While the official begin of the new Anthem Era of Impact Wrestling technically began a few weeks back with the last set of tapings, the live edition on Thursday, which preceded the beginning of the next tapings, felt more like the reboot of Impact many had been expecting back then. So after the grand exhale by Anthem and the new management last night, and from notes out of the first 24 hours of tapings and recent news, here’s the state of Impact Wrestling as we know it, and some moves they are going forward with.
The biggest news was arguably the least surprising, as many pundits and fans alike had been prognosticating this move since it was first announced that Jeff Jarrett was returning in an Executive Management and Creative role months ago. Last night Karen Jarrett came to the ring – in a vague power position/PR mouthpiece – and announced that Global Force Wrestling (the only slightly imaginary promotion Jeff and Karen founded years ago) was merging with Impact Wrestling. In all likelihood, Impact Wrestling will remain the company name but all of GFW’s business deals and partnerships will now transfer to Impact. During the tapings that followed, the GFW Women’s Champion, indie sensation Christina Von Eerie (pictured above) came out and defended her title. Reports later emerged that Von Eerie had signed with Impact Wrestling. The question now is when do they have the inevitable unification matches, with GFW World Heavyweight Champion Magnus, GFW NexGen Champion Cody Rhodes, and GFW Women’s Champion Von Eerie all now on Impact. It would be a perfect chance to unite the TNA World Heavyweight and GFW World Heavyweight (while you’re at it, throw in the convoluted Impact Grand Championship) to create the inaugural Impact World Championship, plus follow suit with the X Division and NexGen titles for the Impact X Championship and the GFW Women’s with the Knockouts for the first Impact Women’s Champion (the Knockouts thing was cute initially, but in today’s atmosphere, Knockouts is now the new Divas as far as outdated mantras for women wrestlers, no matter the pun intended).
AAA & LUCHA UNDERGROUND
A few days ago, Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet reported that Lucha Underground wrestlers were now free to work for Impact Wrestling and appear on their programming, a new perk of the new partnership between AAA (Lucha Underground’s showrunners) and Impact Wrestling. The only drawback is that they cannot appear as their LU characters. While this could hinder some characters like Drago or Aerostar, wrestlers like Mil Muertes, Matanza Cueto or Son of Havoc could potentially appear as Ricky Banderas, Jeff Cobb or Matt Cross. Technically, Ricochet could appear as well, as he is Prince Puma in the rest of Season 3, but Ricochet isn’t exactly a big fan of LU these days as his heart seems set on going somewhere other than Impact Wrestling.
@ryansatin So they can randomly do IMPACT but I can't do ROH?? Hummm??? ???
— King Ricochet (@KingRicochet) April 19, 2017
While the Dixie Carter Era of Impact Wrestling seemed to try and erase it’s TNA history, with the exodus or exile of such original stars AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode and Eric Young, the Anthem Era is making a concerted effort to redraw attention to it’s rich history of 15 years. “Cowboy” James Storm was immediately rebooted from his latest gimmick of the week, the DCC, and branded back to the fan favourite beer swilling ass kicker that made him a World Champion previously. He immediately got a World title match versus Bobby Lashley and was pushed solidly throughout the entire match – Storm held his own. They also continued to refer to him as an Impact Original. Combined with the returns of such TNA Originals as Low Ki, Crimson, LAX, Magnus and ODB, Impact Wrestling seems intent on bringing back the Impact vibe of the late 2000’s, and start to integrate that aura with the new indie stars they’re bringing in. A perfect example of the integration is the new tag team from last night’s tapings, the Veterans of War (VOW) featuring former TNA star Crimson (now known simply as Mayweather, his real last name) and former Ring of Honor and indie star Jax Dane (now known as Wilcox).
END OF DECAY
— Crazzy Steve (@steveofcrazzy) April 21, 2017
Last night after the broadcast, Crazzy Steve, the leader of The Decay group that included Abyss and Knockouts Champion Rosemary, mentioned he was finished up with Impact Wrestling. To some this was somewhat expected, as Decay was increasingly written out of the picture of late. Rosemary herself was talking more of The Hive than her usual “Decays”, which seemed to hint she was creating her own solo endeavour. With the re emphasis on Impact’s history, there’s most likely a desire to make Abyss more like his peak level Monster. He may even become Impact’s Undertaker and only work a few times a year – after all, Chris Parks (the man behind Abyss’ mask) is now working fulltime in Impact Creative.
— Decay..Decay..DECAY (@DECAYHiveMind) April 21, 2017
THE D’AMORE EFFECT
Scott D’Amore is the unknown soldier to a lot of people in this, but his mind is Impact’s secret weapon. When he was last a part of creative and booking the Knockouts Division, most would consider that to be the Golden Age of TNA. And similar to last time, D’Amore is bringing a small contingent from his own Border City Wrestling promotion in Windsor, Ontario to Orlando. In his first run with the company shortly after it began, he brought in a squad of BCW wrestlers that became Team Canada – Bobby Roode, Petey Williams, Eric Young, Johnny Devine and A1 – who all went on to become staples on Impact, especially Roode and Young. Apart from Impact regulars he’s trained, like Moose and Rosemary, we’ve recently seen BCW wrestlers Kongo Kong, Idris Abraham, Joe Coleman, Jake Something and Jon Bolen all on recent episodes of either Impact or Xplosion. Abraham has been seen in a few X-Division matches, Bolen worked Xplosion, Coleman and Something (named simply Jake Holmes) faced Impact Tag Team Champions LAX last night and Kongo Kong is now accompanied by Maria Kanellis’ former cabinet of Sienna and Laurel Van Ness (plus indie star Kevin ‘KM’ Matthews). BCW legend and one of the indies finest heels John E. Bravo is working behind the scenes and in backstage vignettes.
While the names may not mean much to many fans now, the same was said about Team Canada, and they all turned out to be studs. D’Amore is one of the world’s most respected trainers and minds in the industry and his eye for talent will be a huge help in signing top indie talent – he’s somewhat like the William Regal to Jeff Jarrett’s Triple H.
With more tapings scheduled over the weekend, we could see more surprises in store, but like Karen Jarrett said last night, they were cleaning up some things from the previous management in past weeks, tying up loose ends of angles, and tweaking a few characters. But last night’s live episode felt different, but with an aroma of sweet nostalgia, to a time when Impact Wrestling was exciting and fresh. Here’s hoping the trend continues and Impact Wrestling finally returns to the promise it showed so many years ago.