If I asked you to name one thing synonymous with Impact Wrestling, what would it be?
There’s a pretty strong chance that it might be AJ Styles, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe or Beer Money. Maybe Gail Kim. Or maybe, just maybe, the six-sided ring.
For nine of the fifteen years the company has been in existence, that six-sided ring has been there. A hallmark of Impact, something supposedly to set it aside from other US promotions. Now, it wasn’t there right at the start in 2002, the year of Toby Keith and the Flying Elvises, but it was there in 2004 when the weekly TV show began.
Its initial run lasted until January 2010, where it was unceremoniously dropped by Hulk Hogan.
The six-sided ring remained absent until June 2014. It came back then, and only then, due to the results of a fan poll.
This week’s Genesis special will be the last Impact show, be it PPV or weekly TV product, to feature the six-sided ring, with the new administration announcing that they would be returning to four-sides. In that sense there’s a slight irony that this week’s episode, an episode that garnered the highest viewing figures for five months, was brilliant.
Over the course of its existence in Impact, I’ve always liked the six-sided ring. It carried cache in the early days of the company, where it genuinely was different and was the setting of THAT hurricanrana by Elix Skipper and of course that triple threat at Unbreakable 2005. It was there for my first experience of watching Impact, a match between Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin from Genesis 2009 that first drew me in to this weird and wonderful promotion.
Yet despite those big moments, the six-sided ring has felt more and more out of place since its return in 2014. Perhaps it’s because TNA/GFW/Impact tried so hard to present itself as something different with the ring, yet what they were producing inside it was little more than a poor man’s RAW.
Don Callis and Scott D’Amore have rightfully seen that it was time to let go. Erecting a six-sided ring is considerably more challenging than the conventional four sides, and with more production staff going that was only going to become a bigger issue. Likewise some of the current roster have noticeably struggled with it in the past, and if they really are serious about the reboot this time (and fingers crossed they are), changing the ring is a big step-change that viewers will immediately notice.
The shape of the ring doesn’t make a difference to the stories you tell within it. In the age we live in now, where wrestling from a whole host of promotions from around the world is just a click away, it’s what you can offer fans that keeps you relevant, and more importantly, helps you grow.
Perhaps in finally letting go, Impact will be able to improve.
The Week in Review
- This week’s episode was fantastic. Wrestling-heavy, it was wall-to-wall action, highlighted by four solid matches. That is all you can want from a weekly wrestling show and it was the best they’ve put together in a very long time.
- Give me more opening video packages like the one we had this week. The clips from every one of the title match participants gave the show some juice before it started and it is small touches like that that are important.
- With Donovan Dijak in NXT, and Keith Lee in a league of his own, I feel quite comfortable in calling Moose and Lashley two of the most athletic big men in wrestling today. LASHLEY LANDING A HURRICANRANA SHOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE.
- A clipped version of Taiji Ishimori’s X-Division title defence against Andrew Everett from NOAH’s January 6th show was featured this week. Check out the full match if you can, it was a super fun old-school X-Division match. I pegged it at ***1/2 but it was a very enjoyable watch and by all accounts Everett’s current NOAH tour has been a success. Exactly the sort of stuff Impact’s international partnerships should be for.
- Impact’s Twitch channel will be getting some exclusive first-run content. It was announced on this week’s episode that the Impact/Wrestle Pro co-produce show on February 3rd, called Brace for Impact, will be airing on Twitch a week later. After the success of Barbed Wire Massacre on the channel, it will be very interesting to see how this show does.
- Next week’s episode will be the first featuring the tapings under the new management. I have more faith in Callis and D’Amore than I’ve had in any of the past few reboots, so next week will be a big test. Can they deliver and really push the show on, or will it be more of the same?
Well, until next time…