The Impact main event of Emergence saw Alex Shelley compete for the Impact World Championship for the first time in his career. It was also the first singles matchup between Shelley and Josh Alexander. The champion wanted Shelley to be better than his best. That’s what Shelley did, and it still wasn’t good enough for victory.
The bout began as a tactical chess match with both competitors using precision attacks to weaken body parts of their opponent. Shelley had the technical edge, and Alexander used his brute force advantage to power in and out of positions. Shelley’s strategy was more successful to control the flow and keep Alexander on his heels fighting to come back.
Shelley was the first to score a near fall. He executed a tornado DDT and followed for a frog splash. Alexander’s body was weak, but his wits were strong. On the kick-out, Alexander immediately transitioned to an ankle lock submission. Shelley was able to reach the ropes for the break.
Shelley kept on the pressure for a Sliced Bread. Alexander ate it and had a roll-up at the ready. Shelley continued his flurry with a superkick and Air Raid Crash. Alexander kicked out then rolled out of the ring for a breather. Shelley gave chase for a Sliced Bread on the floor.
Back in the ring, Alexander rallied with two German suplexes, an electric chair drop, and a ripcord lariat. Shelley kicked out, so Alexander transitioned for the Sharpshooter. All the damage done to Alexander’s knee throughout paid dividends when Alexander was too weak to hold the submission.
Shelley found his groove once again for a two Shellshock swinging reverse STOs and a Border City Stretch. Alexander rolled it over for a pin to escape. Shelley leaped for a Sliced Bread, but Alexander caught him in the air for a piledriver. Alexander went to finish with the C4 spike piledriver. Shelley escaped, so Alexander hit him with a Shellshock instead. Shelley was stunned on the mat. Alexander seized the window of opportunity for the C4 piledriver to win.
Shelley looked like a main event player in that bout even if he didn’t achieve his goal of winning the Impact World Championship. His performance had me rooting for him to pull the upset. It felt like Shelley was getting closer and closer to victory, alas, it was not meant to be. Alexander is not an easy out, and he showed why he is a world champion. Alexander took a beating and kept on ticking with timely counters and strategic adjustments in opportune moments.
Let’s run down the rest of the results from top to bottom.
Knockouts Championship: Jordynne Grace retained against Mia Yim. (Full details here.) Yim put Grace in a few precarious positions, but Grace powered out with heavy slams. Down the stretch, Yim landed two consecutive head kicks for momentum. She went for the package piledriver to finish, but Grace countered for the Grace Driver. 1, 2, 3, and still Knockouts Championship. Afterward, Masha Slamovich entered the scene gunning for Grace. Slamovich handed the champion her death warrant.
It was a 50/50 bout going in for the Knockouts title bout, and it played out that way never showing its hand who would win until the final moment. Grace was a touch better on this evening for the important victory. In a rematch, I could see it going either way. This pairing has the makings for a good feud over time if Impact extends the drama down the line. The appearance from Slamovich made me holler. She has been built up well as a supreme ass-kicker. Calling out Grace makes me giddy for a super hoss showdown.
Honor No More defeated Bullet Club. Eddie Edwards, Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, Vincent, and PCO represented Honor No More. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Chris Bey, Hikuleo, and Ace Austin represented Bullet Club. Rules were no rules. No disqualification, anything goes. The stipulation was OGK receiving a tag title shot if Honor No More wins. If Honor No More loses, then the group must disband.
The big spots involved tables. Gallows and PCO brawled into the crowd. Gallows chokeslammed PCO from the second level crashing down through a table.
Later, Vincent hit a flipping senton onto Gallows through a table.
In the end, Edwards went wild with a kendo stick on the Good Brothers. Taven executed the Climax headlock driver to Gallows onto a trashcan for the win.
Non-stop chaos for a wild affair. Honor No More winning was the right story choice. Disbanding before having the opportunity to win titles would have felt like a waste of time with so much effort being out into this story to this point.
Sami Callihan defeated Steve Maclin. This was a four-part story. Round one was what we thought would be the official match. Fisticuffs began before the opening bell. Both men shoved the referee out of the way and brawled through the crowd. Impact decided to just move on with the show.
Round two was Kenny King setting a trap to eliminate Heath. King was in the ring calling out the red-headed rebel. Callihan and Maclin rumbled out still fighting. Heath used that distraction to strike with the Wake Up Call to King. Callihan and Maclin continued fighting off-camera.
Round three was a backstage interview with Moose. He denied any alliance with Maclin. Callihan ran in to hit Moose, so Moose joined Maclin in the fight. They were pummeling Callihan on stage. D’Lo Brown sent out security to separate the wrestlers. Scott D’Amore admitted that he made a mistake thinking this would be a regular contest. He banned Moose from ringside and changed the rules to no disqualification. Ring the bell!
Round four was the official contest. Even after all that brawling, Callihan and Maclin still put on a full match. Callihan rammed Maclin’s head into the ring steps for blood. Chairs and low blows were used back and forth. In the end, Maclin tried to zip-tie Callihan. The Death Machine escaped with a mule kick and stomped Maclin’s groin. Callihan zip-tied Maclin’s hands behind his back. Callihan slapped Maclin repeatedly, so Maclin spit in Callihan’s face. Callihan was enraged and finished with a piledriver to win.
The mini story arc was an interesting twist to make this match feel fresh. Callihan and Maclin went to town on each other building emotion for the climax. The chair violence looked brutal. Callihan earned the win in a hard-fought battle, but this feud is far from over.
AAA special attraction: Bandido defeated Rey Horus. In a match full of highlights, two in particular stood out to me. First was a tilt-a-whirl super DDT from Horus. Second was a one-armed deadlift suplex from Bandido over the ropes into the ring.
Bandido was victorious via 21-plex.
The luchadores rocked the ring as advertised with exciting performances from both men. They rightfully earned chants of, “Fight forever!” It was a great introduction for viewers new to Bandido and Horus, and Bandido showcased his main event ability.
Eric Young & Deaner ringside Chris Sabin & Kushida. Joe Doering was ringside to interfere, specifically for the finish. Sabin and Kushida had momentum for a flying teamwork maneuver. Deaner distracted the referee, so Doering could shove Kushida off the turnbuckles. Young hit a piledriver on Sabin to win.
Good tag team action. Tag team action! Both teams were fluid with chemistry. The false finishes were on point. Sabin and Kushida hit a Pele kick Cradle Shock combo and Violent by Design landed a flying headbutt and flying elbow drop combo for maximum drama on the saves. Important win for VBD to get back on track, especially with Young pinning Sabin. Sabin doesn’t go down easy, so that was impressive for Young to finish him.
X-Division Championship: “Speedball” Mike Bailey retained against Jack Evans. The challenger had the upper hand after a German suplex off the turnbuckles. Evans followed with a moonsault, but Bailey rolled away. Evans landed on his feet. By the time he turned around, Bailey was already charging for a cyclone kick. Bailey finished with the Ultima Weapon shooting star double knee drop.
High-octane action all the way through. Bailey adds another notch of impressive performances and victories to his belt. Evans looked sharp. He had previously said that he wasn’t in the best conditioning for his run with AEW. Evans was chiseled here and looked every bit like the wrestler we’ve all come to enjoy. And of course, Evans hammed it up with his arrogant personality and shifty tactics.
The free pre-show featured two title matches.
Impact World Knockouts Tag Team Championship: Deonna Purrazzo & Chelsea Green won the titles from Rosemary & Taya Valkyrie. (Full details here.) Hijinks played a role in the finish. Jessicka was on the apron to distract the referee. Rosemary spit green mist. Green moved, and it splattered in Taya’s face. VXT pounced for a double suplex to pin Rosemary and become new champions.
The action delivered as expected with signature moves to pop. VXT is a strong team to carry the prestige of the Knockouts tag titles. If there was going to be at least one title change at Emergence, this match was one of the leading contenders for that role. This loss didn’t seem to be Jessicka’s fault, so it will be interesting to see how Rosemary reacts. Will Rosemary take responsibility or push the blame to Jessicka?
Impact Digital Media Championship: Brian Myers retained against Bhupinder Gujjar. The champion sized up a Roster Cut lariat to finish, but Gujjar ducked. As Gujjar shoved Myers into the corner aiming for a roll-up, Myers pulled off the middle turnbuckle pad. When Myers exploded out of the roll-up, momentum sent Gujjar colliding into the exposed steel. Roll-up and grabbing the tights gave the win to Myers.
Nice little match to warm up the crowd. Gujjar had the babyface fire, and Myers cheated like a scoundrel to win consistent to his character. The finish played out in a way for this feud to continue, if Impact so desires.
Emergence was a solid show with entertaining matches up and down the card in a variety of styles. The results pretty much played out as expected, so the the sizzle factor wasn’t hot enough to elevate the event as a whole.
Share your thoughts on Emergence. Which match was your favorite? Who stole the show?