You know those memes that start with “Nobody:” or “Absolutely No One:” in an effort to show the lack of interest the world has in a particular topic? Well, IMPACT Wrestling just created their own version of that meme when they made the announcement that at Slammiversary, the controversial Reverse Battle Royal would be returning. And no, no one asked for this.
Impact: Let’s bring back the Reverse Battle Royal at Slammiversary!
Meme aside, let’s get into this here because I’m sure if you are new to IMPACT, you are probably asking yourself, “what is a reverse battle royal?” Well, it’s quite simple. In a battle royal, wrestlers start the match inside of the ring. A reverse battle royal is the opposite, with wrestlers starting outside of the ring and attempting to fight their way in via entering the ring over the top rope. Of the participants, only half make it into the ring for the second stage of the match, which functions as a normal battle royal. The third stage comes when the match is down to two participants, as things then transition to a traditional singles match where one wins not by throwing their opponent over the top rope, but rather by pinfall or submission.
Conceptually, the idea of turning a battle royal into a singles match when down to the final two competitors isn’t really all that bad. It’s the first stage – the free-for-all for the ring – that most people have taken issue with in the past. In fact, when the match was first introduced in 2006 as part of the Fight for the Right Tournament, it earned the distinct honor of being named the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Worst Worked Match of the Year. By competing in the Reverse Battle Royal in 2006, the winner received a bye to the finals of the tournament. The remaining competitors were seeded based on elimination order, which was then used to determine seeding for the tournament. The winner of the tournament went on to face the winner of the Reverse Battle Royal for a right to challenge for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship, then Impact’s top belt. If all of that sounds confusing, don’t worry. It didn’t make much sense back in 2006 either. While not directly credited with the idea of the Reverse Battle Royal (that distinction would appear to belong to Disco Inferno), it seems uncoincidental that Vince Russo joined the then-TNA creative team about a month or so before this tournament and match took place.
The History of the Reverse Battle Royal
When looking at the men who competed in the first-ever Reverse Battle Royal, it’s not their fault this was the worst worked match of the year. The match was stacked with talent including AJ Styles, James Storm, Christian Cage, Christopher Daniels, Jay Lethal, Lance Archer, Low Ki, Frankie Kazarian, Abyss, and the list goes on. The booking was everything you’d expect out of a Russo special. At one point, several wrestlers just abandoned the idea of trying to fight their way into the match, most notably Storm, who stood to the side with a beer and watched it all go down. Points to him for seeing the ludicrosity before the match even really got going. There were tons of cameos and outside interference: The Naturals came down to attack Devon and Bubba Ray, Rhino went after Christian, and L.A.X. came out to beat up Storm at which point Chris Harris showed up to help his America’s Most Wanted tag team partner. In the words of CJ Biddle, who has spent years covering the worst matches in wrestling history, “This concludes the stupidest thing I have ever seen.”
Somehow, as all of those extracurriculars outside of the ring were occurring, seven men made it into the ring allowing normalcy to take place in the form of the regular battle royal. Ron Killings was thrown out first, followed by Chris Sabin, Daniels, Robert Roode, and Styles. Leaving the final two men as Abyss and Archer, then going by Lance Hoyt. Not exactly the two many would have picked to want to see in a singles match after all that, but here we are. Abyss ended up getting the win and went on to face Styles, winner of the single-elimination tournament that followed. Abyss was able to defeat Styles and he went on to fight for the title at Genesis.
I wish I could say pro wrestling hasn’t seen a match as over-booked as the Reverse Battle Royal from 2006, but I can’t. Because despite being named the worst worked match of the year, IMPACT decided to bring back the Reverse Battle Royal in 2007 at Bound for Glory nevertheless. In 2007, the Fight for the Right Tournament returned, with a slight tweak. This time, eight competitors not seven, reached the battle royal stage, and this time, there was no third stage, as all eight competed in a single-elimination tournament with the winner going on to receive the title shot. Eric Young, competing in his second reverse battle royal, won the match, securing his #1 seed. Though it mattered little as Storm, who was the first man eliminated, defeated Young in the first round of the single-elimination tournament. The tournament final was contested between Kazarian and Cage in a ladder match, in which Kazarian won. Though this was the second final match, as the first saw Cage pin Kazarian in a match that was thrown out due to interference. As noted, the over-booking was abundant.
What to Expect in the Return
Upon celebrating its 20th Anniversary, IMPACT Wrestling is pulling out all the nostalgia stops along the way. Apparently, this is one of them. While the original reverse battle royals were very much serious matches, designed to help determine a #1 contender for the world title, this one should be anything but. For starters, it is on the pre-show, given no higher billing than it deserves. Expect this match to be a parody of what was once greenlit as a good idea but is now just the butt of all jokes. It will likely be overbooked to death, feature cameos of some of the returning IMPACT faces of the past, and should be nothing more than a spectacle akin to GCW‘s Clusterf**k. Although, this match will probably be even more of a clusterf**k than that one is.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. As well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch IMPACT Wrestling on Thursday nights on AXS TV and Twitch.TV as well as all the time on IMPACT Plus. And if you are so inclined, you can watch the two previous reverse battle royals on IMPACT Plus as well. Make sure to catch Slammiversary, live on June 19th at 7:30 PM.