Last weekend, Impact Wrestling celebrated its 20th anniversary with an absolutely stellar Slammiversary show in Nashville. To mark that milestone, Ewan Cameron and I led an #Impact20 series here at Voices of Wrestling, covering the highs and lows of the last 20 years with reviews of memorable matches and columns about the promotion’s significance for people’s wrestling fandoms.
In the introduction to that piece, partly penned by myself, Rich shared some links to some memorable moments of Impact coverage on this website over the years. One of those was the first Impact column I wrote all the way back in January 2018 after taking over the reins from Garrett Kidney. The fact that piece, all about the dearth of top babyfaces in the promotion, was written more or less four-and-a-half years had me stunned.
Has it really been that long?
Ever since revisiting that piece, I’ve been trying to articulate what Impact means to me and why I’ve been covering it for so long (and why I intend to continue as long as Joe and Rich will have me). After the events of the last week, I’ve worked it out.
I’ve touched on it in various places and ways on this site before but I’ve always had a soft spot for Impact since I first discovered the company. Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin’s criminally underrated X-Division title match from Genesis 2009 helped to get me back into wrestling and in the years that followed I was enamored by Beer Money, mesmerized by AJ Styles and invested in every match had by Samoa Joe or Sting. Given that TNA was the only wrestling promotion I could easily watch week-to-week for a period because of the constraints of our TV subscription package, it was something that I grew deeply attached to and that sort of attachment is hard to shake. Even now, 13 years later.
From a purely selfish point of view, having this weekly column has given me an avenue to contribute on a weekly basis to a website that expanded my wrestling horizons several years ago. Likewise, when Rich suggested that I take over Garrett’s mantle, he said that he wanted me to try and go down a different route with it. Traditional show reviews for weekly TV products weren’t something the site really did at that point and columns always generated more interest and traffic. I took it and have found a style and structure that I like, one framed around the contemporary product and events but driven by opinions and an element of creativity.
It’s undoubtedly helped that for the majority of the last four-and-a-half years, Impact has been a good, well-booked promotion.
Led by Scott D’Amore, they’ve found a style and an identity that works for them and they’re a safe bet to produce a solid, varied weekly TV product and PPVs that always deliver on the whole. While in many ways it’s easier (and more cathartic) to write about bad wrestling than good, writing about good wrestling is a much better motivator.
As a fan, you are rewarded for investing in stories and seeing the logical payoffs. Slammiversary is the case in point of exactly that.
It was a show fuelled by nostalgia but it was done in the right way. Nostalgia is a powerful drug in wrestling but too often it solely focuses on the good times and is just an excuse for lazy booking. Impact is a promotion that’s had a lot of lows and been the subject of constant ridicule but instead of shying away from those times (or pretending like they never happened as others might do), they own and relish them. They, in many ways, actively look to take the piss out of themselves.
A great example is the Reverse Battle Royal, a peak Russo-ism that won Worst Match of the Year in 2006. Instead of consigning it to the bin of history, they brought it back for Slammiversary and had some fun with it. It was still a disjointed mess but that was sort of the point – that match is as much a part of their history as the five-star match between AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe is.
Now, not everything they try lands but that’s the same for every promotion. I remember writing a piece for the NJPW eBook a few years back explaining why that I’d watched every New Japan match that year because the ‘sport’ style of pro wrestling is the one that appeals to me most. Impact isn’t always that and sometimes their booking strategies run counter to what I would have done or even think is the right course of action. Giving The Good Brothers a third run with the tag titles and turning them babyface again only a couple of weeks after Karl Anderson essentially admitted to not bothering when he’s working for Impact seemed a poor move – if I’m D’Amore, Anderson and Gallows aren’t getting renewed with me and they’re certainly not being pushed in their final weeks. Having something that I can be critical about makes writing these columns something to look forward to and ensures they’re not always effusive praise – constructive criticism is a sign that you care, or something like that.
While there will be people (mostly on Twitter) that criticize the talents they currently use (Moose, Sami Callihan) or those they used in the past (Michael Elgin, Joey Ryan, Dave Crist), I think the other core tenet of why I love writing about Impact is that it’s a promotion full of good, hard-working people. It’s a promotion welcome to all, as shown with Gisele Shaw’s courageous and inspirational decision to come out as transgender on Friday. The fact that everyone has welcomed her to the dressing room and was so quick to publicly share their support for her after the news came out shows that the promotion is like a family. A family that you feel a part of when you watch their shows and a family I feel a part of by writing these columns.
Long may that continue.
Powered by RedCircle