“And his opponent, from the City of Angels, ‘The Fallen Angel’, Christopher Daniels”.
Hearing that sentence reverberate from the mouth of David Penzer on Impact Wrestling this past week felt real special, I won’t lie. Daniels’ victory over Madman Fulton was his first match in an Impact ring since early 2014; his last singles contest for the promotion was a 4:40 encounter against Bad Bones taped during their tour of the UK at the beginning of that year.
Of all the big Forbidden Door moments we’ve had in Impact this year, seeing Daniels strut his stuff was quite possibly my favorite. I’m aware I’ve said that multiple times already this year, which both undermines the validity of the above and also demonstrates that, when all is said and done, I am fairly easily pleased as a wrestling fan.
Daniels should always have been an Impact World Champion. Always. He had the ability, charisma and canon in the promotion to have made it work. He was central to the things I enjoyed most about the promotion when I first began watching in 2009 and central to the promotion’s history. He was part of that iconic three-way dance at Unbreakable 2005, and there months before for Elix Skipper’s always memorable cage walk at Turning Point 2004.
While the signs of aging are, almost inevitably, apparent in Daniels’ physical appearance – no one, remember, can outrun Father Time – his in-ring ability hasn’t taken so much as a backwards step. The Fallen Angel looked great and the Best Moonsault Ever that sealed his win was as good as he’s ever hit. It was picture-perfect.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) October 3, 2021
To put that in context, he’s 51 years of age and has been wrestling since 1993. I’m 24 years of age and I’ve still not mastered the art of tying my own shoelaces.
Daniels’ comeback opponent was Madman Fulton, who without doubt produced the most complete showing of his Impact Wrestling career. He looked every inch of his size, his timing was good and his offense looked impactful.
The problem was, and is, however, that in kayfabe terms he isn’t objectively a threat to win. Or, he isn’t a threat if you assess things in the way the AEW mindset would have you assess them.
Their introduction of win-loss records was met with some pushback at first but it’s the sort of simple storytelling device that mainstream wrestling was crying out for. Wins and losses should always matter in wrestling and they should, realistically, be a facet of every promotion. Call me a nerd, but I’ve tracked wins and losses for every Impact talent over the last few years in a rather sizeable and aggressively needless spreadsheet. Every match, every star rating, every record.
When you watch AEW programming and see those win-loss records pop up in a wrestler’s lower third entrance graphic, your opinion is informed and influenced. You are educated about their experience and their abilities. Title shots are contextualized. You see that someone has a strong record and expect them to win, or you see someone has a profoundly poor record and expect them to lose. Impact don’t use those records in any way and ultimately it’s a good job really as looking at them provides a source of irritation.
Granted, AEW has used Dark and Dark: Elevation to bolster those records with a surfeit of squashes, and Impact arguably hasn’t had the resources in the pandemic era to tape as much content or bring in as many additional talents. However, wins and losses still matter for the talent you have and the way in which you want to push and present them.
To be an effective monster, you need to win a lot of matches in quick fashion and then lose the big ones. You’re the insurance policy that can’t deliver, the roadblock the babyface can overcome before reaching the bigger prize. Madman Fulton is used as a monster, but he never wins. His record in singles matches this year is 0-4. His record in tag matches is 1-4. His overall record is 2-13. With numbers like that, why would he be expected to present a credible threat to any opponent, other than for reasons related to his size?
For reference, Fallah Bahh, one of my guys undoubtedly but also someone clearly positioned at the bottom of the card, has more wins than Fulton this year. So does Mahabali Shera.
Ace Austin, meanwhile, is not much better. He’s 5-6 in singles matches, with three of those wins coming on one night in the Super X Cup back in January, and 9-21, with one no contest, overall. Considering that he’s one of your most pushed talents, and most valuable cogs for building in the next few years, that’s not a good look.
Christopher Daniels, by contrast, has a 27-19 overall record in AEW and a 13-1 specific tag record this year. While comparing apples and oranges in some ways as Impact doesn’t use these records, those numbers illustrate my point well enough.
I don’t advocate for 50/50 booking and none of this is to say either that Impact never get the win-loss thing right or that AEW do everything perfectly. Neither of those would be true. However, Josh Alexander, for example, has been truly elevated this year by virtue of winning regularly and winning in great matches. His singles record is 12-2 in 2021.
Next week, Ace Austin and Madman Fulton will team up to face Josh Alexander and Christian Cage in a tag match. The Bound for Glory main event team shouldn’t lose, unless they work the terribly overdone strange bedfellows angle, so that’s another loss for Fulton and Ace. As always, Impact chooses to book these matches.
I still hope we trend towards Daniels against Austin in a singles match at Bound for Glory. I’d always take appearances from Daniels and after this week, it’s obvious that it would be a great addition to the show. Hopefully, it’d give Ace a big win, something that feels all the more important when studying his record.
Still, the bigger focus is the first steps in the comeback tour of The Fallen Angel. Long may his Bad Influence last in Impact Wrestling. Anyway, where can a man in South London get an Appletini these days?
— Christopher Daniels (@facdaniels) October 2, 2021