Without indulging in too much hyperbole, it seems fair to say that pretty much everyone who leaves the WWE system feels interesting right now. The current wrestling market is evolving and developing in a way not seen for many years, with almost every company looking for stars and big names to help keep their product relevant. Competition is a good thing because it drives people to be the best and forces all promoters and companies to work harder to retain relevance.
Obviously, there’s your Jon Moxleys, PACs and KENTAs who have forcibly taken center stage in recent months, but the likes of Shawn Spears and TJP have also managed to make their way out of the WWE and feel more interesting than they did before. They have the chance to tell unique stories and make their mark in other promotions instead of sitting on the sidelines kicking rocks.
TJP might not be everyone’s fave because of his online comments, but it is hard to deny that he is an incredible in-ring talent who was constrained by the monotony of 205 Live. After looking like a made-man after the Cruiserweight Classic, TJP got saddled with the video game character gimmick that left him and his title reign pretty much dead on arrival.
Over the last few months of his WWE tenure, TJP looked increasingly disinterested during his matches with the Lucha House Party, Humberto Carillo and Noam Dar. The facial hair began to grow and although his mid-match promos were always a highlight, his performances seemed somewhat uninspired for the most part, as though his creative license and spark for pro wrestling had been put out.
Since getting his release in February, TJP has seemingly got some new art and worked for a variety of US indies and this week he returned to Impact, a place he was last seen back in 2015.
After competing on and off for the company under a variety of guises between 2004 and 2011, TJP signed a deal with the promotion in 2013, competing as both Suicide and Manik. Although his work was good and he enjoyed a three-month reign with the X-Division title, it never felt as though the California native got the chance to spread his wings and demonstrate his talents. It always felt as though there was more on the table for him, but that he got left behind by the bigger stars in the promotion.
This week TJP came out to answer the open challenge made by Ace Austin. TJP’s return felt like a big moment and potentially the start of a successful stint with the company. Given the lie of the land right now, TJP would be a welcome addition to the X-Division moving forward, having time to engage in intricate feuds and longer matches with the likes of Willie Mack, Rich Swann, Austin and others.
TJP claims that he has not signed a deal with Impact as yet, stating that although both he and the company are interested in him becoming a more permanent fixture, he is happy with the busy schedule of independent dates he already has booked. If that is the case, it seems a little odd to have Austin lose so clearly with no future plan, but it would not be a shock if TJP was merely working and is a firm part of the Impact landscape post-Slammiversary.
Regardless of what the future may hold though, it was still good to see TJP back in Impact, even it is only temporarily. It was good to see him look himself in front of a responsive crowd, not the mustachioed guy seemingly going through the motions in front of crickets, and hopefully, we will see more talent being able to leave the WWE in the coming months and turn up in differing places.
It keeps the promotions on televisions fresh and interesting as it forces them to maximize their resources, it ensures that as many talented people in the business stay in it because they are getting job satisfaction and it means that fans get the best products possible. TJP’s return to Impact this week was further evidence of why wrestling fans across the board should be excited by the rapidly evolving landscape.
The Week in Review
- Tessa Blanchard against Jake Crist was fun and sets the ground for Tessa against Sami Callihan at Slammiversary. It’s not for me, but it will be interesting if nothing else.
- Moose’s bout with Tommy Dreamer was not particularly entertaining and it baffles me as to why Moose is still being presented as needing shortcuts to beat the ECW veterans. Guess you’ve got to protect your buddies though.
- The main event this week was again superb. Michael Elgin has been excellent in every match he’s had thus far, whilst the elevation of Rich Swann continued. Brian Cage returning was a big moment and added some juice to the Slammiversary main event, which could be excellent.
- Next week there’ll be no column but Impact will feature Sami Callihan against Fallah Bahh, Taya and Rosemary teaming up to take on Havok and Su Yung and Laredo Kid making his promotional return alongside LAX to face all three members of the Rascalz.
Well, until next time…