Impact Wrestling continues to be the most solid pro wrestling product - at least for this fan. Yes, there are some other exciting things going on in different companies, but for me, Impact does the most with the least, and that's a good thing.
As noted in some previous posts on Impact Wrestling, I was all about bringing in Bully Ray. I get the hesitancy because, here we go with old stars taking up television time, but everything about the Bully and Josh Alexander storyline has been done well. It's been personal. It's a different look for Alexander. And it's a nice blend of history for the company with Bully returning, a nice mix of a veteran and your current top guy, and overall, something very different we've yet to see from Alexander as champion.
This is the case up and down the roster and the product for Impact. Add to this theory Mickie James vs. Jordynne Grace. And the tag team scene. And everything else. The company continues to rehabilitate older stars, launch younger ones, and overall, give a good mix of it all.
Hard to Kill is a great special event (or pay-per-view, or premium live event, whatever we call these non-weekly shows these days) as it perfectly describes the company's lineage. More so, this event was a great way to kick off 2023.
Here are some other quick thoughts on Hard to Kill 2023:
- In my opinion, Scott D'Amore and the company have found what works for them in terms of presentation and look for EVERYTHING they produce, but I can't deny I would like a little something different for the bigger events. I've said this in regards to the WWE stadium shows, but in a world where screens on stage have become the norm for everything in wrestling (and understandably so), going old school with a curtain scaffold entrance with an aisle through the crowd can often give a different feel. Just spitballing...
- Impact has begun to develop a reputation with me for actually watching the pre-show. Always quality action there...
- Opening the show with Bully Ray and Josh Alexander was very cool, especially as it gave Mickie James and Jordynne Grace the main event, which was well-deserved. Bully continues to be the classic example of a wrestler that doesn't do much, but makes everything he does mean something. He's clearly not overwhelming in the ring, but this match was still awesome.
Overall, this match and feud did what it should - give Alexander another dimension to his character and title run. I'll continue to say it, I believe Alexander is the best home-grown product for the company since AJ Styles. He feels like a guy that IS Impact. Clearly the face of the brand.
- I think one of the areas that needs strength is the Tag-Team division. There are some teams, but I also think the teams need more definition. It feels like guys flow through the division when needed.
The Motor City Machine Guns continue to be amazing, even in 2023.
I prefer if they kept Heath solo. He had something interesting when he was hunting Honor No More.
Same for Brian Myers.
- I have Santino Marella as the new Director of Authority. The use is highly entertaining. But I'm so over "authority roles" in pro wrestling. I expect the product to take a more entertaining vibe going forward, which isn't a terrible thing. I guess I'll wait and see...
- I'm glad to have Kazarian back. I'd like him to turn heel. Kazarian needs something more to him. Just a bit more than the Southern Cal, homegrown, prodigal son-vibe. But I'm glad he's back.
- Joe Hendry is super entertaining. And surprisingly, he's a decent wrestler as well. I enjoyed this match.
Also, Moose has come SUCH a long way in his appearance, his attire, and overall, his total presentation. I sometimes do wonder if he ever leaves Impact.
- Impact has the most enjoyable women's division in pro wrestling. No, I don't watch Stardom, so don't come at me. But everything this division does has been gold.
I'm glad to see Taylor Wilde is getting a character, but I'm not sure about this witch meets fortune teller stuff.
- Rich Swann continues to be the most underrated wrestler on the roster. Not in terms of ability, but in the manner of doing whatever program, wherever on the card, with whomever, and still feel credible and entertaining.
Maclin's slow burn is nice. Again, credit Scott D'Amore for scouting, inspiring, and creatively following through.
- Eddie Edwards is approaching a serious discussion for the Mount Rushmore of the company. Yeah, I know we often get caught up in nostalgia regarding the originals, but Eddie has been around for a long time and continues to do it all...with everyone.
Gresham is as interesting as they come.
- I loved the Mickie James vs. Jordynne Grace. Everything about the "last rodeo" really felt like James was on her way to hanging it up.
I fully expected something like Nick Aldis showing up and making sure she won to remain active, and thus, a heel Aldis and face James conflict over the validity of the win.
But I liked the feel-good story much, much better.
By the way, I'd be surprised if Aldis shows up anywhere else besides Impact.
As for Grace, she is the standard along with Alexander for Impact. I hope she never leaves. Huge fan.
**Photos courtesy of Impact Wrestling