It was a story heavy episode this week as Impact Wrestling returned to their regularly scheduled programming after Thanksgiving. You had Bully Ray doing Bully Ray things, heeling it up and getting into a little something with the promoter. You had Mickie James and Deonna Purrazzo working a long main event that kept James’ career alive and set up a title match with Jordynnne Grace at Hard to Kill in January.
However, the main thing I wanted to cover in this week’s column was the show’s closing angle with Eric Young and Deaner. Words can’t really do it justice, so I’ll leave you to watch it yourself if you haven’t already.
.@CodyDeaner drove a knife into @TheEricYoung's chest as #IMPACTonAXSTV went off the air!
Stream episode on @IMPACTPlusApp: https://t.co/vg48NLYiP3#IMPACTWRESTLING pic.twitter.com/jy1e2ylkGk
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) December 3, 2022
So, Eric Young was essentially ‘killed off’ by Deaner to end his second stint with the promotion. It’s an angle that has divided opinion and rightly so, as it’s certainly ‘out there’ and it delves into the realms of the supernatural that typically turns a lot of people (usually including me) off. I didn’t love it but I did like it for a few different reasons.
The first was a fairly simple one. As You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me co-host Garrett Kidney rightly pointed out, Impact has done this sort of thing before. This is the promotion that saw Mickie James get pushed in front of a train, Allie get stabbed in the shadow realm, a child get run over in the LAX/OGz feud and Taya get arrested for shooting John E. Bravo. Having Deaner commit a cold-blooded murder on television is fairly par for the course, all things considered, and that certainly makes it more palatable.
So if you’re keeping track – Mickie James was pushed in front of a train, The OGz ran over a kid, Luchasaurus had his head smashed with a wrench, Allie was stabbed through the neck, John E. Bravo was shot, Ethan Page had his heart torn out and Eric Young was stabbed. https://t.co/HXJz7KSlg3
— Garrett Kidney (@garrettkidney) December 2, 2022
The second aspect was that the angle tied a neat little bow on Eric Young’s second run with the promotion. Notably, EY’s return in July 2020 was accompanied by a number of neat vignettes filmed in the same prison-type compound as this write-off angle, so it finished up where it all began.
I’d argue that Young’s second run with Impact featured some of the best work of his career. He came in motivated and over a period of just over two years (which included six months on the shelf with an ACL injury), enjoyed a second World Championship reign, was officially a Tag Team Champion on two further occasions, wrestled James Storm in Storm’s 1000th match for the promotion, worked programs with Sami Callihan, the Bullet Club, Eddie Edwards and Heath & Rhino, and main evented three PPVs – including their 20th anniversary show earlier this year.
Young did more or less everything he could in that two-year run, including cultivating something fun as leader of Violent By Design. Young had had time as a faction leader in WWE and previously in Impact as well and it’s fair to say that this incarnation was his best and most effective yet. His promos were a little repetitive and never cut that deep but he carried himself better as a group leader and his presence projected much better.
On top of all that though, and the thing I liked most about the angle, was that it was done as much to write Young off ahead of his WWE return as it was to try and make a new star in Deaner. Impact could have gone down the road of Deaner, Kon and Alan Angels all falling under Sami Callihan’s leadership in an entirely new-look faction, as that’s what other promotions would have done, but they didn’t. They tried to put Deaner over as a more legitimate and serious threat as a heel. Look, he’ll never be a main event heel but he’s improved massively over the last couple of years and at age 40 he’s as good as he’s ever been and it’s always, always, always worth trying new things.
It’ll be interesting now to see how Impact move Violent By Design, a faction Scott D’Amore loves, forward in 2023. Young has gone out of the promotion on his own terms and passed the torch on to someone else in a creative, intelligent way. You’d expect Deaner to win more matches and establish himself as a singles star with Kon and Angels as an effective big man-small man tag team. That’s a storyline to follow, for sure.
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