Mickie James was flying high after winning the Knockouts Championship with her career on the line at Hard to Kill. She didn’t have much time to celebrate before turning from the hunter to the hunted. That’s expected in life as the champ. What was unexpected was Bully Ray barging in with threats of violence toward James on Impact Wrestling.
Hardcore Country was scheduled to open the program to celebrate her title win. As she thanked the fans, Bully’s music played and he entered the ring. Tom Hannifan shouted on commentary, “What the hell is this pile of trash doing here?”
Bully looked at James and pointed for her to leave the ring. The insinuation was that Bully had a message about his loss at Hard to Kill, and he wasn’t waiting to deliver it. James began to speak, but Bully cut her off with an order to exit. She wasn’t taking that shit from the blowhard who tapped out. James was the champ, and this was her ring. Bully gave her a final warning. James didn’t back down and stepped up face to face. Tension was thick.
Before Bully had a chance to be a scumbag, Tasha Steelz and Savannah Evans entered the scene. Steelz wanted a front row seat to see Bully pop James upside the head. Steelz also talked trash about James not being able to beat her. The Boricua Badass didn’t care about other rightful contenders. She wanted the next shot. That lead to a cheap shot from Evans. Bully went to get the tables. Frankie Kazarian and Jordynne Grace ran in for the save to even the odds.
.@RealTSteelz and @SavannahEvansNV want @MickieJames and her KNOCKOUTS World Championship! Director Of Authority @milanmiracle and Ernest The Cat Miller, @FrankieKazarian are in the IMPACT ZONE!#IMPACTonAXSTV pic.twitter.com/TfnPucmLTi— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 20, 2023
The match was full intergender fisticuffs with James, Grace, & Kaz across from Bully, Steelz, & Evans. Grace wanted a piece of Bully to test her toughness, but Bully was focused on picking his spots to attack James. After one slam, Mickie slapped him, so he added a second slam.
In the end, the babyfaces rallied hot to clear the ring. James landed a seated senton to pin Steelz for the win. James’ evening would not end in peace.
Enter Masha Slamovich. She earned #1 contender status at Hard to Kill. Slamovich handed a death warrant to Hardcore Country. James was not fazed by the mind games and pie-faced Slamovich with the photo.
The Knockouts Championship match is official for No Surrender. James will defend against Masha Slamovich.
BREAKING: @MickieJames will defend the Knockouts World Title against #1 Contender @mashaslamovich February 24th at #NoSurrender LIVE on IMPACT Plus, YouTube for IMPACT Ultimate Insiders & @FiteTV!— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 20, 2023
BE THERE LIVE IN LAS VEGAS: https://t.co/wKD0Nmdk6I pic.twitter.com/o8O4rEz2VY
James has built quite a list of adversaries in a short period of time. Not only is there Slamovich, but Grace has a rematch clause in her pocket. Grace and James worked fine as a unit in this match, however, Grace didn’t want to get too chummy with James after the win. It was clear she has her eye on getting back the gold. Steelz will no doubt find a way into the mix very soon.
The most shocking was the heated interaction with Bully. That was a hot segment to open the show. Even though Impact doesn’t shy away from intergender wrestling, I’m not so sure they roll with that matchup. That doesn’t mean Bully will let bygones be bygones. He could strike when James least expects. And that makes me wonder if seeds were planted for a primo free agent to return to Impact. I’m talking about James’ husband, Nick Aldis. That would be a spicy feud against Bully.
In other action from Impact Wrestling:
- The show started in memory of Jay Briscoe. This episode was taped prior to the tragic news of Briscoe’s death.
- Santino’s night continued backstage. He chatted with Miller to reveal his idea of a Golden Six Shooter #1 contender bout to face Josh Alexander for the Impact World Championship at No Surrender on February 24. Santino chose former champions Chris Sabin, Eddie Edwards, Rhino, Rich Swann, Moose, and Callihan. Miller liked the idea and left with advice for Santino to follow his heart when doing this job. Santino strolled over to Dirty Dango for advice. Steve Maclin was upset that he beat Swann, and Swann gets rewarded with this match. Dango advised that Santino book him versus Maclin. Later, Alexander was pleased to work with the new D.O.A. Gisele Shaw requested a Knockouts tag title match, so Santino obliged. She didn’t have a partner though, because everyone, besides Jai Vidal, hates her. Santino took on the task to find Shaw a teammate. (Full details here.)
- Deonna Purrazzo defeated Ashley D’Amboise. The newcomer gave a scare to Purrazzo, but the Virtuosa stormed back with a powerbomb and piledriver to win.
- Gia Miller visited the bowels of the arena basement to search for PCO. When asked about Eddie Edwards, the French-Canadian Frankenstein shook the fence and screamed.
- Trey Miguel tried to mack on D’Amboise with backhanded compliments. When he sassed her, 73-year-old Mike Jackson stepped up talking about respect. Jackson challenged Trey for an X-Division title bout next week. Trey accepted.
X Division Champion @TheTreyMiguel had some pointers for @Ashley_DAmboise but she wasn't interested! #MikeJackson plans to beat some respect into Trey NEXT WEEK on #IMPACTonAXSTV! pic.twitter.com/T3Fg33VAVH— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 20, 2023
- Killer Kelly defeated Taylor Widle. Both women relished the physicality. Wilde hit a bridging German suplex. Kelly kicked out on the pin. Kelly grabbed a waistlock intent on a German suplex of her own, but Wilde blocked to counter for a roll-up. Kelly reversed for top position. When Wilde kicked out, Kelly transitioned to the Cobra Clutch choke submission to win.
- Deaner explained the 7-step initiation process for Callihan to join the Design. First was to shave his head to lose his identity. Second was on BTI when Deaner ordered Callihan to attack Delirious. That was an example of following orders. Third will be next week for Callihan to win the Six Shooter match and take the world title from Alexander. If Callihan fails, then there will be consequences.
.@TheSamiCallihan continues the & 7-step initiation process to joining The Design! NEXT WEEK Callihan joins the Golden 6 Shooter match BUT if he doesn't win there will be consequences! @CodyDeaner @Big_Kon1 @Alan_V_Angels #IMPACTonAXSTV pic.twitter.com/Yq5THbpp3z— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 20, 2023
- Steve Maclin defeated Dirty Dango. Maclin rallied by blocking a tornado DDT on the ramp to counter for a back body drop into the ring. Mr. Mayhem set up a Tree of Woe spear then finished with a double underhook DDT.
- The Major Players are on a bit of bad luck. Moose noticed that it began when Brian Myers lost the Impact Digital Media Championship to Joe Hendry. Matt Cardona realized Moose wanted them to do his dirty work on Hendry, but he also felt Moose had a point. Cardona is coming to take back his internet title.
- Tommy Dreamer declared war on Bully Ray. (Full details here.)
- Pit Fight: “Speedball” Mike Bailey defeated Kenny King. This bout was sort of like a Kumite match. Winner by knockout or submission. Bailey was trapped in a submission, so he used a chair to hit King. Bailey exploded with strikes and landed a fierce kick to smash the chair into King’s head. The referee judged that King was knocked out. (Full details here.)
That was an interesting fallout from Hard to Kill. I did not have Bully Ray beefing with Mickie James on my bingo card. That was an unexpected surprise that has my attention. Bully is an equal opportunity scumbag with no qualms about slamming James through a table. This might be more than a one-nighter and could develop into a full story. Time will tell.
In the meantime, we’ll be getting James versus Masha Slamovich and probably Bully versus Tommy Dreamer. I like how Slamovich is rude with confidence and also how James doesn’t back down. That fight is going to be a dandy. The sell for Bully and Dreamer will be the promos more than the quality of the match. We know it will be hardcore. The question is how much drama they can exploit to hook viewers.
The Pit Fight was alright. “Speedball” Mike Bailey and Kenny King tried to make it serious at the start like a real MMA fight, but the execution wasn’t that believable. Once they went full spectacle, the enjoyment factor increased. I was surprised Bailey used the chair unwarranted. Even though he has reason to hate King, he’s still supposed to be a man of honor. I would get it as retaliation. This was more of a heel move out of desperation to escape the submission. On one hand, it sells the dangerous nature of a pit fight with minimal rules. On the other hand, I wonder if King’s point was proven to expose Bailey.
Share your thoughts on the latest episode of Impact Wrestling.