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February 14, 2023

Impact Wrestling No Surrender 2023 HOT TAKE

"Victory belongs to the most persevering." - Napoleon Bonaparte

There are very few constants in the world of life, much less professional wrestling. Perhaps the only thing guaranteed is that there truly are no guarantees. When one least expects it, there will be adversity, there will be unexpected shock and there will be moments where one will be forced to stand tall to defend themselves, their families and beliefs against outside threats, or else all will be lost.

No matter what time period one examines, the true thread that runs through it all, from medieval times to the wild, wild west to today's tumultuous times, is that at any moment, those who aren't prepared for the winds of change find themselves overwhelmed and forced into a defensive position, seeking to regain what has been lost.

Of all of Impact Wrestling's stars, that may describe former Impact Wrestling World Champion Rich Swann the most of all. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Swann captured the World Championship during one of the most upside down periods in human history, having to enjoy the majority of his Championship reign without the human connection of live fans to enjoy the true, pure joy that came with that moment. While Swann defended that title with great valor and courage, losing the championship to then-AEW World Champion Kenny Omega placed Swann into a slipstream that was so severe, that every win that came thereafter was empty, for they were measured against the great loss that came with failing Impact and its fans when they needed him most.

In the time that has followed, The Impact World Championship was captured by Christian Cage, only to finally return to Impact Wrestling loyalist Josh Alexander. Since winning the title, Alexander has elevated his game to the nth degree, creating one of the most talked about, historic reigns of Impact's many decades of existence - victories and accomplishments that Swann looked upon as moments that should have been his, instead.

Now, having finally earned his return championship match this Friday at Impact Wrestling's No Surrender, Swann has promised himself that the moments that should have been his will be avenged, even if he's going to be facing a Champion that Swann has deep respect for in Josh Alexander. This bout will feature two competitors who have instilled honor back into the unlawful realm known as Impact Wrestling, who have fought the good fight in the name of their families, their fans and the prestige that comes with proudly holding the Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship belt.

Perseverance will be the lynchpin for determining what man walks out onto the battlefield, having deciphered the riddle of how to out-wrestle, out-last and out-think the other in order to achieve the championship win. Given the long time frame of how Josh Alexander's most celebrated title defenses have, Swann will need to shock and stun him quickly with some aerial offense in order to maximize his chances. If not, Alexander may once again show the entire world just how well tuned of a pro wrestling machine he is. This Friday, the eyes of the combat sports world descend upon FITE when yet another big fight moment emanates from Las Vegas!

"The important thing in life is not victory but combat; it is not to have vanquished but to have fought well." – Pierre de Coubertin

Mickie James has been a true groundbreaker when it comes to professional wrestling - not women's professional wrestling, but the sport overall. She is fearless inside and out of the ring and has proven herself again and again as a true generational star who has helped shatter glass ceilings and kick doors down again and again to make the entire landscape of combat sports more equal and more accessible for the best female competitors.

Indeed, James was among the first Impact Wrestling female stars and over the years, matured into one of the competitors that helped ascend the Knockouts World Championship to main event status. After all, what other Knockouts title-holder has transcended Impact itself to compete in WWE's Women's Royal Rumble match.

But James' great success could prove to be her actual undoing this Saturday live on FITE. Her challenger, The Russian Dynamo known as Masha Slamovich stands among many of the greats who have come to Impact Wrestling having been inspired by James, helping the modern day Knockouts division to continue to evolve and expand into the greatness it currently celebrates. Without James, there may never have been a Masha in Impact, but thanks to James, one of the gravest threats to her Knockouts World title reign now looms ahead.

Slamovich has been one of the most fierce fighters seen in the Knockouts division or beyond, holding a long undefeated streak that included dispatching competitors within minutes and then quelling any criticisms that she would falter when tested by fighting hard-fought, devastating wars, only to achieve even stronger victories. After failing to win the Knockouts title, Masha has only become more dangerous and embittered, a cold-hearted soul who has only grown to be more menacing after Bully Ray encouraged her to stalk James with even more intensity.

For James to emerge victorious, she will have to tap into the magic and versatility that fans around the world saw during The Last Rodeo, where James promised to retire if she lost even once en route to capturing the Knockouts Championship. James will need to dig deep and promise she will give no quarter and indeed, no surrender.

"The means by which we achieve victory are as important as the victory itself.'- Brandon Sanderson

Since making his way to Impact Wrestling, Scottish star Joe Hendry has not been without confidence. After all, his very entrance theme (composed by Hendry himself) extols the virtues of believing in Joe Hendry. Since entrenching his roots inside Impact Wrestling's squared circle, Hendry has proven to be a top notch competitor, amassing major victories and even attaining the Digital Media Championship. Hendry's success has seen him rise quickly in popularity, something that has caused great festering jealousy and anger in former Impact Wrestling Champion Moose, sparking the intense rivalry that leads to this Saturday's Dot Combat Match.

Moose has become used to enforcing his will on his opposition, whether it be dominating them inside the ring or decimating them outside of the squared circle. Joe Hendrey, however, has proven to be anything but standard opposition, using his athletic prowess and cocksure attitude to upend Moose at every turn, even driving him insane with the unveiling of "The Dancing Moose" song.

Enraged by his inability to put Hendrey down once and for all, Moose steps into a Dot Combat match where all weapons are legal and anything will be allowed bell to bell until only one competitor emerges from the battlefield as the undisputed master of Digital Media.

"Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory." – George S. Patton

The most cherished prize in Impact Wrestling is, of course, the World Heavyweight Championship, with a countless legion of competitors all vying for their chance to step into the brightest spotlight that Impact has to offer, bringing them ultimate glory and riches.

While Josh Alexander and Rich Swann will enter battle to determine who will reign supreme as the World Champion this Saturday live on FITE, there will be no rest for the weary as No Surrender will see the next top contender to that championship crowned under the purview of Impact Wrestling's Director of Authority, Santino Marella.

Steve Maclin has long complained, some say correctly, that he has yet to receive a well deserved shot at the Impact World Championship, despite an endless number of victories over former Impact Champions. His accusations of unfairness led to Marella setting a series of qualification matches for this Saturday's Four Way fray that will determine, once and for all, who will be the next man primed to contend for the most prestigious championship in the men's division.

Maclin, a former military veteran with a laser-focused ability to break down his opposition to attain victory, will indeed have his hands full this Saturday on FITE, facing a most unique field of competition, including the undead French Frankenstein, PCO, who may be the most feared combatant in the bout. With an incredible ability to withstand pain and come back with insanely fierce and aggressive offensive maneuvers, the competitor who figures out how to, somehow, stun PCO may hold the keys to victory.

While Maclin has made the most noise and PCO certainly the most feared, one should never underestimate Brian Myers. The Most Professional Wrestler in the entire sport, Myers is likely the most over-prepared competitor on the entire Impact roster, masterfully blending the lessons and experiences of both his own career and an encyclopedic knowledge of pro wrestling history into one of the most versatile competitors anywhere. He has been primed for a major victory and this Saturday may see him ascend to the next level.

Of course, if there's one competitor who always bucks the trends, it is Heath. One of the most popular Impact combatants, Heath has the purest of reasons to fight for the victory - he's got kids! While he's attained Tag Team Championship gold with his best friend Rhino, Heath has yet to achieve a major singles championship and this Saturday, is truly going for the gold. If he can bypass the opposition, he'd walk into the future as a challenger with great advantages over both Swann and Alexander in terms of experience and size. But, to get to that moment, he's going to have to get past Myers, Maclin and PCO in the same match at the same time.

The future of Impact's main event scene will be unveiled this Saturday, live on FITE.

"I love to win; but I love to lose almost as much. I love the thrill of victory, and I also love the challenge of defeat." – Lou Gehrig

There are times where matches are announced and from a pure athletic standpoint, they are just astounding before the bell even rings. That is certainly the case for an insanely stacked six man tag team encounter this Saturday in Las Vegas when Bullet Club descends upon Sin City to battle the beloved Time Machine.

A great amount of the hype in recent weeks has been for the Impact Wrestling debut of Bullet Club assassin KENTA, who has brought all the fury imaginable since his New Japan Pro Wrestling debut, inciting fear into almost all who oppose him in the ring, perhaps the true spotlight should go on the incredible perfection that has come from Chris Bey and Ace Austin since they united under the Bullet Club banner, bringing a level of tag team excellence not seen since the glory days of The Midnight Express in terms of pristine double-team offensive maneuvers and a swagger that feeds upon itself.

Bey and Austin have been gunning for the Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Champions Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin since returning from their latest tour of Japan, seeking a title shot and a chance to prove their dominance in the ring. The Motor City Machine Guns will once again form like Voltron with KENTA to return as Time Machine, bringing forth the best qualities of each of Alex Shelley's most notorious and successful tag teams.

With KENTA seeking an impactful debut, all the pride involved and a potential shot at the Motor City Machine Guns on the line, these six athletes will leave nothing to chance as they take the battle to the ring, the air above and the entirety of Las Vegas this Saturday on FITE, with excellence all but guaranteed!

"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." – Horace Mann

It all seemed to be going so well for the Death Dollz. The Demon Rosemary had reunited with long-time frenemy Taya Valkyrie and they had retrieved Jessica from the Undead Realm, setting the stage to become the Knockouts World Tag Team Champions. With countless championship defenses under their belts, it appeared to be smooth sailing, as smooth as it could be given their supernatural roots and well, shall we say, unique personalities?

Of course, the sins of the past are always patient and waiting to return for vengeance at the worst possible moment, as recently seen on Impact Wrestling on AXS TV. Jim Mitchell once again returned from the crimson darkness, invoking a Hex on Rosemary, unleashing pure hell in the process as Allysin Kay and Marti Belle, former NWA Women's Tag Team Champions The Hex attacked and laid waste to all three members of The Death Dollz.

If ever a battle was primed to take place in Sin City, it is certainly this war with the Knockouts World Tag Team Championship at stake. Demons, warriors, bloodlust and undead nightmares all collide with no one safe, except, perhaps those of you watching at home via FITE. We think. We hope.

"If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory." – William Hazlitt

Since choosing to exit AEW and return to Impact Wrestling, Frankie Kazarian has stepped forward once again to show the world why he was one of the true forefathers of Impact. He has sought to compete against the best, bringing himself all the way back to main event caliber competition against Josh Alexander, among others. But at No Surrender, Kazarian isn't seeking just the biggest win or the most heartfelt performance he can leave inside the squared circle. No, instead, he is seeking to expose and defeat the unholy alliance known as The Design.

While they claim others are the disease that rot professional wrestling from the inside out, instead it is Deaner and his minions who have systematically poisoned the Impact roster, most recently stripping Sami Callihan of the hardcore individuality that helped bring him to the World Championship in the past. After attempting to talk some sense into Callihan, Kazarian found himself surrounded by The Design and his own man, challenged the faction's largest and most ferocious beast Big Kon to a one on one encounter in Las Vegas.

Kazarian has returned to Impact to fight the good fight, but will he find himself drowning when faced with the numbers that The Design have amassed from the cultists' loyalty? Or can faith in the system overcome the bleakness that leaks in from the darkest shadows of the night? FITE fans will learn together when Impact Wrestling's No Surrender begins broadcasting this Saturday.

"Great is the victory, but the friendship of all is greater." – Emil Zatopek

Tommy Dreamer and Bully Ray have a rivalry that goes back to the most vibrantly violent days of Extreme Championship Wrestling. From Philadelphia to Japan to New York City and beyond, they have each spilled blood and carved scars into the other, a road map of road traveled over 25-plus years of combat. After using his relationship with Dreamer to manipulate his way back into Impact in a bid to capture the Impact World Championship, Bully Ray once again showed his true colors, allowing the rivalry with Dreamer that many believed had grown into a begrudging respect and then a true brotherhood to explode in the most chaotic volcanic eruption imaginable.

With Ray reverting back into the personality that once broke the neck of Dreamer's wife, Dreamer and Ray have been at each other's throats in recent weeks, but the true question of exactly why Bully Ray has done this remains unanswered. Enter Dave LaGreca, the host of SiriusXM's Busted Open, who will sit between these two extreme athletes and attempt to drill down deep to extract the root of the issue during the first-ever live Busted Open hosted by Impact Wrestling.

As if all of that impactful action and dramatic flair isn't enough, Impact Wrestling's No Surrender preview show will feature the mind-bending excellence of Jonathan Gresham vs. Speedball Mike Bailey for the first time ever in an Impact Wrestling ring. Bailey has been on the greatest run of in-ring performances of his career and is seeking to return to form as he chases the X-Division Championship once again. To return to that level of contention, he will have to bypass Gresham, Impact's master chessman, in a clash of everything fans of pure professional wrestling cherish the most, a battle to prove who is the supreme athlete.

The Kickoff to No Surrender this Saturday on FITE will also feature a grudge match between The Black Widow of Impact Wrestling, Gisele Shaw and former Knockouts World Champion Deonna Purrazzo. Shaw has taken great glee in the number of tag teams that have been splintered apart after being associated with her, some exciting Impact altogether. Purrazzo, one of the top in-ring competitors in the world by any measurement, has taken great umbrage with Gisele bringing up the departed Chelsea Green, challenging Shaw to a No Surrender showdown in an attempt to humble the internationally traveled competitor. Purrazzo, usually a stoic competitor, comes into Vegas far more emotionally angry than she usually is entering a big match. Whether this allows Shaw to get inside her head or provides an opening for Shaw loyalist Jai Vidal to manipulate remains to be seen.

The stars of Impact Wrestling live by one motto - No Surrender! - and this Saturday evening, FITE fans from around the world will see them not only live and die by that mantra, but battle to the bitter end to prove their supremacy in the ultimate pursuit of what every athlete craves every time they compete - the victory that comes with making their opposition yield to the greater competitor.

Impact Wrestling invades Sin City this Friday Night for some of the most important clashes of the year, live for FITE fans across the globe!

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.