Mickie James enters the 2022 WWE Royal Rumble
During Friday night’s Smackdown Live, WWE shocked the world by announcing that IMPACT Knockouts champion Mickie James would be entering the 2022 Royal Rumble. Even more shocking is that they referred to her as the IMPACT Knockouts champion. WWE has been on their own island forever, keeping their distance from working with other televised promotions. This is the first time I can remember WWE bringing in a current champion from another televised promotion to wrestle since the ECW invasion of 1997.
— Ring the Belle 디에쓰🔔 (@ringthebelleds) January 8, 2022
Now that James is in the Rumble, there is an opportunity to promote IMPACT on the largest wrestling platform in the world. James is set to defend her title at tonight’s Hard to Kill event against Deonna Purazzo, and most would have predicted a title change. Purazzo is scheduled to challenge for the Ring of Honor Women’s title against Rok-C on IMPACT this week, in what was a planned title vs title bout. Purazzo still holds the AAA Reina de Reyes title so that could be where they go. Or Purazzo could still win, leaving James to enter the bout belles, which would be all the same to WWE.
This is very likely a one-off scenario. James is a legend and there are separate rules for legends. RVD appeared on a RAW legends reunion while under contract to IMPACT in 2020. Ric Flair also was contracted to TNA when he went in to the Hall of Fame with the Horsemen in 2013.
Tom Hannifan replaces Matt Stryker
In other major IMPACT news: Tom Hannifan, formerly known as Tom Phillips in WWE, has replaced Matt Stryker as the lead announcer for IMPACT. Most had Ian Riccaboni earmarked for this job, but Hannifan is a great hire. He has a great voice, very professional, and isn’t silly like Stryker.
Huge news!! @TomHannifan joins @IMPACTWRESTLING as their newest play by play announcer at Hard To Kill! What a pick up for them! I have Tom’s first interview this coming Tuesday on The Sessions!! @TheVolumeSports
— Renee Paquette (@ReneePaquette) January 8, 2022
IMPACT! on AXS TV review
First-run episodes of IMPACT made their return this week after a two-week hiatus. This was the “go-home” edition, as most of the segments were geared towards Hard to Kill. Most everything on the show was enjoyable, despite lacking energy. The only downfall was the main event between Karl Anderson and Heath. Listen to our latest podcast for a full segment by segment review.
- JONAH vs. Jake Something: Since Jake isn’t involved in any plans, he might as well be used to get JONAH over. He succeeded. Jake got some offense in but this was all about JONAH. His splash off the top rope and the camera angle shooting was awesome. After the match JONAH put Josh Alexander through a table.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 7, 2022
- Hard to Kill promo packages: IMPACT does not get enough credit for how good these are. Kudos to the much improved production staff in general.
Masha Slamovich: This lady is gonna be a star. Awesome squash match.
Chelsea Green, Lady Frost, and Tasha Steels (with Savannah Evans) vs. Jordynne Grace, Rachael Ellering, & Rosemary (w/ Havok): A very solid trios match to kick off the show. Also a nice way to promote the upcoming Ultimate-X between the six competitors. I especially thought Frost looked great, starting with her entrance.
Deonna Purazzo vs. Mercedes Martinez: This was probably the best Women’s match in North American television. Much better than what I saw on Wednesday on TBS. Sad to see Martinez go, but she helped make Purazzo look great on her way out.
- Karl Anderson vs. Heath: Just a dreadful match between two veterans who took the night off. The whole idea was to have a big brawl to end the episode and promote the Hardcore War match at Hard to Kill. Looks more like a Hardcore Bore.
- Ian Riccaboni and Bobby Cruise will call tonights ROH title match between Jonathan Gresham and Chris Sabin. There may not be room for either men now that Hannifan has signed, but I’d like to see both in the company moving forward. Cruise could easily replace David Penzer.
- The IInspiration is off Hard to Kill due to COVID-19 protocols. No word on if they are close contacts or positive cases. Could be a coincidence but Cody Rhodes who also attended the Cardona-Green weeding last week is off tonight’s AEW Battle of the Belts card.
- Jake Something has been replaced by the debuting Speedball Mike Bailey to take on Chris Bey, Laredo Kid, and Ace Austin on the Hard to Kill pre-show. No reason for the replacement has been given.
The January 6 episode of IMPACT! on AXS TV averaged 104,000 viewers with a 0.02 demo (24,000) according to Wrestlenomics. That is up from last weeks 82,000 and 0.01. Hopefully with the new energy and big changes being made, it leads to better ratings for next week. The first quarter of each of the last two years have been IMPACT’s best for ratings.
Brace for IMPACT is now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts
Brace for IMPACT, hosted by JD Oliva and myself on the Fight Game Media Network, has been given its own feed on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all other podcast apps. The show had been exclusive to Fight Game Media Network Plus on Patreon since March. Our weekly free show will recap IMPACT! on AXS TV, and the uncut, uncensored, ad-free version will continue on Patreon where we not only review the weekly show, but we will recap all the IMPACT Plus specials, pay-per-views, break down all the news and headlines surrounding IMPACT, Q-and-As with the listeners, classic match and event reviews, plus much more.