Impact Rebellion 2021 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
For the first time ever, the Impact Wrestling and AEW world titles were up for grabs in the highest stakes match in recent history as Rich Swann battled Kenny Omega in the main event of the Rebellion pay-per-view Sunday night.
The epic encounter headlined a show that saw every one of Impact's titles at stake, including defenses from "The Virtuosa" Deonna Purrazzo, "The Inevitable" Ace Austin and New Japan Pro-Wrestling's David Finlay and Juice Robinson.
Who walked away from the industry-changing event with the gold, and what does it mean for the immediate futures of Impact Wrestling, AEW and the stars involved?
Find out with this recap, including grades and analysis, of the April 25 extravaganza.
X-Division Championship 3-Way: TJP vs. Josh Alexander vs. Ace Austin
Impact Wrestling's two-decade history is dominated by red-hot X-Division matches that kicked off pay-per-view events and set the tone for the remainder of the shows. Rebellion kicked off with one such match as "The Inevitable" Ace Austin defended the X-Division Championship against "The Walking Weapon" Josh Alexander and TJP in a Triple Threat.
Lightning-quick action full of reversals and counters dominated early before Austin soared through the air with the Fosbury Flop, wiping his opponents out. The early aerial assault did not generate the immediate success the champion sought, as Alexander recovered, delivering a side Russian leg sweep and superplex combination that brought all three competitors to the mat.
None of the three competitors established full control at any point. TJP deliver a Mamba Splash on more than one occasion only to have championship aspirations snatched from him, first by way of an Alexander ankle lock and then by way of the interference of Madman Fulton on behalf of Austin.
The second one took the former champion out of the equation, allowing Alexander to deliver Divine Intervention to the champion and pick up the win and his first singles title with Impact Wrestling.
Alexander defeated TJP and Austin to win the title
Austin was gnat-like, staying in and around the action and ensuring his title reign would not come to an end without him being involved in the fall. That is exactly what happened, as his bodyguard Fulton eliminated TJP from the proceedings but forgot to neutralize Alexander, who culminated his singles journey with a huge championship victory to kick off the show.
The headgear-wearing Canadian badass has steadily built his own reputation after the departure of "All Ego" Ethan Page brought about the demise of The North. Now, he has the opportunity to carry championship gold and prove it was he, not Page, who was the team's breakout star-in-waiting.
There will be those who question why Austin lost the title so soon after winning it, and the answer is simple: He doesn't need it. After spending part of 2020 in the main event scene, earning his way into the Impact world title picture around the time of Slammiversary, he has the potential for bigger things than an X-Division that, it can be argued, he has outgrown.
Time will tell if he is moving upward or if this is merely the latest chapter in a budding rivalry with Alexander.
Where does TJP go from here? All signs point to a continued role in the X-Division, which he has called home for the entirety of his Impact career.
8-Man Tag Team Match
With Eric Young sidelined because of injury, Violent By Design's Joe Doering, Rhino and Deaner were joined by the debuting W. Morrissey (formerly Big Cass of WWE) for a huge eight-man tag team match against longtime Impact stalwarts "Cowboy" James Storm, Chris Sabin, Eddie Edwards and Willie Mack.
The heels wisely sought to cut the ring off, isolating their opponents and keeping them from their partners. It worked momentarily as they worked over Storm. A hot tag to Mack brought about the babyface comeback and contributed to the action's descent into chaos.
Morrissey, the standout of the match, dominated the opposition, and after Sabin delivered a superplex to Deaner that wiped out the rest of the competitors on the floor, the former NXT and WWE Superstar obliterated Mack with a big boot and finished him off with East River Crossing for the win.
Showing a bitterness and viciousness we had not seen out of him before, Morrissey unloaded with a barrage of punches to the already-defeated former X-Division champion before leaving victoriously.
Violent By Design and Morrissey defeated Edwards, Sabin, Storm and Mack
This was about as impressive a debut as you could have asked for out of Morrissey.
The former Big Cass was utterly dominant. In a match with former world champions and veteran talent, he stood out and was the clear star. With renewed focus and a determination to prove the industry has not passed him by, he already looks like the most unstoppable force in the company.
How the creative team follows up Sunday's showing will determine the long-term success of Morrissey, but there is absolutely no denying that he could not possibly have enjoyed a better, more effective or greater star-making performance than he did here.
Matt Cardona vs. Brian Myers
A career-long friendship gave way to a bitter grudge match Sunday as Matt Cardona battled Major Wrestling Figure Podcast cohost and former WWE tag team title partner Brian Myers.
Myers used Cardona's emotions against him early, earning the upper hand and working him over in the center of the ring. Cardona dodged a Roster Cut and delivered what commentator Matt Striker referred to as the Hot Mess (an Unprettier and ode to Cardona's fiancee Chelsea Green).
Myers kicked out at two and delivered a big spear on the arena floor. Cardona answered with Radio Silence on the ramp but hurt himself as his tailbone and lower back collided with the steel.
Back in the ring, Cardona composed himself and tried for Radio Silence, only for his knee to give out. Myers feigned concern for his former friend as referees made their way to the ringside area. Myers lifted Cardona to his feet, only to drop him with a clothesline. The Roster Cut finished Cardona off as Myers picked up the underhanded victory.
Myers defeated Cardona
Cardona and Myers had the opportunity to prove all the naysayers wrong with their performance tonight. They had the chance to prove to their previous employers that they could be singles stars at a level they never got to achieve elsewhere. For the most part, they did, turning in a technically sound, very solid contest.
The meat of the segment was the finish, which presented Myers as a conniving, scheming and ruthless heel. He was great in that moment and even before as he sold the hell out of everything Cardona threw at him. In kind, the babyface showed great fire and grit as he repeatedly fought back, only to have his body fail him and his former friend execute a sickening cheap shot.
The feud will continue, as it should, and ultimately lead to the hotter, higher-profile blowoff it deserves.
Knockouts Tag Team Championship Match
Jordynne Grace surprised Knockouts tag team champions Fire 'N Flava (Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz) last Thursday on AXS TV with the reveal of her partner, Rachael Ellering, and that surprise paid off with gold Sunday night.
The champions dominated early, shrugging off displays of power from the challengers and isolating Grace. They beat her down until a spinebuster rocked Hogan, creating separation and allowing the tag to Ellering. The powerlifter exploded into the ring with running back elbows and a twisting leg drop from the ropes.
The action broke down with the alert Steelz expertly shoving Ellering into Grace, who had Hogan pinned. With the fight spilling to the floor, Hogan launched herself off the ropes with a crossbody, but the display of high risk would prove fruitless, as the champions still could not put away their opponents.
With Grace neutralizing Steelz on the floor, Ellering countered a fisherman neckbreaker into a unique fisherman spinebuster for the win and titles.
Ellering and Grace defeated Fire 'N Flava to win the titles
Grace doesn't get nearly enough credit for being as good as she is. She was very much the glue that held this one together, always in the right spot at the right time. She does the little things so well and has a greater command of timing than others in the division. She was great here, even as the attention was elsewhere.
Ellering was explosive and energetic, clearly feeding off the adrenaline the match brought with it. There was a moment or two when she was a step off, but that will come with a more consistent presence in the ring. She brought what she needed to on this night, and her win with Grace sets them up to be the queens of a tag team division that figures to revolve around them for the foreseeable future.
At least one can hope. Fire 'N Flava are too good to fall out of contention. In some ways, their presence in the division is more important for the long-term health of it than the new champions, who are more thrown-together than the former titleholders.
Last Man Standing Match: Trey Miguel vs. Sami Callihan
The intensely personal feud between Trey Miguel and Sami Callihan came to a head in a Last Man Standing match, the former seeking to prove his passion to his antagonist. He sought too hard early, launching himself through the ropes with a tope suicida that saw him crash sternum-first into the guardrail.
The Draw followed up on the unsuccessful high-risk maneuver by tossing Miguel onto the floor and punishing him with an array of weapons. Back in the ring, the former Rascal used Callihan's own twisted creativity against him, driving the heel into a pile of chairs.
Callihan tried to beg off, but a ferocious Miguel lured him in before driving him back-first into the propped-up legs of a table, leading D'Lo Brown to wrongly label it as impalement.
Everything Callihan threw at the babyface, Miguel narrowly survived to continue fighting, even sliding out of the ring and onto his feet to break the count at one point.
Finally, on the offensive, Miguel delivered a cutter through a table at ringside. Both men struggled to their feet, Miguel reaching his base and earning the win as Callihan slipped and fell back down.
Miguel defeated Callihan
The object of this entire feud was to show Miguel's passion, and this match reflected it.
Callihan did any number of vicious, vile things to put his opponent down, but Miguel repeatedly fought back. He survived and advanced, answering The Draw's creative violence with the will to fight. When the opportunity presented itself, he seized an opening and did just enough to win the match.
The resiliency he exhibited proved Callihan wrong, but the finish may not be enough to definitively end the rivalry.
Callihan lost in a way that will allow him to come right back Thursday and claim Miguel got lucky. He will argue that sweat caused him to slip while trying to get back to his feet and that he was the real winner. Whether Impact holds that off for a big pay-per-view or books it for one of the television episodes between now and Slammiversary is the question.
Either way, the match accomplished its goal, even if it fell just short of the show-stealer status some expected given the extraordinary storytelling that preceded it.
Impact Tag Team Championship Match: FinJuice vs. The Good Brothers
New Japan Pro-Wrestling's FinJuice (David Finlay and Juice Robinson) returned to the Impact Zone for a title defense against the men they defeated to capture the gold in the first place, The Good Brothers' Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson.
After an early onslaught by the champions, the challengers slowed things down and Gallows added a cheap pump kick to the face of Finlay to seize control. The big man worked Finlay over with a headlock, driving the air out of him and making it nearly impossible for him to fight across the ring to his partner.
Finlay brought Gallows down with an uppercut from the ropes and dodged Anderson en route to a hot tag to Robinson that quickened the pace of the match and sparked the babyface comeback. Robinson fired up on the heels, delivering sentons and cannonballs ahead of a quality near-fall.
The champions utilized Demolition Decapitation but could not put the challengers away. They set up for Doomsday Device, but Gallows sent Finlay tumbling to the floor. Back in, the heels wiped out Robinson, but the resilient and charismatic champion kicked out.
The Good Brothers set up for the Magic Killer, but Finlay wiped Anderson out, allowing Robinson to execute a small package on Gallows and score the win.
FinJuice defeated The Good Brothers to retain the titles
This was good, old-fashioned tag team wrestling.
Finlay sold his ass off as the babyface-in-peril before Robinson exploded into the match and brought about a red-hot finishing sequence. The champions' reliance on old-school tag team moves from teams of decades past nearly cost them, but in the end, it was the challengers' reliance on the Magic Killer that proved their undoing.
So determined to prove they had renewed their focus, The Good Brothers succumbed to the most simple of counters and enter Thursday's Impact Wrestling without the titles.
It will be interesting to see how the story progresses from here and just how often we see FinJuice on TV. The team is great, but commitments to New Japan Pro-Wrestling threaten their availability. If they do stick around, they have the potential to lend a great deal of babyface energy to a tag team division that is both underrated and in need of spark all at the same time.
Knockouts Championship Match: Tenille Dashwood vs. Deonna Purrazzo
Deonna Purrazzo retired Jazz earlier this month at Hardcore Justice, eliminating one of the biggest threats to her Knockouts Championship reign. She had the opportunity to successfully retain her title for the second time in as many weeks when she defended against Tenille Dashwood on Sunday.
Early grappling gave way to a moment of sustained advantage for Purrazzo before Dashwood rocked the champion with a clothesline and mounted a comeback. The champion, though, did not allow for separation, holding on tightly to her challenger and delivering a German suplex.
When Dashwood did find a moment of separation, she delivered a butterfly suplex into the corner and then added a crossbody for a two-count.
At ringside, Kimber Lee wiped out Kaleb With a K, ensuring Dashwood's social media manager would not make his presence felt. Back in the ring, Purrazzo tried for a falling headbutt, but Dashwood rolled out of the way. The challenger delivered a Spotlight Kick, but Lee broke up the pin. The Aussie wiped out Lee and Susan on the floor but fell prey to a rolling exploder.
Purrazzo applied a Fujiwara armbar, but Dashwood escaped. She did not escape from the Queen's Gambit as The Virtuosa successfully retained her title.
After the match, the heels beat Dashwood down until Taylor Wilde returned to Impact and laid out Purrazzo's associates, standing tall to close out the segment of the show.
Purrazzo defeated Dashwood to retain her title
Purrazzo is the best women's champion in professional wrestling and consistently great between the ropes. She can work with a variety of opponents and deliver great matches because her style complements so many others. She can work a ground-based match or spar with strikers. When the situation calls for it, she can do sports entertainment, thanks to the added element of Susan and Kimber Lee at ringside.
We saw them get involved here, taking out Kaleb and factoring heavily into the finish of the match.
It was right around that time that things fell off a little, the focus no longer on the competitors between the ropes. Prior to that, though, Purrazzo continued to showcase her excellence, while Dashwood wrestled her best match of the past year.
The Aussie was focused, proved she could trade holds and counters with The Virtuosa and may have won had it not been for the interference. After a year of mediocre creative and a lack of direction, Dashwood reminded fans of the woman who was so instrumental in WWE's Women's Revolution during her time in NXT.
Hopefully, it was enough to earn her some more television time and a greater role on the show because there is a ton of in-ring excellence left in Dashwood. Fans should get to enjoy it.
The return of Taylor Wilde gives an already-loaded division more matches to book, stories to tell and a fresh face to feature prominently. If she is even half as good as she once was, this era of Impact fans is in for a treat.
Title vs. Title Match: Rich Swann vs. Kenny Omega
All of the hype, grandeur, pomp and circumstance came to a head in the night's main event as AEW world champion Kenny Omega battled Impact Wrestling world champion Rich Swann in a Title vs. Title match, one unified titleholder guaranteed by night's end.
Swann sent a message loudly and clearly, early and often, to Omega. He delivered a Phoenix Splash from the middle rope onto Omega on the floor and then added some chops about the chest and kicks to the back as the babyface rolled.
Omega suckered Swann in, though, and went to work establishing control. The AEW representative spiked Swann head-first on the ring apron and added an Aoi Shoudou for a near-fall. Omega worked the head and neck, showing flashes of arrogance and overconfidence along the way.
Swann countered a Kotaro Krusher and rocked Omega with a back mule kick to the face and a standing frog splash for two. He added a Frankensteiner from the ropes for another close call.
The fight headed to the top rope before both men slipped in an ugly, dangerous back body drop spot. Swann added a frog splash but could not quite hook the leg for the most effective cover.
Omega fought back and delivered the V-Trigger. He looked for the One-Winged Angel, but Swann escaped. Omega answered with a spinning heel kick to the back of the neck, the same body part the AEW champion focused his attack on earlier. Omega added another V-Trigger and sat Swann up on the top rope for an avalanche One-Winged Angel.
Swann tried to slide out the back with a sunset flip powerbomb in another ugly spot. The champions exchanged strikes before Omega rocked Swann with a snapdragon suplex. He added another as the commentary team questioned how much Swann's neck could withstand.
Swann delivered one cutter that stunned Omega, but a second flattened referee Brian Hebner by accident. AEW referee Aubrey Edwards assumed control of the match's officiating as Omega retrieved a chair from ringside. Edwards prevented him from utilizing the weapon, and Swann executed the handspring cutter.
Swann delivered the Richinoku Driver but could not keep his opponent down for the count. Swann tried for the Phoenix Splash but missed, landing on his feet. Omega tried for the One-Winged Angel, but Swann fought out of it enough for Omega to opt for a German suplex instead. The AEW champ delivered a Jay Driller for two and executed consecutive V-Trigger knees.
Omega taunted Eddie Edwards and Willie Mack at ringside as he rocked Swann with another V-Trigger. Swann finally shook off the V-Trigger for one more Phoenix Splash attempt. He missed. Omega delivered another V-Trigger and put Swann away with the One-Winged Angel for the win.
The new champion celebrated his win with his titles, Don Callis and The Good Brothers as Edwards and Mack tended to Swann.
Omega defeated Swann to win the Impact Championship
If nothing else on the Rebellion pay-per-view delivered (which it did, in spades), Omega vs. Swann was the one match that absolutely had to knock it out of the ballpark. With more eyes on the product than in recent history, Omega and Swann needed to provide a match that lived up to the incredible hype and expectation that preceded it.
They did, delivering a fantastic match and an early Match of the Year contender.
Swann was the valiant Impact representative, absorbing everything Omega threw at him and still having a chance to win the match late. The onslaught of V-Triggers and a head and neck rocked numerous times throughout the match left him unable to defend himself, weakening him to the point that Omega was finally able to deliver the much-hyped One-Winged Angel for the win.
It was a great match, hurt only by the foregone-conclusion nature of it.
Fans of AEW who only watch that company's product likely had no idea this match was a thing. There was little-to-no hype from AEW officials for Omega's title defense. While the commentary team put Omega over or hyped Hangman Page as his next potential opponent every Wednesday night, there was hardly a mention of Swann and what could have been an organization-altering match. Never once did it appear as though Swann had a chance in hell of upending Omega and taking the AEW world title, if only because Impact was never presented as being on the same level as AEW.
With that the case, Omega entered the match the heavy favorite, and that outcome played out on pay-per-view Sunday.
Imagine, for a moment, how much hotter this match would have been with a little intrigue surrounding the potential outcome. Given the performances of the stars involved, the quality of the match we ended up getting and the fan fervor for these inter-promotional contests, the end result had the potential to be even greater.