Among my highlights of wrestling in 2023 was the moment when Alex Shelley finally became the Impact World Champion at Against All Odds earlier this month. Hell, it was newsworthy enough to net me a debut on The Flagship.

On that Flagship appearance, I outlined the various directions that Impact could take Shelley’s reign in. The first challenger off the rank was already confirmed to be Nick Aldis at Slammiversary and I outlined a feasible scenario in which Aldis turned heel in the process of winning the World title for the second time in his career.

Well, Impact did follow through with “The National Treasure” turning heel but did it much earlier than Slammiversary; instead, it came when he brained Shelley with the title belt after they’d just been successful in a 10-person tag main event.

On the whole, I liked the turn, and I liked them doing it then. That was far preferable to them doing it as the finish of the PPV main event and it better suited the narrative of what Shelley and Aldis’ programme should be.

What the program should be is the story of Alex Shelley finally ascending to the top of the Impact tree after 20 years of grafting and then running into the sort of guy he could never get past previously. In Aldis, he’d got an opponent who had his first World title reign a whole ten years prior at a time when people thought someone like Shelley should have been in that spot. The story should be the fact that in those years since Aldis’ first reign, the condescending heel that looks the part had had two further World title reigns elsewhere and Shelley had spent that team being primarily a tag team guy and otherwise a tortured babyface that always struggled to win the big one on his own.

When I ran short on time last week and had to can my column, I thought it’d work out alright because I wanted to write about Aldis’ turn and I thought I could pick it up this week, producing a fuller piece when Impact inevitably gave him a promo slot to explain his turn and lay out the blocks of the story I’ve outlined above. Surely, you’d give one of your best promo guys mic time to build up a PPV main event that’s 0nly five weeks away? Surely.

Well, my surely’s sadly proved misguided. Instead of having promo time, Aldis wasn’t even on the show. They re-aired his title win from 2013 and then worked a backstage segment with Aldis’ personal interviewer Jimmy Jacobs. Jacobs said that Aldis wasn’t there out of fear for his safety following the previous week’s incidents. That pre-prepared statement was met by Shelley superkicking Jacobs in what was Jacobs’ on-screen write-off following his switch to AEW.

While it wasn’t the worst possible follow-up, it was pretty dismal. The Aldis turn was the sort of cliffhanger you want at the end of a TV wrestling show to give you a hook for the following week. Talking as a fan of the promotion and not a reviewer for a second,  I was intrigued and looking forward to the show to see how they moved forward with the story. In the end, there was nothing on the other end of this hook other than a pre-taped angle that presented Aldis as a coward and not much else.

Perhaps the best description of the segment was that it felt like a waste of time, both for me as a viewer and for the promotion in terms of storytelling. You’ve only got five weeks to get the turn and the story over before the PPV. As a promoter, that means every segment has to be giving you 110% and doing as much as it possibly can to sell your product and in this case it’s your top of the card program. This week’s segment wasn’t working overtime for them and it certainly wasn’t putting bums on seats or selling PPVs. So, that’s effectively 20% of your build time lost.

Now, Impact has announced that Aldis will be addressing his action on this week’s episode (June 29). Maybe that one-week delay of the promo I was expecting won’t be the end of the world and it won’t affect wider interest in the match. Given Impact’s position in the current landscape, that’s the probable reality.

Likewise, given the spot they’re in, you’d be forgiven for asking “does it really matter?” Well, yes, it does, because it’s getting the simple stuff like this right that can make your product a more captivating one.

As I’ve said before, my critiques in these columns are there to hold the promotion accountable. Impact tends to do a good job of simple, A-to-B booking but there’s often a little something missing and with this, it’s effectively missing the boat on following up the Nick Aldis turn when it was at its most notable. It remains to be seen how well they use the remaining four weeks of the build before Aldis and Shelley face off in Windsor.