Bound For Glory 2023
October 21, 2023
Impact Wrestling returns to pay-per-view this Saturday (October 21) for Bound for Glory 2023. Headlining their biggest show of the year at the sold-out Cicero Stadium in Cicero, Illinois, is Alex Shelley defending the Impact Wrestling World Championship against Josh Alexander.
The Bound for Glory pre-show will see the promotion’s annual Hall of Fame ceremony take place. 2023’s inductees are Traci Brooks, Mike Tenay, and the late Don West.
20-person Call Your Shot Gauntlet
For the fifth successive year, Bound for Glory will play host to the 20-person Call Your Shot Gauntlet that grants the winner a shot at any title of their choosing at some point in the next 12 months.
We’ve currently got 15 of the 20 names confirmed and they are: Jake Something, Dirty Dango, Champagne Singh, Eric Young, Jordynne Grace, Brian Myers, Shera, KiLynn King, Jody Threat, Bully Ray, Joe Hendry, Frankie Kazarian, Kenny King, Gisele Shaw and Eddie Edwards.
Now, the main saving grace this time round is that Bully Ray can’t and won’t win, right? Right?
Jake Something is being positioned more strongly in this second run with the promotion but with him coming in at number one, it seems like his Gauntlet run will be more story-driven. Jordynne Grace is an option and would represent a slightly different route but for me, the nailed-on winner here is Frankie Kazarian. Kaz is coming off a brilliant feud-ending match with Eddie Edwards and he seems set for the top title programme. Prediction: Frankie Kazarian
PCO vs. Steve Maclin vs. Rhino vs. Moose
Steve Maclin has been one of Impact’s best investments in recent times and back at Victory Road in September he was one half of the promotion’s best match of 2023 with Josh Alexander.
I’m much less interested in the other three people in this match but this should be good at a bare minimum considering everyone’s past performances in hardcore settings.
There are also a few storyline threads coming into this one. Steve Maclin and PCO went to war earlier in the year over the Impact World title, culminating in Maclin setting PCO alight in the run up to Slammiversary. Maclin also put run Rhino on the shelf during his title run, with Rhino then coming back during the Impact 1000 events to attack Maclin. Moose has assorted history with all of them and also won the Impact World title shot briefcase during Feast or Fired.
PCO is finishing up with the promotion during Bound for Glory weekend, so he’s definitely taking the fall in this one. In my world I’d give Maclin the win but given that he’s probably got something with Bully Ray coming up, I’ll assume Moose goes over. Prediction: Moose
Impact Wrestling Knockouts Tag Team Championship
MK Ultra (Masha Slamovich & Killer Kelly) (C) vs. Deonna Purrazzo & Tasha Steelz
Although they’ve been better booked than during their first incarnation, these Knockouts tag team titles have largely struggled to captivate my attention. That has changed during the reign of Masha Slamovich and Killer Kelly, who are easily the most interesting team to hold them.
Deonna Purrazzo and Tasha Steelz are somewhat of a makeshift team, having come together during the recent Impact 1000 events when Tasha Steelz returned to the promotion once again. Of course, because there’s no other way to book tag title programmes, Purrazzo and Steelz secured a shot by virtue of Steelz pinning Kelly in a singles match.
Purrazzo is purportedly on her way out of the promotion at the end of the year, so she could well be doing the job here. I wouldn’t be shocked though to see Impact belt her and Steelz up and do a quick swap back and forth to keep all four women occupied over the next couple of months. Prediction: Deonna Purrazzo and Tasha Steelz
Will Ospreay vs. Mike Bailey
These two were originally scheduled to face each other at Multiverse United during WrestleMania Weekend before Ospreay got injured. Six-and-a-half months later, we get the make-good match here at Bound for Glory 2023.
As a fan, Mike Bailey’s year in Impact has been a particularly frustrating and weird experience. He’s had good matches and been consistently featured on TV but he’s not been involved in any real significant title programs and has not kicked on in any meaningful way since his hugely impressive showing in Best of the Super Juniors.
Ospreay, meanwhile, has had another banner year in 2023, delivering a pair of bonafide classics with Kenny Omega and firmly cementing himself as the best wrestler in the world. I don’t think this match will hit the tier of those Omega matches, or even his clash with Zack Sabre Jnr at Royal Quest last weekend, but it should still be pretty damn good. There’s only one winner in this one, though. Prediction: Will Ospreay
Impact Wrestling X-Division Championship
Chris Sabin (C) vs. KENTA
Chris Sabin is now into his second X-Division title reign of the year and 10th of all time after finishing the story in his program with Lio Rush at the Impact 1000 events in September.
In all honesty, the Lio Rush angle at Slammiversary didn’t work for me. I got the idea of it but the execution didn’t land and that ultimately meant that the payoff at Impact 1000 was fairly flat for me as a viewer.
We’re back to Sabin as champion now, though and here he makes his second defense of this reign against KENTA in a first-time matchup.
10-15 years ago, this would have been excellent. KENTA is KENTA at this point and I think everyone knows that. KENTA did show in his G1 match with Will Ospreay that there’s still a bit of something in there, but I doubt we get that here. Instead, it’s more likely to follow the modern KENTA formula of a ref bump and some shenanigans before the finish. With that in mind and the status of the World Title, Sabin should retain here. Prediction: Chris Sabin
Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
The Rascalz (Trey Miguel & Zachary Wentz) (C) vs. ABC (Ace Austin & Chris Bey)
Easily one of the best long-term booked matches on this show; this has been several months in the making.
Zachary Wentz returned to Impact back in June and reunited with Trey Miguel to reform The Rascalz. The pair jumped Ace Austin and Chris Bey at Slammiversary during their four-way tag title defense, leading to Subculture capturing the belts.
Wentz and Miguel cheated their way to victory in a contender’s tournament before defeating Subculture at Emergence in August. They’ve held the titles ever since and have continued to prove a thorn in the side of Austin and Bey, who secured this shot by virtue of Chris Bey claiming the tag title briefcase during Feast or Fired.
Although the eventual play in this feud is Austin and Bey reclaiming the titles, I don’t think they do it here. This is the first time these teams will have faced off in Impact so there’s a lot more mileage to go, particularly with Rascalz member Myron Reed debuting in the promotion during Bound for Glory weekend. I surmise that Reed gets involved in this match to keep the program running through to the end of the year. Prediction: The Rascalz
Impact Wrestling Knockouts World Championship
Trinity (C) vs. Mickie James
There’s a lovely symmetry between this match and the main event in that both Mickie James and Josh Alexander are challenging for the titles they never lost six months after they both had to vacate them at the same time.
In James’ injury absence, Trinity debuted with Impact in this very building, won the title at Slammiversary, and has been nothing but a net positive for the promotion. She feels like a professional, top-level act on TV, her work has been solid and largely better than I’d expected, and she’s undoubtedly had an uplifting effect on live attendances and viewership.
The match, despite both women’s tenures with WWE, is somehow a first-time meeting and the story here is ultimately a very simple one. James is back from injury, and she’s after the title she never lost, a title she’s held five times before. Trinity, meanwhile, is looking to clear 100 days as champion and put the veteran behind her in her third title defense.
I could see them going either way here, but to me, the money is moving towards a Trinity vs. Jordynne Grace program, likely with some KiLynn King involvement along the way. Prediction: Trinity
Impact Wrestling World Championship
Alex Shelley (C) vs. Josh Alexander
Easily the match I’m most excited for on the entire show, this one is dripping with story and a series of fascinating booking possibilities.
Josh Alexander had to vacate the Impact World Championship back in March, just a few weeks shy of his reign hitting a year, after suffering a triceps tear. Steve Maclin won the vacated title against Kushida, only to be dethroned after 54 days by Alex Shelley. The Detroit, Michigan native has been champion ever since, turning back the challenges of Steve Maclin, Nick Aldis, Brian Myers, and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
This match isn’t just about Alexander coming after the title he never lost against a cornerstone of the promotion, finally enjoying the spotlight of being on top. Far from it.
Let’s rewind the clock back to Emergence in August 2022. In one of the best matches anywhere in the world last year, Alex Shelley faced Josh Alexander in his first-ever shot at the Impact World Championship. In the build-up, Alexander spoke about watching Shelley in the early days of TNA and being directly inspired by him to go to wrestling school. He credited him with making him the champion and ace of the promotion that he’d become.
Shelley, despite being the older and more experienced man, the teacher to Alexander’s student, fell short. Emotion and insecurity got the better of him and it turned out Alexander knew him better than he himself, with the champion exploiting Shelley’s signature offense and ending his challenge in just over 27 minutes.
When Shelley won the World Title at the second time of asking at Against All Odds in June this year, there was no over-emotion. He was dialed in, focused and made no mistakes. But he didn’t beat the man to do it. He beat Steve Maclin. His story wouldn’t be complete until he knocked back the challenge of Alexander and after the Canadian returned at Slammiversary, we’re finally going to see them square off in Cicero Stadium.
The build to this match hasn’t been about friendly rivalry or inspiration though. It’s been about ego, insecurity and the risk that Shelley still won’t be good enough. The pair miscommunicated during their Never Six-Man title challenge in New Japan, while back in Impact, Shelley has left Alexander to be attacked by The Rascalz, laid Alexander out himself with Shell Shock, tried to get under his skin in promo segments, and on the go-home show attacked him backstage.
There’s layers to this and I think Impact have got a bunch of options on the table. Although you could go back to Alexander, I think turning Shelley fully heel in this one is the way to go. It fits the story of Shelley’s insecurity and opens up a number of new contenders – think Frankie Kazarian, think Eric Young as the babyface friend of the wronged contender and think of Chris Sabin cashing in Option C to try and get his tag partner back on the straight and narrow. Prediction: Alex Shelley