Impact Wrestling
Against All Odds 2023
June 9, 2023
Ohio Expo Center
Columbus, Ohio

Watch: FITE

Two weeks after their last event, Impact Wrestling is back on the road again. Emanating live from the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds in Columbus, Against All Odds is headlined by Steve Maclin making the third defense of his Impact World Championship against Alex Shelley.

Against All Odds is a pretty solid show on paper for what’s effectively a two-week build. The individual stories in the main event are really compelling and should set the tone for some big programs over the coming months. There are also other matches that should deliver big time, but amongst that, there are some big logic gaps in the booking that annoy me.

Trinity & Deonna Purrazzo vs. Gisele Shaw & Savannah Evans (w/Jai Vidal)

At next month’s Slammiversary, Trinity will challenge Deonna Purrazzo for the Impact Wrestling Knockouts World Championship. Here, in something of a preview for that match, they team up to take on the heel duo of Gisele Shaw and Savannah Evans.

In my head, this should just be a simple victory for the babyfaces against the heel team that jumped them on TV. However, I’ve got this nagging worry that Impact is going to work a ‘can they co-exist’ angle with Trinity and Purrazzo, leading to Shaw getting the pin for her team and making the Slammiversary title match a three-way.

I sincerely hope they don’t do that, as Trinity against Purrazzo is the biggest match Impact can make in the Knockouts division and they should just go for it, but the doubt is there. Prediction: Trinity and Deonna Purrazzo

Frankie Kazarian vs. Eddie Edwards (w/Alisha Edwards)

I had no idea that Frankie Kazarian and Eddie Edwards were both trained by Killer Kowalski until Tom Hannifan mentioned it on commentary a couple of weeks ago.

That shared background is at the core of this match, with Kazarian taking exception to Edwards’ attitude and calling him a poor locker room leader because of the disrespect he’s shown to younger guys like Yuya Uemura.

While I remain convinced that the eventual plan for Kazarian is a heel turn, with him becoming the old guy taking a spot at younger talent’s expense that made him leave the promotion a decade ago in the process, I doubt that happens here.

In fact, I doubt this is a one-and-done thing between these two and instead suspect they run it back at Slammiversary. They can go either way to make that happen but I’ll lean towards a Kazarian victory here. Prediction: Frankie Kazarian

Ohio Street Fight
oVe (Sami Callihan, Jake Crist & Madman Fulton) vs. The Design (Deaner, Angels & Kon)

Sami Callihan has been involved in a program with The Design for eight months now, but it continues this Friday with this six-man tag featuring Madman Fulton’s first Impact appearance since he lost to Josh Alexander in 100 seconds last March.

My initial assumption was that the final blow-off to this feud was going to be some sort of hardcore match between Callihan and Deaner at Slammiversary. That might still happen, but the Street Fight stipulation here gives me pause for thought, as does the fact this show is happening in Callihan’s backyard in Ohio.

I’d quite like both sides to pivot into the tag title picture to freshen that scene up but if we are building to a final singles blow-off between the group leaders, The Design has to win here to give this whole thing a bit more juice and interest. Prediction: The Design

Dog Collar Match
Killer Kelly vs. Masha Slamovich

The video segment announcing this match last week made me think Impact had pivoted into the customs business. It was certainly *tugs collar* something.

I’ve seen these two wrestle twice in singles matches before, once in Impact and once in Prestige, and both were good. Even if they never felt like they hit top gear, they displayed decent chemistry. That bodes well for what I believe is the first-ever Women’s Dog Collar match.

Given how she’s been booked previously, they need to put Killer Kelly over here. Whether that means she moves into the Knockouts title picture post-Slammiversary or her and Slamovich form some tag team borne in blood I don’t know, but it should be fun. Prediction: Killer Kelly

8-4-1 Match to determine the No #1 Contender to the Impact World Championship
Bully Ray, Jonathan Gresham, Nick Aldis & Heath v Mike Bailey, Moose, PCO & Rich Swann

Two weeks ago, Bully Ray put his boss through a burning table. Now, with seemingly no punishment for his actions, he’s two matches away from securing another Impact World title shot and headlining one of the promotion’s biggest shows of the year. Someone make it make sense, please. 

The match concept is quite simple. It starts as an eight-man tag, with the winning team then immediately transitioning into a four-way scramble. The winner of that scramble will be declared the new number-one contender.

There are two potential winners here. One is Mike Bailey, who is obviously coming in hot from his stellar Best of the Super Juniors run. The other is Nick Aldis and I think it’s the Brit that’s the move for now. Prediction: Nick Aldis

Impact Wrestling Digital Media Championship
Joe Hendry (C) vs. Dirty Dango

Dirty Dango challenged for Joe Hendry’s Digital Media title at Under Siege two weeks ago, only to get himself deliberately disqualified by hitting a low blow on the champion in full sight of the referee. Santino Marella, the second on-air authority figure to have been attacked by one of his employees, made the save on that night, but as he doesn’t want to get back in the ring, Hendry is fighting Dango again on his behalf.

Not the world’s best story, granted, but on paper, it’s simple enough and makes some sense. Or it would if Hendry wasn’t defending the title again. Why is Dango getting another crack after the finish last time? He wasn’t the wronged party, so why isn’t this a non-title match?

Come on, guys, I’m not asking for gold, frankincense, or myrrh out here. I just want some logic in my wrestling booking. Prediction: Joe Hendry

Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Championships
ABC (Ace Austin & Chris Bey) (C) vs. The Good Hands (John Skyler & Jason Hotch) (w/Brian Myers)

If we’re consigning things to a Room 101, I’d like to volunteer singles matches between tag team wrestlers to preview or set up tag team title matches for the chop. It’s lazy, repetitive, and it’s done by EVERYONE. Just do something else.

My case in point is the build for this match. Jason Hotch got an interference-assisted win over Ace Austin a few weeks ago. His first singles win in Impact should have felt like a big deal and should have been enough to set up a title challenge on a show like this, particularly with Brian Myers and John Skyler acting as his mouthpieces.

Instead of leaving it there and letting some promos marinate things, they had Chris Bey beat John Skyler the next week and subsequently beat Hotch at the next tapings. So, now Bey’s beaten both members of the challenging team; why are they seen as credible enough to get a title shot?

If you take the booking gripes away, I’m looking forward to this. I like the Good Hands, with Jason Hotch standing out to me as a good investment with real upside, and it’s well established by now that I’m a high-ranking member of the ABC fan club. I think the match itself will be good and while it feels like a routine defense, I wouldn’t be totally shocked by a title change. Prediction: ABC

Impact Wrestling X-Division Championship
Trey Miguel (C) vs. Chris Sabin

This rebooking makes sense as opposed to the Hendry/Dango rematch earlier in the show. In the first meeting between these two at Under Siege, Miguel cheated to retain his title, so Sabin is getting a second crack against the cowardly champion here.

In my Under Siege review, I noted that their first match felt a bit self-contained, as though they were working within themselves in anticipation of the bells and whistles in the finish. Here, I hope they’ll just go balls to the wall and have the sort of stellar contest they’re very much capable of.

Contemplating the result is a little more complex. They’ve done this thing before, where Miguel has had to run it back against the same opponent after cheating in a first match. In that instance against Black Taurus, Miguel cheated to retain in the second match, and then there was no blow-off third meeting. Now, Impact’s booking of Black Taurus and his contract situation likely muddied the waters there a fair bit.

Sabin is a different proposition entirely and even though this match has had less TV focus than their first meeting, I think Sabin’s interlinking with the main event programme makes a title switch feel inevitable here. Prediction: Chris Sabin

Impact Wrestling World Championship
Steve Maclin (C) vs. Alex Shelley

Even though Bully Ray sucked a lot of the heat out of it, the opening segment on the post-Under Siege episode of TV touched at what the core of the story between these two is.

In that promo segment, Shelley touched on his loss to Josh Alexander at Emergence last year and concluded that although he’d not beaten him, he’d beat Maclin because he wasn’t the same caliber of wrestler as the former champion.

Simple but effective stuff. On the one hand, you’ve got the well-spun narrative that Alex Shelley is the best wrestler to have never been Impact Wrestling World Champion. He’s a confident babyface who feels on the verge of realizing his destiny. On the other, you’ve got a new heel champion in Steve Maclin, who will perpetually remain insecure because he didn’t get to win it from Josh Alexander.

I don’t hesitate when I say that this has the potential to be Impact’s best match of the year so far. Alex Shelley’s singles work over the last few years, both in Impact and on the indies, has been second to none, and I thought his match with Alexander at Emergence last year was one of the very best of 2022. On top of that, you’ve got a motivated Maclin who has done nothing but deliver this year.

My main hope is a clean finish because it fits the story. It puts Maclin over and fuels the chip on his shoulder (he can’t do anymore to prove himself, but that asterisk will always be there), and it sews the final seeds for a Shelley heel turn. Him failing to win the title again, particularly against someone he felt he was better than, adds to his frustration, particularly if Chris Sabin wins the X-Division belt for the ninth time earlier in the night.

I might have seemed grumpy elsewhere in this preview but for this I’m genuinely excited. Let’s go. Prediction: Steve Maclin