New Year, New Impact?

  So here we are again. As the old year passes we welcome a new one with new opportunities. What seems to have become a tradition like many others is […]

 

So here we are again. As the old year passes we welcome a new one with new opportunities. What seems to have become a tradition like many others is that Impact Wrestling promises a new era. At this point, it is difficult to remember how many times the promotion has relaunched. It was the move from Spike to Destination America, the move to Pop TV, the advent of the GFW/TNA merger and now a new regime. The term gives me hives, to be honest. In recent years there have been promises that have just not come to fruition. I think every announcement has given me hope, along with the 250 000 or so fans who remain.

The curse of the company has always been that those in charge have not known what they were doing. Dixie Carter did a lot of good, she really did, but there were a few major mistakes that led to the ousting from Spike and the steep downward spiral when the company was a true contender to WWE. Since that day the hits just kept on coming. We will never really know what life would have been like on the Discovery network, or what Billy Corgan could have done for the company. At least he had a clear vision and was very transparent about it. For me the fact that those who have held the reins since are tightlipped about the what they want for the company is worrisome.

This is not a trip down memory lane, but more of a hope for the future. As I have written in an earlier post, I think it is time we give Impact a chance, by at least talking about what they are doing right. After the departure of Jeff Jarrett, the company has once again been in limbo. Not the near-fatal one it was in during the travesty called the BFG series after they were kicked off Destination America, but one that at times has been seen as directionless. When Jarrett was in charge he had a clear vision of where the story lines were going. At least as far as Bound for Glory. With him gone the ones who followed were most likely uncertain what that vision was leading to. It was clear in Alberto El Patron’s strange promo, the anticlimactic end to the AAA- GFW feud and an X division that once again has fallen by the wayside.

Don Callis and Scott D’Amore are no strangers to the wrestling business, and the latter is not new to Impact either. One could say that his credentials speak for themselves. Bringing in wrestlers like Bobby Roode and Eric Young who have made their mark on wrestling. His work with the promotions BCW and Prime Time Wrestling makes me hopeful that he can bring a different vision to the show. It is much the same with Don Callis. Though not much of a stellar wrestling career the commentator for New Japan’s claim to fame is his friendship with Chris Jericho. What he can bring are maybe the Japanese stars or their style to Impact. On Talk is Jericho the two new presidents of spoke a lot saying nothing, really. We still do not know what their creative vision will be. Apart from wrestlers being able to keep their gimmicks, that contract will be different, that they will look to tape more often and in other venues, nothing about the product itself was mentioned. When asked who they were looking to keep around, or what wrestlers were part of the vision they only mentioned those bound to a contract; Johnny Impact, Moose or Patron. No talk of keeping cornerstones of the company like EC3, Lashley or Edwards.

When I watch the Global Wrestling Network and when they show rewind matches on Impact from back in the day one is amazed at the hard-hitting style and grittiness of the show. The crowd going wild and the wrestlers really laying into each other. That is what made TNA fun and interesting back in the day. Now it is almost too clean, and the style is more of a watered down TV version of what is done on the indies. I hope that the wrestling we see on Smash, also seen on GWN, can bleed over to that which we see on Pop. The crowd needs to be invested.

I’m not looking for Impact to go back to those days per se. It is foolish to not let a product progress, to make it regress, but I do think that Callis and D’Amore need to look at what made the fans engage in the wrestlers and stories from back then. It is a mix of hard-hitting wrestling, hungry athletes, and intensity. They also need to be less blase about losing the big names they have now and I’m not talking about the ones that just came in. Losing James Storm is big enough, even though he has been quite uninteresting the past few years, it was what he symbolized. Next on the chop block would be Abyss and that would truly hurt.

It is impossible to say what the New Year brings for Impact. I think, that for the first time, I’m not that excited about what will come. Maybe there’s been too many restarts. I hope for a soft re-launch, with the look staying the same but the content slightly tougher.

-C. Marry Hultman

C. Marry Hultman is an avid Impact Wrestling watcher. He runs a podcast, The Wrestling Guild, with his buddy Nick Anderson where they review the show every week. He also runs he website W.A.R.G where he looks at popular culture in all its forms.