Vegas: May the Fourth (Time) Be With You | Bark of the Dawg

I guess maybe the title of this piece will make more sense to Star Wars fans.  You have to get creative when you’re writing about essentially the same thing for the fourth time. Yes, Impact Wrestling held a set of TV tapings in Vegas for the fourth time in the last year and a half.  Honestly, the perceived disorganization and lack of promotion for these events leading up to them, with the official announcement coming less than three weeks ahead of time, had myself and most fans a bit concerned.  Then, in the end, the shows ended up being the most well-attended Sam’s Town set that they’ve ever done.  Who would have known?  It helped that they did some media promotion with Tessa and Daga for a couple days in Las Vegas directly before the tapings. Impact did what they needed to do in order to make it all work, even if the timeline for how it came to pass was confusing. 

I’m not going to talk about any spoilers on this column but you can find my Full Vegas Spoilers here.  Huge thanks to Jay and TDM for helping to get out the information and popular non-spoiler crowd pics in a quick and efficient way. We broke all sorts of view records for the site during these Vegas tapings which was fun and satisfying.

My overall experience at these most recent events was very positive and I always feel like I’m getting my money’s worth with Impact.  All three nights were very well attended as (according to my estimates) there were between 2,500 to 2,800 fans there for the three days combined.  That is the most successful 3-day set that they’ve had in Sin City. In all of the previous Vegas tapings at Sam’s Town, there was never such a packed house as there was for the Saturday, February 8th show.  The floor was overflowing on both sides to the point where there were several standing room only patrons.  Every seat was taken and beyond.  The pictures from that night really blew up on Twitter and “the proof was in the pudding” for all of the haters and trolls out there.  Impact finally filled the venue to complete capacity (and then some) as there were close to 1,000 fans in attendance that night which was so cool to see.

From what I gathered from the in-house announcements, it sounded like they’re planning on coming to Sam’s Town (or somewhere in Sin City) twice per year for the foreseeable future.  Also, on the most recent Behind the Lights episode on Twitch, Scott D’Amore hinted that some special things were coming for Las Vegas in the future.  I’m not sure if that means a possible pay-per-view or moving to a bigger venue or exactly what’s in store but I’m excited for whatever that announcement will be since I’m always available to attend these Vegas events and provide coverage. They are rewarding a fan base in the Western U.S. in the same way that they do Mexico City, NYC, Windsor, Dallas, Toronto and others. These areas have an Impact following that they’ve cultivated and built up over time. Again, this is a stark contrast to the days of being trapped in Orlando which was really not that long ago.

I’m not sure if Impact fans are aware of this but some fairly significant talents have made their debuts and/or returns at these Las Vegas events.  The Rascalz, who have become a vital part of the show, first appeared full-time for Impact Wrestling as a group at the tapings in September of 2018 (I realize Dez was there solo before that).  The ultra-talented Ace Austin made his full-time debut just a year ago in February of 19′. Those particular signings and debuts of four young wrestlers are amazing to ponder given the continued success of all three of The Rascalz and the current X-Division Champion “The One True Ace”. Also, the much sought after Chris Bey is a Las Vegas resident who most Impact fans would love to see signed to a deal. Madman Fulton also burst onto the scene for oVe in Las Vegas last year. Ken Shamrock made his return to Impact at Sam’s Town this past September. Also Raven has appeared there and everyone’s favorite Disco Inferno (aka Glen Gilberti).

I’ve said it before several times but when you attend an Impact event in person, you get a real sense for the talent and crew giving it their all. It’s true that Impact Wrestling has a smaller staff of employees that wear multiple hats and work extremely hard. Sometimes this understaffing has bit them in the ass a little bit, but regardless, the amount of labor and toil that they get done given that particular circumstance is admirable and pretty remarkable.

Impact still has that very likable underdog quality to it. It’s the same reason that they named a pay-per-view “Hard To Kill” because they have survived so many times when nearly the entire wrestling world counted them out and left them for dead. Well, they didn’t die and now they have rebounded and are on an upward swing despite AEW and the WWE constantly hogging the spotlight.

This ICU thing is kind of being lost in the shuffle a little bit right now, but for those of us that appreciate long-term story telling and character development, this is right up our alley. We don’t really know much about what’s happening with this yet besides the hacker stuff and the show being disrupted on a weekly basis. On the first night of tapings, these flyers (see above pic) were left on all of the seats. It’s a unique and different way to generate some fan engagement and it seemed to work too because I could hear many people in my surrounding area talking about it all. They were scanning the code and watching the video. I’m eager to see how this thing develops as we move forward in 2020.

Fans should be very encouraged by Impact going to Atlanta and taping Impact at such an attractive venue like the Coca-Cola Roxy. These types of arenas with a higher capacity (but not too big, too soon) are just what the doctor ordered. Going to new markets is a fantastic, much-needed step. Participating in the WrestleCon/WrestleMania weekend events for three years in a row should also be noted as a win. For the longest time, Impact shied away from being officially involved with this convention where basically the entire pro wrestling world converges at once. It’s smart business to be represented there. These kind of WrestleCon Impact (or TNA in this case) events thriving while there’s a million other options in town is how you earn respect.

Another positive sign is booking Terminal 5 in NYC for Rebellion. Yes, they’ve been to The Melrose Ballroom several times in the last couple of years, but upgrading to a bigger, better venue was needed, especially for a PPV like that. This kind of improvement was the type of things that I pointed out at the end of last year as a marker for expansion and success. If they get sell-outs or near sell-outs for these events in March and April (including Lockdown), then the momentum is really going to start to pick up. In turn, the growth and progress with the company starts to become more real and not just lip service or false optimism.

All of us are hoping that Impact can continue to expand their operation soon but it has to be done intelligently and in a calculated manner given all of the stiff competition in pro wrestling right now. If you make one big mistake at this juncture, it could be very costly. The triumph of the February Vegas shows is a microcosm for the overall prosperity of Impact Wrestling. Getting larger attendance numbers than the previous three sets of shows and an increase with fan interest in one of the entertainment capitals of the world (with an insane amount of competitive choices) is a definite sign of progress. This happened even when going head to head with an NXT show in the same city, on the same night. That was the specific Impact show that did the best when it was in direct competition with the WWE. If that isn’t mind-blowing given the circumstances of the situation then I don’t know what is. 2020 is off to a hell of a start for Impact and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the remainder of the year.