Tonight, Impact Wrestling presents its annual Slammiversary PPV at 8 p.m. on Fite.TV — and it easily could be one of the most important shows in the company’s rollercoaster existence.
The lineage of this event dates back to 2005 back when the company was still known as TNA (Total Non-Stop Action) and let’s be blunt — this company has gone through a lot of turnover, turmoil and tumult in the past 15 years. However, over the past two years, mainly since Scott D’Amore and Don Callis took over management, Impact has gone from a nearly unwatchable product to one of the most entertaining wrestling shows on television.
The company now, much like it did when in its pioneer days, is built developing and promoting young and non-mainstream (read: former WWE) talent into the faces of the company. Whether it be The North (Ethan Page and Josh Alexander), Willie Mack, Ace Austin, Taya Valkyrie, Jordynne Grace, or The Rascalz — Impact has put their full energy behind making new stars and it’s been effective. They’ve used veterans (read: Johnny Swinger) as not only methods to get young talent over, but they’ve used them more effectively than most (read: Ken Shamrock, RVD) than they have in years. Also, getting off the wasteland that was Pursuit and moving to a much higher profile channel like AXS (while also increasing and cultivating their Twitch platform) has helped regain a lot of those fans who fell off over the years.
And seven months ago it seemed like Impact was about to explode (in the most positive way) by paying off the year-long story line of putting the heavyweight title on Tessa Blanchard. We all know how that played out though – instead of exploding in a positive way, the storyline and the positivity surrounding the company seemingly imploded when news of Blanchard’s past came out and the belt was still put on her.
Yet, the dismissal of Blanchard and other problematic (and that’s being very generous), wrestlers, has put Impact in a very interesting position. They have the opportunity to be the masters of their own fate and the future of the company will, in 100% reality, lie in the main event. Whomever they chose — Ace Austin, Trey Miguel, Eddie Edwards or the mystery opponent — will dictate how Impact’s future is going.
And that’s really exciting. Think about it, a main event that not only has narrative consequences, but real life consequences as well. Could Impact go with the youth movement and put it on Austin or Miguel? While Miguel does have problems of his own, Austin would be a wildly interesting choice as he’s evolved from “promising indie guy” to one of the better heels in wrestling. Edwards, whose characters is hit-or-miss for me personally, is the heart and soul of the company as many have said. He’d be a great babyface champion and would further the mission of getting over young talent by putting on his trademark excellent matches with all comers.
Then there’s the mystery opponent. Could it be a newly rebranded EC3 — a man controlling his own narrative — and coming with insanely high motivation and a fresh new look and style? Could it be Eric Young — another pillar of the company returned with a new look, attitude and motivation? Or could it be, as some have wondered, Kurt Angle strapping the boots on one more time to give the company some added name value — and allowing for the build of a young talent to defeat the legend.
The news of “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson and Luke “Doc” Gallows signing with the company is another major feather in the Impact Wrestling cap. These two are one of the best tag teams in the world who were marginalized in WWE for years and absolutely can bring so much both in and out of the ring to the company. Their signing alone inspired this column and probably many to purchase Slammiversary.
However, there is a cautionary tale lying in the history of this company that the current management cannot forget. With the sheer number of former WWE talents becoming available today (July 18) they cannot fall into the trap of signing so many former “E” talents that they sacrifice their homegrown talent they’ve worked so hard to build. It’s the mistake TNA made over and over and over again and it’s the reason they went from arenas to a lonely soundstage in Orlando, on the verge of cancelation, before Anthem came in and bought the company.
Yes, there’s opportunity for them to take underutilized wrestlers like Heath Miller/Slater who have gotten themselves into great shape and have never had the opportunity to wrestle outside of WWE in their prime. There’s people like Mike Bennett who’d fit in nicely with the company — again reborn and rebuilt. However, with a solid roster of young talent, Impact can’t do what many of us do when we play Madden or MLB the Show and stack our roster with so much talent that we can’t use them all. It’s a bad move from a financial perspective and it’s a bad move from a booking perspective. WWE is a prime example of doing just this.
Do I have faith that Impact Wrestling will make the right calls here and take this opportunity to finally break free of the final “LOLTNA” chains that bound them for years and begin to make their ascent into the minds of wrestling fans? I absolutely do. D’Amore and Callis have been mostly brilliant in their roles developing new stars, and most importantly making their women’s division one of the best not just in the U.S. but the entire world.
Slammiversary is a crossroads for Impact Wrestling and it’s very exciting to see.
Now for some quick predictions:
The Rascalz Open Challenge: A perfect spot for Gallows and Anderson to show up and pick up a really fun win. The Rascalz are so good and I’d love to see Hot Karl and Big Hoot tangle with them. Do not, however, rule out a surprise team comprised of former WWE talent or people we’re not even expecting to come out answer.
TNA Championship – Moose (C) vs. Tommy Dreamer (Unsanctioned/Old Schoo Rules): If there’s one match that I’m whatever on, it’s this one. It’ll be fine and good, but the outcome here in obvious. However, I will predict that this is the spot we see Eric Young show up in to challenge for the TNA title down the road.
Knockouts Title Gauntlet Match – Alisha Edwards vs. Havok vs. Kimber Lee vs. Nevaeh vs. Madison Rayne vs. Rosemary vs. Susie (Su Yung) vs. Tasha Steelz vs. Taya Valkyrie: The Knockouts Division is just ridiculously stacked. I think Kylie Rae, who Impact has been high on since the fall, will take the win here as she’s someone Impact can build around.
X-Division Title Match – Willie Mack (C) vs. Chris Bey: I love Willie Mack, but Impact is really invested in Chris Bey and I see them putting the belt on him.
Tag Title Match – The North (C) vs. Ken Shamrock & Sami Callihan: I really love The North and if it were up to me Ethan Page would be the man who enters the main event and wins the title. He easily should be the face of the company. However, that’s probably unlikely (but it’d be cool if it did!) I say The North goes over here and they eventually stare down Machine Gun & Sex Ferguson setting up a title match down the road.
Knockouts Title: Jordynne Grace (C) vs. Deonna Purrazzo: This is a tough call. On one hand – why take the belt off Jordynne? Her and Kyle Rae (if that’s who wins the gauntlet) could be money and Jordynne could easily be converted to a heel. However, this is all dependent on Purrazzo. She’s stated she’s still a free agent. She’s stated she wants to go to AEW. Last time I looked AEW really needs talent in the division due to injury and travel restrictions. However, she’s never been booked better in a mainstream company than she has in Impact. She’d also be great against Kylie. I’m going to say Jordynne Grace retains, but wouldn’t be stunned if Deonna pulls it out.
World Title – Ace Austin vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Trey Miguel vs. TBD: I’d love TBD to be Ethan Page. However, EC3 would fit in nicely here. If I’m putting these four into order of who I think is winning I’m going – TBD, Ace, Eddie, Trey. As mentioned before, this is a massively important match and they need to stick the landing.
Impact Wrestling Slammiversary is available tonight at 8 p.m. on Fite.TV