“Maybe they’re thinking about the rub. It’s a cool moment for AEW, it’s not a cool moment for Impact Wrestling unless I own both companies and I was working the fans at the same time. For Rich Swann to go out and lose the Impact World Championship to Kenny Omega, it does absolutely nothing in my opinion. If the champion gets beat, which is supposed to be your franchise player, and he goes out and gets beat. I could be wrong, but for me, if it was my company, something like that wouldn’t have gone down. That’s just me.” -Booker T
Back in the TNA Wrestling days, I loved this company. It was a true alternative, bringing us quality professional wrestling with a hint of sports entertainment. Everyone wanted to be a part of it, including Mexican & Japanese promotions. AJ Styles. America’s Most Wanted. Christopher Daniels. Sting. Samoa Joe. The X-Division. Gail Kim, Awesome Kong and the rest of the Knockouts. What wasn’t to love? It got even better with the additions of Christian Cage, Kurt Angle, Team 3D and more. Sure, Vince Russo may have booked it, but it wasn’t WCW bad. The talent and unpredictability kept people coming back for more.
While the company enjoyed some of its highest ratings when Hulk Hogan (& company) arrived, they lost its identity in the mix. It was no longer about Total Nonstop Action. It became WWE lite, which to new viewers might have been easier to digest, but it drove many loyal fans away. The stink from the Hogan/Bischoff regime permeated within Impact’s reputation for years. It got so pungent it almost killed the company. Dixie Carter was smart enough to sell it on to Anthem Sports, who cut back on just about everything to get the company back on the rails.
Despite some bumps along the way, Impact built its reputation up from out of the ground and sprouted the flowers of profit for the first time in years. When AEW started up, they signed up a bunch of the men & women Impact had built up, but it didn’t stop Scott D’Amore, Don Callis and the rest of the team from planting more talent seeds. They weren’t about to roll over and accept defeat.
When AEW started up, Impact lost its place as the second biggest promotion in the United States & Canada. From that point on, it was about doing what they could to stay healthy, which meant Anthem buying up AXS TV so it could never boot them off the network. The problem is that many people don’t get AXS TV, so Impact had to plug shows on Twitch and the Impact Plus app. With this method, it went back to the early TNA days when you could only watch the shows online. TNA was one of the first promotions to rely heavily on the internet to market its product, and it took WWE & others many years to catch on.
With WWE still above everyone else, AEW, Impact and others talked it out and decided that teaming up would benefit professional wrestling. I had talked about this subject for years, saying that if other promotions wanted to be seen and heard, they needed to pull in their resources, instead of fighting among themselves while WWE keeps its firm grip on the #1 spot. With WWE’s dwindling ratings and demographics, cross-promoting professional wrestling feels like the right thing to do. But is it?
Several within the industry (Booker T, Eric Bischoff, etc) have gone on record to say the cross-promotion does nothing. The casual viewer doesn’t care for Impact, New Japan or anyone else. The only thing that matters to them are big moments and money matches. No one cares if Kenny Omega wins the Impact World title, just as much as no one cares if Kenta or Yuji Nagata jumps over to challenge Jon Moxley. It barely gets meaningful results. At least, that’s the experts claim.
Ever heard the expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Way back in the 60s and 70s, wrestling became popular because it worked together. No one crossed over in to other territories, but there was a ton of collaboration going on. Professional wrestling competed with other forms of entertainment, but it didn’t really compete with itself. What changed the game? Vince McMahon Jr going against his Father’s wishes. Sports-Entertainment began systematically killing professional wrestling by taking out the territories one-by-one.
What remained from its ashes was “Independent Wrestling”. It left lowly promotions barely getting by on the leftover scraps. And when WCW & ECW folded, WWE lorded over everything. It has taken twenty years, but professional wrestling is only just get its act back together. It took some deep pockets, help from Chris Jericho and others, but we are finally seeing the revival of what the World Wrestling Federation killed before I was even born. The building blocks are in place for collaboration around the world. WWE might say it wants to work with others.
We can quote management as saying they welcome competition. They say it brings out the best in everyone. But we all know that’s not true, Vince McMahon has never wanted that. The only thing that matters to McMahon is being at the top, and not barely on top, but so much so that no one else gets a look in. If he sees an opportunity to kick over those building blocks, he won’t hesitate for a single second. It’s this ruthlessness which has kept professional wrestling firmly under his thumb for so long.
Overcoming One Winged Angel
If you’ve made it this far, you might ask when I’m getting to the subject? It was important to highlight how important it is for the baby steps to take place. To allow one company’s champion to hold another company’s title is massive. It may not seem that way, but years from now, if professional wrestling rises to rival sports-entertainment, we will look at it as a turning point. What comes next is arguably more important. If professional wrestling wants to prove this is a true collaboration, and not just something to get AEW over, it needs to do right by having Kenny Omega put someone over in the biggest way possible.
Who could it be? Kenny Omega is a god. They have built him up so much it doesn’t feel right for anyone to beat him. At least, not right away. I firmly believe with the way Impact has built them over the past few years, there are only two viable choices. Both Moose and Sami Callihan have been super loyal to Impact and have grown exponentially as performers. Callihan can cut a hell of a promo, but Moose is my favorite because he has the look. Moose has gotten in incredible shape the past year, he looks WWE ready. He’s too good for Impact at this point.
Without a doubt, Moose is ready to take over and rule Impact Wrestling. And when he’s done with that, he could do the same with AEW. I think Sami Callihan could do it too, but there would probably be some scoffing at the idea because he’s more of a disgusting heel than a poster boy “Roman Reigns” type. At the Under Siege PPV tonight, we will find out who they have in mind to take the Impact World Championship. I cannot see it being Matt Cardona, Trey Miguel, Chris Bey or Chris Sabin. There are only two saviors for Impact, and the most likely one is Moose. Thanks for reading.