I’m not usually one for retirement angles in wrestling. Call me a jaded son of a gun, but being a fan of Boxing and MMA, where retirements are oft short-lived because those fighters don’t know a life other than involving training for active competition, means that when it comes to pro wrestling wanting to suspend my disbelief with the carrot of a fake retirement, I just can’t do it. The enthusiasm isn’t there.

Impact rolled with one in the closing segment of this week’s show, with Rich Swann ‘retiring’ as a result of Eric Young’s beatdown at Slammiversary. After all the babyfaces on the roster came to the ring and gave him a round of applause and helped him from the ring, Young took out Swann’s protected leg with a chair shot before running off.

Having seen tweets about the angle before I watched it, and given that Swann has legitimately retired from wrestling before in the wake of his departure from WWE, only to come back a few months later, I suspected that this would not be for me. However, I thought it was a strong end to the show and set the stall out tremendously for Swann vs Young at Bound for Glory.

The first part of the segment that captivated me was Swann’s promo. He delivered it with great pace and cadence, escalating the emotion in his tone and his words. He made certain that you knew what a hard road he’d been on to recover from his first ankle injury and he projected the emotional toll that those bumps had had on him. There was a real solemnity in his voice and the babyfaces giving him the applause and reaction they did (Dez looked like he was about to cry) was brilliant. Swann personally ticked every box and nailed the sentiment you’d want in this setting, especially without many of the devices you’d usually be able to rely on with fans to make this a top-tier bit.

The other crucial part for me was the way in which Eric Young attacked him. It wasn’t the typical way you’d expect the inevitable to be done (the heel attacking the babyface from behind in the ring) but it worked well. Young sprinting out, attacking the injured leg with a single chair shot and then shooting off was brilliant. It presented him as a nasty piece of work, cerebral in his movements but also with the right amount of cowardice that gives you satisfaction when the babyfaces eventually give him his comeuppance.

To go off on a tangent, the interview Young did a couple of weeks back was just so sad to read. The bubble and culture of systemic underappreciation in the WWE cripples guys like him, ostensibly signed so that no one else can have them. It wears people like him, who have lived and breathed this business for years and truly love what they do, down to the point that they don’t care anymore. It takes their passion away.

In all other industries, or in our personal lives, if we felt like that, we’d up sticks, hopefully, find another job in a similar sector and start afresh. Find somewhere you’re appreciated and flex your creative muscles where you can. There are countless examples of guys leaving the WWE and absolutely crushing it elsewhere, Jon Moxley being the best current example when they get given the chance to actually wrestle and deliver promos that reflect their personalities and the gimmick they want to get over. Young has done that ever since coming back to Impact; his presentation has been great and the wrestling element is still to come. For me, more than anything, I just hope that he, along with Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Heath, EC3 and Brian Myers are happy in their new environment.

Digression over, the closing segment was very well done. The hook for a Swann/Young feud already existed after Slammiversary but they’ve really given it further marination with this angle and they’ve realistically teed up the match for Bound for Glory without stringing it out or giving a version of it away in advance.

Eddie Edwards and Willie Mack were presented as Swann’s closest mates in the locker room during the segment, and it’s likely that they’ll be the two to try and see off Young before the inevitable return match for Swann at October’s PPV against the man who ‘nearly pushed him into retirement’.

There were issues with the credibility of it all, what with Swann’s previous legitimate retirement and the fact they did the whole fake crutches routine once before at Slammiversary, but overall it was a very strong way to end the show. It set up multiple matches and feuds for Eric Young at once (something some promotions would make you think was utterly impossible), and it really planted the seed for a blood feud match at Bound for Glory. And that’s a match that will play to all of Swann’s best attributes, and gives his character a new, more serious direction that is absolutely more of a draw than the ‘All Night Swann’. Count me in.

The Week in Review

  • Wrestle House wasn’t anywhere near as good this week, and I do worry about how long it will be until its proverbial five minutes are up, but it was different at least.
  • I thought they gave Heath a lot in his match with Moose, and it was the best I’ve seen Slater look in a while. With Reno SCUM being teed up to take out Rhino next week, you’d have to think there’ll be another avenue for Heath to try and earn a contract, perhaps at Emergence.
  • The Motor City Machine Guns interview was fun, and I’m a big fan of the role reversal in The North at the minute.
  • The presentation of the Eddie Edwards / Sami Callihan match was a little off, especially with the Rob Van Dam beatdown before, but the match was good and keeps Edwards’ weekly challenge gimmick rolling over.
  • TJP pinned Chris Bey in the main event match, presumably setting him up for an X-Division title match at Emergence. I’m not a fan of them doing exactly the same story for how Bey got his title shot against Mack, but the TJP/Bey match should deliver high.
  • Next week we’ve got Kimber Lee vs Jordynne Grace and Tasha Steelz & Kiera Hogan vs Neveah & Havok.

Well, until next time…