Impact Wrestling’s Scott D’Amore talks Knockouts Ultimate X match at Hard to Kill, the forbidden door, and the future

For more than 20 years, Impact Wrestling has provided a service for fans interested in a different type of professional wrestling product. One of the most consistent characteristics of the company has been the Knockouts division.

From Gail Kim vs. Awesome Kong to Deonna Purrazzo vs. Mickie James, the women of Impact Wrestling have managed to impress year after year. Everything takes place this Saturday, January 8 in Hard to Kill, when Jordynne Grace, Chelsea Green, Lady Frost, Alisha Edwards, Rosemary and Tasha Steelz compete in an Ultimate X fight, the first time that women do it. The signature combat of Division X, this brutal combat has helped improve the careers of many. Now these women will be able to show what they can do in a match that could steal the show.

Prior to the match at Hard to Kill, Impact Wrestling Executive Vice President Scott D’Amore spoke with Sporting News about how Ultimate X was formed, the continued success of the Knockouts division, and the future of Impact Wrestling.

Knockouts have been a part of Last Knockouts Standing, ladder and cage matches. During our 20-year history, it was almost shocking to realize that there has never been a Knockouts Ultimate X match. It’s a pretty spectacular match, known for taking and lifting everything much higher up the ring, which brings more danger. Last year we had Slammiversary, which saw the return of Ultimate X in the X-Division, where it has always been. There have been conversations during that time that the Knockouts wanted to do it.

It came about when Jordynne Grace, who is a mouth of fire and a powerhouse not only in the ring but also with her persistence, came to me. Grace, Chelsea Green, and some of the other ladies cornered me at some point. They wanted to have a talk about it and felt it was time. The overwhelming feeling was that everyone wanted a chance to be a part of an Ultimate X match. Our Knockouts, like most of those who grew up watching Impact Wrestling, watched all of those great X-Division matches over the years. The ones that featured Petey Williams, AJ Styles, Low Ki, and Frankie Kazarian. They wanted their chance to do that.

I tried to keep it simple. I told them that we should go to the ring and show me what you got. We went out into the ring, and they all got on the scaffold and propelled themselves down the line correctly. We thought we had something right away.

At one point I thought we were going to do it at Bound for Glory, but we felt this match was better if we took a little time, positioning it for Hard to Kill. It would be the most amazing way to start the New Year.

Like this match, the Knockouts division was brought together thanks to women like Gail Kim, Traci Brooks and Jackie Moore. They were so persistent that they wanted to go out and compete and be taken seriously. We gave them that opportunity and they took her out of the park. This is during a period when other companies may have treated women as secondary, with lingerie pillow fights, etc. We gave them the opportunity to be themselves, for women to come out and stand out and stand out as the amazing athletes that they are. Right now other companies are doing the same.

For this match, it was another group of talented women who knew what they wanted. I’m sure they’ll put on an amazing display at Hard to Kill.

What we are seeing here is an evolution of the general population’s thought process when it comes to how we treat women and diversity in general. That’s the case in the wrestling space and hopefully in life. This match wasn’t meant to be just for men; it was meant to be an athletes match. It was meant to highlight amazing athletes, those who can do amazing things that the average person cannot. It’s long overdue to introduce the incredibly athletic women that we have. I was not surprised. It would have been more shocking if it weren’t positive.

How can she not automatically think about what Lady Frost can do in combat, or what Tasha Steelz will come up with when she’s high above the ring on those cables? How is Jordynne Grace going to use her super strength and athletic ability to make something memorable? The reception was a testament to the Knockouts division and how the thought process of women’s wrestling has been changing.

It’s 2022 baby, let’s move on and keep making history.

Chance. There have always been incredible female athletes who can compete at this level and they wanted to. There have been times when opportunities did not present themselves. Impact has a long history of putting women in a position where they can come out, compete and impress. Be it a Last Knockouts Standing match, Texas Death Match like the one we have with our Knockouts Championship match, Ultimate X, cage matches, the Knockouts won it over and over again.

We’ve talked about how this could be great, and we’re confident that women can pull it off. As we sit here in 2022, 15 years of testing have already passed. No more hypothetical, if it can be done it can be done. We have proven it for a decade and a half. That’s what makes Hard to Kill so special. Ultimate X is the last frontier, the last barrier to break. There is no doubt that women will go crazy and make an amazing match. Chris Sabin, the guru when it comes to Division X, is excited and wants to see what new twists and takes the Knockouts put in.

The good thing about the Forbidden Gate is that it breaks down all those barriers, the old days of What if; What if Rick Flair could chase Hulk Hogan, what if Bruno Sammartino took on Harley Race? I would love to see an athlete like AEW Women’s Champion Britt Baker walk through the door, come here and compete on Impact. I know she and Deonna wanted to see eye to eye for a long time. I have a world of respect for Britt; she has an incredible body of work. She would be fantastic.

One of the last parts of the forbidden door that hasn’t been kicked is that 800-pound gorilla – WWE. Can you imagine a world where you see Mickie James take on Charlotte Flair, Jordynne Grace with Becky Lynch? There are so many pairings to do. We’re seeing a lot of those people that we never thought we’d see coming, like Kenny Omega and Jay White showing up unexpectedly. The possibilities are endless. You can sit down and list a list and create dream matches with female fighters for years. Only time will tell.

The future of Impact is all about growth. There have been some questionable moments of not knowing what is going to happen. We talked a lot about the fact that it wasn’t going to be a quick fix; you can’t just put a band-aid on major problems. You have to focus on a long-term plan. If you are a sports fan on a team that has had a bad streak, you need to make changes. Sometimes you have to say goodbye to the talent you admire and give the new generation opportunities.

It’s almost the 20th anniversary of Impact, and we’re getting back to what we always should be; a place where we can take athletes who have been overlooked and not given the opportunity they deserve and nurture, develop and amplify them to be their best selves. Think of Deonna Purrazzo a year and a half ago and the body of work she has built today. All she needed was a platform, a group that would allow her to develop and be the athlete she knew she could be. Think of Chris Bey, Ace Austin and Trey Miguel, the latter I knew as a child.

Let’s go out there, take the outliers and take a chance. When it comes to Knockouts Ultimate X, it’s all about giving women’s wrestling a chance to be taken seriously. The X-Division wasn’t about weight limits; it was about having no limits. It’s about taking risks, opportunities. We take good people and put them in a position to be successful.

If you watch, we’ll reward you with an amazing night. If you do not agree with what is out there, please contact me, but I have the utmost confidence in our team. Impact Wrestling, not only are we hard to kill, we are hard to beat.