Road To Impact WrestlingxNJPW Multiverse United

Each year, it seems increasingly difficult to stand out amongst the throng of shows produced during WrestleMania weekend. Part of that is because we have our Mania weekend staples, but also because wrestlers work multiple shows and it results in a homogenization of the cards.

Last year, Impact Wrestling stood out by holding a “Multiverse of Matches” event, a supercard pitting their talent against wrestlers from Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, AAA, and the NWA. In 2023, Impact would once again hold a “Multiverse” event, but this time, it would be co-promoted with New Japan Pro Wrestling exclusively. Many domestic New Japan wrestlers found a second home in Impact Wrestling during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that relationship remains active today.

Once the Multiverse event was announced, I decided I would cover all of the matches featuring New Japan talent in Impact from the date the event was announced (February 8, 2023) through March 30, 2023, the day of the event itself, to see how the wrestlers were featured leading up to the show. It’s made easy for me as Impact puts everything on YouTube now, and that ease has resulted in me watching Impact at the most consistent rate I have since 2006.

1 - KUSHIDA vs Bey

KUSHIDA vs. Chris Bey
Impact Wrestling #966 – Kissimmee, FL – 2.16.2023

Ace Austin is in Bey’s corner and The Motor City Machine Guns are in KUSHIDA’s corner. On last week’s episode, Bey and Austin defeated Knight and KUSHIDA in tag action. Bey was wise to drive KUSHIDA back first into the apron to avoid an upturned armbreaker on the floor. However, KUSHIDA punted Bey’s shoulder when he entered the ring, and then delivered a running knee strike to the same arm from the ring apron to the outside. KUSHIDA continues to attack the arm. Austin wisened up Bey to move out of the way of a PK from behind to the shoulder. Bey landed a tiger feint kick from the floor, but then he and KUSHIDA knocked each other down with stereo clotheslines. Bey gets the better of an exchange back in the ring, knocking down KUSHIDA with a flying forearm shot. He then pulls KUSHIDA up into a Burning Hammer for two. KUSHIDA knocks him back to the floor with a forward roll and follows with a somersault senton off of the top turnbuckle! Bey blocks a hammerlock brainbuster, so KUSHIDA dropkicks his shoulder. Bey then sends KUSHIDA throat first into the middle rope and hits the Finesser or a close two count. He goes for the Art of Finesse, but is caught in mid-air with a cross armbreaker. Bey escapes that and tries a Gedo Clutch. KUSHIDA kicks out, and when Bey tries an Ace Crusher, he uses a hammerlock to pull Bey down into a cradle and pins him at 11:43. That was very effective as a preview for their six man tag at No Surrender, as I definitely want to see more of these two in the ring together. KUSHIDA’s arm work got the crowd engaged, and it made Bey’s comebacks all the more impressive. I also appreciated that their partners were there for support, but did not get involved. It is uncommon to see Bey in singles action these days, so this was a real treat. ***½

2 - Knight vs Price

Kevin Knight vs. Jack Price
Impact Wrestling Before The Impact #106 – Kissimmee, FL – 2.16.2023

Price was a runner up in the latest Impact Wrestling Gut Check competition. Knight takes a page out of his partner’s book, attacking Price’s left shoulder at the start of the match. He also shows off his impressive strength with a bodyslam on the larger opponent. Price resorts to hair pulling and an eye rake to turn the match in his favor, and gets a nearfall on Knight after dropkicking him out of mid-air. Price shows off his strength with a full nelson sit-out slam, as well as a German suplex after a Snake Eyes out of a torture rack. Knight stuffs him with a prawn hold driver and his signature dropkick. After a Stinger Splash, he lands a low shoulder tackle and a standing Mad Splash for two. Knight low bridges Price to the floor and wipes him out with a pescado. Price catches Knight in the ropes, superkicking him before pulling him out of the ropes and into a Complete Shot. He pops up Knight into jawbreaker for two. Knight evades another pop-up, dropkicking Price away mid-air. He then successfully delivers his leaping DDT for the pin at 8:04. I considered skipping this because it doesn’t have a direct throughline to the Multiverse event, but I’m really glad I didn’t. The dynamic of Price as the powerhouse and Knight as the agile, charismatic babyface was super fun to watch. I’m glad these BTI matches can give you something to sink your teeth into. ***¼

3 - Time Machine vs BULLET CLUB

Time Machine (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin & KUSHIDA) vs. BULLET CLUB (KENTA, Ace Austin & Chris Bey)
Impact Wrestling No Surrender 2023 – Las Vegas, NV – 2.24.2023

This is KENTA’s Impact Wrestling debut, and he is the current NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship. Time Machine continues KUSHIDA’s work from last week and targets Bey’s left arm. Bey maneuvers his way to the apron to evade a corner attack from Shelley and surprises him with a trip which leads to a double stomp to the lower back. Sabin helps Shelley with some tandem offense on Austin. Austin trips Sabin into a low enzuigiri, but Shelley and KUSHIDA intervene to keep the match in their favor, taking down Bey and KENTA in the process. Shelley stirs up Bey and KENTA, spitting in their direction before he and Sabin nail a double dropkick to Austin in a tree of woe. As Austin fights back, Bey sneaks in a blind tag while Austin hits the ropes en route to a Fosbury Flop on KUSHIDA and Sabin. Bey then wipes out all of Time Machine with a dive of his own, and KENTA sends KUSHIDA face first into the ring post. The BULLET CLUB successfully isolates KUSHIDA in their corner while the Guns lick their wounds. KUSHIDA escapes after nailing KENTA with a Pele Kick and tags in Sabin. He and Shelley get all of the BULLET CLUB on the floor. Sabin wipes out KENTA with a suicide dive while his partners take care of Austin and Bey. The Guns have Bey at hand, but Sabin accidentally takes out both of his partners with kicks to the head. KENTA wipes out Sabin in the corner before delivering a top rope double stomp for a two count. Sabin escapes the Go 2 Sleep and drops KENTA with a brainbuster. Sabin however falls victim to a springboard enzuigiri/torture rack neckbreaker combo from Austin and Bey, but manages to kick out from Bey’s pin just in time. Sabin German suplexes Bey to counter the Art of Finesse and then plants Austin with a tornado DDT. This leads to an offense sequence that ends with Austin taking a triple Dream Sequence and triple enzuigiri/big boot in the corner from Time Machine. Sabin has Austin set up for Skull and Bones. KENTA pulls Shelley out of the ring, and Bey holds Shelley’s foot as he attempts to ascend the ropes. This chaos results in Austin catching Sabin off guard with a backslide for the pin at 19:04. That ending took some of the wind out my sails, but the action before it was excellent. I also like that they flipped the roles and had the BULLET CLUB as the crowd favorites, which commentary attributed to Bey being a Vegas local. They honed in on the Guns going against Bey and Austin, which is perfect given what’s coming on the next episode of Impact, and Bey and Austin’s victory gives them momentum in both Impact and New Japan since Guns hold titles in both companies. Despite the so-so ending, this was very enjoyable. ***½

4 - Haste vs Bailey

Shane Haste vs. Mike Bailey
Impact Wrestling #968 – Las Vegas, NV – 3.2.2023

Haste is part of the TMDK faction in New Japan, and this is his Impact debut. Haste impresses himself with a snapmare into a dropkick to the back of Bailey’s head. Multiple kicks send Haste to the floor, but when Bailey attempts a suicide dive, Haste intercepts with an uppercut and a backdrop onto the ring apron. Back in the ring, Haste uses a Saito suplex to score a nearfall, and another after a high-angle release Falcon Arrow. Bailey fights Haste off of the top rope and follows him with a dropkick off of the top turnbuckle. Bailey gets Haste down before landing a twisting shooting star press for two. Bailey kicks Haste in the chest after evading a dropkick, following up with Kneecolepsy. Haste comes back with a pump kick and a release belly-to-back suplex. Bailey escapes the Dynamic Bomb and backslides Haste into a schoolboy, dumping Haste to the floor. Bailey follows with a Bermuda Triangle. Haste rolls away from an Ultima Weapon attempt and drills Bailey with a dropkick. The Dynamic Bomb connects, but Bailey kicks out at two. Bailey counters Bomb Valley Death with a spike reverse Frankensteiner. A superkick and tornado enzuigiri leads to Bailey successfully pulling off the Ultima Weapon for the pin at 10:36. The constant momentum shifts kept the match really exciting, as did seeing each competitor have to work for the bigger moves in their arsenal. I think Haste made a really good first impression in this match, and I am really interested to see him alongside his TMDK brethren in future Impact bouts. ***¼

5 - King vs Knight

Kenny King vs Kevin Knight
Impact Wrestling #968 – Las Vegas, NV – 3.2.2023

King sneaks in a cheap shot at the start, but Knight is able to recover quickly and dropkick King to the floor. King tags him in the jaw with a forearm smash, but turns his back on Knight after throwing him into the ring. Knight surprises him with a tope con hilo. King kicks the top rope when Knight attempts a springboard maneuver and turns him inside out with a clothesline. Knight tries a springboard crossbody, but King catches him and swings him into a backbreaker. When King catches a second backbreaker, Knight swings into a crucifix pin for two. He also ducks a spinwheel kick and delivers his own backbreaker to King. He pulls off the crossbody successfully for two. King kicks Knight away before Knight can apply a Boston Crab and drops him with a spinebuster. King stuns him on the top turnbuckle with an enzuigiri and pulls him down into the Royal Flush for the pin at 6:02. Knight had a good showing but was very clearly positioned as beneath King rather than an equal. This was a solid but unspectacular match overall. **½

6 - MCMG vs Austin & Bey

Impact World Tag Team Championship
The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) vs. BULLET CLUB (Ace Austin & Chris Bey)
Impact Wrestling #968 – Las Vegas, NV – 3.2.2023

The MCMG have been champions since 12.15.2022 and this is their second defense. Earlier in the night, the BULLET CLUB challenged the MCMG to this match, leveraging their victory from No Surrender and insisting that they’re the best tag team today to convince Sabin and Shelley to agree to putting the titles on the line. The champions manhandle the challengers until Bey leapfrogs over a charge from Sabin, resulting in him tackling Shelley in the corner. Bey and Austin dropkick Sabin and Shelley to the floor and follow with stereo suicide dives. Sabin is beat down by the challengers, but he exploits Bey’s shoulder with a knee strike, enabling Shelley to jump in and take him down with simultaneous back and chest kicks. The Guns focus their attack on Bey’s left arm. Sabin accidentally clobbers the ring post with his own arm, but before Bey has a chance to try and tag Austin, Shelley stomps Bey’s upturned shoulder and wrist into the ring apron. Shelley spits in Austin’s direction before hyper extending Bey’s arm, but that only makes Austin more intense when Bey knocks Shelley down with an enzuigiri and tags him in. Austin knocks both Guns to the floor, and Bey cleans up with a tope con hilo. Sabin takes them both out with a high crossbody back inside the ring. Shelley takes out Austin with a dragonscrew leg whip in the corner. The Guns apply more damage to Bey’s arm and take him down Bey with a Doomsday Dropkick, and Shelley spiked him with the Shell Shock. When Bey kicks out he pulls him right into Shell Shock. Bey rolls Shelley onto his shoulders to escape. Austin saves Bey from the AS/CS Rush. With Bey, they send Sabin to the floor with stereo roundhouse kicks. The Art of Finesse from Bey and The Fold from Austin get Bey the pin on Shelley at 18:03 to win the tag titles. Keeping the roles flipped, as they did in the six man tag at No Surrender, was smart, as the crowd was behind the hometown hero Bey and had tacit permission to celebrate when they won the title. It helps that Sabin and Shelley are able to expertly play whatever role is needed. I also like that they wrestled the match in a way where the Guns were always aiming for a 2-on-1 situation, and whenever it wasn’t, the BULLET CLUB bested them. This was a very fun and satisfying title change, and these two teams together are as coherent as it gets. ***¾

7 - KUSHIDA vs Gresham

KUSHIDA vs. Jonathan Gresham
Impact Wrestling #969 – Las Vegas, NV – 3.9.2023

Gresham aggressively went for KUSHIDA’s left arm, pulling it as far up KUSHIDA’s shoulders as it can go in a hammerlock on the mat. KUSHIDA backslid Gresham into a hand stomp, and from a wrist clutch pulled Gresham into a German suplex. Gresham transitioned into a kimura lock attempt upon landing, and KUSHIDA rolled his way up and worked for a cross armbreaker. When he finally gets it, Gresham places his feet on the bottom rope to escape. He Magistral cradles KUSHIDA for two, and then stomps on his shoulder before walking him into an Oklahoma Roll for two. Both men hurt themselves when they go for shoulder blocks at the same time. When he winds up for the Tanaka Punch, Gresham holds onto the ropes, but it hurts his shoulders again. KUSHIDA pulls Gresham down into the Hoverboard Lock, and Gresham immediately submits at 10:06. That was the “human chess match” you often see Gresham have with people like Zack Sabre or Timothy Thatcher. With KUSHIDA having a signature submission, he was a perfect person for Gresham to have that style of match against, and also a great opponent for KUSHIDA to defeat en route to challenging for the IMPACT World Title. To the surprise of nobody, this was great. ***¼

8 - Alexander, Kaz & Swann vs BULLET CLUB

BULLET CLUB (KENTA, Ace Austin & Chris Bey) vs. Josh Alexander, Frankie Kazarian & Rich Swann
Impact Wrestling #970 – Las Vegas, NV – 3.16.2023

The crowd perked up when KENTA and Alexander were tagged in against each other. Austin grabbed a hold of Alexander when he positioned himself on the middle rope after giving KENTA a Finlay Roll, but Swann and Kazarian made sure he and Bey wouldn’t be a factor. When we come back from a commercial break, Bey knocks down Swann with a tumbling kick to the back of the head. Austin and Bey unleash more kicks to Swann’s noggin, and almost have him beat with Click Click Boom. Swann ends up tagging in Kazarian after he and KENTA knock each other down with stereo clotheslines. He DDT’s both Austin and Bey simultaneously, and tags in Alexander when Bey gets on offense. Alexander halts a headscissors and powerbombs Bey onto his knee. Swann lands a 450 splash off of the middle rope, but Austin pulls him to the outside to prevent a pinfall from occurring. Everybody ends up on the outside by the entrance ramp, and Kazarian gives Bey an Ace Crusher onto everyone else. Back in the ring, KENTA wipes out Kazarian with a Busaiku Knee. Josh Alexander has Austin hooked for the C4 Spike when he becomes distracted by Steve Maclin who is peering out of the entrance way. KENTA kicks him out of the ring. Swann tries to fight off the BULLET CLUB on his own, but the Art of Finesse and the Fold put him down for the pin at 13:56. This was meant to serve as a warm up match for the Tecnico trio, who are facing Time Machine at Sacrifice, and it showed that they have some more work to do if they want to be a successful triumvirate. It was a fun, chaotic mess while it lasted, and showed there’s some juice in a singles match between KENTA and Josh Alexander. ***¼

9 - Knight vs Miguel

Kevin Knight vs. Trey Miguel
Impact Wrestling Before The Impact #110 – Las Vegas, NV – 3.23.2023

Miguel shows a lot of swagger, and Knight is more than welcome to do the same. He damages Miguel’s ribs with a jumping Mad Splash. Miguel rams Knight’s throat into the top rope to escape a waistlock, and after sweeping out Knight’s legs, he toys with him by slingshotting over the top rope just to stomp on his face. Knight wakes up after a chop, so Miguel knocks him down with a back elbow. Miguel avoids both a dropkick from Knight, and a crossbody, resulting in Knight crashing down on both occasions. Miguel also taps Knight low when the referee isn’t looking. Knight counters a Roll of the Dice with a snapmare and his signature dropkick. Miguel goes under a leapfrog and crotches Knight on the top rope. He misses a dropkick while Knight is in a tree of woe, and Knight wipes out Miguel with a high crossbody for two. Miguel sends Knight face first into the middle turnbuckle and lights him up with various kicks. Miguel leapfrogs over a dive, sending Knight shoulder first into the ring post. The Lightning Spiral gets Miguel the pinfall at 8:32. This got a little repetitive, and was more or less a showcase for Miguel, but Knight still looked excellent. Commentary also did a really good job discussing how Knight would fit right in with the X-Division which I think helped his presentation. **¾

10 - Time Machine vs Design

Time Machine (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin & KUSHIDA) vs. The Design (Deaner, Angels & Kon)
Impact Wrestling #971 – Las Vegas, NV – 3.23.2023

Angels mocked the Guns with their Detroit hand sign after taking Sabin down. Time Machine made him pay with a double punt to his arms, and Sabin hesitation dropkicking him while KUSHIDA and Shelley had his legs spread crotch first into the ring post. Time Machine continues to attack Angels, with some focus on his left shoulder. Angels ducks a strike from Sabin and drops him with a neckbreaker, tagging in Deaner who pounds away at Sabin’s head while he is still grounded. Sabin breaks out of the Design’s corner by surprising Deaner with a sunset flip and a prawn hold, which launches him to a tag to KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA Pele kicks Deaner, and Shelley assists with a double team on Angels, ending with a punt to the shoulder. KUSHIDA handspring kicks Kon to the floor with his partners. The Guns hold them all in place so KUSHIDA can land a springboard splash onto all of The Design. Shelley accidentally gamengiri’s KUSHIDA from the apron when Deaner moves out of the way. Shelley does save KUSHIDA from being pinned after a Doomsday Device, and sends Deaner into the turnbuckles with a Complete Shot. Angels is caught with a triple Dream Sequence and triple boot/enzuigiri combo in the corner. Deaner saves Angels from Skull and Bones. Callihan, who is with the Design, sacrifices himself to taking the AS/CS Rush instead of Deaner, but it doesn’t save Deaner or Kon from a dive from Sabin. When Angels looks to dive, KUSHIDA swoops in and pulls him into the Hoverboard Lock. Sabin kicks Angels hand away when Angels grabs the bottom rope, and KUSHIDA rolls to the middle of the ring with the hold applied. Angels submits at 14:18. This was solid, but less exciting than the Time Machine trios match against BULLET CLUB. There was no need for both teams to have extended control segments in this, and no need for Callihan’s interjection either. The match was at its best when Angels was in for the Design, which fortunately was often. As a warm up for Sacrifice this was solid, but The Design aren’t the best trio for Time Machine to be showcased at their best. ***

The next morning, it was revealed that Josh Alexander had torn his tricep and would be undergoing surgery. He would be vacating the Impact World Title. Hopefully he and KUSHIDA will meet somewhere down the line when Alexander is healed.

11 - Austin & Bey vs TMDK

Impact World Tag Team Championship
BULLET CLUB (Ace Austin & Chris Bey) vs. TMDK (Shane Haste & Bad Dude Tito)
Impact Wrestling Sacrifice 2023 – Windsor, ONT – 3.24.2023

BULLET CLUB have been champions since 3.2.2023 and this is their first defense. This is Tito’s Impact debut. This match is interesting, as it pits two heavyweights from TMDK against two juniors from BULLET CLUB, meaning it is very unlikely to see this exact two-on-two match in New Japan proper. We saw that dynamic throughout the match, with Big Teets using his strength to take down Bey and Austin. Bey and Austin then teamed up on Haste, scoring an early nearfall via Click Click Boom. Tito managed to tag himself in when Austin ran Haste to the ropes in a waistlock. Haste immediately passed Austin to Tito for a Blue Thunder Bomb and knocked Bey off of the ring apron. Austin tripped Haste into a low enzuigiri and kneed him in the face before tagging Bey. Bey knocked Tito off of the apron before snapping off a headscissors on Haste, and then took out Tito with a tope con hilo. Haste kicked out of the Finesser and took out Bey with a Saito suplex. A Doctor Bomb from Big Teets gets him a two count on Austin. Tito also gives Bey a taste of his own medicine with his own suicide dive. Bey makes it back in the ring to save Austin from being pinned by a Tito frog splash. Haste then saves Tito after a torture rack drop/enzuigiri combo. Bey and Austin wipe out Haste with double knees on the ring apron. After double roundhouse kicks to Tito, the Art of Finesse and The Fold get the BULLET CLUB the pin at 12:25. This did a good job introducing the Impact audience to TMDK before the Multiverse show. It is a bit of a head scratcher that they’d get this title match just six days before the four way title match at Multivere United, but it ultimately doesn’t matter. Of course the teams worked very well together, and I think Tito and Haste made a very good impression. ***¼

12 - Time Machine vs Maclin, Kazarian & Swann

Time Machine (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin & KUSHIDA) vs. Steve Maclin, Frankie Kazarian & Rich Swann
Impact Wrestling Sacrifice 2023 – Windsor, ONT – 3.24.2023

Maclin replaces the originally scheduled Josh Alexander. He and KUSHIDA will wrestle at Impact’s “Rebellion” event in April to determine the new Impact World Champion. Maclin is more rough around the edges than his partners, which you can see in the opening exchanges. Swann and Kazarian respectfully acknowledge their opponent when they reach a stalemate, but Maclin pulls Shelley by his hair to take him back to his corner. Kazarian also gives Maclin an earful when he illegally attacks Time Machine after they give Swann a triple team Dream Sequence. Interestingly, later on, Maclin would shove Swann into Time Machine’s arms so they could continue to beat him down. Swann impressively fights them off on his own for long enough to tag Kazarian and get a reprieve. Kazarian impressively is able to take them all on, landing three consecutive springboard legdrops on each member. The Guns take him down with a dropkick/Complete Shot combo, but Kazarian kicks out and also escapes a Cradle Shock attempt from Sabin. He tags Swann back in, but Maclin tags himself in just when Swann is about to hit a 450 splash on Sabin. It backfires, as Sabin is able to quickly take him out with an Ace Crusher. Swann succumbs to an enzuigiri/dragonscrew leg whip combo when he comes back into the ring. KUSHIDA Pele kicks him to the corner and nails him with a shotei. He drives his knee into Maclin’s left shoulder before giving it a penalty kick. Maclin stampedes Kushida into the corner and spears him while in a tree of woe. Kazarian and Swann each land an Ace Crusher on KUSHIDA, and Swann is finally able to land his 450 splash afterwards. KUSHIDA kicks out from that, and Time Machine regroups with triple submissions. Maclin breaks free first but is taken down with triple team offense. KUSHIDA moonsaults Kazarian into a neckbreaker from Sabin, and Sabin assists Shelley with Sliced Bread #2 on Swann. Shelley surprises Maclin with the Shell Shock, and Sabin launches KUSHIDA into Maclin. He pulls down Maclin into the Hoverboard Lock, with Maclin tapping out quickly at 21:55. There is no getting around the fact that Alexander’s absence hurt this match. I like Maclin quite a bit, but his presence changed the entire complexion of the match for the worse, as I don’t think the forced partner who makes decisions that hurt the match for himself and his partners is ideal for a PPV main event. The match also ran quite long, resulting in some filler. What it did do well was provide some fun, exciting moments, and give KUSHIDA a significant mental advantage over Maclin heading into Rebellion. This was about as good as Time Machine’s other efforts, and I can’t help but think that Alexander would’ve helped bolster the overall match quality. ***½

13 - Alexander vs KENTA

Impact World Championship
Josh Alexander vs. KENTA
Impact Wrestling #972 – Las Vegas, NV – 3.30.2023

This match was filmed on 2.25.2023, and was shown as part of a special Multiverse United preview episode that aired right before the PPV. KENTA is a cool customer in the opening moments, but that changes when Alexander gets him briefly in an ankle lock. KENTA then grabs the bottom rope and pulls Alexander face first into the middle turnbuckle. He chest kicks the champion to the floor and sends him face first into the ring post. Despite taking a neckbreaker, Alexander gets the better of KENTA during a strike exchange, leading to him Finlay rolling KENTA to the corner where Alexander comes off of the middle turnbuckle with a knee to the back of his neck. KENTA rushes to the turnbuckle when Alexander grabs a waistlock and yanks off the top turnbuckle pad when Alexander pulls him away. KENTA turns things around with a neck snap across the top rope and a flying clothesline. Alexander puts his foot on the ropes before KENTA can apply the Game Over. Alexander avoids the Green Killer and grabs KENTA’s ankle. Due to KENTA’s resistance, Alexander pulls him into an exploder suplex. The match resets when both men knock each other down at the same time. KENTA manages to pull off the Green Killer, following up with a big boot and hesitation dropkick in the corner. A top rope double stomp gets him a close nearfall. KENTA peppers him with multiple shots before attempting the Go 2 Sleep. Alexander blocks and grabs an ankle lock. KENTA rolls forward to escape, sending Alexander face first into the exposed turnbuckle, but Alexander is still able to kick out from KENTA’s pin afterwards. Alexander also kicks out of the Busaiku Knee that follows. He once again calls for the Go 2 Sleep. This time, Alexander slips out from behind. KENTA blocks a backfirst and clobbers Alexander with two spinning chops to the face. Alexander blocks a kick and gets another ankle lock. Alexander resists being sent into the exposed turnbuckle again, but successfully drops KENTA face first onto it with a Snake Eyes! A rolling forearm smash and the C4 Spike give Alexander the pin at 17:43 (shown). We saw glimpses of the chemistry these two had in their six man tag, and we got to see that chemistry fleshed out in a very engaging and hard hitting title bout. I like the route they went with KENTA always being able to fight free from the ankle lock, and that Chekov’s turnbuckle, which he was responsible for, ended up being his undoing. It was a nice reminder that KENTA can still get it done at a high level when BULLET CLUB nonsense doesn’t pollute his bouts. It’s bittersweet that Alexander’s lengthy title reign ended with a forfeiture, but this was a really good final defense for him. ***¾

It’s tough to say that there was a coherent story carried out on Impact for any of the matches on the Multiverse, but they at least built up challengers for title matches, introduced their audience to KENTA and TMDK, and provided some really excellent wrestling along the way. I certainly will continue to keep my eyes peeled each week to Impact’s YouTube channel and cherry picking matches similar to those featured here.

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