Sunday, April 25, 2021


(Yeah, I'm re-using the same banner as last year's event. Sure, why not? They only made one Hard To Kill movie... I jinxed it, didn't I?)

For the first time in a good long time, history will be made over at the promotion formerly known as TNA, as Impact Wrestling presents their Rebellion PPV that will feature the title vs. title match between reigning Impact World Champion Rich Swann and AEW World Champion Kenny Omega in what I'm sure will be a classic match with a very obvious ending.

Not sure if I'll be catching the PPV tonight - depends if stuff doesn't come up - but I figured what better way to preface this undoubtedly overhyped PPV event from a live TNA house show (a.k.a. empty arena with piped in crowd noise... which is better than the Thunderdome to be honest) than to post my thoughts on the first Impact PPV of the year, which kicked things off with a bang, featuring what may very well be the biggest match in the history of the promotion.

I am, of course, referring to the masterpiece that is ETHAN PAGE vs. THE KARATE MAN! In a match TO THE DEATH where SOMEBODY ACTUALLY DIES!

Oh, and there's a six-man main event featuring AEW World Champion Kenny Omega... but who cares about the jobber? What's gonna happen with THE KARATE MAN?!

Let's jump in, shall we?

So a couple changes from the last time I watched an Impact show. First off, they swapped commentary teams. Instead of Josh Matthrws and Madison Rayne - the former being promoted to a senior production role and the latter pursing a career outside wrestling; best of luck to both in their new endeavors - we now have the commentary tandem of Matt Striker and D'Lo Brown... yeah, DEE LOO BROWN is on commentary. And I have mixed feelings. Matt Striker has a tendency to either be really good or really bad and sometimes, he'll bounce between the two at such a rapid pace that it ruins the whole thing for me. As for D'Lo? Well, I'm not sure if he's ever done commentary before, but I thought he was alright. Certainly no Don Callis or even Don West, but he was perfectly fine in the color role. It's going to take a while for a new team to find their groove and hopefully, they'll get better in subsequent shows.

The other major change that I noticed is that they now added crowd noise to the show, which is a far cry from what WWE does in the Thunderdome... and I mean that as a compliment despite the mockery in the introductory spiel. While the noise is obviously canned, at the very least, it sounds like an actual crowd of people either cheering, booing, of providing general applause for the proceedings. And it works surprisingly well here. So, yes, the company formerly known as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling that is known for having countless production snafus and is probably workking on a shoestring budget is doing fake crowd noise BETTER than the sports-entertainment giant and its multi-million dollar production facilities. Sometimes, it's not about the tools, but the people who use those tools. If this crowd noise carried over to the weekly show, then it might make those shows a bit more palatable. More wrestling shows in empty arenas would be best served to follow this example.

On with the actual matches...

Rosemary & Crazy Steve defeated Tenille Dashwood & Kaleb... with a K. That last part is important for some reason. This was a thing that happened to open the show. Neither exceptional or wretched; it was a a match on a PPV and that's all I've got. Nice to see Tenille do well, even if she's stuck with zombie girl.

Eric Young, Cody Deaner, and Joe Doering (?) defeated Tommy Dreamer, Rhino, and some other dude... Jake something or other. They called this an "Old School Rules" match, which is basically the new hardcore match descriptor. Matt Striker claims that nobody could touch Dreamer on a high level, but from what I saw tonight, whatever high level Striker is talking about is significantly less so here. Anyway, there's a bunch of brawling, a bunch of garbage tossed around, none of it matters, I'm almost falling asleep... and I usually like hardcore matches. This was about as hardcore as Elmo. I want to say that they tried, but I don't know if that's even the case.

Keira Hogan & Tasha Steelz (Fire 'n Flava, apparently) defeated Havok and Nevaeh to win the vacant Knockouts Tag Titles that they had just dug from the grave. Last time the titles were around was back in 2013, where the last champions were ODB and Eric Young. Yes, the very same Eric Young featured on this here PPV. This match went by a bit too quickly, to the extent that a casual viewer seeing both teams for the first time is left wondering what's going on. It's alright for what it was, but I just wished it was a bit longer. Yes, I wish for a longer match. Color me shocked as well.

Matt Cardona defeated Ace Austin via DQ when Fulton ran in for the interference in a really short match, after which Cardona cleaned house. Poor man formerly known as Zack Ryder. Even in fucking TNA with his status as a former WWE Superstar - which usually means SUPER-INSTANT PUSH - he can't even get a clean win. Oh well...

X-Division champion Manik defeated Chris Bey and Rohit Raju to retain the title. So the idea behind this match is that TJP is snuffed out of title contention, so out comes this masked fellow named Manik to come along and win the title from former champ Raju. People think that Manik is TJP under the hood, so part of the story in this match is wanting to unmask this Manik fellow. Well, they eventually do the deed, but this Manik fellow is smart who thought ahead, because he wore FACE PAINT. And face paint that held up rather nicely, actually. See, this is the kind of simple storytelling I can get behind and it worked out nicely to compliment what I thought was the show's first genuinely great match. Nice to see that even after all these years, the X-Division is still a source of great matches at Impact, even with the occasional glitch or two (or twenty) along the way.

Knockouts Champion Deonna Purrazzo defeated Taya Valkyrie to retain the title in another great match and probably one of the better women's matches I've seen all year. And I don't say that as a slight, because there have been some pretty good ones. This match is actually a bit of a revelation, as I'm actually enjoying Purazzo's schtick and she oozes the kind of presence that screams "star." As for Taya, she recently debuted on NXT as Franky Monet and if they let her be as good as she was in Impact and elsewhere, I'm sure she'll be fine.

The Karate Man defeated Ethan Page by ripping his heart out in this low-budgeted cinematic match. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, the Karate Man is the alter ego of Ethan Page and so this match is Ethan Page fighting against himself as the Karate Man, done via greenscreen tricks and goofy editing, which inevitably ends with a Mortal Kombat-resque fatality. Way too short to mean anything and honestly, way too goofy and low-rent for my liking. If this were Youtube shit, fine. But on a paid PPV? Nah.

This match has a bit of controversy, because apparently Ethan Page wasn't happy with the way it turned out and blames Impact for making it goofier than it really is. He allegedly wanted this to be played straight; the idea of two Ethan Pages with differing personalities fighting each other is comedy alone, but Impact made it more goofy or something. I don't know, man. I watch some of this stuff and also the Talk-N-Shop stuff... there's no way you're making this straight-laced comedy.

Eddie Edwards defeated Sami Calahan in a Barbed Wire Massacre match, where there's a bunch of barbed wired crap everyone and that means plenty of bad cuts and such. A violent brawl befitting a rather lengthy and bloody feud between two hated rivals dating back to an errant blow with a baseball bat. Points must be docked for Sami using an old Nintendo 64 controller wrapped in barbed wire as a weapon. That felt unnecessary; the N64 controller is already a painful gimmick without the extra barb, so that seemed a bit excessive to me.

AEW World Champion Kenny Omega and Impact Tag-Team champions The Good Brothers defeated Impact World Champion Rich Swann, Chris Sabin, and MOOSE when Kenny pinned Swann. Alex Shelley was supposed to be part of this match, but REAL LIFE took precedence and they replaced him with MOOSE, who was the reigning TNA World champion at the time... yeah, long story. This was a weird match, because the action in the ring was fine, but the whole thing came across as "the big-time AEW World Champion playing with a bunch of local jobbers for a lark" and considering that one of those "local jobbers" is the IMPACT WORLD CHAMPION, that is not a good feeling to have.

Hard To Kill 2021 is a tough nut to crack. It started off on the dull end of things with some bad matches, but slowly picked up steam to give us a couple bangers. It is, unfortunately, not the most flattering look at Impact, especially in regards to the main event, where the World champion of the much bigger company defeated the World champion of Impact Wrestling, implying that your top guy in Impact is nowhere near the same level as the other guy. Commentary, while tolerable at times, has its low points and got even worse when Don Callis - normally an ace announcer - became intolerable pitch-man for the god that is Kenny Omega, which makes the rest of your roster extremely low rent.

For Impact fans, this was business as usual and certainly they got their money's worth, even if it meant seeing their company suffer a self-inflicted burial, which is probably the most TNA thing they'll ever do. For those wanting to sample this show or see what Kenny Omega was doing, this did not leave a particularly good impression of the company and did more to make it more low rent than it already has.

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