I found myself more or less in the same position this week watching Impact Wrestling as I was last. Alright, I wasn’t quite as angry or furious at the world or an industry I’ve held dear for more than half my life, and last week’s column was hugely cathartic, but as I sat and watched the reshot show, filled with serviceable wrestling, I felt very little.
I thought I’d write something here about the ‘curse’ of the Impact World title. I thought I’d ponder how much attention we should pay to the decisions made in this area by Don Callis and Scott D’Amore for the last two-and-a-half years. Should we attribute the troublesome lineage of the belt to bad decisions, poor faith or unfortunate circumstance?
Ultimately, I found I had neither the reason, inclination nor interest in writing about it. That all too common, profoundly crippling sensation overcame me again – despite knowing my mind and being able to vocalize my thought processes, I’m woefully incapable of writing something coherent or something that I’m happy with. Dastardly imposter syndrome…
Any passion project, like writing about wrestling is for me, should not be filled with these self-doubts and a general lack of interest. Indeed, it is that waning interest that usually moves people from hobby to another and keeps us unique and, ironically enough, ‘interesting’.
I needed something, anything, in the show to jump out and pull me from this wilfully self-indulgent stupor. I needed something that would make me want to write in a positive way.
Losing interest in wrestling because of the shameful, repugnant behavior of so many is, in a sense, like letting them win and that couldn’t happen. Being part of this journey, fight and pilgrimage to make wrestling a better place is something we should all take an active role in. No, I needed to stick with it and I needed something to grab and reenergize me.
I found it in one of the most unlikely places: Tommy Dreamer.
When I saw him hit the ring after Moose’s match with Crazzy Steve, I assumed it was a re-run of a segment we’ve seen several times previously. Dreamer, the defiant babyface, cites his veteran status and career longevity, namedrops a few legends and phrases like ‘paying their dues’, hits the ring, runs down the cocksure heel and sets up a match with them (usually with some stipulation or other) that they’ll use to put the heel over.
A tried and tested booking technique, sure, but one that has a limited effect on someone like me. This was different though. While we’ll still probably get a match between Moose and Dreamer, of that I’m sure, this was a really great promo.
Great babyface promos have always fascinated me. As a child they played on that suspension of disbelief like nothing else, soothing all those childlike insecurities and giving you that tangible thing (hope?) that you could sink your tooth into and believe in. Truly, deeply believe. Dusty Rhodes’ ‘Hard Times’ promo is an oft-cited example, but for me and my wrestling fandom it has almost spiritual importance.
As far as I’m concerned, a great babyface promo has to be a) relatable, b) based in truth and c) involve some denigration of the opponent. Hard Times hit all of those beats and for me it’s still the benchmark.
Tommy Dreamer went as far as referencing it this week, perhaps a step too far, but his promo hit all of those points and more. Surprisingly, it lit a fire in me that got me out of my seat, shouting ‘Go on Tommy lad, you get him told’ at my laptop. It energized me for the rest of the show and it got me thinking. It got me thinking about wrestling in a positive light, it got me thinking about Impact in a reflective, but almost wholly positive, manner. It got me wanting to write positively about wrestling. Without wishing to belabor the point, it put passion back into my passion project.
It also lit a spark in me to watch Tommy Dreamer wrestle in 2020. That’s something I fundamentally shouldn’t be excited for, given that I know his physical limitations and that I know he isn’t some super worker who can deliver an amazing match, but I am. He hit at that childlike relationship I’ve always had with wrestling, giving me something to believe in and something to feel.
I don’t know whether Dreamer/Moose is heading for Slammiversary. A few weeks back I wrote about how this period has helped Moose fulfill his character, which it has, but it’s also shown him in some different lights and reminded me of his baggage. He got eclipsed in this segment by Dreamer. His eight-minute match was fine, it was, but I’d forgotten about it by the time Dreamer went to the back.
I’d always have bought Slammiversary, I know that and most people reading this will too. Truthfully, deep down, I didn’t need Dreamer’s promo to make me keep watching, or writing, because I would have anyway. What it has done, however, is give me passion again and drawn me out of my self-indulgent, ultimately pointless malaise that I can’t even properly begin to articulate.
2020 has been a weird year. Probably the most strange and awful of my life and we’re at the stage now where nothing should shock me. Tommy Dreamer being the key to me finding happiness in wrestling, and writing about wrestling, again wasn’t what I expected, but I’ll take it.
I’ll take it with open arms.