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January 12, 2023

Impact Wrestling Hard to Kill 2023 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 continues to shatter all expectations and this Friday, FITE presents Hard To Kill live from Atlanta, GA's historic Center Stage, which hosted infinitely memorable moments over the decades, including Big Van Vader's notorious powerbomb on the floor to Mick Foley, the final Ric Flair vs, Ricky Steamboat battle for the WCW World Championship, bloody brawls with The Briscoes in ROH and many other countless memories that are forever carved into the time capsule of professional wrestling. This Friday, Impact Wrestling adds a new chapter to that history with a pair of generational confrontations headlining, each promising to be emotionally explosive affairs, live on FITE.

Josh Alexander should be living the high life right now, having broken the record for being the longest reigning Impact Wrestling World Champion of all time, but instead, this Friday, he will find himself fighting against the biggest antagonist of his entire career, Bully Ray. Since returning to Impact, the former two-time Impact World Champion had promised he was back to do things the right way to show everyone that he could do it, but once he had secured his championship match, he kept his word in that he would call his shot and Josh would see him coming, but he did it in that patented Bully Ray style. He attacked an exhausted and beaten Alexander and then physically menaced and humiliated Alexander's wife.

Since then, Alexander, already one of the most gifted professional wrestlers in the world inside the ring, has been consumed with rage, seeking to take it to extreme measures, challenging Ray to a Full Metal Mayhem match where tables, ladders, chairs and chains, among other instruments of destruction, are all legal. Alexander, however, may have played himself right into Bully Ray's hands, giving the Hall of Famer a very dangerous advantage in his quest to ruin Alexander's career and title reign.

This emotionally charged war won't for the faint of heart, but should Alexander emerge victorious, it may be the most meaningful title defense of his life. Should he fail, there will be no stopping Bully Ray.

Mickie James is deservely one of the most beloved and successful female stars of this or any other era, but Friday at Hard to Kill, she puts everything on the line - her happiness, her career, her championship ambitions. Since undertaking the Last Rodeo, James has placed her career on the line in every match she has stepped into the ring for, seeking to earn a shot at the Knockouts World Championship. James has earned that right and this Friday in the Peachtree State, she will face reigning Champion Jordynne Grace, who has been an unstoppable juggernaut over the last year within Impact Wrestling.

While there is a massive amount of mutual respect between these competitors, neither seeks to yield. Both desire to be victorious - Grace so that she can continue her championship reign and gain the clout of being the one to end James' legendary career. James, meanwhile, seeks to empower all by scoring one more victory and regaining the Knockouts World Championship, launching yet another chapter in her life. It is do or die for two powerful competitors this Friday and whether it's Grace's title run or James' career - the end is near.

There will be additional championships also on the line at Hard to Kill live on FITE this Friday. The Motor City Machine Guns, Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley, once again celebrating another title run as part of their legendary careers, have laid it all on the line in Atlanta, facing former Champions Rhino and Heath, the abrasive Major Players and Bullet Club members Chris Bey and Ace Austin. Austin and Bey are hot off an incredible tour for New Japan Pro Wrestling, where they dominated the country and perfected their tag team chemistry. Brian Myers and Matt Cardona have attempted all forms of subterfuge and antagonism to achieve their championship goals, landing in this Elimination bout. Heath and Rhino came close to ending 2022 with their championship dreams achieved, but now, they are back challenging as they seek to kick off 2023 with yet another big win. With this much intensity and so many personalities involved, there's no way for Vegas bookies to pick a favorite.

Trey Miguel has taken a far darker, more disrespectful tone since regaining the X-Division Championship. The former Rascal now fights for himself and no one else, seeking fame and adoration instead of the respect and pride he once stood for. While Miguel has taken it to the dark side, there is none darker than Decay. That demented band of fiends sends Black Taurus, one of the most talented and violent luchadors battling today to the ring in a quest to end Miguel's reign. The X-Division has always been touted as having no limits, but given the athletic prowess and sheer tenacity of these competitors, certainly the bar will be raised for what will be a tremendous battle that takes places inside, outside and beyond the ring.

Eddie Edwards believes he is a righteous man who has been speaking out against the evils of the corporate professional wrestling world, but to everyone outside of his bubble, he's someone who has lost his way as he tries to put a stake in the heart of the honor that used to be central to his life and career. Having buried PCO and discarded other former Ring of Honor allies, Edwards finds himself in the ring with another fellow former ROH World Champion this Friday. The Octopus, Jonathan Gresham proclaimed that he returned to Impact to finish unsettled business with Edwards and to right the wrongs of all Eddie has inflicted on others. In another realm and another time, this may have been one of the most celebrated in-ring Impact confrontations of all time, but instead, it's going to be a war as two men who each believe that what they stand for is the right, just way, will attempt to take the other down, once and for all, live on FITE.

Everyone believes in Joe Hendry. Just say his name and he'll appear. The international sensation has captured the hearts and imagination of Impact fans as well as the Digital Media Championship, but has also found himself in the crosshairs of former Impact World Champion Moose. Moose believes that Hendry is an abomination, an obstacle, someone to be beaten and cast aside in Moose's quest to return to the hallowed halls of Impact's main event scene. But, if that's the case, why has Hendry been able to get into Moose's brain, mocking him at every turn? This Friday will be the biggest test of Hendry's career, as a win over Moose could rocket him to the stratosphere. But, to become victorious, he'll have to defeat Impact Wrestling's self-proclaimed scumbag, who will stop at nothing to achieve his own demented goals.

Masha Slamovich spent 2022 most undefeated as she charted a path to the Knockouts Championship. Having lost that opportunity to Jordynne Grace, Masha now seeks to carve out a new path of destruction in a Four Way battle to determine the next top contender for the Knockouts World Championship. Masha's opposition won't be easy pickings. Deonna Purrazzo is one of the most celebrated talents of this or any era. The Virtuosa has captured championships and accolades like they were raindrops since emerging on the scene in Impact. Taylor Wilde, having embraced a darker side to her personality in recent weeks, is primed to return to the Impact title as well, showing herself to me more dangerous than ever. Of course, Killer Kelly remains the infinite enigma, masterful at handing out beatings and mind games alike. But all of these women will have to contend with the Russian Dynamo that is Masha, who may indeed be the most dangerous talent in all of Impact, male or female.

Dangerous also tells the tale of the Falls Count Anywhere match, popularized in the early 1990s by the legendary Mick Foley. His battles with Vader and Van Hammer around Atlanta are the stuff of legend, but now a new legend will be carved by Macklin and Rich Swann as their rivalry, based around their equally intense pursuit of getting to the Impact World Championship, has exploded into a molten-hot personal issue. Swann, pushed to the breaking point by this rivalry, issued the challenge for this battle to go anywhere inside Center Stage and beyond. From CNN Center to the International Puppetry Museum to Olympic Park to Coca-Cola World, everything and everywhere in Atlanta could find itself wrecked by this intensely insane rivalry with all of the pride in the world and a potential springboard to the World Championship on the line.

Impact's competitors are the most dangerous, versatile competitors in the world. They are HARD TO KILL for a reason - they carry the fighting spirit with them to the nth degree and never say die. This Friday, when these intense combatants meet center ring, lives will change, championships will be forged and career trajectories will change forever - and there is only one place to witness it in all its vivid glory, live on FITE!

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.