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Motor City Machine Guns collide in Impact world title #1 contender match with debut from Kushida

The main event from Thursday night’s episode of Impact Wrestling was full of drama as Chris Sabin wrestled Alex Shelley. It was a collision of Motor City Machine Gun tag partners in a #1 contender contest for the Impact World Championship. Not to mention two highly skilled wrestlers putting on a highly skilled match. On top of that, Kushida made his surprise debut.

Impact treated the moment right with a special hype package to open the show. Partners become adversaries and friends become foes over the allure of a world title shot.

Sabin and Shelley opened with back and forth grappling. The familiarity as friends and partners was evident with tricky counters. The match progressed with Sabin focused on grinding Shelley’s neck, while Shelley put attention toward attacking Sabin’s knee.

Sabin was the first to connect on a heavy move for a near pinfall with a flying DDT. Shelley came back for a crosslegged dragon screw maneuver. The action was a little scary for a moment when Shelley dumped Sabin on his head for a suplex.

Sabin kicked out on the cover. Shelley transitioned to a crossface, but Sabin was able to inch backward and reach the ropes with his foot for a break on the submission.

The action intensified due to the high stakes of the bout. Strikes were vicious but never dirty despite the burning desire for victory.

Heading into the climax, superkicks and strategic escapes were aplenty. Sabin crushed Shelley with a lariat. The end looked near, but Shelley escaped from a Cradle Shock to connect on Sliced Bread. 1, 2, Sabin kicked out. Shelley transitioned again for a submission, however, Sabin was quick to counter with a roll-up. Shelley kicked out to continue the fight. Shelley pounced for a Shellshock reverse STO. 1, 2, Sabin kicked out.

Shelley transitioned once more for a submission. This time, Sabin could not escape and tapped out to the Border City Stretch. After the match, it was all love and respect between the Motor City Machine Guns.

Shelley advances to wrestle Josh Alexander for the Impact World Championship at Emergence on August 12. That will be Shelley’s first time challenging for the world title in all his years with Impact.

The night didn’t end there. As Shelley and Sabin were recovering from their brutal war, Deaner and Joe Doering ran in to attack in an effort to restore their Violent By Design reputation. That’s when Kushida made his surprise debut for Impact. The former NJPW, ROH, and NXT titleholder cleaned house in the ring to save the Motor City Machine Guns. Kushida has history as tag partners with Shelley in the Time Splitters.

Unrelated to that incident, Kushida also found himself already in the world title scene. Earlier in the show, Josh Alexander discussed future contenders with Scott D’Amore. Rich Swann popped in at the mention of his name and angled for an opportunity. D’Amore agreed, however, the champ’s schedule was full at the moment. He did offer a shot at a shot by booking Swann versus Kushida for next week.

What’s your take on Alex Shelley challenging Josh Alexander for the Impact World Championship at Emergence? Did you pop for Kushida’s surprise arrival?