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IMPACT Wrestling Hard To Kill: High Highs And Lowest Of Lows – Review

Hard to Kill is supposed to be a new beginning for IMPACT. All Elite Wrestling and Kenny Omega are drawing eyeballs to a product that has fantastic performers. The new commentary team, and other parts of the presentation are signaling a new era going forward for IMPACT Wrestling. But did the show live up to the hype that the main event built? Yes and no. We’ll take you match-by-match through the show. Let’s get started.

Decay vs. Tenille Dashwood and Kamille

This is an interesting choice to start the show with. Hard to Kill is the opportunity for IMPACT to reach a new audience, so you’d think they would want to start with their best foot forward. This wasn’t that best foot forward. Outside of the fact that doing spots where people spit green mist into their opponent’s faces is probably not the smartest in the middle of a pandemic, this match was just not good.

This felt like a pre-show match instead of something that’s to set the tone for the rest of a show. Tenille Dashwood’s talent wasn’t on full display. You have to think that a gimmick like “The Influencer” might take away from her asskicking past. This match didn’t make me think that either of these teams were anything other than comedy jobbers.

I’m trying really hard to figure out just how this match made either of these teams or performers look good. Tenille and Kaleb looked like chumps and winning with green mist in a match in 2021 doesn’t make anyone look good.

Winner: Decay

Grade: F

Eric Young, Deaner, and Joe Duerning vs. Rhino, Tommy Dreamer, and Cousin Jake (Old School Rules Match)

Whoever was scheduling this show really should have thought better about this. Sure, putting a match on with a couple over 40 stars and some younger guys makes sense. Starting with the first match and then going into this one, was a poor choice. For a match that was “Old School Rules” there wasn’t much Old School about it. There was some chair shots, a kendo stick, and thumb tacks. Violent By Design and the team of Dreamer, Rhino, and Jake put on a decent match. It wasn’t a clinic but it was relatively watchable.

The one thing that they should never use again, was the triple box. It made the action disorienting and hard to follow. Thankfully, most of the action was in the ring. For an “Old School” match, that doesn’t do much though.

Eric Young finished off the match with a piledriver. For all the posturing from the commentary team about how Joe Duering was a monster, he didn’t get many monstrous spots. The story between Deaner and Cousin Jake also wasn’t shown off very much. This very much felt like a pre-show match to hype people into buying the PPV.

So if you were tuning in to see IMPACT’s brightest and best, these first two matches might not show that. It did just enough to keep someone invested in the show though. Finally, doing two separate “biting” spots in a match in 2021 is a bit of poor thinking.

Winner: Eric Young, Joe Duering, and Deaner

Grade: C-

Knockouts Tag-Team Championship Match: Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz vs. Havok and Nevaeh

This was your classic battle of power and experience vs. youth and agility. Whoever scheduled this show should have put this match on first. IMPACT is known for it’s Knockouts Division. They’ve had some of the best women in Pro Wrestling step through their ropes. Long before WWE started fully recognizing women in wrestling, IMPACT was already doing it.

This match was pretty fantastic from an in-ring standpoint. Hogan and Steelz are great as a tag-team and they both look like they could be future stars for the division. Havok and Nevaeh both were great here, especially Havok. She showed a power and fury that not many women in wrestling show off these days. The finish of the match was believable, and Hogan and Steelz winning the titles for the first time since 2013 was probably for the best. Seeing Havok and Nevaeh go after them or anyone else willing to team up in the Knockouts division is going to be fun.

Nevaeh didn’t have much time in this match to show off her talent, Havok took all of the big spots and bumps.

The only bad thing I have to say about it was the presentation of the titles. Hogan and Steelz looked like they were forced to cut a celebration short for time. Give them the rightful time for a momentous occasion like winning the Knockouts Tag-Team titles.

Winner: Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz

Grade: A-

Ace Austin vs. Matt Cardona

This was a thrown together match after Ace Austin stormed the ring. He felt like being on the pre-show panel wasn’t enough. Matt Cardona was summoned from the back and the action began right away. After some action, it looked like Cardona was going to take advantage of the match. Madman Fulton grabbed Cardona and attacked him, giving Cardona the win via DQ.

This was a waste of time. Ace Austin is an up and coming star for IMPACT Wrestling. What would look better for a debuting Matt Cardona? A throwaway win via DQ or an actual full-length match? I’m going to say a full match. Cardona was portrayed as a big debuting star, but this was not the type of match that builds a star like that, for either Cardona or Austin.

You have to think that this debut could have been used for IMPACT TV this week instead of on the PPV. Just give the Knockouts Tag-Team Championship match more time here.

Winner: Matt Cardona via DQ

Grade: F

X-Division Championship Triple Threat Match: Chris Bey vs. Manik (C) vs. Rohit Raju

The X-Division, like the Knockouts Division, was what kept IMPACT afloat in the mind’s of wrestling fans. All three competitors in this match gave their all and outside of the silly mask subplot, this was a fantastic triple-threat match. Manik, Chris Bey, and Rohit Raju were sublime in their athleticism and moves here. I don’t really like how obvious it was that Manik is TJP and that sort of swallowed up some of the storytelling in place here.

It didn’t fall into the trap that most Triple Threat matches fall into where it’s basically one person getting taken out and the other two duke it out. Each performer got ample time to shine. Chris Bey, even in a losing effort showed off talent and charisma that will make him a star in the future. As someone who doesn’t normally check into IMPACT shows, Rohit Raju was also a major eye-opener.

It all led up to a roll-up that would have been a detriment to any other match, but here it worked very well. The feud between Manik and Raju is continuing from here, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Winner: Manik via roll-up

Grade: A

Knockouts Championship Match: Deonna Purrazzo (C) vs. Taya Valkyrie

This match did not start off strong. Having the outside performers take away from what should be a huge match between Valkyrie and Purrazzo is not the best booking decision. If you’re going to just have the referee kick them out in three minutes, just don’t have them go down to the ring at all. But once that nonsense was over with, the real action started.

Once we got started, it wasn’t a full on wrestling clinic but it did the job of showing what the Knockouts Division is all about. Hard hitting action between Purrazzo and Valkyrie showed us all we needed to see. It was nice to see someone like Taya sell so much for Purrazzo. She did a great job and I wouldn’t mind seeing much more from these two.

Taya Valkyrie goes on in the annals of IMPACT history alongside luminaries like Gail Kim and Madison Rayne. For Deonna Purrazzo to beat her in such a dominating fashion goes to show that Purrazzo is here to stay. The 2020 IMPACT Wrestler of the Year won with a double armbar and forced Valkyrie to tap out.

After all the commotion at the beginning of the match, we were given a good, but not great match. More time for this match could have been used better.

Winner: Deonna Purrazzo via submission

Grade: B

Ethan Page vs. The Karate Man

Well, it’s not wrestling in 2021 without at least one cinematic match. If the Boneyard Match was high cinema, this match was something you get in the bargain bin at the dollar store. I don’t know much else to say about this “match”. It was short, thankfully, but I don’t really know what to say about this one.

Karate Man wins via tearing Ethan Page’s heart out?

Grade: Incomplete

Barbed Wire Massacre Match Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan

The ring was adorned with various weapons, barbed wire, tables, and a part of a steel cage. This was billed as a brutal, violent affair between two former friends. It was that and then some.

These brutal death match style matches usually are pretty slow to start. You can’t start off the proceedings with just massive amounts of violent acts. So in the beginning of the match, it was Sami Callihan dominating his former friend, Eddie Edwards. Once the ball got rolling, this was actually a pretty damn good match for the style. Some of the highlights were Edwards getting put through a 2X4 board thrown at him by Callihan. Another particularly brutal moment was when Edwards was put throat-first into a chain that was holding up weapons by the side of the ring.

The match built and built the tension up until it looked like Callihan was going to win with a piledriver through a board covered in barbed wire. Edwards rallied back with a Boston Knee Party into a drop onto a barbed wire chair. It was good for the 1,2,3 and Edwards finally exercised the demon of Callihan.

I am not a fan of Sami Callihan, but this match was a damn good one. In an era where Omega-Moxley is the gold standard for 2020 Death matches, this wasn’t that level, but still a solid showing.

Eddie Edwards wins via pinfall.

Grade: A-

Main Event: Kenny Omega and the Good Brothers vs. Rich Swann, Moose, and Chris Sabin

Now if you’re going to book a Champion vs. Champion match, that’s the way to do it. The boys from IMPACT gave it their all, and it took the AEW Champion joining the fray to change the result. If you tuned in to this show just for this match, you were not disappointed. Moose, Chris Sabin, and Rich Swann were given all the rub that they needed. Swann in particular was made to look like a resilient champion that took two destructive finishers to take down.

If you were looking for someone in IMPACT to turn on their teammates, you would be disappointed. The story that was really told here, was that Kenny Omega is the best wrestler on the planet. We can’t get Roman Reigns vs. Omega, but we can get a Swann vs. Omega match somewhere down the line. It was refreshing to see a conclusive finish to a match like this. We’ve been drowned by false finishes and inconclusive efforts in recent memory. This was everything that it was supposed to be.

Chris Sabin and Moose were the two people that outside fans of IMPACT might not know about. They both gave performances that showed off how much talent IMPACT has across it’s divisions. We’ll have to see how the pairing between AEW and IMPACT goes ahead, but if this was an introduction instead of a conclusion, we’ll all be happy as wrestling fans.

Kenny Omega and the Good Brothers win via pinfall.

Grade: A+

Conclusion To Hard To Kill

Hard to Kill was a hit or miss showing from a company that needed a big showing. The various title matches on the show were all fantastic. The main event lived up to the hype and then some. Where the show suffered was around the edges and with the scheduling of the matches. Putting the two matches they did before we got the Knockouts Tag Team Title match should be a criminal offense. So on one hand, you had fantastic showings for the top end of the company. On the other hand, you had horrific matches that had no business being on a major wrestling companies PPV.

If you’re a fan of Moose, Chris Sabin, Rohit Raju, or anyone else at the top of the card, please, by all means watch IMPACT on Tuesday nights. But the other parts of the card did nothing to show the talent and great work that IMPACT can have.

For more on pro wrestling, or any other general pop culture, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.

By Hunter Bolding

Wrestling fan since Sting vs. Hogan at Starrcade. Video game fanatic since I played Wario Land on the Game Boy. Music nerd, Magic: the Gathering player, and any other fandom you can think of under the sun.

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