Impact and NJPW rumbled for a joint event in Multiverse United 2: For Whom the Bell Tolls (Aug. 20, 2023) in Philadelphia, PA. Not all the contests were straight up competition between promotions, however, Impact mopped the floor with NJPW in the matches that were.
Out of the ten contests on the card, I think eight could qualify to varying degrees for the sake of this argument. Impact went 7-1 in victory. Alex Shelley showed his prowess as Impact world champ, X-Division champ Lio Rush pinned NJPW junior heavyweight champ Hiromu Takahashi in tag team action, Callihan was tougher than DOUKI in a street fight, Moose & Eddie Edwards forced TMDK to kneel, Chris Sabin triumphed in a scramble, Kenny King showed why he is the DMC, and Joe Hendry & Yuya Uemura looked like blue jeans models in trios action. Giulia was the saving grace for NJPW.
Granted, this record talk is a loose observation. For example, Yuya Uemura is technically with NJPW, but he has been working so long for Impact during his excursion that he feels associated as an Impact wrestler right now. Lio Rush straddles the line between both companies. Being that he is the X-Division champ, that makes him Impact for now. Bottom line is that the record comparison is a fun talking point when thinking about the intricacies of co-booking a show.
Let’s zip through the results.
Impact World Championship: Alex Shelley retained against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Shelley executed a wicked avalanche Air Raid Crash, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Ace down. Shelley went for the kill on a Shellshock. Success! (Full details here.)
Lio Rush & Trey Miguel defeated Hiromu Takahashi & “Speedball” Mike Bailey. Takahashi had momentum slamming Rush around the ring. Trey distracted the ref, so The Bad Child could strike a low blow on Takahashi. Lio rolled up his opponent to win.
The bigger story was jockeying for position to challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Takahashi holds the gold, and Bailey earned a title shot by winning the All Star Junior Festival USA tournament. Takahashi and Bailey worked as a team without issue in this contest. After the match, Lio demanded a title shot, and Takahashi agreed. Bailey was upset that Takahashi allowed Lio to cut in line. This could just be a NJPW storyline, but it could also spill over into Impact cementing a stronger alignment between Bailey and Jonathan Gresham about the flagrant disregard for rules.
Setting the drama aside, enjoy this teamwork Ultima Weapon from Bailey and Takahashi.
Bullet Club defeated the world. The sides were David Finlay, Kenta, Ace Austin, Chris Bey, Alex Coughlin, & Clark Connors against Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, El Phantasmo, The DKC, PCO, & Josh Alexander. This was Alexander’s first match back from injury, and he lit up the Bullet Club with a flurry of German suplexes. In the end, PCO hit a moonsault outside onto a mass of bodies below. Inside the ring, Finlay got his knees up to block a flying splash from DKC. Finlay pounced for a powerbomb to win. Afterward, the fighting continued with Bullet Club standing tall.
TJP & Francesco Akira defeated Robbie Eagles & Kosei Fujita. Eagles misfired on his teammate to superkick Fujita when TJP ducked. Akira pulled Eagles out of the ring, then TJP and Akira executed a teamwork facebuster slam. TJP and Akira sandwiched Fujita with running knee strikes to earn the win.
Philly Street Fight: Sami Callihan defeated DOUKI. This stipulation was impromptu after Callihan cut a promo wanting to give the Philadelphia fans hardcore violence. DOUKI agreed, and the fight was on. Weapons included chairs, a kendo stick, and a ladder. DOUKI leaped for a senton, but he crashed on the ladder instead of Callihan. The Death Machine planted the cactus piledriver, however, DOUKI kicked out on the cover. Callihan upped the pain for a cactus driver on open chairs. DOUKI did not kick out that time.
NJPW Strong Women’s Championship: Giulia retained against Deonna Purrazzo, Gisele Shaw, and Momo Kohgo. Shaw took control down the stretch of the four-way for heavy moves on Purrazzo and Momo. Giulia ducked the running knee finisher from Shaw and blitzed a dropkick. The champ finished the Quintessential Diva on a northern lights bomb. Afterward, Momo was still in a fighting mood, so Giulia put her down on a hammerlock driver. (Full details here.)
Moose & Eddie Edwards defeated Zack Sabre Jr. & Shane Haste. Team Impact put personal animosity aside to rally for victory when Moose speared Haste.
Scramble match: Chris Sabin defeated Frankie Kazarian, Rich Swann, El Desperado, MAO, BUSHI, Kevin Knight, YOH. Rules were every man for himself, first pin wins. After a frantic flurry of moves, Sabin was the last man standing to hit a Cradle Shock on YOH to win. Post-match, BUSHI celebrated with Sabin then spit black mist in his face.
The free pre-show featured two bouts.
Impact Digital Media Championship: Kenny King retained against Yoshinobu Kanemaru. King lifted his opponent for the Royal Flush, but Kamemaru grabbed the referee to escape. Kanemaru spit golden amber mist. King ducked and clocked him with a breakdancing kick. The champ finished with the Royal Flush.
Joe Hendry, Yuya Uemura, & Heath defeated Rocky Romero, Master Wato, & Ryusuke Taguchi. The finish came down to Yuya versus Taguchi. Yuya hit a flatliner and landed a flying crossbody for victory.
Overall, Multiverse United 2 delivered quality wrestling inside the ring. There wasn’t much in terms of storyline development to build heat, so this was the type of show to enjoy the appeal of unique crossover matches. I was satisfied in the viewing experience.
There were a few takeaways from the show. Alex Shelley earned a valuable win over Hiroshi Tanahashi to develop his run with the Impact World Championship. The result was never in doubt, however, beating a legend at any age is a nice notch on the résumé. Shelley is putting in work to feel like the real deal. Josh Alexander looked strong in his return. He was eased back into the fold and didn’t have to carry the load in a 12-man tag. When it was Alexander’s time to shine, the Walking Weapon exploded for suplexes. Giulia backed up the hype. Since it was a four-way bout, the focus was shared amongst the field. Despite that, it was clear that Giulia will be a big deal with more exposure.
The Multiverse United 2 replay is available for viewing through Fite TV.
Which match stole the show for you? What were takeaways from the event?