IMPACT had a good 2020. It was not spectacular by any means, but they added solid talents to their ranks with the likes of the Good Brothers, Deonna Purazzo, Eric Young etc. Moments that we never thought would happen, occurred this year at IMPACT with both Dwayne Johnson induction of Ken Shamrock into the hall of fame at Bound For Glory, and the IMPACT-AEW Partnership which brought Omega into an IMPACT show for the first time ever. These were the hallmarks of what was a fruitful and solid 2020 for IMPACT. While things were looking good for IMPACT, there are some massive improvements that IMPACT should look to ensure they have a product with a more sustainable future.
Here are the 11 things I would want to see from our beloved IMPACT in 2021.
11. QUALITY PPV
IMPACT developed quality ppvs at the start of the Callis-D’Amore era. PPVs from 2018-2019 were really good. Its funny because while Slammiversary 2018 was the best ppv of the Anthem Era from most peers, my favorite PPV for me was Slammiversary 2019. The matches in that ppv were exceptional and at least 3 matches from that card my top 10 matches from 2019. Since Bound For Glory 2019, the quality in PPVs dropped with the most notably being bound For Glory. The matches at BFG were pretty bad, with poor in-ring and finishes being the catalyst. I believe IMPACT should adequately invest in the booking and match quality of their PPVs considering they are charging fans 40 bucks to pay for the ppv. Putting in a string of matches not properly produced or planned ahead of time leads to a poor match performance which overall affects the quality of the PPV. AEW does a pretty good job with their ppv considering how high the price is.
10. SOLID FINISHES, MODERATE OVERBOOKING
This is another aspect of an IMPACT match in 2020 which fundamentally became a head scratcher. At Bound For Glory 2020, every match besides the main event was grossly overbooked, then Final Resolution followed up and delivered the same amount of overbooked finishes. Personally, the concept of overbooking should be done in moderation, it is really unacceptable to even conceive the idea of overbooking on a PPV event, let alone the biggest event of the year, where stakes and investment are at play here. It should not be entirely ruled out, however, It should be done ‘moderately’ on IMPACT TV, not on ppvs and specials. The idea of heels having to cheat in order to secure a win is such an outdone concept that ironically insults the intelligence of fans. We can make our heels strong in order to ensure the quality of the match is good and in return, will further generate buzz for the stars, match, event and the company overall.
Stables have always guaranteed massive level of buzz for a company if properly executed. A perfect example is the Bullet Club. The famed stable loses a focal member every year but have developed a ‘penchant’ of having a new talent join their ranks, thus maintaining the relevance of the Bullet Club stable, which credits would have to been given to NJPW, as they became a force in the wrestling world, setting the tone for a new rabid promotion and a fierce competitor to the WWE, which is a testament to how long term planning works. Another interesting appeal of the Bullet Club is their gimmick. The Bullet Club is a solid appeal to a lot of wrestling fans. IMPACT, should honestly think about developing new stables. While implementing a stable, they do not necessarily have to make them take over IMPACT. Reinvigorating famed stables like Aces and Eights, Team Canada and LAX with the current talents will generate buzz and appeal while tying mini storylines with an emphasis regarding the formation of the stable, implementing background skits and areas like the LAX and the Aces and Eights clubhouse, apply gimmicks and catchphrases to ensure a cult following, Having a cult following for any of the stables is a good revenue outlet for IMPACT, which required little to no investment. Better yet, why not bring in Erick Rowan and the Ascension and pair them with Father James Mitchell, Su-Yung and the undead bridesmaid to reform the Disciples of the New Church. These are buzz worthy stables with a whole new revenue stream for IMPACT because trust me, these stables will sell and will create a buzz-worthy avenue for IMPACT. A personal dream stable is having Moose with AOP and Jackson Stone backing him, A stable which will indeed draw a lot of attention to the IMPACT product.
8. ELEVATING OUR STARS
IMPACT in 2020 did not have a lot of bangers and it really is not their fault to a degree. The Pandemic created a ton pf problems for the promotion and they had to readjust some plans in order to ensure that the product was moving forward. With 2020 out of the way, and we’re almost a year into the pandemic, I believe IMPACT should look into consider elevating the star power of some of our wrestlers. Talents like Eddie Edwards, Moose, Deonna Purrazzo, Good Brothers, Sami Callihan are the talents to build around the promotion. Treat them like Okada, Tanahashi, Naito, White, Ibushi is for NJPW, and Moxley, Jericho, Omega, Cody and the Young Bucks are for AEW. Put them in classic feuds with consistent bangers. Market the hell out of them. Have them featured on AXS TV shows, The Good Brothers can have a new show on AXS TV featuring some of IMPACT stars. They can get them into a game show with Steve Harvey, since he is an Anthem Minority Shareholder. IMPACT needs to further elevate their stars. 5 years ago, nobody knew Omega, but it took him 2-3 years to be a household name. Now IMPACT, is currently riding on his coattails as he brought in a ton of buzz for IMPACT on the December 8th episode. Twitch viewership went up to a staggering 55,000 viewers all mostly aged 18-34. The highest viewed IMPACT Twitch show of all time, and the 3rd highest of the night. It all came from Omega. It is essential that IMPACT looks to build their own version of ‘Omega’. Having multiple stars, from each division elevated to that position, coupled with excellent matches and a proper investment on their talents will propel IMPACT to new heights. While the IMPACT fanbase is not familiar with any long term plan they may or may not have, a sufficient 5 year plan beginning this year should be developed.
7. BETTER PRODUCTION AND PRESENTATION
This right here is another infuriating aspect of IMPACT since the departure of Kevin Sullivan, has been our production. Our production setup is really bad. From the bad production at the live IMPACT Plus specials to the horrendous moment at ‘All Glory’ last year when matches were recorded via Josh Matthews cellphone. From a business standpoint, that move was borderline bush league and downright embarassing. Our 2020 PPVs were no better either. We constantly had production issues at Slammiversary and Bound For Glory. IMPACT fans are certainly convinced of encountering another issue at Hard To Kill with eyes on the event due to the appearance of Omega. These issues need to be sorted out adequately as they make IMPACT look extremely bad as a promotion. Another room for improvement is their presentation. They really need to invest in proper audio equipment to mic in some crowd noise. They don’t necessarily need to be as theatric as the Thunderdome, but some investment in quality audio equipment is good. Elements around the ring needs to be upgraded accordingly as well. Investing in barrier cover with the company name should occur, enabling pyros and fireworks to be played during entrances, foot mats that can adequately cover the entire floor of the arena. These little details can create a nice classy presentable program for IMPACT, as it would introduce a new level of energy for the product. Man, I miss Pyros and Fireworks.
6. TNA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE SHOULD BE OFFICIAL
The TNA world title is currently held by Moose, who seems to make the title seem more legit and prestigious than any of the current titles we have in IMPACT. IMPACT currently needs a secondary title to enable more feuds and add some prestige to the stars battling for the title. Stars like Josh Alexander, Ace Austin, Willie Mack, Brian Myers, Hernandez, Joe Doering, Madman Fulton etc are primary candidates for that title. It gives them something to be fighting for at the moment. I was pretty disappointed to learn the reason why Ace Austin was not available was due to a lack of creative options for him, which I considered extremely lazy by IMPACT creative. You can create anything out from thin air. What was lacking at that moment was poor planning and time management skills. Enabling the legitimacy of the TNA Heavyweight Championship is a big step to further elevating the star power of our IMPACT talents.
5. NEW CONTENT ON IMPACT PLUS
IMPACT Plus is not worth the investment at all. Just being real. IMPACT emphasizes the need to watch their TNA history on IMPACT Plus. While I’m a big fan of their history, there is a mental strain that it can cause for some fans due to the incredible times of their past, which when you fast forward to the IMPACT of today. It’s a painful feeling. However, IMPACT Plus can be worth it, if they put the right investments into their contents. Developing contents like GutCheck was good, while it was relatively short, it served its purpose. In the past, I constantly emphasized the idea of putting WrestleHouse on IMPACT plus, to further generate subscribers and to provide another alternate sort of entertainment for fans all existing in the IMPACT Universe. Even suggested the idea of creating the Undead Realm Series content on IMPACT Plus featuring Su-Yung, Father James Mitchell, Rosemary and Havok. Further contents like Sami & Friends, Vlogs, IMPACT Reaction etc should be considered. You can have the Good Brothers film skits or have a podcast network on IMPACT Plus featuring our own talents. Xplosion should have more matches in it reminiscent of AEW Dark. It could be a good second show that should feature matches regarding new stars looking to break into IMPACT or stars not featured prominently on IMPACT programming. Developing more content on IMPACT Plus and aggressively marketing the contents on IMPACT, AXS TV and Twitch is a good way to ensure the app is gaining subscribers.
4. FOUR HOUR PPV EXTENSION
This is a controversial take, interactions with some IMPACT fans in the past concerning this move are not in favor of this transition. Every promotion besides IMPACT already have ppv events running 4 hours. Also, please consider, this is a quarterly event that’s done every 3 months. The reason for emphasizing this is due to enabling structural changes to our programming. From October 2019-Present, 3 out of the last 4 PPVs featured multi-man matches. This is not a good approach at all when it comes to a ppv event. Enabling solid singles matches with a’ big match feel’ is key here. In 2020, IMPACT had Sami Callihan, who by the way, main-evented 3 concurrent ppv events prior to Slammiversary 2020, in settings such as Slammiversary 2019, Bound For Glory 2019 and Hard To Kill 2020, was instead placed in a bound for gold gauntlet match at Bound For Glory rather than offering the villain a viable challenger at Bound For Glory. Instead, IMPACT opted to waste almost an entire one year of Sami Callilhan’s career as he was a considerable miss this calendar year comparatively to the 2018-2019 year. Moving on, enabling a 4 hour PPV event will increase the match card to roughly 10-12 matches which will feature more quality single matches, create rooms for more knockout rivalries, feuds and matches and gives the ammunition needed to enable bangers. Take a lot at the upcoming Wrestle Kingdom event, every match is a ‘Must See’ for wrestling fans. We should enable to structure our events to mirror that of WWE, AEW and NJPW. The 4 hour ppv is a controversial setup for now, till it is implemented with excellent matches and properly executed finishes, then you will marvel at how much buzz it will generate.
3. IDENTITY CRISIS
This has been a good question for a lot of wrestling fans currently not in close association with IMPACT. Most fans and readers have always asked this question: “If I’m watching IMPACT, what I’m I looking forward to?” What makes it entertaining? What is their Identity? To be quite honest, these are some honest fundamental questions that should be presented to both the IMPACT creative and management team. What is their true identity. NJPW has the Japanese Strong Style locked down, as they present hands down the best wrestling in the world. When it comes to promos, no promotion drops better promos than the NWA. AEW/NXT, adopted a hybrid of both excellent wrestling, coupled with solid feuds and a good storyline with the latter providing a more robust approach to their women’s division and the former on the edge due to their star power. Fast forward to IMPACT, what do they provide the wrestling universe that can generate and retain viewers to their program. Well, nothing really. IMPACT tries to offer a hybrid of ‘everything’, average to solid wrestling matches, average feuds, storylines which a lot of IMPACT fans believe they excel at, is quite average and stale at best if we are brutally honest. The Eric Young/Rich Swann program was really good, excellently produced, unfortunately was just lacking in star power which takes us back to ‘elevating our stars’. it just was not high profile enough. IMPACT can continue to make Storylines the focus but for it to appeal to everyone, It needs to be well produced, adopt new wrestling angles, make it less comedic and corny, by applying a more cool and serious approach to the product. Aggressively appeal to the current 18-34 demographic as they will invest their time, effort and resources into the promotion. Ironically, IMPACT should look back at their history, in 2005-2006 era of TNA and follow those moments; they were all practiced in urgency which in return, turned out to be quite an excellent product. I strongly encourage IMPACT to implement some wrestling angles into key moments. Slammiversary 2020 where a lot of eyes were on the event, was a missed opportunity. Omega’s arrival on IMPACT was another prime moment to develop another alternate major angle that can have fans tune in, considering it was our go home show for Final Resolution was not practiced. Creating excellent storylines, supplemented with major angles, solid matches, rivalries and feuds will create a big case for IMPACT in 2021.
2. EMPHASIS ON TOURNAMENTS
Tournaments is one of the biggest appeals to a sporting event. There’s a reason why the Royal Rumble and the G1 Climax are so revered for the WWE and NJPW fans respectively. Fans highly anticpiate the ‘wrestle mania season’ or the season of the G1 Climax to be fully engaged to the respective promotions. The winners of those tournaments will main event the biggest ppv event in their respective promotion: namely Wrestlemania and Wrestle Kingdom. This is where the Bound For Glory Series comes in. One of the positives of the Hogan-Bischoff era in TNA was their keen eye in developing concepts. Whether it be Gut Check or Open Fight Night, these concepts were moments that were largely entertaining in that era and should still continue consistently for the promotion today. The Bound For Glory Series could be a monumental tournament for IMPACT because the winner of the actual tournament is already elevated and strong. Winning the title wouldn’t matter due to the complexity of the tournament and the amount of strong competitors it yields. As I have emphasized in my previous article, this tournament adds value to the event, the talent, the world title etc. IMPACT kicked off 2021, early in 2020 by announcing the return of the Super X Cup at Genesis which was a very good decision so far. Would suggest the winner of the Super X Cup tournament should challenge for the title at Rebellion to create a long-term storyline for both competitors. This should be an annual consistent program going forward, because it further elevates the X-Division. While some IMPACT fans are not understandably happy with the lack of star power at the tournament, enabling this tournament to happen at Genesis is a very good approach and if it becomes annual, can feature better stars next time. IMPACT should look at the Knockouts Division, as they stake a big case of having a tournament of their own with the winning challenging for the Knockouts Title at Bound For Glory. The Mash-Up tournament which provided Sami Callihan as the number 1 contender to Brain Cage’s title at Bound For Glory 2019 was a good tournament and should be an annual tournament for either Rebellion or Slammiversary. Either way, developing key concepts and tournaments for IMPACT freshens up the product more often.
- RETAINING OUR TALENTS
It is understandable where IMPACT currently stands with the rest of the promotions; however, it is imperative that they implement strategies on how they tackle signing new talents. IMPACT will need to look for talents that are really pro-IMPACT because in return, this will give management a slight edge at the bargaining table. IMPACT needs to have a solid foundation and plan on how to sign new talents that are not tv ready. Sign them to a maximum contract of 4-5 years with an increase pay every year. Doing that enables longevity and program consistency. Tessa Blanchard, Brian Cage, Johnny Impact and LAX are all notable candidates which IMPACT invested a lot of resources and time into their programs only for the aforementioned stars to transition at the tale end of their contracts with the latest probably being Ethan Page. Having been a soccer fan myself, most soccer clubs are very proactive and productive when it boils down to contract negotiations. They do not wait till the contract expires before they begin talks of extension; usually they make their move a year or two before the expiry of their contract. IMPACT adopting this mindset with the right talent who chooses IMPACT over the rest of the bigger promotions will enable more long term plans, stability and prestige. Its infuriating and nerve wrecking for IMPACT fans to have to deal with talents on expiring contracts when implementing basic strategies and planning can avert situations like this in the future.
NOTABLE ABSENTEES: 50-50 booking needs to end for certain ‘select stars’ like Eddie Edwards. He has no business losing matches in the manner in which he lost them in 2020. Eddie can still be a force for IMPACT and making him a high profile talent won’t happen if the 50-50 booking logic is applied. He will to win his matches consistently. Furthermore, IMPACTShop needs some more catalogues. Attires, accessories, action figures etc will need to be updated. It looks so bland right now and constantly needs an update. They should look to developing a wrestling game as it could be an added revenue stream for the promotion itself.