It was on Friday night that I was hit with some news that felt like a punch right in the stomach.

Acclaimed British sports journalist Hugh McIlvanney had passed away aged 84. A man who stood without comparison in the pantheon of British writing greats, McIlvanney’s work on boxing and football was an inspiration to me as a budding journalist whilst at school and he remains a profound influence on me to this day. Whilst the news served as a timely reminder of his talents and gives me a valid reason (not that I needed one) to read over his excellent work again, it confirmed that no matter what I achieve in my future career, there’ll never be a chance to meet a man who, unknowingly, had played a major part.

A punch to the gut of a different kind had hit me a little over 24 hours before when I saw the report that Sonjay Dutt and Abyss had both departed Impact Wrestling and were on their way to the WWE.

Departures from Impact to the WWE are not uncommon, and in fact ,are often expected. Talents like EC3 and Chelsea Green, who Impact snapped up and made into much bigger stars than they were when they washed out of developmental, always seemed destined to return back to the WWE. A similar sentiment was also true of the Dudley Boys and Lashley, as well as numerous others.

Dutt and Abyss are different though. Both had always seemed like Impact lifers, integral parts of the fabric. Whilst both had had offers from WWE in the past, and Dutt had spent varying portions of his career away from the company, both men were synonymous with Impact Wrestling.

It took Dutt 14 years and a trip to India but he eventually became X-Division champion in 2017 and it was one of the biggest moments in recent Impact history.

I waxed lyrical last year about Abyss’ Impact Hall of Fame induction (it really is a curse, huh), and how it was overdue. A man who had given and done more than anyone else to make that company a success through the good times and the bad. In terms of titles, Abyss did it all: The Monster held the NWA Heavyweight title, had two Television Championship reigns, a stint as X-Division champion and was a three-time tag team champion with three different partners.

Even outside the ring, both had become key parts of the backstage team in the last year or so. Dutt and Abyss had taken on production and booking roles in one of the most successful and compelling years in company history, with the latter still sporadically wrestling. Their backstage roles will be filled by Konnan and Tommy Dreamer, something that’s quite hard to get excited about.

In the immediate aftermath on Twitter I saw people lamenting their departures and worrying that it was a further sign of deep problems in the company. I saw some had likened the recent Homecoming PPV to ECW’s Guilty as Charged in 2001, a comparison I don’t properly understand because of my age and relative ignorance to the broader US scene at that time, whilst others used the analogy of the canary in the coal mine, something I was a lot more familiar with.

I will agree that their departures don’t look good, and neither does the new TV deal with Pursuit, but it’s not necessarily a total crisis. Both men were admittedly not ‘Callis guys’, so it might be a case that the opportunity came up and they were happy to take it. Likewise, Jeremy Borash’s departure last year was met with similar worries and in the end it didn’t seem to have too major of an effect, at least visibly.

Sonjay Dutt and Abyss were part of the fabric in Impact Wrestling. Their departures have left a big hole, but here’s hoping that the whole tapestry doesn’t now come unravelled. I wish them the utmost success in their new jobs and hope that Impact are able to replace them adequately.

The Week in Review

  • I’d like to take the opportunity to send good wishes to Larry Csonka, the man who runs 411mania. Larry’s Impact reviews have been a useful source of comparison for me over the last couple of years and very few people in this industry than him. Stay strong big man!
  • This week’s episode of Impact, the first from their recent tapings in Mexico, was much better than last week. We had one really good match and a couple of other solid ones, as well as storyline advancement.
  • Rich Swann’s match with El Hijo del Vikingo was really good, probably the best match on Impact TV so far in 2019. Vikingo is a special talent and is someone Impact should try and snap up permanently before someone else does.
  • The Rascalz got a solid win over the Desi Hit Squad, in what was probably the latter’s best showing thus far in the company.
  • Ethan Page was defeated by Trey Miguel in a match that was ok but came off quite flat and I’m intrigued to see where Page goes now with Matt Sydal on his way out of the company.
  • Next week we’ve got Psycho Clown vs Fallah Bahh, Jordynne Grace & Kiera Hogan vs Allie & Su Yung in a Homecoming rematch, The Rascalz vs Eddie Edwards & Eli Drake and six-man tag team action with LAX and Daga facing the Lucha Brothers and Taurus.

Well, until next time…