Impact Wrestling Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction, Highlights from December 16
The rivalry between Matt Cardona, W. Morrissey and Impact world champion Moose escalated to a new level of intensity thanks to a wild, chaotic close to their contract signing in Thursday's main event segment, which headlined a jam-packed AXS TV broadcast.
"The Walking Weapon" Josh Alexander and Rohit Raju tore the house down in the opening contest, Chris Bey and Laredo Kid kept the in-ring hits coming and both the men's and women's tag divisions were highlighted in between.
What went down, who had momentum on their side by the end of the night and what does it mean for the brand as it builds to its Hard To Kill pay-per-view on January 8?
Find out with this recap of this week's show.
Rohit Raju vs. Josh Alexander
A week after he interrupted Rohit Raju's match against Lawrence D, Josh Alexander sought to continue his journey back to the world title by battling the former X-Division champion in the night's opening contest.
A targeted attack by Raju forced Alexander to try to shake off injuries to his core if he was to earn a much-needed victory. Raju worked him over on the mat before adding a double stomp from the top rope but could not put his opponent away.
Alexander, showing grit and determination, fought back and ultimately put his opponent away with the C-4 Spike piledriver for the win.
Alexander defeated Raju
This was a pay-per-view quality match between two of the foundational pieces of Impact Wrestling.
Alexander's climb to the top of the promotion is well-documented. He's great and has been dating back to his days as one-half of The North. He earned the main event push he has received and the world title victory at Bound For Glory.
Raju, though, has been as good for this company over the last two years. He has been the picture of consistency, a great professional wrestler whose selflessness has not allowed him to be overshadowed by flashier competitors, new signees or top stars from other companies. He is the picture of a company guy who can have a great match at any position on the card, against any opponent.
Alexander winning to build momentum ahead of his Hard To Kill match against Jonah made sense, but this was a much better match than even the talent involved would have suggested and a great start to the night's broadcast.
Doc Gallows and Joe Doering vs. Rich Swann and Willie Mack
The tag team division in Impact Wrestling took center stage as Rich Swann and Willie Mack battled the makeshift team of The Good Brothers' Doc Gallows and Violent By Design's Joe Doering. Eric Young, Deaner and Karl Anderson accompanied the latter team, while Rhino and Heath Slater supported the babyfaces, all top four teams represented in the segment.
The heels dominated the action, isolating former world champion Swann until a hot tag to Mack sparked a comeback. Mack and a reinvigorated Swann unloaded on the opposition, but the Big LG ended up scoring the win for his team.
A heel beatdown ensued until Eddie Edwards made the save, wiping out Anderson and Deaner, while Swann, Mack, Heath and Rhino cleared their rivals from the ring.
Gallows and Doering defeated Swann and Mack
Edwards has established history with Swann and Mack as their close friend and was an intense rival of Eric Young, so his sudden presence in the storyline makes sense. Still, it feels like he just popped up randomly in a feud that was otherwise contested over the tag titles.
Elsewhere, the idea of Gallows and Doering beating the established team of Swann and Mack was a curious decision, even if the heels were bigger and edgier than their opponents. What does it say of the former world champion and his partner's credibility as contenders to the tag titles when they can't beat two guys who were thrown together as part of a "business agreement?"
It was strange booking.
John Skyler vs. Trey Miguel
X-Division champion Trey Miguel battled John Skyler in non-title action.
Skyler controlled a good portion of the bout, grounding the high-flying champion in search of a defining win in Impact. Instead, Miguel fought back and delivered his Meteora finisher to secure the win.
After the match, as the victor made his way up the ramp, Steve Maclin attacked from out of nowhere before dragging him to the backstage area.
Moments later, a video aired of Miguel bound backstage, with Maclin threatening torture of some sort.
Miguel defeated Skyler
The match itself was too short to meet its fullest potential, but it wasn't set up to be some great, show-stealing encounter. It was the backdrop for Maclin's attack on Miguel and whatever the post-match video is leading to.
Eventually, they will do battle in a singles match for the title, and Maclin will either suffer his first loss or earn his first title. Either way, it will be a strong match and likely help elevate an X-Division title in good hands with Miguel.
Chris Bey vs. Laredo Kid
In a match hyped up by the commentary team prior to its start, Bullet Club's Chris Bey (accompanied by Hikuleo) battled Laredo Kid.
The Ultimate Finnesser wore his opponent down, at one point benefiting from outside interference from Hikuleo. Kid fought back, firing up and delivering a dropkick, followed by a dive that wiped Bey out.
With the former X-Division champion reeling, Kid scaled the ropes, only to be shoved off to the foor by Hikuleo, the big man again making his presence felt.
Late in the match, Kid mounted another comeback and countered Bey's Art of the Finesse with a DDT, but Hikuleo's continued presence at ringside provided one last distraction. Bey took advantage, delivering a cutter for the pinfall victory.
Bey defeated Kid
Between this and the opener, this was one of the best in-ring editions of Impact in quite some time.
Bey and Kid had the chemistry you would have hoped for the moment you saw them paired up on the lineup for tonight's show. Bey set the pace for the match, looking to slow Kid and keep him grounded. Every time the babyface tried to battle back, the massive Hikuleo halted his momentum and ensured his tag team partner would secure the win.
It was a simple, effective story with above-average ring work from two talented young stars. It was everything you want from two stars specifically put in a position to showcase the in-ring offerings of Impact Wrestling.
Tenille Dashwood vs. Jessie McKay
After a blowup between Knockout tag team champions The IInspiration and The Influence, Jessica McKay battled Tenille Dashwood in singles competition. Cassie Lee accompanied partner McKay, while Madison Rayne and Kaleb (with a "K") supported Dashwood.
A competitive, back-and-forth match culminated with Kaleb tripping McKay up and allowing Dashwood to deliver the Spotlight Kick for the win.
Dashwood defeated McKay
This was a fun, energetic match that set the stage for a Knockouts Tag Team Championship match between the two teams.
It is an interesting dynamic because both teams are heels, but the finish suggests The IInspiration will be positioned as the de facto babyfaces. It is a role that will fit them in the short term, but with so many babyface teams elsewhere in the division, it is destined to be short-lived.
Hard To Kill Contract Signing
The contract signing for Hard To Kill's main event, an Impact Wrestling world title defense by Moose against Matt Cardona and W. Morrissey, headlined Thursday's show.
Morrissey issued words of warning, reminding fans he's not in the company to make friends. He's going to win the title at Hard To Kill. Morrissey signed the contract and exited the ring, not interested in the chatter about to ensue.
Cardona reminded Moose that no one has made more comebacks than him, and there will be no killing his spirit. He added his name to the contract.
Moose took shots at Cardona, breaking out the "Mid-Cardona" nickname again and asking his fiancee, Chelsea Green, why she stays with him. He said she'll eventually leave before calling her a derogatory term that ignited a fire in Cardona.
The top contender attacked Moose before winding up on the receiving end of a uranage through the table. Green begged Moose to stop and grabbed the chair he had in his hands. The hesitation allowed Moose to duck out of the way of a chair shot from Cardona, who inadvertently leveled his love.
Cardona checked on Green to close out the show, Moose's face painted with a gigantic grin.
From a promo standpoint, nothing about this was new. We've heard the same rhetoric from these three in recent weeks and know exactly what the foundation of the feud is. What made this so good is that it added the element of Chelsea Green to the mix.
An underutilized performer thus far in her Impact run, she has helped escalate the feud to a whole new level. This isn't just about a championship for Cardona. It's not about proving he's more than a midcard talent. Now, he's defending the honor of his fiancee. He's out for revenge, and that is a character fans can get behind.
Especially against a wholly unlikable guy like Moose.
If Impact isn't careful, though, the biggest star in all of this is going to be Morrissey. The no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners attitude resonates with fans who appreciate the no-BS approach. It will get over, and he will be an antihero babyface.
And if that happens, it could throw the entire world title picture into disarray.