Last week came the news that had been rumored for a long time – Impact Wrestling is moving to a new home on US television and that home is AXS TV.
On the face of it, this is great news. It is the first upward TV deal they’ve got since they move to Spike more than a decade ago. There are, obviously, some rather worrying downsides and they were broken down excellently on the VOW Flagship earlier this week.
For Impact as a wrestling promotion though, this deal is entirely deserved after actually producing a decent product for most of the last 18 months. It’s nothing that’s going to set the world alight, but it does deserve a better platform than whatever Pursuit has been.
However, with that new home – AXS TV is available in more than 50 million homes in the USA – comes a pressure to be better because, as Garrett Kidney articulated earlier this week far better than I would have done, good simply isn’t good enough anymore.
You asked for it, we listened! @IMPACTWRESTLING is coming to AXS TV!
— AXS TV (@AXSTV) September 12, 2019
Any obvious change, albeit not a particularly practical one, would be to chuck money at some top independent talent.
Problem is, there’s very few people left to actually chuck money at because the North American independent scene failed to create a new generation of stars to replace those signed up by the WWE. That dearth of stars will become all the more apparent when the AEW guys become exclusive.
That’s not to say there aren’t people worth bringing in. Daniel Makabe, for example, is someone that has a decent level of underground buzz and Impact can build up organically as he develops as a worker and a character, something much easier to do with a bigger platform. Fellow Canadians Mike Bailey, Brent Banks and Matt Angel are also probably worth a punt to add some more dynamism and freshness ahead of their October move.
However, the fundamental point remains that throwing money at people isn’t really a practical answer because while Impact are more financially stable than before, there are greater improvements that can come from within.
Firstly, production on some of the smaller shows has to be better. Investing in some good video people and really using AXS’ promotional vehicle would be a cost-effective way to get more eyeballs on the product from the off.
Ace Austin and Eddie Edwards had a fun match on Impact this week – it had the sort of intensity and ability to hold your engagement that most TV matches should have. I’ve made my thoughts on the storyline clear before and that sort of melodrama has to go if Impact are to make the most of their jump to AXS, but they also need to stop relying on non-finishes to build stories. It is a technique that has stood the test of time but at the moment it’s a vastly overplayed one – using it less will increase its impact.
Another forward step would be to reduce the level of ECW nostalgia. That is obviously highly unlikely but Impact need to find a new identity. An identity of their own, not that of a company that worked 20 years ago because of the unique environment it was in.
The announcements that Michael Elgin will face Naomichi Marufuji and Dr Wagner will bring two partners to take on the Rascalz at Bound for Glory were positive. Maximizing their partnerships are key to once again presenting a dynamic, exciting and interesting product week-to-week.
Most of all, beyond the production changes, beyond whoever and whatever they want to add to the roster, the biggest thing I think Impact can do to make the product consistently better is to maximize they hand they’ve already got.
Numerous members of the roster are currently sat there twiddling their thumbs. Killer Kross, for example, is still on ice after his issues with Impact management – resolving that is essential. He’s an interesting guy, so either use him or cut him loose because having him idling is a net negative for the whole roster.
TJP still has star value and he has done precisely nothing of note since returning. He is someone they should endeavour to tie down and push. That might involve his fellow Filipino Fallah Bahh, who he was involved in a segment with this week. Bahh might not be a main event star but he’s always over with fans and he’s been great whenever given a chance – why not give them a run as a serious tag team, help push Bahh and then transition TJP into the X-Division title scene once the whole Blanchard/Callihan/Crist stuff has shaken down.
Then you’ve got Moose. I don’t know whether he is of the same stature as a main event star as Rich Swann, Michael Elgin and Brian Cage, but he certainly should be doing something more engaging than fighting Rob Van Dam and Ken Shamrock at successive PPVs.
Then the most glaring one – why bring in a shtick guy like Joey Ryan when a genuine top-tier prospect like Jake Something is sat there doing jobs for Van Dam and involved in a seemingly never-ending feud with the Desi Hit Squad?
Introspection is never easy; that’s something we can all attest to. My ideal vision for wrestling and Impact specifically might not be to everyone’s liking, but I don’t think Impact has to look very far to work out how to hit the ground running when they move to AXS in October.
In this current wrestling landscape, anything less won’t be good enough.
The Week in Review
- Six matches will always be too many in my view and this week’s show just felt clustered.
- I’d never seen Nino Hamburguesa before but he was a load of fun, and the post-match return of Mahabali Shera was well done.
- Tenille Dashwood’s first singles match in Impact… wasn’t good. The strikes in her match with Kiera Hogan particularly stood out for the wrong reasons and it just felt overly long and clunky.
- ELGIN/MARUFUJI in Chi-town – I’m here for it.
- Texano Jr/Wagner Jr was alright but the bigger news was the BFG announcement. I wonder whether Wagner’s two mystery partners will end up being managed by Konnan.
- Next week we’ve got OvE vs Tommy Dreamer, Tessa Blanchard, Rhino and RVD in a street fight, LAX vs Rich Swann & Willie Mack, Havok and Su Yung face off in a NO DQ match and Taya Valkyrie faces Alisha Edwards.
Well, until next time…