While I spent a large portion of Impact Wrestling’s most recent Impact Plus special (Sacrifice) humming a certain Elton John tune, Sacrifice also helped form some ideas in my head of where the promotion currently stands as we find ourselves two months of the way through 2020.

If we are to take the promotion as a jigsaw, the main roster, the weekly TV and the four annual PPVs represent the central pieces, the substance of their work. In such a metaphor, however convoluted you feel it might be, the corner pieces of the jigsaw represent the intangible elements key to making any promotion a success – additional revenue streams, merchandise and their integration into the wider digital and social space.

Shows like Sacrifice have felt like corner pieces in their own right in the past, an opportunity for the promotion to continue stories in a more relaxed environment and avoid burning stuff off on TV. However, these have largely felt outside the promotion’s main canon. There may have been casual mentions by Don Callis and Josh Mathews on commentary or the odd match specifically promoted as they looked to fill time between matches, but there was never any real build for these smaller shows in the main product.

Sacrifice felt decidedly different. It felt like it had some stakes and that the result of the main event, at least, actually mattered moving forward. Daga and Jake Crist’s singles match was a logical follow on from their issues in Mexico; a set of tapings that also furthered the seemingly never-ending beef between Moose and Rhino. Most importantly though, the singles match between Ace Austin and Tessa Blanchard was regularly promoted and the ‘go-home’ TV show for Sacrifice saw the two square off in a six-person tag match, with Austin coming out on top.

Much like Blanchard’s match with Sami Callihan at one of these specials last year, the promotion actually put the effort in to weave all of these shows together in the wider jigsaw and there’s merit to doing it. Shows like Sacrifice allow you to generate organic social media engagement that is more effective than normal – fewer people are watching the show you’re tweeting about live, which makes the gifs and videos you put out all the more useful.

Likewise, they offer you the ability to tell some different stories, put on matches that you can release as Youtube exclusives (again, free marketing in that digital landscape) and boost live audiences. While you could argue that the last point is somewhat moot, as the OVW arena in Kentucky would probably have sold most tickets anyway (it’s not very big and the Impact team would be a decent enough pull), by making these shows feel more important in the wider canon, a ticket to attend becomes a hotter commodity.

When it came to show itself, Sacrifice was a breezy watch at just under three hours. You had a superb tag team match between The North and Trey & Wentz that would have hit the **** mark if it wasn’t for the finish (which I didn’t mind that much as it at least continued a TV feud). The format also allowed them to give time to Daga and Jake Crist, who had a really well paced, back-and-forth match that had some great near falls at the end. Additionally, they were able to try out talents like Ray Lyn and Corey Storm, as well as offer a return to Jay Bradley and give a nice win to Larry D & Ace Romero, who I’d love to see tag together more on TV moving forward.

The main event between Blanchard and Austin seemed to lose its way for a while in the middle (executing the character stuff is something Austin is still refining) but it was still entertaining and worked well for the audience there.

Sacrifice over-delivered on my expectations going in and it seemed to indicate that these one-off specials are going to matter more to the promotion moving forward. That can only be a good thing as they look to complete the jigsaw and enjoy some growth in 2020.

Sacrifice Results

  • Rohit Raju def. Corey Storm, **1/2
  • The North def. Trey & Wentz, ***1/2
  • Kiera Hogan def. Ray Lyn, **
  • Willie Mack def. Jay Bradley, **3/4
  • Larry D & Ace Romero def. Dave Crist & Madman Fulton, ***
  • Daga def. Jake Crist, ***1/2
  • Joey Ryan def. Johnny Swinger, **
  • Jordynne Grace def. Havok, **1/2
  • Moose def. Rhino, **
  • Tessa Blanchard def. Ace Austin, ***1/2