Impact Wrestling
Down Under Tour – Night 1
June 30, 2023
Equex Center
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia

Watch: FITE

This past Friday (June 30), Impact Wrestling held their first-ever show in Australia. Run in conjunction with the New South Wales government, the first night of the Down Under Tour at the Equex Centre in Wagga Wagga was headlined by Alex Shelley defending the Impact World Championship against Steve Maclin.

Slex def. Adam Brooks

One way for the Impact booking team to earn goodwill with me was booking Slex on this tour. So, when they not only opened up the first show with ‘The Business’ but they put him over as well, you can imagine my delight.

Sadly, I was not as delighted with the production on this show. As much as it did get better later on, the lighting was poor throughout and the camera work in this opener was pretty sloppy.

Despite the production snafus, these two made good use of the six minutes they were given. They played off their previous history by countering each other’s offence and then put themselves in my good books for life by doing the Eddie Edwards/Davey Richards suplex spot to the outside. Slex eventually won with the Slexicution and should hopefully be getting an Impact contract before the end of the weekend if all is right with the world. ***

Gisele Shaw def. Erika Reid

I’d seen Erika Reid before on a few MCW shows so I sort of knew what to expect from her coming in. Ultimately she delivered at about the level I expected, looking solid albeit a tad awkward in a few places in what was a decent little match.

A particular highlight was Shaw winning with a Fujwara Armbar variation, adding a wrinkle to her title match with Deonna Purrazzo the following night. **1/2

Impact Wrestling Digital Media Championship
Joe Hendry (C) def. Eddie Edwards

I feel fairly confident that this was the best straight singles match of Joe Hendry’s second run with Impact. Now, it was only a gentleman’s three, but sadly the bar to clear wasn’t that high.

It did take a while to get going as both guys did a lot of playing to the crowd and some of the sequences towards the end seemed a bit too telegraphed. There also wasn’t much drama to the result, with both men moving in different directions for Slammiversary, but all in all it was decent work. ***

Killer Kelly def. Aysha

For those not watching Impact regularly, Killer Kelly’s current gimmick is that of a femme fatale and in recent weeks it’s become increasingly sexual as she’s formed a tag team with Masha Slamovich. Indeed, I did ponder while watching their segments whether Impact had moved into the customs business.

Anyway, as for this match, it was largely a whole lot of nothing. Aysha is working a spoiled brat gimmick, coming to the ring with a bottle of champagne and so on, but she didn’t do a ton to stand out. In fact, she was effectively on the end of an extended squash here as Kelly picked up the win. **

Impact Wrestling X-Division Championship
Chris Sabin (C) def. Robbie Eagles and Frankie Kazarian

I’d never thought about it before watching this match, but I desperately need a Chris Sabin-Robbie Eagles singles match at some point. Both guys are so smooth and it seems tailor-made for the Multiverse show this August – Gedo, Rocky, Scott, whoever, make it happen.

The crowd in Wagga Wagga was solid enough for the whole show, but they enjoyed this match, and it’s no surprise given that a) it was a lot of fun and b) Robbie Eagles is one of their own.

What made this three-way dance particularly enjoyable was the fact that they worked in a lot of three-person spots, rather than going with the tired WWE formula of two guys in and one guy out at all times. In the end, Sabin put Eagles away with the Cradle Shock after sending Kazarian to the outside. ***1/2

ABC (Ace Austin & Chris Bey) def. Brian Myers & Moose

I wish Impact hadn’t announced the four-way for the tag team titles at Slammiversary before this show, I really do. Without that already out there, you could have opened up more booking directions for this show to set that up organically. You also could have stuck with the more interesting story of just ABC versus Moose and Brian Myers but that’s beside the point.

As for this match, it was really good. It wasn’t as go-go-go, tornado tag as some of Ace Austin and Chris Bey’s matches have been but it didn’t need to be. Instead, it was just good, sensible tag team wrestling that used a few high spots wisely and allowed the babyfaces to fight from underneath.

Myers got a couple of great nearfalls with Roster Cut lariats but ultimately ended up on the losing end as he got rolled up by Bey. ***1/2

Deonna Purrazzo def. Steph De Lander

Pre-match, Steph De Lander cut a promo. She spoke about being home and that was why she’d got the Southern Cross on her gear. Just as she’d got the crowd on-side, she then insulted the town and the venue and demanded she be treated more like the star she is.

I thought the promo was effective and entertaining which is sadly more than can be said of the match. It wasn’t bad per se but it wasn’t good either. It was sloppy and ungainly in places and felt very much a product of the WWE system with De Lander grabbing a hold as they moved between spots.

Purrazzo got the win with the Fujiwara Armbar, nicely syncing up with Shaw’s finish earlier in the night to tee up their title match on the second show of the weekend. **1/2

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

Although this didn’t hit the heights of their Against All Odds main event a few weeks prior, this was still an entertaining match and easily the best thing on the show.

What struck me throughout the match was the different feel to their first meeting. Alex Shelley carried a different aura here, projecting as a confident, cerebral champion that dominated most of the early going on his terms on the mat.

Maclin once again fought his way back into the match with power offense and brute strength, but it was less about raw explosivity than before. Instead, he focused on backbreakers and slams, using his size advantage and targeting a specific body part to wear the champion down.

Ultimately though, it was Shelley’s leg work that paid dividends (in kayfabe and literally with Maclin pulling out of the second show with injury), as he put Maclin away with Shellshock to secure his first televised title defense. ***3/4

Final Thoughts

The first night of the Down Under Tour was a solid showing from Impact Wrestling. The local female talent used on this show didn’t do much to stand out, but I enjoyed the opener, and Slex is someone I’d snap up in a heartbeat.

There’s nothing must-see for me to recommend, but at just under two-and-a-half hours, this is an easy background watch.