We’re living in uniquely challenging times. You don’t need me to tell you that. Independent wrestling outlets have had to stop running live shows, while on the other end of the spectrum TV promotions have, for the most part, continued to churn out content behind closed doors (NJPW and ROH the notable exceptions).

This content continues to be a mixed bag. Dynamite has remained strong and engaging for AEW, while WWE’s product feels particularly dry. All Japan has nailed this period better than anyone, especially in terms of their pacing and production, with NOAH taking the galaxy brain spot for belting up Rene Dupree.

Impact is just another promotion continuing to produce content in these uncertain times. Rebellion was an up-and-down show over the two weeks but it could definitely be considered ‘good in the circumstances’, a phrase that feels ever more strange given that the lockdowns we all face are likely to continue for the foreseeable. After Impact’s first regular TV show post the start of the lockdown, it made sense to assess where the promotion is and how well they’re dealing with things.

The Good

Adapting Stories on the Fly

There could be no World title match at Rebellion with Tessa Blanchard and Eddie Edwards absent and instead of going down the traditional route of stripping Tessa of the title and belting up Michael Elgin, leading to the inevitable ‘I never lost my belt’ rematch, they’ve gone for something totally different with Moose reviving the old TNA title. It’s generated some buzz, even if that’s mostly confusion from the wider community, and it’s got some legs with the recent WWE releases and the nixed Wrestlemania weekend show.

It might not be to everyone’s liking, and it’s got a definite ceiling, but this new main event program is allowing Moose to thrive and it’s got a natural and obvious conclusion. For someone who has been treading water for the best part of a year, it’s a big step up and for that I’m grateful.

Starting a No #1 Contender’s Tournament

It’s a nice workaround for having a limited roster at their disposal and it provides content for a number of weeks off the bat. It can help to advance feuds and develop new ones and additionally, on a smaller, but equally important, note for someone like me, it recognizes that Elgin’s defeat at Rebellion has knocked him off that top spot.

Developing New Talent

One accidental upside of having a limited roster is that the promotion can accelerate their development of existing talents like Chris Bey. He remains a relatively new signing but after excelling in an X-Division title match this week, he looks well positioned to be Willie Mack’s next singles challenger, perhaps far faster than he would have been otherwise. This greater exposure and expedited push should help him get over more when wrestling with fan’s resumes.

Integrating new personnel

While Neveah, Crazzy Steve and Kimber Lee are not the sort of new signings that are going to drastically alter the promotion, it has been good to see Impact still bringing in fresh faces in these circumstances.

The Bad

The matches are all too long

One of my biggest takeaways from Rebellion and this week was that the matches were probably all a couple of minutes too long. XXXL against oVe doesn’t need nearly 14 minutes, for example. I know there’s a need to deliver content but looking at All Japan will show that shorter, snappier matches are better.

Joey Ryan doing bog-standard crowd-based heel shtick

It doesn’t work without fans and it just makes the matches suck. One at Rebellion was passable, the same thing but worse a week later doesn’t cut it.

Empty Arena Fatigue

This is no fault of the promotion or any promotion really, it’s just the situation we’re in. Empty arena wrestling is fine in isolation (pardon the awful pun), but not constantly. Promotions need to fulfill contracts, I get that, but I think we’re all struggling to buy in as much at the moment.

My overall assessment is that Impact is in a decent place at the moment and that the next few weeks should be pretty good, but we’ll have to wait and see.

The Week in Review

  • The matches in the tournament are Rohit Raju vs Trey Miguel, Michael Elgin vs Sami Callihan, Hernandez vs Madman Fulton and Ken Shamrock vs Rhino.
  • Rohit Raju is such an underrated and versatile talent and his promo on this week’s episode was great. I hope this period helps him get a little more rub.
  • Johnny Swinger is possibly my favorite thing about the whole promotion and I don’t know how I feel about that.
  • The North’s segment from Canada was great entertainment. I’m not a massive OTT comedy guy but this was fun and I hope there’s more before something a little serious.
  • The X-Division main event was a strong showcase for all involved with the right conclusion and I’m interested to see what they do with Ace Austin next.
  • Joe Lanza was right. Someone take the pencil away from Rosemary.
  • Next week we’ve got Moose vs Suicide, Hernandez vs Fulton, Havok vs Kimber Lee and Raju vs Trey.

Well, until next time…