I’m going to preface this week’s column by saying that I feel I’m generally jaded with empty arena wrestling. I think I’ve more or less had my fill of it and watching it at the moment, irrespective of the promotion, feels almost like a chore.
We all have these phases though with any hobby or pastime and usually, the best cure for it with wrestling is watching older stuff that has a particular resonance for you, finding a project to engage with, taking a break from it, or sticking with the current product in the hope it picks up and engages you once again. While I started an Eric Young career deep dive this week that has captivated me, Impact itself this week was, I don’t know. It was there. It had highs, it had lows but my overriding assessment was that it simply existed.
Objectively speaking, it was fine.
It was the sort of filler episode you’ll always get in a PPV cycle and in normal circumstances I’d take it in my stride but this week it just felt interminably long at points with minimal energy. This probably sounds odd, but it felt like the exact same show they’d probably have worked with fans, simply transported to an empty arena. I want promotions to be getting creative and doing different things with their presentation and product to boost viewer engagement but this lacked that spark, especially in the first half of the show.
A particular source of frustration was the fact they worked the ‘I’ll face you TONIGHT’ angle three times in the first half of the show. Not once, but three times. Eric Young took on Tommy Dreamer in the main event after Dreamer prevented him from hitting Alisha Edwards with a piledriver in the opening segment, Brian Myers and Willie Mack had an impromptu rematch and then to top it off, Taya challenged Tasha Steelz to a match after a confrontation backstage.
I get why they use an angle like that, it’s a tried and trusted technique to retain viewers throughout the broadcast. But to do it three times in the show felt like overkill and it gave the impression of the show being disorganized and rushed. The Wrestle House stuff definitely short-circuited their booking but that angle repetition was frustrating.
As with most promotions, Impact has been at their best under Don Callis and Scott D’Amore when they’ve focused on fairly traditional A to B booking. We had some of that this week, but then a lot of the other stuff on the show either completely passed me by or felt incredibly flat.
I’ve no particular interest in seeing Sami Callihan wrestle Rob Van Dam at the best of times but when the feud is centered on pictures of Katie Forbes and Callihan is the babyface? No thanks, I’ll check out early. Don’t get me started on Taya planning Rosemary’s marriage to John E. Bravo, or Tenille Dashwood’s weird return with Caleb Konley (now as Kaleb with a K) as her personal photographer…
Chris Bey against TJP stood out on paper before the show and while it was good, it felt a little short. I feel like they’re definitely going for another triple threat involving those two and Rohit Raju at Bound for Glory but the booking feels awkwardly convoluted.
On a more positive note, you had a brilliant sprint between the Motor City Machine Guns and The Rascalz for the tag titles and a fun brawl at the end to showcase the strength of the division. I’m unsure whether they’ll go for a five-way at the PPV, or whether they’ll break it down into two matches, but there’s great depth there and it’s lovely to see a) how smooth the Guns are after their break and b) The Rascalz getting more serious presentation.
Likewise, I actually quite enjoyed the Eric Young/Tommy Dreamer main event for what it was and I thought Rich Swann’s return, while still selling the injury, was well done. Young/Swann for the title at Bound for Glory is the money program and I’m very pumped for it.
As I said, Impact was objectively fine this week. But at a time where I feel like I’m over-exposed to empty arena wrestling and I’m looking for hot angles and energy to invigorate me, it was lifeless for long periods. Here’s hoping for an improvement next week as the build to Bound for Glory continues.