On perhaps the most significant week in professional wrestling in two decades, Impact Wrestling saved the best for last: the return of Johnny Swinger!
Yeah, baby, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
As much as I jest, it certainly was a juxtaposition to what AEW and the WWE had presented earlier in the week.
Before people jump in to tell me that Impact is not in the same league as those two behemoths, I know, so I will offer another comparison – the return of 44-year-old Johnny Swinger was a sharp contrast to the second hour of Impact this week which featured a fast-paced X-Division encounter involving Daga and Chris Bey and a solid main event between Michael Elgin and TJP.
It was Swinger’s first appearance on Impact TV since 2004 and his first for the company since 2013, when he took part in a six-man tag on the Hardcore Justice PPV.
At 44, the acquisition of Swinger, if you can call it that because the term acquisition usually implies some degree of market competition and broader interest, sits in a weird place in comparison to the recent veteran additions to the roster.
Obviously he is friends with Don Callis and Scott D’Amore and that plays a role in him now working for the company, but he is not a big name you’d expect to push a few more casual tickets like Rob Van Dam, Rhino, Sabu and, to a lesser extent, Tommy Dreamer.
Swinger is also not any sort of super worker but that said, and bear with me, I sort of understand and appreciate his addition to the roster.
First off, he is in good shape and a far better condition than those other older guys, which is always a bonus for TV wrestling. He is also an obvious heel straight from house shows of the ‘80s with a moveset to match – his squash match return was full of eyepokes, back rakes and general nefariousness that stays within ‘the rules’, so to speak.
Callis and Mathews amped up the 80s throwback gimmick on commentary and with his pre-return vignettes and if they want to go with it, sleaze and all, it is the sort of midcard/undercard act that can work when they move over to AXS – an obvious heel who can get enough dodgy wins to maintain credibility while also being a placeholder opponent for some of the bigger names needing momentum.
Also, Swinger is someone they can move towards the tag scene because that is where he had more success in the past. He won the NWA Tag Team titles in Impact back in 2003 alongside Simon Diamond and after that alliance broke down he also had a short run with Glenn Gilbertti as part of the New York Connection.
I surely can’t be the only one who sees them taking the ball and running with a Joey Ryan-Johnny Swinger tandem after Bound for Glory?
Given the compacted nature of the Impact roster and their taping structure, they need names to fill out undercard feuds and Swinger does that, while working a style that ensures he will be available to work 2-3 matches per taping session.
None of that is to say that Swinger is a ‘good get’ or a signing that I, in my obviously infinite wisdom, would have made. Impact’s reliance on history, or more accurately the history of other promotions, is a big problem with the current product and it is something they need to avoid. Likewise, the roster needs to see its average age decrease by adding the likes of Mike Bailey, Matt Angel or even Daga and Chris Bey, rather than increase through additions such as Rhino and Swinger.
However, if Impact’s presentation of Swinger this week is anything to go by, I think he has some genuine mileage moving forward, which is something I never expected myself to say.
The Week in Review
- Tenille Dashwood gave her most complete performance since joining Impact this week, moving her to 3-0. That said, she still does not feel like a compelling title challenger or, as I expect, new champion.
- Eddie Edwards’ handicap match against Reno SCUM was actually quite entertaining and it certainly beat the usual Ace Austin rubbish.
- The continuation of the Brian Cage/Sami Callihan feud this week was good, as it added some actual heat to their match.
- Daga/Chris Bey was fun, albeit a little clunky in places. Bey clearly has a lot of potential and he’s someone I think they should use more moving forward, while Daga impressed.
- A personal highlight for me this week was the Moose/Ken Shamrock face-off. It was a nice touch, tapping into Shamrock’s MMA background, and it made their match feel different from the usual fare – something I hope they maintain at Bound for Glory.
- Michael Elgin once again delivered in a featured spot, getting in a good win against TJP, who enjoyed his best performance since returning to the company.
- Next week we’ve got Moose vs Stephan Bonnar, Taya defending her knockouts title against Havok, Jake Crist & Madman Fulton against Daga & Tessa Blanchard and Eddie Edwards against Ace Austin in an X-Division Title Ladder match qualifier.
Well, until next time…