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TNA Is Dead, Long Live Impact Wrestling

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Impact is close to selling out Bound For Glory in NYC, and here’s how they got there.

A mere hour or so after tickets for Bound For Glory went sale on Aug. 25, Impact Wrestling had nearly sold out. After I’d acquired my own ticket, I marveled at the sight of seeing each section (front row, second row, third row, fourth row, and various other sections) become marked as sold out.

The seating chart, back when it was available.

As of now, all but general admission and 4 other seats (one front row, three in the bleachers) were available, and it feels like proof of a new day for the promotion. And as Yes, Impact, which had spent 2017 in a rebranding cycle, beginning a merger with Global Force Wrestling before that dissolved, appears to have finally shaken its cursed history as TNA.

Yes, TNA, that company that had started off hot, but became synonymous with names such as Claire Lynch, The Aces & Eights and Dixie Carter, is seemingly, finally, dead.

While I haven’t watched every single week of Impact -- follow Cageside’s Kyle Decker and listen to Not Your Demographic for excellent recaps of the show (among other coverage) -- I’ve been following the promotion closely enough to sense that we’re seeing the company at a major turning point. And here’s how it got there.

  • December 2017: Anthem announced the hiring of Don Callis and Scott D’Amore as Executive Vice Presidents, in charge of the day-to-day operations in the new year. Callis is beloved for his work as a color commentator at New Japan Pro Wrestling. At the subsequent tapings, the company made plenty of good decisions, starting with using a traditional four-sided ring (ditching the dumb six-sided ring) and continuing with the return of former Impact world champ Austin Aries, and Impact debuts of Pentagón Jr, Fénix, Kiera Hogan, Su Yung and Brian Cage.
  • March 1: Sami Callihan accidentally busted up Eddie Edwards’ face in a spot involving a steel chair and a baseball bat. Impact would lean into the controversy, and -- over time -- use this feud to develop Eddie Edwards character as an unhinged crazy man. This news is as shocking as any, as Edwards was always more known for his in-ring acumen rather than his character work.
  • April 6: Impact vs. Lucha Underground, a co-promoted show with Lucha Underground earned solid marks, but was overshadowed by the absence of Alberto Del Rio, who allegedly no-showed the event. Rumors going around New Orleans that week (where I was) placed Del Rio backstage at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremonies. Either way, Impact would flush a major problem out of their facilities when announcing they fired ‘Berto the following day.
  • April 22: Redemption, the first pay-per-view of Impact’s new era, had a tough mountain to climb, but it was successful nonetheless. Not only did this show feature the surprising return to the ring by Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner, who hit a Frankensteiner for crying out loud, but the even more shocking move of putting their world title on Pentagon Jr, who wasn’t even with the company on a full-time basis (and would drop the belt back to Aries in short order). That result helped make Impact’s PPVs gain a you-gotta-tune-in quality.

Also, Tessa Blanchard, who any promotion would kill to have in their women’s division, made her Impact debut at Redemption. That signing signaled a new era for the promotion, divorced from the days where Bully Ray chased Dixie around, trying to put her through tables.

  • July 22: Slammiversary XVI, though, was the home run that lifted Impact up and into the air more than anything. The excellent card was led by its fiery last three matches, LAX vs The OGz, Pentagon vs Sami Callihan, and Austin Aries vs. Moose. On top of that, Eddie Edwards’ win over Tommy Dreamer helped cement him as a hardcore lunatic, and Brian Cage won the X Division title. Throughout the following days, I saw many say the show was better than anything WWE’s main roster had put on paper. Cageside’s Decker and 411Mania’s Larry Csonka both rated the show highly, and seeing that reaction was enough to have me mark my calendar when I heard Impact would be bringing Bound for Glory to New York on October 14.
  • August 7: During those last months, though, the team of LAX (Santana and Ortiz) had been stuck in feuds (and with managers) that frankly feel beneath them to me. While the duo had made a name for themselves around the world, they stole the show at Progress NYC (where they had a match against CCK), and -- even without their Impact titles in hand -- it said something that Impact’s top tag team became a top Progress tag team in their second performance with the company on its US tour.

Outlook: Going forward, things seem pretty good for Impact. Even though a recent Impact television episode featured a cringe-worthy segment where a child was run over (the kid’s recovering, it turns out, someone get him a contract), the rest of the show is going well. Tessa’s won gold, a heel turn for Moose seems like a much-needed change and a recent TV show had a lot of chatter about Chris Jericho (who Don Callis is very proud of being friends with).

Could Impact falter? Sure, just as WWE could really mess things up by bringing Hulk Hogan back in an on-screen role that has me ready to vomit, Impact could sign Enzo Amore. I don’t really know what to say about Impact signing Rich Swann, other than the fact that I don’t really pay attention whenever he’s on screen, because of reasons I don’t feel the need to explain.

So, not only am I going to Bound For Glory, which I’ll report from for Cageside, I’m really excited to see what happens at the show. The only thing I’d ask from Impact -- I don’t expect them to sign Neville on their own -- though? Maybe find a night other than Thursdays, for their TV show. After 3 to 4 nights of WWE programming in a row, I’m typically in need of a break.

Henry T. Casey tweets from @henrytcasey and podcasts about pro wrestling at The Ring Post. By day, he’s a senior writer at Tom’s Guide and Laptop Mag.