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Masha Slamovich sought to continue her meteoric rise against Deonna Purrazzo/Credit: Impact Wrestling
Masha Slamovich dominated the competition en route to Thursday’s show on AXS TV and main event date with “The Virtuosa” Deonna Purrazzo.
With a shot at the Knockouts Championship up for grabs, the two battled in an intensely physical contest that tested the young star’s ability to compete against the best the business has to offer.
That match headlined a show that also featured new tag team champions crowned and a major announcement from future Hall of Famer Mickie James.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
The battle for tag team supremacy kicked off Thursday’s show as The Good Brothers’ Doc Gallows and Machine Gun Karl Anderson defended the Impact World Tag Team Championship against Honor No More’s Matt Taven and Mike Bennett.
The challengers, known collectively as OGK, isolated Anderson from his partner, beating him down and working him over in their corner of the ring as they sought another tag team reign in yet another promotion.
A much-needed tag to Gallows sparked a comeback for the champions, but an alert Bennett broke up a near-fall to save his team’s championship aspirations. From there, he sent Gallows into the ring steps, crotched Anderson onto the top rope, and joined Taven in delivering the Proton Pack to the Machine Gun for the win and titles.
This was a good, hard-fought match that got the titles off the departing Good Brothers and onto a team in Bennett and Taven who probably should have had them much sooner. That the heels won relatively cleanly and without the interference of Maria Kanellis made the outcome that much more effective.
A great, newsworthy start to the show that the announcers and production team treated like a big deal and as a result got the OGK’s reign off to a hot start.
Bennett and Taven defeated The Good Brothers to win the titles
- Honor No More celebrated its first title win until Eddie Edwards again questioned PCO’s commitment to the group. Vincent again defended his monster and the segment ended with the team still united. Vincent’s defense of PCO remains one of the great, understated stories in wrestling, and their eventual split from Honor No More will make for a great moment and hopefully propel them to success as a tag team.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
Barred from ringside during the tag team title match due to a prior stipulation, Honor No More’s Maria Kanellis accompanied Kenny King to the squared circle for his shot at Speedball Mike Bailey’s X-Division Championship.
She would prove the difference in the contest. Or so it seemed.
A competitive match came to a head with King stacking Bailey up, grabbing Kanellis’ hands and scoring the win and title via underhanded means. The original referee ordered the match restarted, though, and Bailey outwrestled King for the victory and successful title defense.
This was a great tease of an Honor No More takeover by way of a second championship victory. Some alert officials and a resilient Bailey resisted, though, and foiled the group’s attempts to acquire more gold so shortly after the OGK’s triumph in the opener.
It will be interesting to see if this puts Speedball in the Ring of Honor alum’s proverbial crosshairs in the weeks to come.
Bailey defeated King to retain the title
- King delivered a wicked overhead exploder suplex that sent Bailey back-first into the ring apron.
- Matthew Rehwoldt rightly pointed out that there is no instant replay in wrestling and called into question the official’s decision to restart the match. Might that play into a potential rematch?
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
Amid speculation that Mickie James may be saying goodbye to professional wrestling, the four-time Knockouts champion hit the ring to address the Impact Wrestling faithful.
Teary-eyed, she recapped a tumultuous last two years in the industry and appeared poised to announce the conclusion of her wrestling career. Instead, she refused to go out as an afterthought. She vowed to prove she belonged by chasing the Knockouts Championship, and if she loses just once, she is done.
This was some great stuff from James, who channeled the appropriate emotions and had the fans in the arena and watching at home invested in the story she was telling.
We know from past instances that this is a storyline that works. Ric Flair famously put his career on the line in pursuit of greatness one last time back in 2008, culminating with a heartbreaking WrestleMania 24 match with Shawn Michaels.
If executed correctly, James can further establish herself as one of the greatest women’s wrestlers of all time while captivating audiences and providing Impact a money match for one of its premiere pay-per-view events.
Imagine James having to overcome the unstoppable Masha Slamovich to accomplish her goal. Think about what beating her and ending her career would mean to the unbeatable force.
Regardless of what this final run looks like, this was a fantastic segment to kick it off.
- A tearful James recalled the fans inspiring her to return to Impact.
- “I broke up with my longest relationship, my longest love of my life, and that is professional wrestling.”
- “All I wanted was to make it better for women,” James said of her dreams over her 24-year career.
- “I’m not retiring. Not tonight. Not like this. Not right now.”
- “I’m not asking for a Knockouts World Championship. I want to earn it.”
- “If I lose in this journey, if I lose that shot at the Knockouts Championship, that’s it. This is the Last Rodeo,” James said, setting the stage for one last run.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
The next challenger for Speedball Mike Bailey’s X-Division Championship was determined as Alex Zayne battled Mascara Dorada in singles competition. Neither was an Impact regular, creating intrigue and unpredictability surrounding the eventual winner.
Zayne controlled the majority of the match, even dropping a leg across the back of Dorada’s head. The high-flying luchador fought his way back into the match, though, and delivered a somersault plancha off the top rope to wipe his opponent out.
Late in the match, Zayne sprinted across the ring, launched himself into a headscissors and brought Dorada off the top rope. The Baja Blast followed, but Dorada kicked out at two.
The former Lucha House Party and WWE competitor recovered and put Zayne away moments later to earn a shot at the title.
For a match between two guys who either had not competed in the Impact ring before or, in Zayne’s case, had limited appearances for the promotion, this was an uber-competitive match that had the fans invested late.
Either man would have made a great opponent for Bailey, but given the fact that Zayne shared the ring with Speedball back at Slammiversary in the Ultimate X Match, a fresh pairing with Dorada was probably the best option.
Dorada defeated Zayne
- Backstage, Impact EVP Scott D’Amore granted Heath a match against Eddie Edwards. The Redhead Rebel then confronted world champion Josh Alexander, who teased dissension between the two of them.
- Elsewhere, Aussie Open’s Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis arrived in Impact, cutting a promo with Gia Miller. A few feet away, the arguing between Moose and Steve Maclin continued.
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Credit: Impact Wrestling
“The Virtuosa” Deonna Purrazzo may have entered the main event of Thursday’s show as one-half of the Knockouts tag team champions and one of the most decorated women’s wrestlers of the last five years, but she found herself across the ring from the most dominant force in all of Impact Wrestling, the unstoppable Masha Slamovich.
Purrazzo provided Slamovich the toughest test of her young Impact career to date, thanks in large part to interference from VXT teammate Chelsea Green. She had more success against the young competitor than any other Knockout had to that point, both taking her off her feet and outmaneuvering her on more than one occasion.
She trapped Slamovich in the Fujiwara armbar, but she escaped. The Russian-born competitor delivered an Air Raid Crash into the corner that scored her a near-fall. Green again interfered, providing a distraction that allowed Purrazzo to deliver the Queen’s Gambit.
Slamovich kicked out of it and sat up as if she was a monster rejuvenated. She fought out of the armbar again, leveled Green and delivered the Snowplow to earn her way to Bound For Glory and a shot at Jordynne Grace’s Knockouts Championship.
Any questions about Slamovich’s ability to excel at the next level after months of squash matches were silenced in this one. She hung with one of the best wrestlers in the world, countered or reversed everything The Virutosa threw at her, survived multiple attempts by Green to alter the outcome and beat her opponent clean in the center of the ring.
This was an announcement to the wrestling world that not only is Slamovich a star of the future, but she is about to be the star of the present for Impact’s Knockouts division. A performance like this, against a measuring stick in the industry, is proof that it is the right call.
Slamovich defeated Purrazzo to become No. 1 contender
- Purrazzo delivered a hurricanrana early on, setting the tone for what was to come.
- The intensity on the faces of both women during the armbar by Purrazzo put over the high stakes in this one.
- After the match, Knockouts champion Grace made her way to the ring and delivered a so-called “death warrant” to Slamovich, just as her new No. 1 contender had done repeatedly to the rest of the division. The staredown to close the show made the match feel like the big deal it was and set the stage for one of the most anticipated bouts of the Bound For Glory pay-per-view.