New Impact Wrestling Hall of Famer Abyss told us that he's not planning on slowing down in the ring anytime soon, and sees himself continuing to work the independent circuit for the foreseeable future as well. He expects his character to reappear on Impact television in 2018 and throughout 2019. He also uses his time on the independent circuit to help scout talent for Impact Wrestling.
He spoke very highly of former manager Father James Mitchell, who he has remained in touch with after all these years, and actually inducted him into the Impact Wrestling Hall of Fame. Abyss called James Mitchell one of the top three promos in wrestling ever.
I talked to WWE Tough Enough 2015 alumni Tanner Saraceno ahead of his LFA 49 fight. He isn't a name that many wrestling fans have even thought of in the last three years, but if you're into MMA, he's worth keeping your eye on, as he's 7-3 We spoke about his feelings on weight cutting and how his MMA career has progressed, but I'll save that for the MMA side of things. He did say, however, that Tough Enough 2015 winner Josh Bredl has expressed interest in hopping over to MMA. Saraceno said that he's even offered to train Bredl personally, and thinks that athletically he could stand out in MMA.
Saraceno told me that WWE made it very clear that they weren't interested in him right after Tough Enough, even though he impressed while on the show. He looks back on the experience positively, and touches base with members of the cast periodically. He spoke highly of Billy Gunn helping him on the in-ring side of things, and really put over Lita for aiding him on the mental aspect of it. He also said that he partied with Chris Jericho.
Tanner still very clearly has aspirations to work as a pro wrestler, but needed immediate money after the show, and pro wrestling wasn't going to provide him that. He wants to see more crossover opportunities on the independent circuit.
I'm told the original plan for NWA 70th Anniversary was to have Joey Janela take on James Ellsworth at the show. Janela was also scheduled to answer the Eli Drake open challenge last weekend, and was slated to face Jeff Jarrett at LA Confidential. Ellsworth was also brought in to Smackdown 1000 and was told he was supposed to wrestle, but that didn't end up happening. Instead, he filmed a backstage skit for WWE digital.
We've heard conflicting stories about the Austin Aries-Impact Wrestling situation, but also were told Impact is doing "damage control" after the reaction to it. One version of the story claims that Austin Aries wouldn't agree to any other finish besides the one that went down, but took liberties at the end of the show. Either way, this is a storyline of a wrestler being incredibly unprofessional, or a company backing themselves into a story of instability, when they are legit unstable as is. There are a ton of stories going around concerning this, so someone is getting worked, or making the effort to work.
Willie Mack and Ethan Page both made positive impressions backstage and in the ring, with one Impact Wrestling employee telling us that there are already plans in order for Ethan Page, and Willie Mack's performance on Sunday impressed.
There was an issue with a cameraman or a producer not catching when New York Giants player Jylan Ware shoved Moose down during the latter's tag match on the show. Josh Mathews actually called for a replay that didn't come.
NWA World Women's Champion Jazz was a great interview this week ahead of her championship defense against Penelope Ford at NWA 70th Anniversary. Jazz is as real as it gets in pro wrestling, and is pretty convinced that this is her opportunity to make her mark and leave a legacy that she doesn't think she had a fair shake to make in WWE. The line "people will learn I'm nothing to fuck with" is one that will probably always stick with me.
Jazz was actually a holdover champion from the previous regime, but while almost all the other champions were stripped of their titles, she wasn't. She and Dave Lagana had known each other for years dating back to their time in WWE, but Lagana only told her to stay patient and that eventually their plan would unfold. Some of the footage that aired in her recent episode on NWA's channel was filmed back on WrestleMania weekend.
Jazz wasn't given any information about what was in store for NWA, who would be stripped of the titles, or if she'd hold on to hers. In fact, at that point, Jazz was pretty well out of wrestling and resolved to being a mother and a housewife.
We interviewed Johnny Impact before his Impact World Championship win on Sunday, and spoke about several topics. He shoehorned in that Austin Aries was sensitive about his height, which I just saw as a way of them working that angle. We spoke about OVW, and he confirmed to me that he was invited to participate in Ohio Valley Wrestling's 1000th show, but couldn't make it. He seemed optimistic about what they have going on.
Impact is also on Survivor, which we spoke about. I asked him to compare his reality show experience on Tough Enough and Survivor, but he said they were fundamentally different shows. He attributed his time navigating and negotiating while serving as a pro wrestler as more valuable to his Survivor run than his time on Tough Enough. Impact spoke of the air-tight non-disclosure agreements that Survivor has for their contestants, and joked that you'd get an arm chopped off if you gave up information.
We also broached the unfortunate subject of Impact's Tough Enough season 3 co-winner Matt Cappotelli passing away. Impact called him his first best friend in pro wrestling, and said that Cappotelli's sunny disposition led to him adopting that type of personality, and had a long lasting effect on his life.