Still, Shammy seems to need Impact to help cross-promote his new Valor Bare Knuckle fighting promotion. So who knows? Maybe we’ll get a few more matches out of him. Or, knowing Shamrock, he’s just as likely to wander off your screen and you won’t see him again. I won’t be surprised either way.
The ECW Crew
A subset of the above, The ECW Crew are all aged vets who appear on Impact, mainly during the New York and Las Vegas tapings. They’re all in the twilight of their careers in-ring wise, but since they put young talents over or mess with each other, it doesn’t really hurt things.
Tommy Dreamer is truly a man who loves pro wrestling. Not only is he a producer and creative writer for Impact, he also owns his own promotion, House of Hardcore. And you can find him popping up all over the indy scene to support random promotions. Tommy’s been in pro wrestling since 1989, and of course made his name as the ‘heart and soul’ of ECW.
Tommy’s a true professional in every sense of the word. Willing to make anyone shine, he’s helped Tessa Blanchard, Moose, Eddie Edwards, Killer Kross, and others try and get over. In his other indy work, he’s helped Brian Pillman Jr. and more.
So Tommy knows his role. A true pro, when he finally hangs up those Dusty Rhodes inspired pants of his, it will be the true end of an era. But I suspect that as long as Tommy draws breath, he’ll be trying to help pro wrestlers and pro wrestling.
Another man who’s in the twilight of his career, Rhyno came to Impact after a roughly 4 year long mostly comedic run in WWE. Seriously, his most famous spot was eating chips in the background of vignettes. For a man who used to be famous for his intensity and ripping people in half with his finisher, it was quite a change.
Now Rhyno’s back to his old self mostly. He’s still helping younger talents when not working with the other ECW guys, but he’s intense again. His ever expanding velvet singlet is a miracle of modern tailoring, but Rhyno’s still able to contribute as his ring days seem to be fading.
Rob Van Dam
The oldest of the ‘active’ ECW vets, Rob’s calendar years are vastly different than his physical years. Maybe it’s his in ring style, or his lifelong use of stretching. Maybe it’s his… ah… supplementation routine. Either way, Rob moves a lot better than most guys on the cusp of their 49th birthday.
Still, Rob’s slowing down, and it’s showing. After a recent heel turn, his character’s very different. He does a lot more talking now, blaming the younger generation for ‘stealing his moves,’ and claiming that without RVD, there’d be no modern style of wrestling.
That’s up for debate. What isn’t is that Rob seems to be doing what pro wrestlers do best, turning their trainwreck personal lives into on screen fodder. After finalizing a divorce in 2018, Rob’s now in his so-called ‘post-divorce tour’ with both his ‘wife’ Katie Forbes and his/her ‘girlfriend’ Jennifer Barlow. I’m not one to judge morality. But Rob just comes off as, well, that aging guy who’s desperate to relive the glory days of his youth and is willing to sell his self respect to do so. Pretty good heel persona, to be honest.
I don’t know if it’s all an act, all real, or the line’s blurred somewhere in between. I’ll leave that to you to decide.
Sabu’s the least active of the ECW Vets in Impact, so I’ve saved his Impact Profile for last. Homicidal, Genocidal, and Geriatric, Sabu’s 54 year old body is a road map on what not to do to yourself. Scars, broken bones, an elbow that won’t even fully extend any longer… Sabu pretty much makes Mick Foley look normal.
I won’t do a career retrospective on Sabu. I don’t have the words or the extensive knowledge of his career to do it justice. All I can do is an Impact Profile on him, and say that his appearances are few, far between, and constrained to working with the other ECW Vets. Which, considering his limited in-ring abilities now and his penchant for getting into social media trouble, is honestly probably the best for Impact.
The Comedy Acts
From the days of pro wrestling being a carnival side show act, pro wrestling’s had clowns. And despite decades of attempts to make it look serious and ‘real,’ comedy acts have a place in pro wrestling. Usually jobbers or just random dudes, the following duo will lose more than win, but in at least one case, the fans love them anyway.
I admit that Johnny just might belong in another category. You see, he’s actually an ECW Vet, having wrestled there in the last year of ECW’s existence. He even formed a tag team with Simon Diamond, and during his first run with TNA all the way back in 2003 they won the tag team belts.
But I put Johnny here because, well, he just doesn’t fit with the other ECW guys. First off, he’s a bit younger than the others at ‘only’ 44. Also, he isn’t a legend of the business like the others.
Johnny’s current schtick is basically someone caught in a time warp. Whether that time warp’s twenty years ago, thirty, or forty is sort of unclear. He drops a lot of ‘iz’ carny words in his speech like someone backstage in the seventies, wears enough bandannas around his lower legs to make me think he’s ribbing the Rock N’ Roll Express, and… well, shit in Ken Shamrock’s bag. Thanks, Randy Orton.
Oh, and his in-ring style is a 30 year old throwback as well. Double axe handles, old school heel tactics, the ‘Swinger Neckbreaker’ are all meant to have you laughing at him. In limited doses, perhaps it’ll be effective long term. Wrestling does seem to be having a bit of a nostalgia kick right now, and someone poking fun at that is a good thing. Is Johnny Swinger the guy to do it? I don’t know quite yet.
Joey Ryan’s perhaps the most polarizing act in pro wrestling. If you can appreciate what the twenty year pro’s doing, you get a laugh out of any guy who’s sponsored by YouPorn and who uses his penis as a finishing maneuver (not that way, for those of you who don’t know him). His Magnum, PI inspired look, sleazy act, baby oil and more are funny. And you gotta respect a man who’s willing to drop a wet lollipop down his trunks only to fish it out again to stick in his mouth (or his opponent’s mouth) during a match.