This week’s episode of Impact Wrestling was highlighted by a new No #1 contender to Josh Alexander’s World Championship being crowned. It also featured the in-ring return of a five-time Knockouts champion and more Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer melodrama. The thing that stuck with me most, however, was Joe Hendry’s latest vocal showcase.
As a man who has watched for too much ICW for his own good, I’ve been exposed to Joe Hendry as a performer for a long time, and for want of a better term, he’s someone I’ve always believed in.
Other people have clearly seen his talent, and this current run with Impact is his third attempt to make an earnest break into the American scene.
His first shot came back in 2018, when he had a stint with Impact. I had high hopes for him, I really did. I even labeled him as the natural successor to EC3 in a column for this very website.
That run was almost doomed from the get-go though as he was lumbered with an almightily rubbish storyline involving Grado and Katarina. Not only was the storyline bad but it confined him to a role that didn’t showcase most of his talents.
In the latter part of 2019, Hendry was then picked up by Ring of Honor after previously appearing for them on some of their UK shows. Having thrived in a heel role towards the end his ICW run, I once again had confidence that this would be the moment when he got the breakthrough run I felt his talents deserved.
It started well, as he was building a little partnership with Dalton Castle and was getting over in a more organic way than he’d been able to in Impact.
Then COVID-19 happened.
Hendry had to go back to Scotland, and he basically didn’t work for ROH between February 2020 and Final Battle in December 2021.
That’s a long time to sit on the shelf, but Hendry has made the most of it, getting himself into the best shape of his career, and it’s paying off now with Impact, who brought him back for a second spell with the company last September.
When Impact announced that Hendry was coming back, I was delighted. As you’ve probably gleaned, I’m a big Joe Hendry guy, but I had genuine confidence in the current Impact booking regime. I felt he’d be given a proper chance this time around, and it’d be up to him whether he’d sink or swim.
That faith has been rewarded, with Hendry’s third American run proving the charm very much so far
Hendry felt like a big deal off the bat with the vignettes they ran for him before Bound for Glory, and strapping him up with the Digital Media Championship more or less straightaway has given him the best chance of taking the proverbial ball and running with it.
Giving Hendry that title was a win-win move. It’s the tertiary singles title and, in many respects, an afterthought, so having it swap to the new guy wasn’t exactly a major risk. Additionally, it would allow you to tap into Hendry’s hallmark, custom entrance music for his opponents, to fit with the gimmick of the title and at least attempt to make it mean something while giving him a good run of matches.
The custom entrance music is a unique act, perhaps not a main event one granted, but it’s very good for the midcard role Hendry is in. They’re a great way to get the crowd onside – with early indications showing that Hendry is already over with the Impact audience – and create/further feuds with heels of all levels on the roster.
Some of the songs, naturally, will land more than others. Dancing Moose wasn’t a smash hit for my money but this week’s one for Matt Cardona and Brian Myers, Edge’s Bitch was superb. It had the right level of mocking for Cardona and Myers, who sold it superbly with their facial expressions, and it logically set up future title matches with both of them in the coming weeks.
Should he win both, Hendry will be more or less at the point of being the longest-reigning Digital Media Champion since the belt’s creation in 2021 less than six months into his second Impact Wrestling tenure. Regardless of Impact’s position in the current landscape, that’s a more than solid launchpad for a big run this year for the Scotsman.
Joe Hendry is giving credence to the old adage that if at first you don’t succeed, you try, try and try again. He’s proof that if you continue to push yourself and improve and that people see something in you, you’ll get opportunities.
I believe in Joe Hendry and it’s refreshing to see that Impact Wrestling clearly does too.