Impact’s business alliances with AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling have raised the company’s profile for most wrestling fans. They helped with the shows viewership and ratings on television and online. Impact’s Hard to Kill PPV, which featured AEW World champ Kenny Omega in a trios match, is said to have done one of their best buy rates since their weekly show left Spike TV.
So the partnerships make sense. And as the lowest profile of the partners, I even understand why Impact’s stars haven’t won the head to head matches.
What I don’t get is why Impact allows their partners to publicly belittle the company and its wrestlers?
The “paid ads” from AEW President Tony Khan that run during every Tuesday broadcast routinely feature shots. They’re usually pretty light-hearted, like last night (Mar. 16) when, after running down Dynamite’s St. Patrick’s Day Slam line-up, Khan threw in “Impact, you know nothing about these kind of cards!”
But sometimes they’re nastier. The best (worst) example came on the Feb. 23 episode where TK co-starred with the wrestlers competing on the following night’s AEW show, and many of them had a crack at Impact...
Khan: “This is like 4% of the AEW roster, yet it’s more more star power than you’re gonna get in two years of Impact Wrestling shows.”
Britt Baker: “Nyla Rose is going to be less significant than Impact - believe it or not, it’s possible.”
Brian Cage: “You know I’m a former Impact World champion, but that was the last time that title was any significant [sic] whatsoever.”
New Japan’s been quieter, and Bullet Club’s Tama Tonga doesn’t pull punches with anyone, but... yeesh.
That’s turned into a back-and-forth with NJPW’s David Finlay, who’s also one half of the Impact Tag champs right now. The payoff of whatever that becomes will likely happen in a New Japan ring, though, so Impact is at best collateral damage.
“Payoff” is the big unknown here. If this is all part of a long-term angle where the Impact roster will rise-up and teach the Khans and Tongas of the wrestling world not to underestimate them, that’s great! Based on what we’ve seen so far (and New Japan’s track record with their former(?) North American partner Ring of Honor), I don’t think this is a storyline.
And if it’s not, there are two problems with it.
1. Impact is getting fans who likely stopped watching them at least in part because of LOLTNA jokes to give them another chance. When they do, they see the regulars not only losing to outsiders, but getting mocked by them, too.
2. This can’t feel great for the talent signed to Impact, especially the vast majority of them who aren’t getting to crossover to Dynamite or NJPW Strong for extra exposure. If Cageside’s corporate parents teamed up with ESPN to raise the profile of our work, I’d be thrilled. But if the trade-off was anchors on SportsCenter randomly calling us clowns whenever they mentioned the site, I’d not only be less enthusiastic about the arrangement - I’d be pissed.
Let us know what you think, scripted fight fans. Are the jokes worth it? Is there no such thing as bad publicity? Does that mean all of this is no big deal?