Under Siege 2023
May 26, 2023
Western Fair District Agriplex
London, Ontario, Canada
On a busy pro wrestling weekend, Impact Wrestling debuted in London, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, May 26th, with Under Siege. Headlining the event at the Western Fair District Agriplex, was Steve Maclin defending the Impact World Championship in a No DQ match against PCO.
Countdown to Under Siege
Courtney Rush & Jessicka def. The Coven (KiLynn King & Taylor Wilde)
For the first time in her seven years with Impact, Rosemary wrestled under her old SHIMMER name of Courtney Rush on this show. I can’t say that did a lot for me but I’m sure that’s a cool thing for some people.
The match didn’t do much for me either. It wasn’t bad but it just never got out of first gear before Rush tapped out Wilde with a Sharpshooter to presumably set up a tag title challenge for this new version of the Death Dollz at Against All Odds in two weeks. **1/4
Countdown to Under Siege
Impact Wrestling Digital Media Championship
Joe Hendry (C) def. Dirty Dango by DQ
I was left bereft as far as custom entrance music goes, but Joe Hendry’s pre-match promo was good here. His jokes landed, his promo was focused, and the crowd was into it. As an established believer, you can’t ask for much more.
The match itself was more angle than anything, as after a few minutes of Hendry power spots and Dango working over Hendry’s arm, Dango threw a deliberate low blow and got DQ’d. He then tried to beat Hendry down post-match but was run off by a returning Santino Marella. **
Nick Aldis def. Kenny King (w/Sheldon Jean)
As you would expect, this was a fine exhibition of solid professional wrestling by two professional wrestlers.
The work was fine, and the story they told was simple, paint-by-numbers stuff, with Aldis overcoming the numbers disadvantage before getting his big stuff in and sealing victory with the King’s Lynn Cloverleaf. My main issue was that the match lacked any real sense of urgency, which is not what you want to open the show. **3/4
Post-match, the camera panned onto Killer Kelly and Masha Slamovich brawling around the arena. That segment ended with Kelly choking out Slamovich in the middle of the ring with a chain. While I’d still love those two to be a tag team, as I think it’s the only thing that would make me care about those belts, a full singles feud between them should be great.
Sami Callihan, Rich Swann & Jake Crist def. The Design (Deaner, Angels & Kon)
I found it strange that they had Jake Crist, the TBA on Sami Callihan’s team, come out with Callihan and Swann during their entrance as though he was already announced. I’m not saying that the people of London, Ontario would have lost their minds for him otherwise, but surely you try and retain the element of surprise by having him come out separately?
The 10 minutes of action we got after that peculiar entrance was fun, bringing much more energy than the opener. There wasn’t a ton of structure to it, but it was entertaining, and I was pleased to see Kon presented as a proper monster and Swann getting a sneaky win.
The match also affirmed my belief that at this point in his career, Sami Callihan offers most value to Impact as a tag guy. I don’t know if they’ll earnestly go down that road, but a duo of him and Swann or him and Crist could be a lot of fun. ***1/4
Trinity def. Gisele Shaw (w/Savannah Evans & Jai Vidal)
In my preview, I noted that this match and Nick Aldis’ were carbon copies of the same storyline. As it was, the matches we got followed a very similar structure with the babyface having to overcome the numbers game.
However, this match had a lot more crowd investment and far more energy to it than the opener. For example, Trinity leapfrogged Savannah Evans on the outside to take down Shaw with a Lou Thesz Press. That’s what I want to see!
The in-ring work wasn’t as smooth as the opener, though, and the finish, which saw Trinity transition awkwardly from a very clumsy Code Red into a Rings of Saturn variation, was downright ugly. Still, effort goes a long way. ***
Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Championships
The ABC (Ace Austin & Chris Bey) (C) def. Subculture (Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster) (w/Dani Luna)
I very much hope that Impact will get Subculture under contract because this match was great and was a hell of a way to make their promotional debut.
The Welsh duo showed off some great tag offense and played their roles perfectly, Flash Morgan Webster as the face-in-peril and Mark Andrews as the returning name coming off the hot tag. Energy might be the buzzword of this review and those two brought it in spades.
I know I’m an ABC mark, but how polished they’ve become is remarkable. That goes from the small stuff, like Ace Austin tagging in as Chris Bey launched into a Plancha to the outside, to how slick their tag team finisher, the pop-up Ultimate Finesser followed by The Fold, looked. ****
Impact Wrestling X-Division Championship
Trey Miguel (C) def. Chris Sabin
My rating here is ultimately the result of my pre-match expectations. I was waiting, willing, wanting to be blown away, and I just wasn’t.
Part of that was because of the incredibly overbooked finish that featured a ref bump, a visual pin, and Miguel using the spray paint. I get that it’s all part of Miguel’s gimmick, but I’ve always hated finishes like that, and I always will.
The crux of the match before the finish was great, with Sabin’s offense crisp and his movements as smooth as they’ve ever been, but it also felt like they were both consciously working within themselves. When we got the finish we did, it made sense, and does leave a lot of meat on the bone for the eventual rematch. ***
Six-man scramble to determine the No #1 Contender to the Impact Wrestling World Championship
Alex Shelley def. Moose, Jonathan Gresham, Yuya Uemura, Eddie Edwards & Frankie Kazarian
On the never-ending spectrum of scramble matches, this was certainly one of the better ones. Much like the six-man tag match earlier in the show, it was just unadulterated chaos with lots of moves and spots with limited connective tissue in between but it was an enjoyable watch.
Moose was the star of the match for me. Watching him throw Jonathan Gresham around was a lot of fun, and I popped big time for him breaking up the classic Tower of Doom spot. Instead of helping Eddie Edwards, he just pump-kicked him in the face and then attacked the other four guys tangled up in the ropes.
Edwards and Frankie Kazarian continued to sow seeds for a Slammiversary program, and Yuya Uemura got a nice bit of shine here. However, the man on excursion ate the pin as expected after a nasty-looking Shellshock from Alex Shelley. Shelley now moves on to Against All Odds in two weeks to challenge for the title. ***1/2
Impact Wrestling Knockouts World Championship
Deonna Purrazzo (C) def. Jordynne Grace
Earlier in the show, Jordynne Grace cut a good promo to hype up the stipulation attached to the match that would prevent her challenging Purrazzo again if she lost. She spoke about how another defeat would mean she definitely wasn’t ready to carry the division, carry the company, or be recognized as the best in the world.
All that set the stall for her to deliver a performance that screamed desperation. A desperation to finally beat the woman she’d never beaten one-on-one in the promotion. A desperation to become a three-time champion and win back the belt she feels she should never have lost (Mickie James’ phantom tap at Hard to Kill). A desperation to put herself on the world stage as one of the very best. Sadly, that desperation never really came through.
They built the match around the sort of spots that could show off that desperation, notably with Grace reversing and kicking out of the Queen’s Gambit piledriver that’s put her away in the past. But her mannerisms and facial expressions, as have too often been her downfall with me, were devoid of the requisite drama or stakes to make you think she would win.
None of that is to say the match wasn’t good, because I thought it was. It just felt like it could have been better by the time Purrazzo put her away with the Avalanche Queen’s Gambit. ***3/4
No DQ Match for the Impact Wrestling World Championship
Steve Maclin (C) def. PCO
When it comes to late December and Match of the Year conversations pick up steam, much of my thought and decision-making processes are devoted to the matches that I remember the most. I’ve always felt that those conversations should be more strongly based on the most impactful stuff from a given calendar year rather than something that you rated ****1/2 in real time because it was technically great but you couldn’t name a single spot from if pushed.
Viewed through that lens, this Steve Maclin/PCO match will be in my thinking in December because there were visuals and spots from this match that I’ll remember for a long time.
In my Under Siege preview, I said I thought this main event would be fun, if nothing else. I’m not sure fun is the right word to describe the morbid curiosity of seeing how much blood a man can lose, but that’s what this visceral spectacle was after Maclin got busted open hard way early on.
The unintentional gallons of blood fed into the story I presume they always wanted to tell of PCO being this monster that wouldn’t die and Maclin being this intensely focused killer, phased by nothing and driven by the sole goal of retaining his title by any means necessary.
No better evidence of that story were the spots that first saw Maclin crack two concrete slabs over PCO’s back with a sledgehammer and then shoot staple his mouth shut. Watching PCO pull the staples out with a pair of pliers gave you a level of shock, awe, and disgust that most plunder matches in major companies (not the shindie wastelands that indulge in this stuff) never do.
PCO’s movement between certain spots wasn’t great, but it didn’t need to be here because he bumped like a madman as always and played his part to perfection. As for Maclin, he felt like a STAR by the end of it, and the visual of him, drenched in pints of his own plasma, grinning maniacally as Scott D’Amore strapped the title belt around his waist was fantastic.
With all that said, can I sit here and tell you it was a great match? No. Would I even call it a good match? I don’t know. I truthfully have not had this hard a time star rating a match in a long time, and I won’t in this review because nothing feels right or appropriate.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) May 27, 2023
After strapping him up as promised, Impact President D’Amore then offered Maclin a handshake. Maclin refused, and moments later D’Amore was choked out by the returning Bully Ray. Matthew Rehwoldt, the Motor City Machine Guns, and PCO all tried to stop Maclin and Ray’s beatdown of D’Amore, but they were run off. The show eventually ended with Tom Hannifan on commentary calling Maclin and Ray “absolute bastards” as they put D’Amore through a burning table.
That was certainly a way to close the show. It got heat, that’s for sure, and I liked that, for once, multiple other babyfaces tried to come out and help the good guy. In a vacuum, this angle probably works.
We’re not in a vacuum, though. We’ve just done a six-month Bully Ray run that a) burned off any goodwill I might have and b) did more or less all you could with him. He came in, got a title shot, turned heel, and got his comeuppance. He then got his comeuppance again at the next PPV after a lengthy feud with Tommy Dreamer that saw D’Amore get involved and hit a Canadian Destroyer on one of Ray’s boys.
After that, if you feel compelled to keep using Bully Ray, it’s for one of two reasons. It’s either to put over younger talent in a singles program, or it’s to put over a younger tag team, like the Good Hands, by managing them. Running back the same fight with the promoter angle he’s done for the last decade and affirming Scott D’Amore’s transition into this Bill Watts-type figure is neither of those things.
This is obviously building towards Scott D’Amore coming out of retirement to face Bully Ray at Slammiversary in a match that’ll pop his hometown crowd in Windsor and perhaps put a few extra bums on seats. Besides massaging both of their egos, though, who else is it helping?
Is this all supposed to help Maclin generate more heat and make him this mega heel? Maybe but I think he was doing a perfectly fine job on his own, and they could have just let the benefits of that main event with PCO marinate. What’s far more likely is him getting sucked into the Ray vortex in the way Mickie James did earlier in the year.
Is it supposed to be the fuel required to make Nick Aldis the big babyface hero? Or is it to give some juice and enthusiasm to Mike Bailey returning from Best of the Super Juniors and looking to avenge the attack on the man who got him out of the wilderness? Or is it all for the eventual return of Josh Alexander, whenever that might be?
Time will tell, but I’m not sure it’s for anyone other than D’Amore and Ray. Perhaps it would all jar less if it was someone other than Bully Ray involved. Perhaps it would enthuse me more if there weren’t two on-air babyface authority figures who ON THE SAME SHOW went into programs where the seeming end result is putting them, and not members of the core roster, over.
Honestly, what are we doing here?
Aside from the closing angle, Under Siege was a solid show from Impact. It never peaked super high, but the floor of the main show was above average, and it laid a lot of building blocks for the next big PPV, Slammiversary, in July. In terms of must-see stuff, check out the main event as it’s a spectacle if nothing else, and also the tag title match.