a fun callback spot.
We do need to have a conversation about using a Dreamcast as a weapon though – as a contracted SEGA employee, I’m not sure how I feel about our machinery being used in that way. That aside, I really vibed with this and thought it was a laugh. ***1/2
Afterwards, we were treated to the first-ever Busted Open Radio live segment with Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer. Although I do identify as a completist, I unfortunately had better things to do than subject myself to more of the worst thing in Impact right now. Anyway, as I’m sure you can all imagine, it ended with Bully Ray laying out Tommy Dreamer and Dave LaGreca.
Four-way to determine the No #1 Contender for the Impact World Championship
Steve Maclin def. Heath, PCO and Brian Myers
On this week’s Flagship, Joe and Rich noted that the phrase ‘aggressively fine’ had drifted out of common parlance and needed to make a comeback. I’m onboard with that because that’s exactly what this match was.
You’ll have seen better four-ways than this and you’ll definitely have seen worse. PCO was the focus of the match, getting attacked early on, doing a lot of his big crash and burn spots and then being taken out by a shovel-wielding Eddie Edwards (as predicted) to set up the finish.
Steve Maclin, who looked legitimately hampered by a leg issue at the end, pinned Heath with the lifting DDT after Heath had hit his Wake Up Call finisher on Brian Myers. As I said, aggressively fine. ***
Post-match, Trey Miguel came out to moan about not being on the show. The X-Division champion had a great match with Crazzy Steve on the previous night’s TV but he cut a promo here that said his legacy was being affected by old guys like PCO getting more screen time than him. That ultimately led to PCO laying him out with a chokeslam on the apron and a big lariat.
I really disliked the post-match angle. I understand that they wanted to get some heat back on PCO but there are other low-level heels on the roster they could have done this with rather than punking out the X-Division champion. It’s about presentation with champions and here they made him look like a clown.
Bullet Club (Kenta, Ace Austin & Chris Bey) def. Time Machine (Kushida, Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin)
Something that bothered me about No Surrender all night but was particularly apparent in a match like this that went longer and involved more athletic, bouncy guys was that the ring squeaked. I don’t know what the issue was but it was really off-putting.
That aside, this match was a clear indication of business picking up. At just shy of 20 minutes this was probably a bit too long but it was well-worked and all six guys got a good opportunity to shine. They also told a good story. Time Machine, the more established trio, had much more of a flow to their offense but the Bullet Club team meshed as it went on and eventually found an opportunity to capitalize on for victory.
The finish was good as it kept KUSHIDA’s nose clean and finally gave Austin and Bey a win over the Guns. It’s still not in a two-versus-two setting but it sets up a future title match and what should be a cool moment. ***1/2
Impact Wrestling Knockouts World Championship
Mickie James (C) def. Masha Slamovich
The pre-match video package for this focused so much on the eventual return match between Mickie James and Jordynne Grace that Masha Slamovich felt like an afterthought before the bell even rang. Combining that with the match structure being more 50/50 than I’d expected means this didn’t quite hit the level I thought or hoped it would.
It was still good though and there were a couple of really visceral spots here that really clicked. The first was when James bit Slamovich’s tongue as Slamovich licked her face (yes, I was definitely watching wrestling). The other was when James tried to roll through the ropes to break a choke hold but Slamovich held on and sunk it in further.
They both gave the match an intensity that the pre-match video had taken out and the finish, which saw James reverse a monkey flip attempt into a pinfall, kept Slamovich relatively strong. Still, after three title match losses in four live events, I’m interested to see how they book her moving forward. ***1/2
Impact Wrestling World Championship
Josh Alexander (C) def. Rich Swann
As one promotion seeks desperately to promote and preserve a long title reign that’s not been particularly good or historic, more people need to start acknowledging the brilliant job Impact Wrestling and Josh Alexander have done over the last 10 months.
Brilliant defense followed by brilliant defense, Alexander’s reign has been excellent. He’s worked with a variety of opponents and told a plethora of interesting stories without needing to cut mid-match diatribes to get everyone up to speed. Most importantly, all of his title matches have been memorable.
Comparison is the thief of joy so I’ll stop the Reigns bashing there but Alexander has been sensational as Impact World Champion and this latest defense against Rich Swann is yet another notch on his remarkable resume.
The story was of a battle between good friends, two men who’d bonded over absent fathers and the joy of fatherhood. It was about Swann trying to cycle back to the top of the mountain after two years out of the spotlight and Alexander inadvertently lighting a fire in his opponent with one offhand comment.
Swann showed real emotion here, not wrestling as Alexander’s friend but wrestling as his equal. He refused a handshake at the start, slapped Alexander around the face and when opportunities arose, he took them – instead of letting Alexander put his headgear back on after it popped off, Swann took the chance to lay in more slaps to his surgically-repaired ear.
Alexander thrived here too in one of the rare occasions where he was the de facto heel. The falling body slam on the apron was brutal, the sliding crossbody as Swann attempted a handspring nasty, the slaps to the face of a kneeling Swann visceral.
If they’d kept this a couple of minutes shorter, we’re talking ****1/2 or maybe more. As it is, my rating comes in just below that. Make no mistake, though, this was very good and well worth your time.
Rich Swann, in his first main event in almost two years, delivered big time. As for Josh Alexander, I’ve run out of superlatives for him. He’s my favorite wrestler in the world and he should be one of yours too. ****1/4
No Surrender was a somewhat middling event saved by three good matches to end the show. I’d recommend you check out the last three matches but if you’re pushed for time, just focus on the main event and you won’t be disappointed. Next up for Impact is their first trip to Canada in three years, which I’m very, very excited for.