In the continued era of empty arena wrestling, promotions are increasingly looking for something different. They need to be able to maximize the roster they’ve got at their disposal, produce matches and feuds that provide them with the best currency they can get at the moment (buzz, eyes, viewers), while also offering something a little bit different.
One of the techniques most commonly adopted during the last few months has been the “TV special.”
In addition to Impact Wrestling, who used them before in the Callis/D’Amore era and actually kicked off their spell behind closed doors with the two-part Rebellion special, NXT and AEW have both used these to good effect. These specials are good because they give you shorter milestones to work towards than your big quarterly PPVs, forcing promotions to make good matches while also preventing them from unnecessarily dragging things out over three months as they look to maximize the eventual pay-off. It keeps the TV focused immediately after a PPV, and as AEW has shown, they can lead to a rise in viewership and retention in audience.
Impact Wrestling is now set for another two-week special of their own: Emergence.
These shows promise to be much more engaging and rewarding than Impact’s previous ones, if for no other reason than the tapings were done with no audience, meaning there are no spoilers out there and the shows can be watched fresh. Beyond that though, there are some good matches to look forward to and some talking points ahead of these shows, which promise to be the promotion’s launchpad for Bound for Glory in October.
- On night one, TNA World Champion Moose ‘defends’ his title against Trey, who he mistook for Suicide this week. The spectre of EC3 looms large over everything Moose does at the moment, and it’s likely we’ll see him at some point. I still remain frustrated at Impact’s seeming refusal to get behind the Rascalz in a meaningful way (I was misled a few weeks ago), but Trey has decent chemistry with Moose so the match should be decent.
- Kylie Rae faces Taya Valkyrie in a Wrestle House offering that does nothing for me. I thought the segments were a bit different at first and they got a smile out of me but this week I think I can officially say that the bit is done. When a large portion of the show is dedicated to Rosemary’s magic and people having the runs, that’s when I check out. Anyway, hopefully, Kylie wins and moves back towards normality and getting her title shot.
- The Good Brothers will also be in action, facing off with Ace Austin and Madman Fulton. I think the interactions between these four have been good so far and while the outcome of the match is not in much doubt, I don’t think this will be the end of their feud. Ace Austin is brilliant and must be retained at all costs – he is absolutely their long-term future if they want him to be.
- There are also three title matches on the first night – Chris Bey defends his X-Division title against Rohit Raju and TJP, Eddie Edwards continues with his World Title open challenge and in the main event, The North seek to reclaim their World Tag Team titles against The Motor City Machine Guns.
- I’m not a fan of how we got to the X-Division title match. While not entirely the same as the build for Bey’s title win, there’s been a lot of the same stuff going on. The triple threat format protects TJP, and gives him grounds for another title shot, possibly at Bound for Glory. It’s simple enough, and I think the match at Emergence will be good, but a bit more creativity would have been nice. Also, can we have a bit more Chris Bey character development. I feel like they’ve barely scratched the surface with the guy so far, and with his backstory and long-term appreciation of the promotion, there’s a lot of avenues for them to explore.
- Eddie’s open challenge has been good so far and it’s bolstered both him and the title. The World title’s lineage has been problematic throughout the Callis/D’Amore era, either because of injury problems (Brian Cage) or the fact they consistently put their faith in the wrong people (Alberto El Patron, Austin Aries, Tessa Blanchard). Eddie has been the cornerstone of the promotion over the last six years, he’s been there through the very bad and the better times of late, he’s worked with everything he’s been given and he’s a leader in the back. He’s as solid a hand as the promotion could want and he offers exactly the sort of stability they needed. Eric Young is the next big bout for him, and I suspect they’re saving that for the second night. Young, for his part, has been superb since his return and I’m delighted for him.
- Opinion was a little mixed on the first match between The Guns and The North but I very much enjoyed it and I think this one will be even better. It’ll be interesting to see Page & Alexander in the role of challengers again and I’m looking forward to seeing how the promotion book the division moving forward.
- My other talking point is the big match on night two – the first Ironman match between two women in the promotion’s history with Jordynne Grace getting her rematch against Deonna Purrazzo (should it be Ironwoman?). I’m excited for this one – I thought their match at Slammiversary was very strong (Meltzer got his rating VERY wrong) and it went long, so I have confidence that they’ll be able to fill the time well. Much as with the Slammiversary match, the build here has been great – Deonna has focused on Jordynne being driven by emotion (even if Grace’s poses to the camera convey nothing other than someone doing a job) and she’ll be able to rise above that, while the promotion have got over the rear-naked choke as an alternative finisher for Grace, giving her another avenue for victory. Without wishing to get into superlatives, that match has the potential to be one of the promotion’s best this year.
So, all in all, the next two weeks of Emergence look pretty strong for Impact Wrestling. Bring on the focused product, with differing presentation and well-built matches up and down the card – I’m here for it.