March 24, 2023
St. Clair College
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Impact Wrestling returned to Canada for the first time in over three years this past Friday (March 24) for Sacrifice. In the main event of what was a rejigged show, Time Machine faced off against Steve Maclin, Frankie Kazarian and Rich Swann in trios action.
Countdown to Sacrifice
Eddie Edwards def. Bhupinder Gujjar
Not the strongest start to the night, this one.
The match was structured well for Gujjar to show some good babyface fire before getting cut off by the more experienced heel. However, he felt like he was wrestling underwater in the first couple of minutes, with his slow movements leading to some awkward entanglements that really jarred.
It got better as it went on, and Edwards worked hard, but this wasn’t either man’s best work. **
Countdown to Sacrifice
Rosemary (w/Jessicka) def. Kilynn King (w/Taylor Wilde)
I must confess that I watched this on mute. Not because of other stuff going on but rather because I couldn’t take any more of Matthew Rehwoldt’s commentary after he said that Taylor Wilde was “literally testing the winds of change with her tarot cards.”
Like the Wild Rover, I say no, nay, never.
That aside, this was pretty good. Rosemary looked as good as she has in ages, while King projected real star potential. I wouldn’t have had King lose but it sets up a rematch for the tag titles which she and Wilde likely win. ***
Mike Bailey def. Jonathan Gresham
If you give two excellent pro wrestlers like these two 20 minutes to work with, you’re almost certainly going to get something good. Spoiler alert, this was really good.
After showing that they were equally matched early on, their pretense of competitive friendship was shattered when Bailey perceived that Gresham had held on to a submission too long following a rope break.
From there, Gresham worked extensively over Bailey’s left leg. Limb work can become really dull, but Gresham’s is so good because he mixes in a variety of offences like shooting single leg takedowns to keep Bailey off-balance or faking high and then throwing forearms to the thigh.
In the end, though, Gresham’s singular focus on the leg cost him. A gnarly knee breaker on the apron hurt Bailey, but it also affected Gresham, and that meant that when Bailey reversed a figure four leg lock attempt moments later, Gresham had to make the immediate tap.
Not the match or the finish I expected, but certainly something well worth your time. ****
Impact Wrestling Digital Media Championship
Joe Hendry (C) def. Brian Myers
Santino Marella banned Moose from ringside, meaning that for the first time since his Impact return last year, Joe Hendry’s match on a live special was entirely clean.
What ultimately transpired, after a middling pre-match promo from Hendry that didn’t land with me, was the definition of two professional wrestlers having a professional wrestling match.
I liked the finish, with Hendry following up a catching Cutter with a rebound Standing Ovation. It felt dramatic and decisive, indicative that this feud is over and the longest Digital Media title reign can continue. Joe, I still believe. ***
Deonna Purrazzo def. Gisele Shaw (w/Jai Vidal & Savannah Evans)
Before this match, the current Knockouts title situation was explained. Mickie James had a rib injury and, therefore, couldn’t compete at Sacrifice. Jordynne Grace, the scheduled challenger, now gets her shot at Rebellion next month. James was also scheduled to defend the title in a four-way at Multiverse United, but that match will now be a four-way contender’s match, with Masha Slamovich replacing James. If Mickie James is cleared for Rebellion, she’ll defend the title in a three-way against Grace and the winner of the four-way. Grace will fight the Multiverse match winner for the vacated title if she’s not cleared.
As for Purrazzo and Shaw, both of whom are in that Multiverse four-way, they delivered a good, solid match here that told a simple story of the valiant babyface overcoming the odds on the outside and beating her rival decisively in the middle of the ring. ***
The Canadian audience responded strongly to Shaw, which was pleasing to see, and it’s remarkable how much she’s come on since arriving in the promotion. Her projection, confidence, and moment-to-moment work in the ring is all miles above what it was this time last year.
Post-match, Savannah Evans tried to jump Purrazzo. She was cut off by a returning Tasha Steelz, who attacked her former partner and cleared the ring of Jai Vidal to stand tall to a big pop.
PCO def. Kenny King (w/Eddie Edwards)
To quote Ted Hastings from British crime drama Line of Duty, God give me strength.
The standard PCO match formula of him being beaten down, taking stupid, risky bumps, and then hulking up and making the comeback is fairly tiring and the novelty has definitely worn off.
That meant, as I alluded to in my preview, I was looking for something different. We definitely got different, in that it was full of hokey shtick and stupidity, and I hated it.
PCO diving to no one on the outside because his wiring is short-circuiting? Eddie Edwards faffing about with a chair and a kendo stick, and the referee being blind to it all? Woeful stuff. *
Impact Wrestling X-Division Championship
Trey Miguel (C) def. Lince Dorado
Without watching it, I can tell you that you’ve definitely seen this match before. Picture two flippy guys doing a mirror sequence early on before breaking out into doing the cool things in their arsenals, and then one guy winning clean. Sound familiar?
That tested formula doesn’t mean this wasn’t good, though. In fact, I liked it and thought that Lince Dorado looked as good as I’ve seen him in years in what was his Impact return.
The finish, a pin from Miguel after a spike hurricanrana in the middle of the ring, seemed a bit abrupt and drops my rating down a bit, but this was solid. ***1/4
Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
A-B-C (Ace Austin & Chris Bey) (C) def. TMDK (Shane Haste & Bad Dude Tito)
Although there wasn’t much of an in-canon story coming into this match, these guys told a good one between the ropes. That story was of Tito and Haste having a distinct size advantage, which allowed them to isolate the champs and inflict real damage when they were on offense.
Unlike you’d see in other promotions, however, this wasn’t presented as some banana peel win for the smaller wrestlers. Instead, Austin and Bey had to use the speed, guile, and ever-improving tag team chemistry that won them the titles to come out on top. ***1/2
This was super competitive and really amped up my expectations for the four-way title match at Multiverse United. Also, Scott D’Amore, can we have more Bad Dude Tito in Impact, please he’s the best. ***1/2
Busted Open Match
Bully Ray def. Tommy Dreamer
When I was first looking into becoming a journalist, one of the best pieces of advice I received was that when reviewing something, you should always review what you see rather than what you want to see. Your review should focus on the factual pros and cons of what the subject offers rather than how you might have staged or mapped it differently.
It’s not always easy to make that distinction when reviewing pro wrestling, particularly where everyone indulges in fantasy booking and conceives how things should be done. I tried with this one, looking past my pre-match concerns and putting my phone away to ensure that this got my undivided attention.
I can safely say that what I did see sucked and has easily surpassed Bray Wyatt and LA Knight’s mess at the Royal Rumble as the worst match I’ll see this year.
This officially ran for 11 minutes, but it felt like 11 hours, and I genuinely don’t know if there was a single moment of it that I even mildly liked.
It started with a plodding walk and brawl, there was a ref bump and no replacement official to see that Bully Ray bled for half of what was a First Blood match and still won.
The interference from the Good Hands and the weaponry usage was what you’d expect. The commentary tried to sell the history of the cheese grater in previous matches between these two. That’s absolutely fine, it gives them something to build around. But seriously, at least take the shop label off the grater before you let them use it for goodness sake.
The bleeding and the ref bump were the most egregious bits of this, as they completely ruined the suspension of disbelief needed to enjoy watching two 50-somethings wail away at each other possibly. Well, that and the closing stretch that saw Bully Ray talk Dreamer out of putting him away by talking about his daughters and then low-blowing Dreamer and leaving the freshly awoken ref to spot him and call the bell.
Rarely have I watched wrestling matches that have made me question my entire enjoyment of pro wrestling, but this did that. No amount of post-match angles involving former NHL players or Scott D’Amore hitting Canadian Destroyers can redeem how absolutely atrocious this was.
Part of me wants to say that I’d like to know who enjoyed a match like this. I don’t really though, as I suspect we wouldn’t get on. DUD.
Time Machine (KUSHIDA, Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley) def. Steve Maclin, Frankie Kazarian and Rich Swann
Truth be told, I found it very hard to get invested in this after sitting the absolute dross that was the previous match. What I did see was very good, and I thought it told a solid story in the circumstances, but I know others will have appreciated this far more than I did.
Time Machine, the more established trio, flowed as a team much more than Maclin, Kazarian, and Swann on the other side. They got across the lack of trust between Maclin and his teammates and the fact that Kazarian and Swann would rather have been teaming with the now-injured Josh Alexander.
For an on-the-fly change, they also did a good job down the stretch with Kushida and Maclin’s interactions. Maclin tapped super quickly to the Hoverboard Lock, which can and will be a storyline device – was there a weakness to the arm, or did he just opt for self-preservation and live to fight another day?
I like all six guys here, and I’m very glad that Sabin and Shelley have signed new contracts with Impact, but this just didn’t hit me as I’d hoped. I’m blaming Tommy and Bully, though. ***1/2
Impact Wrestling’s first Canadian show in three years ended up being one of their weakest live shows in a long time. The opener and the main event were good, as was the tag title match, but there’s nothing on here that I could class as essential viewing.
That’s because I can’t, in good conscience, recommend watching a show that featured the runaway worst match of the year and another bout between PCO and Kenny King that I thought was embarrassing. I recently wrote that Impact Wrestling needed a course correction. The injuries affecting their top champs are far from ideal but boy, is that correction now needed more than ever.