After the success of Slammiversary on Saturday, the promotion may have gained a few new and returning fans who watched it back in the day. This is like a guide, to introduce you to the characters of Impact Wrestling, what they’ve been up to, and what we can expect of them in the future. However, I will not be telling you about the latest signings, including EC3, The Good Brothers and Heath.
First of all, the important thing to note is production isn’t as good as WWE, AEW or New Japan. The company had to downsize considerably when Anthem Sports took over from Dixie Carter. They quickly moved away from the Impact Zone and relocated to Canada, cutting several talents, staff, and live event tours in the process.
Management also scaled back on the amount of PPVs they run per year. TNA did maybe one a month? But nowadays it’s more like 4 a year; plus any bonus throwaway shows on their subscription service Impact Plus. Anthem bought their own network AXS TV and also stream their shows on Twitch for those who can’t get it. In doing so, they have saved themselves a ton of cost and have been in a rebuilding phase ever since.
They lost a few talents in recent years to WWE and AEW, but they quickly brought in new talent and built them up. The booking is considerably better, largely in part to the team of Scott D’Amore, Don Callis, D’Lo Brown, David Sahadi, Konnan, R.D Evans and Jimmy Jacobs. Dixie Carter is still a minority owner, but she acts only as an advisor. A couple of months ago, Scott D’Amore openly mocked the previous management on an episode of Impact.
Josh Mathews heads the commentary table and has improved considerably the past few years. He’s still a little too much like Michael Cole for my liking, but at least he seems more at home. Our saving grace is that color commentators Don Callis and Madison Rayne keep Josh on his toes.
Tag Team Division
After losing LAX (Ortiz & Santana) & The Lucha Brothers to AEW, a gaping void was left in Impact’s tag team division. The North (Ethan Page & Josh Alexander) stepped in and have done the job of carrying it for over a year. Impact has been trying to build up teams though, including:
- The Rascalz (openly fun stoners)
- TJ Perkins & Fallah Bahh
- Acey Romero & Larry D, known as XXXL for their size
- The Deaners (stereotypical comedy southerners)
- Reno Scum (hard-hitting brawlers)
And this doesn’t include the recent additions of Motor City Machine Guns, The Good Brothers, Rich Swann & Willie Mack, the Desi Hit Squad (Rohit Raju & Shera), Rhino & Heath (Slater), and the combination of Ace Austin & Madman Fulton. While it looked bleak a year ago, Impact have done a noble job of making a diverse tag team division which has been bolstered further still.
Expect MCMG & The Good Brothers to be slotted straight in to contention (MCMG faces The North tomorrow). Looking at the other teams, I’m expecting a push for The Rascalz, and TJP/Fallah Bahh at some point; they were on the fringes of getting a title shot. The team that seems least interesting at the moment is Reno Scum, they don’t seem to do it for me on any level.
The trusty old X-Division is still around and I wouldn’t say it’s in an awful place, but it could be better. Don’t worry if you have no feelings for the champion Chris Bey, he’s so new to Impact even I haven’t formed a full opinion of his potential.
Management sees something to book him to go over Willie Mack… who is an exceptional talent. I always love watching Willie, he’s deceptively agile. I have a feeling Rich Swann won’t go back to the X-Division since returning from injury (feud with Eric Young), so we have to look elsewhere for X-Division competitors:
- When not wrestling as a tag team, Dez & Wentz of The Rascalz are very capable.
- TNA Original Suicide, who I suspected in a previous article to be Wentz. Wikipedia and other databases are listing him as such, but I cannot find any confirmation. Recently, Johnny Swinger comically dressed as Suicide and failed to win the X-Division title from Willie Mack.
- Much like The Rascalz, TJP is perfect for the X-Division when he’s not teaming with Fallah Bahh
- We have not seen Jake Crist since Joey Ryan’s Cancel Culture stable was ironically cancelled. And seeing as his brother Dave Crist is gone because of allegations of sexual abuse, it’s likely the former X-Division Champion will return when ready.
- Daga is Tessa Blanchard’s boyfriend, so it remains to be seen whether he will return to the company soon. If he does, he’s another suited X-Division competitor.
- Crazzy Steve recently returned to Impact. He’s a face at the moment, carrying around a plush toy monkey with a face mask. I’d like to see him play mind games with Chris Bey.
As we saw at Slammiversary, Impact has one of the best women’s divisions going. Aside from Deonna Purrazzo and Jordynne Grace, former Knockouts Champions include:
- Longest reigning champion of all time, Taya Valkyrie (John Morrison’s wife).
- Rosemary – One of the most entertaining characters in all of Impact.
- Havok – Teaming with new girl Neveah, she is the powerhouse of the Knockouts.
- Su Yung/Susie – Split personality Susie is a former two-time Knockouts Champ as Su Yung, a zombie bridesmaid with supernatural abilities. She transformed in to Susie after Havok killed her by hanging. She’s since formed a friendship with Kylie Rae.
- Madison Rayne – The veteran of the division. Has her own talk show and provides commentary.
Several of the Knockouts have formed tag teams in recent months, hinting at a potential return of the Knockouts Tag Team Championship. Pairings include: Taya Valkyrie & Rosemary, Havok & Neveah, Kylie Rae & Su Yung, and Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz. Alisha Edwards (Eddie Edwards’ wife) is used primarily as an enhancement talent.
Kimber Lee is a recent addition and is known to most independent wrestling fans. Tenille Dashwood (AKA Emma in WWE) has been sidelined for some time, but has the potential to be a Knockouts Champion someday. Katie Forbes is RVD’s squeeze and caters to those who love a big shaking booty. The depth of this division has not happened by mistake, as Impact has done well to acquire fresh faces and build them considerably. Taya Valkyrie & Tessa Blanchard can be credited for elevating the Knockouts title after a period of stagnation.
The World Championship scene is heating up since Tessa Blanchard vacated. Michael Elgin was likely penciled in for a run, but he’s gone from Impact amid sex allegations. I recently made an article saying I’d like to see management reward the loyalty of someone like Eddie Edwards, and that’s what happened at Slammiversary. The title has been cursed for years, and Edwards will bring back some stability to a championship in dire need of some TLC. His challengers include:
- Ace Austin – A young stallion compared to AJ Styles (he doesn’t like the comparison) is a sleazy, sex obsessed egomaniac. He tried wooing Alisha Edwards and Trey’s Mum in the past year, sparking intense feuds with their partners. With recent sex allegations in wrestling, it seems Impact have cut back on this side of his character. With bodyguard Madman Fulton at his side, he’s become even more dangerous.
- Sami Callihan – The former leader of the oVe stable, is now going by a new persona of “ICU”. He’s become a hacker with the ability to control the program’s production to his will. He is known to be a vile, disgusting human being, spitting everywhere and having little to no class. Callihan’s strength is his mind and promos, as he’s capable of articulating stories as good as anyone in the business. Sami is also a proficient hardcore wrestler, excelling in dangerous situations.
- Moose – He is the self-professed “TNA World Heavyweight Champion”. It was recently reported that Moose was supposed to win the title in a tournament against TNA Originals at the TNA themed PPV, but as it couldn’t go ahead… they made other plans. Moose picked up the title one day and never let go. Taking inspiration from Ric Flair going to the WWF as the NWA Champion, Moose struts around telling everyone he is the real World Champion and Josh Mathews can’t get his head around it. Moose has already defended his unsanctioned title several times.
- Rob Van Dam – I have to admit, he’s slowed down so much it’s unlikely he will get another run with the World Championship. But he’s there if Impact needs him, and as a heel he’s way more interesting as a character with Katie Forbes at his side.
- Trey – He seems to be the standout talent of The Rascalz and I can see why. Trey is on another level compared to Dez & Wentz, and management is doing what they can to put him over. It will take a while, but he’s only 25 so there’s no rush.
There are a few others who can float between divisions when it suits. The biggest plus has to be Tommy Dreamer, who can still tell a hell of a story, and his passion hasn’t dwindled in the slightest. Hernandez is doing solid work and isn’t anywhere near as dangerous as he used to be. Ken Shamrock is limited in his movements, but he’s a big name and is in great shape for his age.
Johnny Swinger provides comedy with his many insider terms and old school philosophy. Even old TNA announcer David Penzer is getting more involved. John E. Bravo is another talent providing comedy as Taya Valkyrie’s manager. There’s a sweet mix of young and old, with no one getting any preferential treatment.
With the latest additions to the roster, something has to give. Competition will increase, as the wrestlers find their airtime to be even more valuable. Scott D’Amore & Don Callis are not about being biased towards former WWE superstars. I’m not expecting EC3, Eric Young or The Good Brothers to waltz in and win titles right away. Deonna Purrazzo is an exception however, as the Knockouts needed a new contender and she hasn’t been used anywhere near her potential elsewhere.
The bookers are spoiled for choice, and it will be interesting to see who rises to the top. Eddie Edwards sits on top of the mountain because he’s earned it with his dedication and hard work. Sami Callihan is another who has earned a lengthy reign, but they cut it short for Tessa Blanchard’s push. And what will they do with Moose? At some point, Eddie Edwards has to dispute his claims and there will have to be a unification match.
There’s a lot going on and I hope this has cleared it up some. Will Motor City Machine Guns win the tag titles? Can Jordynne Grace reclaim her Knockouts title? Is anyone ready for Chris Bey? How long can Moose hold on to the TNA World Championship? What is EC3’s next move? And who will be Eddie Edwards’ first challenger? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!