HARD TO KILL HOT TAKE
If there is one phrase that is perhaps the most apt description, ever, for Impact Wrestling, it is truly HARD TO KILL.Since 2002 when it launched under its original incarnation NWA:TNA, Impact Wrestling has soared to great heights of exciting action while living dangerously close to oblivion and near chaos. While there were many moments when Impact appeared to be on its last legs, the perseverance of management and the work ethic of its roster powered the company onward through the darkness, into the resounding era that Impact Wrestling shines through weekly.
Impact Wrestling shattered glass ceilings and all expectations with last year's debut Hard to Kill event in Texas and this year, shattering expectations appears to be the theme up and down the lineup as the stars of Impact are on a collision course that could change the trajectory of not just careers, but entire promotions!
Let's break down the announced lineup for HARD TO KILL 2021, available live on FITE.TV on Saturday January 16th!
WORLDS COLLIDE - AEW Champion Kenny Omega & Impact Tag Team Champions The Good Brothers with Don Callis vs. Impact Wrestling Champion Rich Swann & The Motor City Machine Guns
The last thing anyone ever expected during the death throes of the tumultuous year that was 2020 was to see Impact Wrestling Vice President Don Callis help orchestrate Kenny Omega's rise as AEW World Champion, much less than see Callis lead Omega to Impact Wrestling and bring about the reunion of the Omega, The Young Bucks and The Good Brothers, fusing the core essence of the most lethal competitors in Bullet Club history back together as one unit. It was something so massive, so unforeseen that it threw the very professional wrestling world off its axis.
Omega interloping into Impact Wrestling affairs would not go unnoticed by Impact Wrestling World Champion Rich Swann. Having fought himself back from the brink of disaster and the end of his career to become the Champion, Omega's disrespect towards Swann and other Impact stars lit a powderkeg that eventually engulfed The Good Brothers and The Motor City Machine Guns, who were already at odds over the Impact Wrestling Tag Team Championship as Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley feel they are still owed a proper rematch for the titles.
After Omega, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson attacked Swann and The Machine Guns on Impact on AXS, Don Callis used his authority within Impact to once again manipulate the system, creating the dream six man tag team match that FITE viewers never believed they'd ever see. With six competitors who can both bring futuristic warfare and awe-inspiring offense to the battlefield, it may be that while history will certainly be made, the only victors in this guaranteed war of attrition are the FITE fans watching HARD TO KILL live!
WHO IS THE GREATEST KNOCKOUT OF THEM ALL? - Knockouts Champion Deonna Purrazzo (with Kimber Lee) vs. Taya Valkyrie
Deonna Purrazzo broke ground and bones and gained accolades and championships like no one else in Impact Wrestling, even ascending to the hallowed grounds of being named the Wrestler of the Year. While most competitors would want to take a moment to bask in that glory, The Virtuosa is no common performer.
Seeking to again achieve her greatness, Purrazzo seeks to line up and take down the longest reigning Knockouts Champion in Impact history, Taya Valkyrie. The world traveled veteran has journeyed from Mexico to Wrestlehouse and beyond to prove herself and at HARD TO KILL, she seeks to regain her most cherished possession, the Knockouts Championship.
Purrazzo, with Kimber Lee at her side, has schemed to take out competitors before, including Kylie Rae and Su Yung, but she's never crossed swords with someone as devious and daring as Taya, much less a Taya with the Demon Rosemary by her side.
The very first HARD TO KILL saw Tessa Blanchard rise to become the first-ever female Impact Wrestling Champion. This year features something even more groundbreaking - a first-time ever clash between two of the strongest, most powerful competitors to ever hold the Knockouts Champion. At HARD TO KILL, we learn who truly is the greatest Knockout of all time.
X-DIVISION GOLD ON THE LINE - X-Division Champion Manik vs. Chris Bey vs. Rohit Raju
Rohit Raju was one of the few competitors who had 2020 figured out. He had orchestrated the perfect plan to achieve X-Division Championship victory over Chris Bey and scheme his way in and out of title defenses, including against the versatile technical wizard known as TJP. Unfortunately for Raju, while he had eliminated TJP from contention, he didn't count on TJP's masked persona Manik bursting on the scene, shocking Raju at Final Resolution to score a victory in the final Defeat Rohit challenge of 2020.
Believing that if he could prove to the world Manik is actually TJP (which does appear to be the case, but one never knows…), the title victory would be null and void, Raju has pursued Manik, seeking his Genesis rematch. What Raju did not anticipate was his former foe and sometime partner, Chris Bey, using his own skills as the Ultimate Finesser to use Raju to assist Bey into ascending back into championship contention.
While Bey and Raju have agreed to try and unmask Manik, this alliance isn't even built on a house of cards, it's so flimsy. It's obvious each of these competitors are out for themselves and the title, but will this two-pronged attack be too much for one of the most fluid fighters to ever grace the X-Division? The title...and the true identity of TJP are on the line at HARD TO KILL.
BARBED WIRE MASSACRE - Eddie Edwards with Alisha Edwards vs. Sami Callihan with Ken Shamrock.
Every time it appears that the Edwards, the heart and soul of Impact Wrestling and Callihan, Impact's darkest embodiment have ventured away from the other in pursuit of championship gold and other opportunities, life brings them back into each other's crosshairs.
Most recently, it was Callihan and Impact Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock deciding once again to make Edwards' life miserable by attacking him and tormenting Edwards' wife. That led to a singles match that turned out to be yet another Callihan set up, with Edwards' wife Alisha kidnapped and trapped in the bowels of the Impact Zone. Edwards tracked her down but learned it was all a trap, allowing Shamrock and Callihan to beat him down, using barbed wire as their weapon of choice.
It was yet another acceleration of a history of violent atrocities the competitors have committed against each other. While once a baseball bat left Edwards' orbital socket shattered, that is not nearly enough to satisfy the need for destruction. Barbed wire will adorn the ring, will be readily accessible as weaponry and will pierce and tear the flesh of these fearless fighters.
One would hope that such a decimating environment would be the epicenter of the end of this blood feud, but for these two, Impact Wrestling may just be opening another level of deeper depravity at HARD TO KILL.
TOURNAMENT FINAL - Impact Wrestling Knockouts Tag Team Championship: Tasha Steelz & Kiera Hogan vs. Neveah & Havok
For the last year, Impact Wrestling's Knockouts have been clamoring for the resurrection of the Knockouts Tag Team Championships and at HARD TO KILL. their wishes will have been fulfilled!
After months of furious competition in a single elimination tournament, the crafty and sassy Tasha Steelz & Kiera Hogan will face the powerhouse duo of Neveah & Havok with the winners emerging with the championships.
The two teams are no strangers to the other. Since arriving in Impact Wrestling last year and aligning, Steelz and Hogan have run afoul of Neveah and Havok, facing their might and waging mental war with them. Those past encounters only add a deeper dimension of competition with the titles on the line, because a victory here not only guarantees a win in the biggest match of the teams' careers but a bragging moment that will live on forever in infamy.
The feisty swagger of Tasha and Kiera vs. united power of Neveah and Havok, only at HARD TO KILL!
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE! Tommy Dreamer & Rhino & Cousin Jake vs. Eric Young & Cody Deaner & Joe Doering
Since his return to Impact Wrestling, Eric Young had left a path of destruction in his wake that few could have ever predicted and in doing so, he lured international monster Joe Doering to Impact Wrestling, enhancing the insanity and ferocity of Young's already twisted madness.
Young's most devious act to date may have been causing the destruction of the beloved Deaner family, breaking and brainwashing Cody Deaner and forcing him to evolve into a bitter, intense fighting machine, shattering the hearts of fans worldwide and Cousin Jake in the process.
Hardcore stalwarts Rhino and Tommy Dreamer have emerged to even the odds as the battles have become more hate-fueled and bitter, leading to an all out, Old School, hardcore, extreme Falls Count Anywhere match that might very well battle all the way from Nashville to Memphis and back again.
If there was ever hope of turning the tide against the insane onslaught of Eric Young and his army, HARD TO KILL may be that moment, but no matter who raises their hands in victory and no matter how violent the carnage becomes, is Cody Deaner already lost forever?
WHAT IS THIS? Ethan Page vs. The Karate Man
For many months, it appeared that Impact Wrestling was witnessing the beginning of the end of not just The North as a tag team but Ethan Page's sanity. After losing the Impact Tag Team Championship, every attempt, every plot, every scheme just seemed to pull Josh Alexander and Ethan Page farther apart and the title belts even farther.
As Page descended into deeper madness, a strange alter ego, The Karate Man appeared to the confusion and bewilderment of everyone around and within Impact Wrestling. While it appeared Page had simply lost his battle with reality, it would later be revealed that Karate Man was advising Page and was not blamed for all that had gone so terribly wrong.
Not one to stand for being dishonored, the Karate Man offered to face Ethan Page in Mortal Kombat quicker than you could say Cobra Kai. How is this happening? In that realm and under what rules? The only way to truly discover the enlightenment that is the answer to this strange, twisted enigma is to order HARD TO KILL!
With these major matches and so much more to be revealed, Impact Wrestling sets the bar for 2021 on FITE.TV with HARD TO KILL!
Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.