2020-mid 2021 were one of the strangest times in professional wrestling history as the COVID-19 Pandemic changed the way fans enjoyed wrestling and also led to some unexpected things within the wrestling world.

    The #SpeakingOut Movement exposed a seedy underbelly in pro wrestling when it came to sexual assault and improper behavior, more wrestlers were becoming free agents due no small part to WWE releasing a lot of stars in the two year window and All Elite Wrestling shocked the world when they announced a partnership with IMPACT Wrestling in late 2020.

    Wrestler and fans alike became fantasy booking all the great dream matches and moments that would come from this alliance, sadly what we ended up with was lesser than stellar outside of the Kenny Omega who made his IMPACT in-ring debut at the company’s first major event of the year…Welcome to Distortion Media and here are 10 Interesting Facts about Hard To Kill 2021.

    10. Madison Rayne Announced Retirement On The Pre-Show

    IMPACT Wrestling has managed to incorporate pre-shows to their programming whether it be before their pay per views or Behind-The-Impact (BTI), the company is finding ways to keep the fans (both die hard and new) entertained with new content, however it was on the pre-show for Hard To Kill that had a shocking moment at the very end.

    Before the official PPV could begin, color commentator Madison Rayne announced with only minutes to spare that she would be retiring from professional wrestling, ending a sixteen year career with most of it being spent as a part of the TNA/IMPACT roster.

    Of course, we all know that this retirement didn’t last long as Madison would return to Impact on the August 12th episode when she helped Tenille Dashwood pick up the victory over Taylor Wilde thus beginning the faction known as ‘The Influence’.

    9. Striker & Brown’s Commentary Debut

    From 2020 until early 2021, the commentary duo of Josh Matthews and Madison Rayne could be heard calling many of the matches both on IMPACT television, the IMPACT Plus Specials and on pay per view with Madison metaphorically breaking Josh’s balls as color commentator while Josh does well…whatever Josh does on commentary.

    However, by the time Hard To Kill 2021 rolled around some changes occurred at the announce booth as Josh Matthews would be relegated to a backstage role as Senior Producer for IMPACT (although he would appear on screen again a month later thanks to Behind-The-Impact) and Madison would go on to retire but soon returned to in-ring competition.

    In their places was former WWE and Lucha Underground commentary, Matt Striker and former Tag Team and European Champion, D’lo Brown who worked as backstage producers for the company but were now chosen to work together as the new faces or should I say voices of IMPACT commentary.

    According to most responses on social media the team of Striker and Brown are working pretty well with each other with Brown bringing his classic charisma to the team while Striker brings his insight for the business.

    8. First Knockouts Tag Title PPV Match in Nine Years

    Fire N’ Flava’s title win at Hard To Kill was the first title match to involve the Knockouts Tag Team titles on pay per view in nine years…that’s right it was almost a decade since those belts were on the line on PPV.

    You’d have to go back to Lockdown 2012 where the team of Sarita and Rosita (aka Zelina Vega) challenged the kayfabe couple of Eric Young and ODB for the Knockouts Tag Team Championships

    Now before you ask this was still at the time when Eric Young was a big bearded comedy wrestler who ended up marrying the former Knockouts Champion and won the tag belts until then authority figure, Brooke Hogan stripped the couple of the tag titles after it was clear that EY was a man holding a female championship…yet the company somehow waited 15 months and 12 days for them to realize this?

    Regardless, EY and ODB’s title defense at Lockdown 2012 would be the last time the Knockouts Tag Straps were defended on pay-per-view.

    7. Entrants in the Tournament Became Tag Champs in the Following Months

    While Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz became the first to win the Knockouts Tag Team Titles of the modern era, they weren’t the only ones from that tournament who would go on to win the tag titles.

    In fact of the 16 women who took part in that tournament only seven of them would win the title:

    • Jordynne Grace would win the belts with Rachael Ellering at the Rebellion PPV in April
    • Tenille Dashwood won the tag titles with Madison Rayne in 2021 with Rayne being the first three time KO tag team champion
    • Deonna Purrazzo won the belts with Chelsea at the pre-show for Emergence 2022
    • Havok, Rosemary and Taya would actually win the belts a number of times between 2021 and 2022 with the Demon Assassin becoming the second to win the tag titles three times
    • Killer Kelly became the most recent of these names to win the tag team titles as she did so with Masha Slamovich at Slammiversary 2023

     6. Shelley Was Pulled From The Hard To Kill 2021

    In the lead up to the pay per view, Hard To Kill’s main event was set to be IMPACT World Champion, Rich Swann and Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley versus the IMPACT World Tag Team Champions, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows and the AEW World Champion, Kenny Omega but plans changed at the last minute.

    In a video posted to his Twitter account, Alex Shelley revealed a few days before the event that he would be unable to make it to the pay per view but didn’t mention as to why he couldn’t compete at the event although he did mention that it wasn’t injury or Coronavirus related.

    It was later revealed that Shelley’s other job as a clinician in physical therapy and the fact he needed to get the COVID-19 vaccine is what prevented him from not only competing at Hard To Kill but from wrestling and traveling to other places. 

    As a replacement for Shelley, it was announced the day of the PPV that Moose would be the third man to team with Sabin and Swann and this angered the latter as the week prior to Hard To Kill Moose destroyed Rich’s friend and pro wrestler, Willie Mack in an I Quit match at Genesis plus Moose has had his focus on Rich and the world title for a while, so it’s easy to see why Swann was feeling a bit upset at the idea.

    Nevertheless, the decision stuck and Moose put a on a five star performance in the tag team match even though his team came up short.

    5. Page Hated his Fight With The Karate Man

    In the months led to Hard To Kill, all signs pointed to The North imploding after losing the tag team titles to The Good Brothers at Turning Point and the implosion would culminate in Ethan Page taking on Josh Alexander at Hard To Kill which would most likely see Alexander defeat Page (thereby writing Ethan off of TV) and leading to a singles push for ‘The Walking Weapon’. 

    When Hard To Kill finally arrived Josh Alexander was seen on the pre-show taking on Brian Myers while ‘All Ego’ Ethan Page was taking on his alter ego known as ‘The Karate Man’, a character that first appeared on Page’s YouTube channel and then began to randomly appear on IMPACT programming in the weeks leading to the PPV with the Karate Man defeating and ‘killing’ All Ego by ripping out Page’s heart in homage to the famous video game franchise, Mortal Kombat.

    As it turns out Page wasn’t too happy with his bout with his alter ego…but not for the reasons you think as Ethan would go to social media and expressed his displeasure calling the end result amateurish before taking a hiatus from social media and his YouTube channel in the hopes that the whole thing would die down.

    Despite ‘The Karate Man’ being a gimmick created by Ethan Page and having control over the usage of the character, things didn’t turn out the way he expected and he basically burned his bridges with IMPACT and soon made his way to All Elite Wrestling

    However, things have a strange way of working out as Page would go on to have lukewarm run in AEW while his partner, Josh would go on to be the face of the company and IMPACT world champion by the following year.

    4. First PPV Barbed Wire Match in Over a Decade

    The feud between Eddie Edwards and Sami Callihan (which stems from Sami’s infamous baseball bat shot to Eddie’s face back in early 2018) eventually led to both men taking part in a barbed wire Massacre match at Hard To Kill.

    Both men used everything they could find from boards covered in barbed wire, steel chains, kendo sticks, baseball bats and even a Nintendo 64 controller wrapped in barbed wire was introduced as a weapon.

    Callihan/Edward’s match at Hard To Kill is actually the fourth Barbed Wire Massacre match to occur on IMPACT programming with the last one being seen on IMPACT’s Twitch account in 2018 when oVe took on Santana and Ortiz of LAX in a match deemed too violent to be aired on IMPACT TV.

    The match between Eddie and Sami also marked the first time a barbed wire massacre match occurred on pay per view in thirteen years with the last one happened all the way back at Against All Odds 2008 when ‘The Monster’ Abyss took on Judas Mesias in the second barbed wire massacre match to air on PPV.

    3. Taya Valkyrie’s Last Match

    The Knockouts Title between Taya Valkyrie and Deonna Purrazzo was a systematic destruction of the former Lucha Underground star with the Virtusoa emerging victorious and a nice passing of the torch from one dominate era in the Knockouts Division to another.

    What fans might not have known at the time was that Taya’s contract in the promotion was coming to an end and no reports on her re-signing had been announce, but on the January 19th edition of Impact when Taya Valkyrie was being interview in a backstage segment when her former manager, John E. Bravo accused her of setting up the whole plot which led to him getting shot on his wedding day to Rosemary…it’s a long story.

    Taya would admit to this and this led to security escorting Taya out of the building and presumably being sent to prison or as Tommy Dreamer describes it, Taya will be sent to either the Jacksonville State Prison or the Stanford Maximum State Penitentiary (sarcastically referencing that Taya would be going to either AEW or the WWE).

    As of late February 2021, Taya would confirm on social media that she has indeed signed with the WWE but of course as we all know she would be released as a “cost cutting measure” by the WWE in late November of 2021.

    2. The Only HTK With No World Title Match

    The six man tag team match that main event the pay-per-view was a fantastic showing for many of IMPACT’s top talent at the time as well as Kenny Omega who actually scored the victory over Swann to pick the victory.

    Something that many may not realize is that of all the Hard To Kill pay-per-views IMPACT has produced thus far, the world championship has always been defended either at the end or the beginning of the show, but Hard To Kill 2021 was the exception.

    Rich Swann’s involvement in the six man tag team main event match marked the first and so far only time in the shows history that the world title wasn’t defended.

    Hard To Kill 2021
    1. It’s the First IMPACT PPV Main Evented By Different World Champion

    When news broke that the newly crowned All Elite Wrestling World Champion, Kenny Omega would be appearing on IMPACT soon after winning the title but that it also confirmed an AEW/IMPACT Wrestling partnership…the wrestling world stood still for the first time in a long very time.

    Fans were even more shocked when it was announced in late 2020 that Omega and The Good Brothers would be teaming together to take on the Motor City Machine Guns and Rich Swann (now Sabin, Moose and Swann) in a six man tag team match in the main event of Impact’s first pay per view of 2021.

    Perhaps one of the lesser known but more interesting things about Omega’s involvement in the show is that it made the former NJPW star the first world champion from another promotion to main event an IMPACT Wrestling pay per view, a feat that has never been done before in the near 20 years of the company’s existence.

    Be sure to follow Distortion Media on X for updates, results and articles regarding wrestling, politics etc. and you can follow me on X @FullertonHakeem for more wrestling themed articles like this.