Saturday, May 13, 2017

Impact's Interesting Again

From Velvet Jones:

The year was 1999. WWE was riding high in the midst of its “Attitude Era” . When it seemed nothing could stop the momentum that was (and still is) the sports-entertainment juggernaut, tragedy struck when Owen Hart died after injuries suffered from a stunt gone wrong. Owen's loss left a huge hole in the heart of WWE. The road to recovery for everyone in the organization would not be easy. But in the midst of this tragic occurrence, WWE would create a show called SmackDown! The show marked WWE's return to prime time television. Over time, SmackDown! would become its own brand with a separate roster. But in its infancy, it re-established WWE as a force on prime time television.

During this time, WWE was engaged in an epic battle with Ted Turner's World
Championship Wrestling for complete control of the pro wrestling landscape. WCW's strategy when it came to competing against WWE was simply: do what they do, only better. That was the motive, but the execution left much to be desired. Having already created WCW Monday Nitro to oppose WWE Monday Night RAW, WCW created Thunder to compete against SmackDown! Why, you ask? Simple: because WWE had a show on Thursday nights. Did this development birth a “Thursday Night War”? Heavens no, it didn't. In all all honesty, Thunder was a pretty forgettable casualty of the WWE-WCW war.

This is what wrestling on Thursday night meant to fans a generation ago. So is there still wrestling on Thursday nights? Why yes! Yes, there is! That wrestling has a first name, it's.....

I-M-P-A-C-T.


Before you ask, I'm not kidding. IMPACT Wrestling has made wrestling on Thursday nights worth watching again. With a new direction and the organization's original visionary back in the fold, the fed formerly known as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling has become rather interesting. And the cool part is, there is something for everyone. I'm more than certain if you watch IMPACT, you'll take something different from it than I will. Nonetheless, it's beginning to show signs of life after being declared dead a thousand times over for the past few years.

Here are my favorite reasons to watch the all-new IMPACT Wrestling.

The mystery surrounding the IMPACT-GFW merger. At this juncture, the only thing we know about the IMPACT-GFW merger is just that: they've merge and not much else. To the world of people with the attention span of a fruit fly, this would drive them crazy. To me, it's a good thing. One thing we do know is that IMPACT will be presenting Slammiversary XV on July 2nd. While the pieces fall into place for the PPV, the mystery surrounding this merger can slowly unravel over the next month. TV taping reports and spoilers be damned, this is a great way to not only build up the show but to also put IMPACT Wrestling's new direction on center stage. I'm excited to see where this goes.
Laurel Van Ness. The backstory behind this character is pretty funny. Van Ness blackmailed Braxton Sutter and was prepared to marry him. Sutter had enough and said “no” when asked if he would take Van Ness as his wife during the weeding. Sutter professing his love for Allie drove Van Ness off the deep end. A week later, she emerged a disheveled, comical wreck. Still sporting her wedding dress, smeared lipstick, and bottle of champagne to boot, Laurel now seeks a man to call her own. Rejecting her advances is usually followed by a beating at the hands of Kongo Kong. All of that aside, Laurel's strange and goofy mannerisms are a refreshing departure from moody divas who take themselves too seriously. You never know what she is gonna do from one week to the next. This is always the highlight of my Thursday nights.
Low-Ki vs Sonjay Dutt. Some of wrestling's best stories happen by accident. Triple H's
“curtain call” antics ultimately led to the birth of Austin 3:16. Sting getting attacked by Jake
Roberts laid the groundwork for Ron Simmons becoming pro wrestling's universally recognized African-American World champion. April 20th's six-pack challenge for the X-Division championship was highlighted by the return of former X-Division pioneer Low-Ki. Low-Ki used that momentum to capture his fifth X-Division championship. During the match, Sonjay Dutt suffered a huge hematoma over his eye. The injury was just cause for Dutt to sit out the match. He did the exact opposite and kept fighting until the end. With that, a potentially awesome storyline was hatched. Ki s the near-legendary multiple-time titleholder. Dutt has done almost everything except become X-Division champion. Can Dutt end his title futility and capture the big one? Sure, the story has been done before with other wrestlers in the past (Chris Jericho's breakthrough WCW World title victory over The Rock for example). But considering the things these two men can do in the ring, the payoff could be amazing.

The stories and entertainment don't stop there. The Rockstar Spud hospital vignette was pretty cool. The ten-man main event featuring IMPACT World champion Bobby Lashley on one side and GFW Global champion Magnus on the other exceeded its billing. Plus... ...HEEL JOSH MATTHEWS!!! He's impulsive and unreserved on commentary now. Definitely an entertaining far cry from his previous incarnations.

Thursday nights nowadays aren't bookended by egomaniacal billionaires seeking to completely obliterate the other anymore. And despite losing wrestlers like The Hardys, Drew McIntyre and others, IMPACT is putting its addition by subtraction on display. I'm a worker who was a fan first and is a fan still. And like most fans, I don't know where IMPACT Wrestling is going but I'm gonna strap in and enjoy the ride.

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