Impact Wrestling’s Had Its Best Year In A Decade.

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I know this should make sense to most people, but if you don’t like Impact then why comment on it? Anyways, let’s get started with the highlights of their amazing year.

So much has happened .. where do I begin? The year began with Eli Drake as the World Champion. But it seems he was only a placeholder after Alberto El Patron’s suspension, as the former 205 Live superstar Austin Aries returned and took it off him right away in his street clothes. This was the total opposite of what happened to Aries in his last run, where he literally had to rebuild the X-Division and create “Option C” to get a shot at the title; and even then he didn’t hold it long. Aries was billed as a face for a while, as he paraded around with his many championship titles from around the world after leaving WWE.

Meanwhile, Moose was feuding with former champion Lashley and his new buddies “American Top Team”. Dan Lambert did a good job of getting heat, as he and his MMA buddies buried wrestling and struck a few nerves. It had potential, but it ended abruptly after it was known Lashley was returning to WWE. Those who Lambert wronged, finally got their revenge after Lashley turned his back on ATT.

Having played a bland babyface since debuting in Impact back in 2014, Eddie finally made his mark in a feud against Sami Callihan. In a post match brawl, Sami accidentally broke Eddie’s face and nose after a baseball bat shot stuck a chair and ricocheted in to his face. The incident became headline news, as Sami & Eddie were asked by TMZ to comment on the stunt gone wrong. Sami got a lot of heat with fans for being careless, but he didn’t care and openly expressed his lack of mercy. When Eddie was cleared he turned hardcore and went after Callihan like he’d never done before. What started as a regular feud, escalated in to an obsession. While taking a lot of punishment, Sami was winning the feud as he got so far in to Eddie’s head he could no longer function as a normal human being. Motivated by revenge, Eddie began to alienate everyone around him; including his wife and friends.


While Eddie destroyed Sami and put him in the hospital .. it wasn’t enough in his mind. He wanted to literally kill Callihan. His wife and friend Tommy Dreamer did their best to get him to snap out of the obsession, but it only made things worse. Eddie turned on Dreamer and they feuded for a while, with Eddie playing the crazy, unhinged heel. Meanwhile, Sami and his oVe stable set their sights on others. After Eddie defeated Dreamer at Slammiversary, Tommy gave him a kendo stick like a passing of the torch. From then on, Eddie was a crazy babyface carrying “Kenny” the kendo stick everywhere. He’s currently feuding with former friend Moose.



 

After Austin Aries feuded with Eli Drake and Matt Sydal (and beat him for the Grand title), he was scheduled to face Alberto El Patron for the World title. What was likely the best for all involved, Patron was suspended for no-showing an event. As two of the newest, hottest commodities in Impact, The Lucha Brothers Fenix and Pentagon Jr were chosen to face Aries in a triple threat. In shocking fashion, Pentagon Jr showed his talent by winning the triple threat to become the new World Champion. Aries complimented them, before vowing he would get the title back soon. While in reality he only held it for two days due to TV tapings, Pentagon Jr lost the title to Aries over a month later on the episode “Impact! Under Pressure”.


Meanwhile “The Machine” Brian Cage was finally getting time to showcase his talent. Looking incredibly more jacked than the other times we’d seen him (on Impact), Cage destroyed jobbers in quick fashion while staying away from interviews. When Lashley was coming to the end of his contract, he came across him backstage and they had a short exchange. Lashley wanted to find out what he could bring, and Cage was confident he could win. So in Lashley’s last two matches, he put Cage over by losing clean. It was like a passing of the torch. Many predicted Cage would go on to win the World title from there, but instead he turned to the X-Division and defeated Matt Sydal for the title. He did not defend it often, but he did retain against opponents like Sydal, Fenix and Rich Swann.


Something that is questionable this year is the use of Eli Drake. While he has been used frequently, it’s only been in the mid-card and he never got back to the World title picture. The important thing is he re-signed, but it remains questionable how they’re using him. He will be able to win the World title again if the company needs him, but til then it seems he’s using his abilities to get others over. The Undeniable Kavorka cannot be denied forever.

Another example of 2018’s rising stars is the reformed LAX. And while they won the titles early on, they didn’t really gain fame til they fought oVe, and later the original LAX Homicide & Hernandez w/ “King” (The OGz). Konnan did a great job at getting the young kids over, and the dynamic with King escalated nicely. There were some cringe moments (like running down a kid), but all in all it was fun street warfare. The Bound For Glory concrete jungle match could’ve been better, but at least they tried something different. It sets Ortiz & Santana up for a bright future.


 

A surprising combination which no one saw coming was the comedy duo of KM & Fallah Bahh. KM was originally a very hated heel who everyone expected to turn on Fallah the second he got bored messing with him. Impact went the other way and had KM embrace Fallah to the point he got matching ring gear. They struggled to find success, and they’re still looking to impress the masses. Regardless of their shortcomings, they’ve provided much comic relief, especially with Fallah repeatedly saying “Bahh” while KM translates.


On the backstage reshuffling, Anthem reached out to loyal, former TNA wrestlers and bookers to “make Impact great again”. Scott D’Amore, Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams, Don Callis, Gail Kim, Jimmy Jacobs and Abyss are just some of those who’ve changed the game back to something more familiar & rewarding. Instead of using “TV Writers” like they did with Dixie in charge, Anthem put wrestling minds in creative. It was difficult losing Jeremy Borash, but they seem to have kept the creative juices flowing without him. The cool thing is the talents look like they’re enjoying themselves, and nothing comes across as forced.

One of the best, if not the best implemented debut was Killer Kross. Bodies were being found with an “X” sign on a piece of card, and no one knew who was doing it. After Petey Williams was accused of being the mystery attacker, security was on hand to escort him out. But the man who cuffed Petey turned out to be Killer Kross. He beat Petey down while handcuffed, and now everyone knew who the real mystery attacker was. He’s been cutting some of the most intense promos all year, and any company would be happy to have him. He’s left his “X” on 2018, and 2019 should be the year he succeeds as a main event player.


While other years have seen a better Knockouts Division, it’s good because they’ve tried to build it up unlike the X-Division. Su Yung burst on the scene as an instant hit, with a character she’s so lost in you’d think she actually lives in the dark zone. Before she came along Rosemary was the face of the division, but sadly we’ve not seen much of her since the injury. Kiera Hogan has a long way to go, but she’s young and management seem high on her.

The problem with Allie has been her character since becoming more than a bumbling buffoon taking abuse from Maria Kanellis; but “Dark Allie” might save her. Much to WWE’s probable dismay, Tessa Blanchard left NXT and showed the world how much of a diamond she is. As one of the youngest Knockouts champions ever, she’s also coming along well in the ring. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her battling the likes of Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch in a few years. For me, she’s the best women’s “wrestler” of 2018 without a doubt.



 

There’s many new faces looking to make names for themselves, but the one “hot” commodity making a huge impact since mysteriously appearing from nowhere .. is the “Smokeshow” Scarlett Bordeaux. Looking to make wrestling “sexy again”, she’s like a succubus, a nympho, and a motivational speaker all rolled in to one. She scouts talent, but has yet to tell us what she does when she finds someone worthy. She’s the ultimate tease, as all the men in Impact (including commentary & referees) can’t help but succumb to her spell.

While some fans may get frustrated with her not wrestling, I think it’s smart Impact keeps her away from the ring. She’s making memorable moments, and one day she will step in the ring and it will be a bigger deal. And then she’ll prove she’s not just a pretty face. We still don’t know how she magically appears wherever she wants, like she’s a demon with supernatural powers. Regardless, I think she’s providing something other shows cannot. She’s hot, and she’s not shy in sharing that. What’s not to love? Telling her to cover up and wrestle is as bad as holding women’s wrestling back for decades. Don’t be afraid of sexuality, making wrestling sexy again shouldn’t be frowned upon.


 

However, the most controversial moment of 2018 stays fresh in the mind. Making headlines, Austin Aries & Johnny Impact showed real heat towards each other on the way to their Bound For Glory main event. After Johnny won the title, Aries totally no-sold it before cussing out Don Callis and everyone at ringside. And he’s not been seen since, despite Impact continuing to use him in some promotional content. If he was gone from the company his profile wouldn’t still be on their site? Surely? It’s pretty confusing. All we’ve heard from Aries is him ridiculing fans for getting upset with him over Twitter.

Some claimed it was a work, but if it is .. it’s been done so well that no one can be sure. Maybe one day we’ll find out if it was or not. I miss the dynamic between Aries, Moose & Killer Kross the most. Either way, I wasn’t happy Johnny Impact won the title (personally I don’t think he’s good enough), but I did respect his match with Aries. I hope he’s able to put someone else over, and that guy could be Brian Cage at Homecoming; who vacated his X-Division title to get a title shot via “Option C”. Whether I like Johnny or not, he did not deserve what happened at Bound For Glory.

With a change of management, the show’s look, new talents appearing, and the fact there’s no more “TNA Originals” (outside of Hall Of Famer Abyss), Impact Wrestling has made itself a completely new entity. It still may not be making indy wrestling fans buzz with glee, but at least they’re reaching out to others for cross-promotion. Perhaps one day it can be as cool of an alternative as it was a decade ago? There still may be parts of the product which are difficult to watch for some, but I think the overall quality has gotten better. There’s nothing terribly bad in my opinion .. unless you despise their comedy segments.

Bringing the company from the brink of death to where it is now? They should be respected for that? It’s never going to be as big as WWE .. but no one else will either. All they need to do is provide an alternative, not just for the fans but the wrestlers as well. Having Impact around is good for business, as the guys & girls risking their bodies for our entertainment can make money while sharing their passion.

This is the new Impact Wrestling. And no .. TNA is dead. So very dead. Don’t call it that anymore .. not unless you’re talking pre-2010 TNA. Dixie Carter may still be a minority owner, but she’s got no say in what goes on anymore. And as much as I respect everything she did .. she did the right thing by selling it on. And that’s why 2018 has been one of its best years in its history. As many times as “fans” have jokingly said “LOLTNA is a sinking ship!”, they’ve only gone and proved them wrong every single time. This ship isn’t sinking any day soon, and that’s just a fact of life. And with that said, thanks for reading! Hoping 2019 will be even better.

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