SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
You just never truly know what you’re going to get when you flip on an Impact PPV event do you?
Convoluted storylines, nonsensical finishes, poor production, and a general minor league tone have plagued the company for years. To put it nicely, when it came to PPV, “buyer beware” flashed in bright lights within the minds of wrestling fans around the world. Impact didn’t deserve to be trusted and earned the reputation that they had.
On the other side of the spectrum, Impact regularly had a talented roster. A roster that was capable of bigger and better, but one seemingly held back by the issues from up above and thus further generating frustration among fans who knew there was more for the company to give.
Recently, Impact has worked to build better equity and it’s paying off for them. Last night’s Hard to Kill event on PPV didn’t “pull an Impact” and leave fans with palm-sized dents in their foreheads. Hard to Kill was an unexpected fun watch start to finish.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first. Yes, Kenny Omega was on the show and yes, he was clearly by leaps and bounds the biggest star to walk to the ring last night. He helps. Significantly. The business decision to partner with AEW, Tony Khan, and therefore Kenny Omega is a smart one for Impact Wrestling. The company absolutely needs to find its true face in order to grow, but in the meantime and during a pandemic in which it’s hard to do that due to a lack of an audience reaction, Omega fills the void and fills it well.
The main event was a blast. Alex Shelley being replaced by Moose was a curveball, but Impact booked directly at it by spinning a narrative between Moose and Impact World Champion, Rich Swann. On short notice, Impact told an engaging story between the men on Swann’s team that hid the finish, while also generating drama for the match itself.
The match was fast paced and played with the drama set at the beginning with Moose. Swann and Sabin hitting some MCM offense was a fun nugget and both sides had some tangible chemistry together. As expected, Omega was the story and needed to be. He had a great showing in the ring and pinned Rich Swann with the One-Winged Angel to get the win.
Good booking alert. Omega going over Swann clean was the call to make. The fear was, would Impact Impact and not pull the trigger? This finish rewarded fans who tuned in to see this main event. No shenanigans, no nonsense, but a winner. Swann wasn’t hurt either. It can be done, folks. Omega was framed so strongly throughout the show that Swann eating the pin just didn’t negatively impact him. If nothing else, he has a bone to pick now with a singles match waiting down the line. This is what I mean by building better equity with fans. It may not pay off in television ratings or immediate PPV buys, but down the road it will.
The rest of the card filled in nicely around the main event. Eddie Edwards and Sami Callihan’s Barbed Wire Massacre match was violent as advertised, but also framed well enough with the context of their history to warrant the violence that ensued. Those matches aren’t typically my cup of tea, but this worked and served as a fresh match stylistically for the show.
The X-Division Championship match delivered the action and pace the division is known for, Deonna Purrazzo and Taya Valkyrie was good enough, and the surprise appearance of Matt Cardona (formerly Zack Ryder in WWE) gave the show a small newsworthy piece of intrigue to entice potential future buyers. Of course, let’s not speak of whatever it was that Ethan Page did. Deal? Add all that up and you walked away pleasantly satisfied.
Outside of Kenny Omega, the star power on the show left something to be desired. Rich Swann and Moose came across as big-time players in Impact Wrestling, but the big fish, small pond syndrome applied. Same with Ace Austin. In the Impact Wrestling world, you know they’re the top guys, but admit to knowing they wouldn’t be anywhere else. Can Omega bring Swann up? Time will tell, but Impact building their own top star from the ground up effectively is priority number one.
But that’s another conversation for another day. On this day, Impact brought the fun and they don’t always do that. Is it a sign of things to come? A sign that they’ve found their path? Or, is Impact Impacting right around the corner? Those thoughts are valid and Impact has earned both. We’ll see, but Hard to Kill was a firm step in the right direction.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S TAKE: HEYDORN’S TAKE: “Bullet Club” reunion intriguing, but AEW must tread carefully