As we’ve reached the end of the awful year that’s been 2020, I thought it high time to wrap up my Impact Wrestling matches of the year.
All of these are available to watch on Impact Plus should you so choose, but I’ll be real with you, it’s not been a bumper in-ring year for the promotion. There’s been some solid stuff dotted here and there but very little that’s broken through from being ‘very good’ to ‘great’.
Honorable mentions: Sami Callihan vs Tessa Blanchard (Hard to Kill), El Hijo del Vikingo vs Josh Alexander (Impact TV, 28/01), Jordynne Grace vs Deonna Purrazzo (Slammiversary), Eddie Edwards vs Rich Swann vs Eric Young vs Trey Miguel vs Ace Austin (Slammiversary), The North vs The Motor City Machine Guns (Emergence: Night One), Rich Swann vs Chris Bey (Final Resolution).
5. The North vs The Rascalz
While 2020 may end with one of these teams having departed the promotion and the other set to break up, this was the promotion’s best tag team match of the year.
The North continued to stand proud atop the division, brilliantly working the style that FTR claimed to do when they joined AEW, and their best foils remained the high-flying, fast-paced, spot-heavy pair of Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz. These four have always had great chemistry, with The North’s control spots working better in light of how well the Rascalz picked up the pace.
They had other very good matches against each other in 2020, but this was the cleanest one and therefore gets the nod from me. For me, this is the best way to open an episode of your weekly TV. ***3/4
4. Eddie Edwards vs Michael Elgin
Hard to Kill
Edwards and Elgin started 2020 with a best-of-five series over Edwards’ Call Your Shot trophy. Well, that’s what they ended up doing in one of Elgin’s last significant acts with the promotion, but at this point they hadn’t actually got into full flow. Indeed, I commented in my review for this site that I was “a little mystified as to why Impact ran this self-same match on the weekly TV just five days before the PPV”. Hey, at least I’ve been baffled by the booking all year!
This match was the best of their series though, probably because it was free of the series’ tropes. Over the course of about 20 minutes, these two traded big strikes and power moves, with Elgin beating Edwards down and Edwards thriving as the valiant babyface who can always take just that bit more punishment. ****
3. Eric Young vs Eddie Edwards
Eric Young’s return was one of the promotion’s high points this year and Edwards delivered all the way throughout 2020, hence why I crowned him my Impact Wrestler of the Year last week.
The initial title change on Impact TV was quite understated, with the match quite short and Young winning courtesy of a foreign object (a hockey mask). Here though, they had a proper World title main event and in a big spot, both men delivered. It was Impact’s return to doing their monthly specials and while the continued lack of an atmosphere did hurt things, I was engrossed throughout by the story they were able to tell.
The finish, with Young hooking the leg he’d worked over all match as he hit the piledriver to make it easier to transition into the ankle lock, was particularly superb. ****
2. TJP vs El Hijo del Vikingo
I truly believe that TJP is one of the best wrestlers in the world and I also believe that if this had been a normal year, he’d have had an exceptional one, hitting top gear in promotions all over the world.
He made appearances for Impact and NJPW throughout but not much hit the heights of this match with Vikingo from Impact’s tapings in Mexico. I watched this back the other day and the presence of an engaged crowd both hit me in the feels and also drew me right into the action in a way a lot this year just hasn’t.
Vikingo should have been a star in a major American promotion yesterday, he’s just unbelievably dynamic in that ring (Author’s note: I’m already salivating at the prospect of his match with Kenny Omega). As such, he made for a great foil here, countering TJP’s submission offense with his daredevil high-flying.
One of the shorter matches on this list, but probably the tightest bell-to-bell. A proper hidden gem. ****
1. Rich Swann vs Eric Young
Bound for Glory
The top four matches here all had the same star rating from me, so in the end it came down to the match that had the best story and nothing the promotion did in 2020 came close to the feud between Swann and Young.
You felt that there was genuine animosity between the two with the faux retirement angle, and with an audience I think this would have gone to a different level. They were able to parlay that into the story of the match, with Young immediately going for the ankle but Swann managing to just about evade.
A head-first backdrop onto the apron put Young in firm control as he worked over both the leg and the neck. Swann, one of North America’s top talents, sold everything to perfection, and his comeback was excellent. You had him spitting blood in his saliva, you had him charging across the ring and winging punches like a prime Antonio Honda, and you had him powering out of the tree of woe to hit a cutter and a Phoenix Splash.
The finish was a proper ‘moment’ in a year where the promotion didn’t have enough of them. ****
Agree with my thoughts? Think I’ve missed anything? Let me know on Twitter @AMSinclair97.