Hall of Fames are a divisive concept. Without wishing to sound too existential, they are a physical reference point for the past. Indeed, a cursory glance at the WWE Hall of Fame is a show that not only does an induction mean very little anymore, it’s also seen as a foregone conclusion for certain stars, regardless of how they were received by fans or the body of work they themselves produced.
The other big issue that Halls of Fame bring up is recency. Just how long into the history of something is it appropriate to create a body that preserves and treasures the history of that thing? Is it a decade, two or whatever the individuals running choose it to be? Similarly, these inductions are usually done on an annual basis, but if an entity or product only has a short lineage, you may not have enough suitable people to induct on a year-to-year basis without entirely devaluing the concept behind it.
The Impact Wrestling Hall of Fame is also subject to a lot of these criticisms. Inaugurated in 2012 with the induction of Sting, they have added an extra member every year since then asides from 2017. Everyone chosen so far was more or less a slam dunk choice, but when it came to this year there were very few obvious choices when they announced it would be coming back. Names like AJ Styles, Eric Young, Bobby Roode, and James Storm are all names who belong there but are either not on good terms with the company or are too busy with WWE for it to happen. That left the field clear for one man, or should I say Monster, and it’s one of the most deserved of the bunch.
Abyss has been with Impact Wrestling since the very beginning, appearing as an unmasked figure named Justice in the first ‘Gauntlet for the Gold’ in 2002. From there his career blossomed into one that has never seen him leave for pastures new and return with his tail between his legs, but one that has seen him become a company stalwart, winning almost every title the company had to offer.
It’s telling that the only belts Abyss never won in Impact were the modern World Championship and the Grand title, with the first being a point of consternation amongst many Impact fans.
As someone who came to Impact for the first time in early 2009 as a somewhat naïve 11-year-old boy, I was immediately taken by Abyss’ size and presence. He was a real monster like Kane but he felt real and legitimately scary. His Black Hole Slam was easily one of my favourite moves when I started watching the company and one of the best things about getting older and growing to love this company more has been going back through the archives on GWN and seeing Abyss’ work between 2004 and 2010 when he was easily at his best. He shifted well for a big man and took tremendous bumps along the way in a series of memorable hardcore matches against the likes of Raven, Christian Cage, Sabu, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, and Rob Van Dam.
Abyss was the architect of the Monsters’ Ball, even though he rarely ever won it. That never mattered though, as you could feel that Abyss was a legitimately scary force who could win the world title on any given night by beating anyone. That’s what a monster in professional wrestling should be – a yardstick for the rest of the roster to be measured up against. He never needed to be world champion because he had that aura of darkness, unpredictability and power.
Some of his feuds never really hit the mark, like the one with Dr. Stevie, but some of them were magical. Father James Mitchell was one of the best in Impact history, a real puppet master pulling the strings of his powerful monster. Abyss’ barbed wire massacre encounters against Sabu and Judas Mesias were not classics but certainly eye-openers for a lot of fans.
Whilst I could wax lyrical about Abyss and why he’s one of the most important figures in Impact’s history, I’ll limit myself to two more points. The first being his loyalty to the company and the other being his adaptability.
Impact has always had a problem holding onto talent. Either they’ve not known what to do with tremendous talents who’ve slipped through their fingers, or their relations with their top stars have disintegrated, usually because of money or booking, to the point that they up sticks and make their home elsewhere. When WWE has come calling, it’s usually been enough. Very few have felt a strong enough affinity with Impact to stay through thick and thin, and Abyss is one of them. He turned down overtures to go to the fed and wrestle Kane and Undertaker, instead staying with Impact and becoming part of the company’s very DNA.
In recent years though, I’ve come to appreciate Abyss for a lot more. Age and the bumps he’s taken over the years have caught up with the big man, as he’s almost immobile in the ring at times and his matches are a chore to get through now. That said, he’s still made his work since 2012 by being adaptable. There was the Joseph Park gimmick, a long-term storyline that provided endless comedic value, as well as his highly productive tag team with Crazzy Steve and Rosemary.
The Joseph Park gimmick produced two of my favourite moments in a fairly troubled 2017 for Impact. There was that match with Jeremy Borash against Scott Steiner and Josh Mathews which was not an in-ring classic, but a match for the ages that was easily the best thing on the show. Then came his alliance with Grado, and this promo. It was just brilliant and was Chris Parks, the man, playing both of his personas to perfection.
Abyss has always been part of Impact Wrestling. Think what you will of Halls of Fame, I don’t care for them much, but if anyone was deserving of going in, it’s the big man. Click. Doomsday.
The Week in Review
- Some of you, I hope, will have noticed that I’ve been absent the past few weeks. Alas, real life got on top of me for a quick minute, but I’m back and ready. Check the website later in the week for my Bound for Glory preview.
- I’ve enjoyed the tapings in Mexico but they’ve all felt a bit flat and the build for Bound for Glory has been nowhere near as hot as it was for Slammiversary.
- Austin Aries’ promo last week was excellent, although it’s all become quite clear that he doesn’t like height jokes. I mean, as a below average height male myself, it’s not particularly pleasant, but still.
- Ethan Page threatening to put his foot through Rich Swann’s browneye is now right up there with Konnan calling King a human gloryhole as the best line in Impact during 2018.
- This week on the go-home show we’ve got Tessa Blanchard vs Keyra, Petey Williams, Jack Evans, Puma King and Trevor Lee in a four-way that promises to be superb and Eddie Edwards, Johnny Impact and Fallah Bahh teaming up against Moose Money, Aries, and Killer Kross.
Well, until next time…