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TNA Hard to Kill: New Champs! New Faces! New Era!
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TNA Hard to Kill: New Champs! New Faces! New Era!

Coming from a boisterous sold-out Palms Casino Resort, TNA Wrestling was back, presenting “Hard To Kill,” a show of great action, big surprises, and historic title changes.

Steve Maclin defeated Rich Swann

Good, entertaining kickoff show with Rich Swann, dressed as Flash Funk (and clearly finding the outfit too hot and unwieldy quickly), losing a competitive bout to Steve Maclin in the first show of the new TNA era. Commentary let us know they were not messing around as Tom Hannifan pointed out Swann had never beaten Maclin in TNA but had beaten him twice during their time in WWE. Oh.

AJ Francis Debuts

AJ Francis (formerly Top Dolla in WWE) and DJ Whoo Kid introduced their new single and video, “We Outside,” to the live audience. Man, Francis came with all the heel heat here. Made no effort to get the crowd to like him at all. A few seconds into the video, Joe Hendry interrupts and debuts his single, crushing Francis. Whoo Kid shocks me and Hendry by smashing Hendry in the back with his laptop, followed by Francis chokeslamming Hendry. Best Francis segment ever.

The System (Eddie Edwards and Brian Myers) defeated Frankie Kazarian and Eric Young

The newly christened The System, represented by Eddie Edwards and “The Most Professional Wrestler” Brian Myers (accompanied by Alisha Edwards), beat Eric Young and Frankie Kazarian in a good tag match. The System is Moose, Myers, and the Edwardses (flanked by former NFL star and one-time TNA wrestler DeAngelo Williams) going from an informal alliance to a full-on group. I like it.

Crazzy Steve defeated Tommy Dreamer (c)

for the TNA Digital Media Championship

Crazzy Steve defeated Tommy Dreamer for the Digital Media champion in a No DQ match. The commentary says Dreamer dropped 40 pounds, and he definitely moved like it. Much faster-paced than their previous bout. Leave it to a Dreamer match to have a unique finish, with Steve filling Dreamer’s shirt with forks and doing a cannonball on him. Ouch, dammit. Belladonna’s Kiss DDT. New champ. Good stuff.

Beautiful, cold opening that made me think, “Barry Scott should be here.”
No, Scott, but Eric Young was the perfect choice to handle it live, walking out on the stage with the TNA roster behind him. Spine tingling.

Gisele Shaw defeated Alisha Edwards, Dani Luna, Jody Threat, Tasha Steelz, and Xia Brookside
Knockouts Ultimate X match

He throws immediately to the second-ever Knockouts Ultimate X match.
Tasha Steelz was introduced first, and she came out on fire! The energy of the show is already on 10. “The Quintessential Diva” Gisele Shaw wins Ultimate X over Steelz, Alisha Edwards, Jody Threat, and new signees Dani Luna and Xia Brookside.

It’s a fun match with the KOs doing a lot of work in the ring and the floor before taking any bumps off the cables. Good opener for the PLE.

PCO defeated Dirty Dango

Perfect Creation One (PCO) got a quick DQ win over Dirty Dango when Dango’s seconds–Alpha Bravo and Oleg Prudius interfered.

Rhino, Jake Something, and PCO defeated Alpha Bravo, Oleg Prudius, and Dirty Dango

Director of Authority Santino Marella came out and restarted the match, making it a 6 man with PCO’s partners being Rhino and Jake Something. Good shenanigans and another fun match with PCO pinning Bravo with a PCOsault for the win.

Decay defeated MK Ultra (C)

for the TNA Knockouts World Tag Team Championship

Knockouts World tag champions MK Ultra–Masha Slamovich and Killer Kelly–were scheduled to defend their titles, but no challenger had been announced. The first big surprise of the night is the return of Decay, Rosemary and Havok, in those identities clearly escaped from the Undead Realm (a story that’s about to get started again), who beat MK Ultra in a very good and physical tag match. Slamovich and Kelly always bring the hot strikes, but this time, Havok and Rosemary hit them back, even calling back to it being a decisive loss to Slamvich in 2022 that sent her on the spiral that resulted in JesSICKa. Two title matches and 2 title changes.

A segment with TNA President Scott D’Amore and Lucha Libre AAA Director General Dorian Joaquín Roldán Peña where TNA and AAA formalize their working agreement. Pena’s a business casual dresser, huh? With the AAA relationship going back decades, this felt more like making sure everyone understands that whoever AAA works with here, TNA will still be involved.

Chris Sabin (c) defeated El Hijo del Vikingo and KUSHIDA

for the TNA X Division Championship

X Division champion Chris Sabin successfully retains his title in a 3-way match over KUSHIDA and AAA Mega champion El Hijo del Vikingo in a great match that wasn’t just dudes making dives but smart attacks by all three. Sabin turned the advantage with a running Canadian Destroyer on Vikingo on the ringside ramp, taking him out of the match and overcoming a KUSHIDA’s Kimura attempt to hit his Cradle Shock slam for the win. Makes sense the guy who was doing these–for this title–before either of these guys were even wrestlers won.

Josh Alexander defeated Alex Hammerstone

Free agent star Alexander Hammerstone issued an open challenge, which was answered by “The Walking Weapon” Josh Alexander. Great job showing Hammerstone’s previous appearance years ago on the old Xplosion show. Everybody has been through TNA. I wasn’t sure how this would go, but I expected Alexander to be good. This was a great, hard-hitting slugfest. Another great Alexander match, and I’d put this with the last Fatu match as far as the best Hammerstone match I’ve seen. Josh is just a bad host to visitors.

ABC (c) defeated The Rascalz, Laredo Kid and Mike Bailey, and Grizzled Young Veterans

for the TNA World Tag Team Championship

ABC (Ace Austin and Chris Bey)–retained their World tag titles in a 4-way match over longtime, multi-company rivals the Rascalz (Trey Miguel and Zachary Wentz), former NXT UK champions the Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake and Zack Gibson), and “Speedball” Mike Bailey and Laredo Kid (filling in for Trent Seven, travel issues). I’m not generally a fan of these, but this was well done. A lot of smart tag team psychology and teamwork with some great athletic spots. ABC pin Miguel after their combination Art of Finesser cutter/Fold neckbreaker finish, ending their rivalry for now.

Four title matches and 2 title changes with the momentum now with the champions.

Jordynne Grace defeated Trinity (c)

for the TNA Knockouts World Championship

A fantastic package for the Knockout World title semi-main event. We see Ash By Elegance (formerly Dana Brooke of WWE) ringside (sitting in front of a guy I swear was Chris Jericho. Take a look. Please), looking glamorous. Interesting signee. 2023 Call Your Shot winner “The Juggernaut” Jordynne Grace called her shot and won her 3rd Knockouts World title, defeating Trinity in a battle, giving Trinity her first pinfall loss in TNA/Impact Wrestling. Helluva fight. Grace was charging hot, and Trinity didn’t back down. Grace powers her way out of Trinity’s Starstruck submission and hits a suplex, spinning back fist and Grace Driver for the win. Outstanding.

Moose defeated Alex Shelley (c)

for the TNA World Championship

Moose, looking lean out there, successfully cashed in his Feast or Fired briefcase, defeating Alex Shelley for the TNA World title, making it Moose’s second world title win and capping off a big night for The System.

Exquisite match. Shelley was the much smaller man but was the more experienced and far more technically savvy wrestler and focused early on Moose’s left arm, trying to neutralize his many weapons.

This is the match if you want to see how fighting on the floor should go. The attacks were still telling the story and sticking to the strategy employed in the ring: Moose with a power attack, Shelley on Moose’s arm. Both guys knew to take the second to break the count, so the ref didn’t look like a moron.

Shelley often plays something of a “dark” babyface, but he was all Tommy Rich in this one: holding off the larger man with tactics, strategy, and just pure heart and determination. He was even dominating the match late with Moose on the ropes.

Bleeding from the mouth, Moose escapes a second Shell Shock attempt and slams Shelley with a Spear for the win. Excellent match.

Surprising a celebrating Moose and The System, “The Wanted Man” Nic Nemeth slides in behind the new champion, laying him out and escaping into the crowd before the rest of The System hit the ring.

Nemeth rips off his t-shirt to reveal a TNA shirt underneath, so the former Dolph Ziggler is TNA!

Hot finish to a flawless PLE/PPV. TNA is back and already better than ever.

The Real Uncle Dave grade: A (100)

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