Taylor Wilde def. Masha Slamovich
I believe this marked the first time Wilde has used her new gimmick on TV after it was initially teased a vignette or two. I don't know the reason behind it other than her probably wanting to try something new, but her in-ring ability obviously remains the same. This was a good opener that served as a preview of the number one contender's four-way at Hard to Kill that both of them will be a part of. Slamovich embarking on a losing streak seems unnecessary.
Black Taurus def. Anthony Greene
Greene previously wrestled as August Grey in WWE NXT/205 Live and had a few matches for AEW last year on TV and on Dark. He's always been impressive and I was bummed when he got cut from WWE in 2021 before he could really get going, but he'll be a nice pickup for any promotion that locks him down to a deal. That includes IMPACT as I think he'd fit right into the X-Division. This was more competitive than I thought it would be considering Greene isn't signed as far as we know, but I'm not complaining. The victory gave Taurus a momentum boost before he challenges Trey Miguel for the Impact X-Division Championship at Hard to Kill.
Jonathan Gresham def. Ernest R. Anthony
This was Gresham's first match back in IMPACT. Gresham is super smooth in the ring and always a treat to watch wrestle. This basically served a showcase for him before he faces Eddie Edwards at Hard to Kill. It also left me looking forward to Gresham vs. Josh Alexander at some point, preferably for the Impact World Championship. I think those two could absolutely kill it against each other. Maybe at Rebellion?
Impact Digital Media Champion Joe Hendry Humiliated Moose
I'm still surprised that Moose went from defending the Impact World Championship in the main event of pay-per-views to challenging for the Impact Digital Media Championship in less than a year, but he's making the most of it. Plus, Henry's over with the audience, so it could be worse, I suppose. This mostly a stupid segment, but not in a bad way. Rather, it was more of the same from Hendry and I didn't mind it, but I hope they can get serious at some point, especially if this feud extends beyond the pay-per-view.
Impact World Tag Team Champion and NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Champion Chris Sabin def. Matt Cardona
This was a first-time-ever one-on-one encounter. Both guys are seasoned and very talented, so unsurprisingly, this was a well-worked, quality contest. They'll both be taking part in the three-way tag team match for the Impact World Tag Team Championship at Hard to Kill, so if this is what we can expect from that, it should be a lot of fun. I'm curious if Cardona lost because he's on his way out of IMPACT (and potentially back to WWE) or if I'm reading too much into it.
Bully Ray Attacked Scott D'Amore
I realize this storyline with Bully hasn't been for everyone, but to give credit where it's due, Bully has played his role really well in showing no remorse and biting back at everyone who has taken exception to his actions. That includes D'Amore, who didn't back down and instead struck Bully first because he had to know it was coming. Bully had help from John Skyler and Jason Hotch in putting D'Amore through the table. This was an effective way of putting more heat on Bully ahead of Hard to Kill and I'm sure Alexander will attempt to avenge D'Amore next week.
Even with the week off due to the holiday, IMPACT returned with a super solid show this week that was fully focused on hyping up Hard to Kill. The show-closing angle was well done and the matches were well wrestled. However, the best parts of the show were the tribute to the late, great Don West (rest in peace!) and the Mickie James career retrospective (which left me thinking we might actually see James' sendoff at Hard to Kill). The pay-per-view lineup has potential on paper, so here's hoping IMPACT can start the year off strong.