Tonight, instead of a new episode of Impact, they will be showing the first of two weeks of their “Best of 2017” episodes.
At first, I wondered what they were going to fill two hours of television from the last year, given there were so many creative team and management changes that so little was able to get off the ground. But that got me wondering what my favorite parts of Impact were this year. Some are moments while others are general aspects that I liked.
E-Li Drake: Champion
Eli Drake has been a consistently entertaining member of the Impact roster for years now. His arrogant persona is excellent and he has a silver tongue on the microphone. When called on for a good match, he delivers.
That’s why it was getting frustrating seeing him meandering for awhile. He was paired with Tyrus and they did little. He was used to help put over celebrities like D’Angelo Williams and even had moments with the friggin’ Swole Mates. While still entertaining in those roles, he deserved to be in a better position.
That’s why it was so sweet to see him win the Impact championship after it was stripped from Alberto El Patron. (Seeing it go from someone who walked in and won it day one to someone who put his time in with the company was extra sweet.) He won it in a gauntlet match from the #2 position, lasting the entire time and walking out with the gold.
This was in August and he’s held onto it ever since. He’ll lose it eventually, but he’s established himself in the main event scene of Impact and even without the title, he’ll be there to stay.
The Pro Wrestling Wedding and the arc of Laurel Van Ness
This was way back in the early part of ‘17, but Impact told a silly and entertaining story of Maria Kanellis (remember, she was still in TNA for a bit this year) wanted Braxton Sutter to date her friend Laurel Van Ness.
Laurel, played by Tough Enough alumni Chelsea Green, was a loathsome character. She was an entitled, spoiled brat. And Chelsea was fantastic in the role. Van Ness was super dense, not realizing that Braxton had zero interest in her. Instead, Braxton had feelings for the lovable Allie, who in real life is his wife.
Somehow, he accidentally proposed to Van Ness and couldn’t get out of the wedding. Mike Bennett, who was also wildly entertaining as the defeated husband of the controlling Maria, just wanted Braxton to do it so he didn’t have to suffer alone.
The wedding was completely insane, including guest Aron Rex (yes, Damien Sandow was in TNA this year too) who was pretty much Liberace and Rockstar Spud, who was his valet. Love triumphed when Braxton left Laurel at the alter as Maria had a nervous breakdown in the ring. It was the wild time you’d expect from a pro wrestling wedding.
This would be it for Mike and Maria, but Laurel’s story would continue. She snapped after such a humiliating moment, one she was too clueless to see coming. She never took off her wedding dress, taking on the part of Impact’s Miss Havisham, and was constantly sucking down a bottle of champaign. Dubbed the “Hot mess Laurel Van Ness” she continued to be completely dedicated and entertaining in the role.
Even when she was saddled in a story with Kongo Kong, she was absolutely committed to the character. At one point, she seemed to work things out when Grado proposed to her to get a green card, finding love healing her old wounds. However, he learned she was from Canada so casually dumped her, causing her to revert.
The end of the year saw Laurel rewarded for such a fun year in the promotion when she won the Knockouts title.
Hopefully the rumors of her wanting to leave Impact aren’t true.
Rockstar Spud vs. Swoggle
If you were to ask me my favorite feud in Impact this year, I may have to pick this one.
It was the utmost ridiculous but I found myself cracking up watching each time.
It was a feud built on the time that Swoggle kept harassing Spud when Rockstar was the ring announcer. He stole Spud’s papers and when Spud tried to get him back, he accidentally took Swoggle’s pants off.
Then it escalated. Quickly.
Swoggle viciously attacked Spud with a hammer the same night, putting him on the shelf. It was a delightfully dark turn. Rockstar ended up cutting promos from his bedroom in his mom’s house with wonderful lines such as “I never meant to pull his pants off.”
It ended up with a whacky match in India.
This was a prime example that the lighter side can steal the show.
The Endurable Demon Assassin
Rosemary continues to be a personal favorite part of mine in Impact. She’s such an electric character and that continued this year.
She was still part of Decay for the first part of the year and Knockouts champion at the same time. While she would ride with Abyss and Crazzy Steve, she also worked solo as the top of the Knockouts division. She and Jade (aka Mia Yim) had a series a great matches early in the year before Mia left the company. Crazzy Steve also left, putting an end to Decay.
Rosemary was left completely solo, but that was no problem. They embraced the fact fans loved her and she moved towards more of a babyface role. And despite her gimmick being a natural heel gimmick, she excelled as a face too, altering the character just enough. (Her odd friendship with Allie certainly helped as well.) She altered her face paint a bit, moving from the more demonic to what my fellow Impact recapper Stella Cheeks dubbed “The Glam Demon.”
Rosemary lost the title at Slammiversary and was never able to reclaim it. They set up what looked to be a fire match for her with Taya Valkyrie at Bound for Glory but unfortunately Taya was unable to compete on that show or at the next set of tapings. They should pick that up in January.
When I think of Impact, I think of EC3 and I think of Rosemary. In the two years there, she has become a top character in the company.
Expedition of Gold
It may be easy to forget, but the Broken Hardys were still full on insane in Impact during 2017. In fact, it was this year they introduced the ability to teleport, using their drone Vanguard 1 to teleport to various indie promotions to win their tag titles. Every few weeks, they’d have plenty of their wackiness peppered throughout the show.
Broken Matt was always a highlight of Impact. He’s Broken, excuse me WOKEN, in WWE now but it’ll likely never reach the heights of teleporting Broken Hardys claiming tag titles with Señor Benjamin tasering people if need be, and then dumping those titles into Skarsgård the Dilapidated Boat.
Other worthy notes:
These are things that I don’t have as much to say about but were still positives in the promotion:
- Wolves feud: Before Davey Richards retired, he and Eddie engaged in a blood feud that was so personal that their wives ended up wrestling in the blowoff match as well. It was heated and the matches always delivered.
- EC3: While he was never really on the top of the card, 2017 saw Carter turn back to a heel this year, which is his natural role. He’s a consistently enjoyable part of the show.
- Scott Steiner: The announcer feud between Josh Mathews and Jeremy Borash was overall a negative, but getting to see Scott Steiner yell at Joseph Park and JB because he hates fat asses is pique Steiner.
- D’Angelo Williams: D’Angelo Williams participated in a match at Slammiversary teaming with Moose against Eli Drake and Chris Adonis. He was a natural, looking incredible for someone with little to no training. Usually celebrity appearances are not this impressive. But he gave it his all and impressed.
- Petey Williams: Petey Williams returned to the promotion later this year and has looked great. His matches have predictably been enjoyable and he’s been a great addition to the roster. This is the type of wrestler you bring back to a promotion after time away.
That’s what I enjoyed on Impact this year. Did I leave something off that you particularly liked? Let us know in the comments and we’ll be continuing our look at Impact this year this week and next.