Impact Hard to Kill 2021 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2021

Impact Hard to Kill 2021 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    For the first time in 2021, Impact Wrestling arrived on pay-per-view with Hard To Kill, an event headlined by an inter-promotional match pitting AEW world champion Kenny Omega and Impact tag team champions The Good Brothers against Impact world champion Rich Swann, Chris Sabin and Moose.

    Championships were at stake, including the return of the Knockouts tag team titles, and personal vendettas were settled in barbaric fashion.

    Who emerged victorious, and what does it mean for the promotion and its stars moving forward?

    Find out now with this recap of Saturday's event.

Match Card

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    • Six-Man Tag Team match: Rich Swann, Chris Sabin and Moose vs. Kenny Omega, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson
    • Knockouts Women's Championship match: Taya Valkyrie vs. Deonna Purrazzo (c)
    • Knockouts Tag Team Championship Tournament final: Tasha Steelz and Kiera Hogan vs. Nevaeh and Havok
    • 3-Way X-Division Championship match: Manik (c) vs. Chris Bey vs. Rohit Raju
    • Barbed Wire Massacre: Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan
    • Old School Rules: Tommy Dreamer, Rhino and Cousin Jake vs. Eric Young, Joe Doering and Deaner
    • Karate Man vs. Ethan Page
    • Crazzy Steve and Rosemary vs. Kaleb and Tenille Dashwood
    • Countdown to Hard to Kill: Josh Alexander vs. Brian Myers

Josh Alexander vs. Brian Myers

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    Brian Myers scored a tainted victory over Josh Alexander a few weeks back on Impact Wrestling and Saturday night, he sought to make it 2-0 against The Walking Weapon on the Countdown to Hard to Kill kickoff show.

    Myers seized an early advantage by shoving Alexander off the top rope and to the floor. He maintained control of the bout through the commercial break, but his overconfidence opened himself up to submission attempts by the Canadian.

    Alexander grabbed an ankle lock but Myers fought out. Another ankle lock again saw Myers fight out. Eventually, an alert Myers pulled Alexander's headgear over his eyes and dropped him for the upset win.

                

    Result

    Myers defeated Alexander.

             

    Grade

    C

             

    Analysis

    This was a relatively straightforward match between The Walking Weapon and The Most Professional Wrestler. Myers dominated the competition, forcing Alexander to fight from underneath. He did, showing the tenacity once exhibited by fellow mat magician Kurt Angle as he sought an ankle lock.

    Myers, a cerebral heel, utilized the things he had at hand and earned the win by dubious means—again demonstrating that he is professional in moniker only.

    It was a solid, if unspectacular, start to the night that laid the groundwork for the continuation of the rivalry if Impact officials wish to head in that direction.

Crazzy Steve and Rosemary vs. Kaleb and Tenille Dashwood

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    On the heels of Tuesday's Impact when Crazzy Steve and Rosemary reformed The Decay, the face-painted duo kicked off the evening's festivities with a Mixed Tag Team match against Tenille Dashwood and her social media manager, Kaleb (with a "K").

    Rapid tags between Steve and Rosemary allowed them to keep Kaleb unsettled. When he finally did get in an ounce of offense, he hesitated to dive and ended up jumping right into a thrust by Steve. The social media maven, though, did prove useful in pulling down Rosemary by her hair, allowing Tenille to take control of the match.

    Steve exploded into the match, taking the fight to Kaleb, dropping him with a short flatliner. A momentary distraction by Dashwood allowed Kaleb to dropkick his opponent for two. A convoluted setup for a mid-match selfie proved costly and led to Rosemary tagging back into the match and tearing into Dashwood.

    She sent the Australian flying across the ring before joining Steve for a chokeslam on Kaleb. She speared Dashwood before teeing off on Kaleb. The heel answered with a kick to Rosemary's face before returning his attention to Steve.

    The twisted antiheroes spewed green mist into the eyes of their opponents, and Steve finished Kaleb with a jumping DDT to earn the win.

                

    Result

    Crazzy Steve and Rosemary defeated Kaleb and Tenille Dashwood.

               

    Grade

    C

             

    Analysis

    There was some fun character work from Kaleb and Dashwood, and Steve moved more fluidly than he has in quite some time, but the quick tags took away from the overall flow of this one.

    It robbed the match of extended sequences between any pair of competitors and, more importantly, left the match devoid of any real story for fans to invest in.

    However, it featured considerable energy and a perpetually over act in Rosemary to help elevate it.

    One has to wonder what the endgame is with Dashwood because she is too talented to be wasted in this position on the card, with no real long-term booking goals to speak of. Hopefully those in the creative team recognize the asset they have on their hands because she is the sort of performer around whom a division can be built.

Old School Rules: Tommy Dreamer, Rhino and Cousin Jake vs. Violent By Design

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    Eric Young's crusade for change in the business began with the introduction of Joe Doering and continued with the indoctrination of Deaner. Saturday, the newly dubbed Violent by Design partnered to battle Tommy Dreamer, Rhino and Cousin Jake under Old School Rules.

    Betrayed by his cousin, Jake came face-to-face with Deaner. After being slapped once more by his family, Jake teed off on the brainwashed baddie. The action broke down from there, with the six competitors pairing off.

    The dominant and defiant Doering stood tall in the ring, daring the three babyfaces to bring the fight despite all of them being armed with steel chairs. They teed off, trying to eliminate him from the equation. The former All Japan Pro Wrestling star withstood the onslaught and obliterated them.

    The heels drove Jake into a chair but the big man recovered and soared through the ropes and on to Doering and Young, stopping them from removing the protecting covering from the floor. Rhino unloaded on Doering with a kendo stick, but the big man stopped him, flattened him with chokeslam and broke the weapon over his own knee.

    Thumbtacks were introduced, and Young quickly experienced the agony of the piercing weapons in his back. Still, the former world champion recovered long enough to rock Jake with the hockey mask and score the pinfall victory.

           

    Result

    Violent by Design defeated Dreamer, Rhino and Jake.

           

    Grade

    C+

        

    Analysis

    This was a physical battle that featured the appropriate amount of violence without overshadowing the Barbed Wire Massacre match later in the night.

    Furthermore, it put over the VBD faction. Say what you will about Dreamer and Rhino, but they still have a considerable amount of credibility from their years in hardcore wrestling. Beating them in this sort of match provided rub for the opposition, though the finish left a lot to be desired.

    Why leave Jake to take the pin when he is the one wrestler in this match who could have benefited from being spared the loss? Could Dreamer or Rhino not eat that fall? They would have remained over, while Jake suddenly loses any momentum he had from being involved in this feud.

    Doering looked especially badass, though. He was unstoppable here, and the spot that saw him shake off the chair shots and lay out all three opponents was fantastic. Furthermore, it earned the match the plus.

Knockouts Tag Team Championship Match: Nevaeh and Havok vs. Fire and Flava

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    The teams of Havok and Nevaeh and Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz sought to etch their names in the history books Saturday night in the final of the tournament to crown the new Knockouts tag team champions.

    The 17-year veterans rolled early, working over the competition with their size and power advantages. However, Steelz and Hogan, now known collectively as Fire and Flava, then downed Havok and worked her over in their corner.

    Steelz applied a big sleep, adding leverage by hopping on Havok's back, but the powerful and punishing competitor fought out and sent both opponents flying with a double fallaway slam.

    Nevaeh received the hot tag and exploded into the match, sending Steelz face-first into the mat. An STO to Steelz dropped her and drove Hogan into the mat by proxy.

    Havok drove Steelz and Hogan to the ground with a double powerbomb out of the corner. Nevaeh looked to put the opposition away but an alert Hogan rolled out of the way. The heels recovered and scored a near-fall on Havok, but Nevaeh broke up the pin.

    Hogan and Steelz recovered, and the former delivered a fisherwoman neckbreaker on Nevaeh for the win and titles.

    Gail Kim and Madison Rayne joined the new champions in the ring for a passing-of-the-torch moment.

             

    Result

    Fire and Flava defeated Nevaeh and Havok.

            

    Grade

    B

        

    Analysis

    This was a nonstop, super-energetic match that reintroduced tag team wrestling in the Knockouts division on a grand scale.

    Nevaeh and Havok were impressive. They powered down Hogan and Steelz, matching their speed and athleticism with fury and strength.

    Fire and Flava, though, proved resourceful and seized an opening to win the titles.

    For the sake of cementing Steelz and Hogan as the future of the division, their win was the right call. But it is hard to deny that it was the opposition who stole the show in their best performance to date.

Ace Austin Wanted Competition and Got It

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    Super X Cup winner Ace Austin made his way to the ring unscheduled, accompanied by Madman Fulton. Dismayed by his lack of placement on the card, he demanded Scott D'Amore add him to the match for the X Division Championship

    Instead, D'Amore introduced Matt Cardona, who appears to be the company's latest free-agent signing.

    Cardona dominated Austin before Fulton entered to cause the disqualification a few minutes into the match. 

    The Long Island Broski fought off the big man and stood tall to close out the segment.

                 

    Result

    Cardona defeated Austin via disqualification.

              

    Grade

    A

                 

    Analysis

    On a night when more fans would have been watching the pay-per-view because of Kenny Omega's presence, Impact Wrestling again delivered with a significant appearance by an unsigned big-name performer.

    Cardona is still a prominent industry figure, as much due to his podcast as anything. Still, he is recognizable, beloved by fans and has plenty to offer any company that takes a chance on signing him.

    There will be some who question using Austin in this role, but he was spared a clean loss and could be facing a long-term feud with the former WWE United States and tag team champion, so all is not lost.

Triple Threat X Division Championship Match

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    The three competitors most closely associated with the X Division over the past six months—Manik, Chris Bey and Rohit Raju—battled in a Triple Threat match for its title Saturday.

    Lightning-quick action dominated the start of the match, giving way to Manik looking for submissions on both opponents. Raju survived the attempt, though and ripped off Manik's mask, thinking he exposed TJP under the hood but coming face-to-face with a face-painted champion who created just enough doubt to rob The Desi Hitman of satisfaction.

    A series of creative near-falls ensued, each man staving off defeat. 

    Manik delivered a crucifix bomb to Bey for a near-fall as Matt Striker insisted that the champion was TJP. Raju delivered a drive-by knee to the champion for two as frustration set in.

    Bey brought Manik to the mat with a superplex. Raju followed with a double stomp to Bey and applied a crossface to the champion. Bey broke it up but ate a drive-by knee. Manik slid in, rolled Raju up and scored the win.

              

    Result

    Manik defeated Raju and Bey.

            

    Grade

    B+

            

    Analysis

    Just when you thought these three had wrestled so frequently to the point of overexposure, they went ahead and had their best match to date.

    This was a strong contest between three men who have worked with each other countless times over the past year. As such, they were able to add elements from their previous encounters to enhance storytelling efforts. The sequences were strong, the chemistry was undeniable and the outcome was a clever one that saw Manik further frustrate the increasingly unhinged Raju.

    Bey may not have factored as heavily into the match from a narrative standpoint, but he was the glue that helped hold everything together. 

    The division will need to be freshened up sooner rather than later, but these three waited until the right time to have their finest outing.

Knockouts Championship Match: Taya Valkyrie vs. Deonna Purrazzo

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    Chaos reigned supreme early in the Knockouts Championship match between "The Virtuosa" Deonna Purrazzo and Taya Valkyrie, leading to the banishment of Crazzy Steve, Rosemary, Kimber Lee and Susan from ringside.

    Purrazzo seized control, working her opponent's left arm as she looked to set up her Fujiwara armbar. Valkyrie fought back but fell prey to a side Russian leg sweep. The Virtuosa transitioned into a Tequila Sunrise a la Konnan, looking to force a tap-out.

    Valkyrie again fought her way back into the match but nursed her injured arm and left knee, the result of Purrazzo's concentrated attack. Valkyrie escaped a package piledriver attempt for a short dropkick, but the champion kicked out at two.

    La Wera Loca tied up her opponent's legs and contorted her in a submission, but Purrazzo made it to the ropes, forcing the break. The champion transitioned from the headscissors into the armbar. She pulled the other arm into the hold, completing the Venus de Milo and forcing the submission to retain her title.

                 

    Result

    Purrazzo defeated Valkyrie.

            

    Grade

    B-

              

    Analysis

    Purrazzo has reached the point in her career when she instantly makes the matches she appears in better. She elevates the quality because of her ability between the ropes. When you take into consideration that she is only 26, you have the groundwork for one of the greatest careers in women's wrestling history.

    Valkyrie is no slouch in her own right, a celebrated wrestler and the longest-reigning champion in Knockouts history. On this night, though, Purrazzo worked circles around her.

    The match was solid, helped exponentially by the story of the champion expertly picking apart her opponent and Valkyrie valiantly fighting through the pain until she could not anymore. It was a story we have witnessed before but one that is timeless and, better yet, suits The Virtuosa.

    Purrazzo has said 2021 is The Age of The Virtuosa. Impact would be wise to ensure that tagline becomes a reality. 

Ethan Page vs. Karate Man

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    The long-awaited showdown between "All Ego" Ethan Page and Karate Man was up next in what was Page's farewell to Impact Wrestling.

    Portraying both characters, Page brought the funny and the surreal in a brief cinematic contest right out of a video game. Ultimately, Karate Man answered a split lip with a deadly blow and ripped out Page's heart.

    You read to that correctly.

    Afterward, Don Callis caught up with Moose, trying to get the top contender to the Impact World Championship to take it easy on AEW world champion Kenny Omega. Moose declined and suggested he may even show up in AEW to take the title from Omega afterward.

              

    Result

    Karate Man defeated Ethan Page.

             

    Grade

    A+

                  

    Analysis

    If the war between Karate Man and Page had happened in the Tokyo Dome, it would have been 27 stars.

    As it stands, it will have to settle for 12.

    Match of the Year? More like Match of the Century.

    At a moment in pop culture when Cobra Kai and the return of Mortal Kombat to the big screen dominate the conversation, this was an epic encounter, the likes of which Curt Hennig and Nick Bockwinkel would be envious of.

    Or something like that.

    Moose thwarting Callis' calls for him to essentially lay down was a nice turn of events ahead of an already intriguing main event.

Barbed Wire Massacre Match: Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Eddie Edwards struck first in Saturday's Barbed Wire Massacre match against "The Draw" Sami Callihan, bloodying his rival. An ill-fated dive from the ring apron, though, saw Edwards crash and burn on a board of wire.

    From there, Callihan controlled, punishing his foe with any weapon he could get his hands on. Just as Edwards fought his way into the match, he missed a spear and crashed into a steel cage wall. Callihan brandished a black baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire while Edwards grabbed his trademark kendo stick.

    He rocked Callihan, but Sami brought him down on a rope of barbed wire.

    Callihan set up a board of wire across two chairs and delivered a sickening piledriver. Edwards, defiant, kicked out and fired up. He delivered a Boston Knee Party, driving a wire-wrapped chair into Callihan. The Draw kicked out at one.

    Edwards took a page out of the book of his hero, Misawa, and delivered the Emerald Flowsion on to the aforementioned board for the win.

             

    Result

    Edwards defeated Callihan.

            

    Grade

    A

          

    Analysis

    Whether or not hardcore wrestling and death matches are your thing, there is no denying the feud between Edwards and Callihan escalated to the point that a Barbed Wire Massacre was the suitable next step for the former world champions.

    The brutality, violence and raw emotion demonstrated by the competitors fit within the context of their story. The spots gradually escalated in both impact and danger, making for an emphatic finish and one that should spell the end for the feud.

    At least for now.

    If there is one thing this match and the work by Striker and Brown on commentary taught us, it is that Edwards and Callihan will fight forever.

Rich Swann, Chris Sabin and Moose vs. Kenny Omega and The Good Brothers

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    Credit: Impact Wrestling

    The announcement that Alex Shelley would not be able to compete in the main event of Hard to Kill as advertised forced Moose into competition, partnering with Chris Sabin and Impact world champion Rich Swann to battle tag team champions The Good Brothers and AEW world champion Kenny Omega.

    Don Callis handled the introduction for Omega.

    Early wrestling from Sabin and Karl Anderson gave way to a hoss fight between Moose and Doc Gallows before the action broke down. In the midst of it all, Omega grabbed hold of Swann and tagged in Anderson. Sabin earned a quick near-fall off a standing moonsault by Moose, but the heels beat him down in the corner again.

    The action broke down once more, and this time the babyfaces rolled, with Sabin and Swann delivering an assisted tornado DDT to Omega and diving over the ropes to wipe out the opposition. Gallows worked over Swann and Omega added a Fameasser.

    The Impact world champion tagged in Moose, and the former St. Louis Ram bowled over the competition. With Sabin the legal man, the babyfaces again found themselves on the defensive as Omega dropped him with a sit-out powerbomb for two.

    Sabin downed Omega and scored a red-hot near-fall. Anderson and Gallows flattened the former TNA and X Division champion, though, and scored a two-count of their own.

    Swann entered the match and exchanged blows with Omega. The AEW champion got the best of it, delivering a snapdragon suplex and underhook piledriver. 

    Moose hoisted Omega on his shoulders, but The Cleaner slithered out and sent the big man into Swann, crotching him on the top rope. Swann and Moose, enemies, combined for a modified Doomsday Device that scored a two-count.

    Swann delivered a 450 splash moments later for another dramatic near-fall as Omega reeled.

    A missed Phoenix Splash gave way to The Good Brothers dropping Swann with the Magic Killer and Moose making the last-minute save. Omega sent Moose to the floor, delivered the V-Trigger and finished him with the One-Winged Angel for the win.

             

    Result

    Omega and The Good Brothers defeated Swann, Sabin and Moose.

                   

    Grade

    A

                     

    Analysis

    This was every bit the action-packed main event you would have hoped for from such a deep talent pool. 

    Moose shone brightly here, the most electric performer in a match full of celebrated in-ring performers. He was motivated, fast and physical whether he threw fists with big Gallows or wrestled Omega. At a time when Impact is positioning him to be the man to dethrone Swann, he performed up to the moment and looked like the biggest star in the company.

    Which brings us to Swann.

    Rich has been one of the best stories in wrestling, a workhorse for the company who overcame a career-threatening injury to win the world title following a monthslong storyline that paid off at October's Bound for Glory.

    Throughout this particular storyline and well into this match, though, he was overshadowed and treated like a secondary afterthought to Kenny Omega. That he ate the pinfall when Chris Sabin easily could have lost the match and done no damage to his credibility was another piece of questionable booking from this program.

    As strong as the match was, it does raise the question as to why the whole ordeal was so one-sided from start to finish.

    Omega and The Good Brothers beat down and got the best of the babyfaces countless times in the lead-in to Hard to Kill. Then they won the main event. What, exactly, did this do for Impact?

    Sure, it raised its stature in the wrestling world for a few weeks, but things leveled off rather quickly. And outside of a one-time buyrate, it hardly seems likely to have any long-term benefit—especially when Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone are on the show every week talking trash about Impact.

    Assuming the goal was to book this one-off PPV match in the hopes of generating revenue, it likely worked. Whether it was worth sacrificing the credibility of Impact stars is an entirely different question.