2018: “The Rebound Year” for Impact Wrestling

Fans Unite

 

 

Let’s get right down to it.  Impact Wrestling deserves more respect from the Internet Wrestling Community than they are currently receiving.  Once in a blue moon, when it needs to be pointed out, I will beat this drum and I am going to beat it now.  Where are the columns and articles from pro wrestling websites out there regarding the successful year that Impact has just experienced?  Where are the podcasts that are applauding the efforts of Impact’s management, ownership and talent roster for 2018?  For God’s sake, in the current climate of cord-cutting, why is it that the only measuring stick I see used to gauge success is an outdated Nielsen TV ratings system?  ALL wrestling promotions have seen a decrease in these archaic viewership numbers.  Why do these people that call themselves wrestling fans still have their heads shoved completely up the WWE’s ass?  We all know the answers here.  The WWE sheep are creatures of habit that refuse to give anything else a chance.  The blatant disregard for Impact Wrestling is obviously a byproduct of the past failures of TNA and the old Impact Wrestling (and GFW).  The new Impact regime isn’t running away from this checkered past but they are moving onward and upward in a well planned out and intelligent fashion.  Everyone with half a brain has to, at minimum, admit that the overall stink still coming from some of the bad decisions of TNA’s yesteryear has “had some Febreze sprayed on it”.  Next year though, this revitalized version of Impact Wrestling is going to be smelling so damn good that even the most jaded and critical voices out there will be snorting that intoxicating scent up like a freshly baked pan of warm chocolate chip cookies.

I’ve brought this up previously, but have people seriously forgotten how bad things actually were before?  That’s the only reasoning that I can fathom when it comes to the constant ignoring of this current Impact product and (from those that do watch it) the undue criticism that permeates a majority of the vocal minority.  A good chunk of the Impact regulars that review the show are pushing the panic button again and again, with the main reason being the decline in TV viewership.  Do they not understand that there are like a billion options when it comes to watching wrestling promotions in this modern era?  Appointment television viewing is basically being phased out.  If we knew what the weekly DVR numbers were and all of the online streaming viewing and the amount of people who watch it through certain various websites, the panic button would definitely be pushed less often.  It’s asinine when Impact Wrestling reviewers make sweeping statements about the on-screen product based off of these Nielsen ratings alone.  I’m not sure what their motivation is exactly, and maybe they think that they are actually helping somehow, but if you can’t see that 2018 has been a vastly improved year for Impact Wrestling then you’re a fucking idiot.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I don’t expect that fans are going to automatically approve of every single thing that Impact Wrestling does, as that would be redundant.  However, Impact is turning a corner and entering into the “undeniable territory” of being a fantastic wrestling show right now.  Call me a homer.  That’s fine.  It’s true that I am a loyal Impact fan, no doubt about it.  That being said, I also have the ability to be objective and to recognize when the overall product is good enough that it deserves to be given a fair shake from even the most disgruntled fan.  I also concede that PopTV is a bad fit and that their reach in the U.S. is fairly poor.  Newsflash here: I don’t have PopTV on my cable package either but I find a way to watch Impact Wrestling each and every week.  If you want to watch any wrestling show, you will find a way.  Network challenges aside, Impact has regrouped and stabilized in a manner that I would have never predicted.  They are no longer mired in the oversaturated Orlando zombie zone.  The last two pay-per-views events (Slammiversary and Bound For Glory) have been very good and that is near irrefutable.  They have found many, many ways to do more with less.  There are several reasons to like the direction that 2018 took and I challenge anyone out there to explain why we shouldn’t be optimistic about Impact’s future.

This company is in really good shape right now and is poised to have a breakout year in 2019.  It’s difficult to convey exactly why I’m so confident in that statement but you can just feel it when you attend their events in person.  I walked away from those Las Vegas tapings in November with a stronger conviction that Impact is going to be doing some really awesome things in the next few years.  The attendance numbers may not have been stellar for those shows, but the fans at Sam’s Town were invested in the product.  They were passionate and loud.  This is not unique to those particular fans as this same pattern of performing in front of hundreds of energetic spectators has repeated itself over and over again in Toronto, Mexico City, NYC and Windsor.  There have been many One Night Only events and Twitch specials held all over the U.S. and Canada with similarly energetic crowds.  Impact Wrestling has been going out to where the real fans are.  They are tapping into pro wrestling markets that have wanted to see them perform live for several years.  In retrospect, it’s mind-blowing to recall that everything that was done before in the last few years, besides a random PPV event here and there was shot at the Orlando Impact Zone.  I knew that getting out of there would make a significant difference and it absolutely has.

Every wrestling promotion in the world would kill for some of the best talent that Impact Wrestling has on its roster right now.  They have some major star power with a mix of vets and young up and comers.  Tessa Blanchard is the most coveted female wrestler in the world.  LAX is one of the best tag teams on the planet.  Johnny Impact is simply amazing in the ring.  Brian Cage is arguably one of the best big men in the industry.  Eli Drake is unequivocally one of the best talkers in any company out there.  Fenix and Pentagon are two of the best luchadores in existence.  Killer Kross is someone that is extremely unique and intriguing.  Sami Callihan is one of the best heels in the business.  Moose and Eddie Edwards have both completely reinvented themselves this year and bring a lot to the table.  I’m not going to go through every roster member but Impact is deep right now, especially their KnockOuts division.  Couple all of that with quality veterans who are guiding this young talent along like Gail Kim, Konnan, Abyss, Gama Singh, Jimmy Jacobs, Petey Williams, Sonjay Dutt and others.

It’s beyond me how any real pro wrestling fan would turn a blind eye to what Impact has going on, solely based off of the talent alone.  Of course, I’m sure more eye balls would give it a chance if someone like Chris Jericho would have a run in the company and that seems more likely than ever in 2019 (despite the previous false BFG tease).  The big names that will return next year like Rosemary should make a difference.  Possibilities like Davey Richards, Austin Aries and others also loom out there.  Hell, Raven is currently on the show so anything is possible especially with Homecoming on the horizon.  You’re telling me that Impact is going back to The Ayslum and that there won’t be some surprises popping up from the past?  Let your minds run wild but I can think of roughly ten names or so that are not contracted to other wrestling companies at the moment that could appear in some fashion at Homecoming.  Not that you want to have a constant procession of nostalgic appearances on the show, but the field of possibilities to choose from is large.  Being back in Nashville is very important on many levels.  It is symbolic in that it’s a tribute to the roots and origin of the company.  Holding a big event there also embodies the bold statement of “We’re Back!”.  Not just back in Nashville, but back to being a major player in the pro wrestling industry.  Homecoming has the potential to really make some noise in this business.

Right now, the schedule for taping Impact is set through March.  Touring all over North America is just a regular part of the plan at this point, which seemed incomprehensible just 12 months ago.  They have repaired relationships with other promotion partners and established several alliances with indy promotions.  The online presence that Impact has strengthened and fortified in 2018 is quite remarkable.  Their Twitter and Instagram accounts are on a totally different level now with content and coverage.  The official Impact YouTube account has broken records repeatedly in 2018 and has been managed in a much more efficient way.  The Twitch channel has grown tremendously, especially considering that it was only created this year.  There are regular Twitch exclusive shows and live events that were established in 2018.  The Lucha Underground Vs Impact Wrestling crossover Twitch event that took place in April down in New Orleans was spectacular.  The GWN app continues to evolve and add more content all the time from different promotion partners.  There has also been frequent GWN exclusive content and ONO events throughout 2018.  All of these items have represented progress and rebuilding for the Impact Wrestling brand.  Do these markers for success get praise and recognition?  Very rarely and that is a shame.

So what will 2019 bring?  No one knows exactly but I do know that I want to be a part of it.  That’s why I’m going back to Las Vegas for all three taping dates again in February.  That’s why I plan to continue to write a monthly column on Impact.  I am on the bandwagon for Impact Wrestling to land a bigger, better TV network in the United States.  Once that finally happens, I believe that others out there will catch on to what we here at DPW already know.  This is a different and fresh company.  It is a changed company that has a better overall business plan.  Don Callis has talked about the product moving towards being edgy and cool in a similar way to how ECW was back in the day.  There will soon be more fans that will recognize what we have already witnessed the beginning of.  Impact Wrestling has impressively rebounded in 2018.  Many people gave up on them but the loyal fans stood by and watched Impact regroup and get the train back on the track.  Now the fun really begins.