“Meeting expectations is good. Exceeding expectations is better”Ron Kaufman
Anyone that is familiar with my previous piece calling Impact Wrestling the moneyball promotion of the industry or has heard me talk about Impact Wrestling on the WR Daily Broadcast, knows that I am a fan of the Impact product.
For those that have watched Impact over its 21 plus years history know that the promotion had some significant highs in the beginning as the only real alternative with a national TV show to the WWE when it emerged in 2002 after the demise of WCW and ECW. Starting as a weekly PPV series, which was looked at as insane at the time, but would eventually lead to a TV slot.
I’m not going to go through the entire history of the company, but despite the highs there were a lot of lows, and no promotion has been more resilient and refused to die like TNA/Impact. This is a promotion that by all logic and reason shouldn’t even still be in existence, but it has constantly shown an ability to rebuild and survive.
This past Saturday, Impact held its biggest show of the year, their WrestleMania, Bound for Glory and Impact did what they have been doing consistently under the booking of Scott D’Amore, they overdelivered. This show was one of the best shows of the year that will likely not get the press because they aren’t WWE or AEW. So, since I have the platform, I’m going to give it the press it so richly deserves.
Opener – Impact X-Division Championship – Chris Sabin (c) vs Kenta
There was no better option than starting this show with the division that not only put Impact on the map but is the true lifeblood of the company for the past 21 years. The tagline when it started was “it’s not about weight limits, it is about no limits”, this has been the cornerstone of the foundation of Impact from the very beginning.
Chris Sabin is arguably one of if not the greatest X-Division champion in its history holding the title a record 10-times as no one else has held it more than 6-times. Sabin also has the most combined days as champion with over 500 days with the next closest being 385 days.
Sabin taking on NJPW star, Kenta was a smart choice as he has wrestled pretty much everywhere in this business, and this is one of the things Impact has always been good about doing in bringing in international and outside promotional talent through partnerships to give the fans dream matches.
These men delivered a tough and competitive match that made both men look incredibly strong no matter who won, which is what a title match should do. Sabin continues to add prestige to the X-Division Championship and even in defeat Kenta looked like a legitimate threat and the match could have gone either way. This was a solid opener and set the tone for the rest of the night.
Second Match – Monster’s Ball – PCO vs Maclin vs Rhino vs Moose
This next match was completely different change of pace but is another staple of Impact’s history the hardcore match that they call Monster’s Ball. The gimmick is the competitors are place in dark isolation rooms for 24 hours before the match with no food or water or light. Then are let out at match time to unleash their anger on their opponents.
All of these men have held World Championship gold before in this industry and have been known to fully embrace the extreme style. These men beat each other down mercilessly and used whatever weapons that they could.
I was surprised that PCO came out on top of this one despite the Halloween season being upon us and him fully embracing the Frankenstein’s monster gimmick, because based on interviews he has given it sounded like he was leaving Impact. Personally, I hope he did re-sign with Impact, because I think that would be the best place for him career wise.
Personally, I think this was the weakest match on the card, but that may because of how good the rest of the card was.
Third Match – Impact Tag Team Championship – Rascalz (c) vs ABC
This is what happens when you let four X-Division wrestlers show what they can do in a tag match. These men know each other very well and they have something that you can’t just create, there is a pure chemistry here. Not only amongst their tag partners, but with their opponents as well.
It was fast paced, and action packed which was a constant theme through many of the matches on this show. The combinations and tag team sequences immediately made me think of one of the most innovative tag teams in not only Impact’s history but the most innovative teams of the 2000s, the MCMG.
Trey Miguel, Ace Austin and Chris Bey maybe some of the best young talent that aren’t under WWE or AEW contracts. They kept the X-Division spirit and essence alive when they were feuding over that championship, and they are now keeping the tag team championship scene compelling. Zachary Wentz is working on rebuilding his name and reputation and showing the world he is still an amazing in ring talent.
Just like the opening X-Division match, these men added prestige and importance to the title that was on the line and elevated themselves with their performances here. It could have gone either way and even in defeat the Rascalz shouldn’t lose any momentum despite losing the titles to ABC. This will likely lead to a rematch and maybe a possible best of series with these teams which would be a great move if that is the direction that they chose to go in here.
Fourth Match – Mike Bailey vs Will Ospreay
Without a doubt this was the MUST SEE match on the card for many fans. This was a match we were supposed to get 6-months ago during WrestleMania weekend at the joint Impact/NJPW show, Multiverse United, however, due to a Ospreay injury we denied this match up.
I’ve said it before, but in my opinion Ospreay is this generation’s HBK or AJ Styles in that there is NO ONE better in that ring than him. He can turn any match against any opponent into the best match on the card. In January 2022, I saw Ospreay have absolute classics against three different opponents working three different styles in Okada, Brian Cage and Michael Oku.
This year we saw Ospreay deliver absolute classics against Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho and this match against Bailey had all the expectations to be a classic as well. Bailey is no light weight himself, as he has made Impact his home and made a name for himself in a 60-minute classic with the reigning Impact World Champion at the time in Josh Alexander and continued the tradition of amazing X-Division champions during his reign as champ as well.
Without a doubt in my mind this match lived up to the hype and delivered a high flying and fast paced compelling match. It was also a lot more physical than I expected as these men worked a very stiff almost NJPW style. You could hear and feel every chop and strike these men gave to each other.
The snug style certainly added to this match and was not only the match of the night for me but is easily a match that should be on everyone’s short list of MOTY contenders. Ospreay picked up the win as he should have as he is the hottest free agent of 2024 not named MJF and he will not have any problem finding a home as everyone will want him. Bailey looked strong even in defeat and these men gave the fans their money’s worth for the show with this one.
Fifth Match – Call Your Shot Gauntlet
For those unfamiliar with this Impact match, it is like if you combined the men and women’s Royal Rumble match, and they had a kid with the MITB briefcase. Once the Battle Royal is down to the final two it becomes a regular match with the winner allowed to challenge any champion of their choosing anytime they want, and they have a year to cash it in.
They handled this match incredibly well as there wasn’t too much intergender fighting until the final two. There were a ton of surprise entries with the shocking Juvi and Matt Cardona making Impact returns. Whether they were one off appearances or will be sticking around a little longer they were fun to see back. Recently let go AEW star, Sonny Kiss made her Impact debut.
This match was a fun match, was it a great match? No, but it remained a fun and entertaining spectacle the entire time. Even though there were only 20 slots it felt like it was even more, because you didn’t know who was coming out and the action in the ring was fun. At one point Jonathan Gresham tried to eliminate his real-life wife, Jordynne Grace. The announcers had fun with this one saying this is not going to be forgotten when they get home.
It came down to Bully Ray and Jordynne Grace, this actually made sense as Bully has had issues with the knockouts before and Jordynne is the one woman in Impact that is definition of, I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman I’ll fight you. Although Bully won’t get the credit for it from the fans, he credibly sold for Jordynne, so it didn’t look phony and took her finisher like a champ.
Jordynne picking up the win and immediately letting the Knockouts champion come Hard to Kill I will be your opponent for the January show.
Sixth Match – Impact Knockouts Championship – Trinity (c) vs Mickie James
They built this match up very well as Mickie was forced to relinquish her championship months ago due to injury, so she was never beaten for it. Mickie is an absolute legend and a future Impact and WWE HOFamer no question about it. Trinity has been on an amazing run in Impact showing the world that she is a star no matter what stage she is performing on. After her departure from WWE, there was the question of what was next for Trinity and Impact has proven to be the perfect home for her.
Other than the X-Division, the other huge cornerstone of its foundation and DNA is the knockouts division. Before WWE was embracing the “women’s revolution”, TNA was the place for the women of this industry to be given a platform to perform in that ring. They weren’t relegated to 5-minute matches or bra and panties matches, the rivalry of Gail Kim vs Awesome Kong for example was given the platform to showcase what they had.
Trinity and Mickie James delivered an absolute classic in this semi-main event spot. Like every match on this card, they gave the fans absolutely everything that they had, and Mickie did the right thing and put over the younger talent. Mickie has a tremendous mind for this business and is always willing to do the right thing for the business. She understood a win over her would mean more for Trinity than another title reign for her.
Both women should be incredibly proud in their performance tonight and the legacy of the knockouts division was continued to be honored with this match.
Main Event – Impact World Championship – Alex Shelley (c) vs Josh Alexander
This is a match up that was built up incredibly well as they are both faces, but Josh made it personal pointing out that Shelley didn’t beat him for the title and the last time they fought over that title, it was Josh that came out on top.
Shelley has only challenged for the Impact world championship twice in its 21 years of existence and the first time he did, he lost to Josh. When Josh was forced to relinquish the title, it was Maclin that filled that void. When Shelley challenged Maclin for the title, me and many fans likely thought this is Shelley giving the rub to the new champ by allowing him to pick up a victory over him.
However, Shelley shocked the world by finally winning the one title in TNA/Impact that he was never able to win. Immediately, fans thought oh he will just be a transitional champion until Josh Alexander came back. I could not have been happier for Alex Shelley on finally winning a World Championship as I wrote about Shelley and Sabin winning the World and X-Division Championships as they have been so pivotal to the legacy of TNA/Impact.
Much like Christian Cage, Alex Shelley maybe one of the most underrated talents in the past 20 plus years. Both on and off screen, Shelley’s fingerprints are all over this industry in every company. He has inspired, trained and helped talent both on and off screen and he doesn’t look for recognition of it.
Shelley deserves this run as world champion and his match against Josh Alexander was a masterpiece. Josh Alexander proved to the world just how good he was with his resurrecting the legacy of the X-Division with his incredible run as champion and then parlayed that into a phenomenal run as world champion having successfully defending it more times than anyone else and holding it longer than anyone in the company’s history.
There were no losers in this match as both men absolutely delivered on the grandest stage of Impact. Shelley won and removed any doubt that he is the true world champion of Impact Wrestling.
Surprise – TNA Has Risen From The Ashes:
After an incredible night of action, Impact Wrestling had one last bombshell surprise, starting in January at their Hard to Kill show, they will once again rebrand themselves back to their original name, TNA. This is a name that was originally pitched allegedly by Vince Russo as a sexual innuendo just like he did in the WWF with T&A.
However, despite the reasoning behind the name it became synonymous with incredible talent and matches that were built on the backs of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, MCMG, Beer Money, Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, Sting, Kurt Angle and the list goes on and on. The X-Division and the Knockouts being the biggest standouts as TNA was far from a joke even in its darkest times.
The name was changed due to the negative connotation of TNA and a lot of the negative things that happened over the company’s history from bad booking, bad management and multiple TV cancellations.
However, many fans still called it TNA and those initials became nostalgic for fans and like fans chanting ECW, the only other promotion that I can think of that got those same chants was TNA.
Scott D’Amore, the executives at Anthem and the talent of Impact have done an amazing job of rebuilding the company up and I’m fully on board with them bringing back the iconic name and look forward to TNA’s future. They are the best weekly wrestling product going today that sadly many fans are sleeping on. Hopefully that changes with this rebrand as it rises from its ashes like a phoenix.
Outside of WWE, no one in wrestling does better promo packages than TNA/Impact. All night from the video packages, the match order and the matches they delivered as perfect a show as you could possibly deliver. This was without a doubt one of the best shows of the year and I cannot recommend this enough to fans of wrestling.