*Depending on when you're reading these words, this column contains spoilers, so be warned*
Before I even begin this column, is it safe to say that pretty much all of us are in agreement that competition is a good thing in the world of wrestling?
It has been a whopping 16 years since Vince McMahon bought out his competition, sending WCW, as we knew it then, to an early grave. Since then, nobody has even come close to catching up to WWE in the North American wrestling market, and that has always made me sad. For a while, it looked like TNA had a chance at doing so. There was even a time when some experts predicted that Ring Of Honor would have a chance at doing so. Yet, here we are, and not only have those companies not given WWE true competition, they're both worse off than they once were.
These days, it seems like TNA presses the reset button every few months or so, trying to return to past glories. Maybe it'll be a new on-screen authority figure. Maybe it'll be a new free agent, usually plucked from a list of people released by WWE. Maybe it'll be an out-of-nowhere face or heel turn that doesn't necessarily come with a lot of rhyme or reason. Whatever it is, they try something new to get some buzz, and it's usually something that gets people talking on social media for a few minutes, but nothing more.
Their latest "reset" comes with Bruce Prichard being brought in as a "backstage advisor" and being given an on-screen role, as well... or strictly an on-screen character, depending on what report you're reading. At the most recent Impact tapings, we got the usual rah-rah speeches about how Impact will turn the corner, is for the fans, etc, etc, etc. We saw recent reports that the company was going to showcase more of a "youth movement", focusing on younger talents instead of paying tons of money for more established workers. So... whatever came of that?
The first big move Impact made at the tapings is feature the debut of Alberto El Patron, formerly known as Alberto Del Rio... who is about to turn 40, and who couldn't have come cheap at all. The second big move Impact made at the tapings is having El Patron defeat Bobby Lashley for the Impact World Heavyweight Title.
In case you have a short memory, I feel the need to remind everyone that Del Rio is someone that couldn't draw flies if he were a steamy turd on the afternoon pavement. WWE gave him the world, on multiple occasions, and it failed every single time. Push after push after push... none of it was truly accepted by the fans. They tried it as a face and as a heel, and it met the same fate. This is who Impact has decided to hitch their wagon to? Seriously? If we're going to be fair, El Patron gave the title back the following episode, only for Impact officials to give the belt back to Lashley because of shenanigans during the title match, and now we're back to where we were when we started.
How does Impact continue to find themselves in positions like this? How, Sway? They've had a few different people in charge of things, but they all seem to have the exact same mindset and ideas. Like WWE pushing Del Rio, these are ideas that the company has tried ad nauseam, with the same poor results each time... SO WHY CONTINUE DOING IT?!?
Impact has someone, in EC3, who can be a genuine game changer for them. In Trevor Lee, they have someone who is knocking on the door of superstardom, and someone that they should be focused on before WWE comes up and snatches him away in the middle of the night. Eli Drake is someone who is underrated, year in and year out. Moose is someone who many feel can be a WWE Champion one day, as long as he continues learning the business as quickly as he has been. Impact has connections to indy promotions, and can reach out at any time to bring new people in. With all of that said, why continue to push the same garbage?
I like Bruce Prichard. I like Dutch Mantell, who was also brought back to Impact at the recent set of tapings. However, if you can't see that going to them, as well as Jeff Jarrett, who is also back with the company, is moving in the wrong direction, then I don't think there's any hope for you. This is a company that needs to be trying new things, with new people and new ideas. Otherwise, it's two steps back for every step forward that they take, and we'll never see them as any type of true competition for WWE.
Rumors say that Matt Morgan will be making his return to an Impact ring soon. The tapings also saw the return of Konnan, with a mini LAX reunion. I've always been a huge fan of Matt Morgan, but he's also 40 years old. Konnan? He's in his mid-50's, and if he's managing LAX again, he'll be managing a 40 year old Homicide in that role, albeit with some youngsters from the indies (Mike Draztik, Angel Rose and Angel Ortiz), so it isn't all bad. It's still beyond frustrating to see the company continue to make the same old, easily fixable mistakes. At this point, building new stars is their only chance at real success. Fans all over the world have seen their nonsense, and have been giving up with each passing year. If you want to win some of them back, prove that you're taking things in a different direction. Prove that you're committed to the future, not the past.
Aside from the aforementioned Trevor Lee, EC3, Moose and Eli Drake, there are those connections the company has made. There are names in Japan, Mexico and all throughout Europe that can be brought in with clean slates. If you don't want to look that far, there are names on the independent scene who haven't fully blown up yet. Look at people like Adam Cole and Lio Rush to see when they could contractually be brought in. Someone like Chuck Taylor has been criminally underrated for years now. It really shouldn't require much effort to reach out and contact some fresh blood. It just takes the right person in charge who feels the same way as I do here.
Does anyone have the phone number for Anthem?