This isn’t the voice you’re used to. Longtime Impact reviewer/aficionado/encyclopedia Garrett Kidney recently accepted the role of Digital Producer with Impact, meaning someone was left with the task of taking over his former beat. I cannot hope to match his vast knowledge of the promotion (I only started following it in 2009), and therefore I will be transitioning his weekly review into a column, the first of which is below. I wish him all the best with his future endeavors and hope I can do the show and the beat justice.
James Storm’s departure marked the end of an era, and perhaps a more worrying issue for the new team of Don Callis and Scott D’Amore to rectify. Storm was the last real good guy left, the last one that was you could root for and get behind.
Yes, Storm had left before and yes he’d had numerous heel turns along the way (if I brush past the Revolution and Death Crew Council can we pretend they didn’t happen?) but whenever given something to work with, he was excellent. His in-ring talent may not have always been at the level of some in the company, but the man was superb on the mic and was able to create emotion and drama in a business that is all too often lacking it. His departure at the hands of American Top Team, a storyline that has more than run its course, was played to little fanfare and leaves Impact in a pickle – who’s the big babyface now?
The departures of Styles, Joe, Roode, Young and Angle are well documented, and although bodies have come in to replace them, the failure to build credible new main event stars to replace them has been the biggest problem. Eddie Edwards and Moose are both good guys, and I enjoy the work of both, but they don’t really have the promo skills or captivating character narratives to suck you in. The same sentiments go for Petey Williams, whose work since coming back has been good, although greatly exacerbated by taping in Canada. Johnny Impact tries and has been a breath of fresh air since joining the company, but he always seems insincere as a face and is much better positioned as the smug heel, much akin to his former tag team partner The Miz.
A glance at the current champions tells a similar story. EC3 was tried as a face to little avail, whilst he more than anyone feels to have run his course with the company. Eli Drake is someone who’s work I particularly enjoy (you can read my gushings over him here), but his entire run as champion has felt lifeless and without direction, constantly overshadowed by Alberto El Patron and the aforementioned Impact. His reign could have been something but they’ve never let him run with it, he’s been an afterthought.
Then there’s Taiji Ishimori. An exceptionally talented wrestler no doubt, and one who has made a pleasant change to Impact television in recent months, but he’s hardly Mr Charisma and his reign is undoubtedly a product of their working relationship with NOAH.
From contenders to champions and even also-rans like Caleb Konley, Fallah Bahh and KM, there are no characters or personalities on the show at the moment that make me, a hardcore fan of the promotion, care – so what hope is there for a casual fan when they’re stuck on Pop TV?
The blueprint for Callis & D’Amore has to be getting good wrestling on the weekly television product, but also creating storylines and characters that make people care. They need acts people want to see, programmes that have an enticing pay-off at the end, or else they’ll stay in the rut they’ve been in for the last few years. And with the talent on their roster, there’s no need for that to happen.
The Week in Review
- This week’s show really felt like filler. Four matches, none of which went longer than 11 matches, all felt inconsequential and were merely build to matches next week. No sizzle, no intrigue; all you need for a passable but uninspiring two hours of television. There’s no issue with that in and of itself, but when the tapings are so long, the crowd are clearly fatigued and the programs have all lost their juice and intrigue.
- Talking of next week, they did set up four matches. Desmond Xavier, who it was recently announced will begin a two-month excursion with Dragon Gate in the near future, will challenge Ishimori for the X-Division Title, Eli Drake defending against El Patron and Impact, Kongo Kong vs Chandler Park and LAX vs OvE and Sami Callihan in a no-ropes Barbed Wire Massacre match. That main event will not air on Pop though, deemed “too violent” by the network and therefore it will appear on Konnan’s Twitch channel.
- KM should never be in the main event of Impact again. He had one of his better showings here, but he’s slow and lethargic in his work, and just not enticing to watch.