With 2018 coming to a close, we’ve taken our look back at Impact Wrestling this last year. We looked at the year as a whole, what we liked & disliked about the televised product, and the grades we gave each episode.
Now with 2018 pretty much behind us, the final thing I’d like to do is look forward to 2019. I’ve once again recruited occasional Impact recapper Stella Cheeks to help come up with a list of things we’d like to see for the next year.
Let’s get right to it:
Kyle: A better TV deal
Overall, 2018 was good for Impact but it ended on a downer note with word of their new TV deal with the Pursuit channel.
I’m not going to sugar coat it. It sucks.
Pursuit is available in half of the households that POP TV is and isn’t even on Comcast. Plus, the time slot is bad. It’s 10 pm on a Friday, pretty much a death slot. You can argue that it’ll be there for fans who still want to watch wrestling after SmackDown on Friday when WWE move there. But they move there in October. Impact has to survive on that time slot until then. And the idea that it will do well in that time slot because WWE is on Fox prior doesn’t hold much water. It’s not like WWE is going to remind their fans to tune into Impact on a hunting channel people don’t get after SmackDown. The SmackDown effect is something we will see when the time comes, but a better time slot is the better bet.
Personally, I don’t get Pursuit. I won’t be watching Impact after the move. (I don’t have a Roku in case Impact is on Pursuit’s streaming service eventually either.) I’m sure I’m not the only one. With rumor that this isn’t an exclusive deal, hopefully they can work out something better for their product or this will hurt.
Stella: A better TV deal
I’m so depressed by their move to the Pursuit Channel. I know it’s not about me, but man I am taking it personally!
I feel like I advocated for Impact for at least a solid two years and 2018 was the year that people finally started to give Impact a chance! But in true TNA form, their inability to provide a consistent product is driving any would be fans away and is alienating their base. I don’t even get the Pursuit Channel.
I hope and pray that they can get a new, good TV deal ASAP. Tessa Blanchard deserves to wrestle on a real channel!
Kyle: Some hot angles
Impact had a pretty good year creatively, but most of the year, they were missing any real hot angles. In the summer they had Eddie Edwards’ descent into madness and Pentagon’s war with Sami Callihan to generate some buzz. And that helped.
But when they moved on from that, they were unable to find any angles that really had fans talking. They were a consistently a solid promotion, but lacked stories that got people talking. In a landscape filled with so much wrestling, that’s necessary to keep your head above water in a sea of wrestling options.
Hopefully they can drum up a couple angles that get the attention of fans outside their core fan base.
Stella: Figure out what to do with Scarlett Bordeaux
When Scarlett Bordeaux debuted on Impact I was already familiar with her. She’s been a staple at AAW and, if I’m being honest, has not been my favorite performer. Her comically sexy gimmick lacks depth and is just kind of a shadow of all the things I disliked about women’s wrestling of yesteryear.
But when she initially debuted on Impact, I had some hope that they were going to do something interesting with her “anti-evolution” persona. It has the potential to be a great heel gimmick - the super hot girl who doesn’t care about your equality because she already gets everything she wants - but instead they just gave her a “talent search” gimmick.
She’s not even a manager! She literally just walks around and insults men (which to be fair sounds like a great gig if you can get it). I want more from her! They’ve teased the ‘anti-evolution’ gimmick, a manager gig, and even hinted that she may be some kind of supernatural succubus.
Whatever they decided to do with her I just want them to commit to it! She could bring a real interesting dynamic to the KO’s and I want to see it. Yeah she’s hot, but maybe let’s give her something else to do too.
Kyle: One or two more top talents
The Impact roster is solid. Brian Cage has been built to be their top guy and they’ve done a good job presenting him as such. Their current champion Johnny Impact is a perfectly fine top guy. Eli Drake continues to have the potential to be a big star.
Looking at the rosters head to toe, it’s a perfectly good roster. But at least when it comes to the men’s side, it feels like it tops out at good. (I think the Knockouts roster is stronger, with Tessa Blanchard, a returning Rosemary, and Jordynne Grace anchoring a strong but small female division.) And unfortunately, with so many other wrestling options out there, good may not be good enough. They need a talent that makes fans think, “Man, I want to see what he’s doing. Let me check out Impact.”
Austin Aries didn’t light the world on fire as champion, but he carried a legitimacy/name that they’re lacking since he left.
Signing one or two more names that carry a bit of pizzazz to help keep the promotion exciting would help. (And I’m not talking about signing Chris Jericho.) Bringing in someone like Neville or a popular indie. like ROH did with Jeff Cobb, would help. These aren’t Earth shattering moves I’m talking about a but a signing or two to help bolster the men’s roster to keep it fresh.
Stella: More well produced offsite segments
Let’s be real, y’all are here because you watched The Final Deletion and were like “huh, maybe Impact is on to something,” and you were right!
Impact found their voice when they started to experiment and take advantage of the fact that they were not WWE. There is so, So, SO much wrestling happening around the world right now. Yes, that is a good thing for us smarks, but it can be hard for companies to differentiate themselves from their competition. Some of Impact’s best work in the last few years has all revolved around their non-traditional backstage segments and they should do more of them.
Sure, not every one is knocks it out of the park, but for every Rosemary showing Bram her dollies or random child getting run over by a car, we get a Final Deletion, Su hunting Madison Rayne, or Eddie trying to kill Sami in the woods.
Impact may be struggling to find a home and an audience, but they should use that as a blessing and not a curse. They should take chances and invest in their outside production teams.
Those are just a few things we’d like to see in 2019 (seriously, a better station is a big deal). What about you? What would you like to see from the promotion next year? Let us know below.