IMPACT Impresses, Honor Lives | Best of the Rest #2

Last week, an Eddie Kingston masterclass guided NJPW Strong to victory in the series premiere but this time, we should have a slightly fairer fight. After all, one of the world’s best isn’t being borrowed this week…well, not in my book anyway but I’ll leave that there. Instead, IMPACT Wrestling has a PPV to build upon while elsewhere, the Azteca and Nemesis brands fittingly reach their own episode two. In addition, NWA Powerrr’s return to YouTube enters its second week, headlined by Matt Cardona’s in-ring promotional debut.

Match of the Week

The week’s four best matches, regardless of promotion or show.

  1. AAA Reina de Reinas & ROH Women’s World Titles: Deonna Purrazzo (c) vs. Rok-C (c) – IMPACT Wrestling 1/13/22

The comfortable victor for this week’s best match, Deonna Purrazzo and Rok-C actually exceeded my expectations. At just 20 years old, Rok-C’s skill is already immense but in fear of understating her effort here, this was the Deonna Purrazzo show in my view. Guiding the match, Purrazzo paced this perfectly, working with the poise that’s made her such an impressive IMPACT centrepiece. Rok-C isn’t far behind her though and regardless of where she lands in 2022, it’s hard to have anything but high hopes for the now former ROH Women’s World Champion.

2. Laredo Kid vs. Chris Bey – IMPACT Wrestling 1/13/22

The kind of match that makes IMPACT’s lead in stature all the more obvious, this was the ideal television opener for any brand. Action packed but not short on time either, this was a showcase of two spectacular wrestlers having the modern match, adding their own individual flair along the way. Chris Bey is a fascinating one in terms of IMPACT’s big picture because it feels like for at least a year now, maybe more, I’ve been waiting for him to escape this tier but nonetheless, he certainly made the most of that role against Laredo Kid.

3. Kiera Hogan vs. Christi Jaynes vs. Jennacide vs. Kenzie Paige – NWA Powerrr 1/11/22

Armed with just a smidge over five minutes, I thought this was a real triumph in both execution and production. Tightly sequenced and built around each woman’s (at times literal) strength, this left all four parties in a better spot than they entered. Kiera Hogan is on some kind of AEW deal but remains a relative regular on NWA Powerrr, with performances like this serving a swift reminder as to her often cited ceiling. She wasn’t alone in this one though, as all four women rose to the occasion and produced a strong television opener.

4. JONAH vs. David Finlay – NJPW Strong: Nemesis 1/15/22

Though not trying to be anything particularly epic or special, this was still efficient pro wrestling action. JONAH is quickly growing on me with showings like this, working with an increased edge and finally packing a punch befitting his physical stature. Finlay was really just the victim here, offering a hope spot or two but little more. Naturally, that limited this match’s quality but hopefully, will prove to be a worthwhile sacrifice, as JONAH won emphatically, battering Finlay in the Strong main event. These two can have a better match, but that doesn’t make this one any less effective.

Segment of the Week

The week’s four best segments, from backstage interviews to in-ring brawls.

  1. Charlie Haas & Josh Alexander In-Ring Promo & Brawl – IMPACT Wrestling 1/13/22

I have to say, I had my reservations about this one when the news broke, but this segment was far stronger than I’d imagined. Firstly, Josh Alexander continued to impress in this setting, cutting a fiery in-ring promo and setting the stage for Charlie Haas’ arrival. Haas surprised me though, really bringing his A-game and verbally at least, maximising an opportunity that he clearly relished. We’ll see how the match goes but so far, so good, even including some encouraging physicality.

2. W. Morrissey In-Ring Promo – IMPACT Wrestling 1/13/22

I’m not sure how I feel about this potentially becoming a regular occurrence but I have to be fair and once again, W. Morrissey impressed on IMPACT. Opening the post-PPV edition, Morrissey stood in centre ring and with a microphone in hand, convinced the live crowd that he’d suddenly became the promotion’s top babyface. Well, the name above this may disagree with that but either way, Morrissey’s emerging connection with this audience is worth noting, his promos a key reason why.

3. Jax Dane Interview, Rodney Mack Response – NWA Powerrr 1/11/22

I know, I know, I couldn’t believe that I typed those words either. Look folks, these shows aren’t exactly packed with good non-wrestling content but honestly, even if they were, I’m ranking this. Here, Jax Dane cut a solid promo, continuing his apparent issue with Anthony Mayweather and/or Mims. Then though, Dane took a shot at Jazz’s tribute from Hard Times 2. This brought out Rodney Mack…yes, Rodney Mack, who punched Dane in the face and got me to yell, showing human emotion in a fashion not familiar when watching this show.

4. Homicide, La Rebellion & OGK Interview – NWA Powerrr 1/11/22

This wasn’t even anything good really, but it at least had some life so here it is I guess. Perhaps I’m forgetting something but who cares? This gets Homicide another point and that’s usually what I’ll do if I don’t see an alternative. Basically, these five guys argued with each other and one of them may have raised their voice a little. It wasn’t boring or embarrassing, so a home run in that sense.

Star of the Week

The top four stars of the week, excluding talent signed to the big two.

  1. Deonna Purrazzo

2021 was a great year for Deonna Purrazzo but only weeks into 2022, this may have been her finest showing yet. Personally, this was probably my favourite Purrazzo performance and considering her consistency in IMPACT, that’s no mean feat. Against Rok-C, Purrazzo produced an effort befitting the original Ring of Honor identity, sharing a sublime television main event with Rok-C. Purrazzo continues to improve, even after so long as champion, showing more and more skill as her confidence climbs.

2. JONAH

Dominating the NJPW Strong main event and slaughtering poor Raj Singh, JONAH had a dominant week. It’s always fun to see talent contributing to multiple territories at once and unless they miss dramatically on either side, such a feat will probably always earn a placement of some kind. Here though, JONAH’s candidacy speaks for itself, impressing on both shows with an overlapping performance and presentation also. Whether it’s IMPACT or Strong, JONAH feels like a player and weeks like this one are why.

3. Rok-C

The other half of that aforementioned IMPACT main event, Rok-C was a more than worthy dance-partner for Deonna Purrazzo. An absolute prodigy, Rok-C is skilled far beyond her years, showing astounding technical acumen and wrestling with a raw enthusiasm that screams through the screen. It’s staggering to consider just how good Rok-C will be in a 5-10 years but frankly, she’s already special. If this particular chapter of Rok-C’s career concluded on Thursday, it was an ideal start to what should be a wonderful career.

4. Mike Bailey

Indeed, it’s a clean sweep for IMPACT and frankly, comfortably so. Even if I was to replace ‘Speedball’ Mike Bailey, the alternatives would probably be Chris Bey or Laredo Kid, maybe even Charlie Haas. That should give you a clue as to the next category but anyway, I’ve decided to give Bailey the last spot here, shining bright in a showcase match with Jake Something. Bailey’s reputation speaks for itself, but it was wonderful to see his act translate like this to television, unsurprisingly connecting with ease.

Show of the Week

The week’s television shows ranked in order, from best to worst.

  1. IMPACT Wrestling

Honestly, the category triumph alone doesn’t quite capture just how comfortably IMPACT led the way this week. In fact, their show was such an obvious victor that this week, IMPACT felt more comparable to the big two than the three below. Now, that’s not always the case, far from it unfortunately but this was an example of what the promotion can produce. Days removed from a critically acclaimed PPV, IMPACT actually added to their hype, producing an objectively impressive episode of wrestling television.

They can’t all be like this but with the current roster, they can be close and in 2022, that’s the goal for IMPACT Wrestling.

2. NJPW Strong

Though it didn’t feature anything even close to must-see, NJPW Strong’s format gave it the nod over NWA Powerrr. This show is just incredibly watchable, not overstaying its welcome and almost exclusively sticking to what’s advertised. In fact, they may even go too far in that direction at times, with barely a segment in-between but overall, this approach makes for a product that’s inoffensive at the very least. This episode’s actual highlight was Brody King’s mauling of Dave Dutra, a delightful extended squash.

3. NWA Powerrr

Once again, I didn’t hate NWA Powerrr and indeed, I still like this format. In fear of repeating myself any further though, the system’s effectiveness is simply limited by the wrestlers filling these roles. They have something with Matt Cardona as a potential top heel and perhaps Kiera Hogan’s upcoming chase of Kamille but outside of that, there’s not much to watch for. It’s a shame, as I don’t think any great optimism is required to see this product’s potential. Sadly, it’s just a wrestler or twelve away from that right now.

4. MLW Azteca

Through two weeks, MLW Azteca just isn’t any good, unfortunately. Now, it’s early days of course and again, this isn’t their flagship programme but I can only cover what’s in front of me and sadly, it’s pretty rough. The Lucha Underground style vignettes may appeal more to others but the production limits those and once the (digital) bell rings, the product’s just without any real quality. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind the tag title match but that wasn’t nearly good enough to make up for the rest.

The Top Talent

The top four talents thus far, ranked by the best match, segment and star categories above.

  1. Deonna Purrazzo – 13 Points
  2. Matt Cardona – 10 Points
  3. Gabriel Kidd – 7 Points
  4. Rok-C – 6 Points

The Top Territory

The four promotions’ performance thus far, ranked by the best match, segment and show categories above.

  1. IMPACT Wrestling – 27 Points
  2. NWA Powerrr – 14 Points
  3. NJPW Strong – 12 Points
  4. MLW Azteca – 7 Points

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