By Bayani Domingo, Associate Editor
This column is a few days late. It was supposed to run on Friday, I had a great idea for a topic I had already been about half way through with when all of a sudden things changed in a matter of hours. Jeff Jarrett had been released from GFW and now it was back to Impact Wrestling once again. There are a lot of questions surrounding what this mean for the company. One of the biggest has to be how, or if, this affects the recent change in programming where AAA, The Crash, and Pro Wrestling NOAH have become a real part of Impact wrestling. Because any derailment of these relationships could really spell the end of the “Little wrestling company that could”.
I may be in the minority here, but I’ve really enjoyed the new format that Impact has taken in recent weeks. Incorporating matches from all over the world that feature Impact wrestlers has been not only refreshing, but has been a much needed “shot of caffeine” into a company struggling to get out from under the shadow of the E, while trying not to keep tripping over its own feet. The idea that a company would not only welcome others to share their limelight, but also go through the effort of showcasing other companies in their own home rings isn’t new. This used to happen quite often in the WWF days, where storylines might take place that acknowledge the old AWF, NWA, or ECW. The E has even held qualifying matches for the CWC at affiliated Indy shows. They’ve also held the European Championship overseas. The difference is that I don’t truly believe the E considers the CWC or European Championship a real part of the main roster, therefore they are willing to give it more leniency since it’s a Network show and not on the USA network.
What Impact is doing is very different in that it has managed to take advantage of the average wrestling fan’s knowledge of a larger industry world wide and are playing to the hardcore wrestling geek’s ultimate motivation: Watching as much wrestling as possible while paying as little for it as you can. Your average wrestling fan won’t want to have to buy every streaming service that they’d need to in order to get wall to wall wrestling from all over the globe. Impact is bringing in both Lucha and Puro wrestling to the table, without relying on the “Influence” that you see the E employ. I happen to like Shinsuke Nakamura as much as the next guy, but calling him the “King of Strong Style” is about 5 years too late. Gran Metallik, Lince Dorado, Sin Cara, and Kalisto have done good jobs keeping Lucha alive in 205, but you can’t feature just one of them at a time in a match and truly call it Lucha. Trying to enjoy a “Lucha inspired” match as a pure Lucha substitute is like trying to enjoy a “Sex inspired” evening with your Fleshlight and saying its like the real thing.
I’ll admit that the downside to having these matches featured on the program is that the camera work isn’t always that great. Also the feel and sound of the crowd reaction due to the limited sound capabilities are lacking. But there is something so much more authentic when you see an Impact wrestling in Japan or Mexico working their style in another promotion that you don’t get by having an outside wrestling in the Impact Zone. It’s a great business model because Impact has effectively added 30-50% to their roster without having to sign long term deals or pay out big appearance fees. You get more matchups and less stagnant rosters by including wrestlers you might never see in the US otherwise, while allowing your workers to be “protected” via the control over the booking.
What’s more is that the Impact workers have easy inroads into more international opportunities. There are obviously some wrestlers who are big enough names to get work on their own, but there are avenues now for some of the lower card wrestlers to spend time honing their craft in different environments. Helping not only their performance, but their wallets. The downside here could be that Impact can now book less matches over a couple of weeks in order to fill the same amount of TV time now that they can utilize non-Impact Zone matches, OR they could simply shoot the same schedule, but would be shooting for 3 or 4 weeks worth of TV instead of 2 or 3. This hurts the workers, but saves Impact money in the long term.
With Jericho facing Omega at Wrestle Kingdom next year, The Revival calling out the Youngbucks and vice versa, and the popularity of Puro and Joshi imports it is surprising that the E is content to sit back and watch Impact take the lead here. But like I said the other week, it’s not surprising. Vince is a control freak and he’s made enough money doing things his own way not to need to change. Then again, I also imagine it’s going to be hard to bring in more Luchadors into the E once Linda helps Trump build that wall. I just wonder if they have a trampoline about 100 times bigger than the one Kalisto uses to get into the ring? Impact wrestling has been on “life support” for damn near a decade and they’ve managed to reinvent themselves more times than I can count. I just hope this new incarnation sticks, because any business model that essentially gives me free Puro and Lucha on a regular basis is fine by me.
- Jericho vs Omega is set for Wrestle Kingdom next year. It sort of makes sense when you think about it, of course Omega “Made the List!!”, he’s already IN the Club…
- Alberto de Patron had an auspicious return at Bound For Glory this past Sunday. I wasn’t that impressed though, if I had to give his return a grade, it would probably be straight “Si’s”.
- Kofi working in “Red Face” on SDL last week felt like it could’ve been construed as racist. Look Kofi, I don’t go making fun of you when you get drunk, don’t be cracking wise on me. #DrunkAsianFeelTheGlow
- Starrcade is not being shown on the WWE Network for financial reasons. And I get it…I mean, why bother wasting your money on producing Starrcade when you’re raking in all that sweet, sweet Saturday Night Main Event cashola?
- Grado got teabagged by Abyss’ Monster’s Ball and has to leave America. Thanks GOD Trump is out of the country and they probably don’t get POP TV in Asia. I could just see him trying to sign an Executive Order making this part of his new immigration policy. “As part of the EXTREME EXTREME vetting…we are going to need a LOT of barbed wire and ply wood…The BEST barbed wire…”
- OvE and Sami Callahan are now calling their stable, “The Family” instead of Ohio Is 4 Killers. It makes sense, has anyone been watching the Cavaliers lately? Those guys aren’t killers, they’re barely even minor assault and battery.
- Taya Valkyrie pulled out of BFG citing “personal reasons”. With Valkyrie’s absence it kind of put Impact between a Ragnarok and a hard place. #VikingJokes
- WarGames is coming to NXT. It was an interesting concept: 1 cage, 2 rings. But I’d love to see NXT flip the script and make it 2 cages and 1 ring. Why? Because math doesn’t work that way and basically 8 out of these 9 men are heels anyways. As soon as Roderick Strong realizes that once he’s in one of those rings, you are only going to be able to use one of them anyways because he’s going to absolutely shit the other.
- Looks like Fabian Archer is getting a push in NXT. I kind of hope he teams with Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch to form the Bullet(head) Club!! They’d obviously be heels though. Cuz, Skullduggery would be afoot.
- They are really beating the Shield reunion to death here, they even trotted Triple H out to team with Rollins and Ambrose in Glasnow, which makes NO F**kin’ sense at all!! It’s like paying big bucks to run a “Got Milk?” campaign across Asian? Was that a racist joke at my own expense? Well I’d like to think I’m more tolerant than that. I know, most of you won’t get the joke, maybe only 2%.
- Lio Rush is getting heat by some fans over a joke he made about Emma being released from the E. I don’t think they realize that she is only going away to be repackaged…as an Indy wrestler.
- On a related note, I feel like Asuka would be the WORST Uber passenger ever. She would order a ride and then cancel it if they don’t arrive in 60 secs. Because, nobody would be ready for Asuka.
- Darren Young was also released, looks like Young got impeached before they made him great again. Something tells me it was his uncovered ties to Lana.
- Chris Jericho is hosting the first ever Wrestle Cruise. That’s right, it’s a cruise ship with a wrestling ring on it. What could go wrong? Okay, I’m going to go ahead and allow you people an opportunity to pick your own joke here:
A) If Randy Orton is booked on this this, #Dive is going to have a whole new meaning
B) If Sid Vicious is booked on this cruise, it’s going to give “Poop Deck” a whole new meaning
C) Most people go on cruises to hook up with hot single chicks and graze at the buffet tables…so…I guess those buffets better be damn good.