Why fans should give Impact Wrestling another chance
After years of mismanagement and bad booking decisions, Impact Wrestling has started their long climb back to relevance.
In 2002, I bumped into something that piqued my interest. After the demise of WCW in March 2001, the WWF was the last promotion standing in professional wrestling. It was assumed that without World Championship Wrestling, Vince McMahon would rule the world and no one would ever compete with them again.
In June 2002, Jeff and Jerry Jarrett started Total Nonstop Action wrestling. It was a new promotion with some older names from the past but with a ton of new talent. Names like AJ Styles, Low Ki, Amazing Red and others were featured with Jarrett, Raven other known names. What made the company unique was that they offered the shows on pay-per-view weekly at a small price point. While I did not order the PPV’s every single week (I was in college), it was something different to watch.
Since 2002 I have been there for every iteration of the company. The company moving from weekly PPVs to Fox Sports Net on Friday afternoons to primetime on Spike TV. I was there to witness Kurt Angle and Christian jump from the WWE to TNA. Who remembers that ridiculous Last Rites Match between Sting and Abyss that just screamed Vince Russo nonsense? I thought that Hulk Hogan coming in would shock the world and change TNA into a legitimate number two company…for about 30 seconds until I remembered it was self-serving Hogan.
I was even there for the move to Destination America where the show was sandwiched between BBQ shows and fake haunted house shows every week. It was around that time where I began to doubt my sanity and ponder whether I was officially done with TNA. On August 7, 2014, former TNA President (and the worst person to own a wrestling company) Dixie Carter was power bombed through a table. That is when I said, “I’m done.”
My interest went back to TNA slowly when I heard that Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame came into the company. There were a few changes that were made that were interesting (still don’t know what the deal was with the Grand Championship) so I started watching here and there. My interested level increased a little more when Dixie Carter sold the company to Anthem. Upon hearing the news, I felt the company could succeed without Carter running the promotion into the ground and owing everyone and their mother money.
Once Don Callis and Scott D’Amore came in as Executive Vice Presidents, I began to watch more. Two experienced wrestling minds leading the company meant that things would make sense and hopefully improve. Since the duo took over in December 2017, the product has seen a slow but steady improvement in quality. Gone are the days of just picking off older guys from the WWE looking for a paid vacation. Impact Wrestling (no more TNA) are attempting to create new stars and rebuild. They want younger independent wrestlers with drive who want to make the company better, not just get their profile up.
However, with any rebuild comes issues. They have tried to bring in the volatile Alberto Del Rio numerous times which was and is a mistake. They still tape way too much television ahead of time which dilutes the product because everyone knows about the show weeks in advance. The company still has an addiction for bringing in older stars like Tommy Dreamer and Rob Van Dam. They have also switched networks recently to a channel that almost no one has.
Looking past those things, Impact Wrestling seems to have hit a groove. Talent is beginning to sign long-term deals with the company. They are touring and while they are not hitting mid-sized arenas anymore, they are going to places they know they can at least partially fill. The wrestling on the show is good to great with people like Brian Cage, Johny Impact (formerly Johnny Nitro or Johnny Mundo) and LAX leading the way. The women’s division has been rebuilt as they are being led by Tessa Blanchard, one of the young stars in wrestling today.
I’m not saying Impact is perfect. Are they going to draw over a million viewers as the company did years ago on Spike? Absolutely not. Do they have some silly, hokey stuff on the show? Absolutely (The Rascalz “smoking” pot, WCW’s own Disco Inferno trashing women’s wrestling). They have a fan base that has either been with the company from the beginning or has bumped back into it. Shows like their recent Rebellion PPV will only get people talking more as this was their second big show in a year (Homecoming was not good in the fall) to receive rave reviews. If shows like Redemption or Slammiversary 2018 continue, Impact will continue to grow and show people that they mean business.
With All Elite Wrestling beginning this year, it is possible that Impact Wrestling could fall behind in the race for second place in the wrestling industry. When the company was first started, throughout its first decade, they always tried to compete with WWE. They were considered WWE-lite as they attempted to do what WWE did. Here’s the thing: no one can do what WWE does. When TNA moved to Monday nights to go head-to-head with the WWE in 2010, they failed miserably.
That move to Monday nights represented a cautionary tale for the company. At this point in the company’s history, they know that they cannot compete with the WWE…not even close. At this stage, they are not a significant promotion anymore. What they are is a stable, independent wrestling promotion that are doing the right things. Unfortunately, they are still atoning for the sins of a past administration. The process is long and arduous, but they have put their best foot forward in trying to get the stench of TNA off Impact Wrestling.
Wrestling fans, it is time to give Impact Wrestling another look. You will not be disappointed. Honestly, with the way the WWE has sucked lately, why not give someone else a chance?
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