Marufuji def. Impact World Tag Team Champion Josh Alexander
I figured Marufuji's latest IMPACT run wrapped up with his loss to Michael Elgin at Bound for Glory, but apparently it isn't over yet and that can only been seen as a positive. I've mentioned before how we haven't seen enough of Alexander on his own since he signed with IMPACT earlier this year, so it was cool he had that opportunity to shine here and I thought he made the most of it. This was an excellent opener, and with Marufuji winning, I'm wondering whether he'll find a partner and challenge for the Impact World Tag Team Championship soon.
Jordynne Grace, rosemary and Alexis Nicole def. Impact Knockouts Champion Taya Valkyrie, Kiera Hogan and Madison Rayne
This was a nice showcase for some of the ladies in IMPACT's stacked Knockouts division. What's crazy is that the likes of Tessa Blanchard, Tenille Dashwood, Su Yung and Havok weren't even involved. I don't think Nicole is officially signed, but maybe she will be soon. Grace was extra impressive in this match and I assume she'll be getting another shot at the Impact Knockouts Championship soon enough considering she pinned Valkyrie in this bout. I also hope Hogan isn't too hurt if her injury was legitimate.
Rich Swann and Willie Mack def. Desi Hit Squad
Desi Hit Squad being featured on IMPACT's first show on AXS TV was a bit of a weird call since they aren't the most exciting act in the world, but to their credit, they did well here. Besides, this was mostly about Swann and Mack, who made this thing passable. I appreciated that it was kept relatively short and sweet with Swann and Mack getting back on the right track as they prepare to go back after the tag titles.
Joey Ryan Confronted Ken Shamrock
The big question coming into this show was whether Shamrock was going to officially announce his retirement or not, but he ultimately revealed that he'll be sticking around for the foreseeable future. His next opponent? None other than Joey Ryan. Yes, Ryan recently returned and re-signed with the promotion, and while I get a kick out of his shtick, I fully believe he wound up in IMPACT because it wouldn't fly in any major wrestling company such as WWE or AEW. I don't think I'll ever fully understand his hype, but we'll see how he and Shamrock do in their match next week.
Impact X-Division Champion Ace Austin def. Eddie Edwards in a Street Fight (Non-Title)
As entertained as I was by this Street Fight, I don't understand the logic in blowing off their long-running rivalry right now. Austin beat Edwards before Bound for Glory and I thought that would have been it for a while. With Austin becoming the X-Division Champion at the event and Edwards earning an opportunity to wrestle for any championship of his choosing earlier that evening, I figured it only made sense for them to revisit their rivalry down the road. However, they went back at it on this show without the gold up for grabs. From an in-ring standpoint, however, this was terrific and Austin was able to pick up another big win over Edwards.
Sami Callihan def. Brian Cage in a Steel Cage Match to Win the Impact World Championship
Cage and Callihan have tremendous chemistry together and that was once again evident in this awesome main event. They utilized the Steel Cage stipulation well and I really appreciated that there wasn't any interference from the rest of oVe. That sounds like a small thing, but far too often do people get involved in cage matches when the whole point of the match is for there not to be any interference. They brought the intensity, the crowd was invested in the action, and the use of blood was a nice touch. Cage was made to look strong by kicking out of so much that he lost nothing in defeat (except for the championship, of course). I was disappointed Callihan didn't take the title at Bound for Glory because of how he's the top heel in IMPACT at the moment, but it was even smarter to wait until this show to pull the trigger so the AXS TV debut felt newsworthy. Blanchard emerged afterward and stared down Callihan, so it looks like those two will be reigniting their feud over the world title in the remainder of the year.
For the first time in a several years, IMPACT actually has buzz. It isn't a ton, mind you, but they are taking steps in the right direction, including getting on a bigger network than they were on before. They kicked off their latest new era with a wonderful show. It was filled with a notable title change, top-notch matches, quality character development and, most importantly, plenty of promotion for next week. If it's been a while since you last tuned into IMPACT, I'd implore you to tune in again and give them another chance. I highly doubt you'll be disappointed.